Friday, 15 August 2014

Smell You Later

I was doing all right there for a little while until the fridge went kaput (it was a Monday, of course) and for extra fun my environmental sensitivities also went ahead and levelled up. I've had difficulty tolerating perfumes, colognes, hairsprays, scented lotions, bodywashes and other fragranced products since serious illness required lengthy toxic treatment - my office has been posted "scent-free" for ages while as a whole my workplace is currently just "scent-reduced" in policy - but recent exposures are making me more acutely ill and resulting in longer-lasting symptoms. 

After a bad week and a half of multiple scent incidents, one morning a coworker wearing "body spray" stepped into my office and within a minute I was overcome and lost a day's work and a second day's better functioning. So frustrating! And isolating - a wedding without hugs and with waves of intense unwellness and having to deek out, limiting occasions I risk going out into our heavily-fragranced world, becoming too afraid to invite family over for a birthday. 

grey / red / orange winged scarf: Saachi, My Habit
silver scales and teardrops necklace: ebay
olive green drawstring-waist midi dress: Joe Fresh
orange ankle-strap flats: Cydwoq Instinct, ebay, worn here (see some of my '80s hairdos!)

During last year's month-long escapade, Hideous Rash Of Unknown Origin (of which my favourite part was the eyelid hives), the prevailing wisdom was that if I hadn't recently changed laundry / cleaning / personal care products, during a new-onset reaction would not be the time. I've since been guided by this list of products generated by the Environmental Health Association of Quebec as I continue to detoxify my practices at a much faster pace than before. A bit of excellent news: Penny Lane Organics Deodorant actually works! 

antique orange amber bracelet: a gift from my mother, and
watch: Stuhrling Tuskegee Skylancer, both worn here

oatmeal layering tank: Joe Fresh, several years old

But just yesterday, I accidentally poisoned myself with the ordinary weekly chore of replacing the garbage bin liner. We'd kept using the same brand of kitchen trash bags without taking notice of their increasing toxicity - instead of just being a gross scented-smell for a few seconds, now they cause me an acute reaction, and I can't believe I ever paid money for them or had them in my house. That short article I linked, 11 Disease-Causing Ingredients Added to Garbage Bags, is also worth a read for its concise articulation of how "fragrance" impacts health. Even for us no-TV and trend-resistant folk, the power of marketing to affect ideas of "normal" is incredible. 

Returning to my other recent preoccupation, I am mystified that high-maintenance stainless steel finishes are the current standard in major appliances, but somehow not surprised that the really good fridge options are limited to units so giant they'd require kitchen renovation. Dodging perfumed customers and cologned sales associates in the cornucopia of off-gassing that is the furniture / appliance store experience was super exciting, let me tell you. I am sad having to replace my old almond side-by-side fridge with its fake wood-grain handles that is so perfect in my 1950-built kitchen (shown here on last fall's applesauce-making day): 

Despite the general consensus on side-by-sides, I never had trouble fitting plenty in this fridge, and the narrow doors were ideal for its location adjacent to our entrance-and-basement-doors nook. Alas, no way could I justify the quadruple prices of gorgeous retro style (oh North Star, oh Big Chill, oh Smeg), but by the time I need to revisit this issue, hopefully a long long way from now, maybe GE Artistry will be available in colours, in Canada, and with reversible door hinges. Unfortunately, I can't wait that long, and a hunk of energy-efficient and apparently "smudge-proof" stainless steel arrives tomorrow. 

Going way back, I regret that I was ever so stinky with perfumes and scented crap myself - those '70s and '80s gems Love's Baby Soft, Bonne Bell Lipsmackers, Dewberry products from The Body Shop, then there was Dior's Poison (predictably!), Laura Biagiotti Roma, Givenchy Organza Indécence, and also tangerine-patchouli-rose and vanilla massage oil mixtures. And candles and incense and aromatherapy. And high-potency Venus lotion from the local hand-made soapworks. Never mind the essential big hair products: Dep gel, Final Net, Aussie Mega Scrunch spray. I wheeze, remembering. What are your scent stories?

Though not always able to take the place of a warm embrace, in case they could be useful, here are some potentially affectionate and enthusiastic ways to greet people with a not-hug: jazz hands, high-five, an arm's length hand clasp and eye contact, a sassy wink, finger guns, some jumping, a fist bump, exchanging bows, curtsies, or self-hugs, and of course the namaste. I will be very glad to see everyone when I'm chilling out and breathing easy at upcoming link-ups: Sheila's Shoe Shine at Ephemera, and Share-in-Style: Summer at Mis Papelicos. *** Edited to add: Over at Spy Girl, it's 52 Pick-me up: Goddess, and my outfit honours the winged ones - Nike, Victoria, Aurora, Isis, Ma'at, Nekhbet, Nut, Inanna, Siris, Lilith, neolithic Bird goddess, Ariel, Anat, Artemis Orthia, Badb, and of course the Harpies, Furies, Sirens, and Angels - and this resident of my garden:

Do you experience newer (increasingly artificially-formulated, less biodegradable, engineered for time-released dispersal and greater broadcast) fragrances as more toxic? Does your workplace have a policy? Have you had to or chosen to make changes due to care for the environment or other reasons? You can also talk to me about major appliance woes, or, even better, just outfits, accessories, and shoes are really good too.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Dual Action

Thank you so much for the kind comments on my last post - we sure do miss our Old Glo. Today, no seriousness - just another couple of comfortable work outfits of the printed dress + sweater + scarf type and a chat about weather and shopping. 

I'm enjoying Ontario's cooler-than-usual July, but my year-round indoor weather conditions at work are typically coldest-dampest-April with periodic gale-force winds. That atmosphere allows for more temperate conditions in the glass-walled areas of the building, and fortunately I'd rather be a bit chilled than gross and overheated. 

green scarf: Lupita's (Harlingen, TX), worn here
silver necklace: a gift from my mother, detail here
dark blue cardigan: Old Navy
geometric-print dress: Leota, ebay

navy shoes: Karl Lagerfeld + Melissa, Bloomingdales

A single Ugly Office Sweater isn't enough for the temperature variability, so I keep two wool wraps (one large, one small) at my desk and over the course of most days will use all of the layering options in any outfit.

I have no complaints about these shoes, though - wish I could have every colour! One of the best things about blogging again is a chance to link up with Sheila's Shoe Shine at Ephemera.

In context of few local options for quality second-hand / thrift / consignment shopping (inside an hour's drive, standard fare has been $5 for thoroughly-pilled mall-brand T-shirts and lots of worn WalM*rt clothing at original price), I occasionally drink the new-clothes Kool-Aid and see what people mean about the ubiquity of things made you-know-where. Fortunately Melissa is a socially and environmentally conscious shoemaker, and Leota dresses are made in New York - the above was $9.99 via ebay.

blue paisley scarf: a gift from my mother
navy cardigan: MAK, ModCloth
chocolate milk coloured dress: Effie's Heart, ModCloth

My admiration to bloggers with serious second-hand style ethics like Sheila, Curtise, Megan Mae and Bella, and those with holy smokes incredible refashioning skills besides, like Jean, Helga, Vix, and Pao. Unlike at least a noticeable proportion of stuff I wear, the two cardigans in this post are standard in-stock-online items, so here are my reviews - 

Old Navy: soft lightweight cotton, more navy / less electric than it photographed; fit is even larger than the generous size chart measurements. Time will tell how well it wears. What's your bet on whether putting it in the dryer will shrink it in only undesirable ways? 

ModCloth: a heavier knit, dark navy colour, I like the shape and fit; pill-happy synthetic mix needs frequent washing but does not stand up to frequent washing. :(

To end on a positive note, though I still miss the beloved Netty Vintage storefront, three brand-new shops - two consignment and a charity thrift store - have opened in the nearest city, where I have lately satisfied my abiding affection for gauchos and Giant Pants (as previously expressed here, here, and here). 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Roots and Rain

An 11th-hour addition to Literary Stylings at Fashion for Giants, inspired by a book that sang along my Ukrainian-Canadian prairie roots through to present-day connections and beyond, of lung-squeezing losses - personal and cultural and environmental - in verse of what gets told and what doesn't. 

vintage cotton day dress: Cotton City, Bitter Root Vintage
black wrap belt: thrifted at The Kitty Cat Store, worn here with cowboy boots of legend
green scarf: Lupita's (Harlingen, TX), worn here
blue ankle-strap wedges: Melissa Toffee Apple, ebay, worn here

Rove by Laurie D. Graham
nominated for the 2014 Gerald Lampert Award

Saskatchewan ancestors, the chair that travelled from the photograph to my Ontario home

I learned about Rove via Michael Dennis's poetry review blog where he has shared some excerpts (and regularly adds to my burst-at-the-seams poetry book wish list). I was then lucky enough to win a drawn-by-lottery spot in a poetry workshop with Don McKay, where I met Laurie Graham as a co-participant. 

memento from among my paternal grandmother's belongings

This outfit was from last week; I read Rove last month as I hung out with Old Glo in her last days. The little buffalo herd specks on the book's cover were Of Interest to the hens. 

After Gloria's original flockmate Big Henrietta died earlier this year, young Heidi Hunter the Turkey Lurkey was often seen having a sit-down with Glo in their favourite spot through good days and bad. To have warmth and comfort, visitors coming 'round to check in, and such a friend to sit by you when you're ailing, well, that's pretty good. 

As happens with many laying hens as they age, Glo's abdomen filled with fluid. Chickens can cling to life so fiercely that they linger well beyond what is fair or kind - we kept a careful eye to whether she was eating, drinking, and breathing well, retaining her spot in the pecking order, and able to get where she needed to go. 

Rain-spotted details of the most comfortable dress: scalloped and piped wide collar and triangular pockets, swirly buttons
vintage stylized fish skeleton necklace: a gift from my mother, worn here
bracelets and watch: worn here on another rainy day

Back to treasured people-connections, my friend and fellow chicken-keeper Jean will be 93 next month. I had given her some homemade applesauce at Christmas, and she returned the jar to me this spring filled with her homemade wild leek pesto. The leeks grow along the creek in the woods on Jean's farm, and the pesto was transcendently delicious. We used the last bit of it to make stuffed mushrooms.  

At right is the applesauce label image: pre-digital camera, I captured an early-morning deer visit
on expired b+w SLR film. In an aerial photo from the 1970s, my apple tree was already about this size.
One ambitious year it yielded 76 jars of sauce. 

Glo sending good thoughts to Jean's last "old girl," Cecile, who is going through similar. 

Wishing you all have someone that you like to go and sit beside, and someone to come and sit beside you. If you are so lucky, do also squeeze them every chance you get. After a long time away, I'll be sitting a while among the Visible Monday bloggers at Not Dead Yet Style. More of Gloria below the jump.