Sunday, July 21, 2013
Among My Souvenirs
Well, the good news is that, except for the books (no shelves yet) we've now opened all the boxes and unpacked almost all of them.
The bad news is that we are just about where one would like to be in a smallish (by cosmopolite standards) flat (once there are shelves), and there are still all those crates - a whole other life - making their way inexorably here from the Sandlands.
This tableau, the top of the laughably undersized china cupboard, represents just a smattering of the various and assorted trifles that have reappeared. I bet you thought I was kidding about the phrenologist's head, just like you thought I was about that silver lustre luncheon set, didn't you? Well, there he is, poor thing, stoic under the weight of his wholly inappropriate headdress. That remarkable object was a New Year's Eve topper from days gone by. Miss Rheba, who - frighteningly enough - has control of impressionable young minds on a professional basis, inveigled her students into making it for her once upon a time (how she fit it into a lesson plan is better left unexplored). It was an enormous hit, for we had a longstanding tradition, you see, of each year forcing all and sundry on that night of nights into watching highlights of the greatest single work in American cinema history (if you're very, very stoned), The Gang's All Here. Those of you who know that landmark work will understand how very apropos it is.
The clear glass pitcher ("pressed!" sniffs Grandmother Muscato, who had - you will not be at all surprised to learn, high standards when it came to tableware - it comes from Mother's side of the family, which was rather more down to earth) has a matching celery dish, which is terribly useful. If it's 1926 and you're having lots of sit-down cold luncheons, that is. For us, I suspect it will be pressed into service just about as often as the three-dozen cream-soup spoons or the Haviland bonbon dish.
The Japanese lady in her flowing Moderne pink kimono once had a mate, a solemn gentleman who sadly fell off a shelf one evening when people were dancing too forcefully in my New York apartment; these days she has to make do with the dubious company of the exceedingly dated little bobble-head, far right, who's borderline possible racism is almost made up for by his enchantingly serene expression when his head wags (at the slightest touch). The austere Chinese lady at rear is a reproduction of a piece at a museum in Philadelphia; we made dozens as decoration for a gala I worked on, having learned that the museum had molds left over from a long-vanished sales program.
As for the chickens, the less said the better. Let's just say that I learned to my cost that once you have more than one of anything, people start to think you must collect them, and then suddenly you find yourself with a couple of dozen glass and china chickens and no real reason why or how. The white one isn't bad, but that purple marbleized glass edition is a trying object in any room.
Despite the clutter, the lines of the place are starting to come together. Today we found a most sensible sofa, a very comfortable camelback (dromedary-back, actually - two humps) that is a reddish sort of salmon and for a piece of furniture-store furniture (another favorite Grandmother Muscato topic, as you might imagine - I can hear her sorrowfully saying something along the lines of my having become "the sort of people who have to buy their furniture."). We think it will do quite well.
Tonight we made our Iftar, the meal for breaking of the fast at sunset in Ramadan, instead of going out - a lovely leg of lamb and some goat cheese ravioli, along with a salad of chopped heirloom tomatoes (Trader Joe's, where have you been all my life? After all those years of dire Sandlandian supermarkets, I'm deeply in love). We sat for the first at the table, a venerable dropleaf, at which I first ate some five decades ago or so, sitting on two of the least twiggy of the impractical chairs, and suddenly we were home.