Artist and photographer Frances F. Denny understands about ghosts. Maybe it's because we're all previous residents of Rhode Island (she received her MFA from Rhode Island School of Design), but like us, Frances is in tune with the special magic of 200 year-old New England houses and the silent tread of spirits on worn floorboards.
Little and Big Edie Beale are, of course, the inspiring stars of the Maysles brothers’ 1975 cult documentary Grey Gardens. As a 2006 Broadway show, 2009 television movie, and countless “inspired by” fashion collections and Vogue editorial features all attest, the real point of Grey Gardens is its mother and daughter song and dance team who burn like aggressive and affecting comets through every frame. And the Grey Gardens house itself – a fourteen-room estate in fancy, old East Hampton – is no more than the incidental scenery upon which the camera occasionally lingers.
Some people love the spring. But I'm afraid I'm sort of frightened of it. The wind, the rain - the whole sky moves constantly, leaving me mostly ill-dressed and sort of uncomfortable. I'm used to thinking of it as long-lingering winter chill rather than a harbinger of the summertime, freedom from coats, irrepressible SUNSHINE. But I think I'm starting to get better at coping with the clouds.
The Menil Collection is a low-slung block of grey in the middle of a quiet green square in an old Houston neighborhood. Daylight wafts in through the roof’s white leaves. Tropical plants fill the atrium of its African art gallery, and bamboo thickets at the exterior windows protect artwork in passageways from direct sun.
Dominique de Menil was the graceful, spiritual heiress to a French oil services fortune who used her wealth to establish my favorite private museum. She collected the objects and artworks she loved most because she passionately, irresistibly needed to. Here's an introduction to this super cool lady in anticipation of tomorrow's post about her fascination with the color GREY.
The idea of eating oysters at home, outside the comforting brass and marble confines of a swanky oyster bar is, I admit, a slightly daunting prospect. But if you like a challenge – as well as a look of awe (or is that trepidation?) in your friends’ faces as you welcome them to your home for supper – then you have come to the right place.
Before I was born my mother was in great agony of spirit and in a tragic situation. She could take no food except iced oysters and champagne. If people ask me when I began to dance, I reply, 'In my mother's womb, probably as a result of the oysters and champagne - the food of Aphrodite.'
- Isadora Duncan, American dancer (1878-1927)
Isadora Duncan was right about at least one thing: oysters are indeed the food of Aphrodite, as beautiful to eat as their pearls are pretty. And though their homes are humbler than the gifts they reveal, once emptied of their delicious, briny bivalve dwellers, these crusty grey things lend themselves to an untold array of artistic, as well as practical, applications.
In the summer just after college, when I fancied myself some type of pioneer of real-world living, clumsily learning the basic skills of adulthood (seemingly long-known by everyone else), I discovered by accident and subsequently went fully cultish over M.F.K. Fisher. A freshly edited compendium of her writing, The Art of Eating, had just been published that summer, and I think it literally fell down on me from a high shelf while I was sulking around the cookbooks at a Barnes & Noble.
In February, pregnant and in bed with a cold, I fell head first into my first Persephone Book*. One of the small press’s handful of Classics, The Home-Makerwas originally published in 1924. The author, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, was a New England novelist (and wife, and mother). And rather than a feminist, a self-declared advocate for children. Ninety years later, her message remains sweet as ever.
The French have long known that to wear a gown in grey is to dress in that perfect (and elusive) nexus of classic sophistication and subtle surprise. No one will entirely expect it, but at the same time it is really the only answer to that interminable refrain of But what do I wear?! Existing in the wide and nebulous middle ground between the black cocktail dress and the white wedding gown, a grey dress is inherently versatile, and infinitely adaptable to all occasions and moods between those two stark monochrome poles: as right and reasonable in a disco as at an inauguration...
It’s the end of the first week on Olympia! We are very excited, a little tired, and desperately in need of some refreshment. We (Lydia) thought about consuming more than the gris-amount of champagne, but then she remembered that Babs is pregnant. So today we’re discussing that milder form of exhilaration: TEA! And specifically the Afternoon Tea (with champagne for some). The first in an unpredictable series.
A low key collection of songs for these silvery grey days of ambivalent spring weather and weak sun. A mix like you might've made in high school, as you avoided doing whatever it was you had to do in those days before you graduated: Debussy, Rufus Wainwright, Django Reinhardt, Brian Eno, Liszt and Cat Power and more. Whether in mood or harmony or text, they've all got these grey spring vibes, beneath a cover of cloud.
I daydream practically constantly about finding a glamorous, healthy, and fortifying morning routine -- some magical combination of fiber, sweat-free fitness, and a stunningly faithful commitment to The Artist’s Way (or breakfast as Colette does it, above). Most mornings, I usually just manage a coffee and not to teeter into the brink of depression, which, of course, is still a lot. But I’m convinced I’d probably be a Yoncé, if only I could find something to eat every morning that didn’t make me feel nauseated.
In French the same word for grey means tipsy, buzzed, a little bit drunk. The unlimited space between black and white is sometimes flushed, warm, dizzying, bright. The first glass of champagne (if you’re drinking more than that). The rush of a great height. An intoxicating kiss. Looking up at the undersides of leaves, at the bright spring sky.