Hush now, Don't Explain: But back to front, here I am after a very merry holiday. Part of that Merriness is ability to move in cool, cool weather. Part is the overtaking of myself by the spirit of my father dead a year ago, a rebirth of the French Christmas, with all its attendant folldefoll, bright eyes and spirit, making a way, and god-rest-yourself-get-out-my-way, kind sir, etc. Manic? Oh, yes, thank you very much. Kool weather, car in motion, I am cooking food now from Food Ministry. From my French Great Grandmother, thru my mom, to me, nothing is impossible. So I come alive out of some frozen indifference, having given away all the pastels, the oils, all the brushes, and am quite happy about it. To a young man at the library who will do the work of finding an appropriate young adult to dabble and rejoice in my portrait palette, and add their own to all of it. But this week, I found in my file cabinet that I have all my water color brushes, including the dagger brush my grandfather used in the Pacific all thru the war. I find the paints, the tempera, the guache, the paper, a lot.
How did this finding and rejoicing begin? Well, quite honestly, and quite surprisingto boot, it was with me finding an etching of St. Anthony holding the Baby Jesus, very beautiful, reminds me of Gertrude Kasabier's photo of a Mother and Daughter, the Mother letting the daughter out the Front Door. So I remember that I had bought a roll of parchment paper last year, and where was it? Well, two weeks later, I remembered I had left it at my neighbor's, who has no memory of it, being, (or supposed to be on Oxygen 24/7, but can't afford the power to run the Oxygen pump, can't afford to turn the heat on, because he is going to be having to pay full price for his medicines for awhile, so thank God my car is working again and I can take us to the Food Ministry.
I say to my neighbor: "No rush, I know you have no memory of it, but about 18 months ago I left some parchment paper here, and some tape, and if you have to come across it, let me know. Well, he found the parchment paper, not realizing what it was, but not the tape. I say not to worry, as I will not be mailing the St. Anthony etching until mid-January. He is waiting for $50 in a card from his ex-sister-in-law, for over a week but it has obviously been taken. I learn tonight that my sister Michelle has sent her family portrait in a card along with a girft card. Everyone else in the family has received theirs, but me. Stolen. What a lovely neighborhood I live in. But, back to St. Anthony, the cause of all the finding of many things I have lost touch with over the years, and a young neighbor who is just the size and height to show off my own vintage wear, and that left to me by others in the past few years, who clutched my Pappagallo cobalt blue with green serpent curled on toe to her chest and gasped when I said she could have them only if they fit. I had stuffed them, wrapped them, and cared for them for two years, hoping they would fit my niece, who has no feeling for these things. So, this tall neighbor girl, having just received her MFA from a Catholic College, moved to put her foot in my shoe and I shouted stop, as she took the classic pose of a Cinderella. You must have stockings, etc. and her own voice of authority spoke back: She knew what she was doing, her socks were no hindrance to her slipping them on to her feet. She must know her own body being an artiste. Well, they are yours, along with this coat, these belts, this hunting jacket, this lingerie, this little enameled pin. I rejoice that the tenderly cared for possessions I had worn, or had been handed down to me to wear, had found a rejoicing soul to move in with. I kept the Ballenciaga black coat, the Chinchilla whatever (my bed jacket) and whatever support I can find to I can breath cold air and stay warm at the core.
I think this St. Anthony etching, which is being restored to its archival enclosure sometime next week, to go to my little sister's wall, to war with her mother-in-laws religious postings, will stand firm, and unobjectionable to said mother-in-law, whose religiosity I can appreciate, having herself been raised by the nuns outside of Chicago, and therefor seen little of the Chicago my Southside father did. So peace will reign with this St. Anthony's new home. And I am reminded of a poem by Robert Graves that appeared in the Atlantic Monthly pre-1974, and I haven't learned how to locate yet. The poem was about the loss of a serpent ring by his wife, who he lovingly mocked for belief in such things, but that he would also like St. Anthony to bring the red-eyed, serpent ring home again.....Ain't it wonderful? And as I go thru the lingerie drawers under the bed, having emptied one completely, even the stockings of gold, and silver, and lace, and dusky gray, and their bags, the corsets, I find under the directions to assemble the under bed storage, two letters, one from an old love from Old Saybrook, and put them on the couch to 'deal with.' Two hours later I clutched them to my breast, one inside a lined card, and another folded within. As I carefully slid them back into the envelope I saw something I had never seen when I first opened the card thirty years ago, two hundred dollar bills, with a note - for half last months phone bill. I always said we broke each other's bank. I took one to my nephew, who probably didn't believe where I had gotten them, but checked the date on the bill, 1978. The other is still in my wallet. I had spent it already on my magic carpet day, the anniversary of my father's death: French Laundry Powder, French rinse (White Violets) a Java Wafer that made me sing every Latin song I ever knew and call out for the the re-establishment of the Holy Roman Empire. I even considered doing a re-enactment of all of that if I had a video camera: Let me just list the Hymns I sang in order: "Holy, Holy, Holly - Blessed Trinity; Ave Maria; Tantum Ergo, and ending up with many version of same, along with my personal finale, Gaudeamus Igitur (Spelling?) I highly recommend you get yourself a Java Wafer, go into a room in private and confess to all your desires and rejoice in ethereal nature of this Babette's Feast.
So, I had a happy and merry Christmas Dinner, with all the special trimmings of my own derivement. Including a Rhubarb Tart with dried Cranberries, dusted with a light crumb topping and Cinnamon and Simple Vanilla Ice Cream. Tomorrow I will use the other crust, same dish, to make an Onion Tarte with Sage. I am overcome with delight in my very merry French Christmas. Also, on PBS last week, there was a new program on Paris, and the artists of the early 20th century. Unbelievable. I was blown away with all the connections. No one was untouched, or untouching. The only person missing because he was not there, was my beloved Franz Marc. I carry him with me always. Merry Christmas!