Simple Gifts: Choosing the Right Mug

So many domestic pursuits—sorting beans, sewing, writing letters, or, especially, posting to a blog—are greatly enhanced by the presence of a hot beverage at one’s elbow. And, as I have often stated before in various ways, a hot beverage is greatly enhanced by a carefully chosen mug.

A trusted mug is a thing of beauty, comfort, and contentment.

I have many mugs, pared down from a larger assortment to those I consider to be the best. Each has its own season or mood.

My favorite mugs (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

My favorite mugs (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Some of the mugs carry associations that evoke happy memories, like the Neskowin General Store mug, a gift and souvenir from the hostess of the group of college friends who gathers in that tiny town for periodic reunions (second from right in photo). Or the classic diner mug with the beautiful sailboat logo (left in photo) of the Kuruyung Native Corporation, my host in Dillingham, Alaska on September 11, 2001 (see A 9/11 Memory: The World Turned Upside Down).

Then there’s my small, precious collection of Princeton Hall mugs (second from left). These conical, heavy-based boat mugs commemorate different milestones in the life of a boat on which my father served when he first moved to Southeast Alaska in the ’50s. They are all designed and hand-thrown by a potter in Juneau. The same artist made my Alaska Maritime Heritage Foundation mug (top right) a gift from the directors of that now-defunct organization when I interviewed them on the radio.

Some may even be collectors’ items on some level. I have a pair of Raven’s Brew Deadman’s Reach mugs, with artwork by a favorite Alaskan artist, Ray Troll (center top). I bought them shortly after he created the logo for the roast, showing a skeleton in bed, reaching out for another cup of coffee. Like much of Troll’s work, the painting is rich in detail and hidden jokes. These particular mugs have something else. The skeleton appears to have been poring over charts of Alaska’s Baranof Island, where Deadman Reach is located. You can read the name of the island on the chart, but it’s misspelled “Baronof.” That mistake has been corrected on newer versions of the picture.

The photo also shows my Russian Tea mug, from Sitka (center top) I use around Alaska Day (see October 18th – Alaska Day). The large mug, far right bottom, is from KCAW Radio in Sitka. My brother, Dave, and his wife, Anke, gave it to me.

In the center is my all time favorite mug, which you can read more about in the essay, Want to Save Money? Set Your Standards Too High!. You may also recognize it from the cover of my latest book, Sacred Coffee: A “Homesteader’s” Paradigm.

Missing from this photo is my favorite Christmas mug. You can see it in the essay, Christmas “Downsizing.

The mugs I reach for most often feature that rare combination of form and function, not only aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but also to the touch. Their finishes are pleasant to hold, their materials weighty and solid. They are, as I say, trusty. The pleasure of the hot beverage is matched by the pleasure of looking at and feeling the mug that holds it.

That, to my mind, is a simple pleasure.

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2 Responses to Simple Gifts: Choosing the Right Mug

  1. Eva Hensley says:

    I have my favorite coffee mugs too Mark. My favorite is a dark hunter green mug I got years ago…nice and heavy with just the right feel for drinking my first cup of coffee. But I have different mugs I drink various hot beverages from…From hot tea to hot cocoa, I have a preferred mug depending on the beverage. I’m a creature of habit that is for sure!

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Eva, me too! I kind of alluded to it in this post, but I have clear delineations regarding which beverage goes into which mug.

    I come by it honestly, though. Michelle does not like coffee, and she claims that if anyone drinks coffee from one of her tea mugs, she can tell!

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