Bad girl, bad girl, not blogging for a week! Excuses: continuing Poppy Letdown, Recipe Club (I am too old for that kind of drinking), round 2 of the watered down flu (this time for Thing 1), a return to the gym, bible study, book club (Thirteen Moons by Charles Frasier who also wrote Cold Mountain), coffee morning with the ladies of the Jewel Box community whom I have not met before, American Idol highs and lows, a birthday lunch at a cool new restaurant, travel planning, bill paying, camp signups, and Season 2 of Ugly Betty. Total naughtydom. Total lunacy.
And did I mention the interior decorator, Mrs. Pom? She might really be my NBF. Half the women I’ve met here are already moving. And, as my mother says, sometimes you have to buy your friends. I have been in contact with her ever since I was stationed on a home tour in her house in the French Concession. After Poppy left and she was home from jet-setting on various continents, I rang her up:
“I need someone to ride to my rescue. The house is an organizational disaster. I cannot think straight.”
“I’m saddling up, darling!” she cheerfully replied in her British accent.
She came the next day and made me buy some plants for instant gratification. At the birthday luncheon, I had heard that snakes frequently live in houseplants; one has to poke to soil to make sure they do not pop out. When I told her this she said:
“Rubbish,” Mrs. Pom said. “Worms, maybe, snakes no.”
As I helped the delivery men slipped the palms into their gigantic pots, I remembered Adinilton, the keeper of the palms in Brazil, and laughed. He would have approved of the purchases.
Moving along …
Yesterday Mr. Understanding and I awoke to the Pope and went to bed with him (no sniggering, it’s not funny). Lovely to have him book-end our day. The singing/chanting was over the top and it confirmed why I am a Wannabe but Not Quite Catholic. (Did anyone else notice the four types of Italian marble columns at the back of the Washington church?). One cardinal, assisting the Pope in the baseball stadium, was absolutely beatific, his happiness radiating out from him like a contagious disease. I could feel him beaming through the TV. I was so happy for him.
Part of my ability to fake out many a Catholic, besides my name, is my love of their religious accessories, for both the home and body. Juan Diego, the Virgen of Guadalupe, and a donkey adorn the top of our bar/armoire. Doves, symbols of the Holy Spirit, form a cote on my coffee table and in living room. Around my neck I wear I medal I bought with Happy in HMB in the Insurgentes Market in Mexico City years ago. I thought I was buying a Mary/Guadalupe medal, which it is, of sorts. Happy in HMB is Catholic and even she did not understand the medal. At least there are rays coming out behind the virgin. My driver Polo tried to educate me on this point but although I wanted to understand, I did not quite. The medal is worn on a chain my grandfather gave me along with a cross I bought at the Zocalo as I was leaving Mexico, a mini Brazilian Christ the Redeemer charm Mrs. O’Leary gave me, and a locket Mr. Understanding gave me for Valentine’s after Thing 1 was born. I wear this necklace in times of distress, especially when traveling, and have pretty much not taken it off since arriving in China. Talismans of faith, as it were.
During my clean up this week, I came across a book Maria the Dentist sent me. It is about St. Catherine of Laboure. She bought it for me in France on my birthday last year (there is another story here but it is hers to tell). I sat down for 15 minutes to read it and was immediately sucked in. It was the most illuminating 15 minutes of the week. There, in the middle of the book, is an explanation of the medal I wear around my neck, the result of a vision by a young girl in France who tirelessly served the poor. Voila! I have my explanation after all these years. Happy in HMB, for the first time ever, and Maria wrote in on the blog within hours of each other, the cyber convergence of friends. Coincidence? I think not.
And I did not go back for that damn bowl.
*the photo was taken in Beijing, from a car.