Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fashion Feminista Rant

On Thursday, the CBC ran a brief story noting the fact that there are disproportionately few women in politics.  It quotes the NDP's failure to reach it's own policy of gender parity, as well as the Sask Party's low representation of female voice.  My first reaction to hearing this story referenced on the radio was like when you are sitting at a soccer game enjoying a salty bag of spitz, and then you bit into a bad one.  The nastiness permeates your mouth and sinuses instantly.  Then you just can't get rid of it.  And frankly, you are a little afraid of spitz, fearing you have broken that invisible barrier into the bad section of the bag.  I can only imagine one job I would like to have even less, and that would be accounting. (no offence) I am an extreem introvert, and a creative person not given to a structured life.  Not for me.  But someone should represent me.  I really don't like the idea of a bunch of men sitting around the table deciding what's best in my regard.  And I think of my sisters of the past who fought diligently to get the vote for women.  Now we have the vote, but we brush off the representation of those votes?  That doesn't seem right either.

So I have had a few days to mull this over.  Women in politics.  All the while my fingers are feverishly snipping, and stitching on a sleek and stunning suit of clothing for the Be Discovered Charity Event. (more details on that later) What kind of woman goes into politics?  Is there a kind?  Do we have a responsibility to do our share of this duty, or is it just for a chosen few?  I'm not sure.  One thing I am sure about is that politics is still serious business.  It is a careful, calculated, orchestrated flow of acts and efforts which few have the competence to accomplish.  Clearly, Mr. Stockwell Day has shown us that we as a nation are not ready for media stunts to highlight and bolster campaigns, like the sports hero's and rock star's pr teams can conjure.  It's strictly old school charity events, baby kissing, wine/cheese/hamburger events and the occasional name calling in the political game.  What's this got to do with women?  Lots. 

Ok, now I am going to jump ahead to Tuesday night at the Regina Fashion Collective.  The place is packed with people, just hanging about.  There is a bit of anxiety in the air, made palpable by the 2 or 3 people buzzing around getting information, directing, discussing, meeting.  It's a fashion moment in history, the first group fitting at the collective.  This is the fitting I have been dreading for weeks.

I know this part of the story doesn't seem to fit in, but please bear with me.  I am going to be very honest with you my dear faceless crowd of readers.  Just like politics, I constantly wonder if fashion is a business that you have to belong to.  I can design, I can make a good coat, but I don't belong.  Square peg.  I looked around that fitting room at all those lanky 6' something models and the funky designers with their wild colourful dresses and I thought of politics.  Damn, there is something wrong with my head!  I'm a different kind of women than these.  Is that ok?  Will I be able to sell that?  I have tried changing and it just doesn't work that way.

There is a lot in this world I would give up to have my 18 year old body back.  True.  But is that what it's all about?  Is that important in life?  Are you really serving your community, country, your culture by designing another dress that shows your ass when you bend over to pick something up.  Is that what being a woman is all about?  Be the best bar bait you can be?  When did it go out of fashion to be taken seriously?  On the weekend I watched the film Bridesmaids (which is right up my, ahem, alley, in the potty humour department.) one of the characters is the obligatory fat bridesmaid, Meagan, played by Melissa McCarthy.  This character made the movie.  She has what many women, (dare I say half her size) dream of having, total acceptance of herself, complete confidence and the drive to make a difference with everything she's got! 

Here's my point (finally) when you look at these loverly ladies lined up, ask yourself which one of them could end up being our Prime Minister?  Well, is it the beauties?  No.  Because we will all ask them if they are able to handle the load of numbers involved in running a country, or if they have a hidden agenda to shag some foreign minister.  If she get's married and settles down, then people will say she isn't a good mother/leader of the country.  Women continue to be measured by their sexuality, and that perception is used to judge all other areas of her life.  So sadly, the fat homely woman would win that competition because she is fully aware of herself and she has consciously shaped that persona therefore she possesses powerful and imposing confidence.  Is this sad because she is unshapely and unsexy?  No, it is sad because there are so few people like her.  She is a rare woman.  That is why there aren't more women in politics.  I want to live in a culture that values this quality in a woman more than how pouty her lips are, or how short she dares to wear her skirt. 

So back to fashion.  Be it resolved that women who have great things to say, and great advances to make in the vast nation of Canada, will find beautiful and inspiring clothing to wear that will support their message spoken as a powerful, eloquent, confident, influential, respected, whole and complete woman from Deanna Tanner Fashion Designer & Tailor.  In Meagan's words, "I got your back!"

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Considerations When Preparing for a Fashion Show

I have 2 styles on the runway in less than 2 weeks time for the Be Discovered final Red Carpet Charity Event.  It is the final competition for the selection of this years model search, and is a big deal event for the models, the event producers, the charity and last but not least the designers.

The Regina Fashion Collective is entering designs as a group, showing against some very established national retailers in Regina.  We have decided to each produce one or two styles/looks for the runway to try to showcase what we do best, or what our specialty is.  Easy peasy right ?  whack out a dress, a pantsuit and then hit the buffet.  Not that simple.  What I am finding is that it is very difficult to cull down your designs to only one garment that best represents what your design esthetic is like and demonstrates your workmanship.  It seems like to narrow of a selection, that the customer will get a clipped view of what your designs are like and what you can do.  So I increased to two looks.  Now how do you make them look different, but part of the same story, while demonstrating more skills, fabrics, and effects.

Now to the actual designs.  In this small town atmosphere, how avantguarde can you go?  Will people see it as art or a statement?  Or just complain that it looks weird and they wouldn't wear it?  I have decided to go middle of the road, staying with traditional silhouettes and forms, but adding in some subtle changes and an androgenous quality.  My shock will be the oulandish mix of plaid on plaid, and the mix of red and orange colours.  Pretty safe, but I feel like I am testing the waters to see what my clientelle really respond to in this kind of show.  Are they really looking to shop, or just to be inspired and entertained by a runway show.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Renovating a Modest Home

The original Fixer-Upper
I have been doing a little painting lately.  The kind where you make the wall all one colour, not the kind where you create an image on canvas.  Anyway, it has got me thinking in the renovating mindset again.  We bought a fixer-upper in 1993 to be our starter home, with the plan to move to a larger home when children came along.  Well, in the meantime we tore walls down, moved doors, tiled, replaced windows, built cabinets, painted, carpeted, renovated to our hearts content.  Then we had 2 kids.  Raising 2 kids in a 2 bedroom house certainly can be done.  I have met the people who were raised in this house in the 1960's and they had 5 kids, so I don't know what I am whining about.  But we were starting to feel cramped.

The kitchen was approx 11' x 11' including cabinets and eating area.  We had a three foot round table that sat in the middle of the floor and there was space for 2 chairs to push under it.  The high chair we kept in the living room and moved in for each meal.  When we had company we wedged everyone in on stacking stools and when it was time to take the pie out of the oven, someone had to move.  As did the person leaning against the fridge.  But hey, we were a close family and we lived indoors and it was ours and it was paid for.

The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really LiveOnce our second child was out of a high chair we decided it was time to look for a new house.  So we looked around at the listings, and realized that the market was such that for what we could afford to spend over and above our equity, we were going to be buying a 3 bedroom... fixer-upper.  sigh.  We didn't have the heart to start all over with several years of scrimping and work just to get another bedroom for our home.  So we went back to the drawing board.  I was inspired by a book by Sarah Susanka, "The Not So Big House", an architect who designs interesting, useful, and thoughtful homes, not necessarily monster huge mansions.  Don't be fooled, this kind of craftsmanship and design would likely cost more than just building a massive box and covering the walls in gold leaf, and the floors in marble.  But where would you like to live?

I put my design education and experience to work and did an analysis of time spent by each member of the family and discovered that a) the room we spent the most time in was the kitchen, and b) the area of the house that caused the most stress was the back entry.  I decided that instead of spending a lot of money having a large house (OK even an average house would be a step up for us!), we were going to spend a modest amount of money and add on another 50% of the square feet of our home just in kitchen and entry!

Drilling piles for the addition
Mommy!  They're digging up Choc-ate!
So seven years ago we added on a large addition to the back of our house.  This makes our kitchen/dining area 23'x12' with a walk in pantry, dishwasher and 40' of cabinets, including 17' of windows. There is a back door into a porch area that includes space for lockers for the kids sports equipment, cabinets for crafting materials, a homework desk built-in under a window and a large closet for coats and boots.  It has made a huge difference in our home!  I can't say that it was easy, we completed a lot of the work ourselves, and even the part we hired didn't go as quickly as we had hoped.  We lived for 12 weeks without a functioning kitchen.  You really get to know your neighbours when you "redneck it" by bar-b-qing on the front lawn and eating on the front step all summer!

The old covered deck
The new back of the house
We removed the super sized deck we had on the west side of the "old house" and replaced it with a small, enclosed sun porch.  Our lot slopes off slightly to the back, and with the addition there wasn't room for a large deck.  To be honest, I don't miss it.  I spend more time on my sun porch, like an instant trip to the lake!  We have a lot of trees in our neighbourhood and the filtered sunlight is beautiful in the mid-day.  The sun porch is comfortable when the outdoor temp is about 10 degrees C in the sun so it really extends the season.  We designed the staircase to be wider with a large landing knowing that this is likely where I would be toting groceries into the house.  I hate trying to struggle into a doorway with parcels.  The doorways are 36" which is a little wider than standard in residential construction.  The landing at the top of the stairs is large enough to house the bar-b-q so that we can cook outside year round without running the stairs.

The New House (first day of school the next year)
We added exterior lighting above the windows on the addition for a wall washing affect and used various colours of siding and trim to create depth and interest on the house.  The only splurge was the windows, as Wayne was working for a glass company at the time and got us an amazing deal on the windows!  The rest of the house was built using very ordinary materials, but in a thoughtful way.  I really think that good design doesn't have to cost more, but it gives you more value year after year.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ebike Safety Tips

I have been meaning to get a photo of me on my ebike, but haven't gotten around to conscripting a photographer/family member to do it.  So I am going to go ahead with the post without the photo.  Here are some random ebike tips that I have learned that I want to pass along.
Veloteq eBikes
First things first!  Go to your local Driver and Vehicle Licence Issuer and pick up a handbook they have available for those wishing to test for their motorcycle licence.  For Saskatchewan, the motorcycle driver handbooks are online here.  Study this book and be prepared to follow the rules.
The following tips are really common sense and are included in the handbook, but these in particular have been items where I have noticed drivers around me have reacted to a slow moving ebike in a manner that reduces my safety and other drivers and pedestrians.
Here goes in no particular order:

- Fill the road if necessary.  When there is a parking lane that is currently empty, in courtesy to others who can drive a little faster I will lane change and drive in the parking lane.  Only if there are no parked cars.  My little rule is for at least 3/4 of a city block, which is time for traffic to pass me, without me having to slow, and come to a complete stop behind the parked car.  Once traffic has cleared, shoulder check, mirror check, signal, and move back into the main street lane.  Do NOT drive in the little space between the moving traffic lane, and parked cars.  You will get hurt.

If you are driving on the one and only moving traffic lane, there is no parking lane to move into, then you have 2 choices.  One, pull over and stop and wait for traffic to clear.  Always shoulder check, mirror check, signal and move.  Or secondly, you must own the width of the lane, sit tall and make sure that people know that you are watching traffic.  Sometimes you have to make a few cars slow down for a block until you find a safe place to lane change out of traffic.  Do NOT pull over a bit to make room for people to pass you!  You will eventually get cut off or driven over.

And other drivers out there... I know you aren't reading this because you are on the site for hot rods, or super suv's or something... but please DO NOT pull into oncoming traffic to pass bike riders who are moving slowly.  Just be patient, maybe the rider is trying to turn left.  I had a driver pull up to me, yelling that I should only drive against the right sidewalk.  Hard to turn left safely from there.

- To be sure, use hand signals.  My ebike is equipped with fully functioning front and rear signal lights, but in rush hour traffic I have a feeling the other drivers are not paying enough attention to me.  A firm use of the hand signals with your hand held flat

Now For A Message From Our Sponser

Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur d'Aix
I watched the online feed from my Hubby's church this morning, and the strangest thing happened.  Part way through the sermon, they broke for a commercial.  I was so stunned I can't even remember what the product was, but it was a 30 second video advertising some product.  You couldn't click though it, you just had to put up with it.  It started me thinking about how church is considered the last bastion of purity where you would not dare to use commercial advertising.  The raising of money is done with good old-fashioned guilt tripping, and use of the phrase "tithes & offerings".  Well I guess, with the exception of TV church where anything goes, all the time.

I am a decided outsider in the Church community.  You wouldn't think so.  I look the part, female, heterosexual, married for 20+ years, 2 children, husband who volunteers and is a nice guy.  I look like the perfect church pew filler, but I am not.  Here's the low down on why I don't fit in.

First of all, I am an extreme introvert.  I don't like idle chit chat.  I can't stand pop psychology sermons and fluff "improve yourself by being nice" topics.  I am a meat and potatoes theologian.  It's got to be something I can use to make a difference in my neighborhood, my block, my yard, today.  The theoretical stuff I will debate for a little while, but if it starts to waste our real time.  I have a big problem with insincerity.  You know when people are nice to your face and then stab you in the back.  Or when you council people with serious needs using platitudes, or even worse, you choose to pray for them with trite and saccharin words.  I can't imagine that God is really happy with that.  Treating his people that way, rep-resenting Him that way.

There's another way I don't fit in.  I don't think that God is just male.  If we as human beings are created as a representation, an image of God, and we are created male and female, then God must be more than just one sex as well.  Maybe God is all sexes.  Maybe he (as a pronoun not indication of gender) is the only one who can truly understand all of us as we were created in our own individual gender, and sexuality?  Maybe homosexuality is not a sinful act of the will, but a biological evolution of the gender structure of the brain.  Uh oh, that one is gonna get me kicked out of middle aged women having coffee and gossiping while doing something charitable club (you know,  the MAWHC&GWDSC Club)

Yet another square peg for the round hole of tradition round hole of Christianity.  I am a Christian Evolutionist.  I don't believe that God created the universe in 6 days, not because She can't, but because She is a complex being, who delights in the development of secrets, and unfolding of mysteries.  Why the rush?  Was there a press deadline for the printing of Genesis?  Had the gold edged paper been purchased, was in transit and had no place to be stored, so the show must proceed as planned. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Well Hello Dolly!

Yesterday, I took my Mother-in-law on a road trip to the infamous town of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, where Al Capone is rumoured to have hid from the US Marshals, and, incidentally, my home town. My Mum-in-law is a doll fashionista which is to say she enjoys creating clothing, specifically for 18" grown lady dolls.  She doesn't just play with them, she really seriously dresses them.  Some of her dolls have full wardrobes that Jackie Onassis would appreciate.  As well as a series of replica costumes from a production of Anne of Green Gables, and on the upcoming list, costumes from the Nutcracker Ballet.

We heard that someone in Moose Jaw had amassed a collection of 1800+ collectible, antique toys and dolls and that they were going on auction beginning today, Canada Day.  The previewing was yesterday.  Mum decided it was much better to just look than buy as she lives in a small seniors apartment and must exercise her extensive hobby mostly in her imagination, rather than in reality.  So we made the hour drive and bought tickets to go to the viewing.

I have 3 topics in regard to this show:

1.) The oldest dolls are the best. 
This is an Eaton's Catalogue Doll, probably 100ish years old.  Porcelain head, hands, and feet (at least) and maybe even real hair.  The hair was thin, you could see where the strands were poked into little holes in the porcelain.  But she is painted so beautifully!  Such delicate features and so lifelike it was a little eerie.  I think her eyes were like glass marbles.  I wish I knew more about these dolls.  This one would be a candidate for the Antiques Roadshow!
We didn't touch her hair to see if it was real because there were signs everywhere, EVERYWHERE, saying not to touch.  My Mum inadvertently touched a couple of things while trying to look at the item tags and she was immediately barked at by the "red hat" biddies who were guarding the event.  Seriously, people need to learn the words customer service and what they mean.  All they would have had to do is to have the old biddies wearing gloves (such as plastic, vinyl, or even purple velvet) and have them offer to pick up the item for you.  "May I help you with that.  It's helpful to be able to see the detail on some of these amazing items, so that you can make notes on your bidding sheets."  I was proud of Mum though, at one point she turned to one of the biddies and said, "are you going to follow me around the whole show?"  You do not want to go toe to toe with her!  I have had to pull her off shopkeepers before.  Not pretty.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I've worked for Michael Scott

When I was watching the last episode of the season of The Office, I made a very astute observation.  The reason that I understand the genre of The Office is because I worked there, and I worked for someone just like Michael Scott.  Here's a review of my work history and the TV shows that have since been created to emulate my employment experience:

Random Sk Gov Insurance Company - Facilities = The Office but with building maintenance techs instead of Dwight, and I was the computer geek.  scary!

Sk Parks Department = Parks & Recreation I was the annoyed student who thought the whole thing was stupid

Jewelry Store = Are You Being Served, we had a clerk with a huge bouffant hairdo (this show preceded the job, incidentally.)

Sk Highways = Kinda like The Office but with Engineers instead of salespeople, there was several Dwights there, and a Pam, and well everyone. 

Worked for architects like ALL the architects on tv and movies.  Differences are that it is rarely, or never as artsy fartsy as you think it is.  If anyone is going to wear a knit tie, it will be an architect.  (meaning, it might have been preppy in the late 70's but now it's weird.  You hold out though, it will come back in style!)  It's like a typing pool with a cad system, boring thankless job with a really expensive computer. 

Anyway, that's why I love The Office, why it is so outrageous and makes me laugh every time.  Most people think it is ridiculous, but the funny thing is that this stuff really does happen.  These places really do have party planning committees which fight over streamers and managers who don't manage anything or anyone.  I've seen it because I've worked there!

Well, got to get back to work.  Fashion show, fashion show, fashion show at Lunch!