January 13, 2018

January 13

Filed under: Uncategorized — theresaurus @ 11:35 pm

I dislike those winter birds with the hoarse, screeching unpleasant cries, don’t know what kind they are. There’s a bush (called “heavenly bamboo” in English according to my little book about Japanese plants) with bright red berries and green leaves that’s a popular doorway decorations in the countryside in winter, and growing on a vacant lot under the freeway a few blocks away is a spectacular patch with branches so laden with berries that they bend to the ground. Plump little sparrows hang around.

There’s a tree with intensely sweet yellow blossoms, but it’s not in the book so don’t know what it is. Nearly everyone has a camellia bush blooming in their garden. I was told that since camellia flowers fall off as a whole and not petal by petal, it’s like a samurai’s head being lopped off, and how can you not think about that once you know it?  The trees next to the stream have sprouted gray pussywillow-like buds. It rained last night and this morning everything looks icy.

From “Shocking Life, The Autobiography of Elsa Schiaparelli”:

“Although I am very shy (and nobody will believe it), so shy that the simple necessity of saying, ‘Hallo’ sometimes makes me turn icy cold, I have never been shy of appearing in public in the most fantastic and personal get-up.

“I learnt to know London well, and though was invited into many homes and attended all the parties … I also delighted in the more popular places. There is a public house in Wapping (and I confess that I love ‘pubs’ because they are so human) that pleased me immensely. I would sit for hours at the water’s edge, surrounded by ancient and rotting wooden poles, and munch bread and cheese. One could see the tugs and lighters, dark grey in the haze, in the grey of Whistler’s Thames, threading their way majestically through the busy shipping. This part of the river was cosmopolitan. Cockneys laughed at Italians, Chinese would bow to Swedish. Men of all nationalities came in for a glass of beer and a craps game, and though they spoke different languages they understood each other perfectly.

“Meals outside the embassies were occasions for farce. My companions would ask for something impossible, like salmon or a minute steak, and were surprised and a little cross when they could not get it. I stuck to the only good menu, hard bread and caviare — sometimes sturgeon, but always vodka. Caviare was sold in the grocery stores in big barrels of red wood, and one could take it out with a large soup spoon. I can vouch for this diet being miraculous for losing weight, for when I returned to Paris I was as thin as Gandhi and in marvelous health.

“I acquired nothing merely because of its value either in money or age. Therefore the house sings with a feeling of abandon, thrown its arms round you, hugs you, and whoever comes to it as a guest never wants to leave it. … This room has given Schiap more joy than any she has lived in. She sometimes makes an appointment with herself to spend the evening alone and do absolutely nothing. She rests with friends who look out smilingly from photograph frames placed on the grand piano, and she is surrounded by beloved paintings put anywhere, on the floor, on chairs, against ancient Chinese bronzes. Then there are books, books, books. … She has a special corner on the divan that nobody is ever allowed to occupy. … It has the shape of a piano and is upholstered in red, and two people can lie on it facing each other with a tray in between.

“I often wonder what is the urge that makes us want to travel. Why not be thoroughly grand, and have the world brought to us?

“She is lying on an orange sofa made in Paris by Jean Franck of Moroccan leather, wrapped in a vivid Scotch rug of yellow-and-black tartan, framed by narrow and low Arab cement seats with pillows made in the local bazaar, and a Hammamet straw mat on the floor. Surrounded by quantities of multicolour Italian hats bought at the Galeries Lafayette, a dispatch-case bought in New York, a cigarette case of silver and enamelled pink rose bought in Leningrad, a super-typewriter … that comes from Switzerland, a red rug from the Bedouins marketing in El Djeb under the Roman Coliseum, a woolen donkey bag brilliantly coloured in her preferred shades, woven in Peru … , with shorts made in Paris of American cotton, with an English silver ring, with Chinese slippers, Swedish matches, Turkish cigarettes, and an ash-tray of broken pottery brought in by the sea from never-never land. And here is Schiap in her small human way absorbing the world while outside a storm lashes the cypresses and the eucalyptuses, and drenches this land of sunshine and dreams.”


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