Milestones, Murderous Moggies and Masses of Gladioli

So what’s it really like having lovely flowers delivered by Freddie every week? Writer, mother, former LA actress and now London-dweller Misti Traya tells all in her exclusive monthly Flower Diary…

This month has been one of milestones and merriment. Each celebration punctuated with cake and cocktails, and remembered with lilies and larkspur. Which is a way of saying it’s been perfect.

Helena ‘graduated’ from nursery. We marked the occasion with ice cream sundaes and a barbecue in our neighbours’ garden. Until twilight, Helena and her friends ran through the sprinklers and played What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?

sprinklers
Nursery graduation ceremony

 

Then they picked fruit from the raspberry canes for pudding. Icing sugar-coated kisses were exchanged as well as a few tears upon going home.  Even though they see each other most days, parting is always such sweet sorrow.

***

Whilst cat-sitting for my in-laws we tried out country life. We’re not ready for it. Turns out an acre sized garden is a lot of work. I spent hours watering and deadheading and killing snails and resetting copper strips and recovering vegetables with wire. All to no avail. Slugs the size of dogs came anyway. So did the muntjac. Bastards, the lot of them.

slug
Giant slug

***

One evening we fled back to London for a friend’s book launch. As our go-to babysitters were on holiday, we brought Helena with us. And yes, she wore her Snow White dress. And no, there was nothing we could do about it if we wanted to enjoy the evening. Cf. King Pyrrhus: some battles are not worth winning.

flaneuse
Snow White bags a signed copy of Lauren Elkin’s new book

 

At the party, Helena bought a copy of the book with her own money. Then after working the room a bit, she shared her Haribo Starmix with a former Booker Prize longlistee. To cap off the evening or perhaps just to keep me on my toes, she kept trying to touch a £13,000 antique globe with her sticky candy-flavoured fingers.

***

Back in the shire, we made a fire and cuddled up on the sofa with Charlie Cat. After supper, I slipped a bit of uneaten salmon into her bowl. She thanked me the next day with a dead bird. I hadn’t noticed she’d placed it at my feet until I stood up and trod on the poor creature. Ugh.

FB_IMG_1471263937294
Charlie, the killer cat. Check out those murderous eyes…

 

The only nice thing I can say about Charlie’s bird is that it made me think Charlie bird…. Charlie Yardbird…. Charlie Parker! It’d been awhile since I listened to the dulcet sounds of his saxophone. I forgot how much I loved his music, especially Bird of Paradise.

I used to love it so much that I once listened to it as a lullaby on repeat on a flight from New York to Palermo. Which brings me to my next milestone….

***

Seven years ago, and quite by accident, I found myself on a vintage car rally in Sicily with a group of chiefly Anglo-American bon vivants. By day, we drove around the island soaking up the sunshine. By night, we fêted ourselves like deities of the ancient world.

Down the route of the Targa Florio race to the sands of San Vito Lo Capo to Juno’s Temple in Agrigento and into the shadow of Mount Etna we went. The last few days were a jasmine-scented haze of sybaritic perfection at a villa called Don Arcangelo all’Olmo.

The Targo Florio race in 1960s Sicily - you get the idea of the general coolness. Image.
The Targa Florio race in 1960s Sicily – you get the idea of the general Italian coolness. Image.

 

There at the edge of the Ionian Sea, under a Blood Moon, we had a final celebration. I hadn’t even gone to bed when the taxi arrived to take me to Catania Airport the next day. When I arrived in Los Angeles I still had a Nino Rota melody in my head. The customs officer asked if I had anything to declare.  Vice and Poverty, I said, but definitely not Boredom.

Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of seeing several of those lovely faces again. What a reunion! You see, dear reader, what I haven’t told you is that I met my husband on that trip. I met him in April, visited him in July, and married him in December. Since then life has whooshed by, rather like a vintage E Type.

On a houseboat in West London by the glow of the Hammersmith Bridge, I got reacquainted with this wonderful lot. Seven years on and they were just as I remembered: beautiful and full of magic. Artists and international playboys, Greek goddesses and British peers, race car drivers and financiers. All living with one thing in mind: la dolce vita. The evening was hosted by a gracious son of the Empire who was born in India and whose chicken curry is not to be beat.

invitation
An invitation from the secret society

 

Perhaps it’s because I met them in Sicily, but these dramatis personae can only be described as Fellini-esque. Their eternal effervescence reminds me of his famous quote, “Never lose your childish enthusiasm and things will come your way.” And God, I hope to have more of them in my life…. Hold on a minute. That’s the doorbell.

It was Freddie’s delivering more gladioli than I have vases to hold them! File this under problems I like to have.

Until next month, Arrivederci!

 


 

at Coworth Park

Misti Traya fell in love with an Englishman and moved from Los Angeles to London in 2009.  After her daughter was born, she began a blog called Chagrinnamon Toast that won the writing category at the 2014 Young British Foodies. She was also named runner-up for the Shiva Naipaul Prize. She has written for Gawker, Jezebel, Look, Mslexia, The Pool, The Spectator, and Stella Magazine.