February 02, 2010


A great day for waiting by the door. Two deliveries, each long anticipated. Surprising me pleasantly was the delivery of a new travel coffee-maker, followed by the delivery of a quilt my cousin made for me.

The coffee maker will save me from bad coffee on the road, and the worst of the bad (my opinion only – please don’t sue me): Tim Horton’s. My mother, when asked for her take on Tim’s coffee, replied “That coffee is just not my cup of tea”. Mum has a way with words. Hey, here’s a question: why is the Tim’s double-double so popular? Answer: because double cream and double sugar mask the taste of art gum erasers. Don’t ask me how I know.

So I have this little electric espresso maker now, and I will take it on the road with me next week. Last time I travelled, I was lodged in a “all suite” hotel, so I took my little stove-top Bialetti. Took a bag of ground coffee with me, settled into the hotel, had a good nights sleep. Woke the next morning, filled the Bialetti with cold water, put ground coffee in the little receptacle that fits in it, put on the top . Moved toward the stove to turn on the burner. Realized that there was no burner. No stove, in fact. A small microwave was tucked in a corner and I stared at it for what seemed a long time. I don’t know long I stood there – coffee maker in hand, stunned and confused. I know it was long enough to work it through in my mind carefully and come to the decision not to put the shiny bialetti in the microwave. I’m slow at 6:30 in the morning, and on that morning there was some desperation in play.

Word to the wise: not all “all suite” hotels are all suites. They’re “partial suite” hotels. They’re “microwave and beer fridge suite” hotels. They’re “we’ll give you cutlery, wine glasses, plates, bowls, pots and pans but no stove” hotels. They’re “we’ll charge you seven dollars for a bad cup of coffee” hotels. Word to the wise. And wise I’ll be with my new little coffee maker. Slightly smug, too, it’s turning out. I look forward to it all.

As said, second to arrive was the quilt. If I have the family tree standing right, the quilt top was made by my grandfather’s cousin’s wife, deceased a few years back. The quilting was done by her daughter, who, since her mother’s death, has taken on the project of quilting all the tops that her mother was unable to quilt. This one, the one I received today, is the second to last (and as we know from a few blogs back, it’s the penultimate). And it is a beauty. Double wedding ring pattern – lovely in itself – but the quilting is remarkable in that it’s stitched with tiny hearts that one can only see with close examination. Old colourful fabrics and a scalloped edging to give it a finish. These bits of material came from the clothes of relatives, and long ago friends of my mother, I’m guessing. She grew up in the village where the top was stitched and the quilting completed. In fact, now that I think on it, it was sewn in the very house where my mother was born.

This is the picture I see, this is the story I imagine:

A daughter comes home to care for her mother. When her mother dies, she leaves behind 24 quilt tops. The daughter takes them up and quilts every one (well, still one to go…). It takes six years. She again lives in the house where she grew up, the house in which my mother was born, the house in which I watched buttermilk being squeezed from butter and where I counted the dozens of salt and pepper shakers that had been long collected. A house that looks out on a blue like no other, a small harbour that receives the iron-riddled river – the brook, as it was called and what we call it still. A house where my uncle Zen sat outside in the sun – wordless and watchful. I can see it all.

Two great deliveries today. One to look forward. One to look back. I can see it all.


One Response to “Deliveries”
  1. suzo

    Oh, I am so interested in where you got your ELECTRIC travel coffee maker. I always travel with my little stove top coffee pot (except when I am staying with you) and if there is no stove, well, there is no coffee.