Thursday, November 5, 2015

Butterflies and Mammaries

This post is inspired by an article I read over at Already Pretty. The author, Nadine Thornhill of Adorkable Undies, moved me to tears. Then I was moved to write and write and write. It's taken me this long to organize those ramblings into something reasonably coherent. Actually, I'm pretty sure some of these thoughts still aren't quiet coherent. I'm having a difficult time finding the words to express what I feel, but I'm going to post this anyway. If nothing else it has a picture of Neil Gaiman.)

I was shopping for black, work-appropriate trousers when the butterfly cardigan caught my eye. Though I really didn't need it, I decided to try it on anyway. My immediate impulse was to grab a large, but the saleswoman talked me into a medium. I figured it was a long shot. When buying items that button in the front the larger the better. My beyond-double-D breasts tend to be more than most buttons can handle.

I was shocked. I loved how I looked in the medium cardigan. It hugged all the right places.  Even the saleswoman had a "wow" when I opened the dressing room door. I was HOT. 

Then I bought the cardigan in large.  This, in spite of the fact that I don't love how I look in the large. Don't get me wrong. I love the sweater and all the memories it evokes. I just don't love myself in the large sweater like I did in the medium.

So, why the heck didn't I buy the smaller one?

Well, several years ago, when speaking to my boss, a client referred to me as "Chesty LaRue". Instead of reprimanding the client, my boss spoke to me about my clothing choices. She felt that my shirt might be too revealing for the some of clients that frequent our workplace.

There's much about this that still upsets me. 

Around the time of the incident at work I wore the same top to a book signing. I've included a photo below. (That's Hubby on the left and Neil Gaiman in the centre. Double swoon!) Yes, you can see some cleavage, but I am bending forward in the photograph. Even so, the lads in the picture don't seem too distracted by "that little line peeping through", and my breasts were far perkier and distracting back in those days

My boobs sit lower now. And yes, I do wear uber-supportive bras to give them a little lift. That's not just for appearance's sake. Leaving my breasts to their own devices is not good for my posture. And without containment they do tend to stray uncomfortably with the least bit of activity. Besides, finding clothing to fit breasts that have surpassed the double-D department is challenging. Finding clothing to fit large breasts that are rapidly approaching your waist is impossible. 

Don't get me wrong. I like my breasts. They are nicely shaped and healthy and they've been with me for years. Hell, they're real and they're SPECTACULAR! It's the reaction to my breasts that leaves me scrambling for cover. 

And scramble I do. Finding tops that fit in the shoulders, sleeves and bust can be frustrating. I often sacrifice fit elsewhere to ensure my breasts are decently covered. Long sleeves are usually a waste of time, as finding something that fits in the chest means the sleeves are miles long. Button-front anything tends to gape, or strain, or just burst open at the most inconvenient times. (I had a lovely silk blouse I wore to job interviews after university. As I walked into one interview, a strategic button burst free. There was no time to fix it. Worst. Interview. Ever.) Length can also be a problem. Shirts that cover another woman's belly don't always cover mine, as fabric that should be covering my gut tends to ride up to cover my chest. 

All those fit issues and I haven't even tackled cleavage-coverage.

And I do try to keep my cleavage covered. I make an effort to de-emphasize the size of my breasts. The incident at work isn't the only time I've been the recipient of unwanted attention because of my breast size. There was bullying in middle school. There was a job interview where, even though I was buttoned up to my chin, the interviewer spent the entire time staring at my chest. There have been innumerable bra-snappings and taunts and snide comments. After years of tolerating this kind of behaviour from others the impulse to cover my cleavage has become automatic. Putting the medium "wow" sweater back on the rack and taking the less-appealing large didn't even require thought. 

Yet sometimes cleavage peaks through in spite of my careful choices. Sometimes the extra clothing required to cover my chest is too restrictive. I do like to be able to move my arms from time to time. Sometimes it's just too hot to employ cleavage-camouflaging layers. (I tend to feel the heat more than my smaller-breasted colleagues. Must be all that extra insulation up front.) Camisoles and high-necklines and related concealment leave me red-faced, soggy-palmed, and pit-stained. Is that more professional than that controversial bit of cleavage? 

Apparently, according to my long-ago boss, it is. I was dressed unsuitably. I was responsible for that man's reaction to my breasts. His comments were my fault. Nadine's suggestion that it may be otherwise blew me away. That shift in thinking moved me to tears. It still does. 

Does this mean I'll be intentionally flaunting my cleavage any time soon? Probably not. Even now I'd still buy the larger sweater. What it does mean is that when confronted with unwanted attention, as I was a couple of weeks ago when some random pick-up truck driver felt the need to share his comments on my appearance, I'll be more forgiving...

... of myself. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Taco Time

Yesterday Hubby and I were overwhelmed by the urge for fish tacos. Not just any fish taco. We specifically craved the Baja-style fish tacos from Tidal Taco Shack in Qualicum Bay. 

Qualicum Bay is about 50km to the south of our town, so a beautiful day that probably should have been devoted to the practicalities of home-ownership was spent meandering down-island in search of seafood. 

On the drive down we spotted a few other seafood lovers. 

Seagulls, and sealions and seals, oh my...

...and a mermaid to greet us at our destination. 

A few customers ahead of us meant that we had a short wait for our lunch, but our table had a great view, so we didn't mind.  

I suppose that this is where a practised blogger would insert a photo of their lunch. I didn't even consider taking a picture. Guess I need more practice! 

We spent some time exploring the seaside before we headed back home. I didn't realize that Hubby had snapped the picture below until later in the day. I quite like how it turned out, so I'm linking up with Patti over at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday. Go check out the fun!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Cobwebs In My Closet

My enthusiasm for clutter clearing has waned. Not that I'm anywhere near clutter-clearing completion. Instead I keep finding other things to do. Things like napping, and eating pizza, and drinking beer with friends, and accidentally corrupting the youth of the Valley, and eating more pizza, and drinking more beer. You know. The important stuff. So much for keeping the agreement I made with myself to clear while others cleaned!

A couple of weeks ago I skipped out on my de-cluttering duties to attend a colleague's retirement tea. After the tea I wanted to run several errands before meeting Hubby for pizza and beer. 

I struggled to find an appropriate outfit for my afternoon plans. I wanted something that was comfortable for running errands, presentable for the retirement festivities, yet not too fancy-schmancy for the outdoor patio at the brewery

I stood in my bathrobe and flipped through the items in my closet. Nothing seemed quite right. Things that might have worked seemed too tight, too clingy or too confining. (Now that I review my pizza-and-beer-related activities, I think I can see why I was running into problems finding clothing that fit!) I became more and more irritated. Hangers were zinged across the rod with greater and greater force. That is until my zinging disturbed a big, hairy spider. It scurried across the item I was scowling at and disappeared into my clothing. 

Sadly, I was going through items so rapidly, and I was so stunned by the appearance of the spider, that my brain didn't register WHAT item it scurried across. I knew it was in there, but I didn't know where.  

My first impulse, once I stopped hyperventilating, was to set fire to the closet. Only the thought of our hot, dry summer prevented my going for the matches. I knew that any effort to torch the spider would likely result in the loss of the entire neighbourhood. 

Since I like to be a good neighbour, I promptly dismissed fire as a solution to my arachnid-contaminated wardrobe. The only reasonable solution was to replace all my clothes. Gingerly, so as not to provoke the spider into attack mode, I closed my closet door and started to plan my shopping spree. Except I was in my bathrobe. I couldn't go shopping for new clothes because I didn't have any clothes to wear shopping for new clothes. 


In this case, it was fortunate that I'm a rather lazy housekeeper. (Hence the huge amounts of clutter and the need to pay someone else to clean.) I don't "find the time" to put away laundry. As a result, I was able to find a suitable outfit in a basket of clean clothing that hadn't yet made its way to the closet. It didn't solve the spider-in-my-wardrobe dilemma, but it allowed me to leave the house. 

Later, after some calmer reflection and a couple of beers, I realized that fire and shopping weren't the only solutions to my problem. The most reasonable, and the most scary, thing to do would be to clean out my closet. Maybe if there were fewer places to hide, spiders wouldn't be tempted to move in. I needed to clear out the cobwebs, so to speak.

It took a few days, and a lack of clean clothing, to work up the courage to begin the process. I took several deep breaths, opened the closet door, and gently plunged in. I hoped that the spider had moved on. It had not. For the record 20-plus-year-old broomstick skirts are the perfect hiding place for large, hairy spiders. The spider and the skirt were both disposed of, as were several other unused items in my closet. 

There's definitely more that could go, but I'm pleased with the start I've made. I didn't realize how many "shoulds" had been stored in my closet along with the clothes (and the spiders). It felt good to let go of items that I felt I should mend, or iron, lose 10 pounds in order to wear.  My closet feels lighter, more organized, and far less scary now.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Clutter Clearing Continues

Though it would be hard for anyone who doesn't live here to notice the difference, the clutter clearing continues.  

In fact, it may never end. It's much slower than I had anticipated. 

I've been concentrating on our office, and I've been paying particular attention to the contents of the file cabinet. You'd think shredding things like old bank statements, credit card statements and phone bills would be easy. You'd be wrong.

Want some insight into my madness? Let's consider credit card statements. A few years ago we had a break-in. The insurance company required proof that the items we were claiming actually existed. Among other things, it was handy to have credit card statements. With them I was able to show that items like my engagement ring "existed". Shredding more recent statements caused a few moments of anxiety as a result.  I worried that I might need them, and I feared that I should hang on to them as proof. Just in case. 

Bank statements were also problematic. It was sometimes difficult to consider what I spent money on in the past. Things I thought I couldn't live without then seem like foolish expenditures now. This was particularly true in cases where I could no longer remember what happened to the items in question.

Sifting through old phone bills brought a few sad moments. There were memories of talks with my sister in the days before MS changed her life so dramatically. And chats with my grandparents who have since passed away. And conversations with friends who I have since lost touch with. 

Still, it feels good to clear these things out, to have a moment of remembering, to learn what I can, and to let go. 

Even though you can't really see the difference the room is starting to feel lighter. And so am I.

This is but one of many, many bags of shredded paper that went to the road. 
It's normal to get up at stupid o'clock to take moodily-lit photos of your recycling, right? 

Thursday, July 23, 2015


I arrived home from work Tuesday evening to find treasure. Look!

Friends were harvesting figs from the tree in their yard. While I was at work they called Hubby and told him to come and get some. Yippee! 

Fresh figs are a recent discovery for me.  I'd had them dried before, but never had the chance to try fresh figs until a couple of years ago. Sooooo good.  As their season is short, and as they can be rather pricey out of season, they are a rare treat. Arriving home to find more than a dozen on our counter practically made me giddy. I've had more figs this week than I've had in a year. And there's still a few left. We're lucky and grateful to have such generous friends. So, if our figgy friends are reading this, thanks!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Boppity, Boppity, Bop!

Sharing because I love it! Thank you Mr. Breathed!

He's back!
He's back!
Great brains and beauty,
He's a hot patootie!
Boppity, boppity, bop!*

Yesterday my workday ended on a sour note. That sourness followed me all the way home. My inner, middle-aged curmudgeon wasn't so "inner" any more. 

I would have stomped around the house if my feet weren't so sore after being on them all day.

Then I found the above comic strip on Facebook

Oh happy day! And it looks like there are more happy days to come.

Suddenly I'm 21 again, and I'm doing my dance of joy.

Except only in my head. 'Cause, you know, middle-aged. Sore feet. But so glad to see the Bloom County crew again. Thank you Mr. Breathed! You've made my day!

*Paraphrasing from my memory of an old Bloom County comic strip. As such, it's probably nowhere near the original. Apologies to my readers, but mostly to the marvellous, wonderful and entertaining Mr. Berkeley Breathed. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Magic Mike XXL - Random Thoughts from a Middle-Aged Woman

I didn't see the first Magic Mike movie. It wasn't a conscious choice. It just wasn't on my radar at the time. Still, when a friend invited me to see the second movie I was happy to go. I was pretty sure that my lack of familiarity with the franchise wouldn't interfere with my enjoyment of the movie. I wasn't wrong, but as you can see from my observations below, I'm pretty sure I wasn't entertained in the way the writers intended! 

  • Nice moves!
  • He's going to hurt himself dancing around the workshop like that.
  • Where are his safety boots? Those sneakers may be good for dancing, but they're not going to help him if he drops an armoire on his foot. He should be wearing steel-toed boots.
  • I can't look. He's going to slip and end up crotch-first on that bench grinder. Forget the steel-toed boots. This guy needs chain-mail underpants.
  • Pool-side in a suit and tie. I bet they're going to push him in. Yep. They did. He probably only has the one suit. Bet it was dry-clean only. Poor guy. 
  • What's with the bikini-clad woman in the helmet? Must be something from the first movie.
  • Did he just say "bang her"? Maybe I didn't hear right. They are kind of mumbling. Isn't thinking that others are mumbling a sign of hearing loss? Maybe I need to make an appointment with an audiologist.
  • Nope. I heard it again. Do guys really say that? 
  • It's Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. In a Fro-Yo truck.
  • They're throwing all those costumes out the window. What a waste!
  • I wonder what the road clean-up crew thought when they found all that stuff? We never found anything fun like that when I worked on the road crew. We did find a sliced-up, inflatable sex-doll in a ditch once, but that was just creepy.
  • I wonder if members of the film crew follow along and pick up all that stuff? 
  • I wonder if they'd hire me to do that job? I have experience. See above.
  • Hey! I think I had brunch at this place (Rome's club) in the 80's! I don't remember it being quite this exciting, though after-hours entertainment like this would explain the number of expensive sports-cars in the parking lot early in the day. What was that place called? Strawberry...something.
  • Oh, wait. This is supposed to be Savannah, and the place I was at was in Florida. I guess all those old, Southern manor-houses look the same.
  • The dancer just put that woman on a massage table, but he didn't give her a massage! That's just cruel! I thought this club was supposed to be all about knowing what women want! 
  • Isn't that the guy from Community? Danny Glover? No wait. That's the guy from Lethal Weapon... Donald Glover! That's it.
  • Good to see Andy McDowell in a movie. It's been a long time. She looks great. And she gets to have sex with the well-hung guy. What the heck was his name again? Anyway, good for her! Sex Lies and Videotape is the last movie I saw where she got laid. And I think her partner was the vacuum cleaner in that one.
  • Elizabeth Banks is in the movie and the writers have the women going wild over a Twilight-inspired routine. Couldn't they have done a Hunger Games routine? That could have been funny. Too obvious? How about Zack and Miri Make a Porno? Seems appropriate.
  • Imagine if the convention was in Canada? All those women would be trading in their bills for rolls of loonies at the door. A tsunami of Canadian dollars could do some serious damage.
  • Fro-Yo guy just covered those women in whipped cream. Hope he's going to pay for their dry-cleaning.
  • Who knew you could get all the materials for a sex-swing-chair-thing at your local hardware store?
  • What is with all the face-to-crotch moves in these routines? Eww. It's July. In the South. It's hot. It's humid. Even with the best air conditioning things are going to be a bit...swampy. Not sexy.
  • Well-hung guy is just going to leave that woman in the sex-swing-chair-thing and watch the rest of the show? He put her in there, he should at least help her out!
  • I'm pretty sure Mike just kneed Zoe in the head. Also not sexy.
  • That poor woman is still hanging in that swing. That guy is such a dick! Oh, that's his name. Big Dick!
  • I'm surprised Mike didn't drop Zoe on her head. I wonder how many times they had to rehearse this? I bet she had to wear knee-pads. And a helmet.
  • Nice moves!
Overall, Magic Mike XXL was a fun movie that generally didn't require a lot of thought, which gave me the opportunity for lots of random thoughts of my own!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Return of the Clutter-Buster

There was a brief flurry of activity here a couple of weeks ago, then nothing. No, I didn't get crushed by the mountain of clutter. Hubby and I travelled to Ontario to visit family. While there we attended my niece's high-school graduation. An entrance scholarship was earned. A bursary was awarded. We are very proud. 

Now we're back, and the de-cluttering has started again. But why the sudden interest in order and organization?

Actually, the interest has always been there, but I struggle with motivation. I get so overwhelmed by the perceived amount of work that I have trouble getting started. 

Just before we left for Ontario, I decided to hire someone to clean our house while we were away. That got me motivated! If I expected her to dust my desk, I needed to make it possible for her to find my desk. 

I was so grateful to come home to a clean house. There were clean towels in the bathroom and clean sheets on the bed. Our flight was sooooo early that there was no chance to take care of those things before we left. The house didn't have that musty, closed-up-for-weeks smell that often greets us after time away. Luxury.

I was even more grateful that I didn't have to do it myself. I usually clean before we go away, but I knew I'd be pressed for time before this trip. Hiring someone else to clean took a lot of pressure off, and I was much more relaxed about getting ready to go. Not necessarily relaxed. Just more relaxed than normal. 

The experience was so positive that I decided to hire the same person to clean on a regular basis. There is a catch though. While she cleans I have to take care of some of the other tasks that have been neglected. Like clearing the clutter from my desk. Or my file cabinet. Or my closet...

As you can see there's a lot to do. It's hard to decide where to start, but instead of feeling overwhelmed I'm feeling rather excited about the challenge. 

Expect more posts about the strange things I find while de-cluttering. It keeps me amused while I work, and it makes letting go of some of these items easier if know I can come back here to visit them from time to time.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Desk Debris?

Hidden Treasure? Archaeological Findings?

I wasn't sure what to call this post. What is the appropriate title for a post about the crap you find mixed in a basket of pennies?

The picture below gives you an idea of the size of the basket.  (Picture-taking gave me the opportunity to slack off from my de-cluttering duties. There were a dozen photos taken and evaluated and retaken before I could settle on one.) That's a small apple. It fits comfortably in the palm of my rather petite hand.

In spite of its size, (small, yet really too big to lose track of in the clutter on my desk) that basket was holding: 

- A ticket from the June 30, 1998 midnight showing of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". Good grief. We're closing in on the 20th anniversary for that one. Twenty years. Hard to believe, though if you look at the ticket price, it seems like a million years ago. (I can't remember when two people could get into a movie for $10. Not even with a ticket stub to remind me.)

- A paint-covered screw. Why I felt the need to save it, and why I didn't add it to the "jar of miscellaneous screws" escapes me. (I probably couldn't find the jar of miscellaneous screws. I'm still not sure where it is. I won't get to organizing that part of the house for some time. Possibly years. Maybe never.)

- A rusty paper clip. 

- A hair elastic that had lost all its elastic.

- A guitar pick from Major Chord Music. The three phone numbers indicate that there are, or were, three locations in Southwestern Ontario. I have no idea where those stores were, and I have no recollection of visiting any of them.

- A house from a Monopoly game. I wonder what Abundantia was trying to tell me with that one?

- A button. With thread. No idea what it belongs to. Likely don't even own the garment anymore.

- A Canadian dime.

- A 1981 Canadian silver dollar. (Actually made of nickel. Worth: $1.00. I looked it up. Won't be cashing it in and retiring any time soon. I guess I'll squirrel it away and hope the next time it surfaces it's worth a bundle.)

- A much-abused American penny. Wonder what happened to it?

- An admission button from the Royal Ontario Museum. That was a fun, tiring day!

- A similar button from an unknown source. The logo looks like an exploding...eyeball? Hubby doesn't remember what it's from either. 

- Lint. Lots and lots and lots of lint. 

- Oh, and almost $3.00 in pennies. I rolled them while we watched television last night. (Note: Rolling grubby, linty pennies is a great deterrent for mindless snacking while watching television. I didn't want my hands anywhere near my mouth until they were washed. And washed again.)

That's a lot of...stuff...from one tiny basket in one small area of what suddenly seems like a really, really big house. There's so much more to do. On the up side, there will be so much material for blog posts. See you soon!

PS. Good news! The bank takes rolled pennies. I went in yesterday and asked. They even gave me coin-rolling papers to help me to organize my coppery abundance. All pennies found thus far have been rolled and lugged to the bank. Grand total: $11.50. Looks like Hubby and I each get a fancy coffee in the near future. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Calm in the Clutter

Yes, yes, I know it's been a long while. I'd offer excuses, but I don't have that kind of time. I have a lot I want to accomplish today. My list of excuses can wait.

So, what has brought me back here? I'm clearing clutter, and I'm finding it rather anxiety-inducing. Just clearing up around my computer desk is causing shortness of breath, though the clouds of dust I'm stirring up might have something to do with my impaired breathing.

My strategy for quelling this anxiety is to cut my work into small, manageable chunks. I set a timer for 15 minutes and work until the timer goes off. (FYI, the timer came in a case of beer. Beer. Another useful, stress-reducing strategy, though probably not one I should indulge in before my task is done.)

(Who am I kidding? There is no "done" to this task.)

Yep, 15 minutes is all I can manage before I start stress over the simplest decisions. Keep or toss? What if I need it again later? It was a gift. What if that person who never visits somehow knows I re-homed it?

And on, and on, and on. 

I've used a timer before when doing the same task. (Yes, I do let things pile up. This job gets done less often than needed. I wait until the mountain reaches hyperventilation-inducing heights before I tackle it.) In the past I'd work for 15 minutes, then play computer games for 15 minutes. (Anyone else remember Pogo? Word Whomp? Sweet Tooth? Does Pogo still exist? I don't dare look or I'll never get back to work. Timer be damned!)

Today I've decided to write in 15 minute increments between bursts of organizing. So far it's working. I find it strange that writing and cleaning are both tasks that I tend to drift away from. I like writing. Tidying... not so much. The timer is keeping me focused. For brief periods anyway. 

I imagine cleaning clutter compares to participating in an archaeological dig.There's the aforementioned dust. There are items of questionable origin. There are items that can no longer be identified. And sometimes there are discoveries:

- Money - I keep finding change. So far the total is 37 cents Canadian, and a small packet of South African currency. Spare change in unlikely places is said to be a sign that Abundantia, the Roman goddess of prosperity, is watching over you. That idea makes me happy, and has me looking more carefully for coins in overlooked corners.

- Writing - Several lists of ideas for blog posts, and a couple of outlines for posts. (When is it too late to share?) The opening paragraphs of a young adult story. (Written years ago when challenged by a co-worker on a slow night at work.) An outline for a children's story about an adventurous spider. (Conceived early one morning in that strange place between sleep and awake. Written in bed so I wouldn't forget.) A poem to my book club commemorating a Christmas get-together. 

- Mementos - Ticket stubs from assorted events (some I even meant to document here.) My wrist band from last October's Pearl Jam concert. (Main floor at Joe Louis Arena! Woot!) My sonic screwdriver and my 3D glasses from the Doctor Who movie.

- Photos - School photos of my niece and nephew.  Old passport photos. My university student card. (No, I won't be sharing. I look rather green in that photo, and it's not just because the picture has faded. I remember having a terrible migraine the day it was taken. I've never looked good in green.)

- Crafts - Three unfinished knitting projects. (A Christmas stocking, a scarf and a hat. They're kind of bulky, and they should have been hard to lose track of. THAT'S how messy my desk is.) Two completed crocheted snowflakes. 

- More Money - Abundantia smiles on me today. I just found a basket of pennies hiding behind the knitting.

- Coin-Rolling Tubes - A bag of these tubes had fallen behind my desk. A good discovery, as the Canadian Government phased out pennies a few years ago. I'm going to need to roll all those pennies to redeem them at the bank. 

- Stationery - Two blank, spiral-bound notebooks. Two unused legal pads, and a few partially used ones. A pencil from NASA. Four sparkly pencils with Canadian-flag erasers. Several pens and markers. (Most of them probably don't work. Testing, AND DISCARDING, them is a job for another day.)

- Even More Money - Another basket of pennies. Thank you Abundantia! I knew about this basket, but I thought it contained paper clips. I wonder how many rolls of pennies the bank will take? What will I do if the bank doesn't want them? (Oops. Just got sucked into a "crafts using pennies" Google search. I don't have enough coins (or time, or patience) to do any of the cool stuff. Probably a good thing. I don't need any more unfinished projects cluttering up my space.)

Alternating de-cluttering time with writing time has helped to keep my anxiety at a manageable level. Recording my archaeological discoveries here has helped to make the process fun. For me at least. Good thing I've found something that works. There's a lot more to go. I've barely scratched, or rather cleared, the surface of a very small portion of our house. I don't want to think of that right now. I do believe Hubby is pouring me that beer...