Weekly Wrap-up: Fabric, Food & Fourth of July Fun

Fabric: Mally Skok Design

Mally Skok is a force of nature — she designs interiors, fabric, and wallpaper, as well as a fabulous life which she generously shares with everyone in her vicinity. And if you’re not in her vicinity you can read about it on her blog. Originally from South Africa, Mally lives in Boston now by way of everywhere in the world. London, especially, is a huge influence in her life. A  few weeks ago she invited a few Boston-area bloggers to her house for lunch, and it was easy to spot both elements of both England and Africa in her house. She designed her own interiors in a mix of traditional furnishings on a comfortable scale, terrific confidence of pattern and color, her own fabrics (updated versions of the classics), and, in true English fashion, a very happy dog. The food was delicious, the conversation compelling, and Mally even asked Russ Mezikofsky, a photographer, to photograph the proceedings with an actual camera that took two hands to operate (no smartphone camera for him!) so that this gathering of interior designers, lifestyle experts, PR & social media gurus could be documented in a manner appropriate to life in the digital age. Check out Mally’s work, especially her fabrics, at www.mallyskokdesign.com.

p.s. Look for her fabric to be offered on One Kings Lane very soon!

Fired Up for the Fourth

Fireworks? Not for Rockport. Our town’s 4th of July tradition is unique: the Fireman’s Association hosts a huge parade, followed by the Rockport Legion Band playing in the gazebo near Back Beach, where, as soon as it is dark enough, a massive bonfire is lit. And by massive I mean a bonfire with flames that soar several stories into the night sky at their peak. From a design perspective, the beauty and power of Rockport’s bonfire holds much greater significance than the complex series of fireworks synchronized to the music of Lady Gaga, Billy Ray Cyrus, et al. taking place down the road in Boston at the same time. And one of the best parts of watching the bonfire is watching the crowd watch the bonfire. You see their faces reflect the intensity of the light and heat as hordes of people inevitable back away and away from the heat of the fire as it increases until they are standing in the ocean itself, the water a soothing counterpoint to the the mass of flames.

Happy 4th of July — I hope your celebration of American independence involves fire of some sort, whether it’s a spark or a bonfire.

Rockport's Independence Day Bonfire

The bonfire, as seen in reflection on the faces of my family.

Bonus: A New Kind of S’more for the Backyard Bonfire

Click HERE for an update on that summer classic, S’mores, from food writer (and buddy of The Roving Home) Heather Atwood.

Found Object: Rockport

The entire town of Rockport qualifies as a found object, really. It’s a place out of time. Yesterday I had some errands to take care of downtown and was distracted from my duties repeatedly by items of interest. On the perimeter of Inner Harbor there are huge coils of rope — washed up in a December storm, a neighbor told me — and arranged in a deliberate sort of pile on the granite rocks bordering the harbor. The rope remains there, too heavy for the average scavenger to lift, a spontaneous sculpture.

And I saw a summer house whose looks belong entirely to another century, the windows covered for the winter with Folly Cove textiles, casually. Which is just the way the Folly Cove designers would have wanted it, as this group of Cape Ann block printers was committed to producing functional pieces. No intellectualized waxing on about the meaning of design, the artistry of the process — the Folly Cove collective just wanted to make useful items beautiful.

Which is the aesthetic of Rockport itself, actually. Rockport is ultimately a functional place, whose beauty highlights its industry, past and present. Quarrying, lobstering, and painting — it’s a place that gives work meaning, because the work itself is entirely connected to place. In the face of a world that is becoming the same all over, one strip mall at a time, Rockport is entirely itself, built on granite.

Interiors: Honoring the Past, Living in the Present

The walkway leading to the lane. The stone wall borders the cemetery.

When someone you love passes away, when someone who loves you passes away — the urge to cling to an object, a piece, a totem of some sort that represents that person can be overwhelming. Most of us have items in our lives that remind us of someone who is gone. Every time I look at a ceramic bird I have in my possession, for instance — a road runner, one of those fast little birds that populate Arizona — I think of my grandpa, who owned the bird before it was mine. Among many other qualities, my grandpa loved Zane Grey novels, fresh tomatoes, target shooting, and his grandchildren (of which there were many). He took a trip out west every chance he got, trying to experience a bit of the frontier while there was still a scrap of it left. So that little road runner — all I have from him, really — is not just a ceramic bird, a cheap souvenir from a long ago road trip. It represents him. And I can see him in my mind’s eye as I write this, alive.

So when I encounter someone who has been handed an entire house with all of its contents, a gift from the deceased, turned over to the living as an act of love and good faith, I think: that’s a whole lot of road runners. An entire house with room after room, all of them full of road runners, so to speak. What does someone do with such a gift? Such an overwhelming representation of another life? Especially when this particular gift has been thoughtfully and lovingly restored, the items in every room composing an idealized picture of the deceased owner’s vision of a life well-lived. Does the recipient preserve it as a sort of museum, each room intact, every item curated? Or should the house be a sort of shrine — a perpetual in memoriam? Well, I visited just such a house recently, and I had my answer. The vision of the house’s former owner carries on, and not because the furnishings she selected have stayed where she placed them more or less. Her house carries on because the one she handed it off to, the woman to whom she gave this great gift, is doing what should take place in every beloved house: living.

Continue reading

UnSeasonal Living

I’m all for the joys of living according to the seasons. This is one of the reasons I reside in New England after all, where summer is bountiful and green – albeit very short – Fall is gorgeous and full of appropriate decay, Winter is a big blur of gray & white with a heapin’ helpin’ of ice, and lovely Spring makes an entrance so fashionably late that sometimes it only shows up about 10 minutes before Summer.

But let’s be reasonable. About this time – the January Deep as I call it – I like to daydream a little about another – any other – time of year. Not enough to actually trek to Florida mind you, but enough to want to look at pictures of where I live when it’s sometime other than now. Because it becomes really difficult to remember what grass actually looks like, and to think of something other than death when you look outside. It’s nice to recall those warm weeks when you tackled projects like building a chicken coop, or a sand castle, or looked for vintage finds at an outdoor market. A time when you had more energy than it takes to eat soup beside a warm fire before heading to bed, exhausted.


Going to Todd's Farm Flea Market

A Summertime Project: My sister Jenny's mobile Chicken Coop

Front Beach in Rockport