Posts from June 2022

the lesson

June 30, 2022

It seems odd, indulgent, even to be paying for Greek lessons when I have a whole pool of family of friends to practice with. I could call any number of them for a natter. Only I know that within seconds I’d revert to English, as would they. I needed to talk to somebody that would only speak to me In Greek, and that would insist that I do the same. Enter Eleni from Thessaloniki. We only speak Greek, and it’s as frustrating as it is liberating. Frustrating because Greek is so hard. And because basic words like ‘bill” are a million letters long. λογαριασμό. And because it’s been so long since I spoke Greek that I can’t remember the word for toaster or pineapple. And because I learned Greek as a child, and my vocabulary doesn’t include words like bigotry and sensationalism. What’s the word for surreal, Eleni? How do you say expectation? Fuck, Greek is hard. Did I say that already? And liberating because I have no inhibitions with Eleni. I’m ok with sounding like a pillock. So much so, that I am more myself with Eleni than I am with many people I’ve known all my life. With them, I am a paler version of myself because I’m tongue tied or scared of making mistakes. I don’t have my usual artillery of words, and I can’t express myself the way I would like. When my brother moved to Athens 15-years ago with braces and very rusty Greek, he said to me, “Athena, I’m just not funny here.” Alex’s ability to make people laugh is his gift, and his storytelling is another. Words facilitate both. He was lost. Eventually, his Greek improved. And/or he got comfortable with being himself, broken Greek, and all. When I go to Greece next month, (my first visit home in four years) will I revert to English? Or will I charge through with whatever words I can muster? Am I willing to sound like a pillock? That’s how Alex did it. That’s how anyone does anything.

all creatures great and small

June 29, 2022

On the lake last week, the black flies were out in abundance. The mosquitoes, too. I wondered how all my camping friends endure the constant buzzing and swatting around their heads. “The mosquitoes are just part of it,” said one avid camper. “You learn to avoid dusk and dawn. Repellent is our Chanel no. 5.” I came home from a hike with 17 bites around my neck. Damn you, mozzies. Damn you, flies. How can something so tiny forge such a striking attack? Next hike –– because I love the woods too much to be at the mercy of mozzies –– I am bringing a mosquito suit. That, and I’m bathing in deet. Otto Piene’s 1979 painting entitled, “Mosquito” captures the heat and intensity that these little creatures are able to create inside the human body.

around and around

June 28, 2022

Beautiful land art by Jon Foreman.

This charmingly cluttered London home.


Jules Olitski’s colour rich irregular shapes.

The art of tablecloths.

Summer dresses by Daniela Gregis.


June 27, 2022

One of the many gifts of three children has been the chance to re-live the newborn phase, each time bringing more wisdom and levity to the experience. The first time turned me inside out. I sometimes imagine how wonderful it would be to re-live that first time with what I know now. It’s a naive little fantasy, but one layered with nostalgia and regret. I’d hold Iole for as many hours as the day holds, and know that everything else –– the cracked nipples and plum-sized blood clots, the endless screaming and uncertainty –– would pass. She’s a teenager now, and as the first in line, I’m still more raw and unsure with her than I am with her siblings. “Every time you do something for the first time, I am doing it for the first time, too,” I often say to her in a plea for her patience and understanding. We can’t go back, but we can reflect on the journey, and move forward as wiser and more compassionate people. Iole is one of my greatest teachers. Happy Birthday, beautiful girl. You light the path.

June 24

June 24, 2022

“Remember who you are. Not just a wave, but the entire ocean. Not just a cloud, but the entire sky.”

lake swimming

June 24, 2022

The first time I swam in a lake was in the late 80s at Kingsley Pines summer camp in Maine. I was used to seawater, so the lake –– smooth, cold and gunmetal grey –– was such a novelty. I imagined all kinds of lake monsters lurking beneath the water. Not being able to see down to the bottom was unnerving. I’d watched Stand By Me, so I was leery of leeches. Saltwater will always be my favourite water to swim in. But there’s something about lake water that is a majesty unto itself. This week, I swam laps across a small motor-free lake in Hunstville remembering my first lake swims at camp. In the morning, the lake water was almost obsidian in colour, choppy, and so cold you have no choice but to move your body rigorously. By dusk, it was Wedgewood blue and smooth as glass. What a thrill to swim in a lake like this. Snapping turtles, leeches, and all.


June 22, 2022

“It’s not for everyone…. ” is music to my ears. Whether it’s a line of bathing suits, a new restaurant, a style of painting or a way of living, the description denotes daring and originality and nerve. Batsheva Hay‘s collection of furniture is not for everyone. “The fabrics I used for these furniture pieces are all vintage upholstery that I have collected for years. Some are from the 1920s and the most recent ones are from the 1980s. I liked mashing up asynchronous fabrics—a bright watercolour floral from the 1980s with a 1970s acid green faux patchwork piece, or a 1920s floral print with an ’80s velvet zebra,” Hay tells Vogue. It’s garish, like your Grandma’s chintzy house, joyful and utterly original.

road map

June 20, 2022

I have a handful of friends that I’ve known for as long as I can remember. My memories of them span the gamut, from sandpit fights to vomiting out of car windows. They’re my road map back to where I started. When they send me pictures of their children I feel that I know the kids so well. The hair, the nose, the stance –– it’s all so familiar. That was the face I threw sand at. That was the ponytail I held back while you vomited out the window. Given that I am far from where I started, and not just geographically, that road map is really precious to me. I think about them all the time; Sunday lunches, our love for Christian Slater, and how we supported each other through deaths and divorces and Bet Lynch leaving Coronation Street. I wonder what their kitchens look like, and what music they play on the school run. The wonderful thing is, and I know this for certain, that we’d pick up right where we left off if face to face. Lower ponytails. Wrinklier faces.

apple of my eye

June 18, 2022

If I had to choose a favourite dessert, it would be some form of tart. Lemon is a front-runner, but I also love Raspberry. This recipe by Angela Hartnett for apple tart looks delicious. Apple tart or an apple galette is a popular topper to English Sunday lunches. Served piping hot, with vanilla ice cream, there are few puddings yummier. Serve it on parchment paper, or on a large wooden cutting board.

around and around

June 16, 2022

Scott Bergey’s muted pallet and whimsical style.

Carol Russell’s charming wooden spoons.

Elderflower and Gin sorbet.

This retro bather.

Dream car.

An Inuit woman and child giving each other a kunik.

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