It’s October, so my Christmas list is well overdue.
Of course it is.
Santa is so demanding.
And, lest you think this is all a tad early, let me inform you that Costco has been Christmas-ing since August, yes indeedy.
There are entire aisles you can Deck the Halls in, wearing your flip-flops (we can’t generally wear flip-flops during the ACTUAL festive season in Canada).
There are buffalo-checked Christmas doo-dahs as far as the eye can see (I try my best to avert my eyes back to the free samples they give out at Costco, which it’s really important to keep one’s eye firmly upon so as not to forget the real reason we shop at Costco).
Practical Man does not approve.
Of the Christmas doo-dahs, I should clarify.
He’s a free-sample fan, though.
What kind of Practical Man would he be if his favourite thing was not anything, preceded by or followed by the word, FREE?
He never eats the free samples – he gives them to me, like some kind of Snack Saint. He doesn’t snack and did I mention that he’s kind of annoying, sometimes?
Lovely, but annoying in a Snack Saint sort of way.
Or, maybe Snack Santa.
But, festive flourishes (even with free snacks for his beloved) before a respectful observance of Remembrance Day (Nov 11)? Now, them’s grounds for grunting and Rick Mercer-esque rants.
I don’t disagree.
It’s only October, merchants! My Hallowe’en costume is barely out of my head and onto the sewing machine, yet.
But, Practical Man still wants my Christmas list early, early, early.
He’s not a huge fan of all the commercialism and forced gifting that comes with the season but, he does like to make someone happy.
“You know that I don’t go in stores after the beginning of November,” he warns in a Bah Humbug sort of voice.
Who cares about that when everyone knows that Santa doesn’t shop in stores? Santa has elves making things in workshops and eating gingerbread, dontcha know. They don’t shop at Costco (unless they are snackers, in which case, who can blame them?)
Ho, ho, ho.
Still, on account of their too early Christmas hullabaloo, I wonder if Costco has been listening to our conversations about overdue Christmas lists? Like a George Orwell, big-brother-is-watching-you kind-of-creepy, Santa?
Oh wait, that’s Siri and Okay Google. Neither of which we use and yet…
I’m feeling spooked.
Which would be fine because it’s nearly Hallowe’en: the season of spookiness.
And what with my distraction about whether my non-Siri/Okay Google devices are listening to my conversations without my permission, it’s a bit difficult for me to think of what I want for Christmas.
Except maybe a vintage, Fisher Price hospital, complete with X-ray machine and working elevator.
Because, every woman in her 40s needs one of those, right?
And peace on earth, wrapped in buffalo check flannel.
Except, not yet.
Because it’s wa-a-a-a-y too early for Christmas-y stuff.
So says Practical Man–and me.
But, not Costco.
I had a run-in with The Nature today.
It tried to fool me with its sunshine and lovely temperatures.
And then, it attacked my ankles.
It’s my own fault, really, for not putting on the bug juice that Practical Man pointedly left out for me. Perhaps it was The Nature’s way of evening the score. After all, I was yanking and digging grass and weeds out of our flowerbed with some zeal. That’s probably tantamount to a leg wax for The Nature. And, it was much too warm today for me to sport my trademark out-in-The-Nature rubber boots. Mocked by many, my rubber boots have prevented plenty of unjustified assaults by The Nature and I L-O-V-E, LOVE them. But today, I recklessly left them inside and trotted out into the great vampire bug, all-you-can-eat-buffet, brazenly naked around the ankles.
I hate it when things are my own fault, don’t you?
The flowerbed and I have called a cease-fire so I have time to smear myself with liberal doses of anti-itch goo (which is apparently flammable, it says on the label!) everywhere I can find evidence of The Nature’s wrath. Note to self: Do not use anti-itch goo while camping and then try to warm ankles by the fire.
Flaming ankles would be much worse than itchy ankles, even I can admit. You may laugh but, I can’t be too careful. I come from a long line of accident-prone people (including one person who cut herself, to the point of bleeding, on an onion bun.)
Flaming ankles are totally in the realm of possibility.
On the plus side, before I foolishly headed out into The Nature, we spent the morning wandering yard sales in Westport, a quaint waterside village nearby. The whole town was having a festive time trading their own junk for their neighbour’s junk, because at a mere 10 or 25 cents for many items, “how could you lose?” You apparently couldn’t because it was a phrase I heard repeatedly, as we wandered.
I found this and immediately had a crush:
Everyone should have a pink punch bowl with nine matching cups, don’t you think?
And, at a mere $10, how could you lose?
Actually, $10 is less a crush and more a commitment for me. So I hemmed and hahhed for all of three seconds and then someone walked by and said to her friend, “how could you lose?” and I took it as a sign.
You can’t mess with that kind of magic.
I’m not into pedigree, especially when it comes to old stuff. I just like what I like. But, I am curious about this. It doesn’t have any maker markings that I can find. It seems to have a sort of strawberry pattern to it and it’s heavier than depression glass, although similar in hue. A search online yielded nothing that resembled it, so now I’m even more curious. I doubt it’s valuable, I just wonder what vintage it comes from.
Here is what it looks like up close:
The pattern is slightly raised and bumpy.
Not unlike my poor, poor ankles.
But, at least they’re not on fire yet.
I had a birthday recently.
Hurray for cake! It is always a good day when there’s cake.
That was a statement, not an opinion poll. Please avert your eyes if you are cake-averse.
Also, I’m not sure we can continue to be friends.
It was a fairly garden-variety birthday. That is, not one of the “big” ones with zeros in them. More like halfway to one of the big ones.
The Ministry of Transportation wrote to tell me that I owed them money for my license plate renewal.
And my mother called to tell me that she felt old on account of my birthday.
Even though it wasn’t one of the big ones.
And, my friend, Freckles, (who is weeks away from halfway to her next big one) said Happy Birthday by asking me if I realized that it had been 30 years since we had first met.
This was somewhat distressing to me because I distinctly remember having pimples that day.
So then, I felt old on account of my birthday.
Not that old is bad. I am a fairy godmother-in-training and I can’t wait to have silvery hair. I think it’s magical and more conducive to spontaneous tra-la-la.
Maybe by the time I get to the next big birthday, my hair will be more magical (and less uncooperative personality disorder).
And, you wouldn’t know that I’m barely half way to one of the big ones by the way Practical Man tries to wind me up while we’re in stores. He thinks putting the SILVER (geriatric) Vitamins For Women in our cart is hilarious.
I can’t believe we’re spending hard-earned dosh on vitamins in the first place–let alone gender-focused ones that target silly things like bone strength instead of helping me hide at least one of my chins.
Why not spend that money on cake, I ask?
Okay, so maybe that’s why.
Anyway, I like to retaliate for his vitamin gag by deviating from the approved grocery list.
I throw things in the cart when he isn’t paying attention.
Reckless things that aren’t on sale or for which WE DO NOT POSSESS A COUPON!
All is fair in love and shopping with your sweetie, especially when it’s your birthday.
Even if it’s not a big one.
My husband, Practical Man, often has to pry a book out of my snoring, sleeping fingers. I know fingers don’t usually snore but, I’m sure mine do.
It can’t be my adorable nose making all that racket.
Ever since I learned to read, it’s been the same story. Me and a book, in a dimly-lit room, my nose literally squished against the pages as I strained and squinted to see the words from my secret spot beneath the covers. I probably would have needed glasses at some point, but I may have hastened the process just a tad with my voracious attachment to 1970’s six-year-old’s I-Can-Read literature, like Pickles the Fire Cat, The Adventures of Jimmy Skunk and The Strange Disappearance of Arthur Cluck.
Not much has changed. Right now, I’m reading Penelope Crumb (funny and touching children’s chapter book), and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (a wonderful book for grown-ups and ’40s vintage fans).
Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that my left eyeball hurts today. What with the habitual reading before sleep ‘n all.
It’s been hurting on and off (mostly on) when I move it around recklessly–as in reading, driving or checking out Practical Man’s form on a tractor–since February. Doctors are mystified but I don’t appear to be going blind, growing a brain tumour or developing Multiple Sclerosis.
In other words, it’s all good.
It just hurts. But I can still see, for which I am grateful, since I have needed glasses (badly) since the age of seven.
And Practical Man looks darn good on that orange Kubota. It might hurt my left eye to look, but I’d hate to miss that. So I’m grateful for the vision provided to me by glasses and contacts.
But, like many, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with them. After all, it was said that Boys Don’t Make Passes At Girls Who Wear Glasses.
At first, my affair with glasses was all good. In fact, it started out rather glamorously.
Behold my Great Grandma Hildegard’s snazzy, sparkly horn-rimmed glasses when she held me as a baby in 1969. They match her equally snazzy, sparkly earrings and brooch, of course. Don’t you just love how eyewear gives an instant snapshot of an era?
But after that, things–spectacle-wise–started taking a definite turn for the worse.
My parents bought me fancy (and no doubt, expensive) glasses that darkened automatically in the sun but this was the mid-70s, so they didn’t lighten back up very well. As a result, I had a vaguely Annie Sullivan look about me…even though with that haircut it was hard to look like anyone but a young Shaun Cassidy.
And then there was puberty (bad perm and worse glasses). Still look like Shaun Cassidy. Remember the phase where the arms of the glasses started at the bottom of the lenses and then swooped up over your ears? Apparently, I thought that was a good look (stop laughing).
In high school, I didn’t love the “four eyes” teasing or the fogging up the instant I set my foot on the first step of the bus to school when I was busy trying to plan how to nonchalantly plop myself down next to Graham Gorgeous, the hunky guy who had just moved back from New Zealand.
But, it was all good.
I had worked out that if I entered the bus backwards, my glasses didn’t fog up. It’s very challenging to bat your eyelashes at Graham Gorgeous when steam has obscured his view of your beautiful baby blues.
Yep, it’s a real mystery why I didn’t end up as Mrs. Graham Gorgeous.
So, I should have known better by the time high school graduation rolled around. Apparently blue eye shadow was my thing. Not that you would notice on account of the gigantic, red glasses and ’80s bangs.
Despite that, all these years later, I am thankful for glasses ‘cos I can’t find a thing without them.
For example, I can’t find my glasses without my glasses.
How cruel is that?
I haven’t found snazzy, sparkly vintage glasses like Great Grandma Hildegard’s, but I’ve started wearing this modern-day, reasonable facsimile:
And, every night, when Practical Man pries the book out of my snoring, sleeping fingers, I’m sure I am smiling because I finally know the truth:
Boys DO Make Passes at Girls Who Wear Glasses.
It’s all good.
In our household, we often joke that we have a role reversal going. Case in point: I spent one sunny, Saturday afternoon rummaging through a junkyard with my friend, Trevor.
When I returned home, dusty, with a heart and camera full of rusty, tree-entwined vintage vehicles, the glorious smell of baking bread wafted out to greet me…as did my amused husband who had been home slaving over a hot oven all day. If that doesn’t describe a perfect day, then I don’t know what does.
My husband drew the line at wearing one of my fun, vintage aprons though.
I find them in second-hand stores or at yard sales and often, can’t bear to leave them behind. They’re usually homemade (and for much tinier waists than I possess) with kitschy vintage touches like rick-rack, scalloped edges and even, smocking. They evoke a time of beautiful, rounded fridges (not a fingerprinted, stainless steel front in sight), one grainy TV channel and the advent of margarine, pastel-coloured marshmallow “salads” and other foods not found in nature.
I’m happy to don one of these sartorial time machines and spend an afternoon baking another vintage-turned-fashionable treat: cupcakes. I find them manageable, for one who sometimes needs a life preserver when wading into the stew that is cooking and baking.
I stumble through the measuring and mixing, put up with the plopping into pans and baking parts…all so I can get to the hypnotic peace of using a pastry bag to pipe icing on their little, rounded tops.
It’s like Thai Chi, piping is. Seriously. You should try it.
I believe it’s how those women-of-a-certain-era managed to welcome everyone home in Leave it to Beaver fashion day after day, even when life in bouffants and polyester chafed.
Piping icing: it’s probably why they didn’t need yoga.
Even though I may look like the picture of vintage domesticity, working in my kitchen, apron apparently tied to the stove, I know the truth: my modern vintage life is about zen-cupcake-making and a partner who loves bread baking and future junkyards to explore.
Now, if I could just get my hands on one of those great vintage-inspired fridges!
I watched the movie Julie and Julia today, for what must be the 12th time, weeping over the sweet, supportive husbands (and counting myself lucky to be in that club) and the idea of people’s writing/publishing dreams coming true. Julia Child’s ’50-’60s Paris is a feast for the vintage lover with its short gloves and cloche-inspired hats and raw silk dresses cinched at the waist and billowing like very elegant souffles at the skirts.
And, of course, there is the never-ending parade of butter. Very vintage.
But, in between salivating over the butter, I was reminded of my Lucy Dress–even though in the depths of a Canadian January, it’s not something I have a hope of wearing for at least another 5 months. Right now, it’s all about the winter wear:
-fleece (guaranteed to make me so full of static electricity that I can snap, crackle pop my way through the house)
– tights that are inevitably too short for my legs
– clothing items that accidentally have too much wool in them because I forgot to check the label or was overly optimistic about how much wool I can stand in the name of warmth, before I brought their itchiness home with me
– turtleneck (I only have one)
This sexy wardrobe seems to be my (not to mention my husband’s) lot from October until May. Today, for example, I was wearing a very un-vintage-y down coat and rubber boots to help my husband unpack supplies to build a shed. It was a good day because my clunky, it’s-a-temperature-outside-that-guarantees-my-long-ago-frostbitten-toes-will-start-aching-without-them-in-3-minutes Sorel-style boots weren’t required. It was “warm” today at 1 degree C but still a long way from a Lucy Dress Day.
I call it the Lucy Dress because when I tried it on, I immediately felt like Lucille Ball. It has that classic 50s dress shape to it, is a luscious shade of red and it makes me want to voop. Y’know, hold the skirt out from my body with the tips of my fingers and swish and twirl and bat my eyelashes…and there you have it: voop, voop. Oh, and maybe eat a little something slathered with beurre blanc and have the classic song, “Time After Time” playing in the background, just to complete the vintage illusion.
But, it’s not time for the Lucy Dress just yet. So, when the next snow storm arrives, I’ll have to content myself with vooping as the snow falls while I try to catch the snowflakes on my tongue. Luckily, that’s pretty fun too.