Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Why you should visit Jasper, Alberta....Part !

One of my all-time favourite stories is Eudora Welty's "Why I live in the P.O."

This story isn't THAT, though as soon as I wrote "why you should visit Jasper, Alberta" Eudora's voice sprang to mind, which makes absolutely no sense, since I was in mid-Alberta in the heart of mountain country and Eudora was in the South.

And I was visiting my brother, who is quite a charming and affable fellow, while Eudora's relatives were less so. However, I have long suspected that I have Sister-like tendencies and have made a mental note to be better about that....

Then I worried that perhaps we were those contrary relatives come to stay and shook that off because A)  we brought liquor and a gift;
B) we took them to dinner twice; and
C) it was us after all and we are a good time except when I can't figure something out on the iPad and refuse to let Barry help me because I want to learn myself.

Now that I have settled that all parties (vistors and visitees) behaved admirably, I must say that this was one of my best trips ever.

I have been through the mountains before.  But never have I had such a good time, seen so much or been hosted by better people than my brother Patrick, his wife Nancy and my niece and nephew who ought to be poster children for having children.

My brother took two fulls days off work, which was much appreciated and squired us hither and yon.

My nephew gave up his bed.

My sister-in-law ate and drank and entertained us and my niece was feisty and impressive.

Wilma the dog was stoic, except when she wasn't.

We won't dwell on her unfortunate incident with Barry's jacket, but it does seem to have bonded him to her forever...

After arriving in a hideous blizzard (which seemed more hideous given that we had left behind 80 degree weather), some treacherous morning driving to Banff and my unnatural ability to make strange sounds whilst traversing hairpin mountain turns, we arrived in Jasper at supper time, just in time to attend Meet the Teacher Night at my nephew's brand-spanking-new high school.   New Brunsickers: it is sad to visit a school in a "have" province.  To say I was jealous would be an understatement.  Sigh...

After a wonderful meal at a great local restaurant, Evil Dave's, we went to bed, exhausted.  Good thing, too as the next day we would be adventuring!

First Stop: Mount Edith Cavell.

The Coles (actually, Wikipedia) Notes on Miss Edith:

Edith Louisa Cavell (/ˈkævəl/; 4 December 1865 – 12 October 1915) was a British nurse. She is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers from both sides without distinction and in helping some 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgiumduring the First World War, for which she was arrested. She was subsequently court-martialled, found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. Despite international pressure for mercy, she was shot by a German firing squad. Her execution received worldwide condemnation and extensive press coverage.
She is well known for her statement that "patriotism is not enough". Her strong Anglican beliefs propelled her to help all those who needed it, both German and Allied soldiers. She was quoted as saying, "I can’t stop while there are lives to be saved."[1] 12 October is appointed for her commemoration in the Anglican church, although this is not a "saint's feast day" in the traditional sense.
Edith Cavell, who was 49 at the time of her execution, was already notable as a pioneer of modern nursing in Belgium.

The Edith Cavell we saw:

That's a glacier winding its way down the mountain on the right.
A few months ago, a large piece fell off and changed the landscape below and washed out a large area.
I watched it VERY carefully....

Me following my brother and Wilma the wonder dog up the mountain.
It was so cold and you can see I am well bundled!

The tip of the glacier coming down to the glacier lake below.
Those massive ridges below were caused by the piece that fell.

Looking back behind us to other peaks...

My brother and I.  Good looking chap, huh?

Heading back down.  It was STEEP!

Barry and I - trying to stay warm!

Me in front of a brook as we head down the mountain!

We stopped at the lake down below.
This really helps you see how high up we were.
The peak is 3,300 metres high - over 10,000 feet

The water is the most amazing green down below.
None of my pictures do it justice.
None of the pictures I have ever seen do it justice!

On the way up towards the peak we passed a mother bear and two cubs.  Barry shot a video of the two cubs, but hasn't quite figured out how to make it view-able except in the camera!

After we finished, we decided to head for lunch at a great little restaurant called Fomosa.  I highly recommend the Verde Pizza, the wine, and the vanilla gelato.

Next: Wendy and Barry reach new heights and though they are thrilled, are very afraid...  Okay - Wendy is a little afraid...

Those who hate travelogues, feel free to pour yourself a drink and wait till about Sunday....

Happy to be home, but missing the mountains!  xoxo wendy

Monday, September 8, 2014

Packing, Anniversaries, and the unfortunate incident of the chipmunk.....

We are off for a few days to visit my brother and his wonderful family in the mountains.

It is a big trip for Barry and I. The first time we drove through the rocky mountains was in 1986 en route to a new life in British Columbia.

British Columbia proved not to be for us, but the few times I have been through the Rockies have always been a treat.

one of the things I am expecting to see!
The weather has been brilliant here - hot and sunny - but we are going into cooler weather out west, so I began to dig out some fall clothing.   Then it turned to snow and I bought some new, heavier, fall boots, the Blundstone:

Junior (10C-9) Blunnies (Rustic Brown)

It is a truth universally unacknowledged that every trip requires the purchase of some thing that until almost the day before you leave you did not realize was lacking in your closet.

Fortunately for me, it turns out I fit into child-sized Blundstones, which are half the price of their grown-up compatriots.

Then I needed a new fleece.  Mustn't be cold...  Say hello to the Royal Robbins Snow Wonder fleece jacket:

Snow Wonder Fleece Jacket

I recently purged again and my closet is now only filled with "me" things.

I thought of you Blue Booby, when I found this much cheaper knock-off that reminded me of your Emerson Fry coat:

I am taking a page from Jennifer's book and packing mostly black and denim.

The top above is the most flattering blouse from Canadian Designer Robert Kitchen, paired with a bamboo camisole.

I liked the look so much - and it was half-price - that I bought it in a neutral shade as well:

The thing for me is always my footwear.  And coats.

We will be casual and likely walking a lot.  We are planning one really fancy dinner out at Chateau Lake Louise next Saturday night, so a fancy pair will be required.  Sneakers, boots and a pair of black satin kitten heels are the order of the day.

The rest of my packing is very simple - one dress, jeans, t shirts, a sweater, and two cardigans.   All black or ivory.

Free People cowl-neck sweater

Everything will work with everything else and there is no need to take a lot with me.  And if I didn't have to take the bloody boots and extra jacket, I would be grand....

The key is always comfort on long flights, coupled with nice fabrics.  Adornments will be limited to red lipstick and funky silver earrings.

And as always, one must always leave room in one's suitcase to bring home a treasure or two...

Yesterday was our 29th wedding anniversary.  For those of you not on Facebook, I posted these photos from 1985:

hmmm - not sure my dress is coming back in style...

On rather sad news, there was a serious "hum" in our laundry room this week.

It seems a chipmunk decided to sleep with the angels in the Dryer out-take hose (or whatever the hell you call that thing).  Not nice.  For him (her? it?) or us!  It has gone to be with Baby Jesus, our laundry room has been febreezed....

And finally, in the you didn't ask, but we tell anyway, category, we replaced the slip-covered couch in the dining room with this gorgeous blue linen love seat:

This picture makes it seem bluish-grey, but in fact, it is a lovely sky blue.  We were not looking for one when we found it, but decided that it was looking for us and thus it is home with us in all its glory.

You will likely not hear from me here till next Tuesday, as I imagine we will be quite preoccupied with our adventures, but I will be posting the odd pic to Facebook and perhaps even to instagram if I can drag myself into the 21st century!  Have the loveliest of weeks and stay safe out there!

Oh wait!!!

Kate is pregnant again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I shouldn't be this excited, but I am!  We will have to have a WHOLE conversation about THAT next week!!!!

xoxo wendy

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Remembering Joan Rivers

"For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?”
Jane Austen

You either thought she was hysterically funny or obnoxious, but you should have respected her for a 50+ year in a business that was, and continues to be, male-dominated.

joan rivers birthday

I leave it to others to do the psychological profiling of a person who feels that they must do this to their face:

joan rivers birthday

And really, who am I to judge it?  She never made any secret of her predilection for self-improvement. 

We forget what it is like to be one of the first people to circumnavigate the globe; for certainly, Joan's ascent in the male-dominated world of stand-up comedy in the sixties was almost the equivalent.

She told jokes about women that "nice" girls weren't supposed to tell.  She told jokes about a woman's experience in this life that men wouldn't have been interested in telling.  She brooked no censorship, no discomfort.  And because she would joke about the pill, about sex, about everything, she made it okay for others to joke about it, too.

Joan's fascination with fashion all but created the red carpet one-upmanship we see amongst designers and celebrities.

She was brash.  There were no taboos.  If audiences gasped at what she said, she believed she'd hit the mark.

She kicked down doors so that other women could stroll through them.

The documentary A Piece of Work, an at times sad, at times jubilant, at times sentimental, documentary of her life, is a wonderful gift to her fans.

I count myself as one.  For many of us, it the ability to laugh at the absurd, to hold no sacred cows, to mock the un-mock-able, is absolutely critical.  Did I love every Joan Rivers joke?  No.  Did you sometimes cross the line? Um-yes.  But did I admire the hell out of her?  I sure did.

Every society needs these court jesters, these men and women who hold a mirror up to us and say you are not as important as you think you are.

In my family, being funny and clever was prized above all.  Let others get A+++.  Let others win Nobel Prizes,  Can you think of a funny comeback during some sad or stressful event?  Take a seat at our table. You are our people.

Joan will be celebrated in style in her beloved NYC today.  To have lost her and Robin Williams within one month of one other seems not all that funny to me, but Joan would find it hysterical.  You either laugh or you cry and whine your way through this life.  Joan drew her line in the sand early on about how she was going to live her life and never deviated from it.

Rest in Peace, Joan.  You were an original.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Why I garden....

“We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand, and it is no good moving from place to place to save things; because the shadow always follows. Choose a place where you won't do harm - yes, choose a place where you won't do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine.” ― E.M. ForsterA Room with a View

There was a time, early on, when I gardened to make things more beautiful for myself; there is nothing I love so much in life as a nice view.  

The many hydrangeas that line the driveway go from a soft green
to a downy white to eventually, the most delicious blush hue...

Like all people who have gone to Europe before me, I came home and realized that what I really needed was a GARDEN.   Very Henry James of me...

Oh sure, I had a small garden before, but now I wanted paths, potagers, perennials.


And so, over the past six years, I have toiled away and now it is getting to be quite lovely.

I would like to say that the pot has been artfully placed.
It has not.  In fact, it is has been lying on its side for a month.

Early on, I used my garden as a way to relieve the stress of a job that could be overwhelming.  

Weeding was a meditative practice and still is I guess.

I cannot tell you what I think about when I weed.

In fact, I am sure I don't think about anything at all, but can that really be so?  If it is then I am thankful, since having some time without racing thoughts is a joy, is it not?

And there is always a surprise.

The butterfly bush which suddenly decides to bloom just as the butterflies are
contemplating leaving...

The phlox that suddenly decides it wants to be the showgirl
in a white/yellow composition.
Who am I to argue with a phlox?

The glorious fragility of the white phlox buds,
no doubt worried that Ms. Pink is coming any time now...

But something happened a few years ago and it has been creeping up on me ever since.

Around 2010 or so I realized that I stopped gardening for the view and discovered that now I garden for the birds and the bees.

Where I live, bees are not doing so well.  We spend so much time putting junk on our grass and food and not enough time thinking about the impact of that junk.  Our bees may be our canaries in the coal mine.

Most of my plantings are in support of them and I am happy to report that 2014 was a bit of a bee-naissance here in my garden.

Not the number of bees of my childhood, so many bees that woe-betide the child who was so stupid as to walk across a field of clover sans sneakers....

But those days are gone for now.  And so I must help all that I can.

So basically, whatever the bees loved, they got.

They REALLY loved my lavender.  And so I cut very little this year and left the rest to my voracious friends.

think of the sachets that might have been....

In fact, my whole garden has a forgotten fairy tale quality about it these days, for no weeding here till after the frosts.  Everything belongs now to the birds and the bees and the butterflies, who are feasting constantly.


I admit to a grand love affair with bee balm,
something I share with the bees and the hummers...

I admit to being a little in love with this phase of the garden; the glorious decadence of June and July has slowly given way to a last gasp of beauty.


I stay out of everyone's way except to watch and enjoy.  The weeds will still be there in a month...

The unruly can be cut back..

You wouldn't think there would still be something sweet in there,
 but the bees keep finding it...

Early in the morning we see the bees resting on the flowers, so sleepy that you feel you could give their backs a good scratch.  Later in the day is quite another matter.

Soon the bees will be gone.

My hummers are eating nonstop, readying for their grand adventure.

There is a metaphor here in this last gasp of beauty, allowed to age naturally and beloved for doing so.

So much in life now is about extending youth.  About extending June at the expense of September.

But September is just as lovely, just as beautiful, albeit in a less flashy way.

There is a knowing in the late summer garden that doesn't exist in the June one.  The tropical storm weathered, the heat wave, the pool parties, the wine in the gazebo, the visits by groundhogs and skunks and squirrels and deer.  The surprise plant that suddenly showed up, uninvited.  The anthill that refuses to be moved.

We give too much up if we hang on to those early days.  And by allowing the garden to fade, allowing the bees and the birds the luxury of eking every last bit of life out of the plants, we ensure that next year's garden will be just as lovely, if not more so.

We ought to do that for ourselves as well.  We ought to love ourselves just as much in September.

So now I garden for them: all the salamanders that I almost step on when I head out for my morning walks, the wee frogs, the hummers that perform 18 hours daily free of charge, the bees, the dragon flies.  One night two weeks ago, Barry and I took Indy for an evening walk and there were hundreds of dragonflies in the air around the corner.

We believe we live in an age without miracles, but I tell you, when you have hundreds of dragon flies flying around your head, you feel like Alice through the looking glass.

I garden for all the of the creatures impacted by our wanton disregard of the world around us due to our false belief that we are separate from them.

And I can tell you that I have spent more happy hours in the company of the bees than in many of the useless meetings I was forced to sit through in my career.  At least their stingers are apparent!

And in the end, I garden to make my corner of the world a little lovelier, more gentle.  And if you need that respite, and I believe we all do, I encourage you to visit, or better yet, create your own.

“To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.” 

And that, Janet, is why I garden!

Have a glorious Labour Day!  Stay Safe out there!

xoxo wendy

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Style Wednesday: the sweater jacket

Ah the jacket/blazer.

There are some on whom the blazer is a thing of beauty.  So "je ne sais quoi", so effortlessly chic.

And then there are the short women with large chests.  

These are the women for whom the jacket becomes just another bulky layer, just another way to shout to the world "look at me!  all of my weight is up THERE!!!"  You can see the arrows pointing at you from every direction.

There are exceptions of course.

A really expensive, well cut jacket of a lightweight material, can hold it all in AND add shape, all while skimming over the girls in the most becoming of ways.

That jacket/blazer, my friends, is like the unicorn, and when you find it you must buy it forthwith and be glad.  You can even gloat a bit to your busty pals, feeling their steely gaze of contempt and remorse upon your contained self.

But for me, for most of us, the solution is the sweater jacket/blazer.

A knit version that adds little bulk, skims and supports, makes you feel dressy without feeling like the Michelin Man.

I have a few of these beauties in my closet and I have seen a few more that can go casual or more dressy depending upon what you pair them with.

Fossil has introduced the Erin Sweater Blazer, which comes in 3 colours.  I am choosing to showcase the Dani BP colour story one:

WC2730P - Erin Sweater Blazer

I have no experience with Fossil clothing, so I cannot recommend or not recommend this, but I think it is awfully nice and seems very fall-ish to me.

Banana Republic has a number of sweater jackets in their fall rollout:

Moto Sweater Jacket
Moto Sweater jacket

Textured Moto Jacket
Textured Moto Jacket
  • Faux-Leather Trim Moto Sweater Jacket
    Faux Leather Trim Moto Jacket
It appears that BR is all over the moto jacket, which I don't mind at all, as I quite like it.

Other options:

How aboout the Brora Biker Jacket:

It does seem as if the whole world has gone Sons of Anarchy, doesn't it?

Talbots has a nice version:

Talbots Merino Stand-Collar Sweater Jacket
Teacups - I noticed Talbots has a sweater with teacups!

For those whom money is not an object, I think the Balmain version below would be a dandy:

 knit blazer-balmain structural knit jacket in black

or this Loro Piana cashmere number:

 knit blazer-loro piana losanna cashmere blazer

And I would love Smythe's chubby faux fur sweater/jacket.  I have seen this in person and it is magnificent!

Mongolian Chubby (Faux) in Black

I am still interested in the BR grey moto jacket, but I can wait for a sale..

  • Boiled Wool Moto Jacket

For me, in the end, a knit blazer is a wonderful thing.  It has only taken me about 20 years to figure that out!

How about you?  Any one else a knit jacket/blazer fan?

Hope you have a wonderful day - stay safe out there!

xoxo wendy