Degrees of Vanity

The temperature in Alberta during April is notoriously unreliable. It can change twenty degrees (Celsius) within hours. This week on my Facebook feed, friends in Red Deer showed pictures of snow while some of us in Edmonton had endured only a little rain.

I am trying to persuade some vegetables and herbs to grow from seeds in my shed/greenhouse. This is the first year I have tried this, so I hope the cold weather won’t thwart my efforts. We are expecting temperatures as low as -3 C tonight, and by Edmonton winter standards, that is not bad but, dammit, it is April and we have been housebound all winter!

The traditional date for gardening outdoors here is May 1st. By then, the danger of frost is usually past. We spend quite a bit of time planning our gardens, thinking about visiting garden centres, and looking out of our windows just waiting. This week’s up-a-bit, down-a-bit fluctuations are frustrating. It’s a bit like being a child sitting in the back seat of a car with a sibling who periodically gives you a hug then a shove.

Today, I decided a spring jacket was necessary. I have gained a pound or two since Covid-19 changed my plans, and so I have reluctantly conceded that some new clothing is in order. I tried complaining that some of my clothes have shrunk, and I have given away some clothes I ordered that were obviously not made according to standard size labels. I pushed to one side of the closet all the clothes that I have had for too many years and any that might one day fit me again. But, eventually, I had to finally confront the truth. I needed a lightweight jacket that would actually zip together around my hips.

Make-up Tray

I’ve been vigilant in not leaving the house except to buy groceries and to take neighbourhood walks, but today I planned a long-awaited haircut at a local shopping mall salon. The haircut was long overdue, and the trip to a place where there was indoor space and (gasp!) other people, was quite exciting. It was so exciting that I actually put on makeup. I haven’t put on makeup for months; maybe even a year. I arrived early so that I could spend half an hour just walking around before my appointment, theoretically getting exercise but actually being amazed that there are so many other people out and about.

My hairdresser, who confessed to really enjoying her work cutting short hair, did a wonderful job as usual. She soon twigged that I had cheated on her by trying out a different hairdresser for my previous cut. It took her less than two minutes to figure that out. That’s how good she is. After my new, but satisfyingly normal, haircut, I stopped by a store that specializes in outdoor clothing. It was next door to the hairdresser, so I didn’t have to do another tour of the mall.

Image: Out Loud Dreams / Pinterest

At the outdoor clothing store, I had a Goldilocks moment. When you try on something that is just right, you know. It’s a Goldilocks moment. After looking at a few jackets and trying on a couple, I found the perfect spring walking jacket. And, because somewhere in my youth and childhood I must have done something good, it was on sale! I got the jacket at 50% off and then, when I gave the store clerk my phone number to sign on for a store Adventure Rewards membership, I got an additional 10% off. This is why Leonard Cohen wrote that Hallelujah song. He got a good deal on a spring jacket.

All of this got me thinking about degrees of vanity. First, I had to confront my expanded front. Then, I had to face my un-made-up face. Then I had to weather the weather. Having done all, that, I was rewarded by a good haircut and a good deal on a spring jacket. I can almost hear Julie Andrews and Leonard Cohen singing in harmony!


  1. When I was hairdressing I always knew when clients had ”cheated ” on me – often by the fact they had even attempted to cut their own hair. 🙂

    ”Who was the last person to cut your hair, Anne? ”
    ”You, of course!”
    Visualize a raised eyebrow and me saying ”Really?” as I hold up a swathe of hair that looks as if the dog chewed it.

    Fortunately such occasions were few and far between and usually involved clients who were away on holiday or extended business trips.

    As for your seedlings. I think you might need some divine intervention if temps go down as far as -3! Greenhouse or no Greenhouse.
    Perhaps you should consider a warming tray? I’m sure they make such things specifically for growing seedlings under such cold conditions. If not, bring a tray or two inside and try to germinate on a sunny windowsill? Or even a hot water-bottle.

    • My hairdresser asked “Was I the last person to cut your hair?” which was very tactful. She had noticed that the hair by my ears was not even.

      If I bring the seedlings indoors they will take up nearly all my kitchen counter space! But, you are undoubtedly correct. Sigh. If they survive tonight I will take better care of them tomorrow.

  2. Your bravery through all this has impressed me, Anne. I don’t do the gardening here but I definitely need some new clothing. I feel as though I am wearing the same things every day. Excess poundage though surely will require a size larger and I truly dislike that ugly fact! I have done the haircut a couple of times after doing home trims for awhile. Bless the hairdressers of the world!

    • Staying mostly isolated isn’t brave so much as it is boring! No, brave people are doing much more difficult and dangerous things than I.

      As for the larger size, take comfort in knowing that almost everyone who has been sheltering at home has gone up at least one size. I’m happy it’s only one.

  3. Oh, yes, I love that feeling of trying something on and it’s “just right”. An elusive feeling, though. I listened to “Something Good”; one of my faves from that movie. Well, too hard to pick a fave. Love that movie! True story: my mom made me a play outfit of sample curtain fabric from my uncle’s furniture store. It was stiff and uncomfortable. But kinda like the movie version of the Von Trapp kids’ play outfits.
    In my neck of the woods (Kansas) we actually had wet, gloppy snow this morning. It’s virtually all melted by now. But this may be the latest in April I have ever seen snow here.

    • Your memory of wearing homemade Von Trapp family outfits is a delightful story. Your mother must be very talented.

      Wet snow in Kansas in April has to be a rarity. That’s another reason to talk about climate change instead of global warming. Folks have a hard time seeing snow and thinking of warming, but that is what it’s from.

      • Exactly. We watched a show calling it “Climate Weirdness” and telling of the US Northeast regions getting amazingly large amounts of snow in the last decade. My Mom was an excellent seamstress. Sewing for 9 children must have been quite the feat. As a kid, getting “store-bought” clothes was a treat. Now, her custom-made, custom-fitted clothing would be quite the treat.

  4. My hair appointment isn’t until the 28th April and I must be the only person not excited about visiting my hairdresser as we com out of ‘lockdown’. Yes, I suppose it does need doing but I am wanting it to grow into another shape where I can identify a style. It is, of course, now thick and curly at the ends, so I struggle on.

    I went out yesterday, on the bus, into town and did a little shopping. How marvellous it felt to be making my own choices and making my own way home, by taxi of course.

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