Sunday, August 28, 2016

Summertime Blues

August has been a taxing month, and I will not be sad to see it end.  It had a few lovely moments, and many stressful ones, and at the time I was just too tired to write about them.

It began on a happy note with my favourite baby, Nicholas, celebrating his first birthday.  I have the pleasure of working with both of his parents, and have been able to interact with him during the first year of his life, and he's a total charmer who loves everybody.

Later that weekend, things took an unfortunate turn, and I ended up in Emergency for 4 hours one night and 7 hours the following day with abdominal pain that they were unable to diagnose, but during the hundred and one tests they did, they found a "hazy patch" on my lung.  Just the kind of thing you want to hear after having had little sleep, no food, and have been on IV painkillers for seven hours.  More tests and a doctor's appointment later, turns out I had a severe lung infection.   Cue to a week off work, and a lot of sleeping and watching Netflix.  It seems I am the person who gets pneumonia in the summer.

The cloud had a silver lining, in that it allowed me to binge-watch the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries series on Netflix.  I developed a huge girl-crush on the character of Miss Phryne Fisher (on the left in the photo above, pictured with her companion Dot), who is basically a female superhero.  The series is set in Melbourne, Australia in the 1920's and has smart writing, engaging characters, and outfits to make you weep with envy.   Click on the "source" link above to read one blogger's opinions about why it is such a great show.

 When I felt well enough, I did little walks around the neighbourhood and visited with some of the local critters.  Clockwise from top left:  Miss Kitty, one of the store cats at the Silk Road Store, attempting to do some fishing; one of the many (and I mean, many) cats that live in a house in my neighbourhood.  Most of the neighbours are aware of the "cat hoarding" situation and we keep an eye out to make sure they are not being mistreated or starving;  Varg, my neighbours' 14 year old chihuaha, whom I've grown very fond of;  and two more residents of the "Cat House".

I also was able to spend some quality time with my little girls, Ginger (above) and Ruby, though not in the best of circumstances.  Ruby got sick with a respiratory infection, and after a trip to the vet, I brought her and Ginger home with me while Heather and her husband were away on vacation.  It was a challenge given that my lungs were already compromised but I was careful not to handle them too much, and used my inhaler regularly, and we were fine.  It was obvious from their behaviour they were very happy to be home, and it made me happy to have them with me again.  Unfortunately, I can't keep them with me forever, so I'm enjoying their companionship while I can.

When I felt well enough, I did a bit of thrift shopping, because there's nothing like a bit of shopping to take one's mind off the fact your lungs are crap

My best score was this beautiful heavy silk, reversible embroidered robe.  The purple side has an orange dragon on the back and front.  I can't wait for it to get cool enough to be able to wear it over a t-shirt and pair of pants.

And I wore stuff....

Aside from a few basic pieces, most of what I wore this summer was purchased secondhand.  The two outfits above cost me less than $25 each.  On the left:  silk top from The Silk Road Store, skirt from Style 360 Consignment store.  On the right:  1980's shirt from The Sentimentalist, pants from Talize.   Fly London sandals with both.

By far, the pieces I acquired that received the most wear were this top and wide-leg denim trousers.  I found them at Talize at different times, both were $8 a piece.  I wore the pants at least once or twice a week unless the humidex was near 40 (which it quite often was).  The top was so comfortable in the heat and the polka dots made me smile, especially when I paired it with my yellow dot earrings from Value Village.   I had received good news from my doctor the day I wore this outfit - after two rounds of antibiotics, my lungs sounded much better, and if a followup x-ray in 4 weeks doesn't show any more infection, then I'm in the clear!

You never appreciate your health as much as when you don't have it, and it may be a cliche to say that "Without your health, you have nothing", but it's a cliche because it's true.  You can't fully participate in life if you're exhausted, going back and forth to doctor's appointments and medical tests, waiting for results, and generally feeling worried and unwell.   That being said, I was very grateful for our Canadian Health Care System which meant I was able to get the attention I needed in a timely manner.   It felt great to have the energy to go out on Friday night with friends to see a Flamenco performance, instead of feeling wiped out after a full day at work.  I was also happy that I felt inspired and well enough to write this post.   Hopefully it won't be so long before the next one.

Monday, August 1, 2016


OMG - it's August 1st ALREADY!!!  I can't believe two months have passed since I visited Mel in Vancouver.  I am starting to feel the travel itch again, so to sustain me until the fall,  I'm going to post some of the photos you haven't seen yet to remind me of an adventure that seems like it happened oh-so-long ago....

I stayed in a beautiful apartment via AirBnB and the photo above is the view from the floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room.  It has been about 20 years since I was last on the west coast, and there are certainly a lot more high-rises now.  Housing prices in Vancouver are outrageous, and I could never afford to live in a place like the one I stayed in.  My hosts were easy to get along with and very helpful and it made my visit so much nicer knowing I had a comfortable, friendly place as a home base.

The second night I was there I took a walk down to the water where you can catch one of the cute little Aquabuses that will take you over to Granville Island.

It looked like it might rain, so I decided to just do a short trip around False Creek.  It was nice being out on the water, but soon the wind picked up and the skies grew very dark so I cut my voyage short and arrived back on dock just as a thunderstorm hit (which are apparently rare occurrences in Vancouver).

I met Barbara, a lovely woman who follows my blog (and Melanie's) for a drink at the historic Sylvia Hotel, where I stayed the first time I visited Vancouver in the late 90's.  The hotel lounge has a gorgeous view of English Bay, and I had an excellent cocktail (something with tequila and cucumber, I think).

A couple of friends had requested I bring them a pebble from the English Bay beach, so after I left Barbara, I headed to the beach (it had just started to rain, which was to be a theme for my trip) and caught this photo of a heron.
If the weather had been nicer, and I'd had more time, I would have like to have spent more time on the beach.  I find looking out onto a body of water to be very relaxing, and the beach, which was more shells (I'm assuming zebra mussels?) contained some interesting critters if you took the time to look.

 The Vogue Theatre on Granville Street opened in 1941 as a first-run movie house - its original appearance was restored in 1998 and now serves as a space for the performing arts.  The theatre is  home to the Vancouver International Jazz and Film Festivals.  Further down the street you can see the marquee of the Orpheum theatre, built in 1927.  It is now the home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.  The city I live in could learn something from Vancouver's willingness to restore and re-purpose old movie theatres.

The iconic John Fluevog shoe store on Granville Street, the oldest of the existing Fluevog stores

I think this poster was advertising a brewing company, which I wouldn't usually take any interest in, but I liked the artwork.

Recalling a tasty meal with Melanie at the Cactus Club Cafe that finished with a serving of their impossibly delicious Caramel Chocolate Mousse (warm caramel foam, crunchy sponge toffee, velvety chocolate mousse).  We were tempted to lick the dishes.

Downtown Vancouver is a mix of old and new buildings, and the gentrification of formerly affordable neighbourhoods, particularly on the Eastside, which has a large, low income population, has resulted in the wealthy and the poor living smack-dab up against each other.   On my way to meet Melanie for brunch at the Acme Cafe on East Hastings street, I decided to explore the neighbourhood and after walking along a block populated by rundown rooming houses and hotels, I turned the corner and found myself in front of the Versace Home Store.  

On my way to brunch on Sunday I took note of the public toilets that are a common sight in downtown Vancouver.  The idea of going down a flight of stairs into a dark, underground passage in order to relieve oneself doesn't sound like a particularly safe, or pleasant experience, particularly at night. 

I had a lovely, if all-too-short, time with this delightful trio of bloggers at brunch on my last day.  Left to right: Sue (A Colourful Canvas),  Melanie (Bag and a Beret), and Louisa (Damselfly's Delights)

The back view of Sue's marvelous coat, handmade by her talented self

Melanie gave me this funky Asian cotton robe that she had personalized with a sketch of the two of us on a piece of fabric she sewed onto the back.  Unfortunately it's been way too hot here to be able to wear it.

After brunch Mel and I took turns posing against a graffiti-covered wall by a parking lot, and managed to smile despite the aroma of urine that wafted from the pavement.  I gave Melanie the "corset" t-shirt she's wearing here and I love the outfit she put together around it.  A corset, skulls, polka dots, stripes, and a red patch on her butt - it doesn't get any better than that.   Spending time with Melanie inspired me to be more creative with my own outfits and experiment with my makeup (I loved my blue eyebrows and have been occasionally incorporating a more subtle version into my daily look).

Unfortunately, it's not possible to have regular visits when most of your friends live in other provinces or other countries.  If I won the lottery, one of the the first things I would do is go and visit all my blogging friends, and then fly them all to New York for one massive photo shoot!  Keep your fingers crossed!