A Mother’s Day Dedication

How amazing — after three years this post is more beautiful and emotional than when I first published it. Happy Mother’s Day!

Marina Chetner

My mum, in 10 words: elegant, beautiful, warm hearted, creative, caring, humanitarian, shopaholic, pet collector.

My mum – mama, in Russian – loves animals and got attached to each pet any of us kids ever owned. At one stage, a dwarf rabbit, a couple of guinea pigs, two cats, a dog, goldfish, and (caged) mice were under our care. You can imagine what a lively and entertaining household this turned out to be: I walked the rabbit on a leash, the dog stood guard by the guinea pig cage, the cats kept an eye on the fish, while mum would play midwife to the crazy-breeding mice.

Despite the oceans and lands that temporarily separate us, I know my mama is someone I can always count on, no matter what.

I never met my paternal grandmother as she passed away a few months before I was born. I did spend…

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Distance… Sydney to LA

Living so far away from home persistently tests me. When the recent tragic event was unfolding over too-long hours in Martin Place, Sydney, I scrolled social media, emailed family and friends, and checked on Facebook posts so I could keep up-to-date with the latest news. During these times you feel helpless, living thousands of miles away; digital technology gives you a feeling of control in a situation you’re far removed from. In an instant, I knew where my mum and dad were, where my sisters were; that my brothers and close friends were ok. That’s something a phone call could never do, especially when the lines used to be so jammed that many times I couldn’t ever get through.

Most of all, such events show us that we’re in this together, no matter what part of the world we live in. We may not agree on everything but we come from the same place. A good place.

The same sunsets in Los Angeles and in Sydney. December 15 2014.

The same sun sets in Los Angeles and in Sydney. December 15 2014.

Day Of The Dead, El Paso, Texas

When my husband and I drove from NY to LA, we stopped in the Texan town of El Paso, located so close to the Mexican border that you can see people crossing the Santa Fe Bridge over Rio Bravo. It’s a gorgeous “little” big town and we had a great time exploring. We awoke in the 1917-built Camino Real Hotel with its spectacular Tiffany glass dome, breakfasted on custard-filled croissants and deli coffee from Blue Seal Bakery, and later, feasted on meat-filled tacos at L&J Cafe. Those tacos were really really good.

In between, we’d also managed to squeeze in a visit to the El Paso Museum of Art where we saw works by local artists and American Impressionists. Never one to miss a museum store, my eyes devoured its selection of Mexican handicrafts, coffee table books, and handmade jewelry. Which is when I happened upon a mariachi band whose miniature musicians were dressed in Halloween costumes. Upon closer inspection, I realised they were celebrating The Day of the Dead. I loved it; I bought it.

That was two years ago. I am transported every time I look over at my little mariachi band on the bookshelf: that sunny El Pasoan day, the music filling the streets, the mountains in the distance, and a slower pace of life.



Pink Beach, Indonesia

Have you ever seen a pink beach? There are only a handful of them in the world — one  is located in Indonesia on Padar Island by Flores.

See a picture of it here, in a piece I wrote for Qantas about the world’s largest archipelago:


Note to surfers: check out the photos of Sumba and the Mentawai Islands in Sumatra. These spots have some of the best waves in the world.

This is not the pink beach but it is Kanawa island shrouded in a rosy sunset.

This is not the pink beach but it is Kanawa Island veiled by a rosy sunset.

Salt Water, Malibu

Malibu is one of the most beautiful places to visit for uninterrupted views of the water; where the eyes can rest their gaze on the infinite horizon. Listening to the waves crash before lapping the shore is at once soothing and invigorating. Worries dissipate; everything feels lighter.

There’s a quote by Isak Dinesen that reads: ‘The cure for anything is salt water – tears, sweat, or the sea.’

I completely agree.

The view of Malibu Pier from Nikita restaurant

The view of Malibu Pier from Nikita restaurant


A Riesling dwarfs El Matador

A German Riesling dwarfs El Matador