A loose diamond is such a pretty thing, until it finds the perfect setting, and then, well it’s extraordinary. It’s as though the diamond needs a container for all that exquisite energy. I tend to like the simpler settings, with little guss and fuss. Let the diamond speak for itself.
I’m perplexed by people who buy a painting because it matches their pouf. I feel that the art and objects we surround ourselves with deserve more compelling stories than that. One of my favorite things, given to us as a wedding gift by our friend and koumbara, Stephanie is a life-size ceramic chicken, once used for transporting wine and vinegar. These chickens, (or are they roosters, I’m not sure) were traditionally made for Nicola Fasano from the village of Grottaglie in Puglia. I don’t remember how Jason and I flew home with it from London, but I do know that it’s had pride of place at our table for years now. It’s unique and charming, and has a great sense of humour, much like Steph.
It all started with a pink sofa. I’ve been thinking about one for some time. I think it’s more of a chaise that I have in mind, in a mellon pink, or a dusty rose, like the buildings in Marrakech. And then I happened on this image, and boom, my heart exploded. I can’t express how much I love this sofa/room/house; and so I’m not going to even try.
My mum was a stickler for thank-you notes. And all that nagging paid off, because by my mid-teens, the act of writing a thank-you note was second nature. I love shopping for whimsical stationary and pretty pens; I love sitting down to write a short, but considered note; and I love letting my children decorate the envelopes with scribbles and glitter. Important events and big acts of generosity always warrant a hand-written note, but sometimes it’s nice to just say, “hello” or “thank-you for watering the begonia.” Iole is learning to write, and like my mother, I too insist on handwritten notes. Half the time, it’s hard to make heads or tails of her curly penmanship, but the sentiment is there. And sometimes, that’s enough.
It was the cover –– a fauvist inspired landscape by Paula Munck –– that caught my eye. And when I flicked through the first few pages of Richard Goodman’s ‘French Dirt, The story of a garden in the south of France,’ I knew I had found my summer reading. I didn’t have cash on me, and the hunchbacked lady behind the till at my local second hand bookstore wouldn’t put it aside, (“look, I won’t put it in the window, how’s that?) But two weeks later when I finally made it back, there it was, in the same spot, waiting for me to pick it up.
“I had a garden in the south of France. It wasn’t a big garden. Or a sumptuous one. Or a successful one, even, in the end. But that didn’t matter. It was my garden, and I worked it hard and lovingly for the few months I had it –– or it had me. This little piece of tan, clayey, French earth, nine meters by thirteen meters, (thirty feet by fourty-three feet) was in fact the first garden I ever had. It taught me a great deal about myself. “Your garden will reveal yourself,” writes the wise gardener Henry Mitchell. It did. It taught me that I am generous, impatient, hard-working, sentimental, boyish, stubborn and lazy.”
We have a tiny third bedroom with just enough room for a crib and a small chest of drawers. It’s festooned with bunting and air balloons, and from the ceiling, hangs a fabulous lime green chandelier I bought from an upcycler in Miami just before Iole was born. For the moment, it’s Luma’s room, but I can see the baby rooming with Antimo soon, and Iole moving back into her old nursery. She’s mentioned a bunk bed, which could possible fit, (like a cabin on a ship) but I have other ideas.
My friend Polly had a laugh so decadent that it lingered long after she left a room. Her laugh was the perfume equivalent of a Chanel no 5. Only, she never would have worn anything so classic and familiar. Instead, I imagine her flitting between a scented oil she picked up at a market in Delhi or an offbeat scent from an independent, small batch perfumer out of Brooklyn. It was Polly who introduced me to the lovely Les Senteurs on Elizabeth Street in London. It’s the city’s oldest independent perfumery, with a wide array of scents from olfactory wizards like Pierre Guillame, Robert Piguet and Frederic Malle. Next time I’m in London, I’ll walk past the shop, take a great, big breath, and think of my friend.
Birthday presents are splendid, but a gift on an ordinary Wednesday is even better. Personally, I don’t think we need occasions to give gifts, and lucky for me, my friend Bianca, agrees. She’s forever turning up at my kitchen table with some tchotchke or another. Today, it was a book for Luma (me) that is a total delight. A million miles beyond your typical ‘A is for Apple, B is for Boat’ alphabet book, alphabetics is packed with juicy words and delicious images. There is ‘Daisy the dauntless diver,’ ‘Uma the unpredictable unicorn’ and ‘Ezra the eccentric eskimo.’ Of course, no one comes close to Bianca, the barefoot break-dancing babooshka.
Agapanthus are one of my mother’s favourite flowers. I love how their delicate blue flowers form a pompom on top of a long, skinny stem. This home, above Capri’s famous blue grotto, has a beautiful garden filled with orange and lemon trees as well an abundance of Agapanthus. I personally like them in white, like the ones here, that lead out to the terrace overlooking the sea.
No other part of my wardrobe tells the story of the last decade quite like my underwear drawer does. Delicate Eres bras and tiny, frilly knickers sit neatly among the piles of well-worn nursing bras and cotton granny pants. Yesterday, I tried on a fabulous Mara Hoffman cream linen maxi-gown with an embroidered rainbow of colour across the chest that reminded me of a Delaunay painting. “But what does one wear underneath,” I asked the 20-something-year-young shop girl, while gesturing to the gaping arm holes, cut deep enough to expose the brazier and beyond. She suggested something slinky and sheer to which I scoffed, “I’ve had three babies, my boobs wobble like blancmanges –– thank-you, but I don’t do slinky.” In truth, her suggestion was a lovely one; a pretty, wisp of a bra would be perfect under that dress. It’s just that these days, I prefer undergarments with purpose. Give me a well-upholstered bra and responsible pants, sil- vous-plait. And give me a needle and thread, so I can sew up the arm holes on that (otherwise) dream dress.