Gilt Taste

All you're getting from me today: Whisky apple pie. If you need anything more, your life is clearly off course and you should consult appropriate maps and compasses, look up at stars, and steer yourself back on course.

Sunday best: Happy Halloween!

I have a proclivity to think that anything named "Jane" is designed for me. I mean me personally, deliberately and solely. I know this is not true. But when I see Jane, I think "mine!" (As an aside, I think it's incredibly cruel of companies to name things Jane that (a) they're not going to give to me and (b) that I cannot afford.)


Well, this blouse is Jane and also it's rusty orange, which I recall was my resolution colour for the fall. And it's Halloween, so what would I be doing at all if I failed to include a bit of pumpkin in today's Sunday best?

Yesterday, I was under-dressed for the cold. I'm in denial about the weather and refuse to wear a coat still. I walked down to Harvest Wagon and saw a girl wearing snowboots and I gave her feet a "you're batshit crazy" look. Then, I looked up and noticed she was staring at my sockless, moccasined feet with the same expression. Hm.

But when it comes to food, I can definitely get into the right season. St. Peter's Ale? Indeed. Chanterelle mushrooms, fingerling potatoes, blue cheese? My grocery bag yesterday was full of happy-making stuff. I made dinner with friends two nights in a row, drank warm drinks and relaxed.

Hope your Halloween is happy-making too!

Products: Dracula by Bram Stoker | Jane blouse by Whit from Steven Alan | Citizens of Humanity Elson jeans from Net-a-Porter | Pumpkins via | Workwear Biker Boot from Madewell | Signet ring from Conroy & WilcoxVictory Wolf from Olo Fragrance | Martha Cabled Wristwarmers from Toast

Friday!

I was stretched thin this week, scraped over the days and it wasn't nice.

But there were some uplifting moments. Hila included me in this post and made my day. It's always a different experience seeing my photos on another's blog and intriguing to see what they choose too. And Hila wrote kind words and I admire her so much I was a little blown away and that made the week better. Please visit her blog here, if you don't already. I know you'll love it.


But I feel like I've missed Ontario fall this year! Maybe it hasn't been as golden as usual? There's still lots of green on the trees, but the skies are heavy and grey. Where are all those clear blue days filtered through red and golden leaves? I see pictures of days like these on other blogs, especially Nadia's and Aran's, and I feel that I've missed my favourite time of year.

Instead, I looked at the sky the other night and actually thought "snow" and I looked down at my feet as I walked to work and thought about those tentative first steps on icy sidewalks. I get nervous every year at the prospect! But then part of me craves the change and constant momentum of the seasons. And when I was at home, I bragged about Canada's seasons and how nice it is to measure the year so reliably.

But since it is still officially fall, I shouldn't be going on about winter. Instead, here's one lovely post for apple-picking season and  Jill's gorgeous home always makes me feel snuggled and warm. This Apple and Lancashire Cheese pie sounds delicious for a fall / Halloween feast (the calories scare me though). And I'll surely be carving a pumpkin this year (some of my past endeavours here and here).

I've been living in a pretty inchoate state these days, feeling so much, not quite able to wrap my words around those feelings. Full of vague hope and a growing sense of change within me, meetings and partings, some difficult and some full of joy. And tiredness and energy in their combustible mix; wanting to do so much, but feeling the doing must be taken slowly, that there must be pacing for it to turn out well.

Here's too a slow-paced weekend. Happy Halloween!

Photo, my own. More here.

A poem for Wednesday

It's a busy week here and my concentration is shot. The book I'm reading demands proper attention I can't give it, so I've been dipping into poetry. This one leaped into me. It's by Billy Collins.

Genesis
It was late, of course,
just the two of us still at the table
working on a second bottle of wine

when you speculated that maybe Eve came first
and Adam began as a rib
that leaped out of her side one paradisal afternoon.

Maybe, I remember saying,
because much was possible back then,
and I mentioned the talking snake
and the giraffes sticking their necks out of the ark,
their noses up in the pouring Old Testament rain.

I like a man with a flexible mind, you said then,
lifting your candlelit glass to me
and I raised mine to you and began to wonder

what life would be like as one of your ribs—
to be with you all the time,
riding under your blouse and skin,
caged under the soft weight of your breasts,

your favorite rib, I am assuming,
if you ever bothered to stop and count them

which is just what I did later that night
after you had fallen asleep
and we were fitted tightly back to front,
your long legs against the length of mine,
my fingers doing the crazy numbering that comes of love.

Dark inspiration

There's no point fighting these dark mornings and evenings. I'm trying to find beauty in it, in the cozy and the warm. I'm lighting candles and running my fingers over book spines, pulling down blankets and running hot baths, savouring hot drinks and crusty bread. How do you cope with the dark?


Image credits: 1. Skona Hem | 2. I Gigi General Store | 3. Chris Court Photography | 4. Toast

The Mill and the Cross

I'm dying to seeing the movie The Mill and the Cross. From the stills, it looks spectacular; a film that takes you inside the painting "The Way to Calvary" (1564), by the Flemish master Pieter Bruegel the Elder.


Brueghel painted scenes dense with action, so that every story is beside another and each painting swarms with plots rather than focusing on a single action or decisive moment. You can see the painting in a large version here.


The Way to Calvary (1564) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, via.
Stills from The Mill and the Cross website.

Sunday best: Silence

My lovely, unscheduled weekend became a working weekend and, so, I have just part of a Sunday to salvage some semblance of weekendiness.


I sat on the subway on the way home from the office last night. I was listening to music and exhausted. And the people on the subway were in their gladrags, heading downtown for their Saturday nights. I felt alone and wrapped in my music, detached from the city revolving around me.

I know it's just tiredness. A day working on 2012 content, sitting in the office alone. It seeps into my brain. Aloneness. And much as I was racing to get home, I came into my dark apartment and the stillness was no solace. I had had too much quietness all day.

I'm fascinated by silence. How it can take on different hues, semantic content even. The silence I experienced on Howth, different than the one I experienced on the subway last night. The silence between people. The silence between us. Silence can shimmer and glow, or it can sit flat and dimensionless. It can be perfectly treasured or completely devastating.

Today I'll try to find a quieter kind of silence, without the screaming confusion that has been seizing my days of late. Without all kinds of yearning. I'll try to just be still in it, to hush myself, to lose this discomforted feeling in it.

Products: Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins | MHL By Margaret Howell Fisherman Sweater from La Garconne | Flannel PJ Trousers from Toast | Wild Violet candle from James Heeley | Knot Garden teal throw from Coterie | Large mug from Toast | Fondue Chocolat au Lait via

Friday!

Oh, I didn't like this week at all, at all. I overscheduled myself and the days just didn't roll smoothly. I clunked through it with bouts of energy and bigger bouts of utter exhaustion. And, to top it off, I've committed to this 30-day yoga challenge, so every day I crammed in whatever class worked and I ended up doing way more hot yoga than any human should.


But, it's Friday and there's always that. And my weekend, beyond yoga, looks blissfully unscheduled, so I finally have the time to write I've been craving. In the madness of this week, I also started to think about scaling way back on some things, but those cuts are difficult so I'm just adjusting to the idea of them for now.

Around this time of year, I also start thinking about what I want to get done before the new year. I always like to set myself up for an optimistic new year rather than with a reproachful list of resolutions. I think I'll have a few lean months, take a break from spending and build up some savings. My desire to spend is pretty diminished these days anyway, so hopefully it's easy to move in that direction.

Some pretty posts: Inspiration from Anabela and a perfect day over on Pennyweight. I liked things that go together too. And some things worth reading: About the de Kooning exhibit (worth seeing too, if you can!) And I was late buying this, but a new Billy Collins collection always makes me smile. Finally, if you happen to like Mr. Beckett as much as I do, you might also like Flann and spend some fun time here.

What are you up to this weekend? I hope it's a lovely one.

Photo, my own. More here.

Howth

Our family house is pretty close to Howth Head and when I still lived at home, I would spend my sullen days (there were many) wandering the Head, full of soul-searching and unrequited love.


And I suppose when you spend that kind of time in a place you have a connection with it that is greater than the rocks or the water or the combinations of blues and browns, purples and yellows. So that when I hold up a camera to capture it, the image later seems lovely, but missing all that. Instead, I fall back on words to try to tell you what this place means to me.


At school, the nuns taught us about the idea of a Poustinia. And because I'm not one to throw out a beautiful idea just because it comes strapped to a deity I've never really felt the presence of, I've always clung to this notion. So I sought out such a place wherever I lived. For me, it became any place I could go to where I felt solitary and calm and that strange peace could sweep in and I found it mostly in nature.


Howth Head is one of those places. I can return there and feel it every time. It makes me reach for religious language that I don't feel comfortable with. Because I think something gets lost when you give into that, when you deprive those feelings of their ordinary accessibility, thinking of them as something gifted to you from on high instead of as a distinctly human capacity.


And it's more wondrous for me to believe that these feelings about place are precisely human, universal. That they don't require a complex metaphysical underpinnings; that this is something we can talk about without leaving anybody out.

Inspiring women: Maggie Nelson

I've read two books by Maggie Nelson recently (led to her by Eireann's review). I read Bluets and Jane: A Murder. I feel so much about these books, they completely overwhelmed me in the best possible way. I reread them as I went, painting a V, so I could read twice and three times and build up a coat of Nelson's words around me.


I also found this interview with Maggie Nelson online and loved this quote.

"I know there are many who believe in the Trollope school of thought, that one should wax one's ass to the chair and spit out novels or sestinas or whatever without waiting around for that elusive, romantic, ghost-in-machine, inspiration. But for me the work of being a writer is the easy part. I like being at work. What I like less are the soggy, ill-defined but probably necessary periods between monsoon and drought. The periods of silence, inactivity, and aimlessness that inevitably punctuate a life. Being possessed is pleasurable -- it feels good to lose control of the car while also somehow staying behind the wheel. But abiding with a dead or resting or paused brain, or numbness, or ordinariness, or sanity -- that's harder for me. So the best trick I know has less to do with tapping into creativity and more to do with cultivating the capacity to live without it. To let it go, and not feel as if the plug has been pulled on life. This abiding demands a certain kind of acceptance: If it is better that I write something again, let me write something again. If it is better that I never write again, let me never write again."

Books:
The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning
Bluets
Jane: A Murder (Soft Skull ShortLit)

Photo by Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times, with another interview.

Book report: The Sense of an Ending

I often wonder how people communicate at all. There are such complex layers of spoken and unspoken words, subtexts, agendas covertly pushed and conclusions jumped to. It seems like an impossible web and the idea that you can look somebody in the eyes and use words that reach them and be understood as you intended seems like a pure and naive dream. Add the fallibility of memory into that and you're in a quagmire.


And so The Sense of an Ending was one of those books that left me feeling a little hopeless, because it embodies everything I fear the most about our ability, or inability, to reach each other. And the force of this story isn't the result of the misunderstandings, the events around which comprehension and memory failed. But the fact of it, the mistrust we must have for our own memories, for our own certainties. Especially when it comes to reaching other people.

There's nothing more heartbreaking than being misunderstood, than taking the care to say things as clearly as you possibly can and still not be understood or loved. And all of this troubles me constantly. I fret about the usefulness of words and am ridden with angst about what I've said, written and how it's read. And I blame myself for others not listening or reading openly. And I blame myself for needing to try in the first place.

The book expressed all of this powerfully, desperately and without resolution. It is, for me, the worst kind of tragedy, a blameless failing to reach outside oneself and be met. I found it all quite devastating, to the point that I can't claim enjoyment in the conventional sense, because this story contains a too-brutal truth. But also devastating in a good way; in Barnes succeeding at the very thing he describes the failure of.

Melin Tregwynt Mill

The ferry crossing from Rosslare to Fishguard is only three hours. But I was acutely aware how our school curriculum teaches us so little about our neighbours. Irish language and history is, of course, mandatory. But we learn nothing about Welsh, not even how it hooks up to our language, if at all.


And we rattle off all our counties, lakes, rivers and mountains, the MacGillycuddy's and the Mournes, but learn nothing about the Brecon Beacons or Snowdonia, which sounds impossibly Narnian for something so close to home. So Wales, though near, is far from familiar. And my childhood holiday memories are too fragmented to lend a hand. But I loved it there and the mountains are unlike any I've seen, all nubby as if knitted and laid over the land.


We made a lovely journey to Melin Tregwynt Mill. Even my parents, who have a strange immunity to roads with lovely turns and nested stone houses, said this is a beautiful setting and wanted me to tell them how I learned about the mill and came to stock their blankets in my shop.


And the mill is tiny so that I wondered myself and when I told the ladies in the shop that I sell their blankets in Canada, they opened their eyes wide and lilted "Canada" in their lovely accents, but tentatively, like it was a faraway place and they couldn't imagine their blankets all the way there.


Last week, the temperaturedropped and in the mornings I pull on socks as I make my way through my apartment in the dark. There's something delicious about these hours, even when it's cold and dark and the monitor hurts my eyes a little. I pull my own blanket around me and tuck my toes beneath and light a candle too because sunrise by candlelight is a special thing.


And I can make a lot of noise about knowing who makes something, where it comes from and how that changes the quality of it, making the experience of wearing or using it a sort of reverie. But I really believe this. And when I sit there wrapped up in my Welsh blanket, shedding words onto pages, I feel it deeply and am glad we went out of our way to find the mill.

Melin Tregwynt blankets are available in my shop.

Sunday best: Bluesy

The truth is I'm a bit bluesy.

One minute, I'm deep in a slump, wishing I had had time to run down Blackberry Lane when I was home. I used to run down Blackberry Lane when I was little. And there's still grass down the middle of it, if streetview is to be believed. And I didn't even unlock the door to our shed and peer inside and smell the wood shavings or let my fingers run across the lathe. How did I forget that?


But the next I'm at a coffee shop looking in the eyes of a friend and telling them I'm glad to be back, that I need the whole of Canada to do what I need to do, which is surely the most important thing. Or I'm buying eggs from the Mennonite boy, too shy to look at me, but making my half dozen with perfect care. So that you imagine he must love those hens and ducks tenderly.

I want things I can't reason through, that are beyond reasoning. I suppose it's a little like falling in love. You feel it all before it enters your brain. But that's not always to be trusted. People will say to trust that feeling, but that's easy-come advice. So, I'm waiting for it all to catch up and in the meantime I'm a little lost to myself and scared of the routine taking over and making me forget.

Let's talk about this dress instead: I didn't buy it and wish I had. And even this weekend there were moments when I wanted a new dress to wear around (a good sign?) and thought about it again. But instead I went to the bookshop and stood in aisles for too long so that the people offering help lapped past me twice and three times. It was just that the books weren't there and I really wanted to tell them their shop is crummy. Though I bought three in the end.

And today, I'll put on lipstick and walk into the city. And I'll drink coffee and read. Write in my notebook. And I'll be happy when the locals smile and when the familiar dogs wag. And I'll feel a bit of belonging. But I still feel too much of what I'm missing. And I should have bought the dress.

Products: Cashmere Tweed Tube Scarf from Barneys | Golshan dress from Toast | L'Ombre dans l'Eau from Diptyque | Elizabeth Street Lapis Pendant from Catbird | Bluets by Maggie Nelson | Wide-rib wool tights from J.Crew | Daniela bag from Ally Capellino | Rachel Comey Domino Boot from La Garconne

Friday!

Every day this week, I've been thinking to myself, "this day last week..." But my trip is already taking on a hue of unreality and the distance between here and home is widening again, much as I'm willing it not to.


Still, something's changed. I'm questioning some of what I do. I want more room for people, writing and plain fun. Ireland felt a million miles away from the blog world. And it all looks different to me now I'm back. What this ultimately means, I don't know. I'm still finding my feet beneath me.

I guess this is all good. Before I went away, I knew I really needed this break. I've felt for a long time that my days are too tightly strung, that I'm doing too much. But I couldn't see what had to give or how it could give. I feel now that it's okay to walk away, to sleep in, to not blog, to be light. So, I'm rolling with that...

Wishing you a lovely weekend!

Photo, my own. More here.

Glenilen Farm

I naturally find a certain rhythm to my days. In and around Dublin, I sought out new haunts and hideaways to scribble my words. And I quickly fell into routine places I liked to eat and drink coffee, though it must be said I keened a lot for Canadian coffee. Still, Ireland wins on other fronts and I often found myself swinging by Avoca for a wee pot of Glenilen Farm yoghurt, which I'd eat on a park bench somewhere. I never did try their butter, but there's always next time...

Book report: On Canaan's Side

I've read a few books on holidays but this one I started in Canada and finished in Ireland. I've loved Barry but there have also been times when I found him just too lyrical, to the point of sounding a little twee. In general, I have little appetite for lyricism, but sometimes I let it in and I've made an exception for Barry a lot.


Where Secret Scripture pulled it off, On Canaan's Side failed for me. In the end, I just didn't fall in love with the heroine in the same way. It seemed her life just happened for her and she recounted it all blaming nobody, nothing; aloof. And maybe that's fair, because she was unhinged from her life by layers of grief. But I just didn't connect with her and so I felt cold reading her soft voice, irate at her sweet turns of phrase.

Still, you could read Barry to me at night and I would tell you I love the cadence of his words. There's something to be said for reading a writer who cares that much about how he sounds, who begs to be read out loud. And I can get a lot of sustenance off just that. Because where I find myself vexed by lyricism, I love that feeling of falling through words.

But it just didn't come together for me. That moment, when you finish a book, is normally one of elated tragedy. It should stop your heart just  a little. Instead, I just put down this book and picked up another without feeling any of that.

Bookshelves

It's really time to address the fact that I've run out of bookshelf space yet again. Now, don't go telling me to get a Kindle. You know I absolutely won't pay the blindest bit of attention if you do.

Instead, offer me carpentering services, mad scientist solutions for bending space to accommodate more books. Tell me I ought to build up! Don't think the word "declutter" applies here. That's for closets and cupboards, but not bookshelves. You have been warned... proceed with caution.


Totokaelo

I will be dreaming about this little outfit from Totokaelo for days. The dress!

Mizen Head

You might have images of gentle slopes, rolling fog when it comes to Ireland, landscape with soft corners and damp charms. But there's drama on my little island too and it creeps up on you. At the end of a narrow penninsula, you hit the Atlantic and find that it has cracked and peeled the land into submission.

And I know nothing about the age of rocks, but when you stand here the ages are beneath your feet. But the cacophonous boom of the sea doesn't let any of that ancient feeling settle, so it swirls about you and you lose your place in time. And all that's left to do is close your eyes and see it in your mind, where you can catch it, put reins on it and wrap some kind of understanding around it, just for a moment until it breaks free from you and is gone again.


Ordinary arts

I'm still reeling in this sense of seeing things anew. I don't know how other people feel when they travel, I can only assume the same thing happens to us all. It takes mental leaps and bounds for me. It seeps into my subconscious and changes my dreams. I feel unhinged from where I belong and inhale the new place I'm in and make it part of me.

So that when I return, I have to go through a process of dismantling and rebuilding. And sometimes that's difficult, when there are elements of a place I'm not ready to let go of. And in other ways, there's a high that comes from that, the idea that you can forge something new, that you can step into your home changed by all you've seen and felt.

On Saturday, I was weary from travel and felt not ready to come back. But I came inside and the calm of my home descended upon me and I appreciated deeply all I've done to build this for myself from scratch. And I felt at once that it's where I belong but also that it's such a lovely place to belong, that it's a lovely home. The light streamed onto my armchair and my lemon tree was blooming, filling the apartment with that gorgeous scent.

And we consciously do these things; place a chair here, buy plants, pile books on the coffee table. Yet it's rare we feel the full effect of these tiny gestures. But there's a quality to them that creates something beautiful; a little moment you would barely feel the need to remark upon in the everyday.

The National Museum of Ireland has installations of domestic settings through the ages. And, perhaps anticipating that these domestic details are too often overlooked, they stenciled this Thomas Moore quote on the wall: "The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance than their simplicity might suggest".

And the quote itself is ordinary and plainly true. But when I came home I felt its full force; the ordinary arts evident in my home and that sense of being in a place that makes me feel cared for and soothed. And I often think all this decor malarkey we go on about is obsessive and materialistic. But these ordinary arts are at the heart of it.

Ladies View

A photo I took from Ladies View in Killarney, named after Queen Victoria's Ladies-in-Waiting, who were enraptured with the spot. I'm working through my photos from Ireland and have been adding them to my Flickr, if you're interested in seeing more.

Sunday best: Giving thanks

I'm back in Canada just in time for Thanksgiving. I didn't plan it that way, not realizing when I booked my flights when Thanksgiving fell. But it's a lovely synchronicity of festival and feelings, because I'm happy and grateful to be back and for my time away too.


My understanding of how to live this life I've set up for myself, how to handle feeling fragmented, is still very much a work in progress. But every time I return to Toronto I feel like I make another step towards this place, towards seeing it as home. And maybe going away, not just to Ireland but anywhere, is something I need to do more often to cement that understanding.

The holiday was great, full of surprised joy, even the possibility of a dream come true. I wallowed in the company of people I haven't seen in years and left wanting more, wanting to bring them back with me, for them to hold my hand and not let go. It's the hardest part.

And today will be a bit of a lazy, jet-lagged Thanksgiving. I'll spend time catching up, rolling stories around, looking at this city with the veil of familiarity lifted, because it will last just a day or two. And I've already noticed that the sky here is my sea from home. I had missed the height of it after Dublin's low bungalow of sky. So I'll look up and let myself feel at home under this cathedral and I'll be thankful for the vastness of it...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Products: 7 for all mankind jeans from Net-a-Porter | Le Mont St. Michel sweater from La Garconne | Mulberry Happy Hedgerow scarf from Net-a-Porter | Nicholas Ankle Boots from Ecco | HydraTint SPF 15 from Laura Mercier | English Pear & Freesia Cologne from Jo Malone | Arceau watch from Hermes | Small satchel bag from Toast

Juno

Juno and the Paycock was on my school curriculum and is my favourite of O'Casey's Dublin Trilogy.

Months ago, I was over the moon to discover it was playing in the Abbey during my time here and tickets were eagerly bought. The play was first staged at the Abbey in 1924. The production I'm seeing tonight stars Ciarán Hynes and Sinéad Cusack. I'm so excited for a night out at the theatre!


I always like to dress up for the theatre, but over-the-top glamor seems wrong for O'Casey. I loved this dress the instant I saw it and thought it perfect. And, of course, a feather for the paycock!

Products: Abbey Theatre programme, via | Bottega Veneta Paper and ramie-blend dress from Net-a-Porter | Diamond en Tremblant Feather Brooch from 1st Dibs | Baudelaire perfume from Byredo | Satomi Kawakita Black Diamond Eternity Ring from La Garconne | Bottega Veneta Intrecciato satin knot clutch from Net-a-Porter | Quinnie pointed toe flat from Loeffler Randall | Old Abbey Theatre 1 Dublin by Alan Hogan, via

The Paycock


Juno & the Paycock (1924) by Sean O'Casey

Ondine

One of my favourite recent films to come from Ireland was Ondine.

Visually, there isn't a more waterlogged film. I adore it's complete dampness, which captures what I miss most from home — not just the sea itself, but how it creeps over every rock and lends such gritty beauty. I'm sure that it's because I grew up in this landscape that I never completely love anything pristine or in bright primary colours. I always want murkiness and something rough around the edges. Give me rust and moss and lichen and chipped paint. Layer it up and wear it down. Let time work on it.


Movie stills from Ondine (2009), dir. Neil Jordan, Irish Film Board

A poem for Tuesday

I finished Sebastian Barry's On Canaan's Side recently. That book is ubiquitous here, in every store window alongside the second edition of Beckett's letters. And I find myself much more at home in the bookshops here than in Canada, where I was once told that Paul Auster is considered a more exotic writer when I queried his new release. And although it's unfair to take that as representative, it made me a little crazy and I can't let it go. I sometimes think it must be just me, exaggerating to myself just how literary Dublin is. But no, there's no two ways about it, I'm right about that.

And one of my purchases here was from Cathach Books. I had saved my pennies for a first UK edition of Ill Seen Ill Said (having already a first US edition). But their online inventory was not accurate and I was deprived. Still it's my favourite bookshop and so I scanned the shelves for something else. And it was hard because I had my heart set on Beckett and with a whole shelf of signed first editions of Godot and Krapp staring down at you, sure your heart would break. But I settled on a first edition of Sebastian Barry poetry. Here's one I liked a lot...

South West
for J. O'H.

Below the paintings of the hill
te house in berry-bitten autumn
adjusts itself to find you at the gate,
entertains the pleasure in your drive
around the whistle of the bush
on small gravel tunes.

Later at night the windows burn
the box light of character.
You stand with the resting moon
to view the unfamiliar front
like a family in façade—
two quick rows of children playing late.

And the car turns to meet the challenge,
vanishes without quite vanishing,
its metal purpose slowed by leaves.
You send your boy to read the five-bar gate
where lines to home lie clearly
and first rain glitters on the paint.

Brad Kunkle

In my internet wanderings, I come across many beautiful works of art. Still, it's always a special moment when something strikes you with full force at in a very visceral way. And it's even more rare when an artwork does that but also engages your mind.


The minute I saw Brad Kunkle's work, I thought of Klimt, which is not surprising given his use of gold and silver leaf and these women suspended in their swirling, shimmering backgrounds. I also thought about the famous Ophelia by John Everett Millais.


But beyond all of that, I was deeply moved. It felt like a pressure on my chest, my reaction to these paintings, light and heavy, enveloped and smothered. These paintings capture transcendence and tragedy. I am in love.


All paintings by Brad Kunkle, specifically: The Boundary (2010), Third Sleep (2010), Alchemy of Sleep (2010)

Sunday best: Afternoon pint

I'm not a big drinker. But there is something about sitting in a Dublin pub in the afternoon and nursing a Guinness. Throw in a grilled cheese sandwich and you've got one of my favourite meals.


It's always nice to take the Sunday papers or a book to the pub. And in the good ones, you'll be asked what you're reading and you may get an education on all the books you ought to read. Or you'll do the crossword in the paper and the publican will pull down the dictionary and offer a tidbit on the etymology of this or that word. All this has happened to me in Irish pubs.

And it's a million miles from the Fionn MacCools and Tir na nOgs of Canada. And if you spent a half hour with me in the right Dublin pub, you'd know why I won't go near those places and you'd start to wonder what they were thinking too. Because it's got nothing to do with the celtic font or waitresses in a kilts.

It's built up over decades of routine and familiarity, over slow rituals and rowdy nights and whispered conversations. It's the guy who grandstands and the barman who's been there since you were a whelp at college. And it's the lore of the place, which you take with a pinch of salt but also revere.

And you know you're not part of that lore, you're just a person who passes through once in awhile to bear witness to all of it.

Products: Aleila scarf from Toast | J.Crew sweater from Net-a-Porter | Citizens of Humanity Elson jeans from Net-a-Porter | Pints via | Biker boot from Madewell | Raindrop mitts from Coterie | Clementine from Mimi Berry | Signet ring from Conroy & Wilcox