Travels with my Aunt, by Graham Greene
I went through a bit of a listening rut for a while, mainly due to starting too many new audiobooks in a short span of time and not really fancying any in particular. For this reason, I managed to read a bit more and so I finished a physical book for a change!
Travels with my Aunt is a title I stumbled upon while looking for more movies like Auntie Mamie one evening at the beginning of autumn. When I realized it is actually a movie based on a book, I thought of course I need to read it first before I indulge in the Maggie Smith adaptation. I probably wouldn’t have been able to keep to this plan if I hadn’t found the very next day the book in a local charity shop! I thought I was dreaming, so serendipitous it all felt.
I enjoyed the book, even if very slowly. It kept me engaged, made me want to learn what happens next and how it will all end, even if I didn’t particularly care for the narrator’s character. I would have preferred a bit more quirk and glam, although it wasn’t exactly lacking these elements, other less interesting and less relevant details got more attention.
Now I am looking forward to watching the movie adaptation finally! I shall report back.
Grand Hotel (1932)
I somehow stumbled on Instagram upon the Hotel Movie Club initiated by writer and reporter Rachel Syme, dedicated to movies about hotels or taking place in hotels. This is certainly one of my favourite motifs in cinematography or literature, so I jumped at the first recommendation, Grand Hotel (1932), a movie about an assorted group of hotel residents, whose lives inevitably and irretrievably interlink over the span of 24 hours or so, leaving permanent ripples.
It is an old-school black and white beautiful cinematic experience, with Greta Garbo as one of the main characters, a ballerina consumed by doubts. I was sorry for the sad ending, it could have easily gone the other way around and it did seem a bit fortuitous the way things turned up. But I suppose that is how life is most of the time, so this choice adds realism and depth to the otherwise fairly predictable story.
Watch it for the interiors, particularly the room of Elizaveta Grushinskaya, the ballerina, her luggage and paraphernalia. Delicious!
Monarch Butterflies Forest
I’ve written before about the power of awe, of awe-inspiring moments, phenomenons, objects and so on. I love finding things that make me gasp and this video by the New Yorker Magazine about the Monarch Butterflies Forest did just that. What a mesmerizing experience it must be to be there if a video is already a pure marvel. I didn’t know anything about the life and rituals of these beautiful insects, but it’s all truly fascinating.
Nature is the original artist.
Sometimes you come across this simple idea, DIY in 2 minutes, which looks instantly beautiful and feels very special. A while ago I had the idea to frame some of my son’s ‘artworks’ from nursery into some very fancy frames I had lying around, and when I finally got around to doing it recently, it gave me instant happiness.
Then, a few weeks ago I stumbled upon the image above on Instagram and I thought, wow, I need to try this. I love the antique yet sophisticated aesthetic of old profile silhouettes, and I actually have a set I bought from a flea market on a wall in my bedroom. I thought I needed to stage this setup for my son, to create his profile silhouette too, but then I realized I could also do it from photographs of him.
My son, three and a half months apart.
Of course, upon searching, I realized this is already ‘a thing’, and I believe there are also apps that will do this for you automatically. I went the old-fashioned way with the example above, I just turned my phone on to maximum brightness, put a piece of paper on top and drew the outline. The result is an instant joy! I shall create multiple copies, for some family members and for my desk at the office, for example. I am also going to go down the rabbit hole of pictures from the last three and a half years to find some ‘older profiles’ of his and do a sort of chronological series.
I couldn’t be more excited about this, honestly. I feel like I’ve just discovered a pot of gold. If you want to try it yourself or learn more about it, there are some historical facts which I found very interesting in this tutorial.
Disappear Painting by artist Fang Mianmian
The algorithm doesn’t fail if you train it, that is the beauty and the horror of it. I choose to (mostly) focus on the beauty, because it delivers me art like this. These live painting sessions of artist Fang Mianmian, while he blends his work into the reality in front of him are mesmerizing to watch and the results are baffling. As he suggests in his captions, the painting simply disappears into the background.
This must be some sort of therapy, hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
I am writing this entry at a considerable distance from some of the others in this letter, just after Christmas, and I am lucky to have gotten the prompt from a very thoughtful gift from my best friend. I had Galartsy on my radar for a while after being targeted on Insta by their ads, but I never went to properly browse through their online store.
After receiving the Girl with the Pearl Earring set from my best friend, I went on a rabbit hole and discovered many other treasures I am now dreaming of, a few more pairs of earrings and some accessories, a simple yet beautiful bag and even some of their clothes.
A beautiful place to shop for yourself or for gifts, never mind that the holiday season is almost over!
Morning Poem #62
Finishing this letter over the last few days has felt like this, like being myself again in a particular way. I have missed writing, even if I didn’t stop reading or collecting my exquisite finds for future letters. One of my 2023 resolutions will be to find a way to consistency, even if I know I can’t aim for my previous weekly rhythm.
This poem I spotted on Poetry is not a Luxury, is by author Wanda Phipps from her volume Wake-up Calls: 66 Morning Poems.
Cheers to a New Year filled with exquisite finds!
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