Friday, December 27, 2013

Buy only what you love

My maternal aunt  lived all her life in the thatched cottage  where she was born. 



 She was the eldest of seven children.  Aunt Mary was "delicate".  In Ireland it was not uncommon to hear the word delicate used when one was unhealthy.

We moved away from this area when I was eight years old.   My parents returned for visits but I did not.  My first job was in Dublin and when I had a week's vacation, I took my school friend with me and we visited my Aunt Mary.  Mary never married. She was an excellent housekeeper and loved her nieces and nephews which she rarely saw, due to the distance between Galway and Dublin. She was of curious mind, had a marvelous sense of humour with a happy and contented disposition.
I had a new fashionable wardrobe and I discovered Mary loved glamour and was an expert with needle and thread.  She inspected each item of our clothing and enjoyed trying on our dresses and high heels.  She moaned that it was difficult to get fashionable items where she lived.

My friend and I spend our days at the beach by our old farm and returned daily to Aunt Mary's in time for tea and her delicious freshly baked breads.


Autumn came and I was back working in Dublin and spending my lunch hours window shopping.  One day a coat caught my eye.  It would be perfect for Aunt Mary.   Each week I visited the shop and paid an installment on the coat.  In a few months, I had paid for the coat and I hastily ran to the GPO and mailed the coat to Aunt Mary.

She wrote that it was the most beautiful coat she had ever seen and was looking forward to wearing it to Sunday mass and for special occasions.

Aunt Mary died one year later and my uncle returned the coat to me.   

I loved that coat even more as it had brought joy to Aunt Mary and gently caressed her delicate figure.  I wore it until it became threadbare.  

Friday, November 29, 2013

Florida Thanksgiving and Southern Hospitality

My friends and expert horse women
We celebrated Thanksgiving with our close friends at their ranch in Florida.  This spectacular ranch has a small mountain, several lakes and magnificent aged trees draped in Spanish moss.
View as we rode along
The menu, luau style (fire deep in ground covered with sand) 2 turkeys, wrapped in burlap, then encased in tinfoil, wrapped in green leaves, buried in the sand and  slowly baked for eight hours.  Our host spent 24 sleepless hours caring for the fire and ensuring accurate temperatures, for this gourmet feast.
Treasures included 2 turkeys and a roast
We saddled up some horses and rode and talked and visited.
Riding and visiting

Cydney on Star

Our  hosts decorated this table themselves


Burlap tablecloth,notie the fresh flowers hanging from the rafters

Two pals and their dogs out jaunting around
Alexander, Chris, Matt and Tyler catching up
Uncle Tyler and Coner


Someone called that dinner was being unearthed

Mithell, Mark E.  John Jn entertain m3

Turkeys and a roast ready for carving
Notice the burlap pattern on turkey. 


My dear friends
Dwight Holmes and Artist Mary Rose Holmes enjoying family and friends at Thanksgiving
Each guest brought their favourite vegetable or dessert dish  and believe me when I say Martha Steward would have been envious of the skills of our cooks.
Mark E, Helen Tilston, and little Mary Rose

Friends linger over coffee following dinner

I am truly thankful to my family, my friends and all who make life worth living each day.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Forever Chic



The door-bell rang and Spice Girl, our dog, charged to the door, wagging her tail.
My recent purchase from Amazon had arrived. A Rizzoli book, Forever Chic by Tish Jett


Spice Girl is grooming too
Spice Girl quickly returned to her warm spot on the couch and knew it was story time.

"Once upon a time a beautiful stylish American woman, named Tish went on an adventure to France.
She brought with her a resume or CV, if you will and it told of her past experiences, such as Editor at The New York, Daily News and Detroit Free Press (Yes, Detroit, this is where you, Spice Girl saw your first snow storm three weeks ago)
Spice Girl sees her first snowfall, near Detroit, three weeks ago
In Paris, Tish's talents were quickly recognized and she became Editor of International Herald Tribune and then the Paris correspondent for the Chicago Tribune as well as the last Editor of American Elle while it was still in Paris.   (Spice Girl, You know I still have those recipes which were easily torn from the magazine and yes I will make you chicken livers for supper tonight.)
Rather than returning to New York to work with Elle Magazine, Tish decided to remain in Paris.
She met her Prince. I think his name is Mr Jett  (Spice Girl I do not know if they are part of the jet set, we must never assume)  This brings me to the best part of the story.   
Every girl and woman has a dream.  It begins early in life and for me, at aged fifteen, it was my love for make up, purchased at Woolworths on my weekend trips to Dublin.  I clearly remember pan stick, orange lipstick and tubes of sparkly blue and green eyeshadow, which I would apply, without a mirror, once I was a mile away from my parents farm. I was going to Dublin and nobody would know me.   Even in a big city somebody always knows you and a miserable old woman told my mother that she saw me walking down Grafton Street and that she mistook me for a clown. 




Oh Spice Girl if only then  I had  Forever Chic I would have learned from Page 24

"ENOUGH ALREADY:  Natural is your aesthetic raison d'etre.  Minimal make up, hair that moves, when you do, nothing fussy or fixed....."


 There are conversations with professionals and friends accumulated in the quarter century that Tish has lived in France.  Tish is a keen listener and a sharp observer and I know you will love this book.


I feel every teenager, young adult and "femme d'un certain age" will get so much from this book.
I know this one is a keeper.

Many are already following
Tish's blog


I purchased my copy of Forever Chic fromhttp://www.amazon.com/Forever-Chic-Frenchwomens-Timeless-Substance/dp/0847841499/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1384869137&sr=1-1&keywords=forever+chic+tish+jett


Ok Spice Girl, thank you for listening,  I will now take you for a well deserved walk


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Great Design -the world's best design explored and explained

Sending love from Indian Rocks Beach Florida to Victoria
I won.

To my great surprise this past week my copy of Smithsonian Great Design arrived on my doorstep.
Smithsonian's GREAT DESIGN book, written by Philip Wilkinson and published by the British DK publishing house.
Wilkinson takes the reader through an awe inspiring and thoroughly collection of the world's best design. 

This coffee table book is will entertain, bring joy and knowledge to all who peruse the pages.




The gracious and beautiful Victoria from Art House Design generously gifted me with this very precious present.

Victoria's blog is one of my favourites.  She writes about art, travel, family, design and recently is experimenting with the most delicous breads.   Please stop by and say hello Victoria



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bobby Orr one of hockey's greatest and how I met him

Spice Girl with Brown Thomas (teddy) listens to my story
Recently I walked passed Indigo Book Store in Toronto.  A large banner in the window said
"Meet Bobby Orr here today. He will be signing his new book "Bobby Orr My Story"

In the Winter of 1978 I decided to take an extra job as a waitress at Ryan's Sport's Bar.  This large, crowded newly hip bar attracted athletes from  the Toronto Argonouts and Toronto Maple Leafs and fans wanting to catch sight of their favourite player.  Not being a sports fan I did not know how to tell a football player from a hockey player.  Our Bar Man Jamie knew every player and statistic and was appalled that I did not know the regular stars that visited.   Cash and carry was the term used, where the customers paid each time a round of drinks was delivered to their table. Tabs were given to trusted clients who surrendered  their credit card to the waitress who held it till the end of the evening.(I had a tiny leather pouch where such cards were stored). 

Two couples arrived and ordered drinks.  One asked if he could run a tab. I said "yes, of course, can I have your credit card"  I put his card safely in my tiny leather pouch.  They ordered appetizers and several rounds of drinks.  I chatted with Peggy one of the wives and she told me she had lived in Florida which I found interesting.  We talked of travel and all types of subjects.

As I was replenishing drinks at the side bar, Jamie the barman became animated and breathless, saying:  "OMG, OMG,"  I asked what was the matter with him.  He replied: "OMG Bobby Orr is here tonight".   I said "Who".  He said:  "Helen, don't start this with me...Bobby Orr is the greatest hockey player of ALL TIME" !!       I reached into my pouch and pulled out his American Express card and politely told Jamie that his name was "Robert G Orr"...       Needless to say, I was teased for asking this famous star for his credit card before I ran his tab.  Others said it was probably the first time Bobby Orr had dined out where his wife got more attention.

Thank you Heather Robinson Lost In Arles
for prompting this story. Heather served Lou Reed in a NYC restaurant




Monday, October 7, 2013

I must go down to the sea today

As the rain and wind rips the autumn leaves from the trees and the air whispers that soon it will be November, my mind wanders to the peaceful shores of Indian Rocks Beach and the sea.

My latest read is John Banville's  "The Sea" winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2005.    Now I eagerly  await the movie The Sea
starring Charlotte Rampling and Ciaran Hinde



I  must go down to the sea today   Poem by John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.



Portrait of Helen Tilston painting by Violetta

I look forward to joining my art partners Mary Rose and Violetta in Florida very very soon.


Friday, August 30, 2013

His Nibs Mr Seamus Heaney RIP



Seamus Heaney meeting HRH The Queen, Prince Phillip and Irish President Mary McAleese, during the Queen's  recent visit to Ireland


In  1993 my mother, during her visit, presented me with a book New Selected Poems 1966-1987. The author Seamus Heaney.  Heaney, like W.B Yeats and Samual Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.

The book is well thumbed, there may be a tear and also a stain from a tear or two shed while reading and re-reading my favourite poems.

I shall leave you, my writer friends, with this peom called Digging

Between my finger and my thumb   
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.


Under my window, a clean rasping sound   
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:   
My father, digging. I look down


Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds   
Bends low, comes up twenty years away   
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills   
Where he was digging.


The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft   
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.


By God, the old man could handle a spade.   
Just like his old man.


My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.


The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.


May your soul be at God's right hand side dear Seamus.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Cup Song and Milk in Plastic Bags

Our dog, Spice Girl Loves sticks - perhaps this is more than she can chew
Where have I been?  The Cup Song is apparently very trendy.  This beautiful rendition is sung in Gaelic.


Recently we had young house guests from overseas, drama queens as I like to call them. They are acting students.  They mimic accents.  Their observations amused us greatly.
On sighting a school bus, she proclaimed "Oh My God Sesame Street".  They did not know there were yellow school buses in real life.

Then as I unloaded the groceries she giggled hysterically at the milk.   Three One Litre plastic bags of milk.




Other unusual items, cigarettes in packages of 25

 Daily they walked through the streets of Toronto  and did their share of  listening to Canadians speak.  They commented on the use of the work "like"in every third word, commonly used by the under 30 age group.  The use of the words "absolutely"  "totally"  "and I go like" and "I get it".  They also observed that  Canadians apologize a lot and most have good manners. Eh?  If they bump into you accidentally they say: "oops I am sorry".  If they sneeze they also say "Excuse me".

Each evening brought new observations which amused us.  Now they are off to the USA and no doubt the observations and imitating will continue.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Up On The Roof

It is going on for midnight and the teens are still perched on the peaked roof of the house, across the street and one cried "stop, no pushing".   My heart pounds.
Our home is on the 12th Floor of the building and sound travels upwards.  My voice will not carry to them and it is futile to even try and call to them.  I would only succeed in disturbing my neighbours who, God knows, might think I was in trouble and call the police.   There are street noises and music from an outdoor festival some streets away.

I pluck up courage and call 911.  The Dispatcher assures me that the police will be along shortly and take my name and credentials.    Ten minutes later the police arrive. My phone rings and it is the officer asking if the youngsters are still on the roof.  From my balcony I tell Mr Policeman that I can see him, he waves and simultaneously he sees the rooftop revellers.   He walks around and then calls to them. He shines a spotlight on them and all scurry and disappear to the rear of the home (they used a ladder)

The Officer knocks on the door of the party house and chats. There are no arrests, no injuries and the police go on their merry way and peace is restored.   I breathe a sign of relief and give thanks.

Thank you for your comments.



Monday, August 5, 2013

Our Party, Their Party

A balmy summer evening.  Guests are on their way.  Four adults and two children.  Dinner is prepared.
The children have an earlier supper.   E, a budding artist takes to my studio and paints five paintings quite rapidly.   The menu:-

Dirk Bogarde's Chicken Clermont
We love this recipe and have served it numerous times and special thanks go to my dear and very special blogging friend for providing.  His writing touches my heart.  Stop in and tell him hi from from me http://asuperdilettante.blogspot.ca/



"E" at easel in my studio creating one of his five masterpieces



"O" tells me she is tired and in seconds is sound asleep in our bed
We repair to the balcony for desert and notice there is a party at a house across the street.  Twenty to thirty teenagers all dressed in Batman like costume are having a wonderful time.  As twilight fades,  the light from their cellphones show us our revellers are in full party mode.  Next we notice all the teenagers have decided to climb to the pointed roof of the three storey house, where the sit like birds on a wire, their party  continues with laughter and flashes from i phones.



Our guests  depart. I am enjoying  lingering over my coffee as the dishwasher is loaded and remnants of the evening's conversation come to mind. 

Suddenly I hear a cry "Please don't push me".    I rush to the balcony but cannot see very clearly, the teenagers are still on the roof, as the lights from the phones flicker and flash.   I hear "stop it".
What to do?
a) Call the Police and spoil the party and  risk one of the teenagers getting arrested?
b) Do nothing, mind my own business?
Can I live with my conscious should one of the teens get injured in a fall?