Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Sheep and Squirrels and Kitties! On the Curative Powers of Cuteness

This post is nothing more nor less than cuteness. Sometimes people are embarrassed that they secretly watch kitten videos. Others are dismissive of those who share too many photos of their babies. Some people think it's childish and silly to love cuteness. But times are tough these days. We should embrace the restorative power of all things cute: seek them out, share them, revel in them. So that's what I'm doing with this post. Enjoy. 

To get us in the mood, let's start with this cute conversation between Beau and his devoted cat, Milo. I've known cats who love their chosen human, but I've never seen a cat act so much like a dog in expressing that love. Milo's a talker, never more than when his beloved Beau pets him.

Okay. Have you watched the video? Yes? Good. Now you're in the right mood for more cuteness. Let's proceed.

My idea for this post started with the sheep on this dress. They're such a random design choice. Sheep? Why? Well, why not, I guess.

They're fun! They're a hit whenever I wear this dress. Strangers who clearly don't care about fashion love the sheep. I do too. They keep things light. You've got to feel a little goofy in this dress, in a cute way. 

Everything vintage
Beau, however, thinks I'm cute all the time, and he tells me so often, like daily, more than daily, in fact.

Not like Beau or anything. No, he's not cute at all, especially not when he's being goofy, adopting a Superman pose ...

... a la Cosmo Kramer, from Seinfeld.

Beau's started collecting playing cards so I got him these vintage, German cards for Christmas. They were a hit.
No, Beau's not cute at all.

Dress: Eloquii; Sweater: Mac; Boots: Ecco; Gloves: I forget; Sunglasses: Reitman's; Raincoat: London Fog; Brooch, earrings, and bracelet worn as a necklace: vintage
But Beau is convinced that I'm the cute one and he's not. I think it has something to do with the fact that he's so much taller than I am. He always sees me from above. He's always saying, "You're just little! ...

... You're so cute!" Then he usually hugs me. I'm okay with that.

Onesie: Old Navy
I suppose it doesn't help that this is how I dress at home, all day. It is by far the most comfortable way for someone with chronic lower back pain to dress.

Onesie: Mark's
I've actually had a hard time finding them so, this Black Friday, I was excited to find them in abundance at various stores.

Onesie: Additionelle
I bought several of each type ...

Onesie: Additionelle
... for every temperature.

So, yeah, Beau thinks I'm a boo. He's always comparing me to small foodstuffs and little animals: chipmunks, muffins, mushrooms, and now, squirrels too.

He adores small cuddly creatures. And, being an extraordinarily kind and gentle man, small cuddly creatures - like me and Milo - adore him too. 

But back to the dress, for a while anyway. Aside from the sheep, this is fairly straightforward, shirtwaist dress, flashing back to the mid 70s through the early 80s.

A quick flip through old Sears catalogs reveals a plethora of similar ...

... if not identical dresses. 

A dress like this is an easy go-to ...

... and cries out to be paired with caramel or chocolate brown boots. 

I've been looking for a pair of chocolate brown, knee boots that won't hurt my back forever. Given my current struggles with my insurance company, I've felt that the only ones I've found have been prohibitively expensive. So, on Black Friday, I scoured the sales and found these, on sale, though still not cheap at all.

In fact, this dress has so many colours in it, I guess I could have paired it with virtually any boots, but they'll serve me well with other, less flamboyant, warm-toned outfits. 

The plethora of colours in my dress led me to go wild and crazy with my makeup... wild and crazy for me, that is. I'm not a big makeup kind of a gal so, for me, this is a lot. 

I'm not sure why, but all my life, most people have preferred me with little or no makeup. Beau, for instance, says this lipstick isn't his favourite because it's "so dark," it looks "emo"! It's barely dark at all! Silly boy.

Weirdly, he was just fine my wearing this much green eye makeup though. Go figure.

So, picking up on another colour in this dress, the eye shadow was green, and so was the cardigan. See how beautifully I harmonize with the aliens? What holiday season is complete without cute, green aliens?

The earrings (circa 1990s) were an obvious choice. 

Plus, since it's our theme today, notice the cute little curl in my baby hair there. Is that what those stray little bits of hair are called? Baby hair? I think my grandmother called them that.

Over all, I put my new London Fog raincoat. It's a plus size and it's way too big, but I decided to keep it so that I could layer up underneath and, at least in theory, stay warm on my mobility scooter. I'm not sure how flattering it is ...

... but a cute brooch can improve anything, right?

Let's get a closer look at the brooch. Cute? Cute. I'm pretty sure this was some child's craft project back in the early 70s. I think it's made with wrapping paper and a glasses lens. I wish it had been my craft project. It's the kind of kitten image that would have melted me when I was five. 

And, obviously, it goes well with sheep ... 

... as does this amazing, children's bracelet, circa 1930s.

It's such a clever design. 

Jewelry like this, with its fun, 3D effect was common in the 1930s. Scotty dogs were particularly popular.

Myrna Loy, Asta, and William Powell, in The Thin Man
I wonder if it's because of Asta the dog in the Thin Man movies, or if he's in the movie because Scotty dogs were already popular at the time. 

Someone from my grandparents' generation gave me a pendant like this when I was a very little girl. I found the 3D effect terribly mysterious and loved it, but I had to leave it behind when we immigrated to Canada. 

I find it interesting how our ideas of cuteness change from decade to decade and from culture to culture. Today, we might think these dogs are too realistic to be cute.

Dress: Old Navy; Brooches worn as pendants: vintage David Andersen
Are these butterflies cute? They certainly add brightness to dark days, so we'll give them a "maybe" on the cuteness and an A+ on the spirit raising.

Is this Santa in trouble cute? In poor taste? Camp? I'm not too keen on Christmas, and for very good reason, so it certainly raised my spirits.

I love my neighbourhood!

It's a place where you can turn your back on Christmas if you want to, and nobody looks down on you for it. 

It's also a place where your favourite sushi place gives you chocolates as a thank-you for all your business ... 

... where you can find a cute, silver, wheelchair charm at a local thrift store ... 

... or a tiny, Victorian brooch ... 

... or a sparkly purse, circa 1960s. 

My neighbourhood is one where people won't think ill of you if you aspire to look cute like Mrs McCarthy from Father Brown ... 

... or if you wear your vintage, Sherman earrings ... 

... just to play cards in your local cafe, and they know to give you your coffee in a to-go cup because it's easier for you to lift.

Because, if you live in real neighbourhood, everyone knows you need a way to brighten your days. They know that you've been doing poorly lately and struggling to walk for months ...

... and they celebrate with you when you go for your first solo outing in five months.

Then you can eat a greasy spoon meal on a tray like this ...

... which happens to match your dress ...

... which matches the homemade soap your neighbours (who have a very cute baby who's all ears and eyes) gave you for Christmas and Hanukkah. 

And, while we're on the subject of great neighbours, I've got to tell you about our new squirrel friend. Our bird feeders are supposed to be squirrel-proof. They are squirrel-proof. But, one day, one very small squirrel got in, and came back, again and again.

She became less and less shy ...

... until I finally got a good enough look to realize that she's not one tiny squirrel. She's two tiny squirrels! 

Given how they interact with each other, they're probably sisters. They play together ...

... and even groom each other. One morning, I saw shadows on the curtain and carefully lifted it, and this is what I saw! I nearly died from the cuteness. Look how the one squirrel sees me and protectively places her body over her sister. Oh my God, so cute!

They're also very funny. I never before knew how mischievous and acrobatic squirrels are. They're amazing. 

At first, Beau said we shouldn't encourage our squirrels to come to the feeders. Then he asked what we should name them. Cute! It didn't take him long to start putting peanuts out for them. They carefully carry them away and bury them.

They've grown relaxed around us, as curious about us as we are about them, so I can look at them closeup.

Squirrel belly! Cute!

Squirrel paw! Weird! And cute!

They leave the cutest little footprints in the snow. 

Shoes: Cobb Hill
Speaking of feet, check these out. Oh my God, I love them so much. They were another Black Friday present to myself...

Shoes: Cobb Hill
... as were these, which I now have in both black and bronze. 

But I digress. I have more cuteness for you. Bushtits are probably the cutest of all the birds that come to our feeders. Not only are they adorable, but they're also extremely polite with each other. They're never territorial. They never squabble. They just politely wait their turn for food, and peep to each other gently, so everybody can find everybody else. 

Of course, their name - Bushtits - is a bit... unfortunate, so Beau and I have decided henceforth to call them Boobirds. 

Then there's the cuteness of chickadees, and their little, fluffy, Chickadee butts.

And Goldfinches, who are less gold in winter but no less loved.

And the previously illusive, Red-Breasted Nuthatches who are finally coming to the feeders with regularity. They come quickly, grab a seed, then dash off, so they're hard to photograph. The cutest thing about them is the little "beep" sound they make. One could never call it a chirp It sounds more like the entirely ineffectual horn on my mobility scooter.

I am so proud of this photo. It's the first good one I've taken of a mature male.
You'd think that hummingbirds would be the cutest of all birds, but they're too fiesty and magnificent to be merely cute. They're cute and regal ... 

... and they know it. They are the fiercest, bravest, tiny creatures I've ever met. 

I hope I'm a bit like them. 

Their lives aren't easy. Yet, still,they rise ... 

... and assert their rights as they do. Check this out: Bobby was very intent on getting at this little girl but she was having none of it. Through the window, she flew in front of his face, scolding him, and then sat down to drink. If this was a territorial battle, she won, naturally.

Yes, we do wash this blanket regularly, but Bobby loves it so much, it's permanently embedded with his fur. 
Bobby is able to see his birds more easily now because... Beau got me a new daybed! This one is much better for my back. Bobby doesn't care about that. He just likes that it's higher off the ground so he has a better view.

The problem is that it's so high, and he's so old, he can't jump up onto it. So we bought him cute, little, kitty stairs ...

... which he could not figure out how to use. He kept getting us to lift him up, and then jumping off and face-planting. Beau built this ingenious, cardboard structure to encourage him to use the stairs. 

It didn't work.

He loves engevita yeast ... 

So we put it all over the stairs. 

It didn't work.

By now, Milo, who's "only" sixteen so doesn't need the stairs... had learned how to use them, both to get on and off the bed, and to dominate the entire space so Bobby didn't stand a chance. We tried to be angry but it was just too funny.

Milo plays innocent, but he's not.

He just loves to take over, whether it's my place in the bed.

Or the nest I make for Bobby each night. (Yes, Bobby did finally learn how to use the stairs. It only took two weeks and a lot of encouragement.)

Milo also loves to take over Bobby's favourite blankie. That look on Bobby's face? That's his "Fix it!" look. He's very polite about it. He just looks at whatever problem he has - a low water bowl, an annoying Milo, a closed door - then looks at a human, then back at the problem, and so on. It works. 

And it's so cute!

I fix it.

Sometimes a permanent fix is necessary. Milo is so intent on stealing Bobby's food that we had to invent this. We put Bobby's special food (he has problems with his pancreas) in here. Milo's too fat too get through this little opening so he can't steal the food, though he often tries. Bobby's butt and tail sticking out of this thing? Cute!

He was unwell for a few days not long ago. I took this photo the day he started eating again. Given his age, I was very relieved, but I was also laughing because: Bobby butt!

We washed his little hut and the floor too right after I took this photo. He didn't like it. 

For all their squabbling, I think these guys like each other. In fact, their health improved when we all moved in together. They won't admit it though. They'll never lie face to face. But, if it's cold outside, they'll lie butt to butt, and pretend they don't know they're doing it.

And that's my post full of the curative power of cuteness. Never feel childish for enjoying it.

And don't hesitate to share it with others. Be like my friend, Audrey, who's been softening everyone's days by posting photos of her ever-lovin' kitten - on her head, and face, and neck, and shoulders. 

Cuteness is therapeutic.

Remember: someone might even find you cute. Let them. It will help you both feel better. And we could all use that.

(I'm sharing this with Fashion Should Be Fun, Adri Lately, Tina's Pink Friday, Not Dressed as Lamb, Not Dead Yet, Style Nudge, and Rachel the Hat.)