Arabia Beehive

Today’s post comes from Steve Grooms.

In 1968 I walked into a gift shop in Dinkytown that sold Danish modern products. There I bought a handsome coffee mug made by the Finnish ceramics firm of Arabia.

I soon decided the Arabia mug was the only perfect object I owned. It was just the right color, the color of coffee. Its size was ideal for me, holding a generous amount of coffee. The design was classic. Because the bottom was larger than the top, the mug was stable and didn’t spill coffee when I walked with it.

Although I don’t value “things” nearly as much as I value relationships or values, the Arabia mug became a thing with a special claim on my heart. It was a joy to start every day in the company of something perfect, or at least as perfect as anything we are likely to touch in this world.

In the 1970s we hosted a small party at our Saint Paul home. Looking across the living room I spotted a guest drinking from my Arabia mug.  I felt an absurd twinge of jealousy, the same feeling I’d had when I walked into the student union and saw my college girlfriend dancing with another guy. After that party I quietly hid the Arabia mug whenever we had guests. Some things you just don’t share.

I knew the mug was doomed. I used it every day and it went wherever I went. When you handle something that fragile that often, it’s just a matter of time until the worst happens. That time came in 1983. My six-year-old daughter bumped a wobbly table, knocking the mug to the floor. It shattered. I concealed my grief from her.

I tried to replace it. Haunting antique stores taught me that objects popular in 1968 can be hard to locate decades later. But that’s why God gave us the internet, right? Two or three times a year I would spend a few hours running Google searches for the Arabia mug or something very similar. All those searches were futile. Years passed, and then decades. I made do with other mugs, but every day I missed my old coffee-colored mug.

All that searching did turn up some delightful mugs. My favorite was a handmade teal mug that I found at a curated craft show at nearby St. Catherine’s College. And I loved a mug from San Francisco decorated by ten cheerful bears having an orgy.

Then, last year I was thrilled to spot my old mug on eBay. I learned that Arabia called it their “beehive” model. Alas, the photo was linked to a shop that had sold the only copy they had. I’d come so close! By that time I had been pursuing a replacement beehive Arabia mug for thirty-two years. I’d spent many hundreds of hours running internet searches.

Last Sunday I tried again. In Phoenix there is a little antique shop called In Old Things We Trust. Its owner, Teena, has a great eye. She had one Arabia beehive mug. I ordered it as fast as arthritic fingers could type. And now, in spite of many losses in life, in this one special sense my world is complete again.

Do you own—or have you ever lost—anything that seems perfect?

39 thoughts on “Arabia Beehive”

  1. When we were married back in 1970, the dinnerware we picked out was from Arabia, the Ruska pattern. It was kind of expensive even then and brown and heavy. Like this:

    We tiredof it fairly quickly and it went into a box for about 30 years. When I decided to sell it off on eBay, I discovered people were collecting it and it was desirable, although it strikes me as a dull collection.

    The dishes I would have if money were no object are these:
    I only wish I had discovered them before they were discontinued.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hans has a set of Ruska tea cups and plates stowed away somewhere here. I’m not particularly fond of that brown glaze, so we’ve never used it. Should probably dig it out and sell it.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. When we downsized from the home we raised our two girls in, we got rid of nearly everything we owned. We offered to give our kids, nieces and nephews, and random strangers, anything they wanted. We had few takers (a testimony to our taste?) and about the only thing anyone wanted was our very traditional “good” china. Both girls wanted it. We had 12 place settings, so each daughter got six place settings of the original collection and I ordered four additional place settings from The girls were happy, and more than willing to share the serving pieces. saved the day.

      Liked by 4 people

        1. PJ, I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the pattern. I’m pretty sure it was by Mikasa, and when one of my daughters gets back to me, I’ll let you know. It’s driving me nuts that I can’t recall.

          Liked by 3 people

  2. I probably enjoy the Ruska pattern more than you and Robin, but I wouldn’t want to eat food from it. For some reason I fixated early in my life on the idea that food plates should be white with blue designs, and I’ve never been able to shake that.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. There are a few. I had a mug that I found at my first ever Art Fair, in San Francisco circa 1969. it was a muted blue with curlicues across the base, and also ha a slightly wider base – it was beautiful and embodied for me everything I loved about San Francisco. It was, of course, irreplaceable when it finally broke.

    I also found the perfect shirt during those couple of years, at a shop in Ghiradelli Square… muslin tunic with wide “angel” sleeves that had bands of lace sewn in. Wore it till it practically fell apart – I could probably replicate it on my sewing machine, but who has that kind of time??

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The first putter I ever bought for myself was my favorite, and I believed it helped me make more putts than any other putter would or could. It was a blade putter with a tapered heel and a slightly rounded toe. Flat on both front and back, like most mini-golf putters we see today. Not one of those grotesque monstrosities that look like some sort of Transformers Death Claw.

    One day on the course, I was faced with a trouble shot where the ball rested up against a large tree with big, thick roots. I was forced to swing left-handed (not my normal side) and figured my putter would work better at a backward shot than any other club. I’ve since become converted to the wisdom of the hooded (flipped upside down and backward) seven-iron.

    I proceed to take a mighty, lefthanded swing at the ball with my putter and advanced a short distance. Unfortunately, I hit mostly tree root and the putter shaft bent at about a 45-degree angle. Naive and stupid as I was, I figured it was broken for good so after the round, I tossed it and bought a new one. Never in my wildest dreams did I think of simply replacing the shaft. D’Oh!

    I’ve only used two putters since then and they work for the most part. But I always wonder if I could’ve made it to the PGA Champions Tour (old guys) someday if I had kept that putter and repaired it.

    Chris in O-town

    Liked by 3 people

  5. BiR your comment reminds me of a blue sweater I once had. I loved it so much I didn’t even notice when I wore huge holes in the elbows. I just enjoyed the look and feel of that sweater until someone pointed out that wearing it made me look slightly shabbier than most homeless persons.

    I bought a corduroy jacket at Dayton’s that was perfect for crisp fall days. It fit as if it had been tailored for me. One day I must have left it somewhere. Stupidly, I went back to Dayton’s to replace it. The clerks got a big chuckle when I explained I expected to replace a jacket that had been in style eight or ten years earlier.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Back in the days of film, I progressed through a few cameras and then landed on the ultimate (to me) Canon Ftb. Totally manual, not automatic, interchangeable lenses, extension tubes…man, I loved that camera and it worked well for me. Then someone broke into our house and stole it. I replaced it with another Canon, but never really got used to it.

    Now, of course, I use a digital camera and would not go back to a film camera, but I sure liked that Canon Ftb.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Photography is strange, ljb. In general, people who practice any hobby are subject to constant messages that they will be happier with an equipment upgrade. Most golfers, for example, are convinced they are more skillful than results would prove them to be; they just need to get the right set of clubs to unleash all that bottled up talent.

      The photo industry keeps telling photographers that a new camera or new lens will suddenly let them take better pictures. And the weird thing is that it is true, or can be true. Better and better cameras keep coming out. Sharp, easy-to-use lenses are appearing all the time. It remains true that great pictures are made by great photographers, never mind the equipment. But I think photographers can be excused for giving into the seductive appeals of equipment envy.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I admit to some camera and equipment envy, but my budget usually prevents me from adding much equipment or changing camera gear. Most recently, I really wanted to try neutral density filters so I could experiment with taking cool moving water photos, but I’ll definitely wait on that wish list item for a while now.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I recall being invited to a porta-potty party at Ben’s when I first joined the trail – but before I had met anyone or sorted out who the various personalities on the trail were. I contemplated going, but didn’t.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. My mom somehow befriend a rather well known Danish potter by the name of Svend Løwe. His work was carried by one of the most exclusive stores in Copenhagen, Den Permanente. She purchased a whole set of dashes, including coffee cups, a tea pot and misc. serving pieces, and gave it to me as a birthday present. They were seconds, slightly warped or otherwise imperfect. My dad thought it was the ugliest dishes he had ever seen, but mom was sure I’d love them, and she was right.

    I still have a smattering of cups, plates, and bowls, but Hans managed early in our marriage to drop and break a whole stack of the dinner plates. He still maintains it was an accident, but now that I know him better than I did then, I wonder.

    Here’s a link to the dishes:,+den+permanente&client=firefox-b-1&tbm=isch&tbs=rimg:Ca1KW2925pUVIjggF4dLXG4cYtxjFp071GO4ZRiIcZil84QkfYJpfRBR8uG2wBx6xEDSEHNxs6TYRh1RqAsNvDBj9ioSCSAXh0tcbhxiEecYZ91jrxVkKhIJ3GMWnTvUY7gRTlLiHe4IQLsqEgllGIhxmKXzhBEk5UQLtlQOYCoSCSR9gml9EFHyEXv2fNGsoC8DKhIJ4bbAHHrEQNIRTlLiHe4IQLsqEgkQc3GzpNhGHRFOUuId7ghAuyoSCVGoCw28MGP2EU5S4h3uCEC7&tbo=u&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjd9d_W6JreAhVk7IMKHfwBCFMQ9C96BAgBEBs&biw=1113&bih=627&dpr=1.09
    I still can’t bring myself to part with what’s left of them. The soup or cereal bowls I still use occasionally. I even wove a set of linen place mats to match them back in college. They were just perfect in all of their glorious imperfection.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I agree, Steve. Though the pieces are thoroughly modern, they are timeless. One of the things that appeal to me the most are the unique shapes, which are carried through in all of the pieces, including the saucers, plates, bowls, cups and even the tea pot. I met Svend Løwe and his wife only once at their home and studio, and I have no idea how my mom knew them, but she had a knack for hooking up with interesting people.


        1. One additional comment about this pottery. From time to time I have spotted serving pieces from this set in cooking magazines and cook books, and of course, I always notice.

          Liked by 2 people

  8. Summer after I graduated from high school I lived with a family in Mexico for 6 weeks. One of the day trips that we took was to see the pyramids. I bought a ring from a vendor that had an Mayan calendar charm dangling from it I wore it for years and I even spent some money having it stabilized at a jeweler. I’m sure I spent more money having it stabilized than the original ring cost. After about 10 years at some point during a day the charm broke off the ring and I was never able to find it. I’ve spent the last 30 years trying to find something similar and just about 6 months ago decided I would just make my own. So I have purchased some small dangly earrings that have the Mayan calendar and I have a dangle charm ring. Now I just need to put them together. It will be a good winter weekend project I think.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. The second photo in my post today shows the teal mug I bought at a St Kate’s Craft Show. For ten years it was my favorite coffee mug. It died in an interesting way. I was sitting at my computer, drinking with the cup to my lips, when I fell asleep and dropped the mug. It shattered.

    I was shattered, too. I had been having strange sleep episodes, and I knew I needed to talk to my doctor. The answer was simple enough: I was suffering from an extreme case of sleep apnea. I had never understood sleep apnea and wasn’t forthcoming with my physician. This was one of many lessons I’ve learned the hard way.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Once again, I can’t reply on TB. I’m so discouraged that I may not try to stay on TB anymore. I’ll try one more time here.


    1. I had that problem yesterday as well. It resolved when I closed my browser and went back in. I didn’t have to get all the way to shutting down the computer, but that would have been my next step.


  11. I lost my innocence
    I used to be so good at being a true believer in mankind and the best in people and the more I try the harder it gets to maintain.
    I was in Chicago this weekend and we visited the franklin park conservatory which is a wonderful way to relax and try to find the beauty in the world. My daughter and wife were chatting and sitting in a bench and I got up to ask the guys working there about one of the trees with a breadfruit looking thing hanging from the branches. The guy and I started chatting and he was so wonderful he took me around the building chatting and sharing the secrets of the different spiecies and how they were the same and different. When we finished the circle 30 or 40 minutes later I introduced him to my family and he wanted to know About what my daughter studied and how long my wife lived in des plaines and we all found out about his background and how he got involved in working at the conservatory. When we finished up he told us we had to come and visit again and see him when we returned.
    My daughter commented on how Juan was sos pure. I asked her what she meant and she said she just loved how he was so genuine and not about trying to impress or do anything other than be out friend. She said that’s one of the things she likes about me is that i just meet people and talk to them so easily. Juan and I had a great moment and as much as I enjoy that side , I really hate the opposite. The schmucks who are out to ge twhatever they can out of the moment and to do it at your expense. The political atmosphere is a teaching model to encourage both sides of behavior. The strong effort to stick it to you before the opportunity is gone rules the dark side and it is too the point that the effort to do it i the way we all know is the right way is getting steamrollered by the orc’s of the underworld
    I hate that I see this so clearly while my daughter still sees he shining auras shine in the pure people out there. I feel,old and jaded.
    I love the energy at the college campus side,of the world. It’s pure

    Liked by 4 people

  12. I have a lovely wooden bowl that I bought during an art crawl. I think it’s walnut. I had a metal display rack with a fork and a spoon that I brought to the art crawl thinking I’d find something to display on it. It worked. The bowl I found has a crack along the edge, a glorious imperfection, as PJ put it. The dark wood shows up the silver metal of the display rack. They were made for each other.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.