Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What's Up With Girls?

Girls are sometimes the meanest creatures I know of.  I have experienced my own share of queen bees and manipulative females, and some who are incredibly clever in their methods of abuse.  I am watching these creative cruelties going on in two different arenas currently, one of them requires my intervention whenever possible.  That one is going on in my classroom where the grade five girls have been divided into two camps with the arrival of a queen bee a couple of months ago.  The other one is a grown woman trying to manipulate and take revenge on a co-worker in the office where my husband works.  Her tactics are pathetically junior high school style, yet she is not a work place anomaly.

In the workplace women who feel competitive with others are sometimes willing to sacrifice any pleasant relations for undermining their rival or chosen target.  The woman my husband works with is not able to deal with having made a mistake and owing another woman an apology.  Her denial and anger are leading her towards increasingly immature behaviour and it can only damage her credibility in the employer's eyes.  Somehow she believes that she is a victim.  I have worked with women who cannot stand to have a female supervisor and the criticisms and petty complaints they make are ridiculous.  One woman I know thinks her boss is unacceptable for not being an extrovert and greeting her enthusiastically  each morning.

In schools everywhere there are girls making the lives of other girls miserable by ostracizing them, spreading rumours and sending cruel messages through e-mail and text.  As young as eight, some girls discover that they can have have a great deal of power and influence just by announcing that a certain girl is no longer her best friend.  If you have daughters, two books you should read are Queen Bees and Wannabees, by Rosalind Wiseman and Odd Girl Out, by Rachael Simmons.  Simmons proposes that one of the problems contributing to the sly behaviour and passive aggression girls are prone to using on each other is that our culture does not allow girls to get angry or display anger.  Little girls should be sugar and spice and all things nice.  Anger goes underground and it's power grows.

This is what I like best about boys.  When they are mad at each other they fight with their fists.  It is often possible for them to friends again a short time later.  I'm not suggesting that problems should be solved this way, but I find it interesting to ponder this idea that girls are not taught how to deal with anger and aggression, the are expected to suppress it and this has caused the field for women ant work and girls at school to be fraught with land mines.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I'm Back and I'm shopping!

I'm in Portland for spring break, staying with  my good friend.  She is the amazing mother of two delightful and precocious five year old twin boys.  They talk non-stop, quarrel and make up, have difficult and different eating habits and are being raised with  love, patience and plenty of structure by two loving parents.  My girlfriend, like myself, is an elementary school teacher and since she teaches grade one, she is inundated with little ones who are needy and diverse in their needs.  She has twenty-five or so at school and then comes home every day to her own beloved two.  This is a woman giving constantly.  I want to buy her a lovely gift but I'm not sure what it will be yet.

She has a beautiful home in reproduction Brownstone with a modern take on arts and crafts style.  Although I am confident I get her decorating style, her home needs nothing and I always think it is risky buying someone something decorative for their home.  She recently complained that all of her bath towels were really old.  I am confident about the right colour for bath towels in her house, so I'm planning to get her some luxurious new towels and some spa like bath products.  I should get some for her husband too.  Must find out if he shaves with blade or electric.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010



I apologize to my bloggy friends whom I normally visit regulary and to that one person who reads my blog :)

I am struggling right now with my chronic fatigue syndrome and not up to posting or even reading much.  This is my difficult season-but before you suggest a sun lamp let me tell you that summer is also my difficult season.  So I send you all thought valentines and hope to be more lively again soon.

Monday, February 8, 2010

What is Your Go To Outfit?

I usually have somewhat of an idea about what is in fashion and what tends have passed.  I've reached the age where I've seen enough trends come and go so I'm not really interested in being on trend all of the time.  Not everything is going to work for me; the shrunken blazer is a good example.  I'm a cardigan girl because I hate the feeling of a stiff jacket that limits my arm movement.  I wave my arms around when I talk; this is a serious issue for me.  I like raglan sleeves.  When you reach that point where you no longer try out every new look because you know what works on your body, what you like, what makes you feel comfortable, and you've seen something on the DON"T list only to see it on the DO list, proving that rules are meant to be broken and some women will look good in pleated pants and some won't regardless of what the current trend is, then you are likely confident enough to create your own style.

Supply can be a challenge.  For the first few years when the waist line on pants dropped I really struggled to find pants that fit me well.  I'm tall, but I don't have long super model legs, I'm a bit longer in the rise than average as my extra height isn't just in my legs.  I have a longer inseam, longer leg length and longer torso than average.  Some women, especially those strutting down the runway just have miles long legs, no extra height anywhere else.  Sorry to be boring you with these details, but the result was that for a few years there were no pants available that covered my bottom.  Pants have always been a challenge for me so I have worn skirts most often for the past twenty five years.  I love denim skirts and while a denim mini has just about always been fashionable for a hot young twenty something, it has been quite awhile since I was near to that and even then minis were never in my comfort zone.

My favourite is an above the knee pencil skirt.  I could live in this skirt, a pair of tights and my favourite shoes.

Something like these but with a lower heel.

Add another inch to the length of this skirt and here it is, a perfect outfit for me.
(Okay, I lied a little, I look terrible in turtle necks)

I have two denim skirts in my wardrobe right now.  One similar to the first picture and another that is long, ending just below my calves.  If I could have one for every day of the week, I would.  And I don't care anymore if they are trendy or not.  Some years hey are ripped and bleached, some years they are full with kicky little pleats.  There are granny versions with elastic waistbands, high waisted and low waisted, flared and tapered, embroidered with pink and blue flowers, covered in zippers, frayed at the ends and even acid wash.  They aren't all the right one for me, but I comb the thrift shops looking to increase my collection.  A straight cut denim skirt is part of my personal style now.  I don't care if the It Girls are wearing them or not.  What is your favourite thing to wear whether it is in style or not?  Do you long for the return of stirrup pants or high waisted jeans?  Have you stubbornly clung to your shoulder pads?  Is there something from this season that you love so much you think you will keep it even when it is no longer au current?  

I'm seeing socks with dressy and even strappy shoes in the fashion pictures for spring.  Maybe my beloved Velma will more fashionable than Daphne this year.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Writer's Block

I'm going to do what I tell my students to do; I'm  going to write through my block.  Yup.  that means I'm taking on the stream of my conscience, babbling visually, finding my way to having something to say.  It wasn't as hard as I thought it might be since I'm thinking about parmesan cheese and, well, that is a writing topic, is it not?

People as me if I miss meat.  Nobody ever asks me if I miss yogurt or cheesecake,  foods I loved much more than I ever loved meat.  I suppose the answer is yes and no.  When I first became vegetarian it was a gradual process and the salty-fat taste of meat in my diet was impossible to give up, even though I was no longer interested in great hunks of flesh.  I made stews and soups with meat broth initially and then went through the phase many vegetarians go through where I overcompensated with cheese.  As a vegetarian both yogurt and cheesecake are still on the menu, but at some point which I find difficult to recall, I became vegan.

There are many faux foods on the market and beverages labeled milk which are non-dairy are varied and readily available.  Faux meat and faux cheese have never really excited me much but I've dabbled in the use of them.  Cheesecake can easily be replicated with tofu but I've never found soy yogurt to be worth eating.  Its unappealing greyish colour doesn't help.  Faux cheese either  doesn't live up to its promise or is not actually vegan due to the use of casein or rennet.  Although I once lived cheese, I have gone beyond missing it.  I can make a cheesy tasting sauce that fulfills my desire for mac n cheese or grilled sandwiches.

But today, as I whipped up a pasta primavera I recalled how a little fresh parmesan really does add that je ne sais quoi. (I am now wondering what the Italian version of that is)  I have tried faux parmesan-nope not the same.  I might be good in its own right as a flavourful sprinkle, but there is just no duplicating that ultimate fat-salt taste of parmesan cheese.

Often I tell people that it is easy to be vegan.  In a short time your taste preferences change and you no longer crave the animal taste.  That is mostly true.  Cheese and butter have an animal grease taste and smell that really puts me off now, my body reacts as though it is wrong to eat them.  I have no doubt this is purely psychological and I am fine with that.  But I miss the parmesan.  Just once in awhile.  I guess I'll get over it with a nice carton of Purely Decadent Peanut Butter Zig Zag non-dairy dessert.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Blind Woman's Bluff

(getty images)

Mr Magoo bumbles along not realizing the errors of his ways and always surviving disaster.

Velma is always losing her glasses, which inevitably results in finding the scary monster.

I flit through my life in a blind whirlwind.  Some people might think I'm clumsy.  No, it isn't that.

My vision just can't keep up with my intentions.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Lighthearted and Without Depth, I Assure You

A part of growing into who you are includes examining role models.  Some are people in our everyday lives, some are heros we have chosen from history and some come from popular culture.  The influence of the latter has more to do with what we project onto them since we do not really know these people.  Here are some of the people who attracted me over the years.  The reasons will obviously vary, but I will leave you to guess them.  So, although I would say my mother and maternal grandmother were the most influential women in my life, this collage is for fun. Here they are in no particular order.
I'm sure I've forgotten somebody.  But it was fun thinking up this selection and hunting for photos.