Sunday, 13 July 2014

Roots and Rain

An 11th-hour addition to Literary Stylings at Fashion for Giants, inspired by a book that sang along my Ukrainian-Canadian prairie roots through to present-day connections and beyond, of lung-squeezing losses - personal and cultural and environmental - in verse of what gets told and what doesn't. 

vintage cotton day dress: Cotton City, Bitter Root Vintage
black wrap belt: thrifted at The Kitty Cat Store, worn here with cowboy boots of legend
green scarf: Lupita's (Harlingen, TX), worn here
blue ankle-strap wedges: Melissa Toffee Apple, ebay, worn here

Rove by Laurie D. Graham
nominated for the 2014 Gerald Lampert Award

Saskatchewan ancestors, the chair that travelled from the photograph to my Ontario home

I learned about Rove via Michael Dennis's poetry review blog where he has shared some excerpts (and regularly adds to my burst-at-the-seams poetry book wish list). I was then lucky enough to win a drawn-by-lottery spot in a poetry workshop with Don McKay, where I met Laurie Graham as a co-participant. 

memento from among my paternal grandmother's belongings

This outfit was from last week; I read Rove last month as I hung out with Old Glo in her last days. The little buffalo herd specks on the book's cover were Of Interest to the hens. 

After Gloria's original flockmate Big Henrietta died earlier this year, young Heidi Hunter the Turkey Lurkey was often seen having a sit-down with Glo in their favourite spot through good days and bad. To have warmth and comfort, visitors coming 'round to check in, and such a friend to sit by you when you're ailing, well, that's pretty good. 

As happens with many laying hens as they age, Glo's abdomen filled with fluid. Chickens can cling to life so fiercely that they linger well beyond what is fair or kind - we kept a careful eye to whether she was eating, drinking, and breathing well, retaining her spot in the pecking order, and able to get where she needed to go. 

Rain-spotted details of the most comfortable dress: scalloped and piped wide collar and triangular pockets, swirly buttons
vintage stylized fish skeleton necklace: a gift from my mother, worn here
bracelets and watch: worn here on another rainy day

Back to treasured people-connections, my friend and fellow chicken-keeper Jean will be 93 next month. I had given her some homemade applesauce at Christmas, and she returned the jar to me this spring filled with her homemade wild leek pesto. The leeks grow along the creek in the woods on Jean's farm, and the pesto was transcendently delicious. We used the last bit of it to make stuffed mushrooms.  

At right is the applesauce label image: pre-digital camera, I captured an early-morning deer visit
on expired b+w SLR film. In an aerial photo from the 1970s, my apple tree was already about this size.
One ambitious year it yielded 76 jars of sauce. 

Glo sending good thoughts to Jean's last "old girl," Cecile, who is going through similar. 

Wishing you all have someone that you like to go and sit beside, and someone to come and sit beside you. If you are so lucky, do also squeeze them every chance you get. After a long time away, I'll be sitting a while among the Visible Monday bloggers at Not Dead Yet Style. More of Gloria below the jump. 

Of our first flock, Gloria was a champion egg-song singer, had the most beautiful tail, and was a friend-hen to the end.

Edited to add: The flowers in today's vintage dress are about as much white as I'm likely to wear, but all-white with red and yellow accessories was Glo's favourite outfit. At Sacramento's kind personal invitation, we're linking up to Share-In-Style: White

One of countless epic dust-baths with her original flockmates.
Video from the same day's dust bath at the very bottom of this post

heading up to roost for the night with full belly, muddy feet, and happy tail

You go on now, dear hen. 


  1. O, Gloria. I have hopes of one day keeping chickens, and follow your chickens with avid interest. Tricksy little things they are.
    That frock is just divoon, and so Summer perfect!
    I've just had a nosey of a review of Rove, and have popped it on my to read list. I rarely read poetry, but am always looking to be moved.

  2. Beautiful pictures.
    I like your shoes.


  3. Gloria - what a lovely old girl. Thanks so much for sharing these marvelous pictures and words with Visible Monday, I've missed you. xox.

  4. A couple of years ago there was a debate about keeping chicken in Montreal - Big debate, a lot of people wanted to keep chickens - We saw a few illegal chicken houses around but sadly we don't see them anymore - Nice to see you again among us- Beautiful dress and shoes -



  5. Really enjoyed all the variety in your post...even the chickens!!

  6. As hard as it can be to lose friends or family, whether feathered, furred, or more familiar in form, without the joy of their company and shared love, our lives would be so much the poorer. Farewell Gloria.

    That dress is gorgeous and the green scarf really brings your outfit together.

    I am in awe of your evocative description of "Rove", particularly "lung-squeezing losses", which keeps echoing. I don't imagine I'll find it available in our libraries all the way over here, but will try to seek it out.

  7. Poor Gloria. But, at least she had you and her flock mates to love her. I think that's all that matters in the end.

    Thank you so much for linking up. You look wonderful!

  8. This post itself was poetry. I'm sorry for the loss of your dear hen.

  9. At least dear Glo had a wonderful life and wonderful friends. How lucky she was to be so well taken care of.

    The dress is lovely, and I love the old photos as a juxtaposition. I can almost imagine the dress in its earlier life. But I bet no one else wore it with those fabulous blue shoes!

  10. Lovely and sad post. How lovingly you deal with the chickens, attentive her last time concomitantly...
    Glad to see you (I worry when bloggers disappear - ) and a nice dress with matching shoes.
    Most I like the necklace.
    The book is previously only in English, but I can wait -
    Have a good and quiet time :-)

  11. What a lovely creature Glo was! It is evident you loved her dearly.

    Great shoes and fabulous dress, always perfectly accessorized, Amber!

  12. Thank you so much for sharing the lives of your chickens and this lovely tribute to Glo. It's so easy to overlook the sophisticated social networks and intelligence of other creatures that live among us. I enjoy getting to know chickens through your love of them here. What lucky birds to live with you.

    As for you, I feel a calm when you write of your family and your place. Love that leek pesto! There you are in your back building in a beautiful print dress with yowza shoes - a chicken caregiver, writer, applesauce maker, person in clothes that are wonderful.

  13. What a warm and loving post, Amber. I love the connections forward and back, the family photos, the to-ing and fro-ing of gifts, the soft sad sweetness of your writing about your darling hens (poor Glo, but she was happy with you and her sister hens). Sending you a great big squeeze.
    Oh and that is a delicious frock too! xxxx

  14. Sooooooooooooo glad to have you back Amber, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
    Love, love it all, but your shoes, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh your shoessssssssssss

  15. I got a bit teary at the end of this post - such a lovely send-off and tribute to a very special hen. I would have never known about their differing personalities without reading your blog, so thank you for adding to my critter knowledge. I think that's what we would all want at our end - to be warm and comfortable, and have someone to check in and sit by us,

    I like the pretty blues and greens of your outfit, and the fancy shoes. I like the styles that are offered in the Melissa collaborations, but I find the plastic not very comfortable on the feet.

    How nice that you have the chair and the tapestries from your ancestors. It's good to have tangible mementos of where we've come from.

  16. Looking lovely, you! Bitter sweet post, of course, marking the sorrow we feel when our better friends reach the end of their too short lives. So good to know as much as possible about your girls. That expertise makes it so much better for them at end of life. Love to you, and a hope for a happier summer. For some reason, this summer as been about looking back a bit for us as well.

  17. This is a beautiful post. I'm sorry that you lost Gloria, but thank you for sharing the lovely story and pictures. I have always loved chickens and wanted to have some but that is not the life I am living at present anyhow. Yours are obviously so well loved and cared for.

    Your dress is gorgeous and seems to have both good looks and comfort going for it!

    I love having family heirlooms in my home and a chance to see those that others treasure. Thank you for sharing all of these lovely photos and for your lovely words.

  18. It's really good to see you're back. Sorry to hear from your last post that you've had health issues and that you've lost another dear hen. RIP Glo. This post reminded of my mother who would sit constantly with households pets in their last days and hours to bring them comfort. Wonderful photos of your family's history - it must be a rich source of inspiration for your own writing. The flowers on your dress remind me of the white and blue cornflowers coming up in our garden xx

  19. This is my first visit to your blog, hopping over from Patti's Visible Monday. What an interesting post and that photo of Gloria heading up to roost is just really lovely.

  20. Totally diggin those wedges! Beautiful dress!

    - Anna

  21. I don't know what to say. There is so much beauty and so much loss in this post. I've been sitting by my father as he continues to fail, looking at pictures of my mother's family from the 1920's, 30's, and 40's which she remembers vividly despite the fact that she has dementia and can't remember much that's current. Having the chair and that beautiful piece of embroidery is so poignant, a thread connecting to the past. Your beautiful hen and your tender care. Your strength to put on a pretty dress and colorful shoes, lifting spirits. I'm glad for that.

    Love you. XXOO

  22. This post represents why your blog is one of my favorites. So very lovely.

  23. I hope you will join Share-in-Style: white tomorrow.
    Enjoy the rest of Sunday, my friend

  24. PS. I looove that you put Glo in Share-in-Style, but she steals the show.


Thank you for your comments!
- Amber