Sunday, 12 August 2012

The patient wife

Today, during my daily period of reflection, I made a sad realization – there are only 24 hours in a day and only two hands for me to accomplish all of the projects I inspire to start, let alone finish. For example, having resided in our present abode for some 17 years, there is still much work to be done to bring the home up to date, not only design wise, but décor wise as well. The shed needs to be painted, a deck needs to be built, the kitchen needs remodeling, the basement needs finishing, and of the utmost importance, the property is crying out for landscaping. Did I mention that beloved husband is a landscaper, horticulturist, arborist, and artist?
Yes, according to his “clients”, he is an artist – a man that can create masterpieces out of sod, interlock pavers, shrubs, trees, annuals and perennials, with only his imagination and  his “two bare hands.”  If I had a dollar for every garden tour the artist has taken me on, proudly displaying his master works, introducing me to satisfied clients who sing his praises in my ear while I grind my teeth in silent anger, I’d have enough money to have the entire neighbourhood landscaped. I’ve heard it time and again from family, friends, even passersby – “the cobbler’s children have holes in their shoes.”
As a patient, compassionate, and loving spouse, I have yet to pressure the artist about “when” his masterpiece will begin to take shape. Far be it from me to be “one of those wives” who makes a daily practice of nagging, reminding, and threatening. Rather, I take a more passive approach that helps me deal with the artist in a non-violent manner.  In a word – shopping.   After some 26 years of holy matrimony, the shoe and purse collection is nearing completion. As a result, I’ve calmly suggested that he use his beloved shed as a large closet for his belongings. Afterall, how many pairs of faded jeans, white t-shirts, and construction socks can one man own? In my opinion, this serves as the most practical solution considering my things have literally taken over his side of  the walk-in, and the shed is only housing shovels, rakes, and piles of lumber. As much as I’d love to use the lumber for kindling, it does serve a valuable purpose.
During the winter months, a strange phenomenon happens. Suddenly, our prairie-inspired property becomes the envy of the entire neighbourhood, if not the entire town. An NHL regulation size hockey rink takes over, as do avid hockey enthusiasts of all ages, and at all times of the day or night. That being said, I literally reach celebrity status during the months of November through to March, all because of husband’s winter pet project and Canada’s love of hockey. But come Spring, the envy of the neighbours wears off as quickly as the snow melts, only to reveal the truth of what lies beneath the protective blanket of winter.
After some 17 years at our current address, our property boasts many lovely trees that he has planted (with his two bare hands).  At least two dozen of his personal favorites – Colorado Blue Spruces, Century Maples, his beloved  Gingko, the Ohio Buckeye, the Japanese Lilac, and the three maples he planted for each of our children. There is also a lovely mountain of topsoil piled high  beside his beloved shed, adjacent to his hundreds of prized hot pepper plants, but what is really missing, what is really needed on this property, are the nuts and bolts of landscaping. Simply put, a meandering pathway that doesn’t tilt, a stone patio for summer barbeques, a fire pit for fall marshmallow roasting, a pagoda beside the Japanese Zen garden,  a Japanese Zen garden, a babbling brook filled with coy fish, a rose garden with an arbour, and a deck that can accommodate more than one person at a time.  
And so it is mid-August as I write  this, and as this is supposedly the summer the artist brings his blank canvas to life, I must confess, I remain doubtful. With the help of my Zen teacher, I will continue to react in a non-violent manner, pretend to listen to his grand plans of water features, outdoor kitchens, and a patio the size of that NHL regulation hockey rink, pour myself another double vodka cranberry martini, dust off his favorite bedside reading books, “Practical Pruning”, “The Garlic Lovers Bible”, “Prize-winning Hot Peppers”, “The Garden Pond”, “Great Gardens of Europe”, and tune into to the Home Shopping Channel. Today’s showstopper: Italian designer leather purses. Perfect.


Sunday, 17 June 2012

Bikinis and the woman over 40

I can't remember the last time I wore a bikini and to be quite honest, I don't know if the day will ever come that I dare parade around the neighbourhood pool in basically a brassiere and underwear. At the risk of sounding old fashioned, somewhere over the past five years, my penchant for collecting bikinis in every colour and style imaginable has waned. Perhaps it's because the once girlish silhouette with the tapered waist and enviable abdominal region has waned. Time can be a friend to wine but a foe to the core of women over 40, and although I swore I would never become one of those women who blamed age on the changing physique, lately I hear myself doing just that.
Years of high-impact, low-impact, spandex-induced aerobic classes transformed my sluggish, never took phys-ed in high school body into a tight, toned physique. This level of firmness and fitness lasted well into the thirties, well past the births of three children, and then, it happened. The fourth decade arrived and with it, a barrage of excuses to stop attending the very classes that helped me achieve my fitness goals. It seemed as though napping, playing with the cats, reading, taking long walks, gardening, biking, baking, and just enjoying those precious moments of solitutude in-between driving around teenagers, took precedence over huffing, puffing, spandex and sweating.
Today, what is left of the bikini collection sits in a lonely bottom drawer in the walk-in closet, and although I recently joined a local gym in the hopes of tightening and toning the body parts that have started to geographically head south, I'm still on the fence as to whether or not I will ever venture out of the closet wearing a bikini. Perhaps it is high time I arrived at this mature decision. Perhaps a woman in her fourth decade has no business wearing a bikini, unless on a secluded far off beach with her mate. Afterall, a bikini really and truly is a brassiere and underwear only in different fabrics and patterns. Then what is all the fuss about wearing a bikini anyway? Perhaps I don't want to talk to my neighbours, co-workers, or townsfolk in my brassiere and underwear. Perhaps with age comes wisdom. Perhaps a woman in her fourth decade finally accepts her body as it is - be it bikini-ready or not. Afterall, aren't the forties the new twenties only with wisdom, experience, self-confidence, and the freedom from bikinis. How refreshing!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

A light at the end of the unemployment line

It's amazing how one can go from "employed and fabulous" to "unemployed and fabulous" and then, without much warning, following one too many unanswered emails, phone calls, and job interviews, rejection begins to take its toll and soon one finds oneself "unemployed and listless, restless, and discouraged" if one is not careful. As difficult as it is to imagine, I was well on my way down that road named "misery". Self-doubt, numerous resume rewrites, perusing continuing education courses, and considering learning a new foreign language, this once-confident writer began to question her credentials. It is a sad day indeed when a woman nearing middle-age must face the dreaded fork in the road - self-pity or hope. Fortunately, this optimistic gal chose the latter, and without warning, the phone call arrived.
It was a sunny late-afternoon and I was enjoying a hot cup of Earl Grey tea whilst playing with the purring kittens. It is at moments such as these, that I relish in the world of "unemployment", albeit only until the dreaded bills arrive in the post.
Three rings and a "hello" later, and I was well on my way to a new job: part-time, a 2-minute walk from my front door, and hours that a banker would envy. After only one day of training, I am happy to report that it feels "fabulous" to have rejoined the ranks of the working class. The sense of purpose, achievement, and the challenge of learning new skills are most gratifying. I am still stunned at the fact that this was a position I was offered and had never applied for.
It is a happy day indeed when the curve balls that are tossed our way transform into new trails to blaze, new people to meet, and new opportunities ahead. Lesson learned: when I stop pining over the past, the future begins to unfold.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Still unemployed, and still feeling fabulous

Despair, discouraged, disappointed,disheartened, disillusioned - I refuse to delve deep into these depressing states of mind all because of a job layoff, and although according to experts, these feelings often rear their ugly heads following a job situation change, particularly an abrupt one. Rather, I've decided to delve into the old walk-in closet and assemble ensembles that lift, not only the one's spirit, but one's bosum and buttocks respectively.
No sense in looking haggard, worn, withdrawn, and unkept - God knows the world is already in a state of disarray, and an ignored appearance would only add to the sad situation. Global warming, crumbling economies, and unrest in the Middle East should not be the focus of one's thoughts, particulalry when one finds oneself in a state of temporary joblessness. Soon, the posture will be affected, the waistline will begin to thicken and bloat, and one's skin may appear unfresh and blotchy. Yes, appearance should be the first priority when one finds oneself in such a conundrum. A good supporting bra, preferably padded, lacey, and delicate is a sure way to start the day. Choosing colours that brighten and bring a smile to one's face, is also important during the morning dressing ritual. I suggest pastel pinks, and perhaps, on the weekends, fuschias or bright oranges like tangerine or cantelope. Afterall, you are only unemployed, and maintaining one's feminity, sexuality and "joie de vivre" is more important than ever.
Pencil skirts, a tapered blouse, and the perennial favorite, the tailored blazer, need not appear only at the job interview. A trip to the bank, postal outlet, doctor's office or grocery store are all ideal opportunities to test-drive this future uniform. Afterall, a great job opportunity could be merely days, if not minutes away.
Boots and shoes also require careful consideration during this time of duress. Leave the galoshes and Sorels in the closet is what I say. Now is the time for fashion forward feet. There's no telling when or where a prospective employer may appear, and looking professional and put-together from head to toe is of the utmost. Save the Sorels for snowman making with the young brood, shovelling the driveway, or powerwalking with the neighbourhood women. A proper heel is essential now more than ever. Don't save the stiletto boot for a night out with girlfriends, take full advantage of the esteem elevation those three inch heels provide. Of course, I do advise one exercise caution by checking one's local weather forecast before heading out in heels. The last thing one needs at a time like this is a slip and fall, that could only result in not only dampened spirits and a sore tailbone, but a dreaded extension of this unemployment phase.
Remember, you are a working woman, and you are not defined nor confined to a title on the door, a nameplate on the cubicle, or a nametag pinned to your lapel. In all areas of womanhood, looking fabulous on the outside will ensure you feel fabulous on the inside. And on that note, I will return dutifully to my post in the walk-in closet, to arrange an array of accessories that will catupult me into next week's job hunt. Here's to successful dressing!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Unemployed and Fabulous - the saga begins....

It is a sad day indeed when one must face one’s fate, albeit, reluctantly, unhappily, and helplessly. In this age of “downsizing”, “corporate takeovers”, and “restructuring”, I thought I was one of the lucky ones who would grow old and gray sitting at my laptop bashing out yet another community news story. Unfortunately, it was not to be.
The phone call arrived at exactly 11:14 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10 and although I had been expecting it, the ever-positive, ever-hopeful, ever-naïve part of me refused to believe it. Oh sure, the entire EMC Ottawa newsroom had been wiped out in recent weeks, due to a big corporate buy out, but I truly believed, down to my core, that the fact that I had been “the village reporter” for over a decade, I would be immune to any changes.
Why, I was one of the pioneers among my peers, at least as far as I was concerned. I had the luxury of working from the comfort of home, as a contract employee; certainly this meant I would not be affected. I was the face of my small historic town community newspaper, a trusted voice, a smiling face, that would show up at every possible community event, regardless of size or stature. In my books, the community newspaper belonged to the residents of the community and I never saw past that. I was simply the messenger, in the guise of a scribe, relaying the opinions of young or old, from kindergarten students excited at their first opportunity to have their photo appear in the newspaper, to the Mayor coming to town for a milestone event. Big or small, I took pride in being there. I loved hustling my way through the crowds (even if there were only five or five hundred residents in attendance), camera in tow, pencil over my ear, reporter pad in hand, ready to scoop a quote, always on the lookout for the next “news breaking” story.
This was no easy feat in the sleepy rural towns of South Ottawa. At times, the latest breaking story had to do with a broken water main, a traffic situation, or a championship high school sports event. I felt like Lois Lane, when at the very first sound of sirens, I was off and running, chasing some emergency vehicle, hoping to arrive on the scene of an exciting news story. Sadly, there were too many times where I found myself at the scene of a fatal crash, where the community lost one of their beloved young residents. These stories were the most difficult to write, yet they deserved a voice and had to be told, regardless of emotion.  
As hard as it is for me to imagine myself doing anything else but write, I have no choice but to look ahead. A wise man once said, “when one door closes, another opens” and maybe it was his brother that said, “variety is the spice of life.” With these positive words in mind, I am excited at what the future holds, what the next door will open up to, and how I must embrace and not fear it.
Perhaps it was a woman who once said, “the only constant in life is change.” Perhaps I will soon find myself immersed in some new-found line of work, where the pay is handsome, the hours pass quickly, and I look forward to every shift. Yes, perhaps I will find myself arranging soft, supple, aromatic Italian leather stilettos from pumps to sandals, boot to loafers, purses and wallets, in large store windows, ready to wait on my next customer. Perhaps I will be offered an enormous employee discount, and perhaps I can spend all of my waking hours arranging shoes, trying on shoes, recommending shoes, purchasing shoes, hiding shoes, and finally, writing about shoes. Yes, perhaps.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Unemployed and fabulous!

I am approaching my fourth week as a member of the unemployed class and truth be told, apart from a day or two of feeling like a "lost, loafing, loser", I'm having the most delightful time. Perhaps reality will set in as the old bank account approaches overdraft, but for now, I'm going to ride this positive wave and continue to organize every corner and crevice of this house.
Yesterday I tackled the kitchen that has been in a state of "renovation" for the past year. I figure if I can make it as pretty and functional as possible, the roommates (husband and the young brood) will be less grumpy and that, my dear friends, is worth its weight in gold. The weekend fared beautifully with a trip to my favorite thrift store, where as my Texan pals would say, "I struck gold!" Yes, I agree, now is not the time to be compiling that Vogue wardrobe, but fashion knows no boundaries, particularly in the areas of fiscal restraint. Knee-high tan suede wedge boots, a chocolate brown suede wallet, tan hiking boots, two pairs of gloves, two belts, a Lululemon black hoodie, a creamy dreamy peasant-style skirt with matching lace bustier, a merino wool wrap-around sweater, a ballerina pink chenille cowl-neck sweater, a plaid fedora, and I think that's everything - for a mere $170!!!!! Can you imagine?? I cannot even begin to fathom what shopping was like before I discovered vintage, consignment, and thrift shops. If only I could share this news with the husband, he'd be so proud of me. Then again, my women's intuition advises me to keep this little shopping adventure to myself, at least until some work comes my way.
What men do not understand is the importance of a woman's appearance, particularly during times of duress such as a lay-off. One can easily toss one's self-care by the wayside and begin to take on the appearance of a way-ward transient, and that, my dear friends, does not do an ounce of good for one's self-esteem. At times such as these, one's outer appearance can truly boost one's inner thoughts and feelings. In other words, "if I look like hell, I'm going to feel like hell" versus, "I look just fabulous, and gosh darn it, I feel fabulous!" Yes, today will be another day of organizing the home, compiling and catologuing more outfits in the beloved closet, and last, but not least, the on-going search for employment. Wishing you a fabulous day!!!