Sunday, June 29, 2008


This weekend I had the good fortune to follow the coastline to Stinson Beach where friends invited us to play in the sand - even in the fog there's a magic to playing by the sea.

Last weekend in celebration of summer we found ourselves in the company of old friends (and new) hiking & biking along the trails of Sea Ranch in Mendocino. It was great to hang out with a family who cook together, play music together and take great "Risk" together - thank you everyone!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

wings of desire, libraries, nick cave & angels

One of my favorite films from the 80s is Wim Wender's Wings of Desire (for many reasons), but one of them is because part of the movie takes place in the Staatsbiblioteck (State Library) in Berlin. I loved the premise of angels in black & white wandering around listening to our thoughts.

Another reason I love this movie is that Nick Cave performs "Eternity" in it and did you know that while he was in Berlin he was inspired to write his own novel that he stayed in germany for three years to complete and that it too has angels in it's title...

Monday, June 16, 2008

when in to ravello (just above amalfi)

When in Italy last month (for the first time) I had the pleasure of driving the Autostrade to Naples and points beyond Pompei along the chaotically curved roads that follow the sea like a drunk lover - the Amalfi Coast. From Amalfi, which is a charming seaside town where we sampled Limoncello and bought beautiful hand-made papers and ceramics, we drove straight up the road leading us past terraced lemon groves to the town of Ravello where Gore Vidal bought his beautiful Villa Rondinaia in 1972 and lived a good deal of the time till 2006 when he sold it to hotelier Vincenzo Palumbo. We had the good fortune to meet Mr. Palumbo who also owns the nearby Villa Eva, Villa Maria and Giardano restaurant where we had lunch looking over the sea.

When lunch was finished Mr. Palumbo's charming son very graciously gave us a private tour of Villa Rondinaia which means swallow's nest in Italian.

While much of the home is being renovated to soon re-open as a luxury destination for travellers, the office where Gore Vidal once wrote is still relatively unchanged. His desk is still center-stage with an old Underwood typewriter and personal photographs. Dozens of his books translated into a Babel of languages line the shelves and an old fireplace still has ashes in it.
Here we are on the balcony outside the master bedroom - you can see why it was named after a swallow's nest!

Now I really must read his memoir Palimpsest or even better his biography by Ed Kaplan.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

When Life gives you lemons...

Make lemonade course! With the summer weather we're having on both coasts a tall glass sounds good right about now...
Of course you need a lemonade stand

If lemonade is not appealing, how about Moroccan preserved lemons? And if there are lemons left over of course there's Limoncello!
Or U2's Lemon...
After all you've been through you'll understand why simplicity is key

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Oh Canada!

The first thing I noticed about Toronto was how green it was! Lilacs in full bloom with tree lined streets, beds of bearded iris and corner stores selling hanging baskets of geraniums and flats of snapdragons or marigolds.
The next thing I noticed was how many churches there were and old ivy-covered buildings made of bricks as I wandered the University of Toronto camps near Queen's Circle. Toronto has a fairly large population from India & Pakistan with many shops and restaurants like this on Gerrard Street; tikka houses, fabric and sari shops - even paan shops! Leslieville with it's wonderful mid-century furniture stores, bakeries with home-made cupcakes and this lamp store was one of my favorite areas.
Allen Gardens was still very beautiful (and free) - the glass conservatory filled with trees and flowers, a koi pond, fountain and a friendly gardener like Mr. Greenjeans on Captain Kangaroo.

This was Monteith Avenue where I stayed in a little B&B - I love these old heritage houses.
The CN Tower is the beacon one looks for to check your bearings - it evidently has amazing views and a restaurant up there! I took this in front of the Ontario College of Art on McCaul Street. I'd gone to check out the Henry Moore sculptures at the Ontario Art Gallery but it was closed till November while a new wing by Canadian architect Frank Gehry was being added.
A few days later I visited the Art Gallery of Hamilton with my brother Miles to see the iconic painting Horse & Train by Canadian artist Alex Colville but it was in the vault till November so I had to settle for a wonderful book about his work and a giclee print . I first saw this image on the cover of a Bruce Cockburn album called Night Vision and fell in love with it.
When the Henry Moores were unable to be viewed I remembered a sculpture by him called The Archer in front of the "new" City Hall a few blocks away and I was not disappointed. The City Hall is a great building I think with fountains in summer and and ice skating rink in the winter.

Who could possibly resist this wonderful mug on my way out to the Queen St. East beaches?

It was a wonderful trip to visit my friends and see my family - Leonard Cohen was amazing in concert by the way!