Tales of a wandering lesbian

A mug of her own

Sandra has a problem with mugs. My first night here I noticed this. It’s not like she hides it. When I helped wash dishes my first night here, I spent a good 5 minutes trying to fit all of the mugs onto the little shelf in the kitchen. That was before I noticed the mugs sprinkled across the shelves in the cupboards, displayed decoratively on the bookshelves in the living room, and filling overflowing bags at the studio.

Mug shelf

“I like mugs!” she says with a wiley smile.

Tea time was interesting for the first couple of days. “NO, not that mug.” I had assumed that all mugs were equal while preparing our afternoon tea. “That’s Tommy’s, can’t you tell?” “And that one is Snoopy. Don’t touch it. No, it’s very old, don’t even touch it.” “What about this one, Sandra?” She just smiled, and reached into the sink to rinse one that we had used that morning.

I’m getting better. I’ve had some time to watch which mugs she uses in the morning for cappuccino (and which ones Deb uses), and which ones she uses for afternoon tea, versus evening tea. I can anticipate which ones I can use, and which should be left alone. I haven’t had my choice corrected in maybe a week now. Wait. I just realized that might be because the ladies were on a cruise for the last week. Damn.

While they were away, I spent some time with friends in Lucca. We had a couple of day trips to Florence and Viareggio, and several days in the beautiful city of Lucca. Along the way I’d been looking for gifts for Sandra and Deb. It turns out it’s a little difficult to buy gifts for artists I barely know. Their home is filled with many beautiful things – and mugs. I kept finding lovely mugs, but rejected them all out of principle. There are plenty of mugs in the house and I was sure to find something better.

On my last evening, as we made our way to the train station, Giovanna took me to a slightly unexpected place – a Scottish tea house. Nestled in one of the winding backstreets of Lucca was a white-walled shop, lined floor to ceiling with white tins of tea. Gio and I chose a seat in the back of the shop where a great Japanese-style tea house stood. (I have no idea how they got this thing in through the little tunnel connecting the front and back of the shop. Probably piece by piece.)

Tea house

We spent some time pouring over the tea menu. The shop-owner spent some time talking with us about the differences between Bancha and Sencha, Japanese Sencha and Chinese Sencha, and all manner of tea.


By the time we had finished, there were tea tins littering the little table where we sat, the owner having brought them to us, gently scooping leaves for us to smell. When the tea arrived, it was in lovely little pots with stainless steel covers that sat over the body of the pot. Gio and I wasted no time disassembling the interesting pots. The steel, it turns out, was lined with felt. Sliding smoothly over the white ceramic pots, the liners functioned as built-in tea cozies. Fantastic! I was put in mind of the mismatched teapot that Sandra and Deb use, and how quickly the tea goes cold.

I boarded the train to Fornaci an hour later with my gigantic backpack full of new coats and boots, and a teapot under my arm.

The day Deb and Sandra returned, I tried to make the house nice. I swept, went to the market for bread and flowers, and I actually managed to put all the mugs on the little shelf. It was a triumphant morning. The van arrived and we unloaded the extra bag they’d bought to carry all of their treasures. The dogs were ecstatic to have their moms back. I was happy to have my friends home.

After settling in a little they noticed the box on the table and opened their new teapot. “Bello, bello.”

“We have something for you, too.” They were both grinning. After some serious excavation, a package appeared and was thrust into my hands. How fabulous! A present. Who doesn’t love presents? I pulled apart the wrapping and laughed. A mug.

My very own mug!

“Bellissimo!” We all had a good laugh and the mug, along with the teapot, was sent to the kitchen to be washed and put into service. I’ve used my mug about a thousand times in the two days since it appeared. There’s something wonderfully comforting in having it in the kitchen. I know that now I’ll get at least one mug right when making afternoon tea.

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November 16, 2009   1 Comment