Rocky details

Over the weekend, I found a folder of pictures hidden three folders deep on my desktop. It was full of these shots from my trip to Alberta over the summer.

When you're in the mountains, you constantly crane your neck upwards, to peaks and sky. Or far outwards, taking in those wide vistas that suddenly open up, valleys and lakes that refuse to be confined by a camera lens. In this setting, the ground is easily overlooked. But I remember hiking around Lake Louise and taking note of the shape of tree roots, the veins in rock, the sudden delicacy of wildflowers, the lichen-covered rock. And thinking that for all the large scale stuff going on around me, such small moments contained a world of beauty too.

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Sunday best: Like caramel

There are a few upsides to the unseasonable warmth we're having right now. Mostly, I'm still walking to work and running outdoors, which is making me insanely happy every single day. The other, of equal measure, is that clothing and footwear has yet to flip over to the practicalities of deep winter, when words like "warmth" and "grip" govern decisions and basically chase all the words that connote style from my lexicon.

Confession: When I was young and I'd see Italians tourists in Ireland, I made this secret vow to myself to grow up and dress like an Italian. All those biscuity, caramel tones were everything subdued and luxurious to me, a girl growing up in a country that thought fuchsia was exactly the colour to liven up a washed-out complexion.

Italians seemed to be everything we weren't: Our pallor and limpid eyes couldn't hold a candle to the glow of their skin, their warm brown eyes. Our scratchy, lumpy wool always smelled like rain and we knew nothing of these fine, cloud-like knits that draped and enveloped. Don't even get me started on the shoes! Slip-on silken leather instead of our hefty black brogues laced up tight to keep our feet growing right (what the hell was that all about!?)

Well, I'm all grown up. And I've actually come to think of my stupid eyes as my only nice feature. But, by God, I still want all of this caramel gorgeousness.

Products: Reversible cashmere coat from MaxMara | ChloƩ pants from Net-a-Porter | Lulu Perle Earring from Sophie Bille Brahe | Santal 33 form Le Labo | Sycomore from Les Exclusifs de Chanel | Cashmere turtleneck form J.Crew | Lip Slip from Sara Happ | Taupe Pouch from The Daily Edited | Dieppa Restrepo loafers from The Outnet

P.S. Beauty notes: Yes, there are two fragrances in this Sunday best. I give you Eau de Flanagan; a spray of Santal, a tiny spritz of Sycomore. You're welcome. Also, yes, I put Sara Happ's lip slip in every single Sunday best. For the past two years, it's seriously the only thing I wear on my lips.

P.P.P.S. This post was not brought to you by MaxMara because I don't do stupid sponsored posts. But mostly I don't do sponsored posts because they're always for things like Method hand soap, not MaxMara coats.


I tend to want to organize feelings like I do thoughts, to experience each one in its own individual fullness. But that's not how feelings present. You have to allow yourself to feel different things simultaneously; they're mixed bags of things. You might feel joyful, but the thing bringing joy might also petrify you. Or excitement can be coupled with unsettling agitation. Disappointment can be coupled with relief, occasionally. Sadness can be accompanied by something strangely resembling elation, freedom. And these are the stronger feelings; then there's also the everyday bob and weave of pensiveness and longing and milder worry and plain happiness and warmth.

The thing is if you don't admit the muddy complexity of feelings - that there is no way to experience the Platonic ideal of a feeling at full strength - then you'll absolutely never enjoy them. You'll never enjoy joy because you'll be so bent out of shape by the aspects of whatever it is that make you nervous or insecure. Trying to experience unmuddied emotions is like trying to plan the perfect wedding day (I imagine). And it will all pass you by and you'll wonder why you never felt that feeling you were supposed to.

Feelings don't really run pure in our veins. They fight and spar each other or quietly stand off at opposite sides of the room. And it can all become very confusing. So don't try to work it out. But don't let that get in your way of feeling it, the joy or sorrow or whatever it is. Because pure moments - if they even exist - are rare and startling visitations, emotional equivalents of ah-ha moments of perfect and sudden intellectual clarity. And holding out for them is a fool's errand.

Some links you might enjoy:
  • "when an observer doesn’t immediately turn what his senses convey to him into language, into the vocabulary and syntactical framework we all employ when trying to define our experiences, there’s a much greater opportunity for minor details, which might at first seem unimportant, to remain alive in the foreground of an impression, where, later, they might deepen the meaning of an experience." The Invitation
  • "If you live long enough in the country, you become like a god: you can predict everything before it happens"
  • Along with Francesca Woodman, one of my favourite photographers
  • "They would stand in the surf and wave babies in pastel rompers over the whale, as if to catch the drift of an evaporating myth." Beautiful writing: Whale fall
  • This made me laugh, though I don't really get mad about blog stuff/stupidity any more and it seems so silly that I once did, because it is all - well - silly

Happy weekend!

Wednesday 25th

A butterball full moon was rising through the mist tonight as I left the office. I made my way through side streets to the bridge that crosses the ravine. There, the tree-line falls down and the streetlights are dim enough to let me feel the moonlight. She glowed serenely.

I kept her in my sights the whole way home and, even with my back to her, I watched the shadow of me she cast. I thought about things that have been happening with a mild sense of disbelief. I tried to imagine what the next few weeks will hold; I tried to imagine snow on the ground. But the moon kept pulling me back to where I was and hushing my mind.

I stopped at the market and bought random things, idling by the beautiful panettone boxes and wishing for a mere moment I had more mouths to feed. A man was standing at the fridges, reading out the names of all the prepared meals to (I assume) his wife on the phone: Lobster risotto, shrimp fettuccine, chicken tetrazini, he sounded out. I loitered to see what she would choose but then wondered what I was doing and moved along.

I crossed the train tracks and made my way up the hill, down streets with homes too grand to dream about, feeling a strange fondness for people I will never know when I caught sight of a room with floor-to-ceiling bookcases. I smiled at a raccoon, frozen and watching, all mischief and thievery, looking me back in the eye, defying me to see him while trying to remain hidden. I whispered to him, Artful Dodger.

On Inglewood Drive, the giant inflatable Santas were up. Six or seven of them, all identical, making a pleasant mockery of the formal homes, a jolly neighbourhood conspiracy. And I thought for a moment how it's curious that there's only really levity in bad taste. And the Santas seemed to me a very admirable way for these owners to spend their time and their millions.

I lined up for coffee I didn't need and came inside. Sometimes when I come home I'm curious about how I first react to my place, like that moment when I walk in holds the truth of "home". But tonight I only noticed how bright the place was, full of moonlight. I sat like that, just for a minute, holding my coffee. Then I got up and turned on the lights and made myself dinner.