What size am I really?

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Buying clothes is not a great event for me.

Yes, I do love new clothes but to try on item after item, in and out of change rooms, sweating in tiny cubicles, and the worst when there is no mirror in that cubicle and I must go out there and stand in front of a mirror so that not only do I see how horribly that pair of pants accentuates all the wrong areas in the worst way, everyone else in the store shares in the experience too.

“Oh I do hope she realizes those pants are not right for her.” Thinks everyone in the store. The sales person approaching, “Those are cute”.

No, I have to be in a frame of mind to shop correctly. If I fall for an impulse purchase, for example seeing something enroute to the bookstore, it never fails to be an unfortunate purchase and later as I pull the thing from my closet I’m thinking, ‘what was I thinking?’

This endeavor in clothes shopping is exacerbated by the little number on the tag inside the clothes. I have been a size 12 for over 25 years but when I’ve taken that size to the change room the last few years it seems to always be a coin toss as to whether it will make it up past my knees, or down over my shoulders. No my weight hasn’t changed, much, I have an archive of size 12 clothes that I still wear and some of my new clothes are a 12.

It’s  frustrating when it is something I love, and it’s the last one on the rack in that size 12, aaaand, ugh, puff, grunt, the thing. will. not. errrr, zip. snap. button or squish across my now seemingly over size 12 huge hips. I give up. Breathe.

But surprise, surprise, I just recently bought a black skirt in a size 8. Wha?

Go figure. No, it doesn’t have zippers or buttons, it’s a pull on and it does have a bit of stretch in the fabric, but I should not have been able to pull that sucker up and still take a breath if I abided by the “number”.

I also have a boobs. Not enormous, but they are there and need to be reckoned with. So if a blouse has buttons down the front then as a rule I pull the Lg. and XTLg. in to my cubicle of disenchantment to see which one doesn’t, shall we say, strain. But even still, with a buttonless shirt I have run the gamut from M to XTLg. I have tried on a Lg. simple pull on shirt and stood at the mirror in perplexed dismay at the ultra tight fit, and I have tried on a button up blouse that was a M that fit perfectly.

And since I’m on about size- what the hell is a size 0? How can you wear a NOTHING size?

My practice now when I shop for clothes is to take in a spectrum of sizes and do my best not to be surprised at what fits and what doesn’t. Some size 12’s fit perfectly others don’t, I’ve learned to live with the paradox. And to not care about the number anymore, not that I ever really did in the first place, ok a little bit; I would be happy to take sizes from 8-12 instead. Truth.

Is it that as I age I morph?

Then there is the Shoe, sometimes I’m an 8, 8.5 or a 9. My feet are literally growing from the 7.5 I wore in my 20’s!  How is that possible? Did I stand around too much? My mother at 89 is still a size 6, surely after so many years and pregnant with 5 kids(extra weight and all) her feet would have gotten bigger?

Some things just need to remain a mystery. I guess I can be ok with that.

Bone Dry

 

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We had been enjoying several weeks of uncharacteristically clear, gloriously hot, very windy days and because this is a rain forest it’s a big deal for our sodden lot, we are known for our rain.

If it is spring there is rain, in the autumn-rain. When winter comes there is …rain, and our summers may live up to its reputation in other parts of Canada but here there has been many soaked June’s, iffy July’s, usually pretty great August’s and sporadically fair but cool September’s, followed by yes more rain. I jump for joy when we get a few days of rare snow fall during the winter, anything to break up the grey wetness!

But the rain has been absent. We had very little during the winter and spring and nearly nil snow pack melt in the mountains and yet really we honestly couldn’t hide the glee about the great summer weather we were having FINALLY, it was high time we got a good one!

But we are surely paying the price now. We have become a crackling tinder box where one doesn’t dare to even pass wind for fear it will ignite the very air!  We are on fire here on the Pacific North-West.

So far there has been 177 fires burning all around us releasing such masses of smoke that for 3 days it was looking rather Armageddon like; the sun a singular fiery red eye like a laser barely penetrating the thick cover of smoke that blanketed the entire sky in grey/brown. Ashes sprinkled down and the air thick and hazy. The birds weirdly quiet. Strangely, but thankfully, as soon as the sky and air clogged with smoke there hasn’t been a breath of wind; this at least kept the fires from spreading too quickly. But for us creatures it meant very hot, humid, airless, smokey days. And we had to keep our windows shut all day and night to keep the smoke from seeping in. People kept calling 911 saying they could smell smoke nearby worried there was another fire starting, but it was only that the ambient smoke was so dense.

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Now after a few days of “smoke cover” the temperature has dropped a bit, and on a very small scale I can understand how maybe the dinosaurs were affected by having the sun cloaked for a long period of time, darkening and cooling the earth… Ok we are nowhere near that scale of doom yet but I thought about them anyway.

The forecast for Sunday says rain, and I’ll be very happy to see it come.

A long goodbye

 

One day in the final week before my retirement from my position at the University I took a stroll over to the Fine Arts building on the campus.

It’s been a long time since I visited this department even though it’s a short jaunt up the hill from the culinary department where I work. And it was a bit sentimental because I and this institution have a deeply personal history and I felt like I needed to revisit my “roots” and say goodbye.

My relationship to this campus isn’t only for the duration of my employment here of the last 7 years, but all the way back to 1976 when it was a college. This is where at 18 I began my Fine Arts degree, right here.

I opened the big glass door and stood in the foyer and memories came flooding back. The couch over there against the wall where we took breaks from our painting to have a smoke and talk with the instructor. The studios forested with easels, the smell of acrylics and oils, graphite and charcoal. My fingers stained with whatever medium I had been working with. I walked over to where the printing studio was but it no longer held the big press I had used for Lithographs and the silk screen frames were no longer there, it was now full of what looked like set design maquettes. I entered the vacant sculpture studio and saw that it hasn’t changed at all, the pleasant memory of working with the Lost Wax Method where I made a bronze cast of a bear in a cave, that I still have, and the unpleasant memory of working with resins. Nothing good came from that. I walked across the hall and peered in through the glass window in the door at the ceramics studio full of engaged students talking, laughing or quietly focused on the wheel. It looked just as I had left it. To add, this is where my mom when in her 50’s taught pottery in the evenings to Community Ed students.

It’s a heady place this campus. It witnessed many of my life changes and growth; a pivotal place. Every decade of my adult life is attached to this place. 

This is where in my first year I moved out of my parents home and together with my boyfriend of 3 years also a fellow art student, and another art student got our first apartment. The second year my boyfriend went on a student exchange to Florida and left me on my own. His sister and a two of our friends, also students, shared a large house to finish out the second year. When my boyfriend came back for a visit we agreed to marry the following year. My mom and I window shopped for wedding dresses, but it had been a long year apart, and consequently I branched out socially; when he returned my feelings had changed and I broke up with him.

I had during that second year become involved in a small theatre group during my second year headed by an English Professor who wrote satirical musicals and this campus theatre is where I performed and sang in those plays publicly in my first ever stage appearance. I also fell in love with the piano player. Our little theatre group segued into a working band of 10 musicians and we played gigs that consisted of all original songs all over town developing a sizable following. Both the piano player, our lead singer, as well as our slide guitarist have continued on in very successful musical careers.

This campus is where we held our practice sessions, and when our drummer left for the Caribbean to work for Club Med another drummer came to try out and stayed. Turned out I would spend 5 years with this man and have a daughter. To add, a colleague I recently shared my office space with for the last seven years had years ago bought the house he had built in 1975, before he  joined our band and when he was married. She bought it from his ex-wife. She and I discovered this when conversing over coffee break one day.

Of course woven through those happy events are some bitter lessons, some bad decisions, and maybe even a regret or two, but the truth of the matter is they were deep and in many ways profoundly enriching. So were the good times. Very much so.

This campus saw me return again in my 30’s to enroll to become a Baker, during which time my brother was dying from bowel cancer, and I returned again in my 40’s to become a chef. Then to return again in my 50’s as an employee working as a chef assistant.

Every decade of my adult life is attached to this place.

And now here I am. Was and was.

So now it must certainly be adieu mustn’t it? I really hesitate to be steadfast in anything final. Lets just say I will not be surprised if for some reason I find my footsteps once again carrying me back to embark on yet another enterprise in my 60th decade. But for now I give thanks and honor the memories, and for many ways in being a place of life experience and learning for me.