Sixteen years of Treehouse talk

Sixteen years of Treehouse talk

Monday, August 02, 2021

Fall Clothes: Kick Up Your Teals

A few years ago, I decided that I  really liked ankle boots. I found a funky pair at the thrift store, and then a couple of plainer ones from a clearance aisle. But they are all now on their last legs, so to speak. So I planned on replacing them this fall with something practical and neutral.

Then these came along.

Well, wouldn't you?

After all, this is still one of my favourite paintings:
Arthur Lismer, A September Gale, Georgian Bay (1921).

And these are, pretty much, my favourite bracelets. 

So, yes, teal it is for this fall. Varying shades of teal can be problematic: some teal is greenish, some is more blue, some is quite you can't assume that everything will just match. But let's see what's already in the closet and go from there.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Thrift Talk, Part Two: When You've Lost Your Mojo

It happened again this week. I thrifted an otherwise-nice blouse that turned out to be too tight under the arms.

Blame the lack of fitting rooms. 

Maybe I should just stick to non-clothes for awhile. After all, I did a good closet-clean-out-and-fall-check-in recently, and I could really get along for quite awhile without buying much. I was given a few donations by a daughter, and I also have a few colder-weather things I found at the end of the winter that got stored and sort of forgotten.

But it can be frustrating to feel like you're on an un-roll. How do you win back your thrifting confidence?

Well, consider first of all that you might already have enough stuff. Really. Because if you're looking for something you really need, like a pair of jeans when your last ones are wearing out, you're more apt to put your heart into looking, care more about what you find and get it right, than if it's a random blouse. The blouse was mostly my fault: I should have looked more carefully at the size tag, I was probably going too fast. Sometimes choosing something quickly is okay, but other times it's a sign that you're just adding too much to your salad bar plate. There are definitely times to take a break.

If you have a bunch of things that you've already thrifted (or yard-saled, or swapped) and haven't really used, this is the time to dig them out and give them some appreciation. I read somewhere recently that buying something brings a certain commitment along with it. By buying a book, you're showing that you have the intention of reading it, right? You buy a game, and that implies that you want to play it; a puzzle, that you want to put it together; some fabric, that you like it enough to want to sew something from it. You buy the bread machine or the smoothie maker because you want to make pizza or drink healthy green things. So have you done those things? That's not meant to be a guilt inducer, but a fun, creative-juices approach that might make future thrifting a little clearer. If you use the fabric to sew doll clothes or pillows or stuffed toys, that might give you ideas for future projects that also need fabric, or trims, or patterns, or sewing gadgets. But if you can't bring yourself to pull out the materials and make something, that's a good sign that your sewing days are done: don't buy more.

You can switch to a different category of things to look for. I never used to look at table linens much, but over the past couple of years I have put together a collection of placemats, napkins, and runners, plus assorted candles and holders, because my husband and I enjoy making dinnertime a daily "event," even if it's just leftovers. This turned out to be a good thing when we weren't able to go out to eat for a long time.

You could help somebody else thrift, or library-sale, or whatever it is you do best.

If you have enough self-restraint, you could look at things and learn about them, but don't buy anything. Look at the art up on the walls, or the silent-auction or other premium things you usually pass by. Enjoy looking at the colourful dishes, even if you'd never use egg-cups or Bunnykins bowls. That's pretty much what I do when we visit antique markets: occasionally I buy something, but most of it is just looking, admiring (or not), helping my husband look for old radios, and remembering an uncle who liked clown pictures, a neighbour who had those same funny canisters on her counter, or a friend who had that coveted Barbie carrying case (but I had the Country Camper). Patience pays off: we looked at and said no to a lot of old chairs before we came across the ones we bought last month.

So, yes, in the end, patience is probably the big thing. Keep looking, and stay open to adventure.

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Your mother was a hamster

Here are the questions to this week's Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back here  to add your link to the party. See you there! 

From this Side of the Pond
1. Four words that tell us something about your July?

I got my hair cut.

2. Four of your favorite summer foods?

Cherries, ice cream cones, blueberries, watermelon.

3. What were you doing at a quarter past four yesterday? 

It's way too complicated to explain here.

Briefly, trying every which way to get through the gate of an online castle that preferred to keep me out. (I'm not a hacker, it was all very legitimate, but try explaining that to the kniggits on top of the walls.) But we eventually figured it out. Thank you to my husband who kept an eye on the pizza in the oven while I dealt with the cyber dragons.

4. fore!, four letter word, four sheets to the wind, ten-four, 24/7, four eyes, these four walls....pick a 'four' phrase and tell us how you relate currently

Four eyes? Yes, I did get to the optometrist last week and did a computerized peripheral vision test (jacked-up version of the thing you do when you get your driver's license). I guess all those rounds of Space Invaders paid off.

5. Something you own that is four years old? 

Something four years old would be whatever we acquired the spring/summer that we moved from our house to the apartment. So that would include the mundane stuff like the clothes drying racks, but also the little table we bought at Ten Thousand Villages, and the painting of a local farm that is now hanging over our bed.

6. Randomness?

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Monday, July 26, 2021

New Treehouse Series: Thrift Talk. Part One: "Chatting Fears"

I've been looking at tables and racks of used stuff, one way or another, for the past fifty years. I just came across a blog post from about fifteen years ago that mentions some of my "early days." Flea markets and church bazaars were pretty much it, though, until yard sales started becoming more common here in the 1980's, and it was also  around that time that I found my first thrift shop. Ask me about the cowboy boots some time...and the vintage record player...and the entire set of antique china dishes that I bought at a yard sale during high school but never did end up using.

Our kids grew up during the peak of yard sales and big church rummage sales, both of which seem to have fallen off a bit in recent years (and not just because of the pandemic). They were also around for the changes in thrift shopping, some of which have been an improvement and some I'm still not sure about. What we've definitely seen over that quarter-century has been (as many have said elsewhere) a huge increase in the stuff people buy, and the stuff they then have to dispose of, and the stuff that the thrift stores now have to deal with.

My own take on what to buy (and what to keep) has changed over that time as well. Amy Dacyczyn's Tightwad advice in the early '90's was, more or less, if you could get whatever it was free or cheap, and you had the space to store it, you might as well hang on to anything that might come in handy. It was a making-do kind of simplicity, and if you were going to use what you had, you needed to have some "had" in the house. In recent years, though, there's been more public...I almost want to say scrutiny...of too much "had." I have to be careful not to mix up current perceptions of "Minimalism" (and its cousin "Essentialism") with my own changing needs as an empty-nester. It would be easy for me to say "you don't have to hang on to so much, look, I don't," but I don't know what your circumstances are and what you might need today or tomorrow. 

I do agree with Dana White's "container concept" of managing your space, and I wish I'd come across it a long time ago; I think it's good advice whether you live in a big house or a tiny one. A  fictional example is a murder mystery called Closet Confidential by Mary Jane Maffini, one of those paperback series where the sleuth is also a florist or a baker or whatever; in this case she's a professional organizer with two clients. One is a rich ex-fashion model who has seven closets full of designer clothes. The other is a middle-aged woman living in a chaotic household, who is gifted a makeover of her small closet (but it has to be on a budget). The contrast between the two is amusing, but it's what Charlotte (the organizer) says to her rich client that is the point here: when it becomes clear that she's just not ready to get rid of much, Charlotte suggests that maybe what she needs is another, bigger closet. Sounds crazy, but this is a wealthy person who lives for her personal image, and she has enough space in her mansion to build an entire clothes library if she wants one. The other client gets a tidy little space with hanging shelves (bought with a coupon). Charlotte has no fixed minimalist agenda for either of these women; she just accepts them where they are. And it seems to me that in our own lives we might go through seasons where we have the luxury of space and of deciding what goes in it; and other times where every inch is precious and we find ourselves playing the old "desert island" game. The trick, as Marcus Aurelius said, is to see things, even shelves and closets, for what they are, and to be grateful and content in either case.

I saw one article recently that went overboard analyzing why you shouldn't buy too much secondhand stuff, because if you do, and you then commit the crime of re-donating it, you're just as much a part of the problem as the person who bought it in the first place. But during the past year and a half, when the thrift stores have been allowed to open at all, most of them don't even have change rooms; so if you're buying clothes, you're going by labels and eyeball, and even that's not always enough. Last week I bought a pair of pants for a dollar and brought them home. The size was right, and they were even the right length; but whoever wore them before me had stretched out the waistband too much, and that was something I didn't notice until I tried them on. So yes, they're going back, no regrets.

Last night I was reading C.S. Lewis's Letters to Malcolm (borrowed from the library), and at one point he quotes a phrase from George Herbert's poem "Conscience": "Peace, prattler." I looked up the rest of the poem and found these also-appropriate lines:
By listening to thy chatting fears
I have both lost mine eyes and ears.

I'm hoping that this series will be about using eyes and ears, but that it won't be too much of a prattling conscience.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Wednesday Hodgepodge: French Toast

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog then hop back here to add your link to the party. See you there!

From this Side of the Pond
1. Tell us about one small blessing you have counted in the past week? 

Going out for pasta on a patio. (Dine-in still isn't happening here. But it will be by the weekend.)

And also a spur-of-the-moment Saturday breakfast on a patio, to celebrate the reappearance of yard sales. (We had to have a reason.) Mr. Fixit had pancakes, and I had...French toast.

2. Bastille Day is celebrated on July 14th...have you ever been to France? Any desire to visit or re-visit, and if so what site or city would you most want to see? (pretend for a minute international travel isn't an issue) 

Does Quebec City count?

I think I'd like to go see Monet's garden at Giverny. And the Marc Chagall National Museum in Nice.

3. A food associated with France that you love? 



And croissants.

But not really poutine.

4. Something you recently purchased where a coupon was involved? Do you regularly shop with coupons? 

I used to shop with (paper) grocery coupons a lot, when they used to be a thing. Not for a long time now, though. But we still use coupons when we're getting hamburgers.

5. You have to give something away this week...what will it be? 

Have to, as in have to give away something I don't want that I wish would disappear, or something I do want and I have to give it away anyway? Trying not to overthink this...

I'm just going to copy our Hodgepodge hostess and say that I have a bag of this and that accumulating, and I should take a look around and add to it, and it will probably go with us on our next thrifting trip, if I remember to put it in the car. Considering that I went for groceries this morning and a) left all the re-usable bags in the car and b) had misplaced my door key, had to borrow my husband's, and then found the key when we got back in the exact place I had thought it should be but swore that it wasn't, I'm not entirely convinced that I'll remind myself early enough to take it along. Maybe a string on my finger.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

As if that wasn't random enough...

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Wednesday Hodgepodge: The Sands Haven't Shifted Much Here

 From this Side of the Pond

1. July 5th is National Hawaii Day...have you ever been to Hawaii? Any desire to visit or make a return trip? Pineapple, mango, or guava...what's your pleasure? 

Have never been, no plans to go, but we just started watching some vintage Hawaii 5-0 DVDs.

2. Last time you were 'thrown in at the deep end'? Explain. 

As in unfamiliar, uncomfortable, sink or swim? I have one of those coming up: a virtual meeting with (hopefully) friendly but mostly unfamiliar people, and I haven't been told much yet about what to expect. I am not exactly what Jan Karon calls She-who-loves-surprises, so I'm hoping some of it gets clarified before I have to take a deep breath and press "join."

3. Sun, sea, sand, salt...your favorite when it comes to summer? 

Right now we are settling for the nearby manmade lake.

4. Bury your head in the sand, the sands of time, draw a line in the sand, pound sand, shifting sands...pick one and tell us how the phrase currently relates to your life in some way.

Sands of time = sanding and waxing time. We recently found two antique oak chairs at a flea market, and we've been working to restore them.

The vendors had put cushions on the chairs to display them, but they didn't include them in the sale. Underneath the cushions were very old, sagging seats made of canvas webbing, which Mr. Fixit pulled out (there were a lot of nails!) We bought a piece of plywood, and cut two seat-shaped pieces to replace the canvas.

We gave the chairs a coat of natural-coloured Minwax, and then bought a can of oak-coloured for the next coat. They will get another wax touchup in a few days.

This is a good time of year to look for chair cushions, because there is so much patio furniture still in the stores. We didn't want something that looked too outdoorsy, but we did consider outdoor cushions because the chairs are a similar size to some patio chairs.

 However, we then got lucky at the local Homesense: these four feather-filled, made-in-England pillows were on clearance. Actually three of them were on the clearance rack, and then we found the fourth with the regular-priced pillows, so we asked if we could get the same discount for it, and they agreed. It never hurts to ask!

So now we have our Papa Bear and Mama Bear chairs in the living room.

5. On a scale of 1-10 (1 = make your own rules and 10=like a warden), how strict were your parents? If you're a parent where on the scale do you land? 

Not even going to land, just going to fly by that one.

6. Insert your own random thought here.  

Since our last Hodgepodge, we've celebrated Canada Day and our thirtieth wedding anniversary. And some other things I can't quite remember. Maybe I was burying my head in the sand.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

About a hundred dollars

The thrift stores re-opened here two weeks ago (again), so we've resumed our regular trips to look for stuff for Mr. Fixit to fix and other things just to use and wear and put on the table. Last week I found two wool/silk scarves for $2 each. The purple one is a pashmina, similar to a couple of others I own, but I was still not going to pass it up for $2. The other one also said wool/silk; it looked like a lovely sheer fabric in a denim-blue print. It also had a label that didn't mean anything to me. Until I looked it up this morning.
It turns out that it came from a boutique in Toronto that specializes in cashmere clothing. Scarves similar to that one sell for about a hundred dollars Canadian (about eighty U.S.).

Suddenly my scarf had a value attached to it.

Canadian politician Pierre Poilievre recently made a video showing his attempt to buy something at a coffee shop for a quarter, and all he came away with was a stir stick. In a similar vein, about four years ago I wrote a post about trying to figure out the difference in perceived value between a thrifted top and a similar-fabric, similar-colour dress bought new from a "conscious" clothing firm. There was really no conclusion; I supposed that trying to make comparisons between them was apples and oranges.

Let's say that I put the scarf on (it's been a bit chilly) and we went out to drink coffee on the Tim Horton's patio. (Because we're still not allowed to sit inside.) Let's say that the wind blew the paper cup over, and the coffee spilled all over the scarf, undoubtedly ruining it forever unless some dry cleaner knows how to get coffee stains out of blue cashmere/silk. Has this just been my most expensive (hypothetical) coffee stop ever? Or did I only ruin something that cost me just slightly more than Poilievre's coffee stirrer; a scarf that cost exactly the same as a polyester one from the dollar store, so it wouldn't even be worth cleaning?

Let's say that I had gone shopping in Toronto, had stopped in at that boutique (it's near my aunt's house), had fallen in love with this scarf, perhaps had some gift money in my purse, and had decided to fork over the hundred dollars plus tax. If I had somehow then left the package behind on the train coming home, I would most certainly (besides kicking myself very hard) have gone to great lengths to track it down. Would I have done the same for a dollar-store scarf? Probably not so much. But what about this one, where paid-value is much much less than retail-value? Where does respect-to-the-maker (or even respect-to-the-animals) come into that? And, finally, what about stewardship? If God provided the scarf, should what I actually paid for it even be a consideration, in terms of wearing it, storing it carefully, keeping it safe from streams of coffee and unintentional train losses?

It's much the same question I asked that time I messed up a thrifted-but-originally-expensive skirt. Is the value of something based on how much or how little you paid, on its appraised or resale price, or on its usefulness or importance in your own life?

And if the answer to that is that we value all things equally because they connect us to the Giver...does that mean that a new two-dollar polyester scarf deserves just as much gratitude and care as one that inspires awe in me just for the mystery of how it can be wool and still let light through? Say if your kid bought the dollar-store scarf for you for Mother's Day?

I still don't know. Maybe.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Wednesday Hodgepodge (Better late than never)

 From this Side of the Pond

1. Something you've seen recently that's 'cuter than a June bug'?

Well, it was going to be a photo of the nest of baby robins under our deck, but all I succeeded in doing was wildly annoying the parents.

2. Tell us something about where you were and what you were doing in June of 1988? If you weren't born yet, June of 1998. Or if that doesn't work, June of 2008. 

June 1988? Oh dear, that wasn't a very good time at all. I was between university years and taking a summer night course (4th year English course on Jungian symbolism and things like that), working other evenings at a bookstore (not as much fun as it sounds), and trying to get enough temp office work during the days to save some money for the fall, and I had just moved into a basement room which then got flooded out when a pipe backed up, and then they had to bring in cleaners and drywallers and carpenters and painters, which took ages, so I spent part of the summer sleeping upstairs in my landlords' living room, which didn't please them too much either, but they were a bit distracted at the time with a new baby who seemed to howl all night.

I think I got a C in that course. But I'm not blaming the baby, just the pipes. And the heat. And, let's be honest, not caring overly much about finding Jungian symbolism in Paradise Lost.

Actually none of the "8" years were times I really want to remember, aside from maybe 2018. Let's choose another number next time.

3. A place in your home or outdoor space where you feel 'snug as a bug in a rug'? 

Since I'm not a robin, I like open spaces a bit more. I have a desk and computer upstairs in the loft area between the bedrooms.

4. June is National Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Month. Do you normally get your 4-5 servings each day? What's a favorite summer dish you make/serve/like to be served-ha! made with one of your favorite summer fruits. A favorite summer dish made with a favorite summer veg? How do you feel about cooking in the summer months? 

Anything made with summer fruit is fine with me. Mr. Fixit is limiting his fruit intake (various reasons), so I am not as apt as I used to be to throw blueberries into the muffins or to make a peach dessert. But I do buy some just to eat.

We don't stop cooking in the summer--we just try not to use the oven much.

5. Do you have a summer reading list? If so share a title or two we can add to our own. 

Currently re-reading Five Red Herrings (Dorothy Sayers) and Love the House You're In (Paige Rien). Waiting for the thrift stores and libraries here to re-open (again), then maybe I'll have a longer list.

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Randomistic pessimism

 From this Side of the Pond 

1. Realist, idealist, optimist, pessimist...which one are you? Elaborate. 

I am optimistic about my realistic pessimism.

2. What's something currently on your wish list? 

Optimistically or pessimistically?

I just bought a few wish-list summer things (posted about that here).

Besides that? Well, a haircut would be nice after half a year without one.

We need to get some new bedsheets and pillows.

I like the upcycled jean jackets at Six Ways to Sunday, but they're a lot out of my budget. Lydia recently gave me a free jean jacket from her closet purge, so that comes close. Who knows, maybe I could even change the sleeves up like the ones at Six Ways.

3. Three things on this week's shopping list? 

Mayonnaise. Baking soda. Another spaghetti squash to replace this poor victim of vivipary (a word I'd never heard before).

4. According to Trip Advisor here's a list of the top ten things to do in the US this summer-

Chicago Architecture River CruiseSkip the Line Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour, New York In A Day  guided sightseeing tour, Charleston's Old South Historic Horse and Carriage tourGrand Canyon helicopter tourFull day iconic sights of LA, Beverly Hills, Beaches and more, D.C. at Dusk guided night tour, Beneath the Streets Underground History tour (Seattle)New Orleans Swamp and Bayou Boat tour, Gangsters and Ghosts tour in more about each excursion in the link here. 

Of the ten attractions listed which do you find most appealing? Have you already experienced anything on this list?

Haven't done even one of those, unless you count the Charleston Old South Historic Airport Security Line tour. The "sights of LA, Beverly Hills, Beaches" sounds quite nice, makes me think of meeting up with Jim Rockford for tacos. But at this point I might even go for the swamp, if somebody offered it to me.

5. Besides home and work where do you spend the most time? 

Home = work. Other than that?

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

When we moved in here almost two years ago, the back deck had some fake green leafy stuff twined through its end wall. We could have taken it down, but decided to leave it as it was; it added a bit of privacy between us and the busy road. But after this winter, it was showing its age, and Mr. Fixit decided to take the leafy stuff down and bag it up for garbage day. He tied up the bag and left it on the deck. Yesterday when he moved it out front for pickup, he came back and told me there was something moving inside the bag. Really? Like what? Like maybe some little animal that had been nesting in the green stuff, a mouse or a baby chipmunk. I looked too, and it did look like something was moving in there, but it was also a bit windy so it was hard to tell for sure what was moving the plastic bag around. I guess we will never know, because the next time he looked at the garbage bag, there was also a nicely-chewed exit hole in the side. Memo to Mr. Mouse: I'm sorry we destroyed your habitat, but I'm glad you didn't chew your way out indoors!

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

A Georgian Bay Summer Suitcase

Arthur Lismer, A September Gale, Georgian Bay (1921)

The weather, finally, is getting dependably warm. She knows she could get along all right without buying many clothes for the summer. Maybe a pair of shoes. But one day she sees that one of the mainstream Canadian women's clothing stores is having a very good online sale. She's trying to shop more sustainably, but getting a few summer things she likes at a good price also seems reasonable. When the fall clothes come around, it's more likely that she'll find something that pulls a bit more sustainable weight. Or at least that she'll be able to browse the thrift stores again.

The first thing she chooses is a pair of blue chambray pants, with some pleats and waist detailing. These give her a bit of happy nostalgia, as she owned a similar pair about thirty years ago, the summer that she and her future husband were first dating. Strangely enough, The Vivienne Files also decides to do a story featuring chambray blue and pastels. So this feels like not a bad choice for this year.
How about two summer-top versions of September Gale

Here's the water:
And here are the rocks (shown with some jewelry she already owns):
(She also buys some pajamas, but you don't need to see those.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Going, Growing, maybe Throwing

 From this Side of the Pond

1. It's like my mama always said, "______________________________________________." 

Go clean your room?

Our youngest Squirreling did a final move-out recently, which involved a lot of getting rid of stuff. Inspired by her energy, and also by the fact that she gave me a bunch of things she didn't need and that I had to find room for if I wanted them, I also did a good cleanout of clothes-and-stuff-that-gets-stored-with-clothes. It actually all turned out very well, and I am now the second owner of a countertop cosmetics organizer (plus some stuff to put inside it), an extra jean shirt, a handy cardigan, a slip dress, about three bottles of bubble bath, and a couple of books that were on their way to the thrift store. Plus I put my prescription sunglasses in a place where I will remember to take them when I go out instead of somewhere in my bottom drawer.

2. May 11th is National Eat What You Want Day. What will you be having by way of celebration? 

That was yesterday, wasn't it? Right...well, Mr. Fixit made chicken paprikash with noodles.

I ate some green olives in oil and basil from the gift box that my oldest daughter sent for Mother's Day.

Oh, and we stopped and got a couple of doughnuts (the really plain non-messy kind) and coffee while we were out driving around after supper. What we were driving around for was trying to find an outdoor garden section that was open, so we could buy a couple of flower baskets. However, the weather was so rotten out there that I think it would have been more pleasant to stand looking at geraniums in the middle of January, so we gave up and cruised around, picked up the doughnuts, parked by the lake and had a snack in the car.

3. Describe your idea of a perfect spring day.

Finishing the last of a package of mini cinnamon buns for breakfast, photographing violets in the postage-stamp back yard, working on the computer for awhile, stopping for a coffee break with my husband, having a package delivered (see #5), eating leftovers (#2) for lunch plus a piece of chocolate also from the box my daughter sent me for Mother's Day, going back to work while he goes out to pick up a couple of flower baskets to ornament our outdoors (the weather's better today), having little or no idea of what we're going to make for dinner and being okay with that all the same.

Oh yeah, that was today.

And you will notice I didn't say anything about the things we're not doing.

4. Success, fulfillment, growth, achievement...pick one and tell us how it relates to your life in some way, either currently or in days gone by. 

Growth? Babies grow into children grow into adults. We ourselves and the ones we produced. The one who had the butterfly birthday right after we started this blog has spread her poster-board wings and flapped her way out of the Treehouse (see #1).

5. I saw this going around on various social media sites and thought it would be fun to answer here. The last thing you bought on Amazon is your weapon in battle. How will you wield it?  (if you're not an Amazon shopper, then the last thing you bought online anywhere)

A pair of  summer pajamas, teal with a palm tree print.

Ways I could use them as a weapon:

a) Letting the enemies laugh themselves silly

b) Turn the pajama pants into a stone-flinging catapult

c) Soak pajamas in flowery detergent and give the enemy an allergy attack

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

I think that's been random enough already.

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Fashion Revolution Week: An Act of Defiance

 This is Fashion Revolution Week, hosted by

"In an age of ugliness, a work of beauty is an act of defiance" – Sir Roger Scruton

The above quote was used in a video about the ugliness of contemporary buildings (such as monster apartment towers),  by Paul Joseph Watson. He said,

"We are witnessing the uglification of the world. The Globalist goal is to make the whole planet identical in its atomizing dreariness. By dulling our senses they hope to dull our very life essence. This is all inherently totalitarian, but in an age of ugliness, a work of beauty is an act of defiance.”

You can think anything you want about globalism and what "they" want, that's not the point here. Or, rather, that is the point, that no matter where we stand on the political spectrum, there is one common aim: to promote and celebrate a special kind of beauty:

  • the beauty of our world, when we haven't polluted it through the excesses of industry
  • the beauty of natural fabrics and dyes that lessen that pollution 
  • the beauty of colour, and not just the same few colours that a handful of marketers have decided to sell us this season
  • the beauty of human beings who are treated as such in their places of work
  • the beauty of clothes, shoes, and jewelry that are well made, not slapped together
  • the beauty of traditional arts, especially in fabric and jewelry design
  • the beauty of things thoughtfully designed, that don't "make the whole planet identical"
  • the beauty of things cherished and cared for.
We don't have to dress like teenagers or celebrities to promote this kind of beauty. We don't even have to dress in ways that stick out. We can find it in style that appeals to the more mature among us, to those who like things plain, and to those who love to shine. We can find it in imaginative application of colour, and creative uses of a small wardrobe. We can find it in designs that show the beauty of different shapes, sizes, and physical needs; and in clothes that will hold together and look good for a long time. 

Don't ask just "who made my clothes," but "who chose my clothes?" 

All this can be the work of beauty. It can also be our act of defiance.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Fashion Revolution Week: Siege Mentality

Back when her kids were young and she homeschooled them, she found out that she was good at two things: turning yard-saled books and random "stuff" into a coherent curriculum; and reading ancient history with them. Now that she's an empty-nester, she's turned her history lessons into a series of books that get other people's kids interested in the Peloponnesian Wars. And her gift for organized-randomness still gets her called on, now and then, to talk about "stuff." (It also helps her find interesting clothes in thrifty places.)

Recently she has been reading about a Spartan general named Gylippus, who was sent to help defend another city that was besieged by the Athenians. Why did the Spartans choose Gylippus? Because he had a knack for seeing potential in situations where others saw only problems. A kindred spirit, perhaps? Well, not entirely: after all his military success, Gylippus was run out of town for embezzlement. Nobody's perfect.

Still, she finds his attitude inspiring, and thinks about it as she contemplates her next closet cleanout and some plans for warmer weather (she's between writing projects at the moment). What did Gylippus actually do to break the siege? First of all, he stopped the Athenians from their usual routine of building a surrounding wall, by building his own wall to cross it. (Reminds her of some board games she used to play with the kids.) Instead of just breaking down the enemy's walls, he built his own, literally forcing things to move in a new direction.

His second strategy was to get all the help he could from neighbouring states.

Finally, Gylippus pulled out the big guns...well, spears and arrows and things like a major battle in the harbour. He used all the strategies, weapons and resources at his disposal, and defeated the Athenian fleet.

What does this have to do with  #fashionrevolution and her own clothes? Well, she's not quite sure where the next while is going to take her. As a matter of fact she's finding the world quite confusing right now, and clothes are no exception. What has happened to her favourite tunic tops and skinny pants? "Styles have changed a great deal in the past two years," says one article, pointing to trends like wider jeans, tucked-in sweaters,  and comfortable shoes. She's happy about the shoes, but iffy about the big jeans, and the current bra-as-top thing is definitely a no. Should she ignore the trends and keep wearing her skinnies, or stick to classic clothes and neutral colours? "I have a tiny wardrobe," says a well-dressed,  younger-than-her You-tuber, "but I don't bother with boring basics, just things I really like." She appreciates reversals like that: they're a reminder that, like Gylippus or a really good yard sale (whenever yard sales might reappear on the radar), it pays to look at things from unexpected angles.

What are the biggest walls she struggles against? What she doesn't have...what she can't find...what she can't afford. Not being a well-dressed young You-:tuber, which only bothers her when she's looking for advice that works for fifty-somethings as well. How can she build  her own wall, without getting walled in? 

Well, maybe not a wall, but a wheel. Starting with colours instead of function:

And now she has to pull it apart again to see if these clothes will pull their weight in the battle against boredom. Some of them may not play nicely with the others in real life. There are also going to be gaps, because, unlike the You-tuber, she does wear boring (boot-cut) blue jeans and white t-shirts.

As it turns out, the only things she decides to delete are a pair of pink pants (free from an offspring who didn't want them) and a couple of surplus t-shirts and tops (the pile was getting to be more t-shirts than anything else).

What she keeps from the photo (17 items):

teal tank top
burgundy tank top
dark pink tank top

blue-grey (or is it grey-blue) short-sleeved t-shirt
pink/navy/white striped t-shirt
pastel green t-shirt
purplish-taupe lightweight top
dusty-pink lace top

orchid-purple (maybe mauve) long-sleeved jersey top

jean-style Tencel shirt
orchid-pink (maybe lavender) button-up shirt

pants whose colour she can't define, but she usually defaults to "khaki"

teal Chrysalis Cardi (multipurpose piece of clothing)
pearl-grey cocoon cardigan (dressy)
sage-green long short-sleeved cardigan
dark blue cotton-modal cardigan (casual)

denim-blue sweatshirt dress

What she adds from her closet (13 items):

wine-brown short-sleeved jersey top
off-white short-sleeved t-shirt
blue and white print t-shirt 
dark blue t-shirt

off-white button-up shirt, long sleeves
dark grey linen shirt with roll-up sleeves
navy blouse with floral print

wine-coloured sweatshirt

jean-style shorts (they're old, but they do have a high waist, so that's good?)
blue jeans (ankle-length, summer weight)
navy jersey pants

plum t-shirt dress

purple faux-suede coat (rescued from a dollar rack five years ago)

The Outfit-Building Battle Commences

Taupe top over tank top, khaki pants
Sweatshirt dress, scarf
Tank top, cocoon sweater, khaki pants
Off-white shirt, striped t-shirt, khaki pants
Sage cardigan, grey-blue t-shirt, shorts
Jean shirt, striped t-shirt, jean shorts
Navy cardigan, green t-shirt, khaki pants
Jean shirt, orchid t-shirt, jeans
Cocoon sweater, teal tank top, teal Chrysalis Cardi acting as skirt
Teal Chrysalis Cardi, wine-brown top, jeans
Lavender shirt, t-shrt, jeans or jersey pants
Navy cardigan, blue-print t-shirt, scarf
Sage cardigan, t-shirt, khaki pants
Purple coat, jean shirt  t-shirt, khaki pants

A  few odd things

Print blouse

 plum t-shirt dress

Wine-coloured sweatshirt


Shoes (oh, shoes, how wonderful to see you again after a winter of snow boots)





Poncho (Fair trade, made in Ecuador, but I found it at the Salvation Army store)

teal faux-leather jacket 

hooded rain jacket (not shown)

jean jacket (not shown)

Sources of clothes and accessories: Most were thrifted or were found at antique markets. One scarf, the purse, a couple of tops, and some of the shoes were bought new. Some of the jewelry pieces were gifts; the teal and white bracelets are from Fierce Lynx Designs. The Chrysalis Cardi was bought from Encircled five years ago.

The final installment in this series will be posted on Wednesday.