Ali Matteini

a life creative

Sharp and Dry, High and Flat

I’ve just returned from England for the second time this month, this time for a funeral, that of my grandmother Irene, the very last of the almighty grannies to go.

Three days after my parents returned home to Australia and I came home to Italy she was found unconscious in her flat after having suffered a stroke. She woke up but wasn’t ‘there’ and was paralysed on one side. Ten days later, on 24 July, she passed away.

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That’s her, hoofing into her Eton Mess.

I was lucky enough to have caught Irene at the beginning of the month for the last time, aged 90-and-a-bit and in pretty good health. In actual fact I was fortunate enough to get three ‘last times’ with her – in 2007 she said that would probably be our last meeting, but I wasn’t buying it. Then in September 2013 I headed over and caught up with her, my father and my grandfather George, and again in June last year, just after my grandfather had passed. Then, as aforementioned, at the beginning of July. When we said goodbye this time round, though she was almost fighting fit, I knew to my marrow it would be for the last time.
Here’s a little bit about her.
She’d lied about her age when she she was 15 and joined the women’s army services, serving during World War II.
She sported a swallow tattoo on her forearm, affixed during that time. By the end of her life it was a dark olive smudge. She used to do lapidary and I have all her polished Australian stones now because nobody wanted them (I got stopped at the airport for them, all lined up like beetles, or tablets).
Until I last saw her, she ate like weight lifter in training, expected everyone else to, audibly wincing at my piddly appetite. Eton mess was her thang. So was tomato juice.
Her wit rang (and sometimes stung) sharp and dry. She lived a full life for a long time.

It’s been an intense summer all round, what with our wedding on the heels of my month in Firenze, family staying, friends staying, work away and at home and two trips in a month to Inghilterra. High highs and back to earth with a crash.  These last few weeks have been a sad, flat, heavy old time. On my return from a handful of weird days with frankly weird relatives who undoubtedly think likewise of me, I spent three days in bed, released but just physically ‘done’, though in that downtime I devoured two really good novels (this one and this one), filled my art book with refined jewellery designs and I had plenty of time to sift through the brain scatter of inner dialogue and write daily. I feel myself re-blooming.

On creative fronts, I’ve been in the studio, reworking old pieces and making earrings. No photos yet, I’m afraid, I still have to polish and make pretty – the studio has been smouldering away in a daytime range of 30 – 36C during this remarkable (read: EFFING hot) Italian heatwave and I have a cool window of opportunity for an hour or two in the morning.

I did knock up this copper convex ring for Luciano, one of the boys from the respite centre who Marco drives for. That ring is the largest I have ever made – last on the sizing rung! A big hit, apparently.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 7.52

l’Anello di Luciano

I’m giving up the ESL teaching, it’s been fun and rewarding but not as fun and rewarding as jewellery-making. Jewellery-making pays, translation of documents and website pays; teaching English privately in a tiny Tuscan town hasn’t been pulling its weight.

Lastly, I think I’ve finally convinced Marco that, beyond the chef,  I’m decidedly no casalinga and we need a cleaner once a fortnight. I can rescue and release the hatchling scorpions that the cat pawps and then I’ll go right on and gag at my own hair retrieved from the shower drain. And the time in which I spend taking a stab at the endless Tuscan dust. Well. It’s all miss-spent writing and jewellery-making time.



6 comments on “Sharp and Dry, High and Flat

  1. Angela Highstead
    August 8, 2015

    Granny sounded great. Eton Mess, how British. Only foodies know of it over here. Lovely to hear a little more of your adventures even though now, they have become part of everyday life. Stay well….

  2. Liz
    August 8, 2015

    Throw yourself into creativity Ali it is the greatest healing and sustaining adventure ever. Thinking of you xx

    • Kittykatmandoo
      August 10, 2015

      Thanks Liz. The studio has cooled today, so back to work I go xxx

  3. Gaylene Parker
    August 11, 2015

    What a wonderful legacy your Granny has left……. a lifetime of wonderful memories of a life lived to the full !!! love the jewellery!!! any thoughts of including your Granny’s Aussie stones in your jewellery? xx

    • Kittykatmandoo
      August 11, 2015

      Hi Gaylene, thank you! Yes, there are a zillion stones, worth a post all of their own (sometime this week…). They’re all Aussie stones, too, polished almost 40 years ago. xx

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