I don't have nice things. Not like I used to. I don't wear nice clothes anymore. I don't travel to exotic locations 3 times a year anymore. I don't have expensive makeup or beauty products. My home is furnished with washable, stain proof fabrics. My BMW has been traded in for a Renault Megane.
No, I have a husband, 2 children, a cat and a dog all of which are capable of leaving a trail of destruction longer and wider than an Oklahoma tornado. My sofa has been peed on, pooped on, drawn on, spilt on, vomited on and generally destroyed. My clothes have suffered a similar fate. My husband (with all the best intentions in the world) has washed my cashmere and wool sweaters on hot. Then tumble dried them. My dog has eaten all of the wood trim and cupboards in the kitchen. My carpets need to be fumigated. My cat has scratched and pulled at the edges. My son ran a key down the side of my car over and over before we caught him "drawing a picture". My daughter has decorated the walls with the marking of crayons and markers, using only the non-water soluble ones. I have just let all of this wash over me. But I just about burst this morning.
I am on occasion given nice things. One thing in particular was a gift from my brother-in-law, Matthew for Christmas 2005. It was the Nigel Slater Kitchen Diaries. This is a beautiful cookbook. Beautiful to touch, beautiful to look at, beautiful to cook from. It is organised by day, month, season using ingredients that are fresh at that time of year and whatever is in the cupboard. It doesn't have a lot of fancy recipes that you struggle to find the ingredients for. I usually have what I need in the pantry. The recipes are easy, don't take long and taste scrumptious! I've yet to make one I didn't just love. And that goes for the children as well - not an easy audience.
This one last bastion of "nice thing" was destroyed this morning by my dog. Now you might think, "Don't get so upset, just go get yourself another book". But a cookbook that has lived with you collects that living. Like my grandmother, I make notes and notations about the recipes right on the pages: what worked, what didn't alterations to the measurements, who loved it, who came to dinner and ate it. It collects stains. There is one recipe for Pommes Dauphinoise (in another cookbook, thank God!) that has been made over and over and over and over. The page shows this: the plops of butter, the spills of cream, the stains of potatoes. The dog ate the book!
I remember visiting my sister and her family once. Her dogs destroyed one pair of my shoes and ate the top layer of my wedding cake. I had convinced myself that my dog wouldn't do this. Who was I kidding?