Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy Things (which somehow turned into a rant about shoe shopping)

As it's been well over a month since my last update, I think a Happy Post is quite overdue! Perhaps it's the proximity to American Thanksgiving (to be honest, more likely the cold-spell we've just stumbled into), but I feel quite overwhelmed with blessings at the moment. A thoroughly enjoyable, if often fleeting, experience!

In no particular order, many splendid (if somewhat superficial) reasons to be thankful:
1. My New "Riding" Boots ♥

Friends, you would not believe the extent to which I dislike hate LOATHE shoe-shopping. For one thing, my orthotics complicate everything, from shoe size (I'm truly a size 9-9 1/2, but have worn down to an 8 1/2 with no orthotics and up to an 11 with them- go figure!) to what styles I can even consider. Unless I'm in the market for a pair of  heels or dressy flats that I'll be wearing (uncomfortably, no doubt) for a few hours at someone's wedding or a special occasion where vanity trumps common sense, the selection of footwear I can reasonably consider (ie. orthotic-friendly) is immediately whittled down to a mere 2% of the products offered at any given store. Yes, 2% is an exact scientific figure; I checked.*

The sole must be wide enough to accommodate the orthotic, which, unlike my foot, is neither flexible nor squishy. There must be no elevated heel to speak of - we're talking less than 1/2 an inch. The toe must be wide enough not to squash my feet or wrinkle the toe-area of the orthotic. The entire "boot" part of the shoe must be large enough for the orthotic be completely inserted and lie flat. (You'd be surprised how many shoes that are supposedly in my size are too small and thus cause the heel of the orthotic to stick up). But! The shoe can't be too large or my foot will slip around and/or my heel will come up off the sole while walking. A definite no-no. In addition, the inner sole/"insert" must be thin enough to allow enough room for my foot to comfortably fit in the shoe once the addition of the orthotic is made (raising the height of my foot within the shoe and often causing the dreaded heel-coming-off-the-sole issue, or leaving too little room for my foot altogether). A removable inner sole is ideal, but most seem to be (annoyingly) glued down. In the past I have often bought a slightly too tight pair of shoes with an immovable insert and simply ripped the darn thing out at home (hoping it would make a clean break and not leave lots of little uneven bits stuck to the inside of the shoe). Hardly the stuff shoe-shopping dreams are made of.

And all of the details above just deal with what shoes are available to pick from in the first place. Thankfully, by this point in my shoe-buying career, I can usually eliminate most of the unsuccessful candidates with no more than a brief glance, but there are still the inevitable "hopeful" try-ons that result in all manner of shoving, grunting, panting, leveraging, and otherwise clumsily attempting to insert orthotic and/or foot into the piece of prospective footwear, to no avail. It is at these moments that I especially hope there are no CCTV cameras watching my miserable attempts at that most basic of all human functions: putting on one's own shoes.

Secondly, shoe stores always seem to suffer from what I can only describe as an abominable lack of air circulation. Why it is that anyone considers 95 degrees a comfortable temperature for engaging in the aforementioned podiatric gymnastics is truly beyond my obviously meagre understanding. In an already somewhat claustrophobic environment (rows of shoes, floor-to ceiling!) or, in classier joints, an atmosphere designed to make a true spectacle of the fine art of trying on shoes (by placing one communal bench in the exact centre of a well-lit store for passers-by to gawk in shock and horror at the inelegant display of patrons trying to wrangle their way into a pair of boots), I cannot imagine whose bright idea it was to see how high the thermostat would go.

I always wonder, in a subconscious sort of way, about why I seem so reluctant to go shopping when it becomes apparent that I need a new pair of shoes. It only just dawned on me that my virtual inability to draw breath by the end of a visit to the shoe store could be an important factor! As I gratefully gasped in gallons of delightfully cold air after my recent foray into our local desert footwear selling establishment, the thought did occur that if I didn't emerge from each shopping expedition spluttering and red-faced, perhaps I would find the whole experience more enjoyable. Clearly, those controlling the thermostat have not had such an epiphany.

Wait, wasn't this supposed to be a post about things I'm happy about and thankful for?


But wait! I can redeem this! Just when you had lost all hope that I could ever work up the courage to venture into a shoe store ever again, I found these (cue heavenly angel music):

Despite my innate disinclination to engage in the purchase of new articles of footwear, I have really, really wanted to get a new pair of tall boots for quite some time now (like, several years - no exaggeration). But due to the laundry list of obstacles above, I've had no such luck. Actually, I hadn't even bothered to look, really, because in addition to the usual assortment of problems, I figured anything I liked would be too expensive or two small anyways. (Despite not having overly large calves, mine are apparently too large to fit the shaft of most mainstream tall/riding boots, rendering most boots useless to me, even if they fit all other criteria.) Enter the "Zoey Riding Boot" in "Cognac," a simple yet stylish tall faux-leather boot in a right, warm brown tone that suited me perfectly, and fits perfectly pretty well. Yes, it's 2 sizes larger than I usually wear, but my orthotic slips in beautifully, as does my foot and leg, and after the first day wearing it I am thoroughly impressed with my purchase.

So, a very round-about way of saying: I love my new boots, and they are making me very happy! I am so thankful to have finally found an affordable, comfortable, attractive pair of boots. And when your shoe-shopping experiences are as dramatic as mine are, you do not take such things lightly! :)

2. Jamocha Almond Chocolate Cake + Peppermint Tea

Three weeks ago, Wilson and I dramatically changed the way we're eating. I have already safely lost almost 10 lbs over the course of those weeks (huzzah!), but this doesn't mean we have given up yummy food. In fact, every Sunday is a free day which is actually an important part of the diet (more on that later), and allows us to indulge (moderately, of course) in any food we fancy. So last night, after savouring my beloved avocado rolls at our go-to local sushi restaurant, I picked up a ridiculously decadent dessert on the way home. And, as chocolate pairs perfectly with peppermint tea, I brewed myself a cuppa and indulged with impunity. Ohhhh yeah!

3. Call the Midwife

A recent, and instantly popular, BBC production being currently re-aired on PBS (Sundays at 8 pm, people!), Call the Midwife is actually a series based on the memoir of the same name by Jennifer Worth. After watching a really fantastic episode (I have high hopes for the whole season, based one the one episode I have seen), I was inspired to get the book from the library, and just finished it this evening. There's a bit of crude humour and some unfortunate sexual explicitness (truly unfortunate, given its exploitative circumstances), but overall it was a really wonderful read. From what I can tell, it seems that the TV adaptation is expertly cast (is anything the BBC does not expertly cast, though?!) and quite faithful to the published memoir. Chalk up another win for the good ole BBC!


After suffering through an unusually long warm-spell (I think we had above seasonal temperatures for a steady 2-3 weeks!) during which time our air conditioners were still fully operative, the temperatures FINALLY took a nose-dive and it's now feeling a lot more like the end of November! In fact, there were even a few snowflakes in the air on Sunday, which made me very happy indeed. I know everyone will start complaining about the cold now, but I've been patiently waiting my turn, all through the rather warm spring, hot and humid summer, and extremely mild fall, and my exultation will not be curtailed. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

5. Christmas Music

Which naturally brings me to my last item: Christmas music! I've been finding it so hard to get into the mood for Christmas songs these days, which is strange considering I usually have to fight the urge to start singing "O Little Town" around the middle of October. But now that it's getting darker so much earlier, and there's truly a nip (if not a bite) in the air, I am all ready to curl up under a warm blanket with a steaming mug of cocoa in hand, and drift happily into a festive daze with the strains of Christmas carols echoing throughout the apartment. There is truly nothing like a wonderful Christmas melody to instantly put a smile on my face. Music is such a wonderful gift, and it's made even more wonderful when every bar, phrase, note, and word is in celebration of the Best Gift of All!

*Exception: New Balance, which is also known as The Best Shoe Store Humanity Has Ever Seen. Sadly, they only do runners, cross-trainers, and hiking/snow boots. They do them superbly, but to the exclusion of all other manner of footwear. Alas.

1 comment:

  1. What a great list of things to be thankful for, Kate! ^_^

    Tee hee, your section on shoe-shopping had me in fits of laughter (and commiseration!). Sooo glad you found the (near-)perfect pair of boots!

    I think/hope I've mentioned before, but your prose style is truly a delight to read. =]

    Lots of love to you, Kate! Wishing many more things to be happy about your way! xoxoxoxoxoxo