Aug 12

A Few of My Favorite Things

Today’s topic occupied far too many of my childhood thoughts–maybe it did for you, as well. From my first school fire drill, I became terrified by the idea that my house might catch fire. (I also began chanting “Stop, drop, and roll” under my breath like it was the key to opening Ali Baba’s cave.)


Image via pixabay/Hans

Hello? Anyone in there?

In an effort to regain my peace of mind, I devised various plans for rescuing all my loved ones, pets included (which always complicated things–we had a lot of pets). This allowed me to sleep at night, but even then a nagging sadness remained. I knew most, if not all, of my favorite belongings would be lost to the flames.

Sure, this seems like a sad place for thoughts to dwell–it was–but it also came with a gift: it allowed me to know, at any given moment, what my most precious belongings were. I’m still very aware of my personal treasures and most of them haven’t changed, although maybe a stuffed animal or two dropped out of the running (cover your ears, beloved toys of childhood) to be replaced by something more enduring.

Here is a list of my favorite, most meaningful belongings (I’ve chosen my top five six):

(1) Photographs–ALL my photographs. I’m not limiting myself to one photo or album, because the thought alone threatens to reduce me to a puddle of despair. I wouldn’t do that to myself and neither should you.

From photos of my ancestors, to shots of family and friends taken during my life, to (especially) photos of my children–from when they were tiny, peanut-shaped beings in ultrasound images to the pictures I’ll take tomorrow. Because they represent so many loved ones and places and times I enjoy revisiting, my photographs are my most treasured belongings.


Image via pixabay/jarmoluk

(2) Handmade bookcase–yes, I just said I’d rescue a piece of furniture in a fire, but we’re being hypothetical here, right? Besides, who knows–maybe I’d get one of those massive adrenaline surges and develop spontaneous super powers. I could carry the bookcase out on my back and, *bonus* I could fill the drawers with my photographs and other favorites.

My grandfather made me this bookcase when I was a child. (I’ve loved the scent of sawdust ever since those days of visiting his workshop.) It went from my room to my children’s rooms, but it’s now on the second floor of our foyer and, temporarily, housing my homemade soaps.

Just a thought: while I’m saving furniture, I might as well pile a few more pieces onto my back. I’d take the dresser/vanity set my mom refinished for me and the secretary desk that came from a relative’s home, which was passed along by my aunt. (Thanks Grandad, Mom, and Aunt J!)


My handmade bookcase (temporarily being used for curing soaps)

(3) Jewelry–I don’t have any very expensive jewelry, but I do have some pieces that are rich with sentimental worth. Again, I can’t limit myself to just one item, so here’s the condensed list: I’d choose my engagement ring (my wedding ring would already be on my finger, so that equals an automatic save), plus a handful of favorites–those that were gifts from family and friends, along with a few silver pieces I inherited from my grandmom. Wearing this jewelry makes me feel close to the ones who gave it to me, and that means more to me than any appraisal value.


Two stones that were my grandmother’s,

plus a gift from my cousin after she read My Watcher’s Eyes

(4) Found items–when I was a child, my dog Holly came strolling out of the woods behind my house one day, carrying a strange, flat stone in her mouth. She brought it to me, so I washed off the dirt and dog slobber, to find shell-shapes imprinted in its surface. My mom said it looked like fossilized mud, so I immediately fell in love. Imagine holding something that was old enough to be fossilized–old enough to date back to when water had covered the local land? That’s big to a kid; it’s big to me still.

As an adult, I discovered another, similar “treasure.” My husband and I were removing a dogwood tree which we’d planted and which, unfortunately, had not survived. As my husband lifted the tree from the ground, I saw a strange stone sticking out of its root ball. I dug it out to find it had been chipped away along both sides: one looked like it would serve as a finger grip and the other had been sharpened into a rough edge. I did some research and found the stone closely resembled tools used to scrape animal hides by the Lenape women who’d once lived in this area. Since I’ve long been fascinated by American Indian cultures–the Lenape people in particular–this felt like a one-in-a-million find. I’m beyond honored just to be able to touch it.


Fossil rock and (probable) Lenape scraper

(5) Antique books–I’m not a collector, except when it comes to books. I LOVE old books. I don’t own many, but I adore the ones I have. My first antique book came from a great aunt who was involved with The Hedgerow, a local theater I’ve loved since childhood. She was not only a small-time actress, but also a lover of fiction. I think we would have gotten along wonderfully. (Did I ever mention my mom used to call me Sarah Bernhardt as a child? Totally earned that nickname.)


Books and Basil (which is one of the many plants I’d rescue, too!)

(6) Teddy bear–I tried to limit my list to five things, but honestly, how could I leave out Brownie? (Side note: wasn’t I the most creative teddy-bear namer?) This little guy has been through a lot, so he shouldn’t have to endure a fire, too. My grandfather gave him to me when I was little and I proceeded to love him nearly to death. His head actually came off from one too many hugs. My mom sewed it back on, but she must have been in a hurry, because she attached it backward. Poor Brownie’s plump little tummy had to become a pudgy little bum. (Luckily, his arms and legs moved, so they could make the transition, even if his toes were upside down.) Never mind–I still loved him. Yet, Brownie’s trials and tribulations weren’t finished. He survived in storage all the way into my adulthood, just in time for me to rediscover him and for one of my dogs, my sweet Jake, to snack on his nose. Brownie and I were both heartbroken again, but I did some (questionable) reconstructive surgery and re-repaired his head while I was at it.


Dear, sweet, strangely-repaired Brownie

(I’m not very good with a needle and thread, but his head and feet are facing forward now) 🙂

So, that’s my list–short (okay, longish short) and sweet to me. Granted, I’d need a trailer to haul everything away, but it would be worth it.

What does this list tell me? It says, knowing my loved ones were safe, I’d do what I could to save our memories. One of the best parts of my life (as most would agree) is sharing experiences with the ones I love and holding onto those memories, so they can be shared again.

And you? After ensuring the safety of your loved ones and pets (and plants–can’t forget our plants!), what else would you rescue? How do these things reflect what you value most?


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    • a. on August 12, 2016 at 3:46 pm
    • Reply

    Well, let me sop up the puddle of sentimental tears real fast, and give you a big hug! 🙂 What a sweet list. I don’t have a list. It requires the sort of sad thinking you’ve already done. And there are too many things–my list would be at least as long as yours! Antiques and photos and gosh, too much to carry! Although, if we were being hypothetical, I believe I could manage it.
    I love the photos of your beautiful mementos, and the memories you’ve shared with us.

    1. Oh, thank you, A! I’m so grateful for the hug, but sorry for the tears! I understand your not having a list, but I have to confess that mine doesn’t make me sad–at least not the way I choose to think about it these days. I just leave out the fire scenario and think of which belongings I’m most blessed to have. Then, the only hard part is trying not to let the list grow too long. 😉 I’m really happy you enjoyed my memories and photos–it’s wonderful to know I’m not the only one who sees their value!

    • sa on August 12, 2016 at 6:06 pm
    • Reply

    Wonderfully written and thought provoking. I don’t know if I would detail a list as well as you have done. You attach such wonderful memories to all of these items and the beauty is that in doing so you bring those who have passed on along for the ride. They are still with you along with the treasures you would choose to save. Beautiful memories to cherish always!

    1. Thanks so much, sa! What a beautiful thought–that I’m bringing lost loved ones along with me. These treasures really do become precious through the memories and connections associated with them!

  1. I love that you still have the fossilized mud!!! Also, I think you could totally hulk out and carry the bookcase on your back. I have tons of little knickknacks from childhood and forward that I still keep

    1. Thanks, Walker! I’m so ridiculous, but I do love my mud! I’m happy to hear you’ve kept your knickknacks–they probably have so many memories attached to them now. Plus, the nice thing about knickknacks is that even if you have a lot of them, they don’t generally weigh as much as bookcases! 🙂

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