Good morning Girlfriends — how’s everyone today? Musica? (So gorgeous here, I thought you should hear the “voice of the island” then you’ll know just how pretty it is.) I’ve been getting nice things in the mail lately. I love mail when it’s like this:
It’s a box from my dad. First off, it was instantly special because he was recycling the box we sent him Gingerbread from Sarah Nelson’s famous Bakery in Grasmere, England last Father’s Day (the magic of youtube will take you to see the bakery). Just the box alone was good for a happy memory . . . but I loved how he addressed it, to Jack Branch! (That’s my kitty to anyone who might be new here.)
Joe saw it and said, “Branch? Not Hall? Haruumph.”
I said, “Wait a minute, you don’t want me to call you ‘Jack’s dad,’ right? I told my dad, so of course he took that to heart, honoring you by not giving Jack your name.”
I say to Jack, “Take the rubber band back to your dad.” And Joe says, “I’m not his dad.”
This explanation comes with love from proud Cat Mommy.
Btw, this is the news from Lake Suebegon, where are all the men are brilliant, all the children are adorable, and all the women are crazy. 🙂
So I opened the box, and here was this BEE (my craziness is inherited). You can pull the pink plastic flower and a buzzing of massive proportions begins. So I gave it to Jack.
Jack looks at his father (oops) wondering why his mommy is putting a bee on the chair with him. It doesn’t look like a rubber band.
Hmmm. I’m beginning to think there’s a resemblance between Jack and his new friend, something about the eyes. I don’t think the bee is catching Jack’s fancy. He’s extremely particular.
He is rubberband-ponytail band man all the way and will go to any lengths to get them. I moved the scale the other day and there were four rubber bands under it. This seems to be where he “keeps” them. There is one in this drawer and he knows it and he badgers me until I open it.
He is one smart kitty boy. He has me shooting them for him all day. He catches it in two paws, puts it directly into his mouth, and brings it back to me. I will come up the stairs and there, right in front of the door, a rubber band, waiting for me, him on the chair, eyes insane, ears in perfect pert pyramids, at attention, waiting. I wonder if he will ever grow out of this.
The other thing he likes is feathers. These feathers are at the end of what looks like a fishing pole. He climbs onto the arm of a wooden chair, and stretches his full length on his tiptoes to try and get it down from the door we keep it draped over.
P L A Y W I T H M E!!! (His mantra)
See that eye? Pure concentrated attack mode.
Coo-Coo-Ca-Choo . . .
He can climb anything now. He is my best decoration.
I’ve always loved a little bit of black . . .
It just seems to pop all the other color and give depth to any setting.
Even in the bathroom . . .
So it just made sense to get a color-coordinated kitty. A little black and white is my best decorating secret.
Even quilts look more wonderful with this fuzzy decorating tip lying on top of them.
Better than throw pillows . . .
Better than vases of flowers — I think Girl’s pink nose also adds to the decoration. Little pink eraser nose. Double bubblegum pink. ♥
And I got something else in the mail . . . this box. It’s not been in a house of mine for thirty-four years when I packed it up and sent it away, but that’s where it started out.
A lot of you will recognize this box when I tell you what it is. Those of you who’ve been around since my first book came out will know what this box is even though no one has ever seen it.
Have you guessed yet? Yes, it’s a recipe box, but not just any recipe box. It’s my most important recipe box ever.
In around 1978, when I’d been painting for almost a year and still learning everyday (just like now!), my girlfriend Jane was getting married. So I put together a recipe box for her wedding present and filled it with my recipes I handwrote and watercolored onto cards. Note: black ink, my way of getting a little black into everything (just to follow up on that theme. 🙂 )
This is Jane’s box with some of the cards I made for her. She just sent it back to me. She thought I might like to keep it in my memoirs, because she knows what this box means to me. Such a wonderful surprise. Making her wedding present was the very first time I combined my hobby of cooking, with my handwriting, and my new love of making watercolors and drawing home things like bowls and bananas, putting borders on everything.
This is Jane and me. We are standing on the “Love Boat” in Long Beach Harbor getting ready to sail away to Acapulco. Jane is a little bit older than me (not by much ~ but at the time it was enough; I’ve almost caught up to her now) and I looked up to her. I thought she was brilliant. She had a powerhouse job, she had a darling house, she was beautiful, smart and fun. I wanted to be like her when I grew up. One night, when we were in my kitchen doing dishes after a dinner party, she suggested I write a cookbook and fill it with my recipes, and decorate it with watercolors, just like the recipe box I’d given her. I almost fainted from the compliment of it. Of course I thought that she might have gone a bit off the rails in this one exception to her normal genius. I didn’t believe I could write a book since at the time, no one I knew wrote books except people like Julia Child or Margaret Mitchell. It took five years and lots more inspiration (such as divorce and huge fear of bagladyhood) before I had the nerve to try, and three years more before my first book came out . . . and I never forgot that it was Jane’s idea. ♥
See? How could you not do anything this person told you to do? She obviously had the magic touch. You can visit her website, Jane Bay and read about her on Star Wars Wookiepedia ~ she was George Lucas’s ~ of Star Wars fame ~ assistant and right-hand-person for the last almost-forty years, and just recently retired.
And I feel that this is very much a result of Jane’s believing in me . . .
My first book, which changed my life forever. We never know where or when the inspiration for our lives will come from or through whom. I’m only 2 degrees of separation from Elvis Presley!!! On the same photo of us above, Jane wrote, “Girlfriends Forever” — you can see that photo on the endpapers in the book — her photo gave me the title for my Girlfriends book. Funny how you come to have guardian angels in your life, who drop their magic and there you go. Like pulling the bunny out of a top hat. Voila! ♥ ♥ ♥
Jane’s recipe box is filled with recipe cards such as this one — That’s my recipe for Gazpacho as I painted it for her box, and here it is, a few years later, as I painted it a for my book:
Eight years later, when my book was finally published, the recipe had the addition of shrimp and croutons. If you have Heart of the Home, you can find this recipe on page 39. And that brings me to the end of this blog post, because, on this gorgeous Martha’s Vineyard day, I’m on my way to the market to get the things to make Gazpacho — going to treat Joe NICE. It’s still the best I’ve ever tasted. Tried and true ~ I promise you ~ for years . . . and it comes . . .
H A P P Y D A Y G I R L F R I E N D S F O R E V E R !