At Luma’s christening lunch we filled Uashmama bags with fresh rosemary and heather and set them on naked wooden tables. I agree with famed Sydney florist, Lisa Cooper when she says that a bunch of herbs is arguably just as beautiful as flowers. I gave the rosemary needles a good rub the day before to bring out the fragrance, e voilà, we were ready to go.
Even in a big house with lots of rooms, my brother and I still shared a room. I think room sharing among siblings is fun and endearing, but it’s also a brilliant daily exercise in compromise and negotiation. One wants the lights dimmed, the other wants them off. One wants the door ajar, the other prefers it shut. Some days, I go downstairs and leave Iole and Antimo bickering away (“I want the curtains closed! I want them open!”) only to find them cuddled up in Iole’s single bed when I check on them two-hours later. It warms my heart to see the love between them, and it impresses me that they are able to muddle through their differences. It’s in these situations that their relationship will grow, and that they as individuals will flourish, too. Patience, kindness and knowing when to hold your ground and when to concede. These are just some of the lessons that they will teach one another.
I love the idea of a signature scent. My grandmother wore First by Van Cleef Arpel for years, and to this day, I feel compelled to engage with any woman wearing it. I don’t come across too many, mind you. It’s a dramatic scent, one that few can pull off. Other than brief flirtations with Anais Anais (age 8) Amarige (age 14) and Cristalle (late teens) I have never had a signature scent. I think for it to be your “signature” you need to have worn it for at least a decade. My mother has worn Carolina Herrera for about that long, and it suits her so beautifully. It’s hard to find a scent that is both familiar and unique. And that’s just what it is.
Between the ghouls, Guy Fawkes and our birthdays, this was always an exciting time of year for my brother and I. Most years, we celebrated our birthdays together, running around a bonfire in Battersea Park or watching fireworks over the River Thames. One year, we had a Halloween party at home with apple bobbing and pin the wart on the witch. My mum wore a bin liner and a witch’s hat and probably cackled at my brother’s pre-teen pals all night. I wore a grass skirt and lei. Not very scary. When I think of it now, it was pretty brave/bonkers of her to have twenty ten and 12-year olds in her home, high on Maltesers and Coca Cola. Bravo Mama. You were always the best witch.
On the weekend, Jason and I walked the sandbanks beach in Prince Edward County. It was cold and windy and the sky was a steel gray. I love being near the water, so it didn’t matter much that the weather was so moody. The kite surfers didn’t seem to mind either. We saw at least four out there, taking each wave with poise and power. I’m always inspired by people committed to a sport –– something that gets them in the water, on the pitch or up a mountain, regardless of the cold. My father swims laps in a lake outside Athens in November and my sister-in-law will run miles through the Toronto winter. “Imagine how invigorating that must feel,” I said to Jason as we looked on from the shell-laced beach. “Imagine how great they’ll feel tonight, warming up by a fire with a large cup of tea.”
“You’re entirely bonkers,” wrote Lewis Caroll. “But I’ll tell you a secret: all the best people are.” I think it’s fair to say that we’re all a little bonkers. Luckily for me, my family and friends are a lot bonkers. And with that comes chaos and challenge and the kind of laughter that makes you feel like someone poured a jug of sunshine into your soul.
The work of Italian artist Mario Merz –– a leading figure of the Arte Povera –– is the subject of a retrospective at the Museum of Cycladic Art right now. It was in the late 60s that Merz started constructing his signature igloos out of metal, clay, wax, glass, burlap and branches with political or literary phrases scribbled upon them in neon. The idea of dedicating oneself to a single motif, exploring it to its seams and reinterpreting it a thousands times over, is so fascinating to me.
When I’m in the mood for fantasy fashion I go to The Room. It’s really the only place in Toronto where you feel like you’ve stepped into a walk-in cupboard at VOGUE or backstage at a runway show. The racks are close together and packed full of beautifully sequined Giambattista coats, shimmery Erdem capes, Comme shirts with a million pleats and Roksanda Ilincic gowns in eye popping hues. It’s a fun outing, no different in my mind to a visit to the AGO or the ROM. Fashion is art, fashion is theatre –– fashion is history.
I’m a big fan of graphic, monochromatic quilts, but in the right setting, even chintz quilts are charming. At Jan Marriott’s stall at the saturday Brickworks Market, I considered an antique 1920’s quilt covered in hand embroidered Dahlias once, but was very quickly put off by the thought of a million families and their cats curling up inside it. I do have my eye on these colouful, modern versions from A.P.C. though, and these monochromatic beauties are high on the list, too. There’s no curling up in quilts like these. This is art for the wall.
I have discovered a lighting shop owned by a charming man from Trieste who travels to Italy twice a year to source dazzling chandeliers, stylish vintage sconces and beautiful lamps with large parchment shades. I’ve been looking for a light to hang above our dining room table, and of course, my eye darted to the very grandest, most expensive ones in the room. Indeed, if money were no object, I may have chosen an antique showstopper dripping in smokey gray crystals. Just a little conversation sparker.