Wednesday, July 14, 2010


The old man nestled so far back in his chair he nearly disappeared.

“Bring me a cup of coffee, little one.”

His eyes closed like a contented cat as he shifted his rump around, easing still further into the great plush chair.

“And I’ll let spin one more before your folks get here…”

The little girl bounced into the kitchen, dolopped the appropriate amount of Costa Rican blend into the filter, poured the water and switched on the automatic coffee maker. She executed all these actions in a swift, professional way. Uncle Bert let her make the coffee when she came over and she had done it many times. She listened to it whirr and then begin to drip. The drippy-drop sound was accompanied by a warm woody smell as the coffee brewed. It was the smell of both mornings and evenings at Uncle Bertholdt’s house.

In the beginning, Madison was fascinated by her uncle’s house. She visited about twice a year when her parents were off at business conferences.

Madison’s folks kept a clean house, but many things were scattered about. It wasn’t that the house was messy, but every available surface space was covered, giving the impression of untidiness. Stacks of paper, mail, coupons, receipts and on and on sat next to glass figurines, decorative plates, bouquets of fake flowers and countless other random items competing for room on every shelf, table, and countertop.

Uncle Bert - she called him Uncle Bert for short - kept a different kind of house. First, it was rather small and plain. He kept very few things on the walls and almost nothing on any horizontal surface. Uncle Bert seemed to really enjoy the few belongings he had and took very good care of them. So, in a way, Uncle Bert's place was like a cozy museum.