Thursday, May 7, 2020

Gin & Tonic with Miss Sweden

When I was walking down a mostly empty Charing Cross Road on Monday, I passed a shop window filled with cufflinks. Check these out!

You can tell which ones I'm focusing on:

HOW FANTASTIC ARE THOSE?! Judging by the shape and color of the bottles, they're even my brands, Gordon's gin and Schweppes tonic.

There are many practical reasons why I didn't buy them. First, of course, the shop wasn't open. Second, I only own one shirt that requires cufflinks and it's got colorful stripes, which these wouldn't match. And third, they were something like £39, which is insane.

But they are great.

In other news, it looks like I probably will be returning to work next week, for just two weeks. I'll be doing stuff in our still-closed library to get it ready for summer book checkouts. Basically, I'll be checking in any returned materials, getting them back on the shelves, and doing our annual inventory to find out what's gone missing over the course of the school year. The library won't be open yet so I won't really be dealing with people -- just stuff. My co-worker will then come in the last two weeks of school to do actual checkouts for parents and students who visit campus. (This all assumes that the government announces a loosening of our lockdown restrictions, which is anticipated on Sunday. Our school won't reopen for classes until the fall.)

See that big red lupine on our old patio table? I picked it up at Waitrose on Tuesday. Beautiful, isn't it? It's a variety called Beefeater. The red lupine we had last year doesn't seem to have survived the winter, so I was happy to get this one -- and then pose it next to our laundry for a photo. Ha!

Apropos of nothing, I was thinking yesterday about a woman who briefly rented a house across the lake from us when I was growing up in Florida. She was a statuesque blond who we used to call Miss Sweden -- or was it Miss Norway? -- and she allegedly really was a former Scandinavian beauty queen. She used to sunbathe on her dock, drift around in filmy blouses and once came to our door looking for a missing cockatoo. (This sounds like a dream situation for an adolescent boy, but it did nothing for me, which should have told me something.)

Anyway, she wasn't around for very long and the memories are so hazy that I'm honestly not sure how accurate they are, but I wonder who that woman was. This all happened in the late '70s, and she wasn't very old. I looked at a list of former Miss Swedens but the names mean nothing to me, and as I said, she could have actually been Norwegian or Danish. Maybe she wasn't really a beauty queen at all. That could have been a neighborhood rumor. When you're a kid you take everything you hear at face value.

Anyway, we lived in a fairly insular area, and having such an exotic person in our midst, with an international pedigree, made a big impression on me. It's a mystery that will probably never be solved!


  1. She was probably from Yorkshire. We have a lot of beautiful Viking lasses in Yorkshire. Was she wearing a flat cap and hobnail boots? When she came round she may have been asking for a "cock or two" and not for an exotic bird. Did she have a whippet on a rope?

  2. I love lupins, but can never get them to come back the next year either. I think that the new growth is particularly soft and if it is at all wet at the time, the slugs and snails get stuck in !!
    Did you see my comment a couple of days ago re
    Foxgloves are getting taller ..can't wait for them to flower! x

  3. Lovely lupins..but they are weeds in New Zealand, we found, although useful for bees.
    They have the blue-purple flowers there..and yellow ones.
    I have them in my garden, mixed colours but not red....fancy swapping some seeds?!
    Mine set seeds well every year and self seed as well.

    Glad that you can get in and sort out the library. It is a worry that you maybe opening again so soon.

  4. Years ago Tom always wore shirts with cuff links. I bought him a pair that unclipped and each link held a sixpence, this was to pay for parking in the early 60's that only cost 6 old
    that's going back some isn't it. Am I really that old?

  5. Those are AMAZING cufflinks! Obviously British men wear far more shirts which require cufflinks than American men do.
    Miss Sweden. I wonder if my blog post with my beautiful Norwegian friend triggered this memory. Of course you will never forget such a woman! Gay or not, an exotic and beautiful woman in a Florida neighborhood would be something to remember.
    Is it going to seem strange to go to work? I wonder. Let us know.

  6. I haven't thought about cufflinks in years. Those are beauties.
    Interesting story about your beauty queen neighbor. I wonder if there is a way to find out who she was.
    I'm looking forward to reading what it's like to go back to the library.

  7. Cufflinks? I haven't worn them for at least 40 years but I still have a few in a drawer.

  8. I wonder how many of those cufflinks go back to home countries as vacation gifts for fathers and brothers. I bet quite a few. What a fun story about the tall beauty who lived near you in Florida. She sounds like a great character for a mystery novel.
    Things are opening up here but not my work place yet. I was included in a group text conversation last night and one in the group has dinner reservations at one of the high end restaurants next week. Others in the group were teasing her about sending her some Lysol and injectable bleach just in case.

  9. That is the best story I've read in lockdown, about the foreign beauty queen who went door-to-door in a Florida backwoods looking for her cockatoo. It sounds dreamy, and surreal, and I had such a vivid picture of her floating across the lawn and asking in accented English if you had seen her bird. I wish I had childhood memories like that.

  10. What an interesting array of cuff links. Your plants are looking beautiful, especially that red lupine. It will probably feel good going back to work for a couple of weeks. Things here are opening very slowly. In a way I'm grateful though. I'd really like to see this virus thing completely gone really soon. Enjoy your day, hugs, Edna B.

  11. Great story about "Miss Sweden". She may not have done anything for you but . . .

    The red lupine is gorgeous and the cuff links should be yours. Of course that would mean the purchase of a new shirt with French cuffs. This is getting expensive but what a knockout you'd be at the pubs of London.

  12. YP: She was definitely not from Yorkshire, but I don't doubt you have your share of beauties. A whippet on a rope? Is that a thing?

    Frances: Yes, I saw your Londonist comment! We've noticed that lupines get devoured by slugs. We keep ours in pots for just that reason.

    GZ: I will gladly swap seeds, assuming ours sets seed. (I'm not sure they'll be faithful to the parent plant in terms of color -- not sure how that works!)

    Briony: Six pence for parking! That's amazing.

    Ms Moon: YES! I'm sure it was your Norwegian friend who set off that memory in my mind. I should have given you credit. :)

    Robin: Cufflinks used to be such common items and you just don't see them much anymore, do you?

    Red: I have one pair, and they're actually Dave's. They go with my one French-cuffed shirt!

    Sharon: Yeah, I'm sure they're primarily tourist purchases -- especially given that the shop is in Charing Cross right near Covent Garden.

    Vivian: It's surreal in my memory, too! I bet you DO have childhood memories like that. Dig deep!

    Edna: We really can't take credit for the lupine, since we bought it that way! Hopefully we can KEEP it looking beautiful.

    Catalyst: It's funny how one purchase often leads to another and pretty soon you've blown a wad of cash.