Who ever said that, has me pinned. Especially where my hair is concerned. I never had hair until I was three years old. My mom would put me into dresses so that I wouldn't be mistaken for a boy. When my hair finally did grow in, she let it grow long until I was in grade two. Then my loving mother decided that the only way that her daughter was going to have beautiful thick hair, was to cut it short. Twiggy short. That was also the year that I needed my first pair of glasses - cat's eye shaped frames, no less, along with that newly minted Twiggy cut. I was the anemic stick girl with scabs on her knees and being a red head was not in vogue when I was growing up. Not even in Montreal. After that traumatic event, the quest for the perfect hair cut was born. It has become my holy grail. If my hair is beautiful, then I am beautiful because I see it and consequently feel it inside. You also realize how few really great hairdressers there are. When I was student in university, I was desperate to find an on trend stylist. A couple of my floor mates had great hair cuts so I inquired as to where they had gone and who the stylist was. I quickly made the appointment with this amazing stylist Teresa. I wish I had a picture of that cut and perm. I ended up looking just like her/him - not sure what or which way she/he swung - with this huge wild head of hair (it was thick now!) that my motorcycle helmet wouldn't/couldn't go on without a struggle. Wow. Grew out beautifully though, eventually. Who ever said " don't worry, it's just hair", was out of their mind. Or bald. Over the years there have been winners and big time losers. After we moved to Elmira 5 years ago, it was a challenge to find one that I could trust my now dyed red locks to, because I had just left the best hairdresser I ever had, behind. I seriously contemplated making the drive back though because she made me look and feel ever so beautiful. Luckily, a friend recommended her hairdresser and he's been my salvation. And that's just what this vain red head needs again, because life's too short for ugly hair!
I never knew I loved photographing nature until we moved to the country. Getting up close and personal with plants at the age of twelve was the best thing that could have happened to me. Of course that didn't occur to me at the time - only age offers that kind of hindsight. My parents had taken over my grandfather's garden center business and growing operation at the time and of course I had no choice in the matter. The knowledge of trees, flowers, perennials, weeds, watering, propagating, irrigating, landscaping and design were slowly absorbed by osmosis. I also discovered that I loved helping design for customers. It was a creative outlet that became so second nature, that I called it "design on the fly". During these teenage years, I had also developed a love of interior design. It was physically easier and a whole lot cleaner than working on a farm or garden centre. That was the life for me! And so I prepared my portfolio and applications. I went to my interviews and was successfully admitted by all three - Humber (who only accepted ten students a year), University of Ottawa and Sheridan College. I declined all three. Stupidly, I was too afraid to venture out and that was the end of that story. A year later I went to the School of Dramatic Art at the University of Windsor. It brought me out of my shell; gave me the confidence I needed to go out into that big strange world. Best of all - it's where I met my future husband. A couple of years later we both went back to the family garden centre for another ten years full time and then another five years part time during the busy spring season to help out (that's what family is about after all). I still did landscape designs for the occasional client on the side over the years, but came back into full time over the last two years after moving back to the surrounding area. It's been a real treat getting back to what I love - helping people beautify their homes outside (and in) the right way, because after all - you can't take the gardening out of the girl..........
There is a picture of me at the tender age of three, strutting my stuff in my mom and dad's shoes. One foot in heels, the other in a slipper. And so the conundrum had started. Fashion or comfort? Well, as we all know - it's ultimately about the looks. Comfort comes a close second these days, but it was not always the case. I come by my love of shoes honestly. My mom owned twenty-five pairs when she got married - one to go with every outfit. Every pair was leather. Not the plastic garbage that they pass off as shoes in the big box stores. Being as I went to a Catholic girls school, the uniforms made everyday dressing a cinch. Shoes were the standard brown or black oxfords - buckle or lace. Very uninspiring. The winter boots that went over them with the big buckle, went hand in hand. There was no room for being unique or special or anywhere this side of stylish. Just plain ugly. But it got worse. In grade three, it was discovered that my feet were on their way to becoming pigeon toed. To my absolute horror, I was made to wear brown ankle high lace up shoes. They looked more like army boots and felt even worse. I thought I would die of embarrassment. A whole year - which in fact was an eternity - of wearing these rectified the problem. Of course hindsight has enabled me realize how lucky I was to have my feet taken care of. As a result, it only made me more determined to have beautiful shoes. While I grew up in Montreal (and the shopping was amazing!) all shoes were purchased in the Italian part of the city. Beautiful leather shoes of every description and not costing an arm and a leg. You were sized and fitted for the shoe. You had service. It was wonderful. I think my most favourite sandals though, came from Italy directly. Both my parents had gone to Europe for my dad's company when I was in grade four. Aside from bringing back beautiful wool fabrics from England (more about that another time), my mom presented me with the most amazing sandals I had ever seen in my young life. They were chartreuse leather with the strap coming up through the toe and a delicate strap buckled around the ankle. The top was thin accordion leather pleated and a lustrous pearl was sewn in between each pleat. I thought I'd died and gone to shoe heaven. I still think about those sandals. I can't remember what ever happened to them once I grew out of them, but hopefully they went to some other deserving young fashionista. These days it's still about the shoes. I keep my shoes - as long as they still fit and fit the fashion criteria - they stay with me, some as long as ten years. So as a result, I have a lot of beautiful shoes that need to be dusted because I still don't have a job that I am able to wear them to. That's why it's so important to go out with friends as often as possible, wearing your shoe of choice and having a beautiful time together.
What a beautiful and extraordinary country we live in. I had time to reflect on it one early summer, while biking through the cool, green of a native Ontario bush. My senses could discern the rapidly changing temperature and humidity fluctuations, the pungent mossy moisture and sweet familiar fragrance of some flora who's identity is still hidden in the hard drive of what occasionally is still a sharp and witty mind. With all the required time our busy lives demand - needing to get the task at hand completed, or to the next project or appointment, a lot of us have become disconnected with the details of the scenery surrounding us. Our eyes glance quickly over the big picture and hurry on. Too bad. So sad. Children see things so differently though. They take great interest in the details of the flower, or toad, or face. And if we adults keep our comments to ourselves, our children often see the beauty in what interests them. We need to encourage that. We need to teach them to appreciate and see the beautiful world that lies beyond the technological world they are being sucked into. We all need that balance. Beauty brings balance through nature. I've been fortunate to have been born with a love and respect for nature. I've lived half my life in big cities, like Montreal, London and Windsor, and the other half in the country side. I love them both for the different things they have to offer. One is totally "man" made and the other - well "man" just tries to get along as best he can. Nature will not be discounted. We need to place the beauty of what nature offers back into our streets, villages, towns and cities. All that concrete makes it hard to breathe. It feels like a prison - or that playground at my all-girls Catholic grade school in Montreal. I have no fond memories of that time. Ugliness does nothing to contribute to one's well being. Life's too short to be living in it. Do your part. Beautify!
As far back as my memory serves me - about the age of three - I can remember knowing exactly what was attractive to my mind's eye. As any parent will attest to, trying to convince a young child any different is an uphill battle. I knew exactly what colours I loved and would let my mother dress me in. She was a seamstress and milliner during our life in Montreal, so my clothing was always custom. Shoes were purchased in the little Italy part of of the city and nothing but leather would do. Being that my Dad's father was a cobbler from Germany, this was a given. The European philosophy that I was brought up with was that you bought the best that you could afford and you took good care of it, because it had to last. Money was spent carefully and thoughtfully in order to make the dollars stretch. To this day, my challenge has always been to have a life as beautiful as possible within my snack bracket. It's so easy when you have pocketfuls of money.
Both sides of my family have artists and musicians and gardeners that obviously contributed to my genetic predisposition. My mother's mother was a Prada from Hungary. Need I say more? Although I believe that this is along the same lines as Smith or Jones over on this side of the pond.
Beauty is everywhere and nowhere. It's both natural and unnatural. It's in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes I wonder though - What were you thinking??
I originally started my blog on Blogger in 2011. Needless to say, after 2 years life got in the way and blogging got left to the wayside. I tried to resume it, but was locked out. It was technically becoming a pain to post so I've decided to resume it here on my website. Hope you enjoy it!