Posts from September 2023


September 28, 2023

As a ceramicist, I’m often thinking about what my vessels might hold. Is this long enough for asparagus? Deep enough for soup? Beautiful enough to hold nothing at all? When life is really busy and intense, as it is right now, I return to the tiniest of vessels. The focus they demand is so strong that everything else turns to black. I can’t think too much about what these tiny vessels will hold –– salt, sand, air –– or pragmatism will take over and I won’t make anything at all. And so I stand here, pinching tiny bowls on tiny pedestals with tiny handles, knowing that their end function matters so much less than the focus they are bringing me in the here and now. The beauties below are by Japanese artist, Yuta Segawa. I own five of them, and they’re filled with nothing but dust and joy.

strega nona

September 24, 2023

The grilled cheese sandwich I ate for lunch today made my day. So did the rocks I found down on the lake. But the best part of my day was discovering the work of British collage artist, Jo Waterhouse. I’m not sure that I’ll ever have the good fortune of owning one as they sell out fast but I’m happy to know they exist. It’s her wonderful women –– all a bit grandma-witchy –– that I adore. And just as good, are their brilliant titles; “a sturdy woman on a mission to do something important involving some branches,” or “a sensual woman in the sheerest of dresses invoking the power of the piscean.” Please watch her short introductory videos. I bet they’ll make your day, too.


September 23, 2023

Today was one of those days that make you wish it was September all year around. I was lucky enough to spend a lot of it on a patio. If not for the intermittent breeze, I might have forgotten I was even outside. Not too hot, not too cold. This thinking always brings me to the same place: if there were no sweltering Augusts and frigid Februaries would I appreciate September as much as I do? Would I become complacent to the joys of warm and breezy if I felt it all the time? Are periods of “grace” that much sweeter when we know what it is to struggle? “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” Sing it, Dolly. One of my favourite summer pastimes is to sit on the bench on our front porch until it goes dark. Every year around this time I start to lament the loss of this simple pleasure. The days are shorter, the evenings are chilly. I retreat inside to baked potatoes. To Netflix. I try to get cozy. Prepare for Winter. And whatever it has in store.

once upon a time

September 18, 2023

Between a nasty infection in my chest, a vicious wasp sting on my son’s ring finger, and a skin infection that left a constellation of flaming red sores across the right side of my teenage daughter’s face, I’ve spent a fair bit of September in a doctor’s office. The upside of sickness was a chance to read books and watch films, two things I don’t do nearly enough of. Kerry Clare’s latest book, Asking For A Friend hit home in so many ways. Just as relatable, was Julia Louis Dreyfus’, You Hurt My Feelings. What I was drawn to in both, and what I’m mostly drawn to, is material that’s familiar and accessible and that helps us better understand and connect with the human experience. I related viscerally to Clare’s portrayal of post-natal anxiety and the unspooling that her protagonists undergo in early motherhood. And watching Louis Dreyfus cry on camera after her character overhears her husband, her greatest champion, admit that he hates the book she’s written, is shattering. The characters’ beautiful, relatable and unavoidable flaws make the stories so true to life that we can’t help but reflect on our own life experiences. “The secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets,” writes Arundhati Roy. “The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in.”

higher ground

September 12, 2023

My daughter, Luma is an avid beader. This aerial view of Labbezanga, a small riverport village in Mali, photographed by Georg Gerster in the early 1970s reminded me of our kitchen table when Luma’s at work. One of the magical things about aerial photography is the multitude of textures, patterns and visual references that reveal themselves when we shift our perspective. We see a whole new world. “I see my best aerial photographs as a kick-start for flights of thought. The aerial picture is a tool of reflection. From high up, one sees not only what is, but just as well what could be – the inventory of our possibilities.”

the taste of memory

September 5, 2023

Given that my grandmother didn’t cook, it’s ironic that so many of my memories of her are attached to food. I think it’s partly because we ate things in her home that we didn’t eat anywhere else. Ice cream sandwiches. Hot dogs. Cinnamon donuts. Cracker Jack cereal. I grew up in England in the 80s; our junk food was limited compared to what was available in sunny Bermuda. While my grandmother appreciated fine dining, she was happiest eating a tuna sandwich on the golf course. Or a freshly battered corn dog at LaGuardia Airport. “They’re the best in the world.” One of my favourite things to do together was to go grocery shopping at Miles Market and load up the cart with ice tea, Kraft slices, sugary cereals and mini marshmallows that I’d eat by the handful on the way home. Years later, once I lived in Toronto and I was able to visit her more often, either in Florida or Manhattan where she then lived, she’d always send me home with a stash of English muffins, Entenmann’s cookies, or a honey glazed ham in my carry-on. On our last visit together in New York right before she died, I remember her asking me to get her a chicken salad sandwich while she got her chemo infusion. I went to five different places near the clinic searching for the perfect chicken sandwich and came back with some Gourmet thing slathered in a Caesar-ish dressing and alfalfa sprouts. She took one disdained look at it and shoved it straight back into the bag. Who brings alfalfa sprouts to a chemo patient? As is so often the case in these moments, the gussied up sandwich was what I wanted to give her, not what she wanted to eat. A few weeks ago, I was travelling through a new and improved LaGuardia, and I felt a pang in my heart when I saw that her corn dog stand is gone. “I mean, the cheek of it. They were the best in the world.”

note to self

September 1, 2023

Somewhere between 40 and 45 it became painfully clear to me that much of my identity hinged on what I thought other people thought of me. And that many of my efforts at self betterment, this blog included, were in service of an imagined ideal. It’s an impossible way to live; it gets in the way of everything, not least, one’s ability to know and be themselves. Start where you are. Write about what you know. And the best advice of all, write like nobody’s reading. Thinking about what someone is thinking when they’re reading your work is the surest way to suck the life out of it, specifically your life. I love writing. And I needed to take a break from it this summer so I could remind myself who I am writing for.

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