A few things about me

My mother edited a food section of a national magazine for a while — this was a story about kids in the kitchen. We were ordered (!?) to have a flour fight. Dazed with joy, I’m in stripes, probably age eight,

By Caitlin Kelly

One of my weekend reads is HTSI, the glossy oversized magazine that arrives with the Financial Times.

Every issue starts with a series of questions, asked of someone interesting and creative.

For fun, I’ll do one here using their standard questions.

My personal style signifier is scarves. I have a huge collection, from two beloved Hermes carres to linen, cotton and four crinkled silk mufflers bought probably 20 years ago from Banana Republic: dark brown, rose pink, fuchsia and cream.

The last thing I bought and loved a rutilated quartz ring at a crafts fair, a gift from my husband.

The places that mean a lot to me are Paris (have had three birthdays there and spent my 25th year there on an EU journalism fellowship)l Ireland (have been five times, home to my paternal great-grandfather, a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in Donegal), Thailand, New Zealand and Corsica, so overwhelmingly beautiful I wept then the plane took off. My hometown of Toronto is sprawling and ugly, but filled with memories.

I have a collection of brown and white transferware china; silver lusterware china, antique textiles. I use all of them.

The best souvenir I’ve brought home is a huge black and white Sempe drawing/poster of Paris in the early morning. I never tire of it.

I’ve recently discovered how much endless patience it takes to sell a book proposal!

The best gift I’ve received was a pair of diamond huggie earrings, which Jose gave me on our wedding day in 2011. I wore them daily — until they disappeared entirely a few months ago. Heartbroken.

In my fridge you’ll aways find coffee, cottage cheese, pesto, fresh ginger, lemons, limes and unsalted butter.

The last item I added to my wardrobe is a pair of burgundy leather loafers. New shoes!

The very small bear

An object I would never part with is a very small stuffed bear I’ve had since early childhood.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Egon Schiele. Like Klimt, he died far too young, both killed by the Spanish flu.

The beauty staples I’m never without are fragrance, mascara, Weleda Skin Food.

An indulgence I would never forgo is travel, As often as possible, as far away as we can afford. Also, fragrance!

My style icon is Ingrid Berman in Casablanca as Ilsa Lund. Gorgeous gowns. Great jewelry. Fleeing Nazis in style!

My favorite building is Sir John Soane’s Museum in London and the Neue Galerie Beaux Arts mansion in Manhattan.

The works of art that changed everything for me might be the Mexican muralists — Orozco, Siquieros and Diego Rivera. Powerful, filled with images of rage and social injustice.

When I need to be inspired I reach for a reference book on design or visit a museum.

The best bit of advice I ever received was from my late mother, who faced multiple forms of cancer and survived them all — of managing anxiety…”What should I do? Jump out of my skin.” Deal with it.

I have no interest in NFTs, crypto, bitcoin, tedious gossip.

And a few of my own:

My greatest challenge is being patient. Also, our very dysfunctional family of origin.

Big Sur, CA

The best place I’ve visited is hard to choose! Thailand, Corsica, the Arctic, Big Sur and Kenya.

My deepest regret was marrying the wrong person the first time. Caused me a lot of heartbreak and self-doubt.

My greatest weakness might be persistent idealism.

My greatest strength is persistence and determination.

Five things that always make me happy are spending time with my husband, being in a beautiful landscape, heading off on vacation, long conversations with a friend, a deep, nourishing sleep.

What makes me angry is entitlement, the assumption others are there to serve you without question or challenge.

Five essential musicians/composers are Bach, Vivaldi, Joni Mitchell, Richard Thompson, Nick Drake.

Five essential authors: Mark vanHoenacker, Carmen Maria Machado, Balzac, Zora Neale Hurston, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc.

Five favorite museums: the Neue Galerie, NYC;’ The Tenement Museum, NYC; The Gulbenkian, Lisbon; the MFA, Boston.

Five lesser-known spots worth a visit: Andalusia, Charleston SC, Savannah GA, The Eastern Townships of Quebec, Big Sur, CA.

What’s something about you you might want to share?

20 thoughts on “A few things about me

  1. Okay, here are a few:
    Favorite buildings: Hagia Sofia, Transamerica Building, San Francisco, Monticello.
    Writers: Jack London, Marcus Aurelius, Ambrose Bierce, Larry Niven.
    Musicians: Bob Dylan, David Gilmour, Django Reinhardt, Neil Peart, Prince, David Bowie. Lots more.
    Last thing I bought that I really liked a whole lot (Love is for people): A cherry red Epiphone model ES-335 Dot electric guitar. I call it Dottie. Of the twenty guitars I have owned, this is the only one I have ever given a name.
    This is fun, thanks for posting. And Wall of death is one of my favorite songs.

  2. Well, I write horror, but most people already know that. I’m Jewish, and looking forward to my first Hanukkah in my new condo. I also enjoy anime, ballet and Broadway shows, and so much more. And I’ve been making my own wine at home, thanks to a gift I got for my birthday. First batch will be ready for drinking next month.

  3. when I sold my home a few years ago, I moved to a condo in a location that I love and named it ‘la casita pacifica’ – the tiny peaceful house. I surround myself with only things I love and have donated or given the rest to others.

  4. Jan Jasper

    The Tenement Museum – I went there, when I still lived in Manhattan and my mom came to visit, 30 years ago. Very interesting and moving experience….Nick Drake – I remember when his albums came out in the late 60s. Such a short life. I know that many of my friends loved his music. Your mentioning him here inspired me to listen again…. Charleston SC. I’ve been there twice and was entranced by the architecture. I had a thought for a moment of moving there, to the historic South of Broad St neighborhood. But I quickly grasped the reality of the weather and the cost. Summers are often above 100 degrees, and it’s not a dry heat, but a humid heat. Even a modest house in the historic district costs a million $ – and that doesn’t even take into account the cost of flood insurance, which is probably getting more expensive as sea levels rise. So I discarded my idea of moving there in 15 minutes. Then… there’s slavery. The first time I visited, I don’t think it had sunk in. But the port of Charleston received more enslaved Africans than any other place in the US. Probably most (if not all) of those stunning mansions were the product of slave labor. Even those wealthy people who did not own plantations, those who had shipping businesses – I doubt they paid their workers. Once this sunk in, I felt an uncomfortable cognitive dissonance, touring the historic sites….What I regret – my step father, who is now gone, was not a nice man when he was married to my mom. He was mean to all of us. Years after they divorced, he tried to make amends with me. He told me he’d been in therapy, and had changed. I did see him a couple times, and it was surprisingly pleasant. Then a few years ago, when I was going through a ton of old papers – I found a great many cards and letters from my step father. I didn’t realize just how many times he tried to connect, until after he died. He really tried to make things right, at least with me. It was touching to see this – but by then he was dead, so I could not respond. I will never forgive him for what he did to my mom, but still, I wish I’d responded to his efforts more.

  5. A place that means a lot to me – Onetangi Beach on Waiheke Island. My spiritual home and I am always refreshed and refilled when I visit, even if only for a day. I’ve recently discovered that proper yoga with proper breathing steadies me . The last item I added to my wardrobe – a cotton floral frock, perfect for summer, with pockets! The best place I’ve visited – loved walking the Samaria Gorge in Crete; Culloden on a misty drizzly Scottish day was unforgettable; Co Antrim in Northern Ireland where my grandfather is from; Perugia in Italy and a gite in Burgundy. Best piece of advice – don’t go to sleep on your anger.

    1. Thanks for this! I forgot (!!!) to add NZ as one of my favorites — was there in 1998, just Auckland and the Coromandel. Loved it! Such a beautiful place!

      Love all these places…thanks for sharing!

  6. David Holzmn

    Places–Seattle. I lived there from two months old to a month or two short of 4, and 7-8. That place is in my blood. Utah. Some of the most beautiful countryside anywhere. I have dreams of bicycling across the country, where I get to Utah and go up and up and up and up… (Alas, my bicycle trip across the country did not go through Utah or Colorado…)

    Paris… and France, generally. Here’s one of my stories about Paris
    Ignore the title—should have been In Search of Lost Time—With Apologies to Proust

    I’m very conscious of geography–more so than most people. The legacy of three x-country trips by age 8. When I was 10 I figured out that I could ride a bicycle across the country within a summer vacation. Did that when I graduated from college.

    1. Have only been to Salt Lake City, but the legendary sites of Bryce and Zion are appealing. We had a long trip through Colorado planned but, as usual, canceled it due to COVID everywhere.

      1. David Holzman

        Canyonlands is fabulous and otherworldly. I hiked for six hours there once. Didn’t see anyone the first two hours. then, a woman came from the opposite direction. “Oh, a Homo sapiens,” I said, “what are you doing here?” She said I was the first person she’d seen in 24 hours.

        I don’t remember the first time I saw Salt Lake City, and, notably, the Mormon church, at age 4. But I remember remembering it the next time we passed through, when I was 8.

        And I remember driving through Utah on 80, on my way from Boston to Berkeley, looking at the mountains to the south of me, hearing I can’t remember which symphony on the radio, and thinking, if I could climb to the top of one of those mountains, a rope would come down from a cloud above it, and I could climb up into the cloud.

        And, I took a bicycle trip in Alberta in the late ’80s. It was probably my least favorite of my bicycle trips. As the plane home circled over Salt Lake City, I looked out on Utah, wishing I’d taken the bicycle trip there.

  7. David Holzman

    It sounds like you married very well the second time. My mother married badly the first time and quite well the second time. My best friend married badly the first and the second time. The third time has been wonderful.

  8. David Holzman

    I can’t think of anything I’ve bought and loved recently, except my latest pair of glasses, and for the style, I relied on Deb, who’s a terrific optician. First new pair of glasses in ~18 years. I wasn’t even wild about the style, but I didn’t want to spend time, and I trusted her. (I’d busted the previous pair of glasses, I’m very myopic, and she figured out a fix that enabled me to wear them, which I badly needed, as it was going to be at least five days before the new ones were in.) The new ones quickly grew on me.

    I do love the Michelin Pilot Ultrasport whatever tires I bought (can never remember the entire name), I think it was early summer of ’21. They increased my already strong love for my ’08 Civic (stick), which I bought January of ’12. The tires–$600 for the lot–make the steering and the handling of the Civic even more precise and sporty than they were. The Civic is light by today’s standards, at 2,600 lbs, and the engine is very responsive. The backroads between Lexington (outside of Boston) and Niskayuna (just west of Albany) are now even more fun, the car feeling like we’re dancing as we take the twisties. The most fun part of the drive is climbing the west side of the Berkshires, at the top of which, eight beautiful wind turbines come into view, usually spinning nicely in the breeze. Most of the drive is beautiful.

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