Tuesday, April 11, 2017
I wasn’t going to buy one, honest! I already have many, many hats. Yes, I know: Easter bonnet. Very traditional. But though I made an appointment with Angie Sandifer in Saint Paul when she surprised me with an email (I thought she’d gone out of business), I made up my mind: no new hat. But I went over to her studio loft in the big old warehouse on the east side of the city on Saturday afternoon, and went into the big room full of light and hats and managed to like several of her offerings, including one spectacular black and white one with a long, long feather, without so much as asking the price of any of them. Then she showed me a new technique she’d been working on: taking a piece of thin fabric and somehow working it onto a hat so smoothly it looked painted on. Okay, that was nice. But still no sale. Then she showed me a picture of a hat covered with pink and wine and yellow flowered fabric she’d taken to an exhibit and all my resolve dissolved. Oh, my, it was lovely! But, she said, the hat was sold at the exhibit, and she didn’t have another. I don’t know if I was more relieved than disappointed or vice versa. "However," she said, “I have another piece of fabric, I can make one for you.” So this coming Saturday evening I’m going back to Saint Paul with a big empty hat box to bring home yet another hat. Here’s the picture she showed me.
The weather has been all over the place lately. Last week we had two or three days of temps in the upper seventies, and it felt like June. Yesterday evening a chilly rain started to fall, and this morning everything is covered with a thin layer of sticky snow, even the tiniest budding twig, startling to the eye and very beautiful.
I’ve been doing a final edit on the manuscript of a book put together from four “chapbooks” I wrote back in the 1980s as a study for a character I’d invented. She is Margaret of Shaftesbury, Abbess, and she lived from 1400 to 1485, mostly in a small nunnery in the foothills of the Cotswolds called the Abbey of the White Stag (Abatia Ceri Albi, after the vision of St. Eustace). AKA Deer Abbey. Its Mass Priest is “a small brown fellow with kind, anxious eyes, who means well” named Father Hugh of Paddington. I wrote about one a year, and now Ellen and I have drawn the chapbooks together to make a novel of a little over two hundred pages, if you include the endnotes. The chapbooks were thoroughly researched but lightly written, self-published, and earned me a Laurel in the Society for Creative Anachronism. I’ve always been very fond of the story that they tell, but didn’t really notice until now, editing them as one piece of writing, how my writing improved as they went along. The last one is really rather fine. We’re going to e-publish them as The Chronicles of Deer Abbey, endnotes and all. Look for The Chronicles on Amazon in the next couple of weeks.
I'm wearing the hat to a glorious Easter morning service at St. George's, then we’re giving a dinner for some friends. The menu is very traditional: Spiral-sliced ham, Aunt Velva’s Bean Salad, mashed potatoes, candied yams, steamed asparagus, deviled eggs. My friends are bringing pies. I hope your holiday is pleasant, too.