Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A scent of laundry Part 1


Sometimes it’s the barest trace of scent in the air that can flood the heart with so many memories.

Today it was while I was doing the laundry for daughter and me. I opened a jar of new environmentally friendly laundry detergent and there she was. My beloved Aunt Daisy.

She had a back kitchen and a front kitchen. The back kitchen, all glass and overlooking the walled back garden was where the washing happened. And she had all the equipment for it long before anyone else. My aunt had married well, you see. And her husband literally adored her. So she only had to bat her eyes and anything her heart desired materialized. She had a car before women really drove in Ireland in the 1950s. And was always piling it up to the roof with kids and heading off to the strand.

Her voice was distinct - throaty and always full of laughter and the cigarettes that laid an angora fog on it. Her door was always open and neighbours and relatives poured in and out of it all day like it was Grand Central Station. Everyone called her Dais. Her hair was jet black and in my time it hung to her shoulders in a mass of curls. She made everything from making fancy Russian salads to smocking hand sewn viyella dresses look easy. There was always fresh baking and fancy confectionary sitting on her counters.

Her big Aga stove in the front kitchen with the skylight above it was always going, heating the water and pumping out teacakes and biscuits, fresh bread and roast meat and poultry.

My uncle got concerned she might be over working herself with five children to take care of and got her a maid but Dais didn’t know what to do with her so spent a few years chatting with her over endless cups of tea and listless hooverings and then got her married off to a nice boy who worked in the shop next door.

I never knew her to have a bad mood or lose her temper or complain when both her mother and his mother moved in with them. I often found myself having tea there along with twenty others, some related to me, more often not. Fairy cakes and triangle sandwiches would appear as if by magic. No one ever left her house hungry and her door, opening on a busy main road, was never locked.

As children, we played endless hide and seek all over the house as it had a front stairs and a back stairs. She never said anything about the noise that countless running and screaming children made pounding through her house. The only time she yelled was to tell us there was icecream in the back kitchen or a tray of chocolate biscuits out of the Aga. And we’d all stop what we were doing as if by magic and find her, a cigarette stuck on her lower lip, one eye shut for the smoke, and always serving us, snotty dirty little kids, on her best plates, urging us in that wonderful voice of hers to eat up as there was more.

There was always more at her house.

See Part 2 Here
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And now I'm off to catch up on some blogs...



In the words of my people:
Athbhliain Faoi Mhaise Dhaoibh, a chardai go leir!
Translation:
Have a wonderful new year, all my dear friends out there!
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20 comments:

  1. You have such wonderful memories and you recount them so well.

    I'd love to hear that Gaelic said aloud.

    xoxo

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  2. She sounds amazing!

    Happy New Year to you, too - I hope that 2010 brings you much love, laughter and song.

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  3. Your Aunt Daisy sounds like a wonderfully warm, generous, welcoming person with an amazing tolerance for other people's noise and commotion! A very inspiring model for all the young ones, I'm sure.

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  4. I wish I had had an Aunt Daisy, perhaps I can imagine she was my aunt too. Happy New Year to you and your daughter. xxx

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  5. How lucky you were to have had an Aunt Daisy, and the beautiful memories. It is my fondest wish that my grandkids will remember me With Love & Laughter. I have to work on the baking bit.
    Happy New Year!

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  6. Vicki:
    if I ever get highspeed I will podcast my blog posts.
    Then you'll get to hear it!
    XO
    WWW

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  7. Jo:
    Backatcha, with bells on and buttons down the front as we used to say in Cork in my time!
    XO
    WWW

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  8. Nick:
    yes she was but her end was extraordinarily sad and I will write about that next.
    XO
    WWW

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  9. Hull:
    Oh feel free to adopt her, Hull and I will write of her not so stellar end soon.
    thanks for the lovely wishes and my special wee giftie!!
    XO
    WWW

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  10. Brighid,
    Oh so very blessed I know.
    Time is the greatest gift we give our grandkids and I know you give that in abundance, my dear.
    Blessings go to you in the coming 2010.
    XO
    WWW

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  11. What a lovely lady and wonderful memories, so beautifully recounted, WWW.

    Wishing you an yours health, happiness and peace in 2010 - and always.
    :-)

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  12. Happy new year to you at the other end of this country! I am sitting around with some dear friends waiting for midnight, and I see on your blog clock that you are less than an hour away so happy happy!

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  13. Was your Aunt Daisy being taken advantage of? It sounds like she was too kind for her own good.

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  14. Backatcha, T, a million times. Thank you.
    XO
    WWW

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  15. Thanks Annie, as you ease into the new year (decade) may it be bountiful and travelful.
    XO
    WWW

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  16. GSW:
    Ah my dear, you nailed it. Read part 2 posted today!
    XO
    WWW

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  17. i love this. so different from my irish grandmother, who was flat-out mean (though interesting as hell). but the house... there's something about those old houses..

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  18. The house was amazing Laurie, I can't walk into now but want to live there. I know ever nook and cranny, and it is stacked 10 feet deep with my memories. I had my first kiss in it.
    Imagine!
    XO
    WWW

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  19. 'Backatcha, with bells on and buttons down the front' I have not heard that in years!

    I know exactly what you mean by the 'smells' bringing us back to people and places.

    Now I am off to read Part 2.

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