Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
I know there are lots of peeps out there who are disappointed that I am no longer a party sass/danger slut navigating the waters of Aspen’s shark-ridden dating pool.
I was reminded of this the other day when I received an email from a friend that said, “I miss the columns that I can still relate to in my single mountain-girl status. All you dynamic and independent girls that find love inspire me.”
The idea that little old me could have inspired someone baffles me. On the same token, I hate knowing that I have somehow abandoned her.
Well, this one’s for you, Kim. Let me tell you a little bit about how my domestic life is going so far.
Believe you me, as soon as we bought this house I was ready to strap on an apron and start baking bread from scratch. I’d paint the walls with a fresh coat, a fresh color. I’d organize my kitchen so every cupboard was neat and pretty inside so if we did have the clear doors I’ve always wanted, everything would look orderly and stacked. I would plant flowers and have a vegetable garden, collecting my harvest in a wicker basket for a freshly prepared meal. I’d wear a wide brim hat and gloves and rubber boots and look like Katherine Hepburn after a morning swim in the ocean, all disheveled in a naturally beautiful way.
If someone would have told me my garden would yield two green peppers and six tomatoes and that my daisies would turn black, I might have saved myself the trouble.
For starters, a cute little cotton-tailed rabbit ate my lettuce and my basil the day after I put it in the ground. I think of Hop Along every time I drop another 10 bucks at Whole Foods for those two very things I use like, every other day. Sure, my rosemary and sage are going gangbusters, big and bushy and tall, but when in the summer do these particular herbs come to mind? These are winter herbs, my friends. Fall at best.
My cilantro has these tall, spindly flowers growing right through the middle, and every time I cut them, they grow right back as if to mock me. My arugula is so spicy it practically burned a hole in my tongue. I worried for a brief moment when the sensation did not fade that maybe I’d poisoned myself with the weed killer I sprayed on the ground cover that has taken over my entire garden in a web of chubby leaves and fat vines everywhere.
My tomatoes were looking pretty good there for a while. Even if the leaves have yellowed and drooped in the hot sun to the color of stomach bile, the plant bore fruit, and nothing made me happier – until I went to pick the ripe ones and discovered they had been pillaged by those nasty magpies that circle above the A-Frame waiting to forage for their next meal, leaving these beak-made gashes in my precious fruits.
I tried picking them early and letting them ripen on the windowsill-those are the six tomatoes I spoke of earlier. They were OK. Not great, just OK.
My mint is going ballistic, and I use it every day and love it, except for one thing. It’s not my mint. The lady who lived here before me planted it, and she obviously knew what she was doing. She put it in the one shady spot in our entire yard.
I love it so much I put it in everything. Last night I made quinoa and decided mint and chopped strawberries mixed in with an olive oil drizzle would be fun and summery.
“Nice strawberry muffin cous cous,” my brother said. “Breakfasty.”
This is the same brother who started to scrape the food off of one of my Vietri plates with a metal spoon.
“Stop that! Those are very expensive!” I scolded, feeling a moment of true domesticity.
“They look just like the ones I got at the Dollar Store. How was I supposed to know they were expensive?”
I guess that’s why people buy “every-day plates.” I never understood that, until now.
I planted some flowers, too. I spent like 150 bucks on a bunch of flowers I had to plant myself only to discover they barely took up any space at all. The daisies that were supposed to be so “hardy” promptly died. They didn’t just die. They turned black as if they had been murdered and then cremated. I cut all the black dead stuff off and now I have these bald sticks that stand straight up out of the ground-so not pretty.
In other discoveries, I have learned I am not a very good house painter. Oh, I have loads of ideas and am super inspired and courageous when it comes to choosing bold paint colors. But when it comes to applying them to the walls, I am a disaster.
For starters, I don’t have the patience to “edge” and I don’t have the patience to prep, so I kind of figure it out as I go, leaving splotches here and splotches there. It took me painting like three rooms before I figured out that if you start high and work your way low, you won’t get paint all over your boobs when you lean against the wall.
I also learned that when you spill paint on your drop-cloth and then walk on it, you’re going to end up painting the carpet with your feet.
I can also attest to the fact that bright white is not as great of an idea as it seemed at the time. It is a little stark.
If there’s one thing I learned about how to be more domestic, it’s that I better get out of the house and get to work so I can afford to pay someone else to do it.
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Commentary: “My granddaughter Charli, dressed in an ankle-length sun dress, sporting a fresh manicure and wearing light lipstick (her mother helped reorganize that), quietly welcomed me to the affair, maintaining an air of sophistication that surprised. She knew it was a big deal.”