Holidays and Consequences, Part 1
After over a year of sequestration on Hong Kong Island and its very immediate environs, I was finally granted a small leave (alas, poor Ellis is still waiting his walking papers): an invitation to my dear sister’s wedding in Athens, Georgia, a lovely little college town close by to my home city known for it’s lively music scene. Caroline and her husband Zachary live in a nice solid house built in the 1930s on a large, shady plot of land. Their wedding was on the property, and as there was much work to be done upon my arrival, I did not have much of a chance to get downtown. What follows is a more private memoir of my journey; since my stay was so short (only five days), I decided to stay on Hong Kong time, sleeping from early morning into the evening and staying awake all night, leaving me plenty of time to wander about, camera in hand, reliving little bits of my childhood.
This is the nice bedroom I stayed in: Caroline has inherited a lot of the furnishings my parents outgrew in the 1970s and 80s- lots of big wooden beds and tables – and have augmented those with lots of other stuff in the same vein. I’m not sure if the bed is exactly a family heirloom, but the afghan is one my grandmother made for us in her afghan-mad days. I don’t believe I’ve ever stayed in such a remarkably cool and breezy house, thanks in large part to a giant fan in the attic, that, though noisy, blew in big wafts of air through ducts into all the rooms, so that though it was very hot still outside, I really did need the afghan.
The fireplace in my room. For a long stretch of my childhood, the dominant decorative motif at home was “ducks.” Now that my mom has moved on, Caroline has some of the nicer pieces for her own home.
Your humble author as a rosy-cheeked 13 year old.
And the blushing bride, aged 11.
I spent many of the wee hours in what to me now seems the height of luxury- a bathtub. Theirs is particularly charming, being a step up from the main floor and decorated with dragonfly tiles.
An early morning shot of the wedding altar, in the shade of a big black walnut tree. I’ve still never tried a black walnut, though my old friend Brigitte spent an evening hammering a batch open on the pavement- apparently they are sweet and somewhat creamy. Who knew?
I did make it into town one afternoon; this is the pharmacy where my brother-in-law Zachary works (both he and my sister are in the pharmacy business), and I loved the old sign.
I spent my fair share of the small hours rummaging through cabinets and cupboards, as is my wont: Caroline and Zachary are dogless, so this high class dog food is a bit of a mystery.
Not so the instant pussycat mix- what pantry is stocked without it?
My dear old Granny’s recipe box. After her death, we each took a few things from her house to remember her by before the rest of the belongings were auctioned off. I have a cast iron skillet that I cook almost every meal in as well as some big bowls and the like; Caroline took the recipe box, which bore some remarkable treasures.
Such as this wonderful little pamphlet of the Strom Thurmond family recipes. Strom Thurmond, for those who do not know, was the state senator from South Carolina for almost a century. He became famous in the 1950s when he founded the dixie-crat party in opposition to the democrat’s platform of school desegregation. He later became a particularly vile type of republican, the likes of which are fairly common these days. After his death it came out that he had fathered a black child by one of his housekeepers when he was 13 years old, whom he surreptitiously supported the remainder of his life. Some great recipes though!
Some more art and objet from Chez- Gresham; this one inexplicably didn’t make the final cut onto the walls but, as it’s painted on wood, made a dandy trivet.
This somewhat gruesome picture dates from a shortlived sub-period in mom’s decoration of English hunting scenes. I’ve got a great dog pillow from this era complete with a cigarette burn.
Another kind of creepy relic of childhood, though neither Caroline nor I nor anyone else can recall its provenance.
While I slept, bride and groom and in-laws toiled away and the wedding could not have been lovlier. Zachary is a musician and has lots of very talented musician friends, so it was a melodious ceremony in a beautiful spot. In the name of family intimacy, I won’t upload the wedding photos. I returned to Hong Kong in a refreshed spirit, excited to see my own husband and shop and see whether my little sleep experiment worked. I was hardly prepared for what greeted me…