09 May, 2009

"My Mother's Red Sofa . . . "

Greetings and Salutations.

My upbringing was kinda strange, to say the very least.  My father was in the military and I spent the first 11 years of my life traveling around the world.  Being the son of a Southern born, military father had its challenges, but I have a huge respect for my Dad - and for the manners we were expected to display at all times.  I still remember, at a very young age, the first time I answered the phone saying, "Good morning.  Wood residence, Scot speaking," and seeing my Father smile with pride.  

But, this post is about my Mom.  A Southerner as well, she is a gracious, fierce woman.  If my memories of my Dad are about discipline and manners, I remember my Mother for teaching me how to entertain.

My early life, either over-seas or here in the states, involved more cocktail and dinner parties than you can imagine.  I can remember my Mother carefully planning each menu - and almost every Saturday dinner party would involve a Thursday night 'dry-run' when she'd test any new, challenging recipes so that the 'real' party could run smoothly (I still do this . . . lol).  Even from a young age, we were expected to sit down to dinner with the adults and hold our own in the conversation.   Candlelight, sterling silver, delicious meal, three couples - and two children - discussing politics and current events.  It was magical.

But there was more than just hostessing skills in my Mom's bag of tricks.  I firmly believe that there are several genetic qualities I possess from my mother's side of the family.  We all have tiny wrists.  We all have strong muscular jaw lines.  And good lord, we ALL love to shop.  Mother and I still can go on a 3-day antiquing tour through southern Mississippi and Alabama and never show a moment of exhaustion. 

A few years ago, I was having lunch with Mom and my first cousin Ruth.  Ruth was the oldest of my first cousins, and being six years older than me, she always seemed to be fantastically glamorous.  She is, in fact, an amazing woman as well - I think the 'gracious, fierce' thing may be genetic too.  We were talking about the summer that Ruth spent living with us in Los Angeles in the early 70's.  Ruth whispered to me, "And your Mother had that red sofa!  I never knew anyone with a red sofa back at home.  I thought it was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen!"

I clearly remember that red sofa.  But, it was part of my 'normal' childhood home, so I never thought it was anything interesting or unusual.  Apparently - my Mother was a gracious, fierce designer as well.  Too often, these qualities are only seen in retrospect.  I see now that she showed me that there was no need to follow any trend.  No need to be true to some 'expected norm.'  Truly, I think she taught me to embrace being an individual.  And to test run any new dishes before serving them to guests.

Happy Mother's Day.


Susan Lang @ Designing Your Dream Home said...

What a wonderful tribute to your mother! Being from the South, Mississippi like you, I smiled as I read your post. The photo of a red sofa was perfect.

Robin said...

OOOHHHH...I LOVE that, you southern boy!!!! :o) Yes, you and your mom burn roads in MS and AL getting to all of those shops! Love the blog; AND the red sofa!!! Robin

Klassisk Bohem said...

Dear Tartan Scot,

What a lovely post! I can really relate to your story, as I grew up all over the world as well, because of my fathers job. We entertained ambassadors and what not in our home, and I was also expected to converse the "dignitaries." Apparently, as a child I was so fond of damask napkins that I would steal them, to my mothers great chagrin, when dining at fine restaurants and hotels. I should add, however, that my manners were otherwise immaculate. Although it´s now safe to invite me over (I won´t steal your china, I promise,) anything damask still makes me giddy.

My Mother was, and still is Commander in Chief of Domestic Affairs. She is the most wonderful cook and hostess, and she has always been interested in decorating, antiques, and culture. Together, we´ve been on countless antiquing expeditions and home improvement missions.

Let me share one of her best tricks: I´d come home from school--my father would be traveling in some distant land--and she had rearranged the entire living room by herself. Heavy stuff. How did she do it? With a magic carpet. Put an expendable old rug (or something of that sort) on the floor, then ease the furniture onto it, by moving the rug and not the furniture. Then pull rug and furniture to its new destination. Easy and ingenious.

Thank you again for your lovely words in honor of your mother. It´s not Mother´s Day in Norway, but you reminded me that I should call my mother and give her my thanks. For everything.

Meade Design Group said...

Thanks for sharing part of your life with your readers. Now, I start understanding why you are such a talented designer.

Great tribute to your mom.



red ticking said...

such a sweet story... loved it. have a great weekend...

ALL THE BEST said...

What a truly beautiful post! I can relate to your upbringing. I am hellbent and determined to raise our son the same way. So many people think it is old fashion, but he is a sweet child and more respectful then some I encounter (knock on wood).

I do the 'dry-run' too! Love that!

tartanscot said...

Hey everyone!

thanks for the great responses . . . my Mother is an amazing woman.

I hope you all have a great Mother's Day tomorrow.

mary said...

Loved your memories - you had a magical childhood and were wise enough to embrace it. Thank you for the wishes.

Renee Finberg said...

isn't it amazing to remember all the tiny design 'seeds' that your mom planted ? !

i have the same type of experiences, regarding growing up with a 'designer type' mom.

it was a really great that our moms were able to share that with us,

as you know...'surroundings', can effect us greatly.
and our surrounds did.
both of us !

GrannySmithGreen said...

What a fun, kind, sweet and heartfelt post. I loved it.

Fabulous Finds and Co. said...

Your post is lovely. Your mother sounds amazingly fierce and elegant in all ways. What a blessing. The red sofa is drop dead gorgeous!

maison21 said...

what a lovely and well written post. thank you for sharing it with us.

Preppy 101 said...

Of all the Mother's Day posts, this is surely one of my favorites!!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

I need to meet your mother so I can kneel in homage before her.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Utterly charming remembrance of your Mother!

And, I do the dry run, too!!

Laura Casey Interiors said...

Catching up on blog reading... love this tribute to your mom.

Linda/"Mom" said...

* Such an UBER DELIGHTFUL recognition of a wonderful, supportive & gracious Mom!!! What a JOY to read!!!

I was (well, I still AM!) the wife to a recently retired Army Officer & I KNOW what you are talking about(27-28 moves in 38 years of military life w/DH).

I "ALREADY KNOW" (!) what her dinner parties were like~~~ FABULOUS!!!~~~ How WONDERFUL that she took the time to teach you to be comfy socially, & that some of the "very special things" in life CAN be enjoyable, even when a young boy/man has to don a suit for the event!!!

I'm so enjoying coming here & reading your blog!!! Thank you!

Warmly *
Linda in AZ *

Paul Pincus said...

what a gorgeous homage to your mother! fantastic and inspired post, s!

Callie Grayson said...

fabulous post!!! What a lovely women your mother is.

Linda/"Mom" said...

* I find myself coming back daily now (& that first pic is D*I*V*I*N*E, BTW!!!)~~~

"We've GOT to stop MEETING like this!!!"~~

Linda in AZ *

Nightingale said...

Nice blog, you can find some more Modern Sofa here.

Millie said...

Fabulous tribute to your 'Commander-in-Chief'! She sounds like a very singular woman with a great love of life & colour.
Millie ^_^

Buzz Kaplan said...




The Antiques Diva™ said...

What a nice post and a glimpse into you and your mom! Didn't your mom do you a wonderful favor teaching you to eat with grown ups? I so often think the "kid food McDonaldisation of America" is degrading growns up ability to have a decent party! Why Grown Ups? Because if kids aren't taught to dine with style, how can they be expected to do so in adulthood?

Anonymous said...

Cheers to your mother and her beautiful sense of style. I almost purchased a red fainting couch several months ago and stopped myself because it might be too over the top. Well tell your mother thank you, I am buying that couch. And yes, I am Southern and proud of it. Your work is also stunning. Blessings to you as you continue to be at the top of your field.

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