Monday, December 04, 2017

No-Vember (remember)

Hello, kind and patient friends of the blog. It's the fourth of December at four minutes past four and it's dark outside. I'm sitting at my desk, catching up on emails, writing a few things, waiting for LA to wake up, and thinking, I'll take the dogs out in a few. And there it is, the skeleton trees and the cloudy darkness. Blink and you'll miss the day in December in the UK. Blink and you might as well just hibernate. But I refuse to be rocked or knocked or even slightly perturbed by it. I have cod liver oil and vitamin pills, radiators that work, and a very attractive grey beanie that I wear At All Times, in order to keep warm. My friend suggests wearing a housecoat over one's clothes to keep really warm. To that I say what my mother said in church this morning when offered a blanket for her legs "I'm not 100 yet, darling."

The mother of one of my oldest childhood friends (a pony club girl) has died, sadly, and we were at the funeral today. I remember her mother as beautiful, sexy, glamorous, funny, an ace cakemaker, and absolutely not death material whatsoever. In fact, she came to lunch in the spring, and was witty and amusing and warm and kind; this was, as I suppose death always is, unexpected.

Funerals are awfully sad.  But sitting in churches is lovely. This one was a creamy white, and light, and oddly, optimistic. There were grandchildren reading poems. A lovely son choking back his grief while reading a eulogy with a slightly wobbly voice. White flowers which looked as if they had been picked directly from the meadow, loose and natural and bright. Jerusalem, which was belted out. (This is how the English express emotion, through the belting of stirring hymns.) But also there were people I hadn't seen since I was fourteen. Lots of them. Lovely old friends and boys on whom I had miserable crushes, and Plum, who held a joint 14th birthday party with me, and painted my nails red for the first time, and made me feel sophisticated and grown up and just slightly slutty. There were sandwiches, and fudge, and little smoked haddock fishcakes, and farmers from all around, names of people my father liked. Names I remember him saying with warmth, which was not always the case. Two of my mother's widow group were there, and a sprinkling of pony club girls. Happily familiar faces. How sad it is that it takes a funeral to reunite us all. (Dear, dear Plum. Isn't it funny how you can see a friend for the first time in 40! years and it's the same. They may have a couple of extra lines, but the essence is their fourteen year old self. All I felt was immense warmth and love. Also, everyone should have a friend called Plum. It's so deliciously cozy.)

I have managed for the first time in the fourteen years that this blog has existed to miss an entire month. While other people were growing moustaches, I was NOT WRITING and no doubt lying about it to anyone who asked. I'm not sure how I could have allowed that to happen, but I am sorry. I am awfully sorry. In the future, I promise at least to publish a recipe. I'm letting no-one down but myself, I realize. This must be amended.

I can tell you this:

  1. I have fallen in love with the Alhambra Palace after seeing "A Trip to Spain" on the plane.
  2. I have been back to Los Angeles twice and I realize what an easy life we have there. Also, that I miss those balmy, orange-lit afternoons that only Thanksgiving brings.
  3. Vegan sweet potatoes with coconut milk are the most delicious things on the planet.
  4. I miss Monica with a passion. (This is another blog post entirely: but, I was a SPOILED girl.)
  5. I am busier with work than I have been all year and I love it.
  6. If you haven't seen "Midnight Special" do, immediately.
  7. People don't show up for food in the UK. This is what distinguishes it from the US. I told this story to a colleague and she thought I was joking, but in LA, if you want people to come watch a movie, you merely feed them. Here, not so much.
  8. I've done very little Christmas shopping and don't quite know how to survive with my go-to LA shops, OK Gallery, New Stone Age, Lost and Found, and Pergolina. If my British readers have any good ideas for cute places to shop for Christmas, please let me know.
  9. The stark, naked beauty of Britain in December takes some beating. Every leaf that's left is copper. The ground is muddy. There are starlings and wood pigeons and pheasants everywhere. And the blue, when it comes, is so pleasing, and so unexpected, that one's mood is imediately lifted.
  10. There is no Honey Baked Ham in Buckinghamshire.
  11. My expectations have changed. And this is a good thing. More on this later.


LPC said...

It's just lovely to hear from you:).

tedsmum said...

Aah, now everything feels right, thankyou!
#maybe the vegan sweet potato recipe?
#Old Amersham - great for present shopping & brunch xxx

Katherine C. James said...

It is, as Lisa said, good to hear from you. Your writing is lovely, and I enjoy it. It’s a cold early morning in Northern California, the sun is not yet up. I'm in bed under layers of linen and cotton blankets. It feels delicious to be warm with the cold air around me. (My down comforter is in my storage room in a converted Deco theatre in old downtown Oakland. I need to go get the comforter, along with my heavier winter clothing, Maybe later today…) Yesterday, I spent the day in San Francisco. It was cold, but the sky was a high bright autumn blue, the bay was a roiled dark blue, the light was lemon yellow. Winter in England remains dear to me, but I had it in small doses, and it was urban with visits to the country. Christmas in London enchants me. I’m glad your work is going well. A friend named Plum seems a lovely idea. Work, family, friends, ritual, a gray/grey beanie, and sweet potatoes: these are the things that make life worthwhile. Love to you, Bumble. You sound content. xo.

Patricia Starkey said...

I have missed your posts without knowing it. Your writing, whether about a walk in the meadow with your dogs or about the dreaded 'green menace' of depression strikes a chord and makes me wish we were sitting in a cozy cottage having a chat. (And I have never met you. This being such an American thing, feeling kinship without basis.) I too went to a funeral today. A women I used to ride with. She died doing what she loved, chasing hounds. She had so many more tally-ho's left in her...

I hope that your loved ones and their loved ones are safe from the terror of the recent/ongoing fires in and around LA. I visited Ojai in October to visit my niece, a student at Ojai Valley School. As an East Coaster, I was struck with awe at the stark beauty. So glad I visited when I did as her dorm and another building on campus are no longer there.
Life has such peculiar ways of opening our eyes.

Happy holidays to you and yours,