Posted at 6:48 am , on March 30, 2018
El Pimpi Courtyard Cross, Malaga, Spain
Last year, in April of 2017, we took our first family vacation ever. My husband, me, and three kids. We went to London, Paris, and Spain. It was an involved endeavor. There was much planning. There was much packing. There was much walking. But it was super fun. I’ve been to London and Paris several times and it was satisfying to show my kids their unique personalities, but I’d never been to Spain. Thanks to dear French friends, I discovered the joys of Spain too.
Specifically Malaga. And Mijas. Two cities on the coast of Southern Spain. Mijas was our home base, where our friends have a vacation cottage that overlooks the Mediterranean (yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds), but Malaga was our cultural adventure. A city of about a half-million people, Malaga has not only velvety mountains and lovely beaches, it has history. Delicious food. Stunning architecture and art. It’s affordable. And the Spanish people are friendly and accommodating. I have warm warm memories of Malaga. Continue reading
Posted at 3:24 am , on September 16, 2017
Roberto Burle Marx was Brazil’s most famous landscape architect of the 20th Century. Inspired by the modern art movements of Cubism and abstract expressionism, he broke the tradition of designing classically hedged, European gardens and instead installed irregularly shaped bold spaces that used native South American plants. Throughout his long life he designed hundreds of private gardens and public parks while advocating for the conservation of Brazil’s rainforests. He was also a painter and tapestry maker. In whatever medium he worked, Roberto Burle Marx’s unique vision came through in all that he did.
Last fall, I visited a delightful tribute to Roberto Burle Marx at an exhibit at the Chicago Botanic Garden. There, both inside and out, the garden’s designers created spaces inspired by Burle Marx’s modernist vision. In the outdoor garden, plant columns and arches acted as focal points and portals inviting interest while transitioning from intimate spaces to more open expansive vistas. Waves of bright colors and huge-leaved perennials created cohesion. Bismarck Palms (Bismarckia nobilis), a palm I fell deeply in love with on a long ago trip to Hawaii, offered their own architectural statement with icy blue color and enormous fans. Perennial foliage of yellow, purple, and orange contrasted in loud riots throughout. Together, all of these elements created garden spaces that surprised and stunned. In short, a Burle Marx garden is a botanical feast for the eye. Continue reading
Posted at 5:13 am , on June 22, 2017
When my skeptical ten-year-old asked what we would see when visiting Paris, I said, “We’ll see Notre-Dame cathedral. It’s the most famous church in the world!”
“Really? In the whole world?” she said.
Kids often use the phrase, “in the whole world” to emphasize whatever thing they admire. “She’s my best friend in like, the whole world,” or “That place has the best smoothies in the whole world.” So I purposefully used it to emphasize the value of the trip. It worked. And in this case, I believed it to be mostly true. There are beautiful houses of worship in say, Russia or India or China, but I couldn’t think of a more recognizable church. Continue reading
Posted at 1:48 am , on May 6, 2017
In my post “A Tribute to Natural Paris,” I talked about how plant beauty, whether it be trees or shrubs or flowers, pops up in unexpected places around the city. One place I forgot to mention was the plant shop, the small stores where residents buy their bouquets or houseplants or annuals for planters. As one walks through Le Marais or St. Germain, one might turn a corner and suddenly come upon it: a green oasis of colorful flowers and soft foliage. A place to enchant the eye, to put the mind at peace. Those shops are little gifts amidst the concrete caverns and I love browsing them. Continue reading
Posted at 6:55 pm , on March 3, 2016
American cities have never interested me much. Though I was born in Chicago, have spent most of my adulthood in Seattle, and have visited most major U.S. cities, I’ve been less taken with American places than European ones. There’s nothing really wrong with American cities, Americans are friendly, hopeful people. They’re resourceful, they’re scrappy, they believe their lives will get better and better. But they’re not mysterious. History doesn’t matter as much as the future does. Just because you were born into a certain kind of family with a certain level of wealth or lack thereof doesn’t mean you can’t be someone different or richer later in life. Whether that’s true is debatable but Americans believe that. It’s ingrained in our spirit. Continue reading