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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Mr. Nescafé, we loved your voice, but not your watery instant coffee.  Zap ahead a few decades to the real pours.  One of my all-time favourite coffee zones is the unfussy, slightly grungy Mercury Espresso Bar in Leslieville, Toronto.   The baristas are wizards and the wooden shelves are filled with freshly harvested coffee beans from across Latin America.  There’s usually lyrical art up on the walls.   I also like the no-cellphone-policy-while ordering. Respect for respect.

After beach volleyball and paddleboarding, the long weekend at Lake Huron was spent luxuriating with Tim Horton’s stored in a big tin and pulled out of a cedar cupboard.  Savoured in blue willow cups with vintage hand-stitched flag from Ontario.

Lining up last week for some fresh brew at the coffee cart on the elevated High Line park in NYC’s Meatpacking District. Perfect pours by unhurried baristas, despite the million or so visitors walking the High Line each year.

Manual drip has its charms.  Like music, which sounds infinitely better with record players.

Nice to wake up to: Very buttoned down hotel coffee, like this classic scenario at Pavilion de la Reine next to Place des Vosges, Paris.

I’ve been collecting mid-century modern chairs for about a decade…leather butterfly chairs, Harry Bertoia’s Diamond Chair, Danish teak, Canadian Solair chairs, Le Corbusier’s chaise longue, the Eiffel chair by Charles Eames and plenty of molded plywood chairs found in trashed condition on sidewalks.

  

 For Mother’s Day, the kids and friends hauled some of the chairs outside to get some much deserved sunshine.

And to let loose with a game of musical chairs.

For the music, I was singing a random song, loudly.

The competition was fierce.  The chairs disappeared.

In the end, it was a battle between the Solair chair (1972) and the Diamond (1958).

The Diamond won.  So did the dazzling joy of the day.

I’m on the hunt, often, for the ultimate in cabin experiences. Which might help to explain my fascination with the blog, cabinporn.   Recently posted is this image of a sunlit interior at Rackwick Bothy (also known as Burnmouth Cottage) on the Isle of Hoy in the Orkney Islands, Scotland. Wood and stone never looked so authentic and right.

There are a couple pre-requisites for an enduring cabin:  authentic materiality and an indoor-outdoor room to inspire the writing of a great novel, season after season, year after year.

Ideally, a great bar to help inspire the great novel. (This one at the 350-year-old Hermitage Plantation set up high on the island of Nevis in the rainforest.)

And morning wake-up tea to sip and contemplate one’s amazing escape from the city.

I can highly recommend Stanley Mitchell Hut, a wood-frame jewel of a cabin built in 1940 and set in a meadow about 6,825 feet in the Little Yoho Valley in Yoho National Park, BritishColumbia.   We signed up to be custodians of Stanley Mitchell Hut one summer and played host to climbers from around the world.  Contact the Alpine Club of Canada if you’d like to do the same. (Photo by Paul Zizka.)

Where there is a cabin there are almost always piles of sweet-smelling wood.  In Sweden, wood piles are exquisitely designed.  So, let’s remember that for our ideal cabin.

The Bergman-Werntoft House by Johan Sundberg, near Malmo, Sweden.  The wood piles are in the back.

Or perhaps you were thinking of the ultimate indoor-outdoor, more outdoor than indoor, cabin. So long as there are books and a place to write, I wouldn’t mind.