June 2009

of garlands, flags and banners


Everything is arranged and peaceful again here, and I am grateful for your help with the little redecorations. All is as serene as I could make it, with the color and interest of the “followers” at the very bottom of the page for those who would like to visit it. When threaded comments are available, I shall probably rearrange a bit more, but for now, I want to return to chronicling my trip to beautiful Britain.

Life has been such a whirl since returning, but tomorrow my mom will move into her pretty new apartment and after a few days spent there with her, I will open a new chapter of my life. Crafting a new weekly rhythm of visits to her in town, nurturing Small Meadow Press again and lavishing attention on my home and little family left at home will fill the summer. But for now, while the sun shines hot outside and everyone is in flocking to the beach here….I want to think of the green leafiness and cool blue breezes I found in May.

Sheep’s wool garlands adorning the green fields…a
cheerful result of barbed wire and grazing sheep.

I have so many little bundles of sheep’s wool that I couldn’t
help gathering everywhere we went…like seashells on the
grassy shores of the pastures and meadows.

The village of Ireby, bedecked with banners that
gladdened the sometimes-cloudy skies.

I loved to see that some of the banners were made with
recycled fabric. Do you see the print on some of the bits above and
the floral pennant below?

…a clothesline with tiny, mysterious bits of cloth
enlivening this hedgy place.

This banner for the W.I. tea at the festival makes me happy
every time I see it. I was thrilled to be able to attend my first
W.I. anything after reading about them for so many years
in the Miss Read books.

A not-so-pretty souvenir shop on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh…
but I thought the sentiment emblazoned like a banner over the shop’s
door was worth capturing. “a nation is forged in the hearth”


of kitchens….


It was our friend Susan’s kitchen, in Ireby, that showed me hospitality. After our long journey by plane, train and automobile, we walked in through the kitchen door and into rest and welcome.

In this kitchen we enjoyed endless and sustaining cups of tea, with milk poured from pint bottles, rich and filling vegetarian meals and wonderful conversations and laughter with all those we met around the oval table.

I cannot duplicate the rambling rooms…the pantry, the little room off the kitchen on your way to the pantry, the bathroom, the big room off the kitchen with the washer and dryer and spare fridge and freezer and sofa and airer. All abundance and provision.

But I will begin to fill my own tiny pantry to the brim, and find a crock to stuff with tea bags (no more “one box at a time” for me!) just waiting to be popped into a mug for friendly drink of tea, stack the dish towels high and look for more spoons and ivory-handled knives to add to our diminished supply…find a better balance between thrift and bounty.

One of my sadnesses about getting sick the very last two days
of our holiday (truly out of it, in bed) was that I didn’t get to visit
Sonja’s kitchen and Kaety’s kitchen (marvelous women amongst many
marvelous women I had the pleasure of meeting around Susan’s oval table).
Perhaps I can get back one day and write a series on the
“Kitchens of Cumbria”.

This photo makes me laugh, as we are all going in different directions, even
to the leaning tree in the foreground. And laughter is what I found in Ida’s kitchen
in Cranleigh. I have met Ida only twice in my life, the other time being
twenty-five years ago when I first went to England. I came to know her
through her husband, my dear Mr. Malt, who used to garden in
our neighborhood when I was in college.

That is the door into Ida’s kitchen just behind her stooping husband,
and it is bright and cheerful and nearly filled with the big pine table
in the center of the room. Just after we arrived and were told that
we were having meatballs and spagetti (Ida hails from Italy originally),
it had to come out that we didn’t eat meat. I was sorry for the trouble
that caused….but actually, can’t call it trouble, for the next little
while found me taking orders (given smilingly and ever so efficiently)
from Ida as we prepared another dish for the vegetarians.

All the menfolk disappeared and I spent a merry time as assistant
to the amazing Ida as we conjured up a delicious spinach and ricotta
penne pasta and a yummy dessert of whipped cream, broken meringue
bits (lots of meringue in England!) and strawberries and blueberries.
I don’t get to cook with other women very often and I was so
grateful for the delight of working together.

my castle-kitchen

Isn’t that an extraordinary thought to take in? But it is true, a little cosy
kitchen in a 12th century castle. And I can’t explain how happy I was in this
space…I only made tea and warmed up soup and toast, as my guys
were all in various stages of recovery from a stomach bug. But I was
filled with well-being from the moment I set foot in our
apartment, which is perhaps surprising, as we learned
that this castle is known for being haunted. So I would say this kitchen brought me contentment.

sitting room part of the castle-kitchen

We had only one night and a little bit of the morning here,
but I will go back sometime for a proper visit, and I will devote
another post to our stay at the castle, it was so beautiful
and peaceful.

view from my castle-kitchen window

It is, perhaps, a good thing that I didn’t get to know more kitchens
while I was abroad for this post is very long already. But I think
kitchens are so interesting, so integral to life…I am endlessly intrigued
by them.

I will leave you with a sort-of kitchen (if you stretch the definition)
in our restful pink room in Edinburgh (also another post!).
My deario and I enjoyed a cup of this after a magical evening
at Sandy Bell’s.

I will post again soon…it is a busy time with filling my mother’s new nest with lovely things to make her feel happy and at home, and preparing her heart and mind. We are also celebrating her birthday at the end of the month…so June is very much a mothery month!