Thursday, April 17, 2014

How collections can collect us

This is not a poem, and I'm not participating in NaMoWriMo, but Ella's prompt at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads is "collections" and it set off some bells in my head.
I'm wondering if we ever really start off intending to collect things, or if they just come to us, from friends and family, from trips to interesting stores or faraway places...the how and the why of collections.
For instance, I used to collect owls. It wasn't entirely voluntary. I tend to blame my friend Judith, who now lives in England and isn't here to tell me I'm wrong. I know she gave me my first set of owls, whom she named Manny, Moe and Jack. And I know she gave me, as a giggle, my final set of owls, which, as gifts from Judith generally do, arrived pre-named. I forget exactly what she called them, but I think of them as Mini-Manny-Moe. (Some day I might show you the Toronto Blue Jays build-a-bear she gave me.)
Manny, Moe and Jack
Kay Davies photo
However, back to the owls.
By the early 1980s, I had too many owls. My young brother took it upon himself to count, and told me I had 80-some owls. So I quit, announced my retirement from the owl-collecting gig and told as many friends and family members as I could. Of course, the owls didn't stop coming, witness Mini-Manny-Moe who arrived after we had already changed centuries.
By default, also, I ended up collecting china. I didn't mean to, but my grandmother had four childless sisters, so who inherited the china plates the eldest auntie painted by hand in the early years of the 20th century? I did, as the eldest grandniece.
Auntie Eva's plates are packed away because I'm still living through The World's Slowest House Decorating, but I found online photos to give you an idea of the kind of thing she did.

None more
than this.
Photos via Google
Her hand-painted
plates were mostly
like this.

Meanwhile, my godmother decided I should have some Depression Glass,  so she gave me a green cream and sugar set similar to the one on the left, but with "bumps" as shown on the candleholders to the right.

Then I, in a fit of fondness, and having a good chunk of disposable income, (or so I thought at the time) bought an antique toaster, similar to the ones shown below, and from the same era. For show, not for use.

 Not exactly like
either of these,
but similar.
The time came when I got sick and had no disposable income whatsoever. In fact, for a while, for what seemed an eternity but was more like a year or two or three, I had no income whatsoever, and had sold my house and was living on the proceeds while I applied, again and again, for the federal disability pension into which I had paid for many years. Blah, blah, blah. You know the sort of sordid story that is, so I won't go into it now.
However, when I moved to a small town in the BC interior to save money, I decided to get rid of some of my treasures. I asked one of my brothers (I won't say which one, to protect the innocent) to see how much my antique toaster, and my depression-glass cream and sugar set would fetch at an antique store in Vancouver. I know the toaster is displayed on a shelf in my brother's house, but have no idea where the depression glass is.
So, collecting can be depressing, and some day the whole collection will be toast. (You knew I'd say that, didn't you?)


Sherry Blue Sky said...

Your green Depression glass reminded me that my grandma's mugs were made of that same glass. What I wouldnt give to have one entire room is spilling over with wolves and elephants, Tibetan singing bowls and prayer flags.........I love that wherever I look, I see something I love.

Mama Zen said...

This is exactly how it happens!

Kerry O'Connor said...

This was very interesting reading, and made me think of some collections I have been party too. Sometimes they come with a few unpleasant memories attached...

Anonymous said...

It may not be a poem, but it is indeed pleasurable reading. Leaving me with both smiles and sadness... *smile*

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
It just breeds all on its own, most of the 'collected' stuff. To me the fun of it is the shedding of the stuff at a later date; good for mind and soul! Love that toaster... YAM xx

Ella said...

I felt like I traveled in your memories~ It was wonderful and I loved what you shared~ I have some of my grandmother's Depression ware
pink and green. It is so beautiful and delicate. I am scared to use it, but I will.

I love owls and I knew you were leading us to toast-lol!
YOU are a hoot~ Did you see that coming?! ;D ((hugs))

Penelope Puddlisms said...

Lol … I think you could make a fortune selling the stuff on ebay. Seriously it is hard when collectable things have special significance emotionally and are particularly beautiful like the hand-painted China.

Susie Clevenger said...

Collections can definitely come with baggage or leave with it. The one good thing about memories is they don't have to be dusted!!

Margaret said...

The hand painted china sounds awesome! When you unpack, please be sure to share it with us. I've had a few collections I've given away - I am very particular what I bring home these days. It has to have "meaning" or be something I really like.

Anonymous said...

Kay, I'm glad you posted this piece on toast(ed). At least they weren't beanie babies - your collections are/were tasteful ~

Anonymous said...

Agh. Part of my job as a trust and estates lawyer has involved selling collections of sorts. They are always so interesting but sometimes not nearly as valuable as the collector would have liked to think. And yet it is a captivating enterprise.

I'm sorry I've not gotten back--or not sure I got back to you on FB. I have had a really difficult week in terms of work pressure, though all should be considerably better. Will write.


Jennifer A. Jilks said...

I collect blue heron. Well, I did. I think I have too many.
Hope you are happy and well.

Susan said...

Yes they grow by accident and because we keep the gifts instead of passing them on immediately. I like owls much better now then back when people thought I was collecting them. I used to love running yard sales for others and sold a lot of my treasures so I only have a few very special ones left. Your writing is funny, Kay. This, expanded a little, could run essay-like in a magazine.