Posts Tagged ‘mother of pearl button’

Upon arriving home, I found white paw prints leading to two chagrined kitties lurking beneath the sleigh bed, both tails swishing dejectedly. In the spirit of Tom Kitten, they had spent the afternoon frolicking in the bread flour container, and were covered from ear-tip to tail-tip in white powder. All they’d need were curls and ringlets, and they’d be mistaken for unctuous French royalty. Gathering one limp cat under each arm, we had a bath time adventure, and were now snuggled in bed together. I am reading a kitty bedtime story to pacify them. They ‘re wearing newly washed and dried fur, and I’m wearing my turquoise blue peacock Liberty pajamas fastened with fancy-pants Tahitian grey mother of pearl shell buttons.
“Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer were a very notorious couple
of cats.
As knockabout clown, quick-change comedians, tight-rope
walkers and acrobats
They had extensive reputation. They made their home in
Victoria Grove–
That was merely their centre of operation, for they were
incurably given to rove.
They were very well know in Cornwall Gardens, in Launceston
Place and in Kensington Square–
They had really a little more reputation than a couple of
cats can very well bear.”

(From Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer by T.S. Eliot )


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I am meeting you at the Metropolitan Opera to devour the French opéra comique by Georges Bizet, Carmen. We are meeting by the fountain, and I’ve promised to bring an appropriate tidbit. To this end I’ve spent an afternoon making caramel popcorn, which seems suiting for the rousing wide-eyed high dramatics that Carmen inspires. I fasten the softly iridescent shell buttons of my worn cream linen shirt, put on my wine-colored velveteen pants and wide-lapelled jacket, and my meticulously polished black riding boots. I am ready for Carmen.
“Ah! le mot n’est pas galant!
Mais, qu’importe! Va… tu t’y feras
quand tu verras
comme c’est beau, la vie errante!
Pour pays tout l’univers, et pour loi ta volonté!
Et surtout, la chose enivrante:
la liberté! la liberté!”

(By G. Bizet)

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The plane is flying low enough over the Alps so that I can glimpse verdant backyards with swimming pools set into them like Lapis Lazuli. My left calf cramps, and I shift in my seat uncomfortably. I feel a soft wiggling in my pocket, and Francy’s ginger head pokes out as she shakes the sleep from her ears. Just then the stewardess arrives with a metal pot of hot Lahijan Spring tea for me, a plate of Schrafft’s butterscotch cookies, and a tiny saucer of rich cream for Francy. She leans over and asks solicitously if we need anything else, so I ask for a needle and thread to replace the mother-of-pearl shell buttons on some shirts, and get out my maroon velveteen mending kit. The tea is a wee bit strong, so I add a little sugar from my bowl to sweeten it up.
“I want a little sugar
In my bowl
I want a little sweetness
Down in my soul”

(By N. Simone/B. Smith)

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I have meandered through seven countries via the Orient Express, and now I am across from Istanbul, founded in 660 BC as Byzantium, then renamed Constantinople in 330 AD, and sworn in formally as Istanbul 1930. I am staying on the astonishingly picturesque Princes’ Islands, car-free paradises with transport provided by horse-drawn carriages. I’m lodging at the Splendid Palace Hotel, a crisply white, crimson red-shuttered Art Nouveau building built in 1908. Changing from my traveling clothing into a pair of cream linen pleated trousers, a black and grey paisley shirt in Liberty of London cotton lawn with diamond-shaped mother-of-pearl buttons, lemon yellow silk socks, and Spanish fisherman’s sandals, I grab “Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey” , and walk down the red-carpeted marble stairs to find the Büyükada Patisserie, whistling all the way.
“And I know when time
Will pass by slow
Without my heart
What can I do
You’re in the halls
The bell gives way to a larger swell
Without my heart
What can I do, oh”

(By Z. Condon)

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We have passed the border into Hungary, and I wash up in the lavatory, changing into a clean lavender scented, starched blue Oxford shirt with white mother-of-pearl buttons. I have dozed, and then woken to watch the verdant greens of summer, mountains, scattered yellow wild flowers, and the clear blue sky clatter by. Nature soothes me like a blanket of innocuous clouds. Afternoon tea arrives; a pot of English Breakfast tea, a plate of tea sandwiches and cakes, and a covered blue and white china dish of kippers for Francy. She has managed to doze through France, Germany, and Austria, but warm smoked herring has her pink nose twitching. I turn up my music and eat upside down pear tea cake.
“When the stars, and the moon
And the sky, fall through
I’d throw them all away when I’m hollow
Deep as the sea goes, all I know is
I would throw it all away…away”

(By B. Carlile, Brandi and J. Timothy)

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I grin at the spectacle of the three cats, twirling like dervishes through the legs of the wooden café chairs chasing one another’s tails. A short, somewhat stout man in dungarees and a black and white sailor’s pullover ambles over calling the other two cat’s names, “Maxi and Jojo, come along!” We watch them play; Francy’s tail a gingery orange, Maxi’s tail a plume of black with a few white hairs, and Jojo’s tail, dark with umber stripes along the sides. If life consisted only of sitting in the warm sun, drinking café au lait and watching cats gambol, it would be fine. But life is not this simple, so I rise and button my thin black silk ribbed knit vest’s mother of pearl buttons, turn up my iPod, and reluctantly leave the café.
“All my loves are
Hidden in pieces
All my loves are
Within a wild night”

(By Yeah Yeah Yeahs)

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Francy and I have packed up, and are on the road again. She has taken to standing on her hind legs and resting her front paws on the Morris Minor’s passenger window edge, orange ears flapping in the breeze as we zoom down rustic country back roads on the way to Paris. After stopping in a nearby village for a matcha, lemon and chocolate opera cake, some dried figs, goat cheese, a baguette, and a few meters of velvet ribbon, we’ve pulled over for a wee picnic. I am sitting under an oak tree making Francy a little collar with a length of silk velvet ribbon in luscious shades of plum purples and algae greens, and fastened with a little curved dark grey Tahitian mother of pearl shell button. Francy is excitedly chasing cream and blue butterflies, but not catching any. And through the warm haze of the early afternoon, I can hear music in the distance.
“Non, Rien De Rien, Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien
Ni Le Bien Qu’on M’a Fait, Ni Le Mal
Tout Ca M’est Bien Egal
Non, Rien De Rien, Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien
C’est Paye, Balaye, Oublie, Je Me Fous Du Passe”

(Sung by Edith Piaf….By C. Dumont and M. Vaucaire)

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