Just discovered artist Audrey Kawasaki and I am in love...
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
I have been so busy with the new house that I've been sorely neglecting my poor little blogs this month...so sorry! I'm still painting walls and moving furniture around, but for now I'll leave you with some lovelies from Carven I wish I could add to my closet...
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Yesterday I had an experience in every sense of the word... I saw Prince William and the beautiful Duchess Catherine! As many of you might know, they have been touring my wonderful Canada for the last week; we are part of the Commonwealth and though we have our own elected government we still recognize the British Monarch as our Queen. As an obsessive Anglophile I have always loved that we have this connection to the UK; I grew up reading British literature and I still wish that Canadians spoke with that wonderfully precise English accent. So when late Tuesday evening I discovered that the rumors which had been circulating for several days had been confirmed, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were indeed stopping briefly in a town just two hours North of where I now live, I immediately felt that I had to be there!
True to my own neurotic form I spent the evening researching information about the stop and debating back and forth if I really should make the trip. First off, the last minute announcement of their visit to Slave Lake was due to the fact that in May the small community was devastated by fire and many residents lost everything. Will and Kate wanted to meet with rescue workers and affected families, to see the great loss that had taken place, but they did not want to impede or distract from the rebuilding efforts. So while the stop had been planned it was announced just the night before. I was so torn; on the one hand, how often is one literally two hours away from the future King of England? On the other hand, I was worried it might be somehow disrespectful to go to Slave Lake, as though I was intruding on something that was primarily for the community. I went back and forth all night, I'm going, I'm not going. The negative voice in my head was saying "you'll drive for 4 hours round trip to stand in a crowd of hot people, be bored for hours, and then probably only see the back of the Royal's heads while people step on your feet."
In the end, it was an article that talked about how excited the Slake Lake residents were about the unexpected visit that tipped the scales. People were saying that this was a celebration, the start of new and happy memories in their hometown...this was not a private town funeral with Will and Kate as the celebrity mourners, this was Slave Lake's day to shine, to be the envy of the Province, of the Country! Our Royals are coming to visit and why shouldn't I be there to welcome them with all the rest of the happy crowd? True, I might drive for hours and see nothing but other excited onlookers, but as I woke up early Wednesday morning I realized that nothing wonderful can happen unless you put forth the effort and actually open the door to the possibility. So my little white Chihuahua and I hopped in the car and set off on an adventure.
An additional milestone for me is that having been a student in dorm for the last 8 years, I have very little experience driving in cities, and none driving on the highway. And now I was driving a strange highway to a place I'd never been...no husband to chauffeur, no GPS to guide, just my own determination to see the fabled Will and Kate whose wedding I had woken up at 3AM to watch live just a few short months prior. As I drove through the beautiful Alberta countryside with a bluer than blue sky above me I knew that even if I never caught a glimpse of the royal pair I wouldn't regret making the trip.
As I pulled into the tiny Northern community and saw the crowds of people making their way towards the college I knew I hadn't made a mistake. Its was like coming upon a carnival, or a high holiday or feast day; there was a sort of incredulous anticipation running through the air, people's expressions and their conversation. Countless times that morning I heard "I can't believe they're coming here!"
As I picked my way through the crowd at 10:30 (one hour prior to the forecast 11:30 touchdown at the local airport) I was astounded to discover that while there were certainly people in lawn chairs along the barricade line who had shown up in the early hours of the morning to claim the prime location, there were still lots of open spaces throughout the college front lot. I spied a space close to one of the two front college doors and, with a tiny white puppy under my arm, made my way to the furthest point of empty space I could find. My furry companion insured that the folks I stood next to were not only warm and friendly as I joined them, but also eager to stroke his velvety head and exclaim how well behaved my little portable puppy was. Score one point for a conversation starter! I was also incredibly fortunate to find a space beside a good sized tree which almost certainly saved me from catching heatstroke on that sunny day; I can't take heat very well and I like to say that it is just further proof that I should have been born in the chilly English countryside where my fair skin would be protected by grey days and morning mist.
As the anticipated arrival grew nearer the crowds swelled, and I found myself being pressed closer and closer to the coveted barricade until finally I had only two layers of people in front of me! My only worries now...would they stop by this section and would I be able to extend the humble little offering I was protectively clutching in my oversized yellow purse? Upon learning of the Royal visit I had been struck with the overwhelming feeling that I wanted to give Catherine a gift. We've all seen adoring crowds eagerly holding out bouquets for passing Royals, but I wanted to offer something more personal. I was reminded of the days when subjects would offer the best of their produce or handiwork to their lords and rulers, and I felt that on a historic day when I had the chance to possibly meet royalty I wanted to participate in that tradition in my own small way.
The night before I had run to my cache of handmade fripperies, studying it all with a critical eye, that gnawing little nasty gnat in my ear whispering "none of it is good enough"... what do you give to a woman who has access to Queen Elizabeth's private jewels?! The most obvious offering seemed at first glance to be a fascinator, but nothing seemed quite right. And of course, once again, the knowledge that Kate has worn hats and fascinators made by the most exclusive of London milliners seemed to make this prohibitive. What to do? Ah, yes, research! I ran to my computer to study images of Kate... what colors did she wear? What was her everyday style? Even before I had pulled up the images I was remembering that Kate's trademark is her gorgeous hair, hair that she wears almost exclusively unadorned, except for formal occasions. A quick review of her street style confirmed this suspicion; but now I was noticing that she never seems to be without earrings, a necklace and a bracelet or two. Ok, I can work with this. There were only a few contenders among my inventory... something of excellent quality, but still simple enough that she might feel comfortable wearing it out for a night at the pub in her local village. I certainly have no delusions that I have anything fine enough to offer for a formal royal event! At last I settled on a piece that uses beautiful antique glass and crystal beads from the 19th Century. It took me hours to make and it is the piece that I am most proud of; this is what I will offer.
But as I sit on the curb of the college parking lot trying to pen an appropriate note to accompany the little gift box, a horrible thought strikes me... what if she thinks this is some awful attempt to gain her endorsement for my accessories? Ugh... the tacky horror! No, I can't give it to her. But maybe I'll just explain in the note... I just wanted to give her something and in this surreal situation I have no proper way to introduce myself. I am now kicking myself for never spending money on that fancy personalized stationary that would look more formal and sophisticated. And why did I never learn calligraphy? After eight years of rapid student notetaking in darkened lecture halls my penmanship rivals the fabled doctor's scrawl. My note (such as it is) complete and the crowds ever-growing, I fold it up and hastily slip it into the box.
Now three hours later as I stand pressed from in front and behind and jammed in between the world's tallest man and a woman with a purse that is poking into my side, the sun burning through my sunblock, my own purse weighed down with a 4.8 pound chihuahua is starting to feel like it is pulling my shoulder off, the crowd bursts into a cheer as the long awaited couple emerges from the front doors of the college. They are just as stylish and glamorous as we've all hoped, pulling off that wonderful mix of classy and approachable that I think they now have the official patent on. I can see them for a full ten seconds between the shoulders of the girls in front of me, and then they pass from my view and there is only the sounds of the bubbling crowd. Within a minute the waves of information filter back: they are indeed making their way along the barricade line, coming straight for us!
The babble and cheers come ever-closer, and then there is a cluster of photographers with ridiculously long lenses backing their way past us, preceding the main event. And then, there he is... Prince William... I can see him perfectly (he is so tall!) and then he is directly in front of me, speaking with a woman who arrived at 6 AM with her lawn chair to secure this honor. He speaks quickly but with perfect precision and genuine concern. "Did you have much warning before the fire?" he asks her, giving her a moment of attention and steady focus that seems to block out all the chaos around. And then a little girl from behind me is being passed to the very tall man at my side and William is shaking her tiny hand. I could thrust out my hand among the ten others that are there right now and he'd probably take the time to shake it, but I don't want to distract from this little girl's moment with "a real live Prince." The fact that this impressive young man (the same age as myself) who I've been aware of for as long as I can remember, briefly had a distant crush on when I was 14, and then watched walk solemnly behind his mother's casket with a composure that I found both extraordinary and completely heartbreaking all those years ago, is now mere feet away from me, handling the pressures and excitement of this crowd with dignity and kindness is enough. I am elated. And I am also saving all my reserves of boldness for the person who must certainly be along at any moment...
"Is Catherine coming?" I ask the woman next to me. And moments later my question is answered. Another swarm of photographers appears in view. This is it. I reach into my purse for the box, hoping that no dark-suited body guard thinks I am going for a gun and tazers me. I hold the box up and close to my chest so it doesn't look like I'm trying to conceal it. And now here she is.... in front of me and all the hands are being thrust out again around me. This is my one and only chance; I'm not close enough to the front that she is likely to see me on her own and stop. And I don't want to simply shove a box in her face without a word. Am I going to yell out the Duchess of Cambridge's name like some crass paparazzi photographer? But if I stay quiet she will pass right by. I lean forward and stretch my hand out, extending the little pink box so it reaches the edge of the barricade. "Catherine!" I call out, hoping I've used a tone both ear catching and yet sufficiently respectful (is that even possible?) She looks directly at me.
"I'd be honored if you'd accept this." Oh god, I hope that doesn't sound too cheesy.
"Thank you," she says in that impeccable accent, taking the box from my hand. "What is it?"
"It's a necklace," I reply.
She cracks the box open slightly, but I know I've placed my note on top, and the little ornament is nestled beneath a layer of tissue paper; I started this day fully aware there was little to no chance that Kate would actually have time to take the necklace out of the box in my view, and I am fine with this. I've accomplished my mission. And then another voice calls out for the attention of this impossibly beautiful yet visibly kind and gracious young woman. And then she is gone, swept further along the barricade line on a wave of giddy crowd excitement.
And I am breathless, exultant...I did it! I gave a gift of my own making into the hand of the future Queen of England. It doesn't matter if she ever wears it. What matters is that I gave her the best I had to offer... and with that knowledge I feel satisfied.