Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bill Cunningham, New York

If you like clothes, or you like New York, or you like people, especially passionate artists of real integrity, I urge you to see this film: Bill Cunningham New York (2010).

At 80, Bill has spent most of his adult life living in a small studio apartment in Carnegie Hall (no kitchen, shared bathroom), and spending his days cycling around the streets of Manhattan, photographing people - mainly women - in stylish outfits. For him it's not about being a cookie-cutter fashionista; what intrigues him are those people who are creative with how they dress themselves. He's certainly in the right city for it. A former hat-maker, and now a fashion and special event photographer for the New York Times, he is a joyful, gently eccentric character who eschews money, "in and out" lists (and other forms of cruelty) and standing out in a crowd; in fact his own outfit of choice is usually topped by a $20 blue jacket, the same issue as is worn by the street cleaners of Paris (he picks up fresh supplies during Fashion Week).

How he has maintained his gentle manner, single-minded passion, and his life (dodging the traffic on his bike, no helmut) is a marvel in that great city.

I caught this film the last day of its run at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto. Hoping it comes to you soon; otherwise pick it up on DVD.

Click on the poster below to see a larger version, borrowed from the official Zeitgeist films website.


A whimsical moment and I suppose the least the captors can do for their prisoner is provide the occasional divertissement.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

It Will Rain on my Soul, All Night, All Day

... well I'm sort of hoping it'll stop enough for me to get home dry this time.

It's been a Neruda kind of day. I came in to work as it was destined to rain and I had much to do to catch up and get ahead.

I'm always amazed at how much I can do on a weekend day at work. I achieve more in two hours than I do a normal day, with no interruptions, no segues. So, as much as I refuse to make a habit of it, at times it's very effective.

The rain did start. And I enjoyed the strange pearly light coming in my two office windows, a pearly glow that got progressively darker, until it begain to feel a little apocalyptic. At its heaviest the rain has been magnificent.

I warmed myself with my stash of peppermint tea, some Godiva dark chocolate pearls, and this beautiful scene from Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990 - has it already been 21 years?!)

//Update: The sky cleared, the barometric pressure dropped... all is cool and fresh now - heaven.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Drinking it Up

... No, not more scotch, but appreciating every drop that's left of the late summer.

Last night I came home after working far too late. I wanted to give myself a treat. And that treat was eating two steaming and buttery corns on the cob, sitting on the carpet in front of the television, watching Coronation Street. I felt so lucky.

High maintenance? I don't think so.

Well, not most of the time, anyway.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It Rained

Not just drops, but great globules of rain fell yesterday evening and I was caught in it. I stood under a tree for a while (thanks trees!), until it became obvious that even that fine specimen wasn't going to hold off this monsoon-like waterfall. Nearly home, I continued my way, ankle deep at times, then paused again under another tree, laughing with delight. I was soaked. Not damp, but soaked as if I'd got into my own shower at home fully clothed and stood under the spray for about five minutes. It was delightful. It reminded me of a similar incident from my 20s. Warm summer rain, taking off our shoes, and laughing with delight.

I came home, showered (for some reason) and poured a scotch.

Lucky girl.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Happy Find

In the same little treasure trove store I have found many other bits and pieces. A new/old sewing basket...

So well made.

Clean as a whistle.

Perfect size.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Recent Books

Little Newt snorted. "Religion!"

"Beg your pardon?" Castle said.

"See the cat?" asked Newt. "See the cradle?"

(From Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut)

Cat's Cradle was one of the books I read on vacation, continuing my Vonnegut streak. I also ploughed through The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox and A Widow for One Year by John Irving. I admit I have not been reading much of anything the last year. Too busy? Too distracted? There's no excuse, and this past vacation saw the rebirth in me of the joy of reading. I've also - after years away - joined another book club. I like the sound of this one; they only meet every couple of months or so, so lots of time for reading other books as well.

Cat's Cradle was brilliantly imaginative and subversively funny. I miss it already, and that's a great feeling, when you miss a book. The Meaning of Night was fascinating and frustrating. I was lucky that there was someone else at the cottage who'd read it, so I could vent and share my feelings. Set in Victorian London, it starts with the confession of a murder and then delves into the history behind that murder. In that respect it reminds me of The Secret History by Donna Tartt, which begins by telling you who has been murdered and by who, and then goes on to explain why. Meaning of Night was rife with detail of life in the London underworld of its time. And there is much to learn about those book collectors of the time and about how the great libraries of Britain stately homes came to be.


But what I found so frustrating -- the deeply neurotic and self-sabotaging behaviour of the main character -- was also quite believeable... or was it? And what of the mountains of coincidence that brought our main character time and time again in step with his nemesis? This is what we debated. Feel free to weigh in if you have read this book.

I avidly read all of John Irving's books, but stopped after A Son of the Circus. It's been a while now, so I don't recall why I didn't enjoy it. BUT... I kept buying his books. As I packed for our cottage stay I tossed A Widow for One Year into my bag. I'm glad I did. It is as whimsically Dickensian, as quirkily charactered and as funny and serious as any of his best books. It's also bulging with semi colons (hooray!) and even though it boasts none of the oft repeated stand bys (bears, Vienna), it does pay homage to at least one of his older books with one mention of one flatulent dog. I recommend!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cottage: Round Up

It was a beautiful 10 days.

We had one incredible storm in the middle of the night. We all got up to gaze, slack-jawed, at the fury of nature. That left us without power or water for a day, but it made getting them back all the sweeter!

We swam, ate, read, and - like last year - wrote a tandem tale. One of us started it, and so it went around the group several times until the last evening when we wrapped it up. In short, a young woman working in a munitions factory in Montreal during WWII, defeats Hitler and saves the world with the help of a Mexican dwarf and a kayak full of chipmunks.

The sunsets were still amazing.

This BPG left her heart in the Kawarthas.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cottage: Chipmunks

There is nothing cuter than a chipmunk. No wonder Walt Disney used them so avidly. If Beatrix Potter had had access to them, they would have been the stars of her little books.

This year, they were very friendly! Thank goodness they are fairly gentle, as my toes resemble unshelled peanuts most unnervingly.

Bruce took a big shine to them.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Cottage: Mystery Solved

Remember this?

It's a detail that M found on our cottage vacation while kayaking to a nearby island. A bone-clean (heh) deer skull. It was quite amazing to examine.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cottage: Kayaking

I took more video than photos during my kayaking expeditions this time around. Once they're edited together, I'll post them on Youtube.

One day I went out and it was very choppy. However, once in this small inlet, it was quiet. This is a favourite spot to visit. It's full of water lilies and very magical. My photos don't do it justice.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cottage: Mystery

Can you guess what this is?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cottage: Food

You knew there would be some food pics, right? I was with three extremely good cooks, so we ate very, very well over the 10 days.

This locally made seed bread was so delicious. I bought it from a lady in the small Apsley market, and I can only assume she made it at home. I'm still thinking about it and wishing I could get some more. It had a strong sour-dough taste and was moist and had that "fight back" quality I like. If the lady from Apsley, or one of her friends, reads this, please let me know!

I rarely have bacon at home, and whenever I catch the scent of it, I'm instantly reminded of cottage life.

Pork chops, like before, marinaded in anise and olive oil.

The same limoncello tiramisu, as enjoyed a short time ago in the city. My photograph doesn't do it justice.

We gorged on local tomatoes. So... many... tomatoes. Here we had them with pasta in a mushroom sauce.

Brie, spiked and drizzled with Chardonnay and fresh thyme. Baked and enjoyed with baguette. Yum.

Fresh and local and tender.

Perfect cooling-off, after-swim treat.

One night it was Indian food. My mouth is watering as I type this.

Brilliant idea, M, to put gorgonzola in with the burgers!

My favourite.

We certainly spoiled ourselves.

And of course we drank.

Bruce tended the bar, as usual.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Hello Foxy

Well, I finally gave up on Internet Explorer.

Blogging had become a nightmare, with bizarre formatting problems and other odd quirks. Then I couldn't access my e-mail... now and then. Finally this morning a friend's blog just disappeared.

I have moved over to Firefox and am so much happier for it.


Cottage: Water

I spent several mornings taking pictures of the water, looking down into it, playing with some (fake) pearls and other props in it. It was good to play, and to just be there, completely in the moment.

Which reminds me of a silly story my boss found very amusing recently. I was telling her that I had been reading while sitting on the streetcar. The book was on meditiation, on how important it is to be in the moment, to not need distractions or to be engaged electronically (I think we all know what a pandemic this is!). However I was finding it hard to concentrate as I was listening to my mp3 player and texting on my cell phone.

Sigh. I'm trying.

We Went...

... and there are more pics to come.