Boarding House Blues

Accommodation is hard to come by in Twig, so at least initially, Rachel will be staying at Lucille Hanrahan’s boarding house. Here’s her first impression:

I sat down at a table shoved up against a large window. By now the fog was so thick outside that I could see nothing; it was like watching static on television. There were scattered cigarette burns on the vinyl tablecloth and a worn patch on the faded linoleum floor. A religious calendar hung on the wall, a big red circle around today’s date. September’s pinup was Mary, her veil the exact colour of Lucille’s house.

A steady heat emanated from the wood stove and the smell of fresh baked bread almost masked the cigarette fumes. Lucille dropped a tea bag into a mug, lifted a large kettle and splashed in boiling water. When she put the kettle back on the stove, drops of water spat and hissed. She placed the mug in front of me, then plonked a can of Carnation milk down beside it.

“You take sugar?” she asked.

I shook my head, staring at the canned milk.


Carnation Evaporated Milk, #10 can


In the 1980s many Newfoundlanders used Carnation Milk in their tea and when I lived there I did so on occasion as well. But it might take Rachel awhile to adapt…

How about you? Tea or coffee? Or???






17 thoughts on “Boarding House Blues

  1. Tea of course. Full cream milk and no sugar. For an Irish woman like me, tea and a biscuit was a rite of passage – I first was allowed tea when I was about seven and tea was the cure for many things-“you’re tired child. Have a cup of tea” or “You’re sad dear, how about a cup of tea.” It’s still the cure for all troubles, but I must say the tea here in Canada can’t hold a candle to Bewleys in Dublin. To put Carnation milk in it was, in Ireland, a crime. Annie

  2. I definitely want one good strong cup, preferably a latte, in the morning. Nothing else is as good. The worst is coffee in a hotel room with those packets of powdered ‘creamer’. Surely Carnation is better than “Coffee Mate”?

    I’ve discovered a chocolate herbal tea for the afternoon which is quite satisfying – it’s not chocolate bar but it’s soothing warmth gets me past the cravings.

    With regard to tea, I just read somewhere (on the www so it must be true) that while tea has caffeine it lacks some other agent that gives the jitteriness to coffee drinkers…hmm.

  3. All respect to the low-maintenance black coffee drinkers. I don’t know how you do it. I use low-fat goat’s milk for coffee creamer —- no idea how or why this started, but here I am opening the fridge in the morning and FREAKING OUT if there is just … regular … milk.

  4. Coffee with skim milk all day long. I can drink almost any coffee but a good cup of coffee is great and I definitely draw the line at coffee mate…I’d rather drink it black. Absolutely love a good cup of tea but for me tea is a social drink. It is from my childhood.I rarely make myself a cup of tea, but if I have a friend or family visit, tea it is with 2% milk. No tea bag in a cup – always in a pot, best in a china (not ceramic) mug with milk poured in before tea. Nothing beats a good cup of tea….well almost nothing.

  5. I’m a Diet Coke girl. Better yet–Bloody Marys, which I like to call Tomato Smoothies, because with all those vitamins they’re practically a health tonic.

    Just getting caught up on your blog posts. Your writing is beautiful as ever, my friend, and I can’t wait to read this in its full, final version!

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