Sunday, September 18, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Breakfast with Mario
I am an early riser. I am used to walking furtively to the kitchen. I approach the coffee pot. Thankfully, our host has set it up with the automatic timer to coincide with my early foray into the kitchen. She never forgets. Thank God for modern technology! I am greeted by family dogs who are the only ones to wake up before me and they beckon me for a crumb. Stoically, I decline. Unlike humans, they quickly forgive and forget and are ready to jump onto my lap at the first opportunity. He’ll be back again tomorrow, the optimist.
I can see Mario with me in the kitchen giving in to their pleading eyes and handing a small crumb while putting his index finger to his pursed lips. With a twinkle in his eye: ‘Shush’. Nobody is to know that he has succumbed to their wiles and joined the rest of the family in this daily ritual. But in his case it is to be a secret between the two of us. The others are to be condemned as being too soft.
As I drink my solitary coffee, I recall the many coffees we had together. He never admitted that I woke up before him. He would either be waiting for me in the kitchen or affirm that he was up waiting in his bed to hear my nocturnal footsteps. We were very careful not to make any noise in the kitchen. We prepared the coffee cups discreetly and warmed up the milk in the microwave; 30 seconds for me and 1 minute for him. He took more milk than coffee; health reasons. It was usually two pieces of toast but Mario sometimes had cereal and occasionally even a fried egg. He was an expert chef at this.
The rest of the house is slumbering. Later on they would complain of the noise we made with the china mugs and most of all with our chatter. A breakfast discussion was an accepted ritual. Beyond chatter, it would range from Maltese to US politics. The US economy could be fixed with a move to the right. Maltese politics were more complex. We would talk about people we knew and in the end about the only incorruptible politician in Malta who never abused his position; Mario’s father, a learned gentleman, who at one time occupied the position of Minister of Finance and even Deputy Prime Minister.
There were many people we talked about, mostly Maltese. No holds barred. Mario said it as he saw it. In black or white; people were highly intelligent or stupid, learned gentlemen or peons. He always illustrated this with an anecdote. He had unburdened himself of most of his earthly goods and exiled himself to Arizona to be with his family in his last days. But his anecdotal data bank remained with him. As were many quotations (in Latin) and elegant poems. We also discussed the day’s program. The spirit was willing but the flesh was sometimes weak and he needed some prodding to go out for lunch. Later on in the day perhaps an espresso, ‘one shot’ and green tea for me. The Starbucks girl had got used to us and prepared these without asking.
As I drink my morning coffee, I wonder what we would have talked about that day. My poor replacement as a coffee companion is now the National Post (Canadian) crossword puzzle which I download early morning. I try to finish it before the rest of the family starts to work on their copy. The beautiful Arizona sunrise is another companion. Its beauty is missed by the late sleepers who only have been known to talk about sunsets. There are some compensations to early rising. But it’s no longer the same.