On my recent trip over the purple mountains majesty and amber waves of grain, I meant to draft discovery and read through the latest updates to the health care bill. I read Real Simple magazine instead, one of my favorite things to find in my Babb PO Box. During my flight, Real Simple informed me that champagne coupes, or saucers, are “back!” Which I suppose means they’re fashionable once more, as opposed to the ubiquitous flute, which is symbolic worldwide of celebration by champagne. Quasi-related note: there’s a book out right now called The Widow Clicquot, whose author I’ve forgotten, but it discusses the founding of Veuve Clicquot, quite a lovely champagne, and how it came to worldwide power, along with Tattinger, Dom, etc. Veuve is French for Widow, and Veuve Clicquot was brought to staggering success by the Widow Clicquot, against amazing odds. My friend Amy E recently lent it to me, and I recommend.
But I digress. I laughed at the Real Simple article letting me know that it is once again permissible to imbibe one’s favorite champagne from a saucer. They’ve certainly never been “out” of fashion to me –
Those are my unkempt fingernails holding a champagne saucer as Honeydew and I toasted each other at our wedding. And not just any ole champagne saucer – those gorgeous sterling and crystal champagne saucers were a gift to me upon my law school graduation from my grandma Ivey. This grandmother is my dad’s mom, and I am named for her – before I got mixed up with Honeydew, I filed my taxes as Ivey Courtney Stone, though I’ve always gone by Courtney. There was a little hitch in my breath when I applied with the Social Security Administration for a name change, dropping Ivey. I revere my grandmother.
My grandma Ivey is a grandmother, clearly, though I’m going to refer to her as Ivey in this post, because she is the most dignified woman in my acquaintance, and I am almost 30, and something about calling her grandma has never quite set right on my tongue. Ivey is a Presbyterian, a philanthropist, a champion of education. Ivey wears fabulous brooches. Ivey is a dedicated correspondent. Ivey is a graduate of Duke University, with degrees in English and Math. (Ok, so I got her name, but not her left-and-right-brains.) Ivey is a world traveler, and has seen continents all by herself.
In World War II, her entire family signed up to defend, right down to their dalmation. Ivey joined the Navy WAVEs (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), working in DC as a message translator. In DC, she frequently walked past a department store that displayed beautiful champagne saucers. She admired them greatly, and a friend got word to her brother Vince, serving in the Army Air Corps in Britain, that she fancied these saucers. Although it was wartime, Vince, adoring his sister, managed to send 12 of these champagne saucers to her as a wedding gift. Ivey married my grandfather on June 20. She found out on her honeymoon that Vince had died on June 6, at D-Day, in the battle for Normandy, France.
I would like to say that I can’t imagine her pain, but as readers of this blog know, I’ve lived it, too. I asked Ivey, the day after Howard died, what to do. And she told me that she did not know. That was my first clue as to just how hard grieving my brother would be, that my grandmother, a fearless and accomplished woman, would tell me some sixty years after her own brother’s death, that she had no game plan for me. As time went on, and my tears became less crippling, I realized that she was right, of course. There was nothing to be done except let grief have its way.
This is Ivey with her brother, Vince. Everyone says that I look just like my mama, and its true that we favor closely, and I am flattered by the comparison, but I think this picture shows you that I have my equally beautiful grandmother’s cheeks and nose. And feet, though I shouldn’t mention them!
This is Ivey with her father, on her wedding day. She married my grandfather in Charlotte, North Carolina, at 8pm, because they were both on passes from the Navy, and couldn’t be sure when their trains would arrive to Charlotte.
This is Ivey just a few months ago with my first-cousin/older-brother-type-Will’s youngest, Ivey. Aren’t they beautiful?
And this is my favorite picture of Ivey. All alone, as I have always known her (my grandfather died in 1973). Calm, exuding confidence. When I drink out of her champagne saucers, and she has advised me to use them frequently, not to wait for a “special occasion,” to recognize, like my mother does, that sometimes the first flake of snow, or the last thank you note written, is reason enough to pop a cork, I always toast to Ivey.
Photo credit to Tom Whisenand. 2010. Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.