Inspiration, Monday's Pretty Things

MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: From Sault Ste. Marie to Novi Sad

I haven’t done a Monday’s Pretty Things round-up in a while. In fact, if you’re a new reader you might not even know that Monday’s Pretty Things are, well, a thing! That’s just sad.  I’ve been collecting plenty of inspiration, I just haven’t been sharing it. (I’m sorry. Let’s end that drought now.)

Ten of the Snowiest Places in the World
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan via Conde Nast Traveler: Ten of the Snowiest Places in the World

I’m shivering just thinking about the fact that I lived in one of the places on this list. Brrrr.

quitokeeto Modern Bamboo Steamer
Modern Bamboo Steamer via Quitokeeto

Utilitarian things like pots and pans and appliances should be attractive as well as functional, don’t you think? These steamers from Hong Kong are so pretty.

Le Dans la Camel and Off White Interiors
via the ever-lovely French blog Le Dans La

A space doesn’t have to have a lot going on to be beautiful. The unified color palette here is so calming.

David Fleck
Peter via David Fleck on Society6

David Fleck’s portfolio is full of gems. I spent a good twenty minutes browsing the other day, and enjoying all the illustrated details.

Novi Sad
Underpass in Novi Sad / Нови Сад

Images from the former Yugoslavia, or anywhere throughout the Balkans, Eastern/Central Europe and the former Soviet states fascinate me. There’s a sadness about so many of them, and yet such a poignant beauty. Like I wrote here, “it makes me very happy and it makes me very sad.” If you have any seemingly-everyday snapshots from those areas, favorite blogs or Instagram accounts, photojournals (like RFE/RL’s Picture This!) or anything else related. send them my way! They don’t all have to be epic — like these images of Communist-era buildings — I love a good peek into everyday life, too.

Poetry & Words, Theology

The Snow Covers It All

Upper Michigan Blizzard

This is it: the great frozen north, separated from the great white north by an icy body of water that the Song of Hiawatha calls “Gitche Gumee, that shining Big-Sea-Water.” For me, it’s a land of family history. My parents grew to adulthood here, as did their parents before them. When you climb the branches of my family tree, the only place that comes before the great frozen north is the Old Country itself — or countries, rather — Italy, Slovenia, Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Poland. Between the Old Country, and me, there is nothing but this great frozen north.

Even I lived here; not for long — just two years — but I did it. And I was cold. From the upstairs of a 1920s house, I was within earshot of the shining Big-Sea-Water, within earshot of the fog horns and the ice-breaking tugboats and the winds that pulled the water from the Lake and twisted it and stretched it and smoothed it like a icy blanket over the naked branches and undulating streets.

But the Lake isn’t all of the north. Like Longfellow wrote,
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them…

And it’s these inland woodlands that grew up around my parents as children, that grew around me summer after summer and that grow up around my own child now as we visit. It is these woodlands and these tired old towns, once humming with industry and iron mines, but now battered and listing, with every winter leaning further away from the future. It would be wrong to say time has stood still here, for had it stood still it would have left a kinder mark on the crumbling foundations and the aging rooftops.

Stepping here feels like stepping between the pages of the National Geographic photo essays I loved as a child; in the glossy photos I see the live bait and chainsaw repair shops, the blaze orange, the Stormy Kromers, the ice augers, and chatter about choppers (not airborne flying machines but leather-and-shearling mittens).

Here is where we Christmased, this year; here in the waves of gray that slowly sweep from sky to earth in great snowy sheets that obscure the horizon, layer after another until there is no more sense of up or down but only a single color painted in a single swath.

And in that horizon, I see only the lights of Christmas and hear only the laughter of everyone I know, and I forget the heat and forget the noise and forget the traffic and forget the tropical gales.

The snow covers it all.

Inspiration, Poetry & Words

INSPIRATION :: Winter 2012 Toast UK Women’s Catalogue

I only like icy landscapes in theory. I can say that with some authority, because I’ve tested the, er, frozen waters. In college, I lived across the street from the Lake Superior shoreline, and meh — not my thing! See, it’s not an urban legend or an exaggeration that humans can have icicles hanging from their personage. Oh, no. That really happens.

Here’s a photo of me, standing on Lake Superior when the ice had already started to break up. It was Easter break, so I’d switched to my “spring” snowpants and coat — and was subsequently frozen to the core. (What was I thinking?! DOES THAT LOOK LIKE SPRING TO YOU?! And who in the world has “spring snowpants”?)

Brrrrrrr. It’s true that the air is amazing and clean, there are myriad stars, and the stillness and quietness overnight are like nothing I’ve experienced elsewhere. But you know? It’s cold. Your car’s doors freeze entirely shut. When you do get the car moving finally, the wheels feel square. The worst part of it all is when the sky and the ground fade together into a dusty, dreary gray, swallowing everything in between them. The sun disappears. Weeks pass before it reappears momentarily, only to slip away again. Sometimes, it’s too cold for snow even to fall.

So when I’m oooh and aaahing over the pretty wintery scenes in Toast UK’s most recent lookbook, I try to remind myself what living inside those pictures really was like, and realize that I’m much happier just looking at the photos*.

*I’ll let you decide how much of that is true and how much is an attempt to convince myself I enjoy sweating in Florida-October’s swampy heat.

Image from Toast UK's Women's Winter 2012 Lookbook Catalogue, as seen on Oaxacaborn dot comImage from Toast UK's Women's Winter 2012 Lookbook Catalogue, as seen on Oaxacaborn dot comImage from Toast UK's Women's Winter 2012 Lookbook Catalogue, as seen on Oaxacaborn dot comImage from Toast UK's Women's Winter 2012 Lookbook Catalogue, as seen on Oaxacaborn dot comImage from Toast UK's Women's Winter 2012 Lookbook Catalogue, as seen on Oaxacaborn dot comImage from Toast UK's Women's Winter 2012 Lookbook Catalogue, as seen on Oaxacaborn dot comImage from Toast UK's Women's Winter 2012 Lookbook Catalogue, as seen on Oaxacaborn dot com

You may also be interested in my Toast UK catalogue round-ups from previous seasons. They’re not all wintery. ;)

Christmas, Life in Photos, Travel/Moving

LIFE IN PHOTOS :: Christmas in Upper Michigan

Silhouette of baby in window of airplane

We’ve come back, on a jet plane, from our magical snowy Christmas in the north! And I do mean “north”. We spent the first part of Christmas vacation in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which is literally as far north as you can go without being in Canada. Purdy neat dere, eh?

My dad’s brother has an amazing cabin there, situated right on a river, which is where we stayed. My youngest brother and cousins got the tree out of the surrounding forest just before we arrived. The river had even frozen evenly enough to make a perfect skating rink. And did I mention it snowed every single day?

Oh, I wish I were sitting by the stone fireplace right now, drinking bottomless cups of coffee. I already miss my family terribly, and we’ve only been back in Florida for a couple days.

Bokeh Christmas tree near window

Aveline in huge wicker rocking chair at cabin in Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Aveline in rustic cabin in Upper Peninsula of Michigan