“Let them eat cake.” Did Marie-Antoinette utter these famous words? Some historians believe it is unlikely since Marie-Antoinette donated generously to charitable causes despite her lavish life-style. I couldn’t tell you whether she did or not, but I can tell you with authority that Jim spoke these words in a royal order while he bears no resemblance to a lavish life-style. Why? I hope you’re not wearing your hoop skirt and powdered wig today. If so, get comfortable and let me tell you my troubles.
First, I was nominated to decorate for a luncheon of about forty or so people – when I wasn’t present to vote, of course!! Somehow they confused the fact that I like to decorate houses with decorating tables and all that frivolity. I would rather sit and wait for my number to be called at the Social Security office. They even mentioned balloons and paper streamers. I asked when was the last time any of the group had played Pin-the-tail- on-the-donkey. Jim moved out of the way fast for fear that he would be the donkey. I searched the house for any ideas of something I could use not involving money out of my pocket. Tablecloths were located inside drawers, along with other linens. It was here that I found crocheted and embroidered dainty pieces from Mother, Grandmother Bryan and flea markets – an armful.
The handiwork of many hours of work is tucked away, almost never seeing the light of day. I ironed with heavy starch, lavender scented, until it was all crisp and pretty. I like to iron and smell the heat on the cotton. No, don’t send me your ironing! When I was younger, I would iron and watch soap operas. Some of the steamier scenes may have led to scorched shirts, but I’m not telling.
Adding to the interest and creating conversation pieces, a few old books in dark green and dusky rose colors to match the over-all color scheme would be arranged on the tables. With this plan underway, we hightailed it over to Wal-Mart to buy flowers. Yes, Jim had been volunteered without his permission, just like I was, into the party preparations. I selected roses and lilies. Jim investigated the price tags, and his eyes rolled around in their sockets. His facial color matched the pink color scheme, and he said: “Aren’t these awfully expensive? Do you need this many flowers? I was planning to buy something for us to eat this week, you know!!” I explained that I had cut back on expense by not buying tablecloths and other decorations, especially balloons and streamers, so this was truly my only expense. Then, right there in the Wal-Mart shopping aisle he said for everyone to hear, “Well, I don’t know why they need all of this stuff – Let them eat cake!” Find a white wig and a big ole puffy gown for Mr. Party-Pooper, Marie’s long-lost cousin!
We had one more stop. I had noticed a couple of dumpsters behind the florist shop downtown containing flowers they had thrown away. Jim wouldn’t stop before we went to Wal-Mart since it was still daylight. He didn’t say that was the reason, but I knew it. We pulled alongside the green, plastic bins filled with flowers and greenery, some wilted but others still in good condition. I rummaged away, pushing aside and digging to the bottom, finding carnations, ferns, roses and chrysanthemums. This was great fun to me, free flowers and the excitement of the find. The freebies would supplement my purchased flowers. Jim wanted no part of it and left me to forage while he was hiding in the car protecting his affluent, bleu-blood image. When he spoke his – Let them eat cake! – command, he admitted he was a cheapskate, but now when it came down to the garbage cans he wanted no part of it. “Well, your royal highness, if you’re really tight with the purse strings, you may have to bend down with us commoners and do some scrounging.” He muttered something about the guillotine for me and eating cake by himself.
I know one fellow who would have loved hearing all about this nonsense – our dear Sweet Mr. Lee. (You can read an earlier story about this kind gentleman by clicking here. The story is a bit silly, but the lovely person in the story was special to us.) Sweet Mr. Lee, also known as Jack, died this week.
He was 87 years old, but he didn’t seem that old in very many ways. We will miss him greatly. Jack saw us almost daily when he drove his golf cart around the circle and stopped to see what we were up to. I enjoyed talking with him about many subjects, and Jim teasingly called me Jack’s girlfriend. Quickly, I told Jim he shouldn’t do that because it might embarrass this elderly widower, but then Jack picked up on it and came back at Jim. He would say, “Hey Jim, you caught us again!” I told Jack to keep an eye on Jim to be sure he didn’t stray from any of his assigned tasks in the yard work. I printed my stories from the blog for him since he wasn’t very adept with the computer. One of the last things that Jack asked Jim to do was to print a copy of the most recent story for him. I always shared my baking with him, wrapping up cookies, cake and other stuff from our kitchen.
Jack was a great scrounger. He brought all kind of stuff that he had found on his rounds with the golf cart: a broken flower pot, part of bird bath, ornamental iron stands and other goodies. He gave flower seeds to me for the bright red celosia flowers. Jack wanted me to plant blueberry bushes, and when he talked about them his eyes were bright and it seemed that his mouth was watering for those blueberries. I can still hear him saying “blueberries”. We finally bought three bushes and planted them near the driveway so he could reach them when we had berries. It was difficult for him to walk very far.
Jim told me that Jack’s kind and caring daughter Charlotte had mentioned that he was like the son that Jack never had since Jim had been there to help when he especially needed it. Jim was quick to be there for company and for tasks that Jack couldn’t handle. I could see that Jim was touched by this, and rightly he should be. I hugged him and said, “That’s all fine and dandy, but remember that I was Jack’s young girlfriend.”
We love you Sweet Mr. Lee, and oh so much, we will miss you!
I must apologize since I have no new pictures on the France – storytelling and pictures page and no time to add the recipe for the cake. It has been a busy week with Marie-Antoinette’s direct descendant here in the palace. Please come again! Merci! Just leave a message for me in the reply area, and I will send the recipe for the cake.
Do you have crocheted items like these? Do you have shabby chic ideas for a party? You can comment and see other comments in the reply area below.