Three Ingredients II – 14: Chickpeas, Curry, Coconut Milk

Vintage shampoo adPete & Repeat

Two chickpeas, Pete and Repeat were in a pod-boat. Pete fell overboard. What was left?

“Repeat!” you say?  Well, alright then… Pete and Repeat were in a boat—

Okay, I’m just being silly. I would have done something with “Lather, rinse and repeat” but I couldn’t come up with anything.  It took me this long to realize that I was repeating an “ingredient” from Episode-13.  But do you really mind?  What vegetable could be cuter than a chickpea?

The ingredients for this episode are from the remarkable SheketEchad at the “Sunflower Solace Farm” blog. I hope you’ll visit and learn a little about her.  I could relate to her “About” page, because the idea of a little piece of heaven homestead is akin to my own dream of a cottage in a tiny town, or an adobe in the desert.  I’m in a wistful mood, so fantasies of a dream home and ideal life come readily, if intangibly to mind.Pug Girl hat

Since I didn’t give you an episode last weekend, you might need a refresher. At the top of this page, click on “Cookbook-2 Three Ingredients (Serial Home)” — all the past episodes are stored there (omitting the introductions).

Our flapper has been upset. Granny Fanny wanted to send her home. Andy was so afraid of  Granny that he wouldn’t even look at Pip.  What would become of our 1920’s culinary mystery without Pip?  Here’s Episode-14.  Bon appétit!

14.  Chickpeas, Curry, Coconut Milk

With Vanished

Tybee Island LighthouseI sat dangling my bare feet over the ocean.  Daisy sat next to me, idly swinging her feet.  Saltwater sprayed our toes when a wave came to shore.  The salty mist was a little cold and I drew my feet back.  However, it didn’t bother Daisy.  She was dead.

Her head snapped toward the coast and her eyes looked like she had recognized something that I couldn’t see.

“You should go back,” she said with a wan smile that went no further than her lips.

“I don’t want to go back,” I told the ghost woman.  “I’m too upset about all the horrid things Granny said to me.  I haven’t done anything racy.  And I was trying to help you!  It’s wrong for her to take her spite out on me when I’m doing something good,” I said rebelliously.

“Her spite?” Daisy asked.  “Oh, you mean about that handsome detective who had such a crush on her?  It’s a shame that didn’t work out, but her heart is divided.”

“How did you know about all that?” I asked in surprise.

The dark-haired girl laughed.  “We ghosts talk.  Didn’t you realize?  Some of them are big ole gossips!” Daisy said impishly.  “Detective Dabney Daniels is not the only lawman in Phanny’s heart.”

“Why do I feel like you just pronounced her name slightly differently?” I pondered aloud.vintage queen of the may

“I think that’s part of your gift, Pip — the gift that lets you see spirits.  I doubt that it sounded any different, but you knew that it was spelled differently in my mind,” Daisy explained as I waited in confusion.  “Her name was originally spelled with a ‘Ph’ — it was Phanny, not Fanny.  Didn’t you know that she was a ‘Pip’ too?” Daisy asked.

“You know, it seems like my pops said something about her being another Pip,” I said.

Daisy continued.  “Not wanting to stand out or be different, when people spelled it with an ‘F’ she didn’t correct them,” the spirit told me.

“That does not sound like my grandmother at all,” I said shaking my head.

“She’s much stronger as a person now than when she was a young girl,” Daisy said agreeably.  “But Phanny never liked feeling different.  That’s why she unconsciously shut off her gift of seeing spirits. It made her unique when she desperately wanted to be like everyone else.”

Daisy patted my arm.  Her hand was very cold.  That time the smile reached her eyes.  “Really though, you need to go back.  It’s important that you witness something,” she said vaguely.  “You’ll see,” she commented in answer to the question that was on my face.

With a huge sigh I stood up on the big rock.  The sound of a large splash in the distance 1920s Mermaidencaused me to turn seaward.  I wondered if it was the merman.  Daisy urged me to go back.  I knew I was procrastinating.  I’d have to face Granny Fanny sooner or later.

I was so distraught when I ran away from Granny and the others at the church, when my shoes came off I hadn’t paid any attention.  I had no idea where they were, but I spotted first one and then the other along the beach.  Still dragging my heels about going back and facing everyone, I turned and looked at the big rocks.  Daisy was gone.

Picking up my wet, sand covered shoes I headed back the way I had come.  Or I tried.  I quickly found that the property around the church was a labyrinth of garden paths.  I wandered if frustration.  Finally I spotted the gravel that reminded me of chickpeas, and I knew I must be headed the right way.

“Pip!” someone called and I turned toward the voice.  “Not that way.  What you need is this way,” Daisy appeared and motioned for me to take a different path.

Actually, it was hardly a path at all.  Trail was a more fitting term, and that was generous.  When I started down the narrow trail Daisy vanished again.  Exasperated, I reached out and clutched at the air in the spot where she’d been.  Why couldn’t she ever just tell me something, plain and simple?  Why did there always have to be all that mystery?

After a few more steps I slowed my pace because I heard voices.  I stopped beside some Bonaventure Cemetery - Savannahdwarf palmetto and other palms.  A perfect red rose that reached through the palms hinted that more of the flowers grew beyond my hiding place.  I knew I must be back in the main part of the garden.

I tried to place the voices, but they were only slightly familiar.  Then I recognized the voices of Mattie Maddox and a man.  Ah, that would be the vicar, Vance Varley.  A third voice entered their conversation.  Granny Fanny.  Or should I call her Phanny, I thought in aggravation, but I let that go as unimportant.

The vicar sounded like he was consoling her, telling her not to worry.  “If she’s not back soon, we’ll send a few men out to look for her,” he said and I realized they were talking about me.

I’d be in even more hot water if I caused them to go to any trouble.  So I took a deep breath and got ready to make my presence known.  Then I heard Andy’s voice.  He sounded really agitated.

“I’m sorry to interrupt,” Andy began but my grandmother rode right over him, putting him in his place.  Andy cleared his throat and started over.  “Mrs. Peabody, it was firmly engrained in me to respect my elders, and not to talk back or interrupt.  And I’m sorry to do just that, but I need to have my say,” he said so firmly that my mouth dropped open.

Could that really be my old pal Andy Avis?  The mild little Astronaute-man who wrote science fiction stories, and jumped if anybody so much as said boo?  I shifted closer, trying Buster Keatonnot to make any noise.

“Pip deserves some consideration here,” Andy began, and after the way he let me down when Granny showed up ranting at me for going to the island without asking her first, I was shocked.  “She — we might have acted rashly, but we had to decide right then and there, if we were going to catch the last ferry.  And in all fairness, Pip did send word to you. She’s not a little child —”

“As long as Paisley is under my roof she’ll live by my rules, or go back to her father!” Granny exclaimed, and I thought that would be the end of it.

However, Andy surprised me by continuing.  “Please, Mrs. Peabody. I will have my say this once,” Andy said making me wonder at how he could be so polite yet so… so… insistent.

He wasn’t going to curry any favor with my grandmother, but my little Astronaute-man didn’t shut up at all.  I grinned ear to ear as I listened.  Who would have thought Andy could be that audacious?  Then my always hungry stomach rumbled when I thought of the other kind of curry.  Andy’s voice got my mind off my empty belly quickly though.

“Besides,” Andy was saying.  “Mrs. Maddox was our chaperone the entire time,” he added on a note of finality.  “I’m sure you don’t mean to cast aspersions on her morals and what she’d allow to go on in her home.”

Oh, I thought, nice one Astronaute-man.  Even Granny fanny couldn’t have manipulated an argument any better than that.  Maybe Andy wasn’t such a wuss after all.  Granted he wasn’t exactly heroic.  I’d always know he wasn’t the hero type; it took a little push for him to go into action during any of the things that happened to the group of us at Santa Rosa Sound and the Ca’d’Zan mansion.Ca d Zan-1

Even so, I never would have thought Andy would sink so low as to just hide behind something, while somebody attacked me verbally — even if it was my grandmother!  I still felt stung and abandoned that nobody stood up for me.  However, at that moment Andy was doing a lot to make amends for his behavior a little earlier that morning.  He stood up to my grandmother, and Granny Fanny in a tirade was enough to scare the pants off any man.

“It’s true,” Mattie confirmed.  “Why they really were the sweetest most well behaved young couple I’ve ever seen.  Why, nobody would have even thought there was anything between them,” she added sounding a bit mystified.

“That’s because we’re only friends,” Andy told her, sounded a tad exasperated.  “There wasn’t going to be any hanky panky in the first place.”

Granny Fanny mumbled something that I couldn’t make out from where I stood.  I movedVintage Pug painting closer and found a spot where I could peep between the palmettos.  My grandmother sat on a garden bench with a large handbag clutched on her lap.  Her fingers tightened on the leather, and she looked very stressed.  At first I thought there was a piece of luggage next to her feet, then I heard whining which told me that the case was a carrier for Wriggles, the little pug dog she was keeping for Arabella Wong.

I was surprised that Granny brought the dog with her, but I supposed she felt like Tybee Island wasn’t part of the mainland and maybe she wouldn’t get home in time to take care of him.  Wriggles barked and Granny started fishing in the huge handbag, eventually producing a leash.  In a moment the pug was sniffing the garden, Mrs. Maddox, and the vicar, and living up to his name with that tail wagging wiggle of his.

A sudden gust of frigid air made me shiver.  To my surprise I saw Daisy sitting on a bench across from Mattie Maddox.  Granny’s eyes widened in shock when the spirit woman suddenly appeared and she clutched the leather bag to her chest.  Andy saw the spirit too and took an involuntary step backward.  Wriggles went over and sniffed her shoes, and Daisy reached down to pet the pug, but she kept her sad, uncertain gaze on Mattie.  After a moment she smiled sweetly.

The spirit’s eyes wandered to the perfect red roses that grew behind the older woman.  Following her gaze I saw that white daisies grew in between the roses.  I realized that the setting was the same one I had seen in some of Mattie’s paintings.

Daisy’s words came back to me, “She said that I was as fine and good as any rose.  Kind Mattie — she knew I never thought as highly of myself as I should.”

“My dear, dear friend,” Daisy murmured looking at Mattie.  “How did you come to be an old woman?  Has it been so long?”

1920s Owl ClockAndy and Granny reacted to her words, but Mattie and Vicar Vance seemed oblivious to Daisy’s presence.  Granny fidgeted with the big purse in her lap.  I knew she wasn’t ready to accept the fact that she could see ghosts, but circumstances were forcing her to see them.  Then she opened the bag and took out that old wooden owl clock.  Maestro Martino bound himself to that clock when his cursed bottle was broken.  It was part of his curse — he had to be bound to an object, and could not be away from it for too awfully long.

But why would my grandmother bring the clock with her?  Yet she did, and moreover she held to it tightly, as if it was some sort of protection.  I was so intrigued by the scene playing out before me that I didn’t realize I was walking out into the open, making myself part of it.

Granny Fanny looked at me, and her eyes lit with happiness. However, the joy quickly flashed to pain, and then to anger.  I drew back, wishing I was still behind the dwarf palmettos.  No one spoke and it was uncomfortably quiet.  Daisy patted the bench beside her, and I gathered my courage and walked past my grandmother to sit beside my ghostly friend.

A pop-fizz sound broke the silence.  Maestro Martino appeared.  He was wearing his usual chef’s garb.  Wriggles started barking furiously at him.  Unlike Daisy, and I assumed most other spirits, Maestro Martino’s presence was so powerful that anyone could see him.  Of course, that was provided he actually wanted to be seen.

I was blocking their line of sight, plus the barking of the little dog distracted the vicar and Mrs. Maddox enough that they didn’t realize that Maestro had not walked into the garden inVintage Rose German Cologne the ordinary way.  He really had simply appeared out of thin air.  Maestro hurriedly took off the tall chef’s hat and hid it behind his back.  Remarkably, the pug quieted and sniffed his odd Renaissance era boots.

I had thought the dog was afraid of the ghost chef, but then I realized Wriggles was afraid of the hat, not the spirit.  Maestro was mischievous enough that he plopped the hat back onto his head for a moment and made a funny face.  The pug started barking again.  The poltergeist grinned and tucked the hat into his jacket.  Wriggles looked up at him, yapped once, and then wagged his curly tail.  His little black face looked like it was smiling.

Vicar Vance apologized and introduced himself and Mattie Maddox to the newcomer.  “I didn’t see you come up, sir.  Is there anything I can do for you?” he asked.

“This is…” Granny hesitated.  “This is Mr. Martino.  He was kind enough to escort me today on short notice,” she said somewhat awkwardly.

“Oh! It was you who radioed about the ferry being in trouble!” Vicar Varley cried.  “You have my heartfelt thanks, Mr. Martino.  I can’t tell you how helpful that was.  Some of those people might have succumbed to hypothermia if we had not been ready for them. But thanks to you we had everything in place when the boat limped to the dock.  I can tell you it was quite a scene on the beach last night.”

Maestro looked pleased but slightly embarrassed. He insisted that it was nothing, and started speaking Italian.  Since his English was perfect, if accented, I thought he must have done that to throw off the vicar — to keep him from asking unwanted questions.

Dormedary Coconut ad“Oh Signora, Che fortuna!” Maestro cried and pointed toward a palm tree that was different from the ones surrounding it.  “How fortunate, no?  It is a coconut palm.  Perhaps we could get the coconut milk for your special fruit cake recipe?”

“We don’t need to bother anyone with that right now, Maestr… I mean Mr. Martino,” she stammered.

I was amazed that Granny had helped the ghost come to the island.  She was still furious that Andy and I had unknowingly brought him into her kitchen in the first place.  Granny Fanny and the poltergeist argued more often than they spoke civilly.  Yet she backed up so that she stood closer to Martino than she did to the living people.

She didn’t get any closer to Daisy though.  Granny looked at the ghost woman suspiciously.  I supposed that Granny had grown accustomed to Maestro Martino.  And as he said himself, he was one powerful poltergeist!  Did she feel the need for protection?  But why?

My grandmother glanced at me, and I saw worry and sadness in her eyes.  Could she really have been so afraid for me that she took comfort in knowing someone powerful like Maestro was at her side?  Had an imagined need to rescue or protect me been stronger than her fear and distrust of the supernatural?  I suddenly felt like a heel for causing her to worry.

Meraviglioso,” he murmured and cast a meaningful look at Granny Fanny.  Maestro held the look for a bit longer than it seemed to me like he should have.  It wasn’t just a look.  It Vintage kitchen bouquet adwas an adoring gaze.  Then I knew he was up to something.  The exaggerated look of longing was an act, despite the fact that the spirit really was attracted to my grandmother.

The vicar and Mattie both noticed the way he was looking at Granny.  She blushed and looked away, clearing her throat.  Mattie gave an unexpected smile at Maestro’s behavior.  She leaned toward the vicar and whispered something about people in love being so sweet at any age.

I wasn’t sure if my grandmother heard what Mattie said, but she shot a glare at Maestro.  Then the flirty ghost bowed over Mattie Maddox’s hand in his courtly way.  He whispered something in Italian and the old gal actually giggled like a school girl.  I had to admit, the Maestro had a way about him.  He said something else to her in that accent of his.  It was English that time, but I didn’t catch what he said.  However, Mattie blushed and tittered.

When Mattie caught her breath, she looked at my grandmother.  “And you were worried about these two young people… but you set sail, so to speak, with this handsome rake!” Mattie chided playfully.  “Oh, now… I was only joking, dear.  No offense intended,” the older woman said when Granny’s glare transferred to her.

Maestro Martino laughed a bit too loudly.  He was still up to whatever it was.  “Sì, is it as you say, the pot calling the kettle black?” he exclaimed and then laughed again, but gave Granny 1920s two women gardenan adoring little tweak on the cheek.

Granny looked astonished, not just at Maestro, but at what Mattie said.  After a moment she shook her head ruefully.  “I guess you have a point, Mrs. Maddox,” she said, but I knew my grandmother too well to feel relieved that fast.

“Now please, you call me Mattie,” the other woman said warmly.

I wondered what Maestro had said to Mattie.  I couldn’t imagine what it was, but it seemed to have started things in the right direction.  Between Mattie and Maestro, maybe Granny Fanny would calm down enough that she’d give up the idea of sending me home to Florida.

Or maybe the antics of the little dog would distract her enough, I thought as I watched Wriggles wrap his leash around and around a bench leg.  When he ran out of lead, he started to whine and pull at the confining mess he’d made for himself.  However, no one was paying much attention to him.

Just as I noticed that Daisy had disappeared, I saw that a rose and a white daisy were at Mattie’s feet.  She wore a bemused expression as she leaned down to pick them up from the pavement.  The woman looked at Granny rather than me when she spoke.

“You know, when I was young I had a friend, a best friend… Pip reminds me of her.  She was so headstrong and intelligent, and so vital.  But she didn’t think as well of herself as she 1917 Vogueshould have,” Mattie said.  “I hope your granddaughter realizes how special and valuable she is,” she added looking at me from the corner of her eye and giving a little nod.

“I’d love to hear about her, your friend,” I cut into the conversation, causing Granny to raise an eyebrow at me.

“It was so long ago now, but I’ve never forgotten,” Mattie Maddox spoke in a soft voice as her memory stretched back over decades.  “Oh, she was a strong young woman, but just as sweet as she was strong.  I couldn’t imagine how anyone could fail to love her, but there were plenty of people who resented her.  King Henry though, that’s what they called Mr. Kingston senior, he worshiped the ground she walked on.”

Vicar Vance Varley at first gave Mattie a quizzical glance.  Then the look on his face shifted to worry and fear.  “Miss Mattie—”

“She?” Granny prompted, obviously curious despite the situation.

“Mr. Kingston’s second wife, Daisy,” Mattie said.  “I was her personal maid, but she always said I was her best friend.  She certainly was mine, but I always felt I didn’t do enough…” Mattie said but her words trailed away with her thoughts.

“I didn’t realize it at the time, but at the end, I think she thought King Henry had left her,” Mattie went on.  “She was so badly off by then, I think time was passing differently for her.  Daisy didn’t understand everything that was happening then as she drifted in and out of 1920s faceconsciousness.  Her husband wasn’t at her side every minute.  To be honest, I thought he should have been there more, but he was beside her more than many men would have been,” she said in a reasoning tone.

“He arranged for an important doctor to come to Savannah and take a look at her.  King Henry left on the ferry to pick up the doctor at Union Station.  I think the hours must have felt like days to Daisy, and she thought he’d left her.  She passed before he even got to Savannah.

“Miss Mattie,” the vicar interrupted.  “What you’ve told me in confidence… It might not be wise to disclose to strangers,” he said sounding very agitated.

Mattie sighed and smiled a small smile.  It reminded me of Daisy’s sad smile, and I wondered if they shared that expression because they had been so close.  “Vance, I’m an old woman.  I’m not worried about that.  And I’m not going to look over my shoulder anymore,” Mattie said flatly and my curiosity rose at her affirming tone.Stained Glass 2

Though I was mesmerized by the odd exchange between Mattie and Vicar Vance, it registered with me that something in my surroundings had changed.  Something was missing.  It was quiet.

I glanced at the bench where I last saw Wriggles pulling at his leash.  The collar was there, but the dog was gone.  Granny followed my gaze.

“Oh great heavens!  Where is that doggone dog?” she exclaimed.  “I have to find him. I said I’d take care of him,” she said and hurried down what was probably a random garden path.

Everyone followed Granny.  I heard barking up ahead.  Even before I could see the building I saw the bright golden glow.  My feet squished uncomfortably inside my wet shoes as I hurried along the paved path.  The barking grew louder and then I rounded a curve where huge shell pink camellias grew extraordinarily tall.  The path opened onto the beautiful stained glass window, the one Daisy showed Andy and me back at the abandoned warehouse, the same one Mattie Maddox had in her paintings.

The golden and aqua light reflected in the glass was impossibly bright.  I knew it had some supernatural help.  It cast a golden glow over the red roses that grew before it.  I heard alphonse mucha 1Mattie gasp.  Vicar Varley clasped his hands prayerfully before his chest and murmured something about God.  Wriggles stood barking at the window.  With every bark his little body scooted backward a few inches.

Daisy, looking even more ethereally beautiful than I’d ever seen her walked toward us from the window.  She gave me that little smile that rarely reached her eyes.

“You are so close Pip.  I can feel it,” Daisy said.

Mattie Maddox crumpled to the ground.

***

Recipe:  Curry Mushroom Toast – Cooking Club 1908

Adapted from: Cooking Club Magazine, February 1908

1908 Cooking Club Curry Mushroom Toast

Recipe and Photo Credit:  Tori Avey at History Kitchen http://toriavey.com/history-kitchen/2014/02/curry-mushroom-toast-cooking-club-1908/

Please visit Tori’s great blog for step by step instructions and photos, as well as a terrific post.

Ingredients

1 baguette, cut into 12 slices

1 lb button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 1/2 cups vegetable stock

3 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 1/2 tsp curry powder (or more to taste)

2 tsp flour

1/2 cup heavy cream

Salt and black pepper

Yields 6 servings

Directions

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in the bottom of a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the sliced bread and toast for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown.

Transfer the toast to a baking sheet and place in the oven at 200 degrees F to keep warm.

Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and add about 1/2 of the sliced mushrooms. Cook until brown, about 8-10 minutes. Then add remaining mushrooms and continue cooking for an additional 5-7 minutes.

Sprinkle curry and flour over the mushrooms and stir to evenly coat.

Add vegetable stock to the pan and stir to combine. Cook until the liquid thickens and is reduced by half.

Reduce heat to medium and add cream. Cook until thickened. Stir in salt and black pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp of salt and a pinch of black pepper– your amount may vary based on the saltiness of your stock). Remove from heat.

To serve, place 2 slices of toast on a plate and spoon the curry mushroom sauce over the top. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley if desired.

 ***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Three Ingredients II – 13: Chickpeas, Winkles, Rice Pudding

2 Flappers Pug Motorcycle SidecarOne of the ingredients for Episode-11, red currants, caused me to add a merman to our serial.  Later I had the thought that Andrea Stephenson might like that character. You see, she has written about mythical water beings like selkies.

So I am very pleased to tell you that the ingredients for this episode are from the marvelous magical mind of Andrea Stephenson at Harvesting Hecate: Thoughts on life, writing, creativity and magic.  Andrea’s blog is captivating. Charming and well written, it covers a wide range of things in a very organized, easy to navigate way. I always enjoy my visits there.

Last time we all wondered about the mysterious relationship between Daisy and Mattie Maddox. Will anything be revealed?  What turn will the “spooky ingredient” cause the story to take? Most importantly, we left Pip with Granny Fanny very angry, and exclaiming that she was sending our flapper back to live with her father!  Granny is a formidable woman and Pip has been through an awful ordeal.  What will Pip do?  Find out now.  Bon appétit!

 

13.  Chickpeas, Winkles, Rice Pudding

With Unnatural Cold

In the past twenty-four hours I had fallen overboard from a ferry, nearly drowned, been kissed by a merman, rescued by a ghost-rider (on a giant seahorse no less), and reduced to wearing a borrowed old-lady dress.  Add Granny Fanny’s eloquent outrage — and mind you Granny ranting on her soapbox could strike terror in the heart of a revival preacher…  I refuse to accept the label of emotional young girl, but hoserfeathers!  It was more than even a flapper could take.

1920s Buster Keaton sad

Buster Keaton, 1920’s

Andy Avis, my old friend gave me a sheepish glance and prudently retreated behind Vicar Vance Varley.  Good ole Andy wasn’t going to be any help.  Not that I could blame him.  Granny Fanny in a tirade was enough to frighten any man.  However, I couldn’t help feeling a little betrayed when my friend looked away without saying a word in my defense.

The thought flashed into my distraught mind and I wondered if that was why our friend Mona “the movie star” was never interested in Andy, despite the torch he carried for her.  I remembered the time, back at the building where I lived with all my friends.  Boris’ apartment was burglarized.  The Russian had a painful limp from a bad injury that ended his ballet career, but he charged after the burglar nonetheless.  When Andy and Mona arrived a moment later, Andy went after Boris and the thief.  But he hesitated noticeably, even though Boris had a head start and would catch up with the man first.  Andy wanted to impress Mona, so he gave chase, even though he was afraid.

At the time I had thought the fact that Andy rose above that fear made his action truly courageous.  However, as I stood outside the church on Tybee Island, with my grandmother ranting at me, I wondered if I had been right.  Mona never said an unkind word about Andy, but did she see something in him I had missed?  Something that told her Andy was a wuss?

man_ray_tearsAnybody would have thought Andy Avis didn’t even know me.  Unconsciously I stretched my hand toward him, but he studiously did not look at me.  I burst into tears, turned on my heel and ran.

I wasn’t paying any attention to where I was going.  The sound of the double doors closing behind me and cool air against my face told the functioning part of my brain that I had gone inside the church.  But I didn’t stop there.  I ran straight through the sanctuary and out the back door.

My shoes were still wet from my dunk in the Atlantic, and my feet slid around inside them as I ran tearfully through a carefully laid out garden.  My kitten-heels clicked on the brick pavers.  Shrubs, flowers and statues outlined the curving path.  Mulch surrounded colorful impatiens that circled the base of an ancient oak tree.  Tiny beige gravel that looked like Pink Pampas Grasschickpeas bordered a row of sculpted planters.  I pushed my way through ornamental grasses, some of which were taller than me.  Pink pampas and fountaingrass whispered drily at my passage as if accusing me.

Accusing me of what?  I hadn’t done anything, yet even the grass criticized me.

Then I was alone on a stretch of beach.  One of my shoes caught in the sand.  I stumbled when it came off my foot.  Not stopping, I kicked off the other shoe and continued my flight barefooted.  I saw a sand dune ahead, crowned by swaying cattails.  There was no clear way around it, so I just kept going.  I skirted the cattails and mostly slid down the other side of the dune.  The sound of waves lapping against the shore met my ears.  The ocean was about a hundred yards away.

I slowed to a staggering walk as I approached the sore.  Several large boulders dotted a haphazard path out into the Atlantic, and my feet moved toward them.  Sunlight shimmered in a small tide pool.  Little shells that were broadly ovate and sharply pointed were abundant in the pool.  Some of them crawled.  Winkles.  The sea snails moved as they fed on algae and barnacle larvae.

In the distance I heard a slap, like a large fish hitting the water.  I glanced out to sea and wondered if it might even be a dolphin.  However, it was too near the shore for a dolphin, unless the ocean floor dropped off sharply near those big rocks.  Some parts of the shore did that.  It could be dangerous for beachgoers.

A sunbeam glinted off one of the shells, and I stood and looked at the winkles.  My racing 1920s La Vie Parisienne Mermaid by hérouardthoughts gradually slowed as I watched the measured movements of the sea snails.  There was something almost hypnotic about it.  The salt breeze brought a snatch of song to my ears.  Or was it an instrument, rather than a voice?  The slow cadence matched the movements of the winkles and it soothed my troubled mind.

The music became more insistent.  The melody pulled me closer to the shore.  I wandered aimlessly, letting my feet choose the way.  I climbed onto the rocky path made by the boulders.  Perhaps mankind had lent a hand, because they were arranged in a way that made it easy to skip along from one to the next as they stretched out into the ocean.  The sun soaked rocks were comfortingly warm against my bare feet, and I skipped to the furthest one.

I sat down and dangled my feet from the rock.  The ocean didn’t reach that high except when a wave came in, but now and then the sea spray misted my toes.  I heard another big splash, followed by the sound of something large surging up from the water.

Abruptly the bright green eyes of the merman were locked with mine.  His long pale green hair tickled my shoulder as he leaned in and kissed me.

Now I want you to know that while I wasn’t a prude, neither was I in the habit necking with strangers.  No matter how exotically beautiful they might be… and the merman truly was stunning, both graceful and virile, and handsome as Valentino.  At the time I didn’t realize that he had an innate hypnotic ability.  He could lull the mind without 1925 Review Ad; butterfly kisshaving any intention of doing so.

So I kissed him back.  Come on… what else would a flapper do?  And I kissed him again.  His arm dropped from my shoulders to my hips as he wordlessly urged me to go back to the ocean with him.  I wondered foggily how I could understand him so well when he didn’t speak a word.

A large wave crashed against the rock, splashing both of us.  He smiled and I relaxed against him.  His arm around my hips held me tighter.  Then an unnatural cold touched the back of my neck and I shivered.  He mistook it for pleasure and his bright green eyes started to glow in response.  I didn’t pay any attention to a tiny pop-fizz noise that blended into the sound of the waves caressing the boulder.

“I remember this place. A few times I came out here to think,” Daisy said.

1920s face

The ghost woman appeared on the other side of me, and I pulled away from the merman’s kiss, turning to her in surprise.

“But I became too weak to hop across the rocks,” she added as if she described a distant memory.

The merman’s eyes widened when he saw the spirit.  He snarled then hissed.  There wasn’t so much as a splash as he dove into the ocean, cleanly cutting the water like a knife.  A broad green tailfin broached the surface and gave the water an angry slap.  Daisy looked at it with a derisive expression.

“Merfolk don’t cotton much to ghosts,” she said, her southern accent took on more of a rural 1920s Seaside Postcard Flapperedge than usual.

After I thought about it, I realized that Daisy had more of an accent when she spoke of times before her marriage.  I supposed that being around different people, hearing different ways of speaking caused her country manner to fade.

“After that… that place,” she said, sounding more her sophisticated self.  “I was hurt, bleeding.  Somebody brought me here.  I think it was Henry.  Yes,” she exclaimed as part of the memory became clear to her.  “My husband brought me here after that horrible hospital.  But I didn’t get better, and he went back to Savannah.  He came often, but I kept getting weaker.  I wasn’t able to be vivacious enough to make him stay,” she spoke softly and I could hear the self-blame in her tone.

What hospital, I wondered.  I thought whatever the horrid thing was that Daisy couldn’t remember had happened at the abandoned warehouse.  Then I remembered Andy’s title research on the building showed that it had been used as some sort of hospital at one time, during a war.  It was possible that it had some medical purpose again later.

A newer puzzle came to me.  “Daisy,” I began but wasn’t sure how to phrase the question.  “The old woman on the beach?  Mattie Maddox?  You stood behind her on the beach last night and you seemed very unhappy.  Did you know her?”

1916 Norma and Constance Talmadge

1916 Norma and Constance Talmadge, film stars

Daisy looked at me uncomprehendingly for a second.  Finally she seemed to remember the moment. “Oh yes, that woman. She seemed familiar to me.  Mattie, you say?  Mattie was the name of my personal maid!  Could that old woman have been my Mattie?  I believe you’re right Pip!”

“You seemed sad, maybe even angry when you looked at her,” I said rather cautiously.  “You had such a frown when you watched her.  Did Mattie do something to you?  Was she part of the horrible thing that happened?”

“Yes,” Daisy said then stopped.  “No.  No, she wasn’t part of it, I don’t think,” the spirit stammered.  “No, Mattie took care of me afterward.  I remember now.  Mattie stayed.  She refused to leave my side, even when Henry had to go back to town.  Why, her fiancé broke off their betrothal because she wouldn’t go back to Savannah.  I was so hurt for her sake.  I was upset with her too.  I felt she was ruining her life, to take care of me,” Daisy said sadly.

“I felt like Mattie was my only friend then.  I was too weak to go out and do much.  I remember that I lost a lot of blood, and there was infection…  But Mattie was always there.  She’d take me in a wheelchair outside into the pretty garden.  There were beautiful roses.  One day she upset everybody by planting daisies amid those prize roses.  She said that I was as fine and good as any rose.  Kind Mattie — she knew I never thought as highly of myself as I should.  And she’d even get the kitchen staff to make my favorite rice pudding.  She made sure I had it whenever I wanted.  But I suppose I reached a point where I wouldn’t eat much of anything,” Daisy told me.

I felt like I had pieces of a puzzle spread out around me.  It seemed like the parts of it should fit together, but they just weren’t quite right, they wouldn’t lock into place.  I tried to sort through all the things we had learned about Daisy and the warehouse.1916 Hart Schaffner ad

My jumbled thoughts centered on that big old photograph back at the Kingston mansion — the one of all the young men.  Daisy had made it clear that it held important information, even if she couldn’t say what it was.  Andy and I figured out that two of the boys were the Binghamton brothers.  One of whom owned the Bijou theatre, and the other became a high ranking bishop.  But who were the others?  The photo was of a large group and as far as I could remember it was mostly boys of about the same age.  There might have been a couple of older men.  If only I could remember all the faces.  Suddenly inspiration struck.

“Daisy, I know you can’t remember what happened to you.  And it’s okay that you don’t understand why the photograph you showed me is important,” I said.  “But can you remember the photo itself?  It was obviously a special occasion.  Can you tell me who was in it?” I asked imploringly.

Her eyes took on an unfocused look as she dredged up the memory.  Daisy jumped as if startled.  I asked what was wrong and she gave a rueful chuckle.

Vintage Tuxedo ad“I just remembered the big flash when the photograph was taken,” she answered.  “Yes, Pip.  I remember the picture now.  All those boys.  Of course Henry’s son was in it the photograph, and the Binghamton brothers.  Those three were thick as thieves.  Bradley was a nice enough boy. But that Byron — I just didn’t feel right about that boy.  He was so self-centered.  I was afraid he’d be a bad influence on young Henry.  I hate to say it, but my stepson had a tendency to be greedy,” Daisy remembered.

“Anyhow, it was a sort of mentoring group for future businessmen.  Henry and his friend Alastair coached all those boys along with their regular schooling, grooming them to be Savannah’s future, as Henry liked to say.  My Henry had the photograph taken after all the boys graduated from school.”

“His friend Alastair?” I asked as something tickled at the back of my mind.

It wasn’t a name I heard often.  The only Alastair I knew was my friend whose family owned Wong’s Chinese.  Granny was dog sitting their little pug while most of the family was on vacation in California.  Then I remembered Granny Fanny saying the words “Alastair the elder.”

My thoughts returned to Granny’s cottage and a time not too long ago (Cookbook-1, Episode-2) when she talked about her tea set.  Granny had given me a downright wicked, Grannys teacupmischievous smile and even wriggled her eyebrows.  Then her expression turned fond and she chuckled as she told me how she came to have the set.

“They were a gift — when I was a very young woman.  They were actually from Mrs. Wong’s grandfather,” Granny Fanny had told me.  “He was a widower.  Yes, he was interested in me.  Oh Pip, are you surprised that a man besides Grandpa was interested in your Granny?” she’d said with a smile.  “If ever I was going to be attracted to an older man, it would have been Alastair Wong the elder.  He was a fine man.”

I tried to remember seeing an Asian man in the old picture.  But the faces were all so small that nothing stirred in my memory.  However, I did remember an odd shape about one man.  I had thought maybe it was a flaw in the photo.  Yet as I concentrated I realized it was a thing, not a defect.

“So Alastair’s great-grandfather was in the picture,” I voiced the thought.  “Which one was he, Daisy?”

“Oh, that’s easy,” the ghost said with a smile.  “He’s the one with the parrot on his shoulder.”

chatelaine_1928 Feb

***

Recipe:  Creamy Rice Pudding with Brandied Cherry Sauce

Rice pudding

Recipe and Photo Credit:  Betty Crocker.com

Prep time:  15 mins

Total time:  4 hours, 20 mins

Servings:  8

Ingredients

Rice Pudding

4 cups milk

¾ cup uncooked regular long-grain rice

1/3 cup sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup whipping (heavy) cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Brandied Cherry Sauce

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

¼ cup orange juice

1 ½ cups frozen unsweetened tart red cherries (from 1-lb bag)

2 tablespoons brandy or orange juice

Directions

  1. In a 2-quart saucepan, heat milk, rice, 1/3 cup sugar and the salt to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered 40 to 45 minutes, stirring frequently, until rice is tender and mixture is thickened.

  2.  Stir a small amount of the hot rice mixture into eggs, then stir eggs back into mixture in saucepan. Continue cooking over medium heat about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until heated through. Cool for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. In chilled large serving bowl, beat whipping cream and vanilla with electric mixer on high speed until thickened. Fold in cooled rice mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours until well chilled.

  4. In a 1-quart saucepan, mix 1/2 cup sugar and the cornstarch. Stir in orange juice and frozen cherries. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture boils and thickens slightly.  Stir in brandy. Serve sauce warm or chilled with pudding.

 ***

 Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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