Inspiring women: Louise Bogan

I'm interested in the fine thread that separates the personal from the private. I think what we create should be personal, that we should be deeply invested in it and there should be integrity behind it. Not that it needs to be autobiographical, but there should be something of us in it always.

But privacy is something we shouldn't have to give away. More and more we're required to share ourselves in order to succeed. Over and over, you'll hear that the best bloggers, businesswomen, artists are the ones who share, who expose the "real person". I struggle with this; the push and pull of wanting to share and wanting to pull back. Wanting to interact and wanting space.


Along these lines, I find Louise Bogan inspiring. Her poems are personal, yet economical. She doesn't lay herself bare. She balances the intellectual and emotional. And her poetry marries traditional meter and immediate, modern language. In doing so, she carves a little space between herself and the reader. This space, this control, deepens the lyricism of her poetry, it makes it more real somehow. She manages to give us more without giving herself up.


After The Persian

1

I have wept with the spring storm
Burned with the brutal summer.
Now, hearing the wind and the twanging bow-strings
I know what winter brings.

The hunt sweeps out upon the plain
And the garden darkens.
They will bring the trophies home
To bleed and perish
Beside the trellis and the lattices,
Beside the fountain, still flinging diamond water,
Beside the pool
(Which is eight-sided, like my heart).

2

All has been translated into treasure:
Weightless as amber,
Translucent as the currant on the branch,
Dark as the rose's thorn.

Where is the shimmer of evil?
This is the shell's iridescence
And the wild bird's wing.

3

Ignorant, I took up my burden in the wilderness.
Wise with great wisdom, I shall lay it down upon flowers.

4

Goodbye, goodbye!
There was so much to love, I could not love it all;
I could not love it enough.

Some things I overlooked, and some I could not find.
Let the crystal clasp them
When you drink your wine, in autumn.



Books: The Blue Estuaries: Poems: 1923-1968
Poets Prose: Selected Writings Of Louise Bogan
Image: Louise Bogan via Poetry Foundation

Dining: Rabe & lemon zest pizza

Citrus, and lemon in particular, is my favourite flavour and I recently nabbed a bottle of lemon olive oil. When I was off solid foods, my mind kept dwelling on the simple pleasure of fresh, crusty bread dipped in olive oil. Once I get that out of my system, I also plan to use the lemon olive oil with this recipe for a rabe, goats cheese and lemon zest pizza. I think I'll get a lot of mileage out of this oil in the next few months!


Products: Glasses | Heath plates | Pizza | Napkins | Goats cheese | Olive oil

Three of a kind


Hoss Intropia

If this collection from Hoss Intropia doesn't get you in the mood for layering, I don't know what will.

FREE SHIPPING at Coterie!

To celebrate the end of summer, I'm offering free shipping on Coterie orders all this week, through to Labour Day. This applies to all orders over $120 and all in-stock products are eligible. I will issue you a refund via PayPal upon receipt of your order.

Happy last week of summer! Shop here.


Sunday best: Bragg Creek peach pie

With the right words, I can try to talk about how it felt to lay my head back and listen to that Uncle Tupelo song when he drove away from the prairies, into the foothills. The heat of the car seat on the back of my legs, the seatbelt tucked under my arm, the feeling of the road beneath us and the endless sky above.


We do the best we can with words. But it's a losing battle most of the time. It's with love that I struggle to admit they always fail. No matter what words we invent, I'll never tell you how I really felt the first time I saw the Rocky Mountains. No words can transfer that feeling to you. You might relate, you might imagine, but you won't experience it. Much as words allow us to share, they reveal our separateness.

But here's a story anyway: One day we drove to Bragg Creek and got ourselves some peach pie. It was late summer, I remember that. And the car was borrowed from one of our profs, the 80's Crown Vic with the bumper sticker "Just say no to sex with pro-lifers". I don't remember what spurred us to go that day, to borrow a car just for pie. Maybe there was a bigger mission, but it's lost to memory now.

But we went to Bragg Creek and pulled up to the diner, walked in and ordered two servings of peach pie with cream. And I can't remember what the diner looked like, so that if we were to go there again today, we'd probably look at each other and ask, was this the place? But we'd reason that there can't be too many pie shops in a town off a road called Cowboy Trail. And Bragg Creek peach pie will forever be the pie that every other pie isn't.

Today, Cowboy Trail and Sandusky seem far away. I live in a place with road names more Irish than anything; Avondale and Avoca, Clarendon and Kilbarry. And there are more Panameras than white pick-up trucks in this neighbourhood. It changes everything. You slide into a new paradigm, you want things you never thought you'd need to want. Until you start to spin romantic tales about that late summer day when all you wanted was Bragg Creek peach pie. And it was easy enough to go get some. And that was everything.

Products: Clubmaster RB2156 from Ray-Ban | Sandy dress from Steven Alan | Pauper by OLO | Swallow necklace from Odette | Endless Summer tote from Fieldguided | Peach pie via | K. Jacques Jival Sandal from La Garconne

Friday!

Getting back to normal around here... I ate some solid food last night, which felt very good. And I've been easing back into my regular exercise routines etc. There's still pain, the nerves in my jaw seem to be rewiring themselves, but I'm getting back to myself and feel this weekend will really set me straight again.


My mind is constantly flitting to Ireland, with my trip under a month away. Even though it's home, and instantly rooted and familiar, I'm awestruck by the idea of it, not to mention an actual holiday. I suppose it's only when I'm about to return that I fully register all I miss and the full force of that overwhelms and fills me with wonder. But there are also weeks full to the brim between now and then...

Some posts I loved recently: This dream new wardrobe post on Miss Moss (I love how utterly unrestrained it is - a complete flight of fantasy, and, of course, perfect in every way) and Anabela's milky pix. I clicked on every single link in this post on Pennyweight and melted into the words Stephanie wrote here - she just knows. Plus, I found another new favourite food blog too, which is a lot less masochistic to look at now than it was a few days ago.

My weekend? I haven't really wrapped my head around it, this week has been so day-to-day, feeling out my feelings, gently touching the bruises. But I really want to get to the farmer's market - I hope I didn't miss the last of the good peaches. And after being holed up all last weekend, I just need to blow off the cobwebs, spend some time in my coffee shop, give myself time to concentrate deeply on some words and ideas.

And you? I hope you have a lovely weekend.

Picture, my own. More here.

Fall reading

This week has been chilly - I pulled on my grandfather cardigan a few mornings, waking up to a chill in my room. And much as I love autumn, I'm sad to see this summer slip away. At the same time, I love seeing fall's knits and textures, sumptuous decor and golden light.


I always get excited for fall book releases too. These four are top of my list right now. Thinking about these books helps conjure a scene of cozy reading. Maybe that's me at my very happiest. Oh summer, you've been good and I'm not chasing you away. But as you gently wane, I'll embrace autumn too.


Books: 1. On Canaan's Side: A Novel | 2. The Cat's Table | 3. It's Fine By Me | 4. The Sense of an Ending
Products: Pringle turtleneck from La Garconne | MGBW Belle Chair | Chelsea Textiles cushion | Toast blanket | See by Chloe shoes from Net-a-Porter | Emma Bridgewater Canada Goose mug | Chloe pants from Net-a-Porter

Three of a kind


Henri Fantin-Latour & Studio Choo

Looking through my old art books over the weekend, I found my imagination captured by romantic floral arrangements painted by Henri Fantin-Latour (1863-1904). They called to mind the stunning present-day arrangements of Studio Choo and I thought about the completely timeless beauty of fleeting objects.Those were happy, transcending thoughts to have while recovering.


Thank you to all of you who sent me kind e-mails and tweets and Facebook messages over the last few days. I'm getting there... This feels like a step in the right direction.

All photographs from Studio Choo on Flickr: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
All paintings by Henri Fantin-Latour, specifically:
1. Betrothal Still Life (1869), via
2. Still Life With Flowers And Fruit (1866), via
3. Still Life With Flowers And Fruit (1865), via
4. Still Life With Flowers And Fruit (1866), via
5. Sweet Peas in a Vase (1888), via

Friday!

Yesterday I had those wisdom teeth out and, just as I hoped, it all seemed to go swimmingly. Of course, I'm in pain and I have the prettiest Walter Matthau jowls you did ever see, but it's over and I'm on the road to recovery and very grateful to those who have helped me.


I do have a few links stashed away from this week: I loved this art post over on Katy's blog and I'm completely into food blogs right now (which is hilarious as I'm living off soy pudding). For delectable eye candy and ideas, check out this one and this one and this one too.

One of the thoughts that got me through the surgery was the notion that by the time I feel fully normal again, my trip to Ireland will be not far away. Mum and Dad and I are making plans for a trip to Wales, as well as the West Coast of Ireland. My catapulting thoughts in that happy direction made it easier not to dwell on this week.

There were some good comments on my posts that warrant a response and I regret not being able to engage everyone fully. Something had to give this week! But I am nevertheless appreciative and there was much fodder for thought. I feel like Thursday's post barely skimmed the surface of an interesting exchange and I hope to delve further into it in the near future.

But, for now, rest... Have a lovely weekend!

Kristen Buckingham

These two spaces, designed by Kristen Buckingham, really called out to me yesterday. They strike me as having just the right amount of stuff and colour going on... somehow still managing to be light-filled.

I'm really excited about my trip home for an injection of Irish architecture and design, which I think I appreciate so much more now than ever before. And because this has most definitely been a (surprising) summer of colour for me, I'm feeling really open to the more dramatic colourways of Irish interiors.


Elsewhere

As if by magic, I'm simultaneously out cold at the dentist's office and guest-blogging over on Hither and Thither. Please visit with me over on Ashley and Aron's blog today where I'm sharing some memories of childhood vacations. Click here to read the post.

Three of a kind


Relating

Two things came together and led to thoughts about how we react to realism versus something more abstractly expressive...

1. Words from Bluets by Maggie Nelson
"I don't go to the movies anymore. Please don't try to convince me. When something ceases to bring you pleasure, you cannot talk pleasure back into it. "My removal arose not out of a conscious decision, but was simply a natural fading away from film," writes artist Mike Kelley. "We have become filmic language, and when we look at the screen all we see is ourselves. So what is there to fall into or be consumed by? When looking at something that purports to be you, all you can do is comment on whether you feel it is a good resemblance or not. Is it a flattering portrait? This is a conscious, clearly ego-directed, activity." I find myself in agreement with him on all counts. Perhaps this is why I have turned my gaze so insistently to blue: it does not purport to be me, or anyone else for that matter. "I think both the theater and we ourselves have had enough of psychology" (Artaud)." p. 66-67

2. Paintings by Simon Andrew (via Mira Godard)
Comparing my emotional reaction to these paintings versus what my reaction would be to photographs of the same rooms. Thoughts I might have about photographs of real rooms, that I did not have about these paintings: What is that wall colour called? Where did they buy that? I should redecorate. I wish I had more money.


Spin-off thoughts:
People generally read my blog like it's the photograph and I mostly want them to read it like it's the painting. I wonder: Maybe, it's precisely the realism of the blog that invites identification and projection of self. I see a photo of an interior, I'm inclined to wonder if I'd live with that wall colour, how comfortable the sofa is. But when I look at painted interiors, I respond more abstractly to form, composition, colour, light, mood. I'm not trying to render everything relatable or realistic. I'm open to being moved more ineffably.

And when I read a poem or a novel, I'm similarly open to the characters and plot; it's not driven by identification, though of course that sometimes happens. Rather, I'm looking to be moved and indeed, I often value being moved by the unexpected, by a character who shares none of my history or geography, inner or outer; by something wholly unrelated to my life.

When I write for my blog, I'm often trying to move people rather than write something relatable. And so I'm often confused by reactions, which are rarely a response to what I've written and instead offer a counter-story. Of course, I'm flattered that people want to share their stories with me and I enjoy hearing them. But it's confusing when I'm trying to write something expressive and I don't know if I've failed or if readers simply aren't looking to be moved, rather they're motivated by an opportunity to share, to meet minds.

It's a little bit of a revolution for me to think that this is inherent in the ontology of the blogosphere. That precisely because our blogs are such realistic, day-by-day snapshots of what is supposedly our real life, that they don't necessarily encourage agnostic reflection. I wonder if the closer we get to realism, the more we elicit personal identification? And if a visceral emotional reaction is what I'm looking for, maybe the ontology of the blog is bound to fail me. Maybe its very realism will always elicit identification first and foremost.

Yet, I don't agree with the Bluets quote fully - not as pertaining to all movies. So, maybe you can have both. And maybe that's what I want to work on.

Three of a kind


A poem for Tuesday

On the weekend, I read that Sebastian Barry has a new book out (not released here until September). Barry's work always leaves dents on my heart. I often think about Roseanne McNulty and when I read this poem, I thought about her again. This is by William Faulkner.

After Fifty Years
Her house is empty and her heart is old,
And filled with shades and echoes that deceive
No one save her, for still she tries to weave
With blind bent fingers, nets that cannot hold.
Once all men’s arms rose up to her, ‘tis told,
And hovered like white birds for her caress:
A crown she could have had to bind each tress
Of hair, and her sweet arms the Witches’ Gold.

Her mirrors know her witnesses, for there
She rose in dreams from other dreams that lent
Her softness as she stood, crowned with soft hair.
And with his bound heart and his young eyes bent
And blind, he feels her presence like shed scent,
Holding him body and life within its snare.

Dining: Cider, corn, crumble

Cider gets a bad rap in Ireland. I suppose that's because so many of us spent our teens drinking Scrumpy Jack in fields (it's true). This Swedish brand is encouraging me to give cider another try. Thinking about pairing it with some Ontario corn and an apple crumble, eaten outside on a still-warm evening and I'm not only encouraged, but raring to go.


Products: Jamie Oliver BBQ corn | Rekorderlig cider | Beeswax Votive Candles | Pehr Designs Napkins | Tavern Table | Martha Stewart Apple-Cranberry Crumble | Pottery Barn outdoor rug

George in the East

I watched the new Toast video a few times over the weekend. It represents everything that I would want from a day at sea.


I somewhat rue the timing of my trip home in September / October, when sea-swimming is not guaranteed. But I'll enjoy the deserted beaches, the layers of wool, the peculiar shades of blue and green and grey that come with autumn light.


This video embodies all that. And although Toast has long ago hit that super-saturation point on the blogosphere (usually my cue to back off), I couldn't resist sharing these stills.


Watch the video here.
Directed by Nick Seaton, model George Walters, styling Tamara Fulton.

PS - Also read this!

Sunday best: Running errands

Thank you all for your kind words and well-wishes on Friday!



I have a long list of things to get ready before my oral surgery. Yesterday I cleaned my apartment top to bottom; I know myself too well - I won't be able to relax and recuperate unless my place is spick and span. Today, I've got prescriptions to fill and groceries to get in and a bunch of work to get ahead on.

I've been doing other things too — going to yoga class and reading an absorbing new book. But the truth is that right now, in front of my computer, I'm only thinking about the dentist and all I should do. So, rather than linger, I'm going to get to it.

I hope you're having a lovely Sunday. It's been gorgeous weather-wise here - I hope it's nice where you are too!

Products: RB3044-W3177 Aviator from Ray-Ban | Aubin & Wills Thornville striped top from Net-a-Porter | Green & Spring Lip Balm from Barneys | Straight Leg Jean from Toast | Sel Marin perfume from James Heeley | Satomi Kawakita Tiny Pearl Studs from La Garconne | Signet ring No. 3 from Conroy & Wilcox | 43rd parallel tote from Fieldguided | Rachel Comey Derringer Oxford from La Garconne

Friday!

I know this happens to almost everyone and the vast majority of you have probably been through it already, but next week I'm getting my wisdom teeth out and I'm petrified. I'm not usually a sissy, I'm usually a stoic sort of patient. But tooth removal is something I've gone 35 years without having to confront and so it's a tough pill to swallow.


But more than that... procedures like this remind me acutely just how alone I am here. There's no family to help me, my best friend lives in NY now. And I have no significant other who's the obvious candidate to pick me up and bring me home. I'm forced to play roulette between my friends and it seems a big job to ask any of them... to take a day off work and stay with me while I recover. It makes me feel vulnerable and pretty alone.

I'm so independent that a moment like this really hits home. There are certain things you just can't do alone. And it's tough being single in those moments. It just really, really is. I held myself together through the appointment, walked home, got in the door and burst into tears. I love my life, but the system sometimes has a unanticipated ways of telling you you ought to be coupled. Now, I'm just trying to breathe and know it will soon be over with.

But, despite all this, the week really was a good one. I've been doing loads of yoga and feel so much better for it. And on Monday, after work, I took myself to the flower market. Everything looked a little worse for the heat except the sunflowers and so I brought a bunch home, even though they're not a favourite. They've been smiling at me from my desk all week. And when the sun hits them, my arm has been dappled gold and that makes me think of buttercups under chins in fields of County Meath.

This weekend, I'll start a new book and clean my apartment top to bottom. I'll hit the farmer's market and the yoga studio. I have to write a few longer pieces too. But I'll mostly try not to think too much about next week.

I hope you have a lovely weekend!

Image, my own. More here.

One toe in autumn dining

The latest Donna Hay magazine (Issue 56)  is pretty spectacular. One of the stand-out recipes is for cheesy leek and polenta madelaines. I love madelaines, but have only considered the sweet Proustian kind. The thought of a savory madelaine opened up new worlds of culinary possibilities.

Unfortunately, the recipe for the cheesy leek madelaines is not on their website, but I did find this sage and polenta madelaine recipe. The days have been damp here, so this strikes me as something warming, with one toe in autumn.


Products: Ceretto Barolo Zonchera wine | Corkscrew | Il Boschetto al Tartufo cheese | Walnut slab | Madelaines | Inklore tea towel | Heath wine glasses | Cast Iron Fire Bowl

Three of a kind


Inspiring women & book report: Medical Muses

In 1985 in Ireland, reports of moving religious statues poured in from all over the country and were regularly reported on the news. Small groups of young and old would hold candlelight vigils by the statues that occupy the parks and greens in residential neighbourhoods. I remember being at a few of them. The hysteria was particularly prevalent among young girls and teens, where it was intertwined with teenage melodrama, a fascination with the supernatural and even bullying.


I was nine at the time and became terrified of religious iconography. I remember avoiding looking at the Sacred Heart image that hung in our kitchen. But every classroom had a statue of Mary and a crucifix, so risk of exposure ran high. Rumours flew around the school about statues being seen to move, to bleed, to weep and dares escalated. Girls were regularly in tears. One fainted on the upper hallway of my school claiming she saw the Virgin Mary move. But the hysteria was not confined to schoolgirls. Old and young were in thrall of this phenomenon and the more that was reported the more it felt like something real and foreboding was happening in the country. Rational explanations were thin on the ground and suggestibility ran high.

Eventually, the furore just plain faded. But there was no closing resolution, no cathartic analysis and something about that phase has always troubled me. Those extremes of fear and fervor made a strong impact on my young mind. And then it was over. But I never fully recovered from those feelings and the power of collective consciousness when trained on one idea, no matter how implausible.


I found myself thinking a lot about the Moving Statues when I was reading Asti Hustvedt’s Medical Muses, a non-fiction book about the early attempts to diagnose hysteria as a medical condition and the women who were victims, patients, celebrities, pawns and players at the hands of a male medical establishment led by Jean-Martin Charcot. Much of the book is about the history of medicine, neurology and roots of psychology and the experiments, both fascinating and grotesque, conducted on these women - three in particular Blanche, Augustine and Geneviève. Where Hustvedt still finds relevance is in the relational; how the women relate to, and mirror, society's and their doctor's systems and expectations.

The nature of hysteria as it was then classified is not without its modern parallels. I think Ireland's summer of moving statues is one. Hustvedt thinks that widespread manifestations of certain psychological ailments might be similar. It's true that most of us don't swoon or seize or experience paralysis during the day as was seemingly common in the 1800's, but we do starve, self-harm, suffer chronic fatigue and depression today. And it would be wrong to think of every practice and insight from that period as antiquated. For example, the doctors - Bourneville especially - progressively reclassified a lot of the behaviour previously associated with witchcraft, sainthood and demonic possession, as the somatic illness they termed "hysteria".

The most striking theme of the book is the dance between humanizing these patients, examining the psychological underpinnings of their behaviour (rape, abandonment, poverty) and the extreme objectification of them as female patients. The establishment was on the cusp of change - somewhere between religious demons and acknowledgement of the psycho-somatic. Indeed, a young Freud attended Charcot's lectures and cited them as influential. But that leap was still beyond the dominant mindset... a mindset sometimes as alarmingly insidious as the Church it criticized. Countless examples are cited where the famous patients of the Salpêtrière Clinic were put on show and manipulated by their doctors. The research was often more carnival than curative; we learn less about the patient's clinical progress towards wellness than the medical contortions they were put through in the name of exemplifying one theory or another.


At the same time, this is not a simple story of unwell women being used and abused by a male medical establishment. As I mentioned, there are moments of great humanism between doctor and patient. It's well argued that Charcot's hysteria provided these women with some kind of taxonomy for expression of their illness or trauma. And the idea of the suggestibility of hysteria (from literature and theatre) has parallels with our fears about the suggestibility of diseases like anorexia (through the internet, magazines, the fashion industry). There's also a recurring suggestion that the women were playing the system, a system that made them into celebrities and muses. But this doesn't make their hysteria fake. A flair for drama may play a role (as it did with schoolgirls and Moving Statues). But that makes it no less real. If the women were acting, they were true method actors.

"Blanche really "had" hysteria. She lived during a period that allowed her to express her suffering in a particular way, through a particular set of symptoms, symptoms that are no longer an admissible way to express illness.
     Diseases do not exist outside of diagnoses. As any American who has spent time outside of the country knows, different cultures experience bodies—their organs and bones and blood—in different ways. The French suffer from Mal au foir of liver ache. The Japanese can be afflicted by taijan kyofusho, an intense fear that their body is offensive to others... Each of these disorders is recognized by their respective medical communities as a valid diagnosis. Every culture molds bodies; bodies adapt and respond with appropriate symptoms."
(p.140)

Like the moving statues in Ireland, the concept of "hysteria" presented by Charcot faded suddenly. And the patients gradually disappeared, seemingly abandoning the newly-shunned taxonomy of behaviour that classified them as "hysterical". Today, they would possibly be diagnosed as bipolar, schizophrenic, depressed, having eating disorders, self-harm impulses. Medical classifications may be more finessed now, but just because we've stopped using the word "hysteria" doesn't mean the disease these women suffered was less real or relevant.


While the reader no doubt seeks to understand whether what these women suffered from was 'real' or not, Charcot never questioned the reality of their suffering. "Hysterical" patients today are not so often taken at their word by their general practitioners. As medicine has parsed into separate disciplines - specializing in mind, in brain, in body - the mind-body relationship has arguably become dismissively narrowed in general medicine. This often leads to much prolonged pain for patients whose illnesses cannot be immediately tied to an ostensive physical cause. Charcot's patients were not forced to run this gamut of medical skepticism and as such, we may yet have something to learn from Charcot.

"Blanche, Augustine and Geneviève suffered countless indignities as patients in Charcot's hysteria ward. Charcot was an imperious authority figure who treated hysterics at the Salpêtrière as medical specimens. Yet, unlike "hysterical" patients today, their suffering was never dismissed as not real... By acknowledging hysterical authenticity, he did nothing less than articulate a new paradigm for illness, one that superseded the tenacious mind-body that we are still muddling about in"
(p. 310)

Hustvedt's writing is compelling, scholarly, humanizing and insightful. She resists the urge to project a modern understanding of mental illness from an imperious standpoint, instead examining history within the paradigms of Charcot's theories and Salpêtrière Clinic. And while flair for drama played a role in hysteria, so it does in the truth of the stories of Blanche, Augustine and Geneviève. Hustvedt lays bare her research, sharing illustrations and photographs and she's transparent about lingering question marks and leaps of faith. Even with such forthrightness, the compelling drama of these stories, the excitement of Hustvedt's own research and journey, is gripping.

Image credits:
1. Medical Muses by Asti Hustvedt
2. Une leçon clinique à la Salpêtrière (1887) | André Brouillet, via
3. Photograph of Blanche Wittmenn by Paul Regnard - 1879-1880 (scanned from book)
4. Photograph of Augustine Gleizes by Paul Regnard - 1878 (scanned from book)

Embracing orange

Six months ago, if you had asked me what colour I was least likely to don, orange would have been top of the list. So it was a cruel test of my resolve when I recently held an Epice scarf with orange overtones up to my face and realized it's a colour that suits me.


Since then, orange has been creeping into my consciousness more (in this and this post, for example). I suppose it's my gradual way of accepting the colour into my personal spectrum. The key for me in adopting a colour is to learn to see it as classic, nearly neutral. So, I've learned to differentiate neon orange (which I still dislike) from tones closer to burnt sienna, pumpkin or rust.


I've been looking at art too. Because art always helps reverse my entrenched mindset when it comes to colour. And while I will never be a Flaming June, I can see myself adding a rusty cardigan or sweater to my Fall collection. And I've come to love how this hue sits next to charcoal grey and navy, especially... Maybe I can learn to love orange yet!

Products: J.Crew sweater | Roksanda Ilincic Silk-organza tank | 3.1 Phillip Lim silk crepe de chine dress (all Net-a-Porter) | Hermes Cape Cod PM Watch | Mulberry Polly Push Lock | Nars Cha Cha Cha nail polish
Painting: Lady in Red (1932) by Wilson Irvine (via)


Products: Raquel Allegra Cable Knit Cardigan (Totokaelo) | Mociun Gem Necklace Carnelian | Toast linen pullover | Roksanda Ilincic Condor gown (Net-a-Porter) | Le Pégase d'Hermès scarf | Laura Mercier Ambre Rose Lip Glace
Painting: Flaming June (1895) by Frederic Leighton (via)

Sunday best: The ladette

Today, I’m feeling a classic ladette look. Maybe I sniffed the first distant whiff of Fall last week. There were days where the air conditioning was off and I noticed the sun setting a little earlier. High summer is passing and I find my mind ready for the sun’s oblique angle and the golden light of Fall. And maybe it’s the back-to-school connotations that make me think about preppy basics, classic casuals.


I’m ready for seasonal changes and the sense of momentum they carry. Transitional seasons push and pull me and being so mutable I feel at home in them, in the vacillations of their days. And of course, this means my long-awaited trip home is approaching too and I feel so ready for that, always curious about seeing Ireland and family anew.

So maybe all of that too impacts what I’m thinking about wearing today. Because these clothes carry a familiar nostalgia, a sense of timelessness but also ebb and flow through our style consciousness. And there’s something cyclical and grounding in returning to familiars, something striking about seeing them anew and liking them in a new way, a way that fits a sense of self that didn’t exist last time.

And all that time ago I was a ladette and didn’t ever admit to being as sensitive as I am. We all threw shapes and hammed and crowed. And we were buoyant with confidence, real and imaginary. Now, I’m both weaker and stronger, less brazen but more myself. But there’s still a little ladette in me. And it’s fun still to ham and crow and even to throw shapes once in awhile.

Products: RB3016 Clubmaster from Ray-Ban | Étoile Isabel Marant Quincy Shirt from La Garconne | MiH Jeans Paris mid-rise cropped jeans from Net-a-Porter | Tannis Hegan long strap bag from Lark | Heeley Parfums Sel Marin Eau de Parfum from Barneys | WB.SET8 from Scosha | London Karicole from Bass Shoes | Rolex Oyster Perpetual Bombay from 1stDibs

Friday!

A lovely short week and the start of a new month.

I found myself thinking at length about random things. Yesterday, it was a leisurely meditation on Mrs O'Hanrahan's marmalade. The O'Hanrahans are some of our oldest friends and feel pretty much like family to me. And Brid happens to make my favourite marmalade ever (sorry Mum!) and whenever I visit she toasts me some bread and places Kerrygold butter and marmalade in front of me and I'm happy as a clam. It's been like this always. I would try to get her recipe this Fall, but I'm betting it's all dash and pinch and feeling.


And then I was thinking about those things that make up our little worlds and how these stories, like Mrs O'Hanrahan's marmalade, would never make it into a biography. And surely that makes biographies flawed, necessarily no doubt, but a reduction of the good stuff, of the banal things that really colour in the outline of our worlds. I think blogs are better for this, for capturing that colour in the minutiae of the moment. Hopefully the people whose biographies I want to read in the future are blogging now!

And some lovely things around the blog world of late: Gorgeous dresses from Sofia and a beautiful guest post on Pennyweight. One divine recipe from Ellie and another excellent pizza recipe from this Tasmanian blog (discovered through Laura). This post from Stephanie was from a few weeks back, but I found myself thinking about it over and over.

Can I tell you that despite my easygoing meditations this week, there's a thread of discord running through my days? I feel like I shouldn't pull at that thread just yet and am hoping my trip home in September gives me time to think and figure out what's next. It's clear nothing is manifesting. I feel like I've fought and worked and been patient and listened, but still nothing. The dog days of summer are hard for people craving change and momentum, so I'm trying to bide my time and just enjoy the peaches.

I hope you have a lovely weekend!

Photo my own. More here.

New at Coterie!

On the weekend, Laura came over and we kneaded and rolled, baked and bruléed. She donned an apron and did most of the hard work, while I lolled about snapping photos. Not ones to let anything go to waste, we ate everything we made. All in all it was a lovely day... perfect pizza and pastry cups filled with passion fruit and basil cream, topped with an assortment of local fruit. Yum!

AND... Now available in the shop are these six gorgeous pins... pastry batons, French pins and one gorgeous heavier pin in luscious dark Tiger maple. Can I tempt you to make a peach pie?


Thanks Laura!

Visit Coterie to shop for these rolling pins!

A poem for Wednesday

The sea is in my dreams these days. I woke on Sunday, dreaming of the whoosh of a gentle tide and rain and thought, I am home! But it was just my air conditioner and immediately I was hot and bothered and longing for a salt sea breeze. But the sea haunts me in other ways too, more ineffably than a craving for a familiar scene. I long for it because it softens my edges when I need soothing. This is just an excerpt from the Corsons Inlet by A. R. Ammons. Read the full poem here.

Corsons Inlet

I went for a walk over the dunes again this morning
to the sea,
then turned right along
   the surf
                         rounded a naked headland
                         and returned


   along the inlet shore:

it was muggy sunny, the wind from the sea steady and high,   
crisp in the running sand,
       some breakthroughs of sun
   but after a bit

continuous overcast:

the walk liberating, I was released from forms,   
from the perpendiculars,
      straight lines, blocks, boxes, binds
of thought
into the hues, shadings, rises, flowing bends and blends   
               of sight:

                         I allow myself eddies of meaning:   
yield to a direction of significance
running
like a stream through the geography of my work:   
   you can find
in my sayings
                         swerves of action
                         like the inlet’s cutting edge:
               there are dunes of motion,
organizations of grass, white sandy paths of remembrance   
in the overall wandering of mirroring mind:
but Overall is beyond me: is the sum of these events
I cannot draw, the ledger I cannot keep, the accounting
beyond the account:

in nature there are few sharp lines

Inspiring women: Joni Sternbach

I came across the photography of Joni Sternbach while browsing 1stDibs on the weekend and was immediately arrested by her Surfland series. It took me a minute to process what I was looking at; vintage photographs or contemporary photographs shot and printed using archival techniques. The latter, it turns out.


Sternbach uses a process called the wet collodion process, which dates back to the 1850's. If you watch this video, you'll understand the complex steps in this process, shooting, processing and printing, and the gorgeous vagaries of the finished albumen print. Wet collodion was the second photographic process after the daguerreotype, but quickly fell out of favour due to its impracticality — the plate stays wet during the entire process.


Sternbach: "Often the mistakes are really quite beautiful. It’s a very finite way of working that’s not very flexible, but it gives me the opportunity to create something different in this world of fast digital technology. Some call it the digital backlash, but that’s not the main reason I do it." via


I'm as inspired by the subjects of these photographs as by the photographer and her methods. Other female photographers who use the collodion method are Sally Mann and Jill Enfield, who also hosts collodion workshops occasionally.

Joni Sternbach official website
Book: Surfland


All images © copyright Joni Sternbach