Off The Rack

There are those of us who are larger than the popular image of beauty, or shaped differently. I am one of those people who is not a “media” beauty, and yet I love my body, my face, and my hair-most-of-the-time.

I am thinking about this as a result of looking at furniture ideas on Pinterest. What is the connection between my body type and weight, and furniture on Pinterest?

Well, I will start my explanation with Pinterest. The furniture I am looking at is suitable for small homes, small spaces. It has to be functional, maximize space and storage. Those are the two basic requirements. The third requirement is aesthetic appeal. All of the images I am looking at offer aesthetic appeal, at least as photographed they offer aesthetic appeal. However, in real life, book covers, kitchen ware, etc., are not perfectly colour and size coordinated, in most “lived-in” homes. I really do not choose reading material according the colour of the jacket. In addition to that, in “lived-in” homes, items in everyday use are seldom carefully and artfully arranged on display. Functional spaces are usually “in use”, and items are out there, arranged according to the task at hand, often hastily stored is less than aesthetic positions.

Not to mention of course, people leaving sweaters on the backs of chairs, books thrown on the end table, a half full coffee cup abandoned on the coffee table, shoes left under the edge of chair, boots by the door fallen over or scattered around… this list goes on and on and on. I do not live with a person who is aware of “how things land” in a living space. Attila, when he does have time to relax, does not focus on placing items aesthetically and artfully around the room. Nor do I want him to pay attention to such things. Nor do I want to pay attention to such things.

And yet, despite the chaotic array of personal items, I feel that there is beauty in the way we live, and I want to tap into it.

Back to the images of furniture on Pinterest. When I look at those pristine, usually empty or staged, pieces of furniture, I assess them for what they might actually look like if used in daily living. Most of them fail this test. A few make it through though, and those are pieces that hide chaos behind doors and drawers, and/or offer everyday items easily organized and handy places to land, and still manage to look appealing.

Almost anything can be made to look appealing out of the context of daily life, in the way of furniture. My challenge is to find items that will offer some appeal even when exposed to the reality of daily life and use.

As with furniture that is empty or staged, clothing is often empty or staged at point of purchase. I grew up in an era where paper dolls were a common plaything. The cover of the set was cardboard, and the dolls were printed in colour on the cardboard, we cut them out. On the paper pages were printed the outfits for the dolls. We cut out the clothes, which had “tabs” that folded around the doll to secure them in place. The dolls, and the clothes, were two dimensional. I think this influenced how I viewed decorative clothing, for the rest of my life.

I noticed some time ago that many clothing items looked very appealing on the rack, they hung with dignity, beautifully draped, empty, without a real body in them. Ah, but once that item had to contend with a less than ideal shape and size within it, the stuff of daily life, well that was another matter altogether. Clothing does not look the same on a body as it does on the rack. That is a bit of a no brainer, but I have often been tempted by clothing that hangs seductively on the rack, only to be horrified in the dressing room. There is a second aspect to this, and that is staged clothing. Clothing is usually staged on emaciated dummies, so that it hangs almost as seductively on the dummies as it does on the rack. Staged clothing displays have no unsightly bumps and lumps that alter the drape of the cloth. (I am not defining a pregnant body with a bump or a lump though, designers have found quite a market for clothing designed for that particular, brief, exciting interlude in a woman’s life.)

As with empty or staged furniture, empty or staged clothing does not usually stand up to the test of a “lived in” life. Life is lived “off the rack”.

With age, my body moves steadily away from the ideal of lithe youth, and it has been more and more difficult to find clothing that will let me express how much I like my own body. I have no interest in working towards the ideal body shape or weight; I am grateful that my body is healthy, that is my only concern with weight, and I wish it were like that for every female on planet earth.

Quiet days here at the country house. Thankfully, it is raining. It could be snow, but it isn’t. I have a new batch of Stone Soup under construction, the first ingredients to go into the pot are the boiled cucumbers from our garden at the little house in the city, and the water leftover from boiling three cups of peas. Another possible ingredient is tomatoes, also from the garden at the little house in the city. The green ones that we brought home with us did not ripen into a lovely red, but more a yellowish red. Better for cooking than eating I think. They are all in the freezer, so I will need to blanch and peel them before adding them to the soup. For the rest, I am waiting for inspiration or fate, whichever comes first.

Last Sunday I made a Giant Oven Pancake for breakfast, and served it with homemade Blueberry Topping. While making the topping in a saucepan, I used one of the wooden spoons from the cutlery crock. I always taste the food I cook, to get the right balance. When I tasted the blueberry sauce it was “hot”, unpleasantly so. That is it was hot pepper hot, I am not referring to the physical temperature. At first I thought the blueberries must have fermented in the freezer, or some such thing, and contemplated throwing the all out.

But then I remembered. Attila had been picking his hot peppers last week, and he might not have been as careful as possible in cleaning the utensils he had used. So I took a stainless steel spoon and tasted my Blueberry Sauce with that. It was perfect, not “hot” at all. Attila!! The blueberries were saved!

The thing about sharing a kitchen with another cook, is that you just never know what you are going to discover! That works both ways.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 10:36 AM EDT Tuesday 28 October 2014
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 100.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 10.4°C
Dewpoint: 9.5°C
Humidity: 94%
Wind: SE 21 km/h


“A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.”
Chinese Proverb

Window Treatments

Wood heat brings the humidity in the house so low that I begin to experience nose bleeds. This is a chronic winter problem, in this house heated exclusively with wood. I have a pan of water sitting by the stovepipe, which I fill with a few cups of water every morning. I run a humidifier for several hours every morning to increase the humidity. The Christmas Tree must be watered every day, sometimes twice a day, to prevent it from drying out.

It has been cold, -25C last night. Even though Attila worked hard to get the interior temperature up to almost 23C last night, by morning it was down to 17C, and nippy near the exterior walls. It is hard work keeping the house warm when it gets this cold, particularly because there is a light wind blowing. On top of that the snow removal is getting ahead of Attila, who has been “slowing down” a bit, after working all day in the frigid outdoors. He goes to bed early and sleeps deeply.

We had a week of snow and storm, then one day of sunshine, now it is storming again. Snow is forecast for all of next week. Uncle!

Our one day of sunshine! I rotated my chair so that I was facing the window and the view. It clouded over next morning and the chair is back in its usual position, facing the masonry heater.

I am contemplating small changes in my environment. Living in the bush, curtains for privacy are redundant. The north facing windows in the living area have never had window treatments. During the day those windows frame the beautiful natural environment. At night the windows are black, fathomless holes in the walls, radiating an icy chill during the winter.

There are no retail outlets near here to buy reasonably priced hardware, or much of anything else for that matter. So, looking at what I already have in the cupboard, two previously unused Christmas tea towels offered a solution. They are white, with red Christmas Trees printed on them. Without the hardware to hang them as curtains, I resorted to tape. They are taped to the bottom half of the windows. We can still see the landscape through the uncovered glass above them. Not your Better Homes and Gardens solution, but one improvises, and makes do with what one has. I found them jarring at first, but they have grown on me, and now add a cozy feel to the kitchen. Attila likes them, which is important because the kitchen is basically his domain.

The kitchen “Christmas Curtains”.

Window treatments are my decorating stumbling block. I just do not like most of what is sold in the stores, mostly due to functionality considerations. For instance, why are there not blinds that show black on one side and white on the other, so that in the summer the white side can be displayed to the hot sun to reflect heat, and the in the winter the black side can be displayed to the sun to collect heat. That isn’t rocket science, so why are there no products of this nature available? I guess because I am a marketplace of one; most consumers seem to be focused on visual considerations.

The last time we purchased supplies, with the exception of fresh milk, was on December 2nd, when we were visiting the little house in the city, twelve days ago. I hope to get out before Christmas, as I haven’t bought Attila’s Christmas present yet! More storms on the way though!

A friend on Facebook suggested an activity, to “list of 10 books that have affected you”. I read these books between the age of six and 16, a ten year stretch of avid reading. Here goes:

  • Pilgrims Progress, John Bunyan, my very first borrowed library book, Grade 3, which affirmed for me that indeed, adults are insane. Nothing I have since observed has offered proof otherwise.
  • Poems, Robert Service, read aloud by Mother as bedtime stories.
  • Poems, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, recited by Mother as bedtime stories.
  • Dick and Jane, William S. Gray and Zerna Sharp, comprised my first mandatory reading list.
  • What Katy Did, Sarah Chauncey Woolsey
  • Nurses Who Led The Way, Adele de Leeuw, a gift from our school teacher aunt.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
  • Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
  • A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, R.R. Tolkien

Feel free to add your list to the comments!

Worldly Distractions


6:00 AM EST Saturday 14 December 2013
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 103.4 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -23.1°C
Dewpoint: -26.1°C
Humidity: 77%
Wind: E 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -30


“…I have you fast in my fortress
And will not let you depart,
But put you down in the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away! ”
The Children’s Hour
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow