Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Me And New York, We Got a Thing Goin' On....

bag made by Pamela Barsky

I've just returned from spending four glorious days with my boyfriend, in New York.  My boyfriend doesn't live in New York, my boyfriend IS New York.

It's a long distance relationship that started many, many years ago, and we don't see each other very often, but thoughts of him keep me going when things get tough around here, and I know that if I can just spend a few days with him, I'll be good to go for at least a few months.

What do I love about my boyfriend?  Well, I'm glad you asked....

bite-sized cupcake walk-up window in SoHo

He can be sweet....

pumpkin-seed crusted mahi mahi tacos at the Rocking Horse Cafe

or spicy, depending on what I'm in the mood for (note:  The Rocking Horse Cafe has the most delicious salsa I've ever tasted)

puppies in the window of Citipup in Chelsea

New York understands how much I want a dog of my own, and until that is possible, provides me with lots of opportunities to cuddle adorable pups.

Halloween decorations at Chelsea Market

New York knows how to decorate for the holidays
    and has good taste in art

 Left and top right:  Meatpacking district; bottom right: the Highline park

New York embraces the modern, and recognizes the value of the past

Valerie and Jean, aka The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas, and yours truly

New York has the most stylish, fabulous friends, and doesn't mind sharing them with me

 wearing my Bill Cunningham neckpiece, vintage Haori and Fly London shoes

When I'm spending time with my boyfriend, I'm very, very happy!  And really, isn't that what want out of our relationships?

I have a ton of photos to edit, so in the meantime, you can see some photos from my adventures at the Manhattan Vintage Show on the Idiosyncratic Fashionista's blog.  Later this week -  the eye candy overload of "Fashion Underground: The World of Susanne Bartsch" at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Gone Fishin'

Work stress, pneumonia, a cold, and a change of seasons...I'm taking a break.  Will be back next week with some good stories!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Savouring A Sunny Saturday in Stratford

This past weekend was our Canadian Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is celebrated primarily in Canada and the United States, and traditionally is a day to give thanks for the blessing of the harvest.  Our  Thanksgiving is more low key than that of our neighbours to the south; in the United States, they have a huge parade, and the Friday after Thanksgiving, called Black Friday, is the official kick off to the Christmas Shopping Season.  For me it meant a long weekend and as we were blessed with beautiful weather, on Saturday I took the train to Stratford, Ontario to visit my mother, who had recently moved to a senior's apartment residence there.  I had been hit with pneumonia the week previous, and between drugs and rest, was feeling well enough to get out and enjoy what seemed like Indian Summer weather.

When you don't have a car or a license, you rarely get a chance to enjoy what we used to call "a Sunday drive in the country", and I had missed being able to look out the window of moving vehicle at the autumn colours and the flat farmland surrounding the city where I live.  The train leaves London at the ungodly hour of 7:30 am, so I was able to catch the morning mist still on the fields before the sun burnt it off.

Stratford is a city of approximately 31,000 people located on the banks of the Avon River.  It was settled by Europeans who named it, and the river, after Stratford-upon-Avon in England.  It has since become famous for being home to the world-renowned Stratford Shakespeare FestivalI used to take the bus from London to Stratford a couple of times each summer to see a play and visit the eclectic assortment of shops and restaurants there, but it had been at least 2 years since I'd been there.

The first think I do when I arrive in Stratford is get some breakfast, so I found a little place in the downtown core to enjoy some bacon, eggs, and the thinnest home fries I've ever seen.  It was like having potato chips with your eggs, which is not a bad thing.  The cat-print pants and adorable girly shoes in the photo above belong to a likewise adorable little girl with blonde curls who was having breakfast with her dad.  Even though I chose not to have any children of my own, I still enjoy watching well-behaved kids enjoying together time with their parents.

In the summer and fall, Stratford is a hub of activity as tourists come to enjoy the theatre and the scenic beauty of the town itself.  When I used to come and spend the day I would bring a book and sit by the bank of the river amidst the ducks, geese and swans who collected there.  I had no book this time, but I still took a short stroll to the river to watch the ducks.  The goose in the photo above seemed to be standing watch so the ducks behind him could snooze undisturbed.

I felt like I could have sat there for hours, lulled into a stupor by the warm sun and mesmerized by the reflections on the water, but I had a limited amount of time before I was to meet my mother.  One thing you must do when in Stratford is visit Rheo Thompson Candies,  known for its melt-in-your mouth Mint Smoothies.   The smell of mint chocolate wafts throughout the store and it is impossible to leave without a treat of some sort.  It has become somewhat of a tradition that if someone in our office goes to Stratford, there is a hope they will bring a box of smoothies back for the rest of us, and I did not disappoint them.

I had become aware of a vintage clothing store in Stratford called Martingale Vintage via Instagram, so I made a point of tracking it down while I was there.  The owner, Kelly, was off for the weekend, so we didn't get to meet on this visit, but her employee Lara was very sweet.  The pattern and colours of the maxi dress in the front window definitely drew the attention of people passing by.

The shop is small but had a good selection of interesting vintage clothing.  The dress on the right is a Hudson's Bay blanket dress, made by the same company who makes the iconic blankets.   It was very heavy and would be extremely warm to wear over a sweater and thick tights.  It ended up going home with Lara who had her eye on it for some time.

I have reached the age where I regard vintage bathing suits like the one above with a kinder eye, as I now understand the appeal of a skirt over the bottom of the suit, especially one with micro-pleats!

My two favourite things in the store - on the left, a "some-would-call-Kitschy-I-would-call-awesome" three-dimensional bird and flower wall decoration.  The flower petals appeared to be made out of plastic or shells, and I assume the bird's feathers were plastic as well.  Sometimes you can't explain why you're drawn to something, you just are; it's like relationships with people.    On the right, the other item that caught my eye - a lightweight coat with an all-over Union Jack print.  I'm certainly no monarchist, but the combination of the red, white and blue and the little capelet really was irresistible.  However, as I am getting ready for my annual pilgrimage to New York, I am trying not to spend money, so I left it in the shop.  I did score a brushed cotton romper off the $5 rack which will likely appear in a blog post at some point.

Later that day, my mother and two of our cousins went for lunch and afterwards stopped by Gallery Indigena, which specializes in Inuit sculptures and prints, Iroquois sculpture, paintings, and North West Coast masks.   They also carry an assortment of gift items such as clothing, jewellery, scarves, posters and moccasins.  While my mother and cousins were scoping out the jewellery,   I was more interested in the store dogs, Keystone and Bella, who are very calm, well-behaved.  They are Schnauzers, which shed very little and are therefore better for people with allergies, so I took full advantage of the opportunity to love them up without any unpleasant respiratory side effects.

After several more hours of visiting, I caught the train back home.  Now that my mother is living there, I will have an excuse to visit Stratford more often - I had forgotten how much I used to enjoy my day trips there.   I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving weekend.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Blessing of the Animals

I have been a devoted animal lover my entire life, despite my allergies to almost everything with fur.  From the barn cats I adored as a child to the little rats that currently share my home, animals have been an important part of my life.  They are loyal and affectionate companions, especially for those of us who live alone.

I had been planning to write a post about the animals that have helped me through what turned out to be a very challenging summer, and when I saw this past weekend was the Blessing of the Animals, an annual custom held on October 4th, or the Sunday closest to that date, it seemed the perfect time.  The Blessing of the Animals is a celebration in honour of St. Francis of Assisi, whose feast day is October 4th.  St. Francis loved all living creatures, and people will take their pets to their local church on that day to have them blessed. 

An Instagram feed I follow had photos from the ceremony that took place at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York city on Sunday where cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, an alpaca, swan, fennec fox, rat, parrot, and even some birds of prey, received blessings.

My own little rats Ginger and Ruby have not been blessed, but they are a blessing.  While at times they are a source of frustration with their fondness for chewing absolutely everything, and the amount of pee those little bladders produce is truly mind-boggling,  I love them dearly, and hope to give them as long and as healthy a life as possible. 

Their relationship is fascinating - they sleep together and play together, but Ruby can also be a bully when she wants to.

I've had the unexpected pleasure of this sweet guy's company while I have sat on my porch this summer.  Oreo lives with the family next door, but he thinks the whole neighbourhood is his kingdom, and when he's in the mood for a nap in the late afternoon, if I'm on my porch, my lap is his favourite spot.

I have not had a cat of my own for many years, mainly because of my allergies, and oddly enough, I have found that I can have him on my lap for an hour and not have an allergic reaction - a magic cat!   I recently learned that his family is moving away at the beginning of November, and sadly, this means not only will I be losing good neighbours, but also the company of a very loving and happy cat who has the loudest purr I've ever heard.

It truly has been a Summer of the Furry Critters......

Back in August, I stepped out my front door one night to find my upstairs neighbour, Natalie, sitting on the porch with a box containing two baby squirrels.  Their mother had been killed (her body was in my flower bed) and the babies had fallen out of their nest in my next door neighbour's roof.  Natalie had found them in our driveway and had been keeping them warm and trying to feed them with kitten formula in an eye-dropper.  As I held one in my hand, I marvelled at how tiny and helpless it was, and how they looked more like little aliens with fur than like squirrels.  While we sat outside, another neighbour stopped by to see what we were holding, and said that perhaps it would be kinder to just let them die.   While part of me understood why someone would think that, it was not a thought that had occurred to Natalie or I.

Natalie has a cat and a dog, so I offered to keep them overnight in my apartment, where I kept them warm with a heating pad, and turned them over to her in the morning.  While I was at work, Natalie managed to get them to eat, and found someone who specialized in wildlife rehabilitation place who would take them.  Apparently it's very difficult to keep squirrels alive when they are that small, so we rejoiced that they were still alive and thriving when we sent them off to our new home.

Do you have animals that you love in your life?