Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Beautiful things in Brunswick St

Last weekend, Paul and I did a luxurious thing we sometimes do with Joel: Saturday lunch. This week, Joel was at a friend's house for the day, and so we caught a tram down Brunswick St. We went to Zetta Florence, first, to buy a present for a friend's 50th that night. Their website and catalogue are very technical, designed really for the professional archivist, perhaps, but in addition to white gloves and archive boxes and folders, their beautiful big store is full of delectable leather-bound folders and albums, gorgeous notebooks, cards, folders: a stationery lover's delight.

The style is French/Italian, and this is what my "household" folders now look like on my desk. I love the way the bills and tax receipts get to live in these beautiful folders, and their pale blues and greens that sit so lightly in my newly painted study.

We also called into a new shop that seemed to sell just Japanese papers and inks. I didn't note its name, and can't find a web image or site. It's much smaller than Zetta Florence, and in contrast to the perfect balance of beauty and utility there, this shop was concerned just with beauty. There were dozens of shallow drawers along each side of the shop, perhaps twelve or eighteen from floor to hip height, all finished in black matt veneer, each carefully pulled out a centimetre more than the one above, so that each bank of drawers displayed a narrow strip of the sheets of paper lying there, like the sides of so many ziggurats. The papers were beautiful. Tissue papers like raw silks, their threads and patterns inviting the hand to touch, and the eye to linger, and to range up and down across the spectrum of colours. Elegant prints and woodcuts in muted or luxurious colours, a stack of drawers for natural earth tones; another for kimono-style prints. Several drawers held papers that looked like what I imagine cloth of gold to look and feel like. We disputed whether they were prints for framing or papers for wrapping. I think the latter. But such luxury.

We then went to the Brunswick St bookstore, to hang out and see what was new. And I bought this beautiful object ...



... which you can also read about here.

And then we took ourselves off to Mario's for lunch. It was where we had had our first date together, and where we still like to go. The food is always excellent, "democratically priced" as one review has it, and I really like the challenge of the waiters....

I've just been looking for images of these shops, and have come across a wonderful website.

Make sure you can see the bar at the bottom of your screen, then scroll from left to right: you are travelling north along the west side of Brunswick St, starting (oh my goodness!) from the restaurant where we held our "wedding", along all the cafes and shops. You can see Zetta Florence, then keep going past Flowers Vasette and the big bees above the shop front on the corner of Greeves St, and note the room with the windows open above the Delicatessen (I lived there for a year), then two doors down from Johnston St, there are Mario's and the Bookstore next to each other. You can keep going for several more blocks, noting the red curtains of the Polly bar (great place for a late night cocktail on the one evening a year I might indulge in such a thing), and right down to Lucrezia and de Sade. So many memories and encounters all along and up and down this street. Wonderful pictures! Wonderful street! My city!

Anyhoo, as I was tucking into my eggs florentine and an aromatic mclaren vale sangiovese (my companion had the baked gnocchi with sage leaves deep fried in butter), I looked up at the sky, which was as blue and clear as it is in these photographs, and looked around in my head for the usual feelings of alarm and anxiety. Yes it was all very well to be going out for lunch, but what about all the other chores to be done, books to be written and read? What about the general terribleness of the world? Well, I looked for that feeling, and to my surprise, I couldn't find it. I checked, and looked again: it simply wasn't there.

Yes, there are still loads of things to do. I had to count up for someone today, and realised I have my finger in 5 (FIVE) book projects. Yes, once again we are re-organising our teaching curriculum. Yes, life is far from straightforward.

But I do believe that little by little I have been able to streamline, or simplify or straighten out my life somewhat, since being ill. I do believe I have learned to unravel some of the knots and tangles. And it feels good. And no, I haven't forgotten about Excruciatingly Personal Blog post No. 3; just pausing a moment to celebrate the world of textiles, images, sensations.

4 comments:

David Thornby said...

Sounds like a wonderful day! Melbourne does have that way of appearing to map one's personal history inside it, and is only too happy to reveal it to you every time you walk around.

I wouldn't worry about Post Number Three; if it's sufficiently Excruciatingly Personal, I'm sure it will hunt you down and demand that you post it sooner or later.

meli said...

oh what a perfectly beautiful post! i can almost touch that gorgeous paper.... the beauty in my day today was the park by uni, iced like a wedding cake. but i didn't have my camera.

Pavlov's Cat said...

'What about the general terribleness of the world? Well, I looked for that feeling, and to my surprise, I couldn't find it. I checked, and looked again: it simply wasn't there.'

*cheers wildly*

Brunswick Street is definitely one of the things I miss about Melbourne. And you, of course.

genevieve said...

Stephanie, that photograph of the street is an absolute ripper.
Glad to hear you have cause for quiet celebrations, I find the older I get the better those are.
I want some of those folders now...:)