Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Along with t-shirts, I have about two dozen coffee mugs collected from various stops along the Open Road.  The mugs I use randomly as a vessel for my morning cup of Joe.  Mostly.

A long time ago, when I was prinicipaling at an elementary school in the southern cascades, I came across a mug that reminded me of my earlier career as a local truck driver.  Snagging the thing from the collectables shop where it demanded fifty cents, I decided that I would only use it on Sundays.   

My thought being this: No matter how hard I worked leading teachers and solving kids problems at the school, I would likely never be as physically drained as those days when I drove truck and delivered freight.  (Turned out I was wrong about that.)  I’d use this mug strictly on Sunday to remind me how good it actually was to be working with folks rather than hustling stuff.

Time and the dishwasher ultimately faded the cup’s logo for a now defunct outfit.  When the company went bust, I decided to retire the cup to my memory cabinet.

Finding a replacement was no chore.  In and amongst those two-dozen mugs was one that came my way as a surprise.  A colleague (I’ll call him Tom) and I had similar physical features, so much so that kids often mistook one of us for the other.  In front of the students, we began to joke about our shared “mom.”  On the last day of school one year, I showed up to work with a new Grumman canoe atop my Toyota.  Tom said, “Hey!  We’ve got one just like that back at the cabin in Minnesota.  I’m heading out to pick up Mom in Iowa and head up there next week!”

I didn’t know that “we” already had a Grumman canoe (let alone a cabin in the north woods) or I wouldn’t have purchased one.  Stealthily, I procured “mom’s” address and wrote her a letter of complaint, mailing it so that it would arrive before Tom did.  Mom had no idea of her son’s gag with his boss and peppered Tom with many questions upon his arrival in Davenport.

A few days later, via parcel post, I received - from "mom" - the mug that would become my Sunday cup for the next twenty years.

Once again, however, time and the dishwasher scrubbed away at the cup’s art.  Before it disappeared completely, I decided to retire the Iowa cup next to the trucker’s mug.

Months passed.  Then, Christmas 2014.  In a box wrapped in tissue in a bag with a ribbon, a gift came my way.  Something – unlike some Christmas gifts – something I actually needed.  A new Sunday mug!   

Designed and decorated by my ten-year-old granddaughter!  This would be a keeper!  I couldn’t wait until Sunday arrived, but I did.

That morning I chronicled things.  The first grind:

The first pour:

The first steeping aroma:

The first sip:

Even the first relaxing Sunday puzzle:

Out of reverence for the memories that came before and the memories that are yet to be formed, I pulled the trucker’s mug and the Iowa cup out for a rare group photo.

And this I promise: the Granddaughter Mug shall always be washed by hand.

© 2015
Church of the Open Road Press