I’m going to stray from the beaten path just a little today for this Grandparents Day post. If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you long ago learned that I have plenty good to write about my beloved grandmother, but nothing good to say about my grandfather. He was ornery and cantankerous and completely devoid of personality – not the kind of grandfather who wanted you to sit in his lap and read you a book. When I was a child he said I was stupid because my pronunciation of French words I learned in grade school was incorrect and unlike his Quebecois pronunciation. He was born in Quebec and lived there until moving to Toronto as an adult and he spoke fluent French. After calling me stupid, I simply slid down off my chair and bit him on the ankle, like I was the family dog who was ticked off because it begged for food at the table and was rebuffed. He let out a yelp and swore, then said I should be punished. My grandmother found the incident amusing – my parents not so much.
I actually had a post bubbling around in my brain, complete with photos, that I planned to write yesterday for Grandparents Day. But then Queen Elizabeth II passed away on Thursday. I felt sad to hear of her passing and, in the past few days, I have been engrossed in watching several retrospectives of her life and read a lot of heartfelt comments about her extraordinary 70-year reign. Many of the comments from around the world were from folks that wrote or said that “her passing was like losing a grandmother.” I took those comments to heart and yesterday decided to change the subject of today’s planned post – it is evergreen and will keep until next year.
In writing about the late Queen Elizabeth and today’s subject of tea, this post is the perfect opportunity to share the video of Her Majesty and Paddington Bear and their tea party during this Summer’s Jubilee celebration. Click here – it is guaranteed to bring you a smile. I first saw this video after fellow blogger Hugh Roberts and I were discussing our teddy bear collection and he sent me the video, which has gained more popularity following the Queen’s death when Paddington Bear tweeted this simple message:
Looking back a little … okay, more than a few decades.
As most of you know, I am a Canadian citizen who lived in that country until my parents and I moved here when I was 10 years old. In the five years I attended elementary school in Canada, my classmates and I had a daily morning ritual after the school bell rang. We stood up straight, faced the Union Jack flag (and later, after 1965, Canada’s own Maple leaf flag), then we sang “God Save the Queen” our young voices echoing through the halls of E.A. Orr Elementary School.
Yes, the British influence upon Canada was very much a part of my childhood.
I saw a lot of people curtsying to the Queen in the videos I watched and, like every little Canadian girl, I learned to curtsy back in the day. My mom, due to orthopedic issues from being hit by a car at age 11, could not bend her knees to squat down, nor to curtsy, but she wanted her little girl to be the epitome of genteel, so she recruited my grandmother to show me. Nanny, as I called my grandmother, with her arthritic knees, made a clumsy attempt to teach me, almost falling to the ground in a heap amid some giggles on my part (and hers as well). I remember that tutorial like it was yesterday. So, I learned and practiced my newfound skill and made everyone proud, picking up the sides of my dress and executing the perfect petite curtsy, but to this day I have never curtsied to anyone, though I may have taken a bow after an accordion recital or two.
Last year for Grandparents Day I wrote about how my grandmother brought me presents of lavender as a preteen, so that I also might enjoy that scent as much as she did. Yardley’s of London Lavender soap, bath salts and toilet water permeated my grandmother’s bedroom and bath and even today, lavender is a scent I will always associate with Nanny. However, the preteen Linda, was not so enamored with smelling like potpourri. I politely accepted her gifts, never once hinting that I did not surround myself in a vapor or cloud of lavender scent. After all, I only saw my grandmother four or five times a year when we made the 500-mile round trip from our house to Toronto after moving to Michigan.
Drinking tea is just “not my cup of tea” as the saying goes.
When I got older, my always-thoughtful, tea-drinking grandmother decided it was time to start me on a collection of bone china teacups. I received my first teacup one Christmas and then the next teacup for my birthday.
Perhaps, while sipping her own mug of tea, Nanny pictured her granddaughter sipping tea and eating dainty cakes, or lost in thought like the young woman in the painting by Daniel F. Gerhartz found on Pinterest and pictured in the header image.
Each teacup gift was wrapped in a layers of tissue paper in a fancy-schmancy box and adorned with a ribbon. There were, of course, no instructions on how to enjoy this gift, nothing like this meme found on Twitter.
Again, I never would have hurt Nanny’s feelings, but truly, this gal was not the prim-and-proper, crumpets-with-tea type. First, I loathe tea and even struggle to swallow green tea which I only drink because it is good for you.
My “cuppa” preference is a strong cup of joe, with some flavored caramel-vanilla creamer in it … now that’s my treat. And, I prefer to drink it in a mug as you see those flowered and teddy bear cups flanking the tea cups.
Of course, writing about these teacups and how they have been stacked in the cupboard over the fridge for decades, unused (and seemingly unloved), makes me sound like an ingrate, which I’m not. Nanny stopped buying me teacups, perhaps because my mom said I didn’t use them and was saving them for “good” but every so often I open the cupboard and look at them.
I have mused about making them into bird feeders like I saw on Pinterest. Now THAT is more my style and I am sure my grandmother, similarly a nature and flower lover would approve.
Here are some photos below of her flowers and plants, her pride and joy for many years. My grandmother was famous for visiting a friend, swiping a “slip” of a houseplant on the sly and tucking it into her purse to start her own plant at home. She’d often tote along a wet Kleenex in a plastic bag in her purse, then she’d stick that slip of green into a glass of water and soon it would take root and flourish. In some of these old pictures I wonder if a few of those houseplants on her back porch and/or trailing vines at 24 St. Clarens Avenue (all the B&W pics) were once slips slyly gleaned from friends. When my grandparents moved up the street to 86 St. Clarens Avenue years later, there was still a garden, but houseplants filled the back kitchen instead of the back porch. Her Christmas Cactus was huge and graced an old Singer treadle sewing machine.
Yes, Minnie Goddard did enjoy her flowers.
Happy Grandparents Day to you if this applies!