Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reluctant Renovator: And so it Begins

I love good renovation stories. I love how they seduce me with their whispered promises, endless energy, optimism and, of course, their humour.

Those were the first words that I wrote on this blog (Renaissance Daze/Days) and they still hold true;  I do love good renovation stories!  The thing is, though I find these stories endlessly entertaining and inspiring, I really don't want to star in one.  Apparently as far as my home is concerned I have become a "Reluctant Renovator" to say the least.

Perhaps it's all my experience managing IT projects.  I would like to believe that my story will be mostly sweetness & light à la Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun but experience says it will probably be closer to that of Tom Hanks in The Money Pit.

Worse yet, I could end up like Nathan Lane & Lee Evans in Mousehunt.

You see where I'm going with this.

Not that I'm actually concerned about intelligent mice sabotaging the project; I worry about things like scope creep, time delays, cost overruns, bad decisions that I will have to live with for the rest of my natural life, etc. etc.  Considering that I've spent the last three years reducing the stress in my life isn't this just like pinning a big "Kick Me" sign to my own back?

Then again, how bad can it be?  I mean really.  Perhaps I can take all my project management experience and actually put it to good use.  Perhaps the end result will be absolutely fabulous!  In any case, I'm finally going to face my fears and give this home renovation project a shot.  As therapy, I'll be blogging a bit about it and above all I'll be trying to keep my sense of humour intact.

Wish me luck!

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

An Unexpected Briefing: Hobbit themed Safety Video

Since I began the Walking to Mordor Challenge I've really had Middle Earth & Hobbits on the brain.
I've always loved Tolkien's magical realm and now that I'm "walking" through it I'm catching frequent glimpses of it in the everyday world.  Apparently I'm not the only one!
Air New Zealand partnered with WETA Workshop on a brand new Hobbit inspired Safety Video. It features cameo appearances including Sir Peter Jackson and it really is a lot of fun.


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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Wallis & Elizabeth

Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon & Wallis Simpson

 Anyone who has seen Madonna's movie W.E. has caught a glimpse into the life & romance of Wallis Simpson & Edward VIII.  They know that this was a relationship that altered history and they know that "W.E." was the cypher used to symbolise that relationship.  They may also remember a few of the movie's "bit players" including Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, first seen as the Duchess of York and played by Natalie Dormer (who in a lovely little twist also played Anne Boleyn in The Tudors).

Elizabeth pops up again in The King's Speech where she is portrayed as charming & rather quirky by Helena Bonham Carter (who, as luck would have it, also played Anne Boleyn in the ITV mini-series Henry VIII). She goes about her business, dutifully supporting her husband as he makes his reluctant transition from Duke of York to King George VI.

This certainly was the image that I had of Elizabeth; always gracious (except when it came to Wallis of course), always smiling and always a bit boring.  Elizabeth appeared to be more like the "Bound to Obey and Serve" Jane Seymour while Wallis appeared more along the lines of the stylish, sophisticated and, some might say, shrewish Anne Boleyn.

Apparently I was off track with these stereotypes, way off track.  Having dug a bit deeper, it now appears to me that instead of being polar opposites Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and Wallis Simpson were actually more like "sisters under the skin".  Who would have thought that theirs is the "W.E." relationship that is truly fascinating!

My interest in Elizabeth was first piqued when we recently discovered a photo of her in an old family album (see The King's Trip: George VI visits Oba, Ontario) but I took a rather roundabout means of learning more about her starting with That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor by Anne Sebba.  After that I tackled The Queen Mother: The Untold Story of Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, Who Became Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother by Lady Colin Campbell.  Both books have eye opening "revelations" and they were good to read in series noting the contradictions and collaborations, especially in some of the more controversial areas.

I certainly came away with a greater appreciation for the era in which they lived and I'm now happily indulging myself with Downton Abbey which, I imagine, reflects a bit of the lifestyle of Elizabeth's early years.  It's interesting to note that Elizabeth is just two years younger than the Downton character Lady Sybil Crawley and that her childhood home, Glamis Castle, was actually turned into a convalescent home for wounded soldiers, which Elizabeth helped to run.

As for my opinion of the two women, it does seem to me that they were very much alike although Elizabeth certainly represented the old ways while Wallis was forging ahead with the new.  I have more respect and sympathy for each of them and I'm going to try to keep an open mind as I discover more.

Gareth Russell's excellent post,  Beyond a stereotype  should help me with this.  As he relates "The six wives of Henry VIII hover in our collective imagination, fulfilling our need for female stereotypes or historical fantasies".  It's intriguing that this also seems to be the fate of Wallis & Elizabeth.

Wallis & Elizabeth at the funeral of the Duke of Windsor, 1972

Have you already discovered Wallis and Elizabeth?  What's your opinion of these two "warring wives of Windsor"?


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Monday, August 20, 2012

A Change is in the Air

The Ottawa Summer of 2012 is going to go down in the record books.
It was hot, it was humid, and it was dry, drought dry.

Now a change is in the air and I believe that the Dog Days are done.
Wonderful to feel the cool breeze and see the splash of rain.
Wonderful to shake off listlessness and find renewed vigor.

On we go with the energy of autumn!

Photo: Nordic Wild by Head Like an Orange

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Step by Step: Hobbiton to Bree

“It’s a dangerous business going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Bilbo Baggins

Hobbiton to Bree 135 miles; ETT: 30 days

Frodo Baggins and his fellow Hobbits set out from Bag End heading for The Prancing Pony in Bree.  Excitement is mixed with trepidation as they set out on this journey especially since Hobbits (with the exception of the "eccentric" Bilbo Baggins) are not exactly know for their adventurous spirits. 

On their second day out they become aware of the evil presence of a Black Rider that appears to be stalking them.  Despite this ominous shadow, the Hobbits still seem to have plenty of time for singing, resting, eating & sleeping.  They share a beer with Farmer Maggot, stay the night with Tom Bombadil (who rescues them from Old Man Willow) and have their first encounter with the Elves.  Updon reaching Bree, Gandalf is nowhere to be found but they do meet the Ranger Strider who becomes their guide as they continue on their trek to Rivendell.  Even though they appear to travel at a rather leisurely pace they manage to finish this first phase of their journey in seven days.

Travelling Music: Concerning HobbitsThe Black RiderAt the Sign of the Prancing Pony

The Journey Begins

No matter how many times I've previously read The Lord of the Rings, I always love setting out on this journey with Frodo and his friends.  Truth be told, the beginning is probably my favourite part of this quest.  Life in the Shire is good, the countryside is beautiful and the brand new adventure makes for excitement & enthusiasm.

Harnessing some of that same excitement & enthusiasm at the beginning of your own quest for fitness can certainly help to propel you out of a sedentary lifestyle towards a happier & healthier life.  And though I prefer to concentrate on the positives that an active lifestyle delivers, recent studies seem determined to also remind me of the negatives which I am fleeing.  Articles such as Is Sitting a Lethal Activity? lead me to believe that many of us are being stalked by our own Dark Riders and we're not even aware of it.

And so the journey begins.  Filled with our new-found motivation now is the time to start developing habits which will stand us in good stead for the long haul.  After all, Frodo (and Bilbo before him) may have gone "There and Back Again" but for us the pursuit of an active lifestyle is a never-ending endeavour.

I choose to walk 10,000 steps a day (approximately 4.5 miles given my stride) because the two hours it takes is the minimum daily requirement for an "active" lifestyle.  I supplement this basic minimum with both regular & incidental activities that do count as active time if not actual steps.  I'm not sure when, if ever, this regular activity will become a habit but I'm determined to keep working at it until it does become "hard to give up".  Step by step, as the saying goes.

If you're interested in beginning your own walking challenge, How to Walk 10,000 Steps a Day has some good tips & information to help you get started. Also, you should note that even Frodo & company take it rather easy on the very first stage of their adventure so pace yourself and remember to enjoy the journey!

Actual Travel Time

I began my walking challenge on February 27, 2012 and reached Bree on March 26, 2012 for a Travel Time of 35 days.  I'm quite pleased with this result considering that I didn't even know that I was on the road to Mordor at the time (in fact I wouldn't make that connection until I was already past Rivendell).  I was determined to start Sneaking up on Fitness but didn't know exactly what that meant in terms of steps/miles per day that could actually be accomplished on a regular basis.  As it turns out, 10,000 steps per day is something that I actually can incorporate into my daily routine.  It's not easy for me, especially on those days where I have other activities (Pilates, yoga, gardening etc.) that don't contribute much to my step count, but with planning & some extra effort it's achievable.

Previous Stage: Walking to Mordor Challenge (Introduction)
Next Stage: Bree to Weathertop
Pinterest: Walking to Mordor

I'm delighted that a number of people have joined me in this walking challenge.  Feel free to jump in at any time whenever & wherever you please.  Comments on these posts are always welcome and I would encourage you to keep your own journal as well.  If you are blogging your adventures we can cross-link our observations, tips & results.  Happy Walking!

Photos & Illustrations: Bag End; Hobbiton by Karen Spink; Bree; Middle Earth original by Christopher Tolkien

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Step by Step: Walking to Mordor Challenge

I often daydream as I walk; my mind wandering farther & faster than my feet could ever go.  Given that I'm an avid The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings fan, it's not surprising that I frequently catch myself musing about the journey that Frodo & Sam made from Hobbiton to Mordor.  Now that was quite a quest!  How far did they go?  How fast did they travel?  When did they reach certain memorable milestones?  Do those hairy, hobbit feet ever get sore & tired?

Am I the only one who ponders these questions while they pace through their local parks?

Apparently not, as I delightfully discovered in A Hobbit's Guide to Walking.  Now even if you don't enjoy the tales of JRR Tolkien I highly recommend that you read this blog post which highlights some of the benefits of walking including weight loss, stress reduction and longer lifespans.

And for those of us who have always longed to join the Fellowship there's the added attraction of the "Walking to Mordor" Challenge.  Based on The Atlas of Middle-earth by cartographer Karen Wynn Fonstad, Frodo & Sam's route has been recorded in minute detail.  Used in conjunction with The Fitness Nerd's Walking to Mordor & Back spreadsheet and a pedometer (I'm using my Fitbit) you have everything you need to begin your quest to destroy the ring.

I will be organizing my journal under Walking to Mordor Challenge and I would love to have company along the way (a two year round trip can get lonely!) so please feel free to jump in at any time.  Let's get started!!

Hobbiton to Mount Doom is 1779 miles (2863 kilometers) and it wasn't unusual for the Fellowship to cover 20 miles or more in one day.  My daily goal is much less ambitious since my experience shows that I have to work hard  to maintain the recommended 10,000 steps a day which, for me, works out to approximately 4.5 miles.  So I'm looking at an elapsed time of 395 days or just over a year to complete the outward journey.  Apparently questing is not for the faint of heart!

Fortunately, this challenge has been broken down into four distinct stages (as shown on the map) averaging about 440 miles each: Hobbiton to Rivendell; Rivendell to Lothlorien: Lothlorien to Rauros Falls; Rauros Falls to Mount Doom.  If I make it that far (when I make it ... when I make it ...) I intend to journey back again to Hobbiton which should take until early 2014.

As Bilbo says “It’s a dangerous business going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Wish me luck!

Previous Stage: None
Next Stage: Hobbiton to Bree
Pinterest: Walking to Mordor

Journal: Walking to Mordor Challenge

Illustrations: Gandalf Returns to Hobbiton by John Howe; Panorama by John Howe; Middle Earth original by Christopher Tolkien


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Thursday, July 12, 2012

The King's Trip: George VI visits Oba, Ontario

My family is rich in photo albums.  This wealth is the result of generations of avid, amateur photographers eagerly capturing the moments, preserving them and passing them down through various branches of the family.  Though we've begun the process of digitizing our treasures, the backlog is more than a bit daunting especially when it comes to identifying some of those smiling faces from times gone by.

A recent family gathering saw us clustered around one such family album dedicated to Oba, Ontario.  I've heard Oba described as being "in the heart of Canada’s vast wilderness" and these pictures from the 1930's & 40's certainly highlight this aspect with beautiful lakes, endless forests, little boys holding large fish and ... on the very last page ... a posh-looking couple posing in front of a train?

As it was late in the day and the photo rather small, I had to squint to make out the image.  Yes, it turns out it's a picture of George VI and Queen Elizabeth snapped by one of my grandparents during the 1939 royal tour of Canada.  The royal couple looks relaxed & happy and I can just imagine my grandmother asking them to please hold still while she adjusts her camera and takes the picture!

My father can remember the train stopping for water that day in Oba.  Of course almost the whole town, just over 100 people at that time, turned out to see it.  That the royal couple actually got out and wandered amongst the "crowd" seems astonishing to me but I guess it was a very different time.  The 1939 royal tour marked the first visit of a reigning monarch to Canada and these pictures show some of the first "walkabouts" ever performed by the royal family.

The very sight of the Queen gave pleasure, as did her manner. ... During the long journeys across the continent, she and the King took full advantage of halts, even short ones.  Day after day they would leave the royal train and, to the consternation of the security men, plunge into the crowds and talk. ... Queen Elizabeth gave instructions that the King and she must be told whenever the engineer observed a collection of people by the side of the line ahead, so that they could be seen waving back from a window. 'Slow down, so that we all get a good look', she said.
 Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother by  Godfrey Talbot

It seems more than fitting that these photos came back into our lives just as Elizabeth II is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee and I'm delighted to have discovered this little connection between the royals and our family.

I think that I will celebrate with a night spent watching The King's Speech.

Photos: Tatiana Dokuchic Family Album (1939)
Update: Find out more about Wallis & Elizabeth

Have you ever unearthed unexpected treasures in your family photo albums or scrapbooks?  I would love to hear the stories of your discoveries.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Step by Step: The View after 500 miles

l really couldn't have asked for a better place to earn my 500 Mile Badge from Fitbit.  Just look at that view of Lake Superior taken from the cliffs of the Welcome Islands!

I would like to think that karma had something to do with it as I certainly wasn't planning on reaching this milestone while enjoying my favourite wilderness spot but everything just magically fell into place.  I was having such a great time scrambling over the rocky shores, hiking up the cliffs and even breaking a bit of a trail through the forest that I wasn't even thinking of the fitness points that I was racking up.  Fitness for fun - what a concept!!

I've written before about how virtual "pats on the back" help to keep me going on the fitness trail  (Fitbit Challenge: Virtual Badges & Real-Life Rewards) and so it's exciting to realize the real-life reward of being able to negotiate this rather challenging terrain almost like when I was a child spending my summer days playing there.

Speaking of real-life rewards, I also got to go on a bit of a shopping spree at Take a Hike, an excellent outdoor lifestyle store that I make sure to visit every time I return to Thunder Bay.  You just have to love how weight loss goes hand-in-hand with buying new clothes!

It's been quite a journey between 250 miles (Step by Step: 250 Miles and an Earbug) and 500.  Many thanks to all my Fitbit friends who provide daily encouragement to get in those 10,000 steps.

On that note, I'm always looking to make new Fitbit friends, so if you're interested give me a shout.  I'll try not to talk your ear off :)

Photos: Tatiana Dokuchic Family Album (June 25, 2012)

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Plant & Rake without the Ache

It's rather embarrassing but I'm absolutely giddy in anticipation of a delivery of garden soil that is scheduled to arrive today.  Now you probably have to be somewhat of a gardener, or perhaps a full-fledged dreamer, to fully appreciate the potential that lurks within a pile of good earth.  Seeing that I'm both, just thinking of all the beauty that this foundation will support makes me happy.

My husband, on the other hand, regards it as "just more dirt".  After all, don't we already have a yard full of the stuff?  He's anticipating the time & energy that will have to be expended as we haul from point A to point B.  Then there's all the bending, twisting, pulling & prodding that goes into getting everything arranged just right. Hmmm ... perhaps he does have a bit of a point since all of these activities are actually much more physically demanding than the dreaming & planning that has launched us on this adventure.

In fact, according to a recent survey, 88% of Ontario chiropractors said gardening is among most common causes of back and neck pain during the warm weather season. No wonder part of my planning included stocking up on Advil and placing my chiropractor's phone number on speed dial!

Fortunately (in a case of perfect timing for which I truly thank the gardening gods) before the soil arrived I stumbled across the Ontario Chiropractic Association's Plant and Rake Without the Ache public education program which is chock full of good advice.

OCA's sensible tips include:

Warm up & stretch before you start

Stretch frequently throughout the time in the garden

Bend your knees to lift with ease

Use the right moves

Use the right tools

Alternate your tasks between heavy & light

Take frequent breaks, a brief rest or stretch 3 times per hour

I've printed off the posters & the brochure that are part of their education package and I'm determined to follow through with this advice, hopefully saving myself the pain that unbridled enthusiasm in the garden can bring. 

That bottle of Advil is just going to have to wait for another day!

Plant & Rake without the Ache by  on 2012-06-15 I'm determined to follow through with this advice, hopefully saving myself the pain that unbridled enthusiasm in the garden can bring.

Images: Fotolia via Ottawa Citizen The A-Z of gardeningOntario Chiropractic Association's Plant and Rake Without the Ache

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Friday, June 8, 2012

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones

One late spring evening in 1912, in the kitchens at Sterne, preparations begin for an elegant supper party in honor of Emerald Torrington's twentieth birthday. But only a few miles away, a dreadful accident propels a crowd of mysterious and not altogether savory survivors to seek shelter at the ramshackle manor—and the household is thrown into confusion and mischief.
The cook toils over mock turtle soup and a chocolate cake covered with green sugar roses, which the hungry band of visitors is not invited to taste. But nothing, it seems, will go according to plan. As the passengers wearily search for rest, the house undergoes a strange transformation. One of their number (who is most definitely not a gentleman) makes it his business to join the birthday revels.
Evening turns to stormy night, and a most unpleasant parlor game threatens to blow respectability to smithereens: Smudge Torrington, the wayward youngest daughter of the house, decides that this is the perfect moment for her Great Undertaking.
The Uninvited Guests is the bewitching new novel from the critically acclaimed Sadie Jones. The prizewinning author triumphs in this frightening yet delicious drama of dark surprises—where social codes are uprooted and desire daringly trumps propriety—and all is alight with Edwardian wit and opulence.

I was delightfully deceived by The Uninvited Guests, though I guess that it's more precise to say that I somehow managed to deceived myself while reading the description & early reviews for this new novel by Sadie Jones.
For some reason the equation that I originally came up with was: 
Edwardian England + Mansion + Dead First Spouse + Party + Paranormal + Dodgy Housekeeper = Rebecca the classic novel by Daphne du Maurier.

Therefore, I was expecting to proceed at a rather leisurely pace wandering dream-like through the story from "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again" to "And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind of the sea".  Instead I ended up blasting through this page-turner, anxious to see how things developed & surprised that the characters weren't behaving at all as I assumed they would.

Florence Trieves, the housekeeper, is no evil Mrs Danvers though she has quirks and secrets enough.  Charlotte Torrington, the matriarch, is certainly not "to the manor born" and her daughter Emerald may or may not be as beautiful inside as she is out.  Smudge, the youngest Torrington child, is free-spirit whose safety I fear for while Charlie Traversham-Beechers, party crasher extraordinaire, should never have been let into the house in the first place.

Shades of Rebecca, Maxim de Winter or the second Mrs de Winter are nowhere to be found but as with Rebecca this book does have a strangeness & charm unique to itself.

Published on May 1, 2012 (exactly 100 years after the story ends, how cool is that!), it's apparent that some special May Day magic has found its way onto the pages of The Uninvited Guests.  I'm looking forward to reading it again, sometime in the not-too-distant future, at which time I will be able to slow down and fully savour the wonderful prose of Sadie Jones.

For those of you that have already read The Uninvited Guests what did you think of it?  Was it what you expected?  Did you enjoy it?  Were you also thinking it was going to be more of a gothic romance?

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Splash of Pink

♥.·:*¨¨*:· ♥ A Splash of Pink ♥.·:*¨¨*:· ♥

♥.·:*¨¨*:· ♥ A Mass of White ♥.·:*¨¨*:· ♥

♥.·:*¨¨*:· ♥ A Dash of Blue ♥.·:*¨¨*:· ♥
"Me Not Forget You" as my Grandmother would say

Some beautiful blooms from the gardens in my Ottawa neighbourhood.

Photos: Tatiana Dokuchic

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Friday, June 1, 2012

South March Highlands: Celebration!

There's going to be a party and you're invited!!

As I've  previously mentioned  (The South March Highlands: Truly a Great Place in Canada) the South March Highlands was recently recognized as one of the Great Places in Canada by the Canadian Institute of Planners.  Time for a celebration!

As you can see from the poster, a full day of activities has been organized by the South March Coalition making for a great day for the whole family.
For those who haven’t yet discovered Ottawa’s Highlands this will be a fun-filled opportunity to do so. Activities include music, children’s workshops, and guided walking and bike tours through the forest, highlighting the spectacular natural features of the area. Participants can learn about the irreplaceable value of this urban forest, considered sacred to the Algonquin First Nations. They’ll also learn about the animals and plants that live here, some of which are species at risk.

The celebration will be held at the trailhead for the South March Highlands Conservation Forest, known as K2, because it is at the intersection of Second Line Road and Klondike Road.  See How To Get To The June 2nd South March Highlands Celebration for a map and detailed directions.

On a side note, I'm delighted that my Trout lily photo from South March Highlands: Little Gems was used in the poster.  I like to imagine all those little flowers speaking up to promote and protect their beautiful home!

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Raggedy Beauty

This butterfly has been frequenting my lilac tree all week now.  He's been an illusive fellow, resisting all of my attempts to take his photo.  I stood quietly, camera poised, for the longest time before I became just another part of the scenery.  This allowed him to return from his safe spot high in the Linden tree, lured by the sweet blooms.  My vigil was made even more difficult by the huge bumble bees that were also enjoying this fragrant part of my garden.  I appreciate bees but would rather observe them from a distance.  Standing still while they buzzed in my ear was a bit nerve racking.  Did I mention they were HUGE?

When he finally fluttered into my viewfinder, I saw that he was a bit raggedy around the edges,  something I have never before noticed with the other butterflies that I have been fortunate enough to glimpse.  A quick search of "butterfly life span" in Wikipedia reveales that "butterflies in their adult stage can live from a week to nearly a year depending on the species" and so I'm thinking that maybe this one is approaching the end of his time.  If that's the case, I'm so glad that he shared his beauty with me and I do hope that he is enjoying his final days in amongst the lilacs.

Photos: Tatiana Dokuchic (May 27, 2012)

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Chanel in Versailles: Seriously Frivolous

Backstages by Benoit Peverelli (Versailles16may12)

Karl Lagerfeld described his latest collection for Chanel as "Seriously frivolous".  I don't know about you, but I could certainly use a heaping dose of fantasy & frivolity right about now!!

Though my day-to-day world seldom intersects with that of haute couture, my work in SecondLife® (see Tatiana's Tea Room) assures that I keep an eye out for anything concerning the Chateau de Versailles in France.  I was absolutely delighted to see that Chanel was presenting its 2013 Cruise Collection in the palace gardens among the fountains.

Look at the detailing on these pieces. It makes me happy just ogling it and I imagine Marie Antoinette would agree!

“The image of France has been a little sad: the gray uniform of Europe,” Mr. Lagerfeld said afterward, sipping Diet Coke but letting his audience eat foes gras and cake. The chandelier-filled ephemeral party place seemed like an upgrade on the French queen’s private retreat, the Petit Trianon.
“The Enlightenment was the best thing that happened to Europe, not debating in Brussels,” continued Mr. Lagerfeld, comparing the cultural period following the dark medieval years to the European Union era.

“I wanted to give France back some lightness,” he said.

Thank you, Mr. Lagerfeld.  This student of Versailles loves seeing its gardens filled with such magical life. We can all do with a little more lightness!

Photos: British Vogue

June 4, 2012: For more delightful news of Versailles see Versailles: Transported

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day Dances

Like her mother before her, my daughter is a dancer.  Truth be told, she is a much better dancer than I ever was though our appreciation for the joy of dance remains on an equal footing.  Like my mother before me, I (and my husband) provide the parental support necessary to smooth her way.

Thus for many years, her dancing added an extra special twist to Mother's Day which inevitably fell on an out-of-town competition weekend.  Bright and early Sunday morning all of us "dance moms" would be seated in the theatre girding ourselves for the third consecutive eighteen hour day to come.  Slumping a bit in our seats, we would give a little grunt when the ever-so-chipper Master of Ceremonies would wish us a "Happy Mother's Day" at the start of the program.

My husband, literal-minded male that he is, perceived our attitude as one of discontent and would often comment that this was a wonderful way to spend Mother's Day. Well of course it was!!

Watching our children working so hard at something they loved, watching as they matured into confident, resilient adults was absolutely the best gift ever, even if we greeted the day with a bit of a teasing groan.

My daughter has graduated from competing to teaching dance, hanging up her own pointe shoes in favour of nurturing all the new budding ballerinas.  I'm sure her students and her formerly aching toes thank her for it.

I now enjoy a more leisurely Mother's Day but I still can't help thinking of all those dedicated mothers out there.  Whether it's sitting in a cold hockey arena in the middle of January or an early morning theatre call in the middle of May, you're doing a great job and I salute you.

Brava Ladies!!  Take a well-deserved bow on your day!!

Photos: Tatiana Dokuchic (May 11, 2012)