Things I've Been Enjoying Lately
It has been a long time since I've done one of these and it's something that I would like to make a more frequent part of my routine. Confession: I am a steady collector of tabs. I'll find new links, articles, companies, teas I want to try, etc. - all which live open in numerous tabs - and come Friday, I will compile all my new findings into a gmail draft with the intention to revisit at a later date. The drafts then sit in my inbox for eternity until I have a vague memory of something I once found and then struggle to find which email it was in. Instead of letting these enjoyments sit in the dusty shoebox of my inbox, I would rather share these small things here. This week I've gone more tactile. I used to make collages all the time and thoroughly enjoy the process of looking for the image that fits that idea in my mind. This week I did just that and spent hours cutting and gluing all the layers in place. Who knows, maybe this will become part of the process too.
WHAT I'VE BEEN LISTENING TO
I've taken to walking. I started the habit of going for frequent walks last year when the weather was cooler and it was made even more fun by having a friend to walk alongside. It was a great opportunity for catch-ups and to think, a way to get out of the house and run a few errands - we'd often walk to the store, the liquor store for chocolate, or to get a coffee; yet lately, I've been embarking on more solo walks in the morning or sunset hours as a way to be more active. I've been struggling with the feeling of burn out and constantly feeling a layer of stress bubbling beneath my skin, and taking anywhere from half an hour to two hours to walk and be outside has been very helpful. It hasn't made these feelings go away entirely but trying to go outside about four times a week, even in the summer heat, has been a start. On Friday, I went for a two hour hike throughout the neighborhood and park, and the endorphins I felt afterward were excellent. I went again yesterday for a shorter jaunt and today I can definitely feel it in my calves.
I primarily listen to podcasts while I walk and one that I've recently loved is this Vintage Podcast episode with Jen Campbell and Sarah Jessica Parker. Jen interviews Sarah Jessica about her new Hogarth Imprint and the first book they're publishing, A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza. The episode is available on ITunes or Acast. I was laughing out loud, nodding to the points Sarah Jessica makes about the importance of books to her life and how she always has a book on hand, and was sad when the conversation was over. I extended my walk in order to spend more time with the episode. It made me want to pick up a copy to discover Fatima's writing. Jen and Sarah Jessica's passion for books is apparent and it was very comforting to listen to them talk as I passed people sitting in coffee shops huddled over their own books or hurrying home at the end of the day.
My other favorite thing to listen to while walking, doing the dishes, driving, or taking a shower has been the soundtrack to Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. This soundtrack sparks such joy. Lately my brain has been singing the songs throughout the day with no need for me to turn on the music. On my Friday walk as I turned for home, I put on the soundtrack and began to briefly jog. My knee had other ideas and wasn't into the jogging, but my head started bobbing and my lips starting mouthing the words to "I Kissed the Teacher". It's sure to lighten any mood and will definitely get rid of those sitting induced cobwebs.
WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING
The stories that I've been enjoying lately have been coming from films, rather than books. Consuming anything lately, and especially reading, has been very difficult for me. Shutting off my brain to the noise and stress around me has been something that I've been struggling with, and though I've been wanting to read, I can't get the words to stick. Does anyone have books they'd recommend for moments like this? The stories I've been enjoying and returning to have been the aforementioned Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
First let's talk about Mamma Mia. I enjoyed the first film just fine when it came out but I haven't thought much about it since. Yet when the trailer was first released for its sequel, well... something changed and I grew more and more excited. Preparation included rewatching the original film, finishing it and wanting to rewatch it on the spot. Here We Go Again is delightful and made me feel really happy. It was one of the most enjoyable theater experiences I've had since Paddington 2. I had avoided all spoilers and didn't listen to the soundtrack until after I'd seen the film so I'd be constantly surprised and not have too high of expectations. From the moment Lily James starts singing, I was sold. She was delightful. The costumes, the music, Young Tanya, Cher singing "Fernando", the ending where everyone sings "Super Trooper." All of it sparked such joy and I can't wait to see it again.
As I was waiting for the release of yet another Lily James film, someone decided to read to me the Variety review of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which was unwanted. Variety described the film as being a "crumbling oatmeal biscuit of a movie." Firstly that is rude to oatmeal biscuits as they are delicious and the writer has clearly never had a good one. And secondly, while I do think the film simplified a couple plot elements of the book, the story really caught me. I would be laughing one minute and crying the next. Don't get me started on the ending. The characters felt alive on the screen, as did the world, and I found myself relating so much to Juliet. The scene with her sitting in her flower filled room staring at her typewriter really hit home. I find myself thinking about these characters sometimes: the way Eben is stunned that Juliet came all the way over to meet the bookclub and the voices of the bookclub members defending their chosen books. I had first read the novel back in 2015 and revisited it this year. It was just as delightful the second time around, as was the film. I'd recommend reading the book first but think both stand up on their own. Also the costumes and landscape are beautiful, if that's more your thing.
Hampstead's Women Swimmers
In the depth of Hampstead Heath in North London, you'll find the Kennwood Ladies Pond. This pond is open year round and reserved solely for women swimming. (Also situated in the Heath is a Mens Pond and a Mixed Pond.) Photographer Alice Zoo documented the women who brave the winter temperatures to swim all year long and why taking a swim is so important to them. Visiting the pond is on my list of things to do when I visit London in October. I'm already preparing myself for frigid temperatures.
The Obituary of Anne Olivier Bell, Editor of Virginia Woolf Diaries
While I have read select offerings from Virginia Woolf's diaries, I wasn't familiar with the woman who made it possible for me to read them, Anne Olivier Bell. She lived an extraordinary life, which I have only just discovered. I'm fascinated by the people behind the works that make their existence to the public possible. I'd love to read more about Anne.
“Her spelling is so consistently good,” Ms. Bell wrote, “that the rare eccentricities are perpetuated (lovabilility is a lovely word); obvious inadvertencies have been silently corrected. Her spelling, often phonetic, of proper names is less reliable, but is retained, and the correct version given in a square bracket or footnote.”
Adam Pritchett Needleworks
I discovered Adam's needleworks by chance as I was strolling through twitter one day. His work is so detailed. I mean, look at these bees. His work is dark, enchanting, and often connected to nature. He's been doing a series of flower studies that I am especially drawn to. I'm excited to see what he does next and am considering commissioning a work, though that'll end up being at a later date. I'm thinking something related to flowers.
Song Tea is a tea company based in San Francisco that specializes in traditional, rare and experimental teas from China and Taiwan. If you're based in Los Angeles, you can try their teas at Kismet. I have yet to try their teas but am very interested in their offerings, particularly with their white teas. Their website is also very aesthetically pleasing if you fancy doing some browsing.