Saturday, December 30, 2006


When my husband asked for an espresso maker for Christmas, I had some misgivings. Moderation is not exactly his middle name.

Whenever we visited the Indigo bookstore in Kingston, he would go directly to the coffee outlet and order two double espressos to start with, then keep ordering one after another. By the time I finished shopping, there would be a litter of little cups on the table, and the waitress would be looking as if she wished he would go home.

I'm forced to admit that the caffeine never did keep him awake, nor did the acid bother his stomach, but I stubbornly maintain that it had to be bad for him in some way. There's no way that all that pleasure comes for free, mister. (I myself can't sleep a wink if I consume caffeine after twelve noon. Life is so not fair.)

He says he only ordered so many at once because he didn't have access to any at home. He promised to keep it to one or two a day if we got the machine.

So we've got one, and he is as good as his word.

The one who is flirting with addiction is me. Holy Cow. I love this stuff. I love the espresso, and I love the little ritual of making it. I love the cappuccino even more. The froth is made from skim milk, so I don't even have to feel guilty.

Well, yes, well, there's the question of sugar. I've always taken my coffee black, even espresso, which is probably why I was able to take it or leave it until now. Having recently read, in one of Frances Mayes' books, that espresso is really meant to be sweetened, I decided to try just use a tiny spoonful or two of sugar. The rest, as they say, is history.

We're finally using the demi-tasse spoons we got with our flatware set when we got married. That's a good thing, right? And the little cups? Aren't they adorable? We got them really cheap because there were only five in the box instead of six.

The key, I think, is to handle these drinks like very rich chocolates. You can eat one or two chocolates a day, but more than that and you'll be in trouble.

My New Year's Resolution will be Moderation in All Things Caffeinated.

Oh, yes, and I'll be getting up earlier from now on. Gotta make sure to get my two drinks in well before noon.

Happy New Year to all.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


It was a green Christmas here, and I'm not kidding. I harvested fresh thyme, rosemary, and sage from my garden for cooking. Some friends dug up carrots. This is unheard of in this climate even in snowless years.

Then, this morning we woke to a perfect holiday card scene.

Some might be annoyed at this timing, but I'm reminded of Boxing Days when I was young. Children would inquire anxiously, "It's still Christmas, isn't it?" And the elders would reply, "Yes, it's Christmas for twelve days. It's only just begun."

We knew there would be no more gifts, except for the odd stray that hadn't been delivered in time for the 25th. But the beautiful tree would remain, the candy dishes would be refilled as they emptied, and we would be allowed to sit in the front room which was not used at any other time of the year. We had our new toys to amuse us, and we would exchange visits with friends and relatives we hadn't seen for a while.

The fever of anticipation had peaked and started to drop, but there were still things to look forward to, so the descent was gentle and gradual.

By the twelfth day, known to us as "Old Christmas Day", we would be back in school. The bone-dry tree would be broken up and the branches laid on the flower beds to protect them from the January frost. The boxes of chocolates were gone, the bucket of hard candy was empty. By that time we had sucked all the juice out of Christmas and were ready to turn our attention elsewhere. Even so, there was a tiny crumb of cheer on that day, knowing it was still officially Christmas for 24 hours.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


For almost as long as I can remember, I've wanted a miniature village at Christmas. The idea must have been planted by some long-forgotten children's book. In recent years the wish is being gradually realized with these little houses and figures purchased a few at a time from the dollar store.

Lined up on the kitchen windowsill, they are cheap and crude, yet they satisfy my old longing to a remarkable degree.

It occurs to me that the child I used to be knew nothing of scale and workmanship, and only wanted enough to set the imagination working. These pieces are perfectly able to do that. If they were more expensive, I might not have bought them, or might feel a twinge of guilt whenever I look at them.

As it is, whenever I behold them I feel a thrill of pure joy. Who would have thought that the elusive Christmas Spirit would inhabit these tiny dwellings?

It's not likely that anyone is reading this post, as I've been a terrible slacker with this blog, but in the new year I hope to get it going again, so if anyone does happen by, I wish you a very merry and joyful season for whichever festival you might celebrate at this time of year, and please do visit again.