Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mug Shots

I pour myself a cup of morning joe, my usual wake-up ritual, and stand staring at my mug collection. Each mug tells a story of different places in my life, I realize, as I stand silently in the early light of day.  I have many more mugs, but these are the ones I'm looking at.

That Cafe du Monde mug (top left) took me back to a humanities meeting in New Orleans and my days with the DC humanities council.  I walked around New Orleans with colleaques, enjoyed the street scenes and jazz, savored beignets and chickory coffee at Cafe Du Monde in the French Market.

The angel mug was a Christmas present from the kids, reminding me of my brother Loren. The one next to it was a gift from friend Barbie Britsch after a trip to Portugal. Barbie loved theater, literature and drama, and it's in the mug.  We bought mugs for souvenirs at Stratford's Summer Shakespeare Festivals, too; I have a beauty somewhere bearing the striking image from a Mikado poster.  Mugs as souvenirs and gifts: a constant in our lives!

John & Mabel Ringling's
 grand mansion, Sarasota, FL.
The middle group of four also goes way back. The first mug tells of wonderful visits to the Ringling Bros.Circus Museum and Ca' d'Zan, the elaborate mansion of John and Mabel Ringling, in lovely Sarasota, Florida. It was the winter home of the Circus. A gorgeous spot. Florida's natural and built environments were full of surprises for this Yankee transplant, and this was one of them.  I must admit that mug also held unpleasant memories of mean-spirited people. Florida Noir. That's not just Florida, my sister reminds me, ever loyal to her state; that's life, the good, the bad and the ugly. True, and what lessons it teaches. The mug brought up a range of emotions.

The Nantucket mug next to it, with sea and sails, brought only smiles and happy reveries. My kids remember the sights, sounds and scents of that little island 30-miles off the Massachusetts coast where they spent so many summers as kids. Carefree and comfortable.  I picked a bunch of white hosta flowers from Elissa's apartment garden the other day, and she said, "Wow, Mom, they smell like the honeysuckle along the lane to the beach in Nantucket!" Yes, they did!

The stoneware mug at the end of that row, sand colored and sturdy, also came from the island, part of a dinnerware set created by a Nantucket ceramic artist. One of the things I loved about Nantucket was the art and creativity it embodied and evoked, like the beauty of the sea grasses, wild flowers, and bayberry on the moors. We stood on the deck of the ferry as it approached Nantucket harbor with such anticipation and joy, the horn sounding, the church steeples glistening on the horizon.
Me and Andy in San Miguel. With Elissa and with Josh, below. 

The bottom group begins and ends with my beloved Mexico.  The cup and creamer were part of a whole dinner set made in Dolores Hildago near San Miguel de Allende, brithplace of Mexican independence and one of my favorite places on earth to soak in culture. I loved sharing San Miguel with my grandkids Julia, Tony and Josh, with my daughter Elissa, and with my sister Andy. Only a few pieces of that Talavera pottery set remain, but the memories are as bright as a Mexican sunset over the Parroquia. I look foward to more visits with family members.
At the Grand Canyon
The Talavera bookend Southwest USA memories, with lots of similarities to the colors and culture of Mexico. That middle mug I think is from Arizona. Or it could be from New Mexico, Utah, Colorado.  Yes, this one little mug holds more than coffee; it symbolizes my love of the American Southwest, and America's state and national parks. California experiences pop up too!

So my mug shots morph into memories, which happens a lot as your life moves on at the speed of light and the decades mount.  Am I living too much in the past? Maybe.  But the thought pushes me in the direction of making NEW memories--new family, travel, and life experience memories.  A trip to Amsterdam and Sicily with Andy is around the corner in late October.  And more birthdays and holidays, more volunteer activities and community events. I'll have to get some new mugs, too, reminders that life is a never-ending adventure.      
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