Thursday, May 27, 2010

There's Something About Martha

About twice a year, I indulge in a little secret and guilty pleasure. I buy a Martha Stewart Livingmagazine. That means twice a year I actually have the desire to own an ice cream machine and make my own stationary. I grew up dreaming of the days when I would host dinner parties with my matching Royal Dalton fine-bone china. The courses would be numerous, the crystal would be Waterford, and the pearls would be better than June’s. I really, really liked the idea of hosting parties. I do not know now if it is something that came with the focus my family and religion put on my being a wife and mother--but I REALLY got into the "hostess" aspect of my expected future--everything else seemed a little too daunting to wrap my brain around (like the actual marriage and motherhood parts).

When I read Martha Stewart, I get carried away to a land of what might have been—still could be. I dream of a place where children are well-behaved and have perfectly curly hair--and they run through fields of daisies with you, hold your hand, and then tell you all their secrets. I dream of a place where my husband (one of which I do not have) would wear a salmon colored tie on Easter because it went with my dress and he likes to match. I dream of the ideals of what I grew up wanting. I've never been able to actually face the realities. Perhaps that is why Martha's monthly publication still holds power over me. It represents something I could never fully embrace, even though I was taught to, even though part of me wants to, even though it sounds more than divine.

Why, in this issue alone I had all of the following thoughts:

1. I want to weave my own picnic mat and then learn how to tie it together with beautiful twine—take it to the beach and eat freshly made custard, berry tarts with little sprigs of mint on them.

2. I want to create a pattern for my very own utensil holders for each place sitting. I will make them out of cute plaid material made of out woven hemp (durable for years to come!).

3. I would like a butterfly stencil. I will use this to cut out various colors of butterflies and attach them to a white table cloth to create a harmonious look for my summer party. There will be butterfly shaped place cards with names written in my perfect calligraphy. I will even make butterfly shaped ice cubes to put in the Wonderful Watermelon coolers I will have juiced myself that afternoon.

4. I will have a lazy afternoon brunch that consists of chive omelets with chanterelles, cornmeal-fried trout (I caught myself), tomato-sorrel-basil panzanella, and fried squash blossoms. Note to self—what is a chanterelle?

5. I will get good at croquet. I will. I promise--in a sundress, with a headband, and a perfect tan.

6. I will grow and pick currants and raspberries and make them into jams and chutneys.

7. I will make fresh lemonade daily.

8. I will learn how to fertilize my peonies…I will first learn how to grow peonies.

9. I really want to tidy up my non-existent potting shed by “sprucing” up the paint and shelving.

10. I really want my sheets to match my nightgown (which is diaphanous).

And while it is hard to write these things without sounding like I’m mocking them (and her)—part of me still wants this life. Part of me wants to take out my china that was only ever used once and is now packed away in my sister’s basement (along with that crystal I got in Ireland). Part of me wants to make homemade sorbet instead of buying it from my Portuguese friend down on the beach. Part of me wants to make scalloped edged, delicate notes in dreamy handwriting instead of sending e-cards. Part of me wants those perfectly coiffed children and husband in a pink tie. And part of me wonders if it will only ever come true (and rightly so, as I am so perfectly content in life right now that I can't imagine having the energy for the ten things listed above, let alone babies and husbands) in my daydreams. I'm sort of ok with that. Actually, I'm MORE than ok with that.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I am in Portugal. I am happy. I'm a bit lonely. Those two can go together--though many will tell you a different story.

I do not have internet access for another week—only briefly and dearly. I’ve been taking long walks on my new beach, swimming in my first ever swimming pool, and trying to get a tan.

I have two swallows outside my kitchen window that I have named Katie and Hubble (a la Barbara and Robert in "The Way We Were")–they are expecting two babies any day now. In fact, I think thy might have hatched last night—as I saw Hubble with a cigar in his mouth—or a worm—hard to tell. I’m glad I live in a country where it is illegal to destroy a swallow’s nest.

I went to a small restaurant right on the beach yesterday for some grilled fish and clams. It was the best fish I have ever tasted. The clams were dug that morning on the very beach I sat on. There were divers, children, swimmers, women in all forms of dress and non-dressed, and a comfortableness with being in a bathing suit no matter what your stomach looked like that I relished.

The beaches are soft and breezy with perfectly white sand and stray dogs that follow me when I walk. I’ve named my three regulars after actors who have played James Bond. Thus, Sean, Roger, and Daniel Craig have barked at the clams and played in the water with me. I’ve walked along that beach and, as cliché as it sounds, I’ve thought a lot about my love life—or rather—the possibilities of my love life in this new country. Good things are afoot.

I’ve learned the Portuguese words for sun, flipflops, beach, clams, fish, yes, no, thank you, and gratitude. I’m hoping to learn a lot more.

My New

Bem Vindo to my new home!
My yard. It also has a large area where I am standing and goes around the other side by my bedroom with mountains and mountains of flowers and smells (but no actual mountains, lest you get confused).
It's finally warm enough to take a dip in the pool each afternoon. I haven't opted to heat it as summer is here. I even have a Portuguese pool, man. He belongs on a telenovela, and most days, so do I.
I've never done a room in blue. I've always wanted to. I have decided that living the ocean--hearing, seeing, smelling it all--gives me the perfect opportunity to do some fun things with blue.
I am starting slowly and softly with this new quilt and delicate pillow shams. I'll build on it though and add some bold new things.

(It took me about an hour to upload these, so I'll have to do more later when I get a better connection.)