A poem for Wednesday

It's been raining for a full 24 hours, which is unusual for Toronto and reminds me how my brain used to feel in Dublin in winter, that low ceiling of sky just a stretched arm away. And I've grown unused to the weight of it and the novelty of rain fades fast now. I want it all to be wrung dry quickly, which it will...

And this clear night poem by Charles Wright looks different than my outside right now, but feels the same. I also feel caught up in the gears this week and I want to be pulled out. I feel stuck in my apartment, in my cubicle, on the subway, in the coffee shop line-up. I read words and feel like the calling is everybody else's and not mine. And I'm craving a singularity that my muddy world isn't offering me.

Clear Night
Clear night, thumb-top of a moon, a back-lit sky.
Moon-fingers lay down their same routine
On the side deck and the threshold, the white keys and the black keys.
Bird hush and bird song. A cassia flower falls.

I want to be bruised by God.
I want to be strung up in a strong light and singled out.
I want to be stretched, like music wrung from a dropped seed.
I want to be entered and picked clean.

And the wind says “What?” to me.
And the castor beans, with their little earrings of death, say “What?” to me.
And the stars start out on their cold slide through the dark.
And the gears notch and the engines wheel.

House Beautiful

I can't remember the last time I blogged about decor. Such a wave of over-styled images swept over me, that I suddenly stopped buying magazines and looking at pictures of homes I don't live in. Instead, I looked at my own space and moved things around, made some long-delayed purchase decisions about furniture and sketched some plans for new bookshelves


It's funny, I seem to have little problem sharing my inner life on my blog. But I'm never much in the sharing mood when it comes to opening the doors to my home or photographing my Saturday nights for blog consumption. Maybe a sharing mood will strike one of these weekends and I'll surprise myself and snap some pictures of my home.


In the meantime, I very much liked these images from House Beautiful of the home of Deirdre Heekin and Caleb Barber, not least because I spied the full set of Encyclopaedia of Philosophy on their shelves, and that familiar binding transported me back to the Berkeley Library at Trinity and its beloved shelves and smells.

Sunday best: Subdued

I woke up this morning feeling happy, but subdued. I could hear the rain before I got up and knew I had slept later than I normally do. But for a moment, I sank deeper into the covers, stretched out beneath them, pushing the duvet down with my feet, giving myself another five minutes. Until I slowly emerged and decided to get up.


My apartment is so dark this morning and I've lit candles instead of turning on lights. In a little bit, I'll blow them out and stand over each one until that last wisp curls up, watching the candle spark out. And then I'll shower and put on layers of wool and walk to the coffee shop in the rain.

Something about the weather and my mood makes me want to shroud myself in these subdued shades of green and brown and grey and move around the world quietly.  I've been waiting for a day like this to start reading Vol 2 of Sam's letters, so I'll do just that. Beyond that I haven't thought. It's likely I'll read something in those letters that sparks me in a new direction. And so, I'll just let it unfurl in that easy way.

Happy Sunday!

Products: The Letters of Samuel Beckett: Volume 2, 1941-1956 | Merino Sweater Dress from Toast | Marion Vidal / Jabot D'or Necklace from La Garconne | ChloƩ Strap-detailed leather boots from Net-a-Porter | Aqua Universalis from Francis Kurkdjian | Nude Lips from Barneys | Proenza Schouler PS1 Small leather satchel from Net-a-Porter | Donna Karan Ribbed-trim leggings from Net-a-Porter

Friday!

Late November is a great inhalation before the end of the year.

In the last two weeks, I've been going through my own year-end checklist; seeing GP and dentist, optometrist. I've patted myself on the back when congratulated on my flossing and how wise I am to take Vitamin D. And I let go of those minor fits of hypochondria I'm sometimes prone to, when left to my own devices in a dark room at night.


I feel like that's all there is to be done right now. Apart from holiday hoopla, there's mostly a whole lot of coasting until the year end. We're waiting for that first snow, gauging the probability of it every day. In the meantime, might as well tick some things on to-do lists, give myself that magical feeling of a long-delayed chore finally accomplished, the reassurance of experts.

This weekend, I'll read and write mostly. And I'll work out too. Now that the silly 30-day challenge is over, I'm back to loving yoga again (and guess what, I've gone nearly every day, which just shows that sometimes throwing down the gauntlet at yourself is not constructive and looser reins can yield better results).
 

For those of you giving thanks, have a happy one. The rest of you; you're off the hook, feel free to wallow in ingratitude and disgruntlement! And to all, have a great weekend!

P.S. I added some new notebooks to the shop and there's still an free gift with all textile purchases!

Jamie Evrard

Sometimes, floral paintings can feel a little twee, precious to me. But there's a carelessness to these paintings by Jamie Evrard. At times they seem heady and rapturous, at others anxious, frenetic. Available at Bau-Xi.

Samma

A beautiful, simple collection of jewelry from Samma. These pieces call to mind the beautiful metalwork of Maike Dahl, which I blogged about a long time ago, here.

B.D. Baggies

I love this collection from B.D. Baggies. They're the kind of items that you probably have already in your closet, but the collection inspires a few new purchases or combinations. More and more, this is the approach that appeals to me. Sure, there are occasional stand-out dresses or blouses that I feel are worth a splurge. But more often it's a steadily built-upon collection of staples.

Sunday best: Moveable feasts

Just a quiet weekend, running small errands, writing e-mails and chatting with friends over coffee.



Yesterday, I started rereading A Moveable Feast. I woke up in the middle of the night and spent a few decadent hours curled up with it and a cup of herbal tea. Today, I'll take it out and about with me, drink coffee and eat a pain au chocolat; the best kind of weekend treat.

This week is going to be a busy one, so that will be about it for today. A yoga class and an hour of television in the evening will round out the day. Happy Sunday!

Products: Pleated Blouse from miamiri | Paperback cologne spray from Coterie | Lanvin belt from Net-a-Porter | Signet RING, 18K, no. 3 from Conroy & Wilcox | Shea Butter from L'Occitane | Raindrop beret in soft grey from Coterie | Citizens of Humanity Avedon jeans from Net-a-Porter | Mimi Classic Musette from Mimi Berry | A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway | KORS Michael Kors Nicolette Suede Riding Boots from Shopbop

Friday!

Yesterday, I sat on the bus, my head against the window and the first flakes of snow eddying past. I could clearly see the winter unfurl before me, picture the snowbanks along the footpaths, the pockmarked dirt that coats the bus windows all winter. And I just thought, here we go again.


But my week was measured out in even spoonfuls. Nothing much to complain or remark upon. A few breakthrough ideas, a sudden song that got caught in my throat, pulling up memories of a four-year old me. But I liked it, the sharp tang of those feelings on these blurred days.

I have a few things to do this weekend. I really want to spend some time out in the world; I can feel winter's hibernating instinct creeping over me and I don't want to give into it. So, I'll be stretching it out at yoga and wrapping up for neighbourhood walks.

What about you? Hope you have a lovely one!

Matthew Schofield

I love these paintings by Matthew Schofield. I much prefer paintings of interiors to photography in decor magazines. That extra level of abstraction from reality lets me find deeper connections and expressiveness.

A poem for Wednesday

Inspired by Hila, I pulled Frank O'Hara off my shelf and opened him to this page. I found so much there that I love that I wondered how I could not have done this the day before and the day before that. And sometimes I think I should stop reading new things and only dive down into the familiar and let my toes touch the bottom of these books I love so much. But then I have this idea that I'm some inchoate girl and need to read more to become real. And it's probably neither. But there are worse, lonelier things to be wrong about.

To You
What is more beautiful than night
and someone in your arms
that’s what we love about art
it seems to prefer us and stays

if the moon or a gasping candle
sheds a little light or even dark
you become a landscape in a landscape
with rocks and craggy mountains

and valleys full of sweaty ferns
breathing and lifting into the clouds
which have actually come low
as a blanket of aspirations’ blue

for once not a melancholy color
because it is looking back at us
there’s no need for vistas we are one
in the complicated foreground of space

the architects are most courageous
because it stands for all to see
and for a long long time just as
the words “I’ll always love you”

impulsively appear in the dark sky
and we are happy and stick by them
like a couple of painters in neon allowing
the light to glow there over the river

Cold, dark nights

I feel those cold, dark nights nipping at my ankles. But there's an upside too; cozy evenings and warm food, dark beers and blankets on laps. So, while I'm fighting the urge to hibernate completely, part of me is sinking deeper into the comforts of the season at hand, trying to focus on the good stuff...


Products / images: St Peter's Organic Ale | Schoolyard oak leaf napkins | Jamie Oliver onion soup with sage and cheddar | Pine cone candles

Keller

I adore this collection from Keller, photographed by Matt Sundin... lots of great layering and a lovely loose, ageless feel to it. Not to mention, shoes that I'm dying over...

Sunday best: Skulker

Some not great news on Friday cast a mean shadow over my weekend.


And sometimes, almost perversely, I give into the blues in the easiest way. I listen to music that promotes nothing but melancholy. I reach for poetry that tugs at all those loose threads in my brain, all those easy insecurities. I think, in that way, I try to drain it out of myself fully.

So today, I'll wake up tired but feeling better. Cried out, even if I didn't really cry. And something about that kind of exhaustion creates a fog around my brain. It hangs over me, this air of unreality and detachment. So that even when I go out today I'll feel strange and disconnected. And the world will seem surreal and I'll feel like a skulker in a place I don't belong.

But it will start to lift. A cup of coffee will chase some of it away. The simple highs of the day will seep in. And though, at the start, I'll damn the feeling a little, I'll begin to lift up my eyes. I'll start to feel myself move out of my head, from the space behind my eyes and down into my chest and even legs and fingers again.

It's important to own these days, to belong in them, to know they're all part of it. And to let them pass too.

Products: 3.1 Phillip Lim Initials Classic Bralette from La Garconne | Les Prairies de Paris Chuck Cableknit Sweater from La Garconne | J Brand 231 jeans from Net-a-Porter | The Art of Cruelty by Maggie Nelson | Boot #1 from Deux Souliers | Leaf ring from Odette | Shoulder bag from A.P.C.

Friday!

A topsy-turvy week, the full moon, as always, throwing me for a loop.

But first, a little bit of shop business: Right now, with any textile purchase, I'm offering a free gift of Coastal Sage soap and Sweetgrass incense, while supplies last. The textile section of Coterie is chockful of cozy favourites, so it's a good time to indulge or stash away a future gift!


Tomorrow is the last day of my 30-day yoga challenge. I'm so glad! I've done 27 classes in the last 30 days. The challenge was impossible from a scheduling standpoint. Only a week in, I regretted putting such a regimented structure on something like yoga, but felt committed so didn't want to stop trying.

I've been very nesty of late. Not in the way I often am - where I look around and see only things to be improved upon. But in the sense that I'm enjoying being at home, look forward to turning on the lights when I get in every night. I love the look of The Locals from this post on Miss Moss; it fills me with the same kind of feeling. I was also smitten with the work of Jazmin Berakha as soon as I saw it on All the Mountains.

This weekend, I'm entertaining some friends and writing, probably staying local and quiet. The work I'm doing leaves me feeling fragile and spent, but that's just the nature of it, the isolation of writing. It's what I need to do right now, though my mind sometimes wanders to other wishes and wanderlust, as is its perpetual wont. O, my unquietable mind!

Have a happy weekend!

A poem for Thursday

Still on a Jack Gilbert kick this week. I love the synaesthetic allusions in these lines. Plus, it's a nearly full moon as I write this, so the cover of this book appeals to me, as do the lines of this poem.

After Love
He is watching the music with his eyes closed.
Hearing the piano like a man moving
through the woods thinking by feeling.
The orchestra up in the trees, the heart below,
step by step. The music hurrying sometimes,
but always returning to quiet, like the man
remembering and hoping. It is a thing in us,
mostly unnoticed. There is somehow a pleasure
in the loss. In the yearning. The pain
going this way and that. Never again.
Never bodied again. Again the never.
Slowly. No undergrowth. Almost leaving.
A humming beauty in the silence.
The having been. Having had. And the man
knowing all of him will come to the end.

Favourite pizza

The upside of a thirty day yoga challenge? I definitely have earned a tasty meal or two!

I've made this pizza a couple of times lately, using fingerling potatoes,
caramelized onion relish and Cashel Blue cheese (the recipe calls for Gorgonzola, but Cashel Blue is my unbeatable blue). This recipe was originally published in Donna Hay magazine but you barely need a recipe to create it. I'm a big fan of any meal you can recreate just by looking at the picture!


Image from Issue 47 of Donna Hay, photographed by Chris Court.

The Weather Station

I finally downloaded the new album from The Weather Station on the weekend. Then I lay on my bed and listened to the whole thing over and over. It's truly amazing. I loved their previous album, The Line too, especially the song East, which is still on regular rotation in my wee abode. But I couldn't begin to pick a favourite from All of It Was Mine. It's going to be my winter album for sure.



P.S. Check out this interview Aldrin (of The Iceberg) did with Tamara Lindeman too.

Mountain dreams

I've been dreaming about the mountains, the road up to Jasper, ravens following cars, stopping at every lookout in faithful pairs.


And I remember that feeling the first time I looked up and tried to take in the mountains; dwarfed and vertiginous at the same time. It took me a while to understand you can't just see them like that. It's too much and your brain cracks from trying.

Instead, you can parse it into vistas, pick out specific peaks, a rock rolled onto the frozen lake. You can choose the right soundtrack; Dynamite Walls and Buckner and it will sound perfect until you get too sleepy from the cold and the driving and the white straining your eyes.


I would like to take a winter off and spend it in the mountains, learn to snowshoe and to chop wood, getting the grain and the axe at the right angle, learning to loosen, to strike again. Until a pile is made and my arms are sore. And I can write okay when I'm in Toronto, but when I think about digging really deep into the words, I always wish I was in the mountains.

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New at Coterie!

A new shipment of Jennifer Graham ceramics arrived last week!

I restocked small and large votives, among the most popular sellers. And I also added a new item: a set of three cylinder vessels. I love this set. It's designed for serving, but I'd put them almost anywhere; a dressing table or hallway console.


Shop here!

Sunday best: Books and other things

These days are sublime. The weather is gorgeous, cold and sunny, my favourite combination.

I'm in a good mood, happy even. Which is strange given the difficulty of some days, many moments of utter frustration. But when I get home every night I feel shrouded in calm. I reach for books I haven't read in years and do little chores, gluing that vase I broke or writing out a recipe card with mammy's brown bread recipe. And, despite many plain reasons not to be, I'm optimistic.


I feel affectionate about the things I own, the place I live. I want to dig into that and share it instead of chasing after some new shiny thing. When I recently tidied and rearranged, I really looked at things and I saw so much that tells a wonderful story. The painting I bought in Moscow on my first real adventure. It's moved everywhere with me. And I love it way beyond it being a good painting, it's almost certainly not, but I can't tell anymore.

And certain books, their spines so worn you can't read the titles. But there were others I left behind during various moves. Transatlantic relocation challenges every last possession and there were times when I had to make hard choices. But I let myself replace them this week, carefully picking out the best translations, the more beautiful edition. It feels like a lovely thing to step back into those purchases, familiar titles, compounding feelings, to have a brand new Crime & Punishment land on my desk this week.

Even Friday. I came home and watered my plants and decided to seize the one ripe lemon on my Meyer lemon tree. I twisted it off, a little spray of citrus oil releasing as I did, and put it on the counter, just leaving it there, like a little trophy. And I walked around, doing other things, circling back, checking on it. Until I took up my knife and, rolling it first beneath my palm, sliced into it. I don't know what I was expecting, but I was shocked to find it a real lemon on the inside. It was the best lemon drop I ever made.

And today, all it took was a cup of coffee in my hand, new books in my bag and a dog singling me out for some unknowable dog reason and his entire torso breaking into a giant wag. I just started to smile at the sight of him doing the twist like that and his owner too, realizing he was going to barrel into me and push his nose into my hand, leash be damned. We laughed and I happily surrendered to this sudden, dogged attention. Because it's nice to be instantly and unconditionally loved, even if it's a mystery why.

Happy Sunday!

Products:Baudelaire by Byredo from Barneys | 3.1 Phillip Lim Silk T-Shirt Dress from La Garconne | Duffy Hooded cardigan from Net-a-Porter | Raindrop beret in soft grey from Coterie | Livingstone boot from Ecco | Feather pendant from Linda PenwardenRachel Comey Secret Handle Handbag from Totokaelo | Antique books from 1st Dibs

Friday!

Work slammed me again this week. But I did manage to take a lieu day for worked weekends on Wednesday. I spent that day doing the kind of apartment cleaning you don't get to do on a weekend (or if you do, you do nothing else). And I made appointments with the dentist, optometrist and doctor—finding the actual making of appointments the hardest part.


But much as I know I'm busy, I also feel like I'm pulling back from the internet a bit right now. I know we all go through these phases, when the blogosphere loses it's shine, when there's too much stuff, too little reflection. And I find I want to just write these days and not have to think about watering down my words down with pictures, making it all blog-presentable.

There's also a little hangover from my trip home: I loved just spending easy time with my friends. And since I've got back, I've wanted to do the same with my friends here. I'm really in favour of those moments being uncaptured, left unblogworthy. And some days it seems like whole lives are styled for future blog posts, children coiffed and apartments propped just so. A big part of me rolls my eyes at all of it.

I feel like so many blogs have become just as premeditated as a magazine spread. I really appreciate the talent that goes into conjuring that—it's like spinning a gorgeous fairytale. But, the reality, the individuality is slipping farther away. I wonder how readers are really hooking this up to their lives. And I feel like they're more likely to 'pin' a flower arrangement, outfit or recipe than try to recreate it. That seems like a particularly polarizing way of inspiring.

Of course, all of these feelings are cyclical for me. And if there's a season to feel a bit jaded from it all, it's this one; my inbox bombarded with a US holiday that happened in October for us Canadians and with gift and decor ideas I'm not ready to think about. I just need to back away from it all a little and then I'll find a new way to come at it.

I'm looking forward to the weekend, an extra hour in bed. You doing anything special? I hope it's fantastic!

Photo, my own. More here.

A poem for Thursday

I bought three Jack Gilbert poetry books last week and have been devouring them. Poetry suits this time of year, I think. It's busy and a little unsettled right now, but poetry offers a quick little escape hatch from reality and I can read one over the stove while the water boils, or in the laundry room while the cycle ends. Last week, Todd wrote this. And then I read this poem and thought about the familiar agony of all this. Via.

Going There
Of course it was a disaster.
The unbearable, dearest secret
has always been a disaster.
The danger when we try to leave.
Going over and over afterward
what we should have done
instead of what we did.
But for those short times
we seemed to be alive. Misled,
misused, lied to and cheated,
certainly. Still, for that
little while, we visited
our possible life.

Book report: The Cat's Table

I haven't read a lot of Ondaatje, but I truly loved Divisadero. And, of course, I'm the biggest fan of The Brick, the literary journal Ondaatje edits. So, I had great hopes for The Cat's Table. I loved the premise,  the idea of a shared event that alters everybody involved (McEwan's Enduring Love had a similar, though more dramatic, hook at the start).


But I feel like Ondaatje told us a lot without giving the kind of access to the characters I would have liked. There was something aloof in the telling of this tale. And, as such, I wasn't hooked. Ondaatje writes some beautiful, understated lines. There are passages that were truly luminous. But I needed more than that.

Instead, I coolly followed what had happened to the characters and how their journey changed them, calcified their futures, and yet I didn't really care. At every turn, I was waiting to care, expecting it to creep up on me as it sometimes does. But it never emerged and I finished without feeling impacted.

Cold comfort

The last few mornings have been quiet and misty, the sky full of icy blue and soft pink as autumn golds give way to winter. The palette leaves me feeling rather wispy and romantic, gravitating towards a softer take on cold comfort.


As the autumn golds mellow, I'm ready to embrace a new palette. Muddy pinks and dove greys seem like lovely colours to be wrapped up in right now. And just like that, a new season unfurls and, although we always do, it seems silly that we ever play favourites with the seasons.



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