70s girl

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 11.07.24 PM 3When we lived in Japan in 2008 and 2009, lightweight, loose-fitting tops made of almost sheer fabric were very popular amongst the Japanese women. Many of them had floral patterns. I bought this one at a tiny, hole-in-the-wall shop around the corner from one of our main schools. It usually had a rack of clothing on the sidewalk out front and I often stopped to take a look on my way by.

Until this week, I hadn’t worn this in a long time, but I couldn’t quite make myself part with it as it was one of many reminders of the wonderful time we had in Japan. In keeping with my commitment not to keep things that I don’t wear, however, I pulled it out of the closet earlier this week and put it on. I was immediately glad that I’d kept it. Worn over a neutral camisole, it was cool and comfortable in the summer heat which doesn’t come close to the heat and humidity we endured at this time of year in Japan.

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Rather than transporting me back to Japan, it took me all the way back to the peasant tops I was so fond of in the early 1970s! I know I’m dating myself, but I really don’t mind. I’ve worn some things over the years that would make me cringe now, but I really liked the comfortable boho chic style that I wore in the 70s and I guess I still do!

I sewed most of my own clothes back then. I wish I had some pictures to share, but here are a few of the Simplicity patterns that I might have chosen.

Yes, I guess I’m still a 70s girl at heart!

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Fore!

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 11.07.24 PM 3 Today seems like a perfect time to write about what I wear to play my favourite sport. After all, I won the ladies side of the Viking Golf Club seniors tournament yesterday!

Let’s ignore the fact that there were only four ladies entered in the tournament, shall we?

Weather permitting, my golf attire usually consists of a sleeveless, collared golf shirt worn with either capri pants or long shorts.

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Though my wardrobe is made up largely of neutrals, golfing is a fun time to add a splash of colour, so I have several bright shirts to choose from.

I always wear a ball cap when I’m golfing to shade my eyes and keep my often unruly hair under control. I have a variety of them in several different colours to coordinate with my shirts.

 

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Though I most often golf in a comfortable and supportive pair of golf shoes, I also have a pair of golf sandals that are especially nice on hot days.

Regardless of what I wear, I’ll never look as elegant on the golf course as my Mom did! Here she is back in the 1940s. I doubt if there’s a course anywhere in the world today that would let you on the greens in those shoes, but aren’t they adorable?

Scan

When no news is good news

It’s been quite awhile since I wrote anything about my health as there really hasn’t been anything new to report. That in itself is good news!

As many of you are aware, I was diagnosed with two completely separate and unrelated cancers in late 2013 and early 2014. Yesterday, I finally received the results of CT and PET scans and other tests done three weeks ago. The first good news was that there has been no significant change in my incurable neuroendocrine cancer (NETS) over the last year. I have only had two radioisotope (Lutetium) treatments during that time, one last October and one in April, but that has been enough to keep things stable. The tumours have not grown or spread.

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Neuroendocrine tumours (NETS) produce serotonin which is sometimes referred to as a happiness hormone because a deficit can to lead to depression. An excess, however, can result in carcinoid syndrome which, as in my case, results in symptoms that include abdominal cramping and diarrhea, skin flushing, and periods of rapid heart rate. It can also lead to heart disease and other complications. A 24 hour urine test is used to measure the amount of serotonin in the body. Though I don’t know what units are used to measure serotonin, at the time of diagnosis, the level in my body was 150. Now, it’s down to 40. Though still above average, it is considered borderline and indicates that my tumours, if not completely dormant, are barely functioning. Monthly injections of Sandostatin, meant to suppress this serotonin production, are obviously working and I have had none of the above listed symptoms for the past couple of years.

More good news was the fact that there is absolutely no sign of recurrence of my second cancer which was an acinic cell tumour in one of my saliva glands. It was removed surgically followed by six weeks of radiation treatments, thirty in all. I have now been free of that cancer for over two years!

The best news, however, is the fact that I feel 100% healthy! My energy level is normal and except for the monthly injections, which are given by a nurse who comes to the house, and a treatment requiring an overnight stay in hospital in Edmonton once every six months, I’m able to lead a completely normal life. We haven’t gone on any long hikes yet this summer, but I’m quite certain that I could.

If things continue to go this well over the next year, treatments will then be reduced to one every nine months. I have no idea what the long term outlook is, but then, who really does know what their future holds? I know who holds my future and that is good enough for me!

“I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”                                      Jeremiah 29:11

Swimsuit shopping

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We spent the past few days camping with two of our grandchildren, 8-year-old Drew and 6-year-old Jami. The prime attraction at the campground was the outdoor pool where we spent many very enjoyable hours. Drew even learned to swim this week!

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I’ve never been particularly fond of swimsuit shopping and though I hate to admit it, the newest one in my bag was probably purchased more than a decade ago! It wasn’t until I entered the pool this week that I realized how saggy it had become. I was literally in danger of showing off body parts that ought not to be displayed in public!

On Wednesday, I had to go into Edmonton for a medical appointment, so we had arranged in advance for the children to spend several hours with their auntie and uncle, our youngest son and his wife. Before it was time to pick them up again, we had a bit of time to kill and I decided that I’d better use it looking for a new swimsuit.

I started at The Bay in West Edmonton Mall and got no further. Apparently late July is the ideal time to shop for swimsuits at bargain prices. Every suit in the store was on sale, many for as much as 60% off. The swimsuit department was a hodgepodge of season’s end offerings, but there were still many to choose from.

I quickly realized that it had been so long since I’d shopped for swimwear that I had no idea what size I should be looking for! I wandered around gathering up a variety of sizes, styles and colours and was delighted when the attendant let me take all of them into the fitting room at once! As I narrowed down the field, she kept stopping by and taking away the ones I rejected. Soon, I was down to two choices.

Choice #1:

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Because I’m quite long in the body, I prefer a tankini, but this one piece was very comfortable. I liked the colour, the ruching which disguised the bulgy bits around my middle, and the removable straps. I prefer a higher cut leg, but the price was great. It’s hard to say no to a $95 suit that’s selling for $38.50!

Choice #2:

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This one was a tankini. The downside to a two piece these days is the fact that the pieces tend to be priced separately. As a result, this one was almost twice the price of the first one. I loved the bold black and white stripes though and I also liked the racer back which doesn’t show in the photo.

So which one did I choose? Both of them, of course! I wore one of them to the pool yesterday and the other today and I felt comfortable and attractive in both of them.

Which one do you like best? What do you look for in a swimsuit?

I’m only home overnight; long enough to do laundry and repack. Tomorrow, we take Drew and Jami back home to Calgary and then make our way to Camp Harmattan where we’ll spend the coming week. Nestled in a beautiful location in the Little Red Deer River valley between Olds and Sundre, Camp Harmattan is a place of peace and tranquility where I look forward to a time of social and spiritual refreshment. Following Augustine will be on hiatus until our return. There will be no Fashion Friday post next week, but I’ll see you right here when I get back!

The House at Riverton

If you, like me, are grieving the cancellation of TV’s popular drama series, Downton Abbey, then have I got a book for you!

Riverton

Originally released in her native Australia as The Shifting Fog, The House at Riverton was author, Kate Morton’s, debut novel. Described on the back cover as “the captivating story of an aristocratic family, a glorious English estate, a mysterious death and a way of life that vanished forever”, the story is set in England between the two great wars. Told in flashback by 98-year-old Grace, who was employed at Riverton, first as a housemaid and later as lady’s maid to the family’s eldest daughter, I found it a captivating read. The time period and master/servant relationships were so very reminiscent of Downton Abbey!

I’m not generally a fan of mysteries, but this one is more than a simple who-done-it and kept my attention to the end. In addition to providing a window into a fascinating time in history, The House at Riverton explores topics like memory and long held secrets, the devastation of war, and the end of an era.

Since The Shifting Fog was released in 2006, Kate Morton has published four more novels. I picked up The House at Riverton and two of the others, The Forgotten Garden and The Distant Hours, at a garage sale this spring thinking that they would make great summer reading. So  far, I haven’t been disappointed. We’ll be camping for the next couple of weeks and the other will be going with me.

What are you reading this summer? 

What’s in your purse?

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A friend of mine once reached into her handbag and pulled out half a hamburger wrapped in a paper napkin! It had been there for several days and was practically petrified.

What’s the most unusual thing in your purse?

Here’s what’s in mine right now:

  • leather clutch wallet purchased 8 years ago in Japan that contains driver’s licence, health care cards, cash, credit cards, receipts, business cards, an expired State of Israel Border Control Stay Permit and a reloadable Japanese Pasmo card that can be used for anything from train and bus travel to shopping. (The last two items are non-essentials, but they don’t take up any space and they bring back memories that make me smile every time I see them!)
  • cell phone
  • keys
  • pens
  • small folder containing rewards cards
  • cheque book
  • notebook
  • address book
  • calendar/planner
  • small pack of tissue
  • an ultra compact reusable shopping bag
  • 2 small cosmetic bags containing lip balm, lipstick, nail clippers, emery board, tiny foldable scissors, bandaids, eyeglass cleaning cloth, allergy and headache medication, a small tube of hand lotion, toothbrush and toothpaste
  • ziploc snack bag of almonds

Until recently, I was a one purse person, carrying the same bag for months on end without ever switching. The purse we carry is part of our overall fashion statement, however, and since boring is not the message I want to give about myself, my collection of handbags has started to grow and I’ve figured out how to switch quickly and easily from one to another. The trick is to organize the contents of your purse into smaller bags that can be transferred from one bag to another with ease.

I’m presently using this one a lot. I love it’s carefree summer look and the fact that it’s big enough to carry extras like sunscreen, sunglasses, my camera and even a hat. From The Sak, I won it last summer and first posted about it here.

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What do you carry in your purse?

 

Modesty and cultural sensitivity

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Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 11.07.24 PM 3Visitors who dress immodestly will no longer be allowed to enter Cambodia’s famed Angkor Wat temple complex, the agency that oversees the site announced last week. Beginning August 4th, all tourists will be required to wear pants or skirts that fall below the knee and shirts that cover their shoulders.

When I read that, I immediately went back to our photos from Jan 4, 2009 to see what we were wearing the day we visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is also Cambodia’s biggest tourist attraction. Would we meet the new standard, I wondered.

We got up at 4:30 a.m. the day we toured Angkor Wat so that we could be there in time to watch the sun rise over it’s towers. It was still a bit chilly when we arrived and at that point, dressed in a warm fleece hoodie and capri pants, I would definitely have met the new dress code.

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Richard would not have, however, as he was wearing shorts and later, in the heat of the day, I wouldn’t have either.

I almost hate to post that picture because I look so frumpy, but please keep in mind that we were basically backpacking through southeast Asia. We had just traveled the length of Vietnam by night bus and we were staying in a $12/night guesthouse that wasn’t much more than a roof over our heads. I may not have looked great, but I was having the adventure of a lifetime and fashion was the farthest thing from my mind!

The question here, though, is what is modesty? My tank top may not be particularly attractive, but is it immodest?

In 1 Timothy 2:9, the apostle Paul advises women to “adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation” but he doesn’t give a lot of detail about what that looks like. He does go on to say, “not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing” but to understand what he was getting at, one needs to look at the culture and the context. In this passage, Paul was advising women on how to dress for church, telling them to adorn themselves in a manner that was considered appropriate for worship. In Ephesus, where his protégé, Timothy, was pastoring at the time, the elite of that culture were known for their gaudy and extravagant wardrobes, their elaborate hair styles, and their expensive clothing that communicated extraordinary wealth. Paul’s description of immodest dress conjured up a picture of someone preoccupied with appearance, fashion, luxury, and perhaps even sexual prowess. He was simply advising the Christian women of that time and place not to mimic that behaviour, but to dress in a way that showed that they desired attention to be on God, not on themselves.

Dictionary definitions of modesty include “behavior, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency” and “the quality of behaving and especially dressing in ways that do not attract sexual attention.”

In discussing dress codes, it’s important to note that modesty must involve cultural sensitivity. We don’t find the wearing of shorts or sleeveless tops offensive here in North America,  but Cambodia is a completely different culture. Angkor Wat was the spiritual centre of the Khmer empire that dominated that region from the 9th to 15th centuries. It’s a symbol of great national pride and is depicted on the Cambodian flag. As such, it is worthy of utmost respect. If, to the Cambodian mind, that means a certain manner of dress, then visitors definitely need to honour that.

Though it’s unlikely that I will return to Angkor Wat (only because there’s so much world that I have yet to see), but if I do, I won’t be wearing a tank top. If you haven’t been yet, I would definitely suggest adding it to your bucket list, but make sure you pack accordingly. After August 4th, those who are not dressed appropriately will be turned away or required to change their clothes before being allowed to enter.

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