where the writers are
Ratatouille, Tiramisu and Saxophone

I wake up this morning and refuse to open my eyes. I can hear the rain as it pelts off the house and the wind rattling the slates like insane ghosts stuck in a dungeon. Out of nowhere  a cup of coffee is placed on the bedside table for me. It is hot and pungent. I open my eyes-the day awaits. Talk awhile with  husband, I say to him; tell me what is your day like? When do you work? Who will you see? And the weather, the weather! Heaven on earth this is hell.  Let us move, we'll move to the South of France, who cares if the house is worth half of what it was worth a year ago, think of it, olive trees and terracotta terraces and wild lavender and sun, sun, sunshine bouncing its yellow lemon juicy rind all around us and there we could be in barefeet, bare bodies and  sun kissed skin, our  blond sons running to the sea, the brilliance of turquoise, and native wine the colour of burgundy jewels and haricot beans defying the length of my arm and ratatouille. Ratatouille.

When I rise I root around in the fridge. There stuck in the bottom drawer I find the makings. Aubergines and courgettes, yellow and green and peppers, red like embers. Onions, translucent and rich and garlic and  bunches of fresh basil gathered from the market last Saturday. Italian tomatoes, a dash of puree, a secret hint of sugar, a splash of water. I cut and slice and watch the relentless rain from my stance at the kitchen counter. A confused summer's  day cuts through the garden blowing the flowers away and still I cut and chop and create. The oil comes out from its jug like gold from a treasure trove. It swirls  into the pan and one by one the ingredients are added, gradually, allowing time, nothing rushed allowing the wilting to occur. The smell, o, the smell someone shouts, what are you cooking? RAT A Touille, I shout back. Mmm. How about TIR A Misu for dessert? Italian-yes, more sun, more memories........

Cooking done. What's that in the corner?  My old dusty SAX O Phone. I pull it out and place the mouthpiece on my lips. The dog, Missy, starts to bark. She doesn't like her owner with this strange raucous sounding instrument. I start to play. Scales, up and down, one following the other, stiff at first but it all comes back to me. D Major. Eb M, E Major, F Major, up and down the instrument my fingers, hesitantly following the notes, loosening as they grow accustomed to the feel of the music, the rhythm, the joy. I play for a long time. My mouth tires and yet I play on. I dig out old standards,  a Sonny Rollins number, Freddie Freeloader by Miles Davis.  I decide to improvise, play nothing, disregard the rules, nothing but garbage comes out. I am loving the sound, the way I can control my sound, what I want to hear.  Often I hit a wrong note, that jars but it is still okay. It's my music. My fingers and mouth and the notes, the scales are only there to guide me. When I finally place the sax back in its stand the dog walks to me and wags her tail. She is saying, Mary, I was never a big Jazz fan but have you ever heard of Dolly what's her name?

23 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip


A fan! I am quickly becoming a fan! You have a nice hand with words.

Comment Bubble Tip

Thanks Ron! That's nice to

Thanks Ron! That's nice to know...Mp

Comment Bubble Tip

I agree

with Ron....oh! I do love the saxophone, such a mellow entrancing voice.

Comment Bubble Tip

It is a beautiful instrument

It is a beautiful instrument Kunzang. I also love the look of it......almost like a letter or an ''&'' shape!

Comment Bubble Tip

Smiling through the rain...

You and your dog made me smile again. (And I did not think I would when I read your first two sentences.) Amazing what a hand-delivered cup of coffee can do for a day. Keep on having fun in your kitchen and on your sax, Mary!

Comment Bubble Tip

Keep smiling Sue. Tried to

Keep smiling Sue. Tried to leave a comment on your blog but their is no provision for it.

Comment Bubble Tip

a woman of many talents. :

a woman of many talents. : ) jazz sax is not easy to play.

Comment Bubble Tip

Well, David, it is fun just

Well, David, it is fun just belting out a tune, rids any negativity and lifts me up. The dogs think otherwise and you wouldn't believe how quickly doors are closed and the house empties of teenagers! Ha Ha.

Comment Bubble Tip

Oh, Mary, I'll have to tell

Oh, Mary, I'll have to tell my youngest daughter you play the sax! She does too. The Barri. And it's almost as big as she is.

France sounds Splendid. Let's all go!

To Sue: Ditto with what Mary said regarding your blog post.

Comment Bubble Tip

I'm impressed. Mine is a wee

I'm impressed. Mine is a wee Alto!

Comment Bubble Tip

Hi Mary, I agree with Ron.

Hi Mary,

I agree with Ron. You do have such a way with words--and the pace--it sings. I'm there with you in your kitchen--the wonderful frenzy--the smells and sights. And like Sue, you brought a big smile to my face. Love it.

Comment Bubble Tip

Gosh, thank you, I feel very

Gosh, thank you, I feel very grateful to read your comment. It's nice to know that these frenzied words are being read by someone! All the best, Mp

Comment Bubble Tip

Gathering in Mary's Irish kitchen...

Isn't it fun how we all find ourselves drawn to Mary's kitchen? Good thing you painted those chairs for us, Mary. We need everyone of them. And while the dog and teens escape your sax playing, we can enjoy it across the ocean in our imagination.

Comment Bubble Tip

How funny you say that

How funny you say that because I was thinking how amazing it is to be able to communicate with you and everyone else and feel almost strangely intimate in our friendships. Sharing worlds that we might never see or visit but can do so in our, as you said, imagination. Here I am sitting at my desk and you at yours and I feel as if I know you. If you had told me that I would feel this a year ago, I would have said you are crazy! Thanks Sue.

Comment Bubble Tip

Love the part about Missy's

Love the part about Missy's review, Mary!

Was going to make a corny comment about hoping you were having safe sax, but instead I'll offer that I play piano, trumpet, French horn, and I can fake-play drums and guitar. Not all at the same time, though. Have no knowledge of reed instruments, but one of my sisters plays clarinet. Don't think I was ever able to elicit more than a scary-sounding honk out of it.

Comment Bubble Tip

Honk Honk Ellen! Boy, you

Honk Honk Ellen! Boy, you have the talent alright-Missy says she's impressed. Safe sax, love it, should have used that title for the blog!

Comment Bubble Tip

Don't get carried away,

Don't get carried away, Mary.  I think I'm trainable musically, but I definitely don't have The Gift, if you know what I mean.  But I'm very glad I have music training.  It gives me such appreciation of people who actually have talent.

Comment Bubble Tip

Ellen is a one-woman band!

Shame on you, Ellen, for that awful pun! But while Mary made me smile, your awful pun made me laugh outloud before I could help myself.

I have always been amazed that someone could play multiple instruments. Do you get to use your playing capability in real life?

I love it that Mary vents and expresses joy and self though her instrument. Too many of us forget how to play once our high school band days are over. At one time, I could play from a 6th grade piano book--altho not very well. Now I can barely play second grade. That's what happens when you only sit down to play once a year. I regret my loss, but not enough to do anything about it.

Comment Bubble Tip

Sorry, Sue.  I am a

Sorry, Sue.  I am a slightly punny girl due to a recessive gene inherited from my late father, who was, sadly, afflicted with a full-blown case, resulting in all his children eventually having their eyeballs permanently rolled into the backs of their heads.  It's a tragic case.

Unfortunately, I don't use my music training in real life.  I started studying piano at the age of seven, when I still had baby hands, and continued studying music theory at uni.  In between, I learned the trumpet from standard Midwest band that so many of us join.  And my band director asked me to learn the French horn, which is a beautiful but somewhat difficult instrument.  My brother and sister play the drums, so that is why I can fake-play them (no training, just beat out rhythms and try to mimic real drummers).  In adult life, I've always wanted a piano, but I've never lived in a place that allowed them.

Don't you find, though, that even if your skills deteriorate, the training still offers benefits in the forms of music appreciation, the ability to tell good music from bad (and talent from lack thereof), etc.?  It's never really wasted effort, in my opinion.

Comment Bubble Tip


Ellen! It took me three readings of the first paragraph of your comment before I understood what you meant. You had me thinking "How tragic that the whole family went congenitally blind!"

I never claimed to be very smart.

Huntington Sharp, Red Room

Comment Bubble Tip

It's probably my writing,

It's probably my writing, Huntington.

By the way, your hotel is fully lit (secret code between us).

P.S. for Sue:  So often I want to comment on your blogs, but the comment area has disappeared.

Comment Bubble Tip


Ellen, like several Red Roomers, Sue emails her posts to post@redroom.com. Because of a glitch that we're working to fix, I have to "enable" commenting on all blog entries posted that way. Sue lets me know when she's posted, but sometimes there's a delay before I can attend to it. Comments on all her posts are, as far as I know, now enabled.

Huntington Sharp, Red Room

P.S. Thanks for the update about my hotel!


Comment Bubble Tip

Ah, that explains it.  I

Ah, that explains it.  I thought perhaps some people had an opt-out-of-comments option on their screens.