Wear what makes you comfortable

Logo by Sam

First of all, a big thank you to everyone who responded to last Friday’s post, both here on the blog and on Facebook! Clearly, the consensus is that the top with the unusual neckline is not weird.


I especially appreciated those readers who reminded me that what matters most is whether or not I’m comfortable wearing it. That leads me to today’s topic. I recently read another one of those stupid articles about what older women should or should not wear. Believe it or not, this one actually said that “a woman over 40 should never be caught in a jean jacket.” Really? What absolute balderdash! A jean jacket is a classic fashion staple that never goes out of style. If you’re comfortable wearing one at 101, why in the world wouldn’t you?

Created in the United States in about 1880 by Levi Strauss, it was originally designed as a durable, heavy-duty jacket to be worn by cowboys, miners, and railroad workers. Over time, however, the jean jacket has become a wardrobe staple for both men and women of all ages.

I have two of them, both thrifted several years ago. 

The one on the left is a very traditional style from Gap while the other, from Jones New York, is a bit dressier looking.

I love the versatility of a jean jacket. You’ve seen me wearing one with a dress both here and here, but they can, of course, be much more casual. You’ve also seen me in a “Canadian tuxedo” here.

I wore this outfit to church on Sunday. It fits my style adjectives… classy, casual, comfortable, confident, and authentic. 


I paired the Jones New York jacket with white jeans, a sleeveless top, and sandals. It wasn’t until I looked at the pictures that I realized that everything except my accessories was thrifted! According to someone, I’m 30 years too old to be wearing a jean jacket, but as some of you reminded me, we ought to wear what we’re comfortable in and I’m definitely comfortable in a jean jacket! 

Is it too weird?

Logo by Sam

Today I want your honest opinion about something. Awhile ago, while thrift store shopping with my daughter and one of my teenage granddaughters, I found this top. I liked the fabric and the colour, but I was unsure about the unconventional neckline.


Though I was hesitant, I decided to try it on. When I stepped out of the fitting room, I asked my granddaughter whether she thought it was weird or not. She didn’t say anything, but the look on her face told me that she was skeptical. My daughter, however, said she really liked it. Hmm… what to do? Buy it or not? 

I decided then and there that I’d do something I’d never done before. I’d buy it and ask your opinion! 


Shortly after hanging it in my closet, I noticed that cabi was offering a top with a somewhat similar neckline as one of their spring specials. Maybe my top wasn’t so weird after all.

1080 I haven’t actually worn it anywhere yet except out to the yard to take these photos. I’m waiting for your opinion, so… is this top weird or not? I’m looking forward to knowing what you think. 


Hiking again!

We’ve tried to go for a walk almost every day since hubby’s prostate surgery. The first was a very slow shuffle to the end of our short block and back, but it wasn’t long before he was able to handle a couple of kilometres. Last week, when we saw the surgeon for his six week check-up, we got the good news that he is cancer-free and that with the exception of very heavy lifting, he could resume his normal activities. Today, exactly seven weeks post surgery, we did a fairly strenuous 6.5 km hike!

About an hour from home, the Willow Canyon Trail at Donalda, Alberta has become one of our favourite hiking spots. The tiny village of Donalda is perched on the rim of picturesque Meeting Creek Coulee, the northernmost point of the Canadian badlands. It is best known for the 42 foot high replica of an oil lamp that lights up at dusk each day and and sheds its light over the coulee.


The trailhead is located just north of the lamp and the old restored train station located nearby.


The hike begins as a woodland trail that passes through private land to access 120 acres of fenced Donalda Ag Society property where visitors are free to leave the marked trails and explore to their hearts content.


The established trails, which have been enhanced with signage and maps since our last visit, are generally quite easy and stay for the most part along the upper edge of the coulee. We, however, like to leave the beaten track and drop down into the valley wandering up, down, and around the bluffs that form its walls.



We climbed to the top of that little knoll because… well, just because we could!



I was delighted to discover that we were early enough in the season to find a few prairie crocuses still in bloom. It was a windy day, but these two were in a slightly sheltered spot where I could get a reasonably good photo.

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Eventually, after a couple of hours of wandering and eating the picnic lunch that we brought with us, we made our way up out of the canyon and back to town where we enjoyed a treat at the recently reopened Coulee Tea House. Under new management, it’s a delightful little restaurant serving a wide variety of teas as well as other beverages, sandwiches, soup, salads, and wonderful desserts. Since we often pass by Donalda on the highway, we’ll definitely plan to stop in for lunch another day even if we aren’t there to hike!

New walking sandals

Shortly after returning from our latest trip to Mexico in February, I found myself dealing with metatarsalgia in my right foot. At first, I didn’t know what it was. It felt like I had a pebble in my shoe and was particularly bothersome when I walked barefoot on the hard floor. Thankfully, the symptoms didn’t show up until after we got home, but they were likely caused by the amount of walking that I did on uneven surfaces in less than adequate footwear. I had my good Asics sneakers with me which I bought specifically for walking, but on hot days I chose to wear sandals or flats instead. Unfortunately, they didn’t have as much cushioning or support.

My foot is better now, but it became very obvious that I needed to buy a good pair of walking/hiking sandals, especially since I’ve challenged myself to try to walk 350 km between May 1 and October 31! This week I found exactly what I was looking for.

I’m a frugal fashionista and I love thrift store shopping, but good quality footwear is something that I’m willing to spend a significant amount of money on. I first saw the right sandal at Atmosphere, “Canada’s Outdoor, Hiking, Camping and Adventure Store” but they didn’t have my size, so I went directly to an ECCO store. Not only did they have the right size, they had it in six or seven different colours including a couple that don’t even appear on their website! I wanted something neutral that I could wear with anything and, as the very helpful salesperson pointed out, the ones I chose look great with my gold summertime toes!


Most of the hiking sandals that I looked at had closed toes which would definitely be an asset on a rugged trail, but I’ll continue to wear my trusty Merrell hiking shoes for that. The sandals will mostly be worn to pound the pavement in and around town and on easier trails.

Time to purge!

Logo by SamSpring has finally come to the prairie! All of a sudden, the days are gloriously warm and sunny. Earlier this week, the time finally came to do my seasonal closet switch; to put away my winter wardrobe and bring out my spring/summer clothes.

Over 40 years ago, when we first moved into our present house, I thought the closet in the master bedroom was big. That’s because the one in the master bedroom of our first house, one of the original CPR homes built in the very early 1900s to house new settlers, wasn’t just small. It was tiny; smaller than my present broom closet!

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In comparison, the closet in the new house seemed spacious. Only it really wasn’t, especially for two people. When he built a large storage room in the unfinished basement, I had hubby include a rod across one end where we could hang our off-season clothes. Though there are some pieces that remain in the closet year round, much of my wardrobe spends approximately half the year in the basement. Even so, the bedroom closet is full. Too full!

When I do the seasonal switch, I also try to edit my wardrobe. The only problem is, I’m not very good at that. Oh, I have the best of intentions and I know what I need to do. I just don’t do it well! When I hang the new season’s clothes in the closet, I turn all the hangers around. Once I wear an item, its hanger is turned back the right way. At the end of the season, it’s easy to see what has been worn and what hasn’t. Realistically, I could/should get rid of most of the items that weren’t worn that season, but do I? No, not often enough. This time, I’m trying to be a bit more ruthless.

One pair of well-worn pants is in the garbage. They’d reached the stage where I wouldn’t wear them outside the house for fear of a major wardrobe malfunction. As much as I loved them, it was time to let them go. Five pairs are in a bag that’s going to the second-hand store. Those were mostly low rise skinnies that I’m quite sure I won’t wear again. Several tops have been set aside for this weekend’s garage sale. If they don’t sell, they’ll go to the thrift store too.

Still, the closet is too full and it’s not hubby’s section that’s overflowing! As I wear my spring/summer clothes for the first time this season, I’m determined to analyze each item carefully. Is it in good condition? Does it still fit well? Does the colour suit me? Do I feel good wearing it? Does it fit my style adjectives… classy, confident, comfortable, casual, and authentic? If I answer no to any of these questions, I’m determined to let it go. It’s time to purge!

Speaking of purging, our garage sale starts at noon today. If you’re in the area, come on over! Perhaps you’ll find a treasure and if not, at least we can have a visit!

Book of the month – April 2023

From the Ashes

Jesse Thistle

9781982101213This month’s book was a difficult read because of the content, but at the same time, it was difficult to put down!

Abandoned at the age of 3, Jesse Thistle and his two older brothers were taken into care by the Saskatchewan Children’s Aid Society. After a short time in foster care, they were raised by their paternal grandparents in Brampton, Ontario. In his teens, struggling with the effects of generational trauma and loss as well as his identity as an Indigenous youth, Jesse succumbed to a self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime that eventually led to a decade of homelessness.

Finally, realizing that he was going to die if he didn’t turn his life around, Jesse entered Harvest House, a residential rehab centre and began his healing journey. Today he is a husband, a father, an assistant professor at York University, and is working on his PhD. Once a high school dropout, he won a Governor General’s Academic Medal in 2016 and is a Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Scholar and a Vanier Scholar. He is also the author of the Definition of Indigenous Homelessness in Canada, published through the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness.

It was never Jesse’s intention to write a memoir. The fourth step in his addiction recovery program involved writing a “fearless moral inventory” as part of making sense of all that had happened to him. In 2016, the Toronto Star published a profile of him that led to Simon & Schuster approaching him about a potential book deal. Fleshing out that original moral inventory became the book in which, through both poetry and prose, he details devastatingly painful scenes with brutal honesty and bluntness. It is, at times, a gut-wrenching read, but it is also a story of resilience and hope. As I read it, I couldn’t help thinking of all the other Jesses living on our streets and in our prisons. Every one of them has a story, but not all will end well.

One such story is that of Jesse’s father.


Cyril “Sonny” Thistle, who was born April 3, 1954, was last seen in 1981 in Brampton, Ontario, near McLaughlin Road and Queen Street East. At the time he went missing, he was described as having a fair complexion, light brown hair, a thick moustache, and a gap between his top two front teeth. He was 26 years old.

The Thistle family has been trying to locate Sonny for several years, without any success. Jesse and his brothers desperately want to know what happened to their father.

Anyone with information on Thistle is asked to contact investigators at 905-453-2121 ext. 2233. Anonymous information may also be submitted by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or by visiting www.peelcrimestoppers.ca.

Age isn’t something to be ashamed of

Logo by SamFacebook obviously knows that I’m an older woman and it seems to think that my greatest desire in life ought to be to look younger. I’m constantly bombarded by articles and advertisements telling me how to hide my age. Articles like “the 10 things a woman over 50 should never wear” or “12 fashion mistakes that make you look old”. The latest one featured hairstyles that older women should never wear. I was astonished to see these photos included in that article.

Astonished, perhaps, because this is pretty much how I’m wearing my hair these days, but also because I think both women look quite stunning. Apparently, however, short haircuts like this draw attention to the face; that poor old wrinkled face! So what are we supposed to do when we reach a certain age? Hide our faces behind long shaggy hair? Wear a burka? I think not!

As long as I can remember, advertising aimed at women has screamed one message loud and clear… youth equals beauty! We have been hoodwinked into believing that we lose value as we age. As a result, many women go to great lengths to try to fight off the natural effects of passing years.

Several years ago, American professor and humorist, Gina Barreca, wrote this in an article for Psychology Today.

I refuse to spend money on so-called “anti-aging” products. I want to age. The opposite of aging isn’t staying young; that is not an option. The opposite of aging is death. And for that, you don’t need neck cream!

Amen! I love that.

I also love the fact that, thanks to the pandemic and not being able to visit their hairdressers for an extended period of time, many women let their hair go grey and discovered that they actually liked it. I have no problem with a woman colouring her hair if that’s what she wants to do, but I do have a problem with her feeling that she has to in an attempt to hide her age. Age isn’t something to be ashamed of!

In the same article, Barreca points out that the people who peddle high-priced products that promise to make us “look barely post-adolescent” aren’t looking at our faces; they’re looking at their bottom line. They really don’t care if we look young, old, or in-between; they just want to make a dollar. If you don’t think that’s true, look at the statistics. The global cosmetics industry is valued at $571.1 billion USD. Approximately $49.2 billion is generated by cosmetics sales in the United States each year and the average American spends between $244 and $313 on cosmetics every month! That’s absolutely astonishing!

I agree with 64-year-old actress, Jamie Lee Curtis, who once said, “I am pro-aging. I want to age with intelligence, and grace, and dignity, and verve, and energy.” Apparently, she’s also in favour of very short haircuts on older women.


Golden years?

Have you ever wondered why they call our retirement years, the years from 65 to 80 and beyond, the golden years? The phrase was actually coined in 1959 as part of an advertising campaign for Sun City, Arizona, the world’s first large-scale retirement community for active seniors. The goal, of course, was to portray retirement as a life of leisure; a time to travel, play golf, and pursue hobbies, but is it true?

For Christmas, I gave hubby a sweatshirt with one of his favourite sayings on the front. Retired: The ability to do what I want when I want. Lately whenever he wears it, he hastens to point out that it isn’t entirely true. These days, our lives seem to revolve around countless trips to the city for tests, scans, specialist appointments, and most recently, his prostate surgery. Maybe these should actually be called our rusty years because parts are continually breaking down and our bodies aren’t running as smoothly as they once did!

We certainly aren’t alone in this. At our recent senior bowling windup I looked around the table at our team and realized that all five of us either have or have had cancer. Many of our peers have had hip or knee replacements. Another has recently had a stroke and still others are waiting for biopsy results and/or surgery. No, retirement isn’t all traveling and playing!

I’m not really complaining… well, maybe just a little! I love the fact that we no longer have to rush off to work every day and that the government pays us for simply waking up every morning. I also realize that I’m fortunate to be alive. When I glance at the obituaries these days, many of the deceased are younger than me!

Some people claim that our true golden years are between 40 and 60 when we’re still physically and mentally fit and have probably reached some level of financial security. That led me to wonder, when were my golden years? When were yours? The first decade of my life, living in a waterfront house on the coast of British Columbia with the beach as my playground and the sound of the surf as my lullaby at night, was definitely golden. I look back on the years when my children were at home as golden. I loved that time of my life. There was a dark interval during the fourteen months that our oldest daughter fought her losing battle with leukemia, but even during that time, there were golden moments. When we were in our fifties, the year that we spent teaching English in Japan was golden.


2 Corinthians 4:16b says, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” In spite of the limitations of physical aging, I have no intention of passively resigning myself to coasting along and waiting for my name to show up in the obituaries! It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” So what can we do to make these years count, whether they are golden or rusty?

We may not be able to travel as often or for as long as we once could, but I’ll cherish the relationships that we have with people both near and far and when I can’t be together with them in person, I’ll remind myself how fortunate we are to have the internet, something that we didn’t have in our younger years. When I can’t explore far away places, I’ll seek out and appreciate ones that are closer to home. I’ll continue to offer the best of myself through volunteer work. I’ll read and learn and stay as physically active as I can for as long as I can. Always, I’ll remember to be thankful!

And finally, a message for those of you who are younger, don’t waste what might be the best years of your life yearning for the golden years. After all, they might turn out to be a little bit rusty!

Another second-hand find

Logo by SamWhen our daughter and her three children were here for a visit last week, we did what we usually do when she’s here. We checked out the two local thrift stores. I don’t know who enjoys these outings more, Mom, Gram, or the almost 13-year-old granddaughter! She was very happy to find a colourful sweatshirt and a great pair of shoes.

I came home with three tops including the one that I’m showing you today.


The comfortable cotton shirt from Gap is perfect for this shoulder season when winter finally seems to be on the way out, but days are still quite cool. I love the warm neutral colours and the slightly oversized fit. Though you probably can’t see it in the photos, tiny threads of metallic gold run through the darkest bands elevating the casual look without being overly fancy.


Though the shirt would go just as well with jeans or leggings, I’m wearing it with a pair of dark olive chinos that have been in my spring/summer wardrobe for the past three years. I haven’t actually done my seasonal closet switch yet, but I did pull this pair out of storage as they’re a good transitional piece for this in-between time of year.

So why does our family enjoy second-hand shopping so much? For me, in addition to the fact that it’s a bit like going on a treasure hunt, there are three very distinct advantages.

  1.  Location. I live in a very small rural community. With the exception of the two thrift stores, the closest place to shop for clothing is an hour away. The thrift stores are local and support our small communities. Both are run by volunteers and the proceeds go to local churches and organizations.
  2. Price. Similar shirts to the one that I’m featuring today sell on the Gap website for about $85, but I paid $2! I can afford to pay full price and buy new, but why would I when I can find quality clothes for so much less?
  3. Sustainability. The environmental impact of the clothing industry is monumental. Fashion is responsible for approximately 10% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and 20% of global wastewater. It uses more energy than the aviation and shipping sectors combined. Shopping second-hand helps protect the environment and reduces the need to use natural resources to make new clothes. Again, what’s not to like about that?


Vogue’s oldest cover model

Logo by SamVogue is arguably the most famous fashion magazine in the world. First published in 1892 as a weekly newspaper, it slowly evolved into the monthly publication that it is today. While print magazines might not be as popular as they once were, the US edition of Vogue had 11.1 million readers in the spring of 2021! There are also 26 other editions of the magazine internationally. Sometimes referred to as the bible of fashion, Vogue is an iconic trendsetter within the realms of fashion, lifestyle, and beauty, and increasingly deals with political, social and cultural topics as well. When Vogue says something is beautiful, most people would probably agree. 

Whang Od 106 Philippines

This month, Vogue Philippines says that 106-year-old Apo Whang-Od is beautiful and I couldn’t agree more! As Margareta Magnusson says in her small book, The Swedish Art of Aging Exuberantly, “a patina of warmth and a well-lived life shines visible in her face”.

Whang-Od is the Philippines’ oldest mambabatok or traditional Kalinga tattoo artist and has been performing the ancient art of hand-tapped tattoos since she was a teenager. Every year thousands of tourists flood to Buscalan, a remote mountain village about a 15 hour drive north of Manila, seeking her signature designs. Each symbol carries a special meaning. Some represent things of nature while others signify strength, beauty, bravery or fertility.

Whang Od uses an ancient technique; her only tools a bamboo stick, a thorn from a pomelo tree, water and coal. With intense concentration, she paints a design on the skin using the homemade coal-water ink then tap by tap, she uses the thorn and the stick to push the ink deep into the skin

According to tradition, a mambabatok is only allowed to pass their skill down through their own bloodline, so Whang-Od, who learned the art from her father, has been training her grandnieces in the ancient art. At 106, however, she has no plans to retire. She says that she will continue tattooing for as long as her eyesight allows!

“We believe that the concept of beauty needs to evolve, and include diverse and inclusive faces and forms. What we hope to speak about is the beauty of humanity,” said Vogue editor-in-chief, Bea Valdes. I think they also captured the beauty of age! Prior to this, the oldest Vogue cover model was Dame Judi Dench who appeared on the front of the British edition in 2020 at the age of 85.

When I saw the cover picture of Whang-Oh, I couldn’t help thinking of this photo, one of my favourites from our time in China. She may not be a cover model for Vogue, but she’s appeared on the blog more than once before and I wouldn’t be surprised if she did again! I don’t know her name and I have no idea how old she was, but I thought she was beautiful and I still do.