The cottage is turning into a regular ol’ cookie factory. I baked my last batch of Christmas cookies this morning. They’re all cooled now and waiting to be boxed up and delivered. This last batch of spritz cookies will be packaged up with snowballs and iced sugar cookies.
I made an extra batch this go round so there will be cookies for Mr. Michie to enjoy with a cup of tea. The vanilla, almond and hint of lemon flavour of this buttery flaky cookie goes perfectly with a hot cup of tea or a bowl of vanilla ice cream!
I’ve spent my day baking my first Christmas batches of spritz cookies and sugar cookies. I think it took me longer to decide which cookie cutters to use than to actually make the sugar cookies. I love cookie cutters! This year I’ve used my pretty little lady and there are stars, hearts, reindeer, trees, mittens, a cute little bear and a log cabin. Tomorrow, I’ll ice the sugar cookies and start working on making snowballs.
I got the prettiest little pot of glacé cherries at the grocery store this week and I placed them in the middle of pink coloured spritz flowers. They reminded me of cookies on the tray of Italian Christmas sweets that always filled both of my grandmother’s homes during the holidays.
The cottage smells of sugar and lemons and vanilla and almonds and I think that everything might be covered in glitter dust now. But, that’s okay! Who doesn’t need a little sparkle in their life?
I don’t know why and I know that it just isn’t me, because everyone I’ve spoken with today has said they feel as if this has been the longest week ever!
The woods were so quiet this morning. I only passed one other person out with her two Jack Russells. The sunbeams were distilled through the leaves, moving in and out as the breeze shook the branches; little tracks of light making the path glow. I could see my breath. It was a perfect autumnal morning.
I love the way the light changes this time of year. The shadows become longer. The light becomes whiter. My Nana’s dining room was at the corner of the house, so light filtered in from the front and the sides. Near one of the windows in the corner she had a Christmas cactus that sat on a tall wooden plant stand.
The afternoon autumnal light would be so pure the cactus almost appeared as it was glowing. The light would move across the dining room table and come to rest on the opposite wall. I would sit at the kitchen table watching the light dance about. It always made me think of Cranberries, by Andrew Wyeth.
We hardly ever turn on the TV, but last night the Mercury Prize Awards were on and Mr. Michie wanted to see some of the acts perform. Sampha, won the prize and we were both very happy with the judges decision. He played, “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano”.
I have no idea why, because there was not a piano in the dining room, or even in my Nana’s house for that matter. But, this song makes me think of her home. I suppose it speaks to me because her house knew me well. I used to clean for her and my other Grandmother for pocket money. I was usually saving up to buy Christmas presents. Her walls heard my voice, her furniture knew the touch of my hand. Her stove was incredibly fun to cook on, this perfect 1960s avocado green beauty. I think this song makes me feel nostalgic. The changing of seasons makes me feel that way as well, excited for what is to come and sad to let the previous season slip away.
I’m longing for quiet lately. I was shopping for a birthday card for a friend last week and found the perfect card for my Nana. It was dirty, which she would have loved. She had a wicked sense of humour. I wandered around the store and was about to purchase my items when I realised, I can’t send her a card. I just stood there like an idiot for a moment before going to put the card back. I still can’t believe that she no longer exists within my world. We shared a lot with each other, but I still had so much more to learn and to experience through her eyes.
On my daily run, I always make a beeline for the woodland paths. I slow down to a walk there and watch the muntjacs (if I’m lucky to see them), or check on the baby coots and ducklings in the pond. One little muntjac in particular and I are slowly becoming friends. He occasionally watches me do yoga or peers out from the trees across the path, when I’m doing push-ups using the back of a park bench. He seems to seek me out. I find peace in watching him. I find peace in listening to the birds and watching the sun shine through the fern leaves. One of the many side paths has ferns that are taller than me. When the sun shines through them it is like being in a chapel made entirely of emerald green stained glass.
The moment I leave the woods the traffic rushes by, people push past you and there is just so much noise coming from every direction. I don’t want noise for a little while. I want to sit in a chair with my toes in the sand. I want to do my morning run along the beach, barefoot as the sun rises. I want to collect seashells, rinsing them off in the ocean before leaving them to dry on the porch railing. I want to make s’mores over a fire and slowly lick off the marshmallow goo from my lips.
I want to eat when I feel like eating, only see people if I want to, only talk to people if I want to. I want to take naps on a screened-in porch listening to the waves as I drift off. I don’t want to answer questions, or do laundry, or clean a house. I don’t want to hear noise other than the ocean beating against the shore one rolling wave at a time. Just for a little while, I just crave the delicious sound of silence.
There is much more to a person than their outer shell. Soul mates come in many forms. Sometimes in that of a lover, other times in the heart of a kindred spirit. She held me not long after I was born and told my mother exactly what my personality would be. From the moment her hands lifted me up and she held me in her arms we were and will always be intertwined.
She grew up in New York. Living in the city before heading out to live by the bay. She was an amazing swimmer. She had a little boat that she used to take out in the harbour and would go fishing. Along with her catch, she would “borrow” a few vegetables from a neighbours garden and make a little fish stew for herself on the banks.
She once safely stowed her books away, with the gentleman who ran the candy store, so she could skip school and go see Frank Sinatra croon. She had quite the voice herself and used to sing at her Uncle’s cabaret with his band as a young teen. She was a baseball player. Like Geena Davis in A League of Their Own, she was a pitcher. That’s how my grandpa first met her. He was smitten! Her? Not so much. But he wore away at her and she would later elope with him.
I’ve seen the New York census from the year they were married, it has them listed each living with their families at different residences. What the census didn’t know is that they had already secretly married in Virginia and it was only much later when she became pregnant that they told their families. That was the first of eight babies they would have together. They absolutely adored children and that was something that never left her.
My grandfather fought in WWII and she stayed to fight on the home front. She was an empowered woman before it even became a thing to be one. She was a Rosie the Riveter. I have a copy of an old photograph of her that was taken for a promotional shoot, she looks like a doll with her little cap on. She was an incredible artist, her drawings and pottery beautifully sculpted. She was also an amazing seamstress.
She taught me how to go crabbin’ at the beach. I caught a baby alligator my first time out the gate, but by the time we were ready to leave we had a basketful of crabs for dinner.
She kept her aluminium pie tins for me and I spent hours in her backyard making mud pies, that I decorated with acorns and berries from her yard. Once I was totally filthy, she would call me inside and bath me in her avocado green kitchen sink.
That was the same sink where we washed baby doll clothes and she made a drying line with some twine hung between two of her dining room chairs standing back to back, for me to pin them on.
At one point she had a little orange pinto and we used to shoot through the streets with our sunglasses on, laughing and listening to music. She was a smoker for a short while of my childhood, and I would “smoke” with her at the kitchen table. She would pretend to light up one of my crayons. I held it between my fingers like she did, taking a “puff” as she did, while I coloured with the other hand. It was like hanging out with Betty Draper.
She had a wicked sense of humour, a wonderful laugh, an even better smile. Her hands were like butter. She was a woman of unwavering faith. Her eyes saw beauty in everything. She didn’t miss a trick. She and my grandfather continued their passionate love affair up until his death.
Like my other grandmother, she was a woman of rare breed. A lady through and through. She had a special “good luck” clap that she did when watching baseball, but it was also used when she watched, Wheel of Fortune and The Price is Right. She had a lot of -isms that we still say to each other all the time. And when you spoke with her on the phone, her way of saying goodbye was normally, “Ooookay, so long, doll!”. All said in a sing-song manner with a slight New York accent.
For 93 years she walked this earth. For a small part of that she was mine. We lost her this week and my heart has broken into a thousand pieces. I’ll eventually pick them up and put them back together, but there will forever be a missing piece.
I’ve been absent for the past few days because I’ve been lost in the land of a red-headed curly haired cherub, tiny baby toes and two wagging lab tails and I couldn’t have been any happier. I even got to see the Wienermobile! What a treat! As we move into this weekend, I wish everyone a blessed Easter. Happy weekend! Long may it last!
I learned earlier this week that someone who had a great impact on my life, both personally and artistically, has passed away. We had been out of touch for a little while, yet I thought about him often.
R. was someone very special to me. I can’t quite get my head around the fact that he is dead. He was joyous, he was kind, he was funny. He was a gentle spirit.
R. was a fascinating man. He was a collector of things, like a little magpie. He was the guy you wanted to sit next to at dinner or at a cocktail party. He was a spinner of stories. He often shared the greatest tales: Growing up in Hong Kong, before being sent back to England for boarding school; school holidays spent on the Cornish coast with his aunt and uncle who looked after him; adventures in London through the 70s; and the many artists he worked with and the anecdotes he had of them were incredible.
He was always thinking, always seeing things with new eyes. He was a wonderful flute player. He was an avid reader and a superb gardener. We once traded a cutting from an aloe plant, of mine, for some marigold seeds from his sister’s garden in Denmark. He was a great builder of things. He was a pixie. His stories shall stay with me and it is now my turn to carry on spinning, weaving his tales so they are not forgotten.
I am so grateful for the time that I had with him and honoured that he let me see just a little bit of his world. For, he is someone I will never forget. I was lucky enough to call him my friend and I will dearly miss him.
I’ve returned from the land of adorable children with sparkling blue eyes and babies who sweetly smell of milk and sleepiness.
It’s amazing how your heart just expands with love for this new person who has entered your world and I can’t imagine our family without her in it! I can’t wait to hold that bundle of love again. My sister and her husband make beautiful babies.
This morning, I walked out with Mr. Michie and went for a stroll. The sun was just starting to rise. It was cold. I could see my breath in clouds above me as I ran down the quiet streets. The golden leaves that had fallen were stuck to the wet black pavement. It was striking to see such rich colour against the coal black of the road.
By the time I made it to my woods the sun had risen. The woods were just mine for a few moments. The squirrels and birds were flittering around. The wind was blowing the tops of the trees as if they were dancing. The ground was wet and littered with golden, pumpkin orange and reddish tinted leaves.
My IPod shuffled to a Pat Metheny song and it was perfect. I captured a few photos and then my furry friends who I pass on my walks came bounding down the path to greet me. I get lots of licks along my walks and that makes me happy.
Now, I’m bundled up with a cup of tea. There is a dampness to the air today. It feels like fall. There is a beauty to England this time of year. The blush of colour on the trees stands out so starkly against the normally steely grey skies. It makes you long for scarves and hot chocolate and candles lit everywhere.