Monday, November 23, 2015

The Geo-Politics of Teaspoons and Prairie Dogs

As some of you know I have a passion for sterling silver flatware and have been putting together a rather eclectic collection of place settings for some time. And some of you are aware that the room formerly known as my dining room has been commandeered by my DH as his office/closet, my lovely antique dining furniture sent to my older daughter's home, and new digs for a pair of prairie dogs now in place. Therefore, formal dining is long since gone - ". . .a civilization gone with the wind." (To quote Margaret Mitchell quoting Ben Hecht)

But so much for the dramatics. We still eat with "dead peoples" silver as our daughter refers to my sterling.  Each piece in my collection is of a different pattern, that holds a different story, comes from a different time, and brings delight to me. I believe in getting any joy I can in life.  I am appreciative of life's little treasures. Each time I set the table I delight in the art of each pie fork, gumbo spoon, and fruit knife. The Victorians never met a dish, food, or condiment that they did not have a special utensil for. 

Sterling silver was designed to be used - daily - not kept in a drawer to be pulled out on holidays and the occasional Sunday. My parents and grandparents used their sterling flatware every day, at every meal. Not that we were that well off or patrician, my family appreciated the utensils for what they were - utensils to make dining more enjoyable.  

Often dining at our house requires clearing a space on the kitchen table for our plates. In geo-political metaphors, my kitchen table is Greece or Turkey, taking in refugees fleeing from projects dreamed of and not started, remnants of those started and not finished, or the tools of either of the former. Through it all I am an ostrich with sand in my eyes. 

This morning as I stirred my cup of cappuccino, I admired the teaspoon I was using, with the engraving "Josephine, March 1889" on it. The pattern itself was introduced in 1885, but inscription dated this piece. I was holding a 127 year old designed teaspoon holding stories I could only imagine. Who was Josephine and what was significant about 1889? That was years before my grandparents were born. As I considered all this, I showed the teaspoon to my DH, pointing out the date. His immediate reaction was, "I cannot believe you are stirring your cappuccino with that sterling silver teaspoon."

Immediately, I started my defense of sterling and got on my soap box about how everyone needed to use their silver daily. Then I stopped. Maybe he was correct. I should not be using this spoon.  No one should be stirring their coffee with a "teaspoon", that is what "coffee spoons" or "five o'clock spoons" were designed for. What was I thinking? Next thing I will be confusing my pie fork with my cake fork.

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