Thursday, April 7, 2016

Toronto and Home

Toronto, seen from my cousin's balcony

I may not have accomplished as much in the literary sphere as I hoped since retiring last July, but certainly have made progress in refreshing our home, which grew so grungy during my working years, to call it bohemian was the best light in which it could be seen. Now I seemed to have a strong drive, if not to produce books, then to beautify my nest - and in the process it certainly has become a lovelier place in which to write. Here are some of the before and after pictures of the various projects, most of them done by Bill Friedman, Peter's friend who has worked as a furniture restorer and is hugely helpful with his taste and know-how. We never saw such a transformation as he made to Peter's smoke-stained, messy study, now a room so serene and clean that we both sit there and look out at the only view of green trees (eucalyptus) that the place offers. It's a real sanctuary.

Bill paints the study

Results - dirty walls become ice blue!

A dramatic change!

Beautiful new carpet from Pakistan

A new (well, antique) chair for Marshy

Peter in coziness, with cats

My own desk, with the green view I so wanted. 

The view of eucalyptus trees, clean window and blinds, and an absorbed Pindar.

Next project: chipped old coffee table that we bought at the St. Augustine's church fair back in 1976, I painted it red with Chinese symbols (something to do with the Lord Shang). 

Coffee table repainted by me, and with a new glass top!

The Book of Lord Shang, the Machiavelli of China

Next, carpet. Decades old with horrible rips in the doorways... 

Fresh carpet in all the worst spots!

Spotted in the Salvation Army Boutique: a Hollywood Regency etagere!  Could this be what I'd needed for years, to display my ornaments and get them off the dining table, which looked like a combination of an overstuffed antiques shop and a dragon's lair?

Yes!  Here it is at home with all my ornaments sparkling and visible!

Tully even has room to sit on the table now. (Well, some.)

At the end of March I flew to Toronto to visit my Rooney cousins. Tim, my first cousin, is the only other grandchild of Winnie (Onoto Watanna, the first Asian American novelist, whose biography I wrote). He's getting on (well, 90!) and has been ill, so I was thankful to find him looking fine, in good spirits, and still happy as always to share with me his remarkable and impressively retained memories of Winnie, who died more than sixty years ago. It was a wonderful visit, and here are the pictures.

Cold Lake Ontario. There'd been an ice storm the day before I arrived!  Going from 70F degree Los Angeles to this was quite a contrast (but I enjoyed it).
A walk with Cousin Elizabeth

Some of Toronto's superb Indian food warmed us up!  Goat curry, lower right.

On a sunnier day, we had great fun shopping at Kensington market, full of pretty colorful buildings and thrift stores. This is "Courage My Love." The naked folks above are dummies. Don't ask me why...

More colors

A break for a Sicilian zeppole

The beautiful kimono I bought at Courage My Love!

Needlepoint treasures...bags made by my Aunt Doris and grandma Winnie. The needlepoint butterfly slippers Elizabeth found (and I bought!) at Courage My Love.

Another day, Cousin Frank and I went shopping early for Easter Sunday family dinner, at the fabulous St. Lawrence Market. Amazing produce - meat - flowers - cheeses - everything!

Giant pussy willows at the market, with gorgeous red stems

Pussy willows on the table

Here is the family on Easter Sunday. Top: Jamie (Katie's son), Jim, Frank, Patrick (Frank's son). Bottom: Me, John, Tim, Elizabeth, Katie. 

And here's me with my dear Cousin Tim.

The dinner - salmon Frank brought home from the cabin on Georgian Bay, and that's roasted fennel with garlic, bought that morning at Kensington Market. Fantastically good, all of it!

My plate. Words fail, it was so delicious!

I also had time on this visit to meet with some good friends from "Piffle" (subsidiary of the Lord Peter Wimsey online list). At the kosher Pifflefest are me (nom Miss Schuster-Slatt), Shayna (Mrs. Forrest), and Suzanne (Figments of the Imagination). 

Snowdrops near Figments'  house.


Last but not least, a lovely visit with friend Claire, whom I originally know from the Girls Own list.

Richard holds their cat, beautiful Furth of Forth.

We sat by their Canadian wood burning stove - much needed that day!

Jealous? Catullus greets me disapprovingly, and with not a little madness, on my arrival home...