Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mug Shots
I think I should make it a policy never to have more than twelve mugs at a time. When Bethany and I lived together, we collected them like Julie collects stray cats, or Cole collects Hawaii kitsch. Seriously, though, we had three shelves above the fridge in our cobalt-blue kitchen, and at least one and a half of them were neatly lined with mugs.

Now there are a round dozen sitting in my cabinet at the flat, and every one of them has a story. A dozen is perfect, I think. It fills up a whole shelf, is enough for a hot-chocolate party or an impromptu cup of tea several nights in a row, but doesn't start to take over your kitchen. Allow me to introduce you to the lineup, starting from the front row, far left:

I couldn't resist this pink-lined charmer with the little Easter bunnies from Whittard when Jeremiah and I went to Oxford this year. (Their teaware is delightful!) Oxford is more of a home now than a souvenir-buying place, but I had to have this treasure, and it makes me smile every time I look at it.

The sleek black mug, subtly sophisticated (like its giver) with black-on-black orchids, was given me by yet another Julie (this one surnamed Piwiec), for Christmas in 2005. This was the same Christmas that I gave her a mug painted with the letter "J" and a couple of funky luggage tags. Also a pen with a wonky magnet-sticky thing on the end, so that it would dangle floppily from the refrigerator. She and her roommates loved it. The mug she gave me contained packets of half a dozen flavors of gourmet hot chocolate - simple and scrumptious.

The round, sturdy cobalt blue mug comes from the Ground Floor, a cafe in Midland that was one of my first jobs and remains one of my homes. I gravitated toward blue mugs when making myself drinks on shift; I drank many hot chocolates, soy chai lattes, cups of hot herbal tea, and steamers of all varieties out of just such a mug. When the Ground Floor shut its doors in April 2005, Barb (the owner) let us all pick one mug to take home. In one way I'm sad that I have it, because it should be in the Ground Floor serving customers and getting run through the sanitizer in the kitchen. But since it has to be somewhere else, I'm glad it lives with me.

The mint-green mug came from The Spice of Life, a now-defunct branch of Jordan Taylor in downtown Abilene, when Bethany and I were shopping a sale one day. It's the same brand as my beloved Ground Floor coffeeware (Waechtersbach - don't ask me how to pronounce it), and I couldn't resist its tall, curvy shape and lovely color.

When you get your Honors associate degree at ACU (i.e., complete all your lower-level Honors work), you receive a squat round indigo mugs, emblazoned with the HP logo in white on the side and admirably roomy. It holds plenty of coffee, cereal or anything else needed to keep you awake while studying (or hanging out).

I don't know who Ben is, but he founded my favourite cookie stall in the world, located in Oxford's Covered Market, next to the High Street entrance. They sell huge, soft cookies by the kilo (with the biggest chocolate chunks I've ever seen, and real crushed peanuts in the peanut butter ones). The white inside is tea-stained now, but it always puts me in mind of warm cookies on chilly days in Oxford.

The back row is not in such plain view, but peeking out from behind the bunnies are the otters - New Orleans otters. Our spring band trip my senior year in high school was to New Orleans, a 17-hour drive followed by several days full of intense humidity, taffy that nearly pulled my retainer loose, jazz music under tents and a riverboat cruise where we danced the night away. It also included a trip to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, where the otters captured my heart, and I captured this mug.

The pink-flowered mug came from Austria, where Joy and I went on a four-day trip in April of our Oxford sojourn. We bought three - lavender for her and orange for Bethany, so that all the roommates would each have one. Mine, sadly, is the only one that survives.

Santa lives in my cabinet all year round, thanks to Charity, who gave him to me for Christmas this past year. The colorful balls on his hat form the mug's handle. Isn't he cute?

Barely showing from behind the mint green mug is a pottery mug I bought in Wales on my one day there. A quick train ride from Oxford led Jacque, Dr. Roper and me to castles, the ruins of Tintern Abbey, signs with too many consonants and at least one warm cup of tea.

The purple lettering on the white mug spells out "I Survived the ACU Centennial Celebration!" Michelle Morris's office gave these out at a dinner for the Marketing Services team, after we were sure the Centennial was over. My favorite souvenir from that time, though, is a hefty brown-covered coffee-table book, known as The Book in our office instead of by its real name, The ACU Century.

Finally, I do own a tankard - though I swear I've never taken a sip of ale out of it. (Yuck.) Graduating seniors receive these at the A Cappella end-of-the-year party each year; they're even engraved with our names. I will never hear "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" (or any number of other pieces!) again without thinking of that group.

So there's a tour of my mug cabinet - or, an exercise in finding stories in the ordinary. Hope you enjoyed it.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Julie S. said...

I love that all your mugs have stories behind them. I thought I only collected children's books, but I think you're right..homeless creatures certainly must be added to the list! :-) I'm looking forward to lunch next week!

3:18 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Love it, Katie

1:44 AM  
Blogger Bethany said...

I love this post! It made me simultaneously happy and sad--happy to have been a part of so many of those mug stories, but sad that those mugs no longer sit in my kitchen. While I wouldn't trade the growing we've done since then, it does makes me miss our little cobalt blue kitchen with the turquoise tile backsplash.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Beverly said...

inanimate objects just may not be so inanimate after all...

12:09 PM  
Blogger Jacque said...

Katie...you brought back a huge memory for me. I still have a pair of pottery mugs from that trip to Wales! I think I intended to give one to my sister, but obviously, it never made it out of my shelf.

I'm same as you though - mugs and china all tell a story to me. And I assosciate tea time with good time so they're almost always happy memories. Or at least funny ones.

love you

11:07 PM  
Blogger Brambleberry said...

How wonderful to have a shelf full of stories.

("WHAACKters-bach"--ending in that throat clearing deutsch sound...and if you really want to sound authentic; "VAACKters-bach") :)

8:03 AM  

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