A few of my favorite things: Parallel Botany
Hello everyone, this is Lisa from Parallel Botany! As a participant in Holly’s “Favorite Things” series, I am thrilled to be here today to share with you a few of my most cherished belongings, as well as some of the things that inspire me daily.
My dog art! Ever since I was a little girl, I have had a deep and abiding affinity for the canine character.. Looking at my collection on the wall is an automatic mood booster for me. I’ve even got a print of the American kitsch classic “Waterloo,” also known as Dogs Playing Poker—a piece which is at once hackneyed and transcendent. By the way, the dark pink screenprint in the upper left corner is my corgi, Barkowitz. He’s a handsome fellow with personality to spare.
This hand-carved wooden box, a gift given to my grandmother by her brother upon his return from World War II, holds faded family snapshots. Some of the photos are so degraded at this point that it’s difficult to make out any likenesses at all. I know I should probably put them in an acid-free archival album, but I enjoy handling the haphazard stacks of photos as I sift randomly through the box. I find this “system” more satisfying than flipping through an album.
Childhood artwork, vintage keepsakes, and souvenirs displayed in shrine-like vignettes, to be arranged and rearranged again and again. This is something I have done since I was a kid, making little tabletop displays of objects on my dressers, desks, and windowsills, and I still find it a very relaxing and serious-fun activity. By the way, is that more dog art in the background? Yep, it’s a huge portrait I painted of my family’s dog when I was twelve (as you can see, the dog art thing runs pretty deep in me!).
My precious mixtapes. A few years ago, I went through a phase of putting together mix CDs with very elaborate packaging—fancy cardstocks, handmade paper that I had made myself, ribbons, collages, watercolors. I really went to town on these things! My taste in music might have shifted a bit since then, but as personal documents these CDs have become more meaningful to me over the years. They really are my journals from that period.
This is my favorite window. I have taken so many photos from this vantage point. I know it’s not the most spectacular vista, but I’m drawn to the oblique, glancing view down the street. When I am experiencing a mental block, I will often go to this window, look out over the rooftops, and let my imagination carry me away.
I also receive daily doses of inspiration from nature. I especially enjoy taking my dog for walks in nearby Inwood Hill Park, which boasts the last bit of natural forest in Manhattan. Back on the forest trails, it’s very easy to forget that I’m in the city, which is sometimes necessary when I start to feel frazzled by the pace of urban life.
After visiting neighborhood parks, I always return home invigorated and brimming over with new ideas. In his book Easy Living, the designer Terence Conran writes, “The least inspiring displays are composed of objects you expect to see, or those that remain in the same dusty corner year after year. By contrast, objects that mean something to you, that enshrine memories of a favorite place or time or person, always have vitality: they actually have something to say…[There] really are no hard and fast rules for display except to surround yourself with things you positively enjoy.”
This wise statement is something I like to keep in mind when I consider ways to honor objects and memories in my home. I try to stand back and let my collections of much-loved items speak for themselves. – Lisa
(images: parallel botany)