Some of you may know that I am half-Chinese. Since my mother is Chinese and my father had a bit of a Marco Polo complex, my mother's cultural experience had a great deal of influence on my growing up life. Until I left home to go to college, I drank oo-long tea every night with dinner. (Might explain why I'm shorter than my milk drinking brothers and sisters!) And we were a little famous wherever we lived for our chow mein and crispy fried wonton and gau-gee. When I was in college I loved buying cheongsams in thrift stores and wearing them to parties with chopsticks in my hair and in the winter I would wear my grandmother's black brocade jacket with camel wool lining over my jeans.
We had the bright colored tins at home for tea and black beans and almond cookies and the chinese silk lanterns in lacquered frames and whenever we went on vacation there would always be a stop at the chinese restaurants painted in celadon greens and bright reds for dim sum or steamed pike or crab with black bean sauce. And every year, li si (good luck money) in bright red paper packets.
The exuberant colors are very much a part of my personal esthetic as is the slight nostalgic quality of Chinese brush paintings, poetry and sculpture. Chinese artists seems to love to savor the moment and having passed that moment in contemplation, always seem a bit befuddled and sorrowful when they awake from their reverie and realize that the moment is gone!
Anyway, nice to find bits of Asia yet in my immediate surroundings. This is also apparently part of my ongoing campaign to demonstrate that Los Angeles has more going for it than glitz and plastic surgery!
I find L.A.'s chinatown delightful. In principle, it's sunnier than most Chinatowns you will visit in America. Though I've only gone on cool greyish days, sadly.
It is not as lively as it once was, somewhat because of the diaspora of
Chinese who have colonized the areas east of L.A. from Pasadena through Monterey Park and beyond to the San Gabriel valley.
Now art galleries have moved in, attracted perhaps by the blend of Disney and Duquette. And lower rents of course.
Here's a link to Amanda's wonderful blog, Welcome Home, A Guide to Modern Living and a gorgeous loft right here also featured in the World Of Interiors and UK Elle Decor. The homeowner used the colors you see outside to ornament the inside of her home.
A fascinating discovery, also in L.A. Chinatown is this stone shop.
I would LOVE to take one of these home with me but so scared they would sink right
through my floorboards, they are so heavy. A possibility for my garden, though I'd be sad not to be able to look at them all day and night.
This little guy might just be my favorite. And the guy below just the tail part of a larger dragon dancer sculpture. Love his face! How he cool-ly confronts and appraises you. So serene.
Aren't these beautiful? So beautifully proportioned and so strongly, if economically, executed. This is something the Chinese do excellently well. (Yes! They are shipped from China!) There ARE also western-style choices which I'm less enthused about. A little tacky baroque, shall we say. I hope to visit their warehouse in El Monte next week. I'll keep you posted!
Finally a moment for exquisite contemplation, these monuments can be found at the famous
Hollywood Forever Cemetery, now known for it's Halloween Festivities as well as being the resting place of many old school Hollywood deities, DeeDee Ramone and Larry Tate from Bewitched!
These are quite authentic Thai burial monuments, dedicated to real people.
L.A. has a huge Thai Town located in what is roughly East Hollywood. Just below the Hollywood sign. With many
tasty Thai restaurants. I can vouch for Jitlada on Sunset which is famous for it's wide range of very authentic dishes. Try the mussels!
OK, so what's your idea of heaven? I have so many, I had to start a blog. Once upon a time, I could have been a very grouchy person. But having a blog like this, and reminding myself daily how many very nice places there are on earth, I've involuntarily converted myself into a Buddhist or a Hindu. And I'm having to spend my days counting out the heavens I've found myself in.
This is a fairly recent apparition in the heavenly galaxy. It's called Petersham Nurseries and why, particularly, sooooooooooo HEAVEN-LY?????
If you love flowers. That might be why.
Whether you like to grow them yourself. Or just to admire them.
If you like to be inspired by others' garden ideas.
If you want to be surrounded by nature. Wherever you are.
If you adore the voluptuous miracle that is vegetables.
And thinking of spring when it is still winter.
If you like to get your hands a little dirty.
And like all the accoutrements of gardening.
If you think there's nothing better than having a meal al fresco.
And inviting all of your friends.
Or if you're a hothouse flower
And it's not so warm outside yet........
Finding someplace sunny and sheltered
to pretend you're outdoors when you're not.
This could definitely be your idea of paradise.
But wait, that's not all.
What if you didn't actually have to do your own cooking?
And you could enjoy excellent wines with your meal?
And fanciful cocktails? In this simply gorgeous setting? And the happy efforts of one of the best chefs around these days?
Skye Gingell(click to link for Independent UK recipes) is in the kitchen at Petersham Nurseries.
Her flavors are clean, and concentrated. Her ingredients are absolutely the freshest because most come out of the Petersham Nurseries' kitchen garden. Her recipes are rustic and authentic in origin but refined and careful in ALL THE BEST WAYS in execution. Her food makes you feel satisfied and refreshed all at once. And as soon as you've finished, your soul will be HUNGRY all over again for her smoothly harmonious combinations of flavors. This food will make you dream. And Skye, when you run into her, while you're poking around P'sham Nurseries, seems the nicest, humblest, most regular, thoughtful person you've had the pleasure to say "Hi" to lately.
Are you convinced? It would have to be Heaven.
This dream of Heaven is located on a narrow lane between the Thames River and an equally narrow bridge that crosses it. It has very limited parking and neighbors cheek by jowl who are trying to conduct normal lives and business despite the comings and goings of the Nurseries' discriminating customers. You'll see on the website that it's recommended to you that you either:
1) Find a friend who lives close by in Richmond and walk from their house (Mick - Jerry?)
2) Park in the Richmond town center and have a gorgeous walk along the river - one of the nicest things you can do ever
3) Take the bus
If you're planning on buying great loads of stuff, have your "little man" wait up the road in the Range Rover until you're ready to roll. For eating in the restaurant - make a reservation.
I loved sharing these pictures with you but I know I'm going to regret telling you about this Paradise in Petersham. This is another one where you should: tread gently. We have a bad habit in this day and age of destroying that which we love most.
So I promised I'd be back with more Flea Market goodies. And yes, why not Flea Market Flowers?
(See that guy on the far left?)
A visit to a Flea Market is always full of surprises. That must be why we love them.
So what IS wrong with this picture? (Besides the obvious.)
I like Flea Markets because they are so full of layers of meaning and possibility.
(Slow down! Take a look!)
The possible second life of goods forsaken and discarded.
(How devastatingly daring and original would I look showing up in a little black dress and these?!)
The second life they suggest to us and new meaning in our own.
(Let's pull the truck in and take me home that sofa and the flowered coat behind it!)
The idea of second chances and the second glances that remind me us WHAT GENIUSES
we must be, when we discover beauty in random piles of other peoples' rubbish.
And the pure pleasure of discovery in a harmony of forms.
Some things just scream out at you: STOP! LOOK AT ME!
(Once upon a time, EVERYBODY had one of these coolers. Don't you think they still should?)
If you took them home would they continue to talk that way? (That typewriter FOR SURE!)
I THINK SO. And everyone who visited you would afterward say. "Ohhhhhh!!!!!! That house! How it speaks to me!"
Somehow markets like this also always draw pretty people.
And pretty people need pretty things.
And things that will make them seem more interesting. Because sometimes just pretty isn't enough.
If you don't think you're interesting enough yet. You could look at how other people have lived and glean ideas.
(What do I want more, her dog or her boots? So busy looking at them, did not even notice the skull at the base of her spine. I mean, derriere)
OR - you could just STALK the most interesting, pretty people.
BLUE and INTERESTING seem to be the agreed theme for this part of the market.
And have I mentioned BACKSIDES????? Yes, I think I did. No Depends here.
Once upon a time, we were all someone else.
But they say that the child is the father of the man.
Maybe this explains the appeal of past lives, our own and others'.
Somehow those lives took simpler forms. And were easier to understand.
We're reminded we have choices of lives. The kind that sits and waits and settles for less and lets the world come to them, maybe?
The kind that puts its best foot forward and hopes to make a quiet impression.
And knows that a well-chosen accent can signal and characterize a lifetime's endeavor.
Here's an accent that I would have LOVED to adopt. (Yes! The skirt - I ADORE!)
But I have big hips and short legs and when I tried it on, instead of Frida Kahlo, I just looked like a tinsel-trimmed beer barrel - "Just push me over lads and ROOOLLLL ME down the hill!"
Even flea markets can sell you on that sleek, soigne restrained style.
If you get your stuff and get out before you find the food court (Otherwise it's back to barrel-land.)
You will definitely leave feeling more colorful.
And no, this is not Bentley either, but so pretty.
NOW. My flea market day is done. I feel like "Stepping Up" and trying out a whole new attitude. Just call me.........
Do you love flea markets? Do you haggle? What is the best thing you ever got at a flea market? Which is your favorite flea market in the world?
Unless otherwise designated, all text and photographs on this blog are the copyrighted material of Passage Paradis and its author or are used by permission. You may use or link to material on this blog provided you include proper attribution.