I have an amazing brother-in-law.
Like the rest of his family, he had a rough start in inner-city Toronto. He pretty well brought himself up. It could have gone very wrong.
But Brian is self-sufficient and optimistic. He can fix most anything. And he knows his way around a welding torch.
A while back he was poking around our barn. He found some decorative iron grates from my now demolished house in Ottawa. He slipped two of them into his van and took them home to his workshop in Brighton.
I had vague plans for the things salvaged from that old house. But the to-do list around here is long. I never noticed.
At the end of one Sunday visit to Brian and Kathy’s we were saying our goodbyes when I bumped into a three foot package wrapped in a black construction garbage bag.
The brothers are always trading contraptions on these visits, but Brian had that look. Mischievous.
“The elves have been busy in the workshop,” he said shrugging his shoulders. Brian is six foot five. Minimum. Elf is not the first description you would use.
There were the grates. He had turned them into a reading table.
Elegant. Solid. Gorgeous. This picture does not do it justice.
“Belongs beside the big chairs,” he said as I swallowed the lump in my throat.
You see, as we were planning our kitchen, I pushed for a couple of reading chairs right in the corner. Sofas in country kitchens are one of my fondest memories from decades in the Maritimes.
“You can’t have armchairs in a kitchen,” Rick had scoffed at the time. He hadn’t lived in Nova Scotia. I persisted.
It is now the most popular place in the house. As I do this early morning writing, Rick is sitting in the big chair doing a crossword. Abby Dog is at his feet. It is also Brian’s favourite place to sit when he comes to visit.
And now it is even cosier with a table that can hold newspapers, seed catalogues and Ontario Woodlot Association newsletters.
What more could a girl want as winter approaches.