I like the sound a cork makes when you pull it out of a bottle of Welsh whiskey at the end of a day after I've cranked out 1,100 words of pretty good writing.
If I'm being honest, it's about 900 words of pretty good writing. I can fix the rest.
I added a dollop of the whiskey to the stainless-steel cup off a thermos jug full of Peruvian coffee. The cup is small, but nicely worn and dented from a decade or so of bouncing around in my life.
The wind is whipping the plastic covering the stained-glass window, which is there because I didn't have time to build a storm window last fall. I see a couple small tears in the plastic, but I'm sincerely hoping this is the last snowstorm of the winter and it'll soon turn warm enough that I won't need the extra insulation.
Of course, I've had that same wish during the last three storms, but sooner or later, wishes need to come true.
I'm in my stocking feet because when I recline, my toes are only about a foot from the wood stove. I can still see the steam curling out the top of my coffee cup, but my toes are nicely warmed.
I like the thermos. It's small and elegant. It was given to me by some Norwegian journalists, and it looks Norwegian – tidy and practical. The International Federation of Agricultural Journalists has their convention in a different country each year. When we can swing it, both in terms of time and money, we try to attend. On that trip, in addition to the thermos, I received a backpack from a Norwegian bull semen company, with their logo prominently displayed. It’s a nice backpack that I still use, and up to now, I don’t think anyone in any airport or hotel knows what the logo means. A Ford dealer in Argentina gave me a nifty knife, I suppose in hopes I'd write something flattering. I didn't, but they didn't ask for the knife back and I use it to open my mail. We have a couple hockey jerseys from Canada and a few other odds and ends from other countries.
A hobby I don't really understand is collecting. People who buy expensive stuff and then put it in safety deposit boxes or storage facilities baffle me. If I keep something around, it’s because I like to use it.
Using something in the present always sparks memories of using it in the past. The wood stove warming my toes used to be in our dining room and I can't see it without also seeing my wife sitting cross-legged in front of it, playing her guitar and singing to our very small children. As I write, I listen to old rock and roll on a portable radio my father had in his shop where he made the wooden desks that ended up in a school high in the mountains in Haiti. The recliner was given to me by people who've been our friends for at least four decades. The marble that tops my desk came out of storage from my brother-in-law's basement, and the cast iron Viking ship was made at our county fair when a group of artists came and melted down old radiators to make cast iron art.
It’s a tiny room, about 12 x 12, and everything in it means something to me, including the granite cornerstone from the barn my great-grandfather built.
I limited myself to one dollop of whiskey, because although I'm done writing for the day, I still have to go out and put another coat of varnish on a desk I made for my daughter. It’s not fancy – I don’t do fancy very well - but it’s a useful desk and looking at it makes me feel good.
Life is good every day, but particularly so on a day when a hard wind out of the northeast rattles the windows, I've managed 900 words or so of pretty good writing, I’ve a useful task nearly done, and the loudest sound was of the cork coming out of a bottle of Welsh whiskey.
Copyright 2023 Brent Olson
I hope your snowstorms are over for you by now. I have read about them on the laptop, but spring has finally sprung here in Southern Illinois, and I'm glad. I enjoyed reading about your useful objects and their memories. I can relate- while many of my friends have redecorated, refurnished their houses several times in the last forty years, I still have mostly the same furniture and decor that we started with when we first built our log home on our farm. Anytime I feel like I want to make some expensive improvement, I ask myself " how happy would that make me?' Not so much ! Have a good spring, soon.
Ah, the continued joys of a writing shack. Hopefully just what you envisioned. Skol!
Somehow, I find it difficult to “Marie Kondo” those things that conjure memories. Having had the fortune to live a few years, that means the list has a bit of heft, and curating it has shifted from “is it used?” to “can I part with it?,” the latter generally relating to a now-grown child who wore bunny ears while sitting on it in an Easter basket, or a now-deceased parent or relative using it. The funniest things: a small bowl my mother used for banana pudding, a green bowl in which my presented Waldorf salad (neither of which appeals, except for the memories); books - BOOKS! and so on on. Your legacy will be passed forward with the many things you have crafted with your mind and your hands.