Monday, February 4, 2013

The Inner Things

"In a way winter is the real spring, the time when the inner things happen, the resurgence of nature."
--  Edna O'Brien, Irish writer

Livaria Lello Bookstore in Porto, Portugal

This is the time of the year when we tend to stay inside or go to indoor spaces that nurture the "inner things."  Recently I have spotted some beautiful places and writing that take us there.


Shakespeare and Company in Paris

All of the book lovers out there (and I know you are one) can enjoy this inspiring article about the twenty most beautiful bookstores in the world. These spaces are truly stunning.  The only one I have been to is Shakespeare and Company in Paris where I fell in love with its bohemian beauty.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to visit the others?  Go here to see them all.  While many of us have been lamenting the closure of independent bookstores, an article like this gives us hope that at some point bookstores will be back.   And it is inspiring to know that these bookstores are valued and cherished. 


A visit to the museum is always enriching; it is one of those experiences that feeds the soul.  Right now the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has an exquisite exhibition of paintings by the 17th-century artist Caravaggio -- "Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy" -- along with paintings by other European artists who were influenced by him.  I did a little research and discovered that Caravaggio was kind of a rock star; he had a big impact on an entire generation of painters throughout Europe in the seventeenth-century.  This exhibition includes more than fifty paintings, including many by Caravaggio, which have never been shown in California.  I feel good when I make the effort to see some art and am really looking forward to seeing this show.  


This scene from the ballet "Serenade" as performed by the New York City Ballet caught my eye the other day.  There is so much beauty and grace in this image;  I am always in awe of the beauty of ballet.  Go here to read more about "Serenade."  However, if we can't make it to New York, we can try to see a ballet performance in our own city.  Check your local paper to see what is playing nearby.  Many of the big ballet companies such as the Joffrey and the American Ballet travel around the country and perform.  Right now the Joffrey Ballet is touring with their spectacular production of Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" -- it premiered in Paris in 1913 to a shocked public --  and I was lucky enough to see it this weekend!    

A favorite writer

One of the most rewarding and challenging writing projects (it requires discipline!) is keeping a diary.    Virginia Woolf used hers as a creative outlet -- "The habit of writing thus for my own eyes only is good practice.  It loosens the ligaments." -- as well as a journal for documenting her activities.  At the same time she was experimenting with a new form for the novel.  Books and words were her passion.  Here she writes about the kind of diary she would like hers to be:

"What sort of diary should I like mine to be?  Something loose knit and yet not slovenly, so elastic that it will embrace anything, solemn, slight or beautiful that comes into my mind.  I should like it to resemble some deep old desk, or capacious hold-all, in which one flings a mass of odds and ends without looking them through.  I should like to come back, after a year or two, and find that the collection had sorted itself and refined itself and coalesced, as such deposits so mysteriously do, into a mould, transparent enough to reflect the light of our life, and yet steady, tranquil compounds with the aloofness of a work of art.  The main requisite, I think on re-reading my old volumes, is not to play the part of censor, but to write as the mood comes or of anything whatever; since I was curious to find how I went for things put in haphazard, and found the significance to lie where I never saw it at the time."

It is not too late to start a diary for the new year!

 Inspiring Blogs

Some of the best bloggers open our eyes to what is going on in other parts of the world.  These bloggers (below) are taking us to some beautiful places.

Ben Pentreath shows us how beautiful London looks in the snow.  Go here .

Designtripper takes us to some special and rustic "cave" hotels which are located in the small, medieval hilltop villages of Italy.  The owner is attempting to save the dying hill towns in southern Italy and has worked with historians to revive them, adding these fascinating small hotels.  The interiors are decorated with an emphasis on traditional crafts such as textiles.  The coverlets and other linens are all produced locally by women who use ancient techniques.  These hotels are amazing!  Go here.

Sous Style gives us a peak into into the beautiful world of carnations.  We learn that even though carnations do not have a great reputation, they are actually one of the most respected and oldest cultivated flowers in the world.  And the most beautiful!  As long as you stay away from the typical colors of pink and red, they make stunning floral arrangements.  Go here.

  Food 52,  Amanda Hesser's exquisitely beautiful food blog, creates a "Downton Abbey"- inspired menu that starts with a creamy mushroom soup.  There are sage scones involved as well.  Go here.

And here is a terrific interview with Lesley Nicol, the actress who plays Mrs. Patmore on "Downton Abbey."  I would love to spend some time in her kitchen cooking the menu from Food 52!  As you read the questions and answers, be sure to click on the two videos that spoof "Downton Abbey."  They are very funny.

Put on the kettle, have a cup of tea, and enjoy.  There are so many places to go on a February day!


  1. Your opening quote will stay with me, it's wonderful.

    1. Thank you, Joan! I am so glad you enjoyed it. I know it will stay with me also.

  2. Your post is like a wonderful gift. The kind of gift filled with multiple surprises. I look forward to checking out each link. Thank you for sharing. Bonnie

    1. You are so welcome, Bonnie. I especially liked the piece about the bookstores. They are beautiful.

  3. Serenade is my all-time favorite ballet. This puts me in the mood to see it again! And thanks for the link to the interview with Lesley Nichol. Mrs. Patmore has been one of my favorite characters this season.

    1. Oh, that is good to know. I would love to see "Serenade"! I love Mrs. Patmore, she is really important in Daisy's life. She kind of holds things together downstairs, along with Mrs. Hughes.

  4. I spent so much time checking out all the fabulous links you have that I almost forgot to come back and thank you, Sunday, for this most enchanting blog.

    1. Penny, you are so welcome! I am very happy you enjoyed them.

  5. What a wonderful post! I love everything in it and find bookshops, museums, dance and a good book or blog to be some of my favourite things too. That bookshop in Porto is especially stunning - more an old library than a bookshop.

    I'm looking forward to going to the Ice Age Art exhibition at the British Museum, and hope to catch the one on Mughal India at the British Library. At this time of year I definitely need to nurture my inner life. That quotation at the start of your post is beautiful, and has me reassessing my view of this time of year.

    And I'm hoping to see the Bolshoi dance - at the cinema rather than in Moscow though! - through their programme of broadcasting live performances via the cinema.

    I'm off to look at the other blogs you suggested.


    1. I hope you enjoy the blogs. The Ice Age exhibition at the British Museum sounds good as doe the one on India at the British Library. If I were in London I would definitely visit them both. Enjoy the ballet!

  6. Lovely to see a revival of interest in the carnation. I've alway liked them!