Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The Return to Life, in Rubies Gold


It was three weeks plus a few days since my first vaccination. We'd emerged from the Third Wave. Our province was lifting some Covid restrictions. 

Reader, I left the house, and went somewhere public - indoors

This was HUGE. 

I wore the 1940s,14k gold and ruby brooch I'd found on ebay for $20. It was its inaugural outing. 

To celebrate, Beau and I took some photos with my phone. They held so much joy, I decided to share them with you. I'm sure you'll recognize some of your own emotions in my own.

We had actually already gone out in public once already, exactly three weeks after my first shot. But I was so nervous, I didn't wear anything all that fancy. Everything felt more surreal than joyful ...

... and we only sat outside. I felt like a timid, stray animal, who had forgotten what human kindness could feel like, sniffing at an outstretched hand, then backing off, then timidly coming forward once more.

Remember, I've been taking a lot of extra precautions through Covid. I'm disabled. I can't move easily or quickly. If some idiot out there refused to distance and/or mask around me, I couldn't simply move away on my own. It was scary. So I'd put myself under virtual house arrest for months on end.

It takes a little time to gather up one's courage and get back out there.

But a few days later, my courage was stronger. So was Beau's. So we went out again. 

And sat inside!

Safely of course. There were only a few tables, distanced from one another. Everyone was required to distance at all times, and wear masks if we left our tables.

Still, it felt amazing to be back at our favourite café, seeing familiar faces, and doing familiar things. It felt incredibly strange, but good. Definitely good.

It was only natural that I'd chose to wear something festive, like the real gold and real ruby brooch I'd found for a steal on eBay. I love it!

Fully indulging my passion for vintage and antique jewelry has been one of my major coping strategies throughout the house arrest and intense stress of Covid. I haven't spent much money, but I've spent a lot of time on the internet, scouring jewelry postings to see if I can find some treasures. I succeeded, more than once, but this brooch was my most incredible find...

... right up there with the gold and carnelian ring I once found for $10.

The brooch is in the 1940s style known as Retro. I've talked about it a bit in some of my jewelry videos on my youtube channel. These earrings, which are not real gold and gems, are also in the Retro style, so, of course, I wore them with the brooch.

While we're looking at this photo, I'd really like you to take note of my eyebrows and lashes ...

... which, as I age, have become noticeably red in the right light ... 

... just like my father's did. My father (who loathed my interest in style) was a redhead, and I've got auburn hair. Nobody else in our family had red or auburn hair, so our colouring was always a mystery to us... until I started doing my genealogy

Itzka's got the family muscles. We're little, but we're powerfully built.

In the past year and a half of hell, some pretty incredible things have happened. One of them? I found Itzka, a living Holocaust survivor in my family! He's 95.

Guess what he said when he saw a photo of me and my father. "They have the family hair colour: chestnut!" It may seem like a small thing, but this visceral connection to my family before the Holocaust is huge for me. 

I'm so proud of my red lashes now! (And it makes me remember that, when I first moved to Canada and discovered Horse Chestnuts, everyone said, "That's your hair colour!" like it was an exciting discovery.)

Dress: Hell Bunny; Sweater: Mak; Shoes: Cobb Hill; Earrings, brooch, and rings: vintage

I definitely thought about Itzka when I put this outfit together, since he was a young man in the 1940s, when women wore outfits ...

... like mine

I do love 1940s style, and I feel quite beautiful when I wear it ...

... but I have no wish to glamorize the period. 

These pretty, tailored dresses were born of necessity, to save fabric for the war, the very real, very awful war. And, while women here in North America were wearing such dresses.

My cousin, Itzka, in the Dachau concentration camp.

Itzka was wearing this. In Dachau. 

It did occur to me that he might like to see me in this dress, probably looking like relatives he remembers. But I also thought it just as likely that seeing me like this would upset him, reminding him of the worst time in his life. So I didn't show him the dress. 

Throughout this global crisis of Covid, I've often heard people comparing it World War Two. I've even made that comparison myself. While I don't think the comparison is at all accurate for those who were living in the thick of the fighting and the running and the killing, I do think the comparison might be somewhat accurate for those in North America. All that waiting, all that confusion, all that terror for those who might be killed, all that hunger for information, all that unwanted education about the very worst of human nature, all that soul breaking stress. 

All of us get that now. 

This period of Covid has been a great loss of innocence.

Photo from Ration Fashion: A Wartime Dress

I've lost a lot a lot of innocence since I last showed you this dress. I didn't know I had Fibromyalgia, although I knew something was very wrong with my body. I didn't know I had gallbladder disease, which almost killed me last year. I didn't know about my family in the Holocaust. I hadn't battled my insurance company for my disability pension.

I was a lot less disabled, using only one cane, and never using a walker. 

And I had no idea that Covid was coming. Nobody did.

And then, just as Covid restrictions were lifting, there was the discovery of 215 Indigenous children's bodies in unmarked graves on the site of a Residential School in British Columbia. 215.

On the day we went out to play cards and have coffee for the first time in 16 months, we passed this memorial at the elementary school.

I don't even have words for all this yet. Does anybody, really? Can there even be any words?

Life itself is a heavy weight to bear. The weight of the human condition can break a person.

God help us if we don't learn how to rejoice in moments of lightness. Moments like finally, finally, playing cards again in your favourite café. And seeing in your smile ...

... traces of your grandmother's smile. Not your Jewish grandmother, from whom you inherited your love of style, but your Quaker grandmother, who really looked nothing like you, tall and willowy as she was. 

It was from her that I developed the habit of wearing no makeup at all, or just a little lipstick, nothing more.

And what a delight it was to see my lipstick on a takeout coffee cup again. How long has it been? 16 months? When I saw it there, looking so normal, and so unfamiliar all at once, lines from a Paul Simon song kept repeating in my head: "It's such an unusual sight. I can't get used to something so right."

It's been so long since life has been normal. We're not quite there yet, but we're getting there, and it feels so great. I always did like playing cards in the café with Beau, but now? It's magic.

Yes, his glasses did fall apart during Covid

Yes, he did pick his shirt to match my dress. I discovered that once we were out.

And isn't it wonderful just to wear real clothing again? The creative and playful outlet of style has always been one of my greatest pleasures, a pleasure of which I've been deprived for well over a year ...

... during which my hair grew from a short, curly bob about which I was ambivalent ...

... into the long curls I'm used to.

I'm not quite sure how I'll have it cut once I feel 100% safe to go back to a hairdresser, but I'm going to enjoy it longer for now, and enjoy styling it in ways I haven't been able to style it for years. 

I'm going to go on enjoying the way found gold and rubies gleam in the sun ... 

... the now unfamiliar sun, glaring on my skin, now whiter than it's ever been before ...

... but also healthier than it's been in years. My health has improved immensely since I got my gallbladder removed. It's most visibly evident in my weight loss, but, I'm telling you, I feel so much better too. I really notice this as I'm finally getting out and about a little bit.

My gratitude to healthcare workers has led me to continue collecting vintage Red Cross pins.

My gratitude toward healthcare workers has been immense these past one and a half years. When I speak of healthcare workers, I'm including all the scientists who helped create the vaccine. 

Imagine this: If it weren't for them, there would be no vaccine, and no vaccine rollout. We would not have been able to start seeing the boys again, first at a distance for Beau's birthday ... 

... and now ...

... in a tight embrace for Father's Day. What could be more wonderful?

Every step out of Covid restrictions and back out into the world is huge. Celebrate the steps, big and small. Celebrate the return to live.


  1. Your hair looks gorgeous right now!

    1. Thanks so much! I'm finally getting a cut next week, just to tidy is up and give it shape, but I'm going to try to keep it long.