Yesterday, I finally did it. I stopped using my iPhone5. Continue reading
Yesterday, I finally did it. I stopped using my iPhone5. Continue reading
Blue, my intrepid and mostly insane kitten, has come to me with a poem today. Doesn’t matter that she stole it from the great Ogden Nash, the inestimable e.e. cummings, or even the shy Ann Onymous; I’m just impressed I could read her normally illegible scrawl.
Spring has sprung,
The grass is riz,
I wonder where the birdies is?
Um, Blue? They’re over here:
Poor Blue. She just wants to find those damn birdies, to let them know it’s Spring and time to come back to our rooftop.
Now that our primary mission is all over but the shouting, we thought we’d take you on a bit of a tour of Whistler, where we’ve been sorting out our family archives all week.
While we spent a lot of time indoors with our noses to the grindstone, we did get out occasionally to enjoy Whistler’s stunning mountain scenery:
Did we mention that while we were here, it snowed…several times? Of course, this is a ski resort, so snow is not an unexpected occurrence, but in April? We were less than impressed. Even though it did look very pretty.
But the snow disappeared by mid-day most days…and by early evening, we could sit out on this patio to eat our extremely healthy supper. Look: veggies! And, um, other stuff.
Of course, we know you’re wondering about our faithful beaver companion. In fact, Bucky was quite restrained on this trip, but he did venture out to meet the bear who guards the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. They sang that John Denver song together before anyone could stop them.
He also enjoyed a cup of coffee with Karen and Rachel. For some reason, Rachel seemed less than enthused by his attentions. She still refers to him as “that little creep.”
Today Wendy will be leaving to head back to London, and tomorrow Karen, Rachel, and Bucky board a plane for Ottawa. It’s been a great visit, and we’re so glad we’ve had the chance to share it with you!
Karen, Wendy, Rachel, and Bucky
Despite secretly suspecting we’d be spending most of our time here in Whistler seeing sights, shopping, and lolling about telling stories to amuse ourselves—in short, doing anything but the work we intended to do—we actually made some real progress in sorting, identifying, scanning, and labelling our family photos today.
We know, we like to live life on the edge.
Whatever. It’s what we came here to do, and we’re feeling pretty proud.
We started by collecting box upon box of loose photos, photo albums and a dubious-looking family tree from our downstairs locker.
A shopping trolley just lying about came in handy for carting the first load upstairs. And that, friends, is why we now have a trolley parked in the foyer of our apartment. We promise, we’re not turning into bag ladies. Yet.
We spread our day’s work on the table.
Getting busy scanning photos and inspecting negatives.
Bucky felt lonely and unwanted, so we gave him an important job: Chief Apple Inspector. It made him feel needed, plus allowed him to have a healthy snack when no one was looking.
Our work is nowhere near done. Tomorrow we rise at dawn to enter the fray once more. Tally ho the fox!
(Not really, we just think it makes us sound hardcore.)
Karen, Wendy, Rachel, and Bucky (Chief Apple Inspector)
Do you remember being about 12 years old, sitting in the back seat of the family car in a driveway in Nova Scotia, waiting for our parents to finish visiting friends so we could go back home? I was bored out of my mind. You, far more resourceful, were engrossed in a book you’d thought to bring along. It was an Agatha Christie murder mystery, I can’t remember which one now. What I remember being impressed by, at the time, was how you weren’t scared to death, reading a book about murder, betrayal and bad guys.
When I was 12, I discovered Miss Christie as well, and voraciously consumed her books. I watched the Poirot and Marple series, over and over again. Last year, I saw Mousetrap in the West End.
Given my adoration for her, it was only a matter of time before I planned a journey down to her holiday home in Torquay. We spent the afternoon happily padding through her home and gardens.
At every turn, I could imagine Hercule Poirot walking down the hall, tut-tutting over the very Englishness of this house, or Miss Marple sitting in a chair knitting a pink, fluffy shawl while puzzling over St Mary Mead’s latest crime wave.
During the Great War, Agatha worked in a dispensary and learned about medicines, herbs and poisons, a handy education for her writing career.
We entered the Drawing Room, which, aside from the many collections of pocket watches and snuff boxes on display, was notable for two things:
The other thing that captured my interest was the Steinway in the corner. I didn’t know that Agatha was an accomplished musician, and enjoyed playing piano and singing as well. A woman after my own heart! Unfortunately, her shyness precluded her from performing for anyone but her husband, Max Mallowan. As soon as someone would enter the room where she was playing, she would bring the song to an immediate, abrupt end.
On top of the Steinway is a lovely assortment of family photos.
Next up, we went into a small room contained an impressive silver collection amassed by Agatha and Max over the years. To an untrained eye, this room looks like a very expensive, exclusive junk room. In amongst all the shelves of porcelain, sits Agatha’s D.B.E (Dame of British Empire) award. She kept it hidden from view in a back drawer, until her grandson found it years after her death. If I hadn’t known to look for it, I doubt I’d have noticed it in the clutter.
We walked upstairs and on the landing we found an Arts & Crafts style bookcase, made in 1984, to hold paperback editions of Agatha’s books.
I was wondering where she sat to write her books but found out she wrote where and whenever she liked.
‘I never had a definite place which was my room or where I retired specially to write. This has caused much trouble for me in the ensuing years, since whenever I had to receive an interviewer their first wish would always be to take a photograph of me at my work.
“Show me where you write your books.”
“But surely you have a place where you always work?”
But I hadn’t. All I needed was a steady table and a typewriter.’
Agatha Christie, An Autobiography, 1977
Inside her bedroom, we found two beds, one for her and one for Max, who preferred sleeping on a camp bed. I had read this before and was imagining the army cot our grandfather slept on. Max’s bed is a far cry from that. It doesn’t fold up, it weighs about a ton, and is larger than most tents I’ve been in. Max wasn’t slumming it, let’s put it that way. Of course, Agatha’s bed was nicer and more beautiful, but Max’s wasn’t chopped liver either.
We were invited to open drawers in the Sitting Room. Inside each was a treasure trove of articles, clippings and reviews. Here is a small sampling of what caught my eye:
We wandered into the formal Dining Room, which was set for dinner. At any moment, the dinner gong might go (as it does every half hour, as a signal to the guides to move from one room to the next) and Agatha and her family might sit down for a meal. Agatha was teatotal, so instead of wine in her glass, she had a jug beside her, filled to the top with…I can barely stand to write it…double cream. Ugh.
Given her apparent love for creamy concoctions, it will come as no surprise to you that, for her 80th birthday celebration at Greenway, the following was on the menu:
Homard a la Creme
Ice cream and Blackberries a la Greenway
Moving to the Library, I’m happy to report there were no corpses in front of the fireplace. There is a fantastical frieze on the wall, though, painted by a member of the US Coastguard. They occupied the house in 1943 while preparing for the D-Day landings. It tells the story of the significant events of the Americans, starting at their base in Florida and wrapping round the room where it ends with a view of Greenway perched high over the river, with a landing craft in the river below.
In the gardens outside, the atmosphere tends towards the eerie, especially this time of year when the trees are still bare.
Finally, in homage to Agatha Christie and her wonderful story-telling, this summer Lars and I will take the Orient Express, London to Venice. Hmmm, I wonder which book I shall bring with me, to while away the hours?