The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion
As part of the new Audible Plus catalogue of free audiobooks for subscribers was this gem of a memoir turned into a play, by Joan Didion. I had no idea what it was going to be about and this recording of Vanessa Redgrave’s performance hit me so hard! This is a work about tragedy and about what is left after it strikes, about profound grief.
The real-life events depicted are something better suited for dramatic fictional work, but they did in fact happen, and they happened to an enormously gifted writer that has managed to give something to the world from all her loss. She was left without the two people she loved most in the span of two years, both in unexpected circumstances, but she still found the strength to give us something invaluable.
I highly recommend this one and a half hour listen, as well as the Netflix documentary The Centre Will Not Hold, celebrating Didion’s work and life, with reference to the tragic events depicted in The Year of The Magical Thinking too.
She is such an iconic figure and there is a lot to read and learn about her and her work, that I can only encourage you to do just that, like I will too!
The Frank Sinatra Spectacular
Under the spell of watching High Society (1956) last week, I spent more time than I could spare digging out gems on YouTube, in the form of old recordings of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack performing live. There are a few, but I still wish there were more.
This Frank Sinatra Spectacular recording, of better than average video quality, was particularly entertaining, an irresistible combination of acting, singing, stand up comedy and purely fooling around. These men are seriously charming, confident, comfortable around each other and in front of an audience. You can tell they are indeed having fun and knowing they were great friends off stage too, their show is something really special to witness.
Bonus exquisite find is this live performance of The Lady is a Tramp, by Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. There are no words, I have watched it, not just listened to it, at least twenty times in the last few days. When they do an encore of the ending, it slightly feels to me like Sinatra was aiming to do a bit better than before, but then of course Ella is just spectacular again, outshining him completely, and I think you can see that amazement and incredulity and helpless admiration on his face just before the video ends. Or at least that’s what I see…
Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, by Vermeer
I found this story fascinating! Decades ago it was discovered that an image of Cupid was hiding under layers of paint and varnish in Vermeer’s Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, but it was considered to have been covered by the painter himself. When in 2017 they realised it had actually been covered after Vermeer’s death, the Old Masters Picture Gallery (Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister) in Dresden decided to finally restore it to its original form.
I particularly enjoyed watching the video detailing the time and technique involved in the restoration. I think videos of restorers carefully removing layers of dirt, varnish and colour from old paintings would be a hit as anti-stress videos, definitely beating the kinetic sand trend and the like.
Light and Lamps
As the days start to shorten again, and the clocks are still due to ‘fall back’ and hour in about a month, I am more conscious than ever of the precious daylight we’re still enjoying in the afternoons and I am trying to give it all the window space it needs to enter freely. Over the weekend I moved some of the bulkier plant pots from my kitchen windowsill specifically with that in mind.
But I know I need to look for alternatives, especially because I am not particularly fond of the lighting system in my house. It was on my list last year to add a lamp or two to my living room but never got around to do it. This episode of Design Rules, which I’ve shared before, has convinced me I really need to do it. Maybe put in a couple of fake wall sconces as well?
In terms of lamps, I am after an arc one that could sit next to our sofa and illuminate the rug area which is the play area for my son and us when we’re indoors. But I also want a small one to sit next to the big armchair in the living room, where I sometimes read. These two additions will help create, I believe, a cosier yet lively atmosphere over the winter months.
I haven’t realised until last year how important light is for me and I am keen to positively influence its presence in my life. How about you? What do you do around the house to transition from summer months to wintertime?
What’s New in Tights
Autumn is here and one staple wardrobe item for me is tights! In highschool I used to wear opaque 60 denier tights in all colours, from the classic black to anything like pale pink, red, blue or purple. I’ve also been known to sport a pair of party tights, all glittery or metallic, and you can find a selection of favorites in letter No 21.
Now I am back at the search desk, looking for a few new pairs to add to my (partially) back to the office wardrobe, asking myself, what is new in tights? After browsing for what felt like hours, trying to go beyond Wolford and Calzedonia, although they both have some great options, I did stumble upon an exquisite find – the Polish brand Fiore. They have quite a few stylish prints that I am minded to order.
What’s more, colour, at least if you judge by some style influencers like queen of colored tights Blair Eadie, is still very much in, and I am keen to add a pair in red to my black and grey ones. I also quite like the look of the gold ones.
So let’s see – a couple of prints, a couple of colours, some shiny and some golden, not to mention the blacks and greys – that should see me through the next few months, right?
Mario Badescu Seaweed Night Cream
I’ve been looking for a night cream for a while and this week I finally ordered the Mario Badescu Seaweed Night Cream after reading yet another raving review. This one is comparing it to (the ten times more expensive!) La Mer’s Crème de la Mer and reports it working just as well, delivering fresh and dewy spot-free skin the next morning. I was hooked!
I can’t wait for it to arrive and test it! If this goes well, I’ll try to research serums and oils next. But baby steps, as skincare is still a very tough one to crack for me…
Have you heard of shower or bath bouquets? If not, you’re not alone, I hadn’t either until last week. I am open to any simple wellness hacks and this seems to be a fun one to try. I do wonder if indeed the steam and hot water will truly make the eucalyptus aroma come to life. Lavender surely doesn’t need much stimulation, but I don’t really like the smell. Peppermint is another recommended plant to use and might also be the easiest and cheapest to source from any food store.
Let me know if you try it this weekend! I have it on my list.
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