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Brace yourselves, my darlings.  It’s that time of year, again.

It’s swimsuit season.

I say “brace yourselves” because we women seem to do a mighty fine job of beating ourselves up when it comes to what we’re wearing in the pool or at the beach.

It’s just a pool, people.

Ditto for the beach.

No cause for that sheen of sweat and feeling of desperation in the pit of our stomachs, now is there?

Especially when we could wear this vintage beauty:

blue, crocheted 50s two-piece bathing suit

My kindred spirit friend Anne-Girl sent it to me a while ago.

It came through the real-for-true, old-fashioned mail, the way all vintage things should.

I have to admit, I was slightly taken aback when I opened the package and found a blue, crocheted bathing suit — sized about four decades too small for me–to boot.

But maybe some of you get bathing suits through the mail all the time, because you buy your swimsuits online.

What, what, what?

I can’t fathom it.  You see, I’ve always gone for the tried-and-true way of buying a bathing suit:  the festival that is the fluorescent-lit mall or big box or even boutique store change room.  I am accustomed to the usual view of acres of me, unflatteringly lit with row upon row of fluorescents as I attempt to corral bits in with only the thin sheen of some kind of high-tech fabric.

Not high-tech enough, however, to hold up that which needs holding.

Or squeeze in that which needs squeezing.

Oh sure, we can send people to the International Space Station in suits that let them breathe in zero atmosphere but we can’t manage to conjure up a single swimsuit that will hold bits or squeeze bits the way I’d love them to.

I think I miss corsets.

two ladies wearing 1900s bathing suits

Photo credit: Dorothea and Maryal Knox in the surf at Rye, NY, ca.1900. Courtesy of Schlesinger Library, RIAS, Harvard University and

Or what about these pantaloon bathing costumes – weren’t those great?  Let’s ask some Hollywood/Fashion Week style dictator to bring those back. please oh pretty please.  I think I could love a bathing suit that covered me from ankles to earlobes.

I sunburn easily and am always cold.

Anne-girl’s mother obviously loved this blue beauty because she wore it and loved it enough to emigrate to Canada with it, save it for half a century and pass it down to her daughter, who–knowing a wacky vintage-loving woman across the province–passed it down to me.

I love it.  I love the buckles, I love the crochet, I love how the bottoms come up All The Way to the belly button (or higher).

On someone four decades smaller than I, of course.

Yep, love this bathing suit.

Being a woman brought up in the times when we were taught to constantly criticize our bodies, it has occurred to me that I can’t say “I love it” very often about a bathing suit in my possession.  In fact, the last bathing suit I loved was at the age of four.  I inherited a “bikini” from a more sophisticated five year-old friend and gleefully pranced about in it all summer, belly un-corraled.

My belly hasn’t been un-corraled in quite some time.  On account of, I don’t have any core strength, as evidenced by the fact that I recently started doing core exercises (again) and didn’t notice their effect in the slightest during my regular waking hours until I went to bed and Practical Man informed me in the morning that I had groaned each and every time I rolled over in the night.

It turns out, I roll over a lot.  And, apparently, if you exercise your core, it hurts to roll over.  But, then, hopefully, after a few months of midnight groaning, your rolly bits don’t roll over your waist band quite as much as they used to.

At least, they better not.

Well, unless you count the times while I’m in the change room, trying to corral all the bits of my (apparently un-used) core, hold up that which needs holding and squeeze in that which needs squeezing, with only thin pieces of man-made fabric at my disposal.

Which, I don’t.

Anyway, run away from the fluorescent humiliation that is the bathing suit change room.

Run away, I say!

And, stop skulking behind that beach towel.

Wear your suit proudly because you’re already a bathing beauty.

Just like this one.

blue crocheted two-piece 50s bathing suit

Copyright Christine Fader, 2015.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet




photo credit:  Shawn

Photo credit: Shawn Ford

Someday soon, I’ll tell you about our great northern escape to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s cottage–which they call “the camp” (less pretentious)–and which, despite its beautiful lakeside location, will never be referred to as “the lake house” (even more pretentious) or “the compound” (we are obviously not Kennedys).

Every summer should include a vintage cottage, don’t you think?

Even if it does take approximately 8 hours of driving, countless close encounters with partridge, deer, foxes, and chipmunks (whose furry and feathered mamas and papas obviously never taught them to look both ways for the killer automobiles before they crossed the road), several “comfort” breaks and once, a very treacherous 4-hour detour to nowhere thanks to our bewildered GPS, Emily, who didn’t understand that long-abandoned logging roads from 1950 and bouldered creek beds that have been dry since the same era were not actually ROADS, to get there.

That’s another story and suffice it to say that Emily and I are no longer on speaking terms.

But, hurrah, we arrived without incident at the camp this time and I immediately rushed from the car to one of my favourite features:  the vintage outhouse.

I had been holding it since Mattawa and oh sure, there is indoor plumbing at this vintage cottage but, where’s the fun in that?

Maybe you thought that since I am sometimes a little reluctant vis-a-vis The Nature, that I would never darken the door of one of these crescent-moon-bedecked beauties.

Silly you.

In fact, I consider myself a bit of a vintage outhouse connoisseur and really, who wouldn’t want that written on their tombstone?

The outhouse at this camp is quite the snazzy specimen.   Not only does it boast the requisite reading material (Ontario Out of Doors), but it has a light–all the better to see the mosquitoes with–, a genuine, real-for-true linoleum floor, walls of gleaming white and fetching ivy stenciled around.

Such a refined and genteel outhouse it is, that I’m tempted to upgrade the name of the whole place to “The Compound”.

Take that, Kennedys.

I see your Martha’s Vineyard and raise you one McLaren’s Bay.

The outhouse attached to the Little Cottage at my grandparents’ 60s cottage was not the fanciest version but it holds great affection as it was the first foray I can remember into the world of outhouses.  The Little Cottage was the original “bunkie” on the property, relegated to guest quarters and later a playhouse for us grandkids after the main cottage was built.

Oooh and its outhouse was replete with vintage charm and a certain je ne sais quoi.

First, you exited the one-room Little Cottage through a door into a slatted “hallway” that was for all intents and purposes, outside (all the better for allowing the midnight moon to shine through), complete with a small sink and mirror.  A right turn and another door opened to to the throne itself, festooned with Reader’s Digests galore and, if my memory serves, some of-the-era carpeting and a can of air freshener.

I think that was the je ne sais quoi.

More recently, I have frequented an outhouse that is not vintage, but harkens back to yesteryear with its wooden structure and back-to-basics design.  It involves a slightly perilous climb up a sandy, milkweed and thistle-dotted hill and a door that refuses to stay shut, despite the handy log kept nearby for just that purpose.  Also, our friends must have been anticipating very tall visitors.  Assuming the position (after a bit of a running jump) causes me, at nearly 6 feet tall, to have dangling feet.   It’s worth the slight indignities and aerobic exercise however, for this outhouse boasts a magnificent salvaged window with a glorious view over the pond.

But, the leader in the outhouse division has always been the outhouse at my aunt and uncle’s cottage:  the Stoker Bay outhouse.

(Sound the trumpets.)

With its twin side-by-side holes (one with pink toilet seat, one with blue), chalkboard (for composing Stoker Bay Outhouse Poetry) and Outhouse Poetry Notebook (for the rhyming couplet gems that just shouldn’t be lost to a chalkboard eraser), it was the standard to which all other outhouses have been held, since.

The double seater outhouse is such a rarity these days.   I’m sure I’m not the only one who yearns for those cozy-up-with-a-friend bathroom times because visiting this outhouse was an EVENT.

In the summer, it was hot and full of mosquitoes, deer flies and the odd directionally-challenged tree frog.

In the winter, you had to sit with your snowpants on the seat for a while to warm it up before getting down to the deed.

But no matter the season, you could take a friend (or, let’s face it, become friends as a result) and sit, shorts around ankles, slapping at mosquitoes or shivering while dreaming up your latest outhouse poem.

Now, those were some classic moon-June-spoon ditties, let me tell you.

We pause and ponder life and lunch,
We think of bikes and art,
We ruminate on all things fine,
and then, of course, we fart.

Oh, my years of writing Stoker Bay Outhouse Poetry have served me well, haven’t they?

This high-brow art form was, of course, most appreciated–if at all–by those under 13 (or those slightly intoxicated or those with a Y chromosome or any combination thereof).

Even if a couple of visitors weren’t feeling particularly poetically-inclined, one look through the slightly damp, dog-eared Outhouse Poetry Notebook and the giggling would ensue.

And, if you haven’t giggled in an outhouse, well, you really haven’t lived.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2014.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet         You might also like my latest book.

If anyone asks you what I’ve been doing this week, the answer is:  sweating and scratching out in The Nature that I love…not so much.

It’s 42 degrees Celsius today with the humidex.  That means a balmy 34 degrees REAL temperature and 127 degrees behind my ears and around my ankles.  Oh, my ankles are so steamy.

So, like all good Canadians, we’re complaining.

It was only a couple of months ago that we complained about the endless winter and grumbled about the “s” word on the radio threatening more of the white stuff in April.  Practical Man sort of sniffs the air to figure out if it’s time to take the snowblower off the tractor yet.  He’s like a weather barometer with alluring twinkles so even when the radio is threatening the “s” word repeatedly, I trust the twinkles.   Besides, everyone knows that April showers (not snowballs) are supposed to bring May flowers.

Just ignore that little snowbank over by the tulips.

And, it was only last month that we complained about the unnaturally cool Spring and we were still wearing jeans and socks, by golly and socks were the worst thing in the world in June, which is an especially hard month on account of there is not a single holiday weekend in Ontario.  Is it too much to ask during such a vacation-desolate and trying month to be able to wear sandals without having blue, frozen toes?

Because, blue toes don’t go particularly well with my favourite vintage-inspired sandals:

My vintage-inspired sandals

Then, it was only last week that we were admiring the unnaturally lush summer verdant surroundings while simultaneously complaining about the rain, rain and more rain and the grass, grass and more grass which wouldn’t stop growing and the never-ending mowing and trimming and mowing and trimming..and by the way, where were the true stretches of sunshine and hot summer weather?

They were in Jamaica, that’s where.

But now, finally, we’re sweating it out in a trillion gazillion degrees and humidity that makes my elbows and the backs of my knees sweat and my hair curly (and not in a particularly good way).  Practical Man doesn’t sweat (I always knew he was made of steel) and the only way he can keep from turning into the human torch (I think I’m mixing super hero metaphors here) is to stop whatever chore he’s doing (because hot weather is not an excuse to just laze around, except for me, of course) and jump in the pool every 15 minutes or so.

And then, he complains that it’s not cold enough.  Which, I think means he might also be like Aquaman.

I’m not sure.

But, we’re not just sweating, because we’ve been camping and we live in Canada.   Which means, inevitably, we’re also scratching.  With all the rain, rain, rain, the bugs have been planning and conspiring and working on an advance to contact with my ankles.  Now, I have sweaty, itchy ankles.  They say that life is what happens when you’re making other plans.  I say:  bugs are what happen when you’re making camping plans.

The back of our Boler

Our Boler…which I l-o-o-o-ve. This is what you see if you’re driving behind us. Hello!

We were camping in our 1974 Boler travel trailer, which, you may recall that I l-o-o-o-ve in a way that may be very annoying to some.

For instance, people in RV sales.

When we first bought the Boler, we went to an RV store to source some parts for it and when the salesman heard we had a Boler trailer, he immediately said, “Well, you’re gonna wanna trade that in right away for something GOOD!”  Which, of course, offended me greatly.

Greatly, greatly.   Because I l-o-o-ove the Boler, as you may recall.

However, I just smiled and told evil RV sales guy that there was nothing better than a Boler but on the way home, I decided that sales guy probably hated classic Volkswagen Beetles and all the other truly joyous things in life too and I got myself into a real state of vintage vehicular protectiveness.  I had vintage indignity and outrage out the wazoo and I wasn’t even sure I knew where my wazoo was.  But, I did know deep down and finally had to admit, that there are some who don’t like the whole vintage camping thing.  Especially those who embrace modern conveniences such as air conditioning and indoor plumbing.  So, I tried my best to calm my wazoo down.

Anyway, we’ve been camping in the vintage Boler, which is nearly 40 years old and deserves our respect, love and a little forgiveness if it happens to go a little wacky every now and then, without fear of being traded in for some snazzy trailer with A/C, indoor plumbing and an on-board microwave.

Not that I’m 44 and know anything at all about going wacky every now and then, but I can identify with the Boler’s little wacky elements sometimes.  Like, when the right tire was flat when we pulled it out of the shelter to prep for the trip.  And, when the bed was just a smidge too short for our tallish frames to stretch out fully, so our toes got a little cramped squishing up against the rounded walls while we were sleeping.

feet against the wall in the Boler

My feet can wiggle a little…

But, there is a completely groovy vintage  avocado green stovetop and “range hood”, which in my book, makes the Boler fabulous.

our Boler kitchen

Behold the avocado green greatness

We also have screens in every wind-out window (which means we can leave them open to the breeze, even in the pouring rain, unlike a modern trailer).  And there is a completely low-maintenance, sweepable, washable fibreglass floor.

Boler windows

Our groovy Boler windows

So there, RV sales guy.

Uh huh, our Boler is like the vintage Batmobile…only  portly and cute.  It’s my idea of perfect camping and I l-o-o-o-ve it.

Plus, my husband was like a sniper with a fly swatter for any errant buzzers that managed to sneak their way in while we had the door open.   Such a bonus for my sweaty, itchy ankles that he thought to bring–and can so ably wield–the instrument of my tormentors’ demise.  And that reminds me which of the many superheroes he really is:

He’s Practical Man, of course.


Copyright Christine Fader, 2013.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet