My Grandmother’s Kitchen

Today started off gray and rainy. I took my camera to my studio and began photographing a pair of salt and pepper shakers I inherited from my grandmother. I left the dust and grime on them and paid loving attention to the cracks in the ceramic. I sat for a moment, trying to visualize where in my grandmother’s kitchen these shakers had lived. On the shelf near the window above the sink?

The shakers are a pair of chickens, a rooster and a hen. They are white with swirls of black for eyes and feathers. Their “wings” are yellow.

My grandmother’s kitchen was always painted yellow. For years, the curtains were a pattern of red, green and gray. The fabric dated from the 1940s, most likely. When she was no longer able to arrange such things herself, I had the kitchen painted and bought new fabric to make new curtains. The fabric I bought had red cherries. I also bought some new wallpaper, also with a cherry theme.

My grandmother’s kitchen often had fresh flowers from her garden on the table. My grandmother was the kind of woman who kept a tablecloth on her table. Lilacs, sweet peas, or phlox in a small juice glass.

I have that juice glass in my cupboard. I fill it with water and go into my front yard. The lavender there is blooming. I deadhead the roses and bring in two sprigs of lavender blossoms and a single rose. I place the glass and the flowers next to my writing chair where, mornings, I confide my thoughts to my journal.


The day before yesterday my younger son and I went next door to use the neighbor’s pool. Or rather I went to watch him play in the water. As I watched him cavorting, my attention was drawn to the surface of the water. The late afternoon sun of early fall was already starting to set, and my son’s playful movements turned the reflections of sky and trees into Monet’s “Water Lilies.”

I ran to get my camera and spent the next 30 minutes capturing molten gold and swirling purples. When my memory cards filled up, I began to notice the mosquitoes and hauled my protesting son from the pool. As he showered the chlorine from his hair, I sauted garlic, ginger, chilies, and curry paste. I put cardamon, milk, and rice into a pot. Later that night we had chicken curry and kheer, an Indian dessert.

This morning I went to yoga and somewhere between “bridge” and “plough,” I found myself thinking about my changing attitude. In ballet class, I suspect, I’ve always tried to achieve what I thought was the goal, the end position. Often by hook or crook, which is to say, by taking shortcuts, the “easier” way. Now, in yoga, when I find myself struggling with a pose, I deliberately stop myself from going to where it is easy for me, from “cheating.” Instead I try to feel my way along the “right path.” Today in class it seemed to me that the goal in fact has never been to “arrive,” but that is has always been the struggle itself.

You cannot be on the path, says the Buddha, until you have become the path.


Yesterday I folded towels. Holding them with my chin while arms brought the edges together, I felt their heat against my chest and I inhaled the scent of hot metal and Bounce. Running my fingers over their nubby texture, I rolled them into fat sausages, the better to stand them in their woven basket, and stood back to admire the interplay of their colors: taupe, burnt orange, and brick red.

I made spicy sausage spaghetti for dinner that night. I added oregano and basil and stirred as their flecks floated in the fragrant oil. I baked a cake which my younger son frosted with chocolate and sprinkled with gaily colored disks of sugar.

At breakfast the next morning, I added the bright yellow of bee pollen to fresh blackberries.


Yesterday I pulled a considerable amount of wild morning glories off my front rose bush, and pruned away the dying and leggy branches which bore testimony to a certain benign neglect. I clipped a single rose, a fragrant Maggie, some black-eyed susans and both blue and white lantana. In the house I searched out a blue and white Japanese inspired vase and placed it and the flowers on the library table in the center of my dining room.

Then my younger son and I rolled out pastry crust. I peeled the fresh peaches but it was my son who mixed in the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I made a lattice crust for the top and popped it into the oven.

When it was hot and bubbly, the crust a golden brown, I made tea and we ate the best peach pie I’ve ever had.