Sunday, 27 May 2012

Fruit Lady Tales

It was my Nan's birthday yesterday.
She would have been 97.
I have been thinking such a lot about my grandparents recently.
Apparently, being flooded with memories is quite common through the menopausal years.
I guess some memories are challenging & others are grounding & reassuring.
Nan & Pa's house was fruit trees & huge vege garden,
 crisp white cotton sheets, eiderdowns & pots of tea.
 Punctual meals; morning & afternoon tea.
 A piano in the front room.
One inch of water in the old claw foot bath.
Jelly dripping, hanging in an old pillowcase over the same bath.
Sand saucers & fairy gardens..moss, emerald green.
Roasts & puddings & the BBC news on the wireless.
 I think I am about 7 in this photo.
My grandmothers name is Estelle & she wore this fur stole on special occasions.
By a circuitous route, the stole made it's way to me.
I found two padded coat hangers in an op shop this week so I covered them with prettiness.
 I have been having a huge clean out of lots of spaces..I feel sure that that's a positive sign.
I have taken bags & bags to the op shop & sold almost 40 bits & pieces on Trade me in the last couple of weeks. In my rummaging I came across this little pinefore. I cut a pattern from one of the teachers at Manaia school, back when I was a school dental nurse there. I was probably about 19 at the time & loved all the same things as I do now.
I'm really pleased with my coat hangers.
 It comes so naturally for me to be a gatherer & a "fruit person".
Yesterday a lady stopped to buy feijoas at our little community stall at the gate. She was having a Chinese sous chef come to stay & she was sure that he would like feijoas..inevitably the taste of lychees came up in our conversation & then I thought oh yes!! Feijoas, a can of lychees, a drizzle of honey & a splash of rosewater, sprinkle with friendly violets & leave to macerate for half an hour...utter heaven!!
After gathering walnuts with Ruth, they have dried quite nicely, so I have sold a bag or two, but for special customers like Audrey & Margaret...two darlings in their 80's I have offered to shell their walnuts for them. Having further conversations about walnuts & feijoas I was given a recipe last week & this is the topping. So simple & so delicious. I have used equal quantities of lightly toasted walnuts, chopped dates (check really carefully for stones) & sunflower seeds, add a tiny pinch of salt & pulse in the food processor until it makes fine crumbs. Wonderful on stewed apple.
 My Pa had a shaving brush just like this.
I don't think his shaving mug had flowers on it though.
 I loved watching him shave in the mornings with a cut throat razor.
I don't think I ever saw him unshaven.
 Nan always wore glasses.
I found these a few years ago in the little antique shop that I worked in for a while.
 I'm glad that I don't need to wear them (yet) as I don't think they suit me very well.
Have you any idea how hard it is to take a photo of yourself??!!
 Now that David has headed off & gone way up north to pick for the mandarin season, Rob has been able to get back in to the larder & finish off the shelves & put back the little green formica table...nearly done.
These Pacific Beauty apples are truly tree ripened & so crunchy.
They like living in the larder.
 I have been doing lots in the garden too & planted these polyanthus into the basket on the old bike in the garden.
 I planted these roses precisely because they flower right on through & in to the winter.
 Duchess de Brabant is such a pretty shell pink.
Scraggly bushes but precious fragrant blooms.
Just did these pots at the front door yesterday.
It's not often that you come across poly's in such a pretty pale pink.
Now that the mandarins have started I have been putting out the box of free fruit for the after school kids again. I saw them coming on Friday & rushed out with any box I could find..later I looked & hoped they didn't think I was trying to play a trick on them.
A scraggly group of neighbourhood boys scuffled past yesterday morning. "Hey, one of them called out to me...could we have some fruit?...your nice, you're the Fruit Lady!"
They looked just like these kids here hanging out the washing.
 The picture's from a school reader printed in 1971.
 Some things never really change.
 Another customer returned yesterday afternoon with a jar of quince paste. I had given her some quinces to take to her daughter in Wellington. Her daughter happened to work in a cafe & was very pleased to have the back came a pot of paste for us.
The quinces on the scales are apparently Hong Kong quince...or so they informed me at the SPCA shop where I bought them.
 Standing out on the foot path Jan (quince paste lady) & I couldn't quite believe our eyes at the sight that was coming towards us...3 girls all in blue boiler suits each with heavy yellow rope tied around their waists, all linked to each other & wearing tie on cat hats (yes feline) & odd shoes..carrying a bag..they'd been shopping!

Thanks to Jenny last week I was able to clear up a little confusion. My friend Ruth told me that the rough green things in the trug were osage-oranges but I thought she was being silly & had said ostrich (because they were large & round). They are indeed osage-oranges or hedge-apples, are not edible but if placed under the bed may deter spiders!
 You are so kind to me.
 I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your care & love & support.
 Kindness really does matter!
 I have had a much better week this week....thank you!

I came across this little video via Pinterest this week called "Green Beans in the Garden"
Maybe not your style but it's a darling wholesome video..go on have a peek...
& a wonderful week!

Green Beans in the Garden is my family's first music video. My Mom and Sisters all live out in Amish Country in Tennessee, and live a simple, plain life. I'm very proud of them.



  1. I love to reminice about my grandparents and always have, and so theyve never felt really gone, as so i've enjoyed yours. I was quite thrown by your patchwork dress picture, i had a reoccuring dream as a kid where i was dressed in a patchwork dress ala holly hobby, just like that one! I love that you have such a great reputation with the local kids, you may well be reminicied abiut yourself by those kids you know! I have a tree full of on the verge of falling feijoas to help save me from my sadness at the passing of the chestnut season, hurrah!

  2. Ps i love your kitchen shelves/table, beautiful colours x

  3. The shelves in your larder make me envious... such eye candy and usefull displays.

  4. Hi Gathering Katie! I wish you'd post every day. Your photos and words are like a cool drink from the stream of lovely!
    I like your granny's glasses and EVERYTHING you say about her. I have such detailed memories of my granny's little house and her ship-shape kitchen and larder.
    Have a happy week, sweet friend!

  5. I find myself wishing - really wishing - I could have a snippet of your life for my own. Your larder - can I have that? Pleeease? Or your fruit trees? Or your beautiful garden? No? Okay, fine. What about your outlook on life and way of picking out the beautiful? Aww come on... I'll settle for that lovely pinefore then??

    Your memories and photos are so vivid and beautiful, they momentarily teleport me into a charming world completely unlike the one I'm in right now (uncharacteristic rental house in dull AK suburbia, surrounded by the shambles of toys never quite put away properly and not a fruit tree in sight.)

    I loved especially reading about the memories of your Nan. My parents had me when they were old enough to BE my grandparents, so I only fleetingly got to meet my grandies. The Nan on my mum's side was cold and distant on the two ocassions I met her, and the Nan on my dad's side was lovely, and she had a glass eye. And I'm rambling... Would you believe it's 3am? Time for bed I guess.

    On another matter, I hope you're doing well, I hope this menopausal business isn't getting you too far down. Take care :)

  6. I love your garden. I planted flowers in a basket for my old bike this week - something I've wanted to do for years & I'm finally getting it done.

    Thanks for sharing such sweet stories & I'll be trying the walnut topping recipe!

  7. Good grief, woman, when you feel better you really feel better. I feel better and I'm sitting here feeling better vicariously! I'm just about getting through the usual Sunday night stuff, and you're even doing it for other people. I may need to go and lie down again... Wonderful to read your energy, though, as indeed it is always lovely just to read you!

  8. Walnut topping sounds delicious and I loved the music clip. Good to read you are feeling better.

  9. Hello fruit lady :-)
    So glad you are feeling much brighter this week. What a lovely post - just adore your pinafore and the coathangers you covered. Manaia is a lovely little school - not far from where I grew up.
    I think your shaving mug is to die for! !
    I bought some plants today to plant my bike basket also - trying to cheer things up before winter sets in properly.
    Have a peaceful rest of the week dear heart, much love, Julie X x x

  10. Such a lovely post, full of love and memories, Catherine. My Grandmother's fur coat came to me and I wear it in colder winter months; it's beautiful and reminds me of how hard she worked to be able to afford to buy it.
    As to glasses...been wearing them for 49 they are a part of "me"; can't get out of bed without them -smile-.


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