Saturday, 8 March 2014

And I Quote

Well, if one had to choose any month to skip entirely, February 2014 would do. To quote the incredible Captain Awkward upon re-entry, 

Wendy Brandes posted about puffer coats today and was so awesome as to include my old favourite - I've spent ages and ages encased in this one or that one and I do I love them all but I am so tired of winter right now I can hardly bear to look at them. Oops, didn't take long for the whining to start, see what I have spared you during all this time away. As for words to be emphasized by air quotes, I think WendyB's swear rings would fit just right. 

vintage hat: Steiger's Importers, Netty Vintage
air quote mittens: Kate Spade, ebay
floral-quilted puffer coat with giant pointy collar: Mexx, retail c. 2002
green batwing sweater and necklace with finger-trap dingle-dangles: worn together here

The good news is that I'm in time to participate in Gracey's Literary Stylings at Fashion for Giants! The book my outfit references is The Punctuation Field by my very dear friend Elizabeth Zetlin. Liz - poet, artist, singer, gardener, film-maker, powerful witness / advocate for environment and social justice and arts, innovative thinker and wise woman who lives too far away from me. She was the inaugural Poet Laureate of Owen Sound and, for 9 years, Artistic Director of the annual Words Aloud festival. 

The Punctuation Field captures Liz's brilliance, sly humour, and depth commitment to multi-modal explorations of a concept. It documents her several-year process of transforming the abandoned rocky hayfield outside her writing studio into a living "punctuation field" earthworks with arrangements of symbols and marks initially cut into the grass then grown standing out of the earth using drought-resistant plantings. The physical, emotional, and mindful engagements with nature are followed by poems addressing "The Usual Suspects" and marks "New, Used, and Invented" - playful, emphatic, affectionate, weighty, unexpected, mysterious. Liz's entrance into so many of these works are evocative of dance: 

"& My buxom pretzel, twisted gift / of conjunction & connection, bum ..." 
"* You used to have seven arms, / seven tear drops shooting from the centre ..." 
": O double pinhead / dagger of colonization ..."

Beyond clever, always sure-footed, Liz leads us through and out with exquisite rhythm. Among my favourites are the dingbats, her waltzing tilde, and short prose piece "Grammar Lessons."

I am right down to the last hour to take my accent circonflexe / chapeau like so ô to Style Crone for Hat Attack. It came with a great lovely piece of veil and I must wear it again soon to share other angles and details. I've tucked the rest of the moaning about what's kept me away - so grim! so bleak! - below the jump like a grown-up, but there are also chickens, kitty, and skating to liven things up. Hope to be back to outfits before too long - thanks for reading! See you at Patti's Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday

Digging my way to the chickens has been one factor consuming my blogging and commenting time: 

The snow has stayed and stayed, paths often re-drifting-in every day. There will be more outfits - eventually. 

Heidi Hunter the Turkey Lurkey and Arlie preen and old Glo leans nose-to-tail with Big Hen

Thank you for the kind messages and checkings-in during my long break, as well as all the good thoughts for our Henny. It was hard to say goodbye to our best girl, the last of the red hens, who was tended gently by her old friend Gloria and the flock to the very last. 

Gloria herself took ill shortly afterwards and thought about giving up too, but after a really tough two weeks of special care is back to rights. During the extended deep freeze, we worried a lot over the balance between using heat lamps at night and risking stress / illness vs. frostbitten combs. The past few nights were finally, finally as "warm" as -10C / 14F. 

Gloria and Arlie bravely check out the WALL OF LAVA at the door of the coop
while Betty Lou, Heidi, and Dracarys are all
NOOOO you guys, LAVA! LAVA!!! 

Our road has been impassable and closed by the County for several weeks now due to flooding and ice boulders: 

We'll usually have some water over the road at this one spot for a few days, but this situation is very unusual. What's more bizarre is to have flooding on both sides of our house, which has effectively created a moat. Beary's truck has been able to make it through the "small puddle" but I've had to park at one neighbour's or the other's and trudge across open fields during minus-stoopid windchills to get to work and home. Uphill both ways like in pioneer times.

We only got one skating day because it kept snowing and snowing, but on the plus side, it coincided with everyone gathering for Beary's birthday. Beasley the cat has grown a lot. He's become quite a wild man, and was the star of the event - hunting hockey pucks, galloping across the ice and enjoying a cuddle for a perimeter skate. Gliding along with The Bease in one arm and a mug of hot apple cider in the other almost made up for February. Almost. 

my brother and Beaser on ice

When not hacking away at ice and snow (or as the hens call it, LAVA), we're doing as The Artist Formerly Known as Bease demonstrates above - practicing for when we'll be found frozen in our Ötzi postures

Beary and Beasley, ready for spring. 


  1. Oh, you are back - I have missed !
    I see: you have a bad winter and I hope for you, soon be over. We had very little winter this year (last year was still snow in April)..
    The book seems very interesting, does not exist in German translation, for me English too difficult to read books.
    I send you warmth and spring flowers

  2. So much snow! Waist-high drifts? Impassable roads? It sounds like a very tough winter.
    And poor Miss Henny, how sad. These creatures, how we love them... Beasley is a total star, Nina (my youngest) looked over my shoulder at the photos of him and has fallen in love, as have I. Skating kitty!
    You look toasty warm in your coat, hat and mittens, but I guess you will be completely sick of them by now. Come on, Spring, Amber needs you!
    Good to have you back, I've missed you. xxx

  3. I have missed your voice so much! Lovely to see you again, and all the natural splendor winter has provided. And so sorry about Henny, the wonderful girl. I saw you over at Wendy's looking spiff in your puffer coat, it's a beauty - as are you. xox

  4. Nice to have you back! Gosh it looks cold where you are! Sorry about the loss of your hen :( Winter must be a hard time to keep animals from getting sick.
    Love the gloves! We had fellow at our Cambridge college who was a punctuation specialist - specifically in the use and meaning of brackets in literature - we called him Bracket Man - I honestly now don't remember his actual name.

  5. I feel like I just read an account of life on another planet! I'm sure when you're an old woman telling stories you'll be talking about the winter of 2014. At least you're getting through it with grace and humor and the most beautiful puffer coat ever. Not to mention the cutest kitty I've ever seen - Beasley is a beauty!

    The punctuation garden sounds interesting. I think my favorite punctuation mark is the interrobang.

    Take care, keep warm, smile, and dance for the sun!

  6. AWWW BEZUZ, he's adorable! And so are your hens! I'm sorry you've lost so many, but your ladies who are still clucking are gorgeous. I don't know how you or they are surviving the deep freeze. I'd certainly have turned in for some hibernation at that point!

    I've very much missed your posts on my feed.

  7. So glad to see you back! It sounds as though winter and life been demanding a lot of your attention lately. I love the accent circonflex hat, wonderful shape. Hope you get some thaw and spring very soon.

  8. I was just thinking about you today and wondering if you would post again as spring rolls around. We have had the same kind of winter here in MN, just the worst. I remember days like you are showing us when I lived in the country, it's like living on the moon sometimes. Your puffer coat is cool especially with the hat! Such a lovely cat and the chickens are amazing!

    blue hue wonderland

  9. Excellent to see you back! It has been a terrible winter in much of North America, but step by step, you (and everyone else I know and love up north) are surviving. I know spring can't come soon enough to you all! I moved south from Minnesota 25 years ago, and this year, I am glad of it, I have to say.

    I write this from Arizona, where we have been dryer and warmer than even usual, way too dry and warm actually. I am sure it sounds good to you all but we have missed our usual mild winter, and now head into the oncoming furnace of summer. I may start sounding like the Wicked Witch--"I'm melting, I'm melting. . ." But I suppose we shouldn't complain, after what all you northerners are still enduring!!!!!

  10. What a fun post. Interesting writing, cool pictures. It's always nice hearing from you.

  11. O, my, just LOOK at that snow!!!
    Hello darling!!!
    Beasley is such a love, I want to tickle that furry little tum!
    I love seeing the chooks contemplating the snow!

  12. Amber, your style is captivating. How do you describe it? Wonderful :)

  13. And thanks for sharing with Visible Monday!

  14. Oh, so good to see you back, Amber, and I'm glad all is well. Love to see your hens (ha, LAVA) and Bease and the snow is so pretty, although BAD and treacherous. Sending you cherry blossoms from the West coast.

  15. See how much we all miss you?!! I was so, so happy to see BA pop up again. I remember bad winters in Vermont but I'll confess I didn't have chickens. Your description of crossing the fields to get to and from work were immediately evocative of those years. I'm jealous of your ice skates, though.

    It's such a pleasure to see an "Amber outfit". I've missed the clothing inspiration as well as your thoughtful, intelligent writing. Let's just say I've missed YOU (!!!) and hope that life brings a little more ease your way.


  16. Yikes! Your winter does sound harsh to the extreme. The feeling of isolation with the road closed being the final straw. Your saving grace would be Beasley the charmer! He is adorable, and tell him I said so please! And you? Ever so stylish as usual. Natch!

  17. dear lady, you look gorgeous wearing your pretty coat and funny 'quoting' mittens, fighting all that snow, ice, flood, and taking care of your cute hens!, I'm absolutely terrified like an old hen about all that LAVA!!
    And skating with Beasley sounds really delightful and funny!
    wish you lots of sun and fun!

  18. Welcome back Amber! Winter has been bad in Chicago, but really we could still get in the car and drive away if we wanted, eventually.
    What a struggle and you still come out of it looking smashing. Sorry to hear about the sickness and loss among the chickadees. And happy to see the cutie-pie Beasley.

  19. Hey, welcome back! It's been a terrible winter here for most of us in SW Ontario, if one isn't trapped by road closures, whiteouts or flooding, then they are laid flat by illness. Your photos remind me of the winters when we lived on a farm for a few years when I was small. I'm sorry about the loss of Henny, but glad to see the rest of the hens are bravely enduring the LAVA. Beasley is an absolute doll and he has such beautiful markings!

  20. I'm always happy at the onset of winter, but this one has caused me to rethink my enthusiasm! You look grand in your outfit, suitably poetic. All the animal photos are a complete delight, and I only have a kernel of an idea about how hard it's been. Here, everything grinds to a complete halt with an inch of snow, so you have my sympathy. So glad you're back in in good form. Thank you for the lovely treat ... I have never seen a cat go ice skating. Now I have!

  21. So happy to see you back and when your gorgeous face with chapeau popped up on Hat Attack I could hardly contain my excitement. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Love your puffer coat and of course, the air quote mittens. So sorry about Miss Henny. I hope that life gets easier soon. Enough of the cold, snow and grey skies!

  22. Dear Ms. Anvil:
    It has come to my attention that you are looking fabulous.
    Your pointy collar is lovingly reflected in your pointy shoes.
    Sincerely, Ms Bagg.
    Yeah, February was a month of absolute suckage. Best not to compare our suckages but rather to revel in our fabulosity. I saw you at Wendy's looking very covergirl and big-timey, but of course. Air quote mittens? Brilliant. We also need gloves with the quotation marks on the 2nd and 3rd fingertips so we can do air quotes in an ultra ULTRA annoying way, not in a fun friendly way like here. March will be waaaay better.

  23. Welcome back dear Amber! Brrrr I feel for you entrenched in all that snow. Those air quote mitts are the best way to fight through the cold with humour. Talking of which, thanks for introducing me to Elizabeth Zetlin, wonderful stuff! Here's to a warmer spell for you soon.

  24. The best puffer coat I have ever seen, gorgeous hens and lovely Beasley! A delightful post. Hi. It's nice to meet you, I'm Shawna. :-)

  25. pretty nice blog, following :)

  26. Are you right? I miss you... -

    1. Thank you, dear Mascha!!! I am okay, hoping to be back before too long.

  27. Hope all is well Amber. I miss you!


Thank you for your comments!
- Amber