Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Great 20th Century British Aesthetes

Stephen Tennant. Noel Coward. Dirk Bogarde. Osbert Sitwell. Cecil Beaton. Harold Acton (if anyone can ever find me a copy of "Memoirs of an Aesthete", I'll be indebted to them forever). Beverley Nichols. E.F. Benson. Ronald Firbank. Saki.

The next time you're in a good used bookstore, run to the shelves and hunt for some of their brilliant (and often brilliantly funny) works.

Then open a page and instantly elevate your afternoon.

Thinking of India

...of the beautiful mothers with their liquid brown eyes......of the slum children who raced alongside our van through the small villages......of the holy sadhu who sat by the side of the road crocheting bags for tourists...
...of the school children who practiced their English on us and asked if they could be in our photographs...
...of the train porter who insisted on carrying my 100-pound suitcase on his head...
...of the serene little boy who sat by the steps of the Ganges and prayed...
...of the barefoot toddler who wandered the streets of Rishikesh by herself, uncowed and unafraid...
...if I could take a jet plane back there tomorrow, I would.  

(Credits:  All photos taken by me with my Nikon D40, the digital camera that changed my life.)

Consoling Thoughts

So I was flipping through the new Pottery Barn catalog (yes, I admit it) and the Rhys console table caught my eye.  (Oh, the names!  Who is the "Rhys" for?  Jean Rhys, the 1920's novelist who wrote so unflinchingly about alcoholism and female desire? Rhys Ifans, Sienna Miller's old flame? Matthew Rhys, her flame before Ifans?  Somehow, I think not.)
Anyhow, I was deliberating whether I could use it as a bar/buffet in my dining room.  Here's what I like about it.  It reminds me of an old card catalog (before libraries went digital, remember?) and at just 16 inches wide, it won't stick out too far.  I'd use it to hold dishes and glasses in the cabinets, my Belgian napkins in the two drawers and some kind of textural container-like objects underneath.  Plus, it would fit in nicely with the bookcase wallpaper that flanks one wall of the room.

Best of all, it's practically recession-proof at only $699.

A Sacrificial Meal

The Divine Italian made me breakfast this morning.  It was in accordance with the yearly honor of the day when I made my first squalling appearance upon this planet.  Let's just say I haven't quite reached the age of that celebrity who adopted a baby from Malawi, but am definitely older than that other celebrity who adopted babies from Cambodia, Vietnam and Ethiopia.  

Next to it was a birthday card from my six year old, who is currently gripped with the "Bone" graphic novels by Jeff Smith.  

For breakfast, I was presented with a delicious egg omelet, folded onto a heap of smoked salmon, topped with caviar and creme fraiche, all on a toasted seed bagel, with a steaming latte on the side (the way I like it, foamy and with one sugar).  

But what made it REALLY special is that he is currently on Day Five of the Master Cleanse, something he does for one week annually, starting the day after Thanksgiving.  So there he was, cooking away, having only ingested lemonade with maple syrup and cayenne pepper for over 96 hours, while all those fragrant smells wafted up past his nose and threatened to reawaken his dormant appetite.  If that's not a sacrificial gesture, I don't know what is.

And can I just say that the Italian is soo much nicer when he's fasting?  He becomes like a Zen master or something.  Calm, serene, and peaceful -- probably because he's weak, tired and has no energy to argue.  Whatever.  I like it.  I asked him today if he could go without food for another week.  I thought I caught a glimpse of Bobby Sands in his eyes, so I backed off.


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