Ribstones in the rain

On the top of a hill about half an hour northeast of here, is a collection of rocks with a long history and a story to tell. The Viking Ribstones are quartzite boulders carved by the nomadic First Nations people who inhabited the prairie in years gone by. The stones stand as a monument to Old Man Buffalo, the spirit protector of the herds that provided them with food, hides, utensils, tools, and so much more. Grooves carved in the two largest rocks in ancient times are thought to represent the ribcage of the buffalo and circular holes may represent arrow or bullet holes.

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We weren’t too keen on spending a cool rainy afternoon cooped up in the house with three restless grandchildren who are visiting for the Labour Day weekend and Drew, the oldest, has been wanting to see the Ribstones since he first heard about them, so off we went. Thankfully, the rain was nothing more than a light drizzle as we approached the hill, the highest point for miles around.

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Historically, natives in the area left offerings to Old Man Buffalo at the Ribstones before hunting and after a successful hunt. Today, this is still a sacred and revered site to the First Nations people who continue to visit and leave offerings that include braided sweetgrass, tobacco or cigarettes, and other small trinkets. Five-year-old Simon was naturally curious and wanted to play with some of these objects, but in an attempt to teach him respect for the sacred nature of the place, we explained that it was something like a church and that the objects were similar to what we put in the offering plate at church.

Ribstone sites are very rare and this one has been designated a provincial historic resource. Only nine have been found in Alberta and this one is particularly significant because the stones remain in their original setting.

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Colourful ribbons and prayer cloths hang from the fence enclosing the site and trees in a nearby grove. Some have clearly been there for a long time, while others are newer.

The hilltop is a peaceful spot overlooking fields of grain in every direction. Hopefully the rain will let up and harvest can begin soon.

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Lone kayaker

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Richard has had a back problem for most of his adult life. Usually when it flares up, it settles down again within a few days, but whatever he did in early July appears to be something different. After weeks of rest, he’s still in pain. When the doctor recently told him no more golf and no kayaking for the rest of the season (we hadn’t even been out in the kayak yet), I was very unhappy! I felt sorry for him, of course. Being inactive is very difficult for him, but I was also sorry for myself! Perhaps that sounds selfish. Maybe it was. After all, I could have shrugged and said, “There’ll always be other summers”, couldn’t I? Not really. I don’t have that luxury. I’m hoping that there will be many more summers, but when you’re walking around with two cancers that aren’t being treated, you really can’t count on next year. You have to live for the moment.

I could golf on my own, but our kayak is a tandem and there it hung in the garage gathering dust. Then I remembered the other kayak; the one we’ve been storing in the back corner of the garage for our son for the past couple of years! It’s so lightweight that I can carry it myself. I could go kayaking after all!

We spent the past four days camping at Camp Lake, less than an hour from home, and I spent many hours out on the water. Sometimes I paddled vigorously, sometimes slowly, and sometimes I simply lifted the paddles out of the water and listened to the silence of solitude.

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I spent lots of time playing with my camera too. I especially love to capture reflections on water.

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In some places the fall colours were beginning to show.

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One of the things that I love about kayaking is the chance to see wildlife in their natural habitat. I didn’t see any larger animals this time, but there were many places like this one along the water’s edge where they obviously come down to drink.

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One end of the lake in particular is shallow and edged with reeds and that’s where the action was.

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I have no idea how many muskrats make Camp Lake their home, but clearly there are a lot of them! For every photo that I captured, many were missed. Even the ping of my camera turning on was enough to startle them. I learned to cover the speaker with my thumb to muffle the sound as I drifted close to them. I’m not sure who was the most surprised when one furry fellow popped up and swam beside the kayak for a couple of metres! Before I could grab the camera, he noticed me and dove beneath the surface immediately disappearing from sight. It was easier to capture the ones that were out of the water.

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I’m hoping for at least one more lone kayaker outing this year, and I really hope that we’re both well enough to paddle together again next year, but at least this summer didn’t go by without some time on the water.

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Talking about trends: Fall 2019

LogoWhile much of the world was experiencing extreme heat, it was a non-summer here in Alberta. Our big blue sky decided to take an extended vacation and left us with gloomy grey clouds and endless rain. Our furnace literally came on almost every morning! It’s hard to think about fall when you haven’t really had summer, but the fashions are out in the stores and it’s time to talk about trends.

Rich autumn colours are huge this season. Think pumpkin, caramel, cinnamon, gold, and spicy browns. Green, from light pistachio all the way to deep forest, is also very popular. Animal prints never go out of style, but they are bigger than ever this season. Leopard has been leading the way for the past few seasons, but now it’s being joined on centre stage by zebra and snakeskin. Plaids and checks continue to be popular as do floral prints.

Belts are showing up everywhere; wide ones, thin ones, and colourful ones, worn over blazers, sweaters, dresses, and coats. Perhaps an animal print belt is what’s needed to add a bit of flair to your fall wardrobe.

Shoulder pads, reminiscent of the 1970s, have made their way back into the fashion mainstream over the past few years and are definitely being seen again this fall. Though there’s no one skirt length for this season, maxi skirts have definitely made a comeback. Jumpsuits also continue to be on trend. Capes and long coats are very popular.

As always, some of the season’s trends may appeal to you and others probably won’t. Don’t feel compelled to wear something simply because it’s on trend. Instead, pick and choose those colours that suit your skin tone and looks that fit your personal style. And, before you go shopping for this season’s trends, remember to shop your own closet. Chances are, you’ll find something there that fits right in with the current trends.

Let me show you what I mean. Though I was tempted to dig into my fall/winter wardrobe more than once this non-summer, I haven’t actually done my seasonal closet switch yet and I had to go into storage to retrieve these items. None of them are new.

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I started with a pair of chocolate brown boot cut jeans, taupe booties, and a comfy brown sweater that has been around for a very long time. I haven’t worn it much in recent years and almost got rid of it several times, but now I’m glad I didn’t. This was a good beginning, but the outfit definitely needed some dressing up.

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I added a dark brown leather belt, a leopard print scarf, and a pair of gold tasseled earrings. That’s much better!

Now let’s go outside.

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For a chilly fall day, I’ve added the reversible wool cape that was my Mom’s. I don’t know for sure how old it is, but I think it was quite new when I wore it, ivory side out, over my wedding dress in October 1976! My daughter also wore it over hers 30 years later in December 2006! A gift from my husband last Christmas, the hat is by far the newest item that I’m wearing.

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Now, how many of this season’s trends did I hit without going shopping?

Uniqlo is coming to Edmonton!

LogoFor those of you who might be wondering, I still haven’t found my fabric swatches! The plus side to this is the fact that I’ve now cleaned out and reorganized all twelve of my bedroom drawers. That’s right… 12! I didn’t even realize that I had that many drawers! I also went through my sewing and craft supplies. I didn’t think they’d be there, but since they weren’t where I thought they’d be, I figured it was worth checking. I even looked through a trunk full of odds and sods and keepsakes from the past in our basement storage room. When the little packet of swatches wasn’t there either, I came to the conclusion that I might have thrown it out some time in the past. I sure hope not!

On a completely different note, however, I want to share some exciting news for those of us who live in my part of the world. Popular Japanese fashion retailer, Uniqlo, is opening a store in West Edmonton Mall on Friday, September 27 at 10:00 AM! The first 200 people in line will receive a special edition tote bag and there will be other branded giveaways for the first 500 people to enter the store on opening day. When we lived in Japan, I could hop on my bike and ride over to the nearest Uniqlo store, but we live 190 km from the mall and don’t have any other reason to go to Edmonton that day, so I likely won’t be in that line up. I do have a doctor’s appointment in the city on October 8th though and I’ll definitely be checking out the new store that day!

Uniqlo (pronounced you-nee-klo) currently has 11 stores in Canada with 7 in the Greater Toronto area and four in and around Vancouver. The chain is known for innovative yet functional apparel and simple, modern designs as well as high-quality, reasonably priced, easy-to-wear basics for men, women, children and babies. Like its over 1500 stores around the world, Uniqlo’s Edmonton store will carry business attire, leisurewear, intimate apparel, and some accessories. The store will also feature a recycling initiative where customers can drop off gently used Uniqlo clothing to be passed on to those in need.

With winter approaching, Canadians might be particularly interested in the brand’s HeatTech line made of innovative fabric that absorbs body heat and stores it in air pockets deep within the fibres to keep the wearer warm. I’ve also been so impressed with my Ultra Light Down vest that I’m seriously considering buying one of the jackets as well. For additional winter comfort, the brand offers cashmere sweaters and extra fine merino garments suitable for our cold climate.

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Uniqlo has recently collaborated with UK-born fashion designer, Hana Tajima, to create the 2019 Fall/Winter HANA TAJIMA FOR UNIQLO collection. I’ve had my eye on this simple V-neck tunic since I spotted it on the website. I seldom buy clothing online, but if it’s in the store on October 8th, I’ll definitely be trying it on.

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Welcome to Alberta, Uniqlo!

Universal colours

LogoI’ve been turning the house inside out lately looking for something. Has that ever happened to you?

Back in the 1980s, when I had my colours “done”, I received a little packet of fabric swatches in the Spring colours that were deemed to be most flattering for someone with my skin tone and colouring. For several years, I carried it in my purse and used it as a guide when I shopped. In time, however, I started colouring outside the lines, so to speak. I found myself using my swatches less and experimenting more with other colours. Eventually, I put the little packet of fabric pieces away in a drawer in my bedroom, or at least that’s what I thought I did!

In recent months I’ve noticed a resurgence of interest in knowing your colours and dressing accordingly amongst some of the fashion bloggers that I read regularly. That led me to wonder how far I’ve strayed from my own colour palette, so I went to the dresser drawer to retrieve my swatches. The only problem was, they weren’t there! That’s when the search began. I’d estimate that the little packet is about 10 cm x 6 cm x 1.5 cm thick. There are a LOT of places in this house where something that small could be hiding!

Since I haven’t found it yet, perhaps this is a good time for me to think about universal colours. Six weeks ago, I wrote about neutrals, those colours that go well with all the other colours in the closet. Universal colours, however, are the ones that look good on just about everyone. If you don’t know what season you are, what colours look best on you, you really can’t go wrong with universals. They flatter all skin tones.

There are six colours that are most often listed as universals:

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Soft white and stone, a medium to light grey, also appear on many lists. I’ve sometimes seen red referred to as a universal colour, but I would disagree because though there is a red for everyone, not every red looks good on every person. Those, like myself, with warm skin tones should choose orange tinted reds, while those with cool skin tones look better wearing blue-based reds. Not sure which one is right for you? Click here.

Universal colours are frequently chosen for staff uniforms because they look good on everyone. If you’re planning a wedding and want to keep a bevy of beautiful bridesmaids happy and looking their best, selecting a universal colour for their dresses is also a sensible choice.

Now, back to searching for that little packet of fabric swatches. Wish me luck!

DIY frayed hem jeans

LogoYou may have noticed that frayed, raw hems (really no hem at all) are very much on trend this summer, especially on jeans. They aren’t limited to any particular denim fit but are seen on just about every style from skinny to straight leg to flares.

Some say that if you wore something the first time it was in style, you shouldn’t wear it again the next time it comes around. I guess that’s a gentle way of saying that you’re too old for whatever it is, but I’m not into the dos and don’ts or the shoulds and shouldn’ts of fashion. I say, if you like it, wear it! If it makes you feel fabulous, go for it! I’m not sure if frayed hems are going to make me feel fabulous or not, but I’ve decided to give them a try even though I wore them way back in the 60s and 70s! 

Rather than rushing out to buy a pair of the latest style, I looked at the jeans I already owned with an eye to eliminating the finished hem on one of them, but none seemed to be just right for the project. Then I was browsing in our local thrift store when a pair of white jeans caught my eye. White jeans have also been on my wish list for awhile, so I took a closer look. These were my size! They looked brand new, but I knew that they’d been hiding in someone’s closet for quite awhile because they were Jockey. Much to my dismay, Jockey Person to Person went out of business in March 2015.

I thought I’d found a real treasure until I tried the pants on. They fit perfectly except for the length. They were too short; not short enough to be crops, just awkwardly short. The store was having a “brown bag” sale though; everything you could fit in a grocery bag (except jewelry) for just $5. I was already well on the way to filling a bag, so in went the white jeans. That night I took the hem down and voila! I had both my white jeans and my frayed hems! They’re nothing like the drag on the ground frayed jeans that I wore in my teens and early 20s!

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The top in the photos is also thrifted.

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Do you wear frayed, raw hems? Would you?

 

How to shop like a celebrity

LogoI thought that taking my oldest underwear to Europe was a great packing tip, but actress Helen Mirren goes much further than that.

“I love a good charity shop, especially when I’m travelling. When I’m going to cold places, I take nothing – just underwear. On my way from the airport, I ask the driver to take me to a good charity shop, and I buy boots, socks, trousers, jumpers, sweaters, hats and scarves… On the way back to the airport, I have it all in a big bag and drop it off at another charity shop,” she said in August of 2010.

She’s also been quoted as saying, “The whole thing of clothes is insane. You can spend a dollar on a jacket in a thrift store. And you can spend a thousand dollars on a jacket in a shop. And if you saw those two jackets walking down the street, you probably wouldn’t know which was which.” 

I first learned of Mirren’s penchant for thrift store shopping when I saw this meme on Facebook. I immediately knew that we were two of a kind!

Helen Mirren thrifting

Apparently Helen Mirren is far from the only celebrity who shops for second hand clothing. Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore, and Sara Jessica Parker are just a few others who can be found searching the racks of thrift stores. Eva Mendes even attended her first movie premiere in a $6 dress from Goodwill. I love the fact that they prove that thrift stores aren’t only for people who haven’t any other financial options, but why would stars who can easily afford to be selective about where they shop choose second hand? Perhaps it’s because it allows them to find unique pieces that they know their fellow actresses won’t be wearing. Perhaps they hate fast fashion and see thrifting as a way to contribute to the well-being of the environment. Or perhaps, like me, it’s more about the fun of going on a treasure hunt.

So, if you’d like to dress like your favourite celebrity, it might not be as expensive as you think. Instead of dreaming of hiring a stylist and shopping luxury stores, why not be a frugal fashionista and check out a few thrift stores?