I have huge, earth-shattering, news for all you blog readers out there. I know you’re all perched on the edges of your seats in anticipation… I bought a dinnerware set this afternoon! Mind you, we’re not talking Denby here, but all the pieces do match (it’s a rustic blue earthenware style). This all got started when I opened an anniversary card from my mother in law this morning and found a rather stern letter accompanying the check. Not to be bullied, I put it aside and thought long and hard about how to pass off a restaurant and mini-put bill as a lasting domestic investment (where the letter insisted the money should go, and who am I to argue with free money). The receipt could, potentially, still be around next year around this time (knowing my sometimes less than stellar tidying tactics). And plus, wouldn’t the memories last a lifetime?
I dropped by the bank on my way to work and had to battle with my finger at the ATM to stop from putting the full amount towards the bottomless void of our credit card (don’t worry, we writers are notorious for hyperbole). “No, no, something tangible,” I scolded myself and yanked my finger away.
Halfway between the bank and my good ol’ retail workplace, something red and velvety caught my eye. Two antique chairs were sitting out in front of a little shop I’d never noticed before. They lured me in. I’m a sucker for anything that red and oooo that velvety. The tiny store was filled to the brim with just about everything a person could never want, old videos, eighties fashions, used exercise equipment (gross). But way in a corner, half buried under bricka-brack, was something that was waiting (for who knows how long) just for me.
I’d better give a little back story on this…
My mother has a rather dangerous china/dinnerware obsession – she even worked a year at Mackintosh & Watts to feed her addiction! She loves the forms, patterns, and histories in each piece, and would come home with random teacups when we were least expecting it. To break a piece of china brought near the same heartbreak as the time I accidentally squirted ketchup all over one of my fathers paintings (don’t ask). Perhaps as a form of rebellion, I developed an “unbreakable” indifference to whatever was underneath my food. If it did the job, well, what more could a person ask for.
I didn’t realize how deep my own “anti-obsession” had become until one fateful family supper gathering in Rideau Ferry. “Forty-six dollars for a dinner plate!!!” I exclaimed, eyes wide, jaw nearly on the floor. Maybe I got a tad carried away, but anyways, the point was made. Poor tragic Cymbria; what kind of a wife balks at reasonably priced Denby? What if she has company over? Paper plates? (less dishes to do in any case). Well, in case you (and everyone else) haven’t noticed by now, I am not exactly a textbook wife (though I do sew a mean overcast stitch and I challenge anyone to beat my mushroom/beef casserole). I am wild woman grown in the deep woods of Quebec, a risk taker (I married my George didn’t I), and just as stubborn as that feisty Rideau Ferry boy. But all that said, isn’t it the biggest risk to leave one’s habits and prejudices, and give oneself over to a brand new outlook? That’s how we get saved. So why not take the same approach with something a little less magnificent and life changing. Perhaps, say, dinnerware?
One day, when I was very small, my mother brought home a neatly wrapped package and set it on the dinning room table. “Let me show you something,” she said. I watched as she pulled back the tissue paper and took out a beautiful shiny blue milk pitcher. It wasn’t like her usual delicate finds. The pottery was thick earthenware and the joints of the handle were strong. This wasn’t something I had to be afraid of. I could hold it and know that it wasn’t going to break in my hands. I loved that pitcher and its speckled blue glaze. I don’t know what happened to it. It’s probably buried somewhere deep in my mother’s collection, but that same sky colour has always caught my eye.
In the corner of the dark little shop this afternoon, that same colour stopped me in my tracks. Maybe it wasn’t quite as bright a blue as I remembered, or quite so shiny, but my hands recognized the strength and weight of the pottery instantly. I bought the set on the spot; bowls, salad plates, dinner plates, and 6 matching mugs. It isn’t Denby, and I sure didn’t pay $46 for a plate (not even for the whole set!), but I’m going to love it all the same, probably even more.