{gnomes, books, and buttons. no, really.}

Skyway Drive 024

THIS THING WAS IN MY BACKYARD. Under an overgrown bush.

Now, we have the loveliest people next door, we really do, but they have… well… lawn ornaments. No flamingos, but a stone friar (possibly St. Francis?), burros (with roses coming out of their backs), stone cacti (to go with the real ones?), possibly a deer, and Other Assorteds. Their backyard looks like a still from a Disney old-school animation – squirrels, chipmunks, blue birds, dwarves, the works, all rendered in colorfully “lifelike” resin. THEY ARE A LITTLE DISTURBING.

Thus, when we found this guy, we were understandably shaken. Tech Boy keeps suggesting the two of us go next door. One of us will distract the folks, while the other will go ’round the back and return their wayward friend… we’re pretty sure he’s an escapee.

I am reassured by my librarian friends that librarians love patrons. They should all be quite fond of me because of the fifty holds placed in my name in the SNAP system — our library extends to several cities and two counties, as the SNAP stands for Solano, Napa, and Partners. My local branch is probably wondering what I’m up to… and I shall be happy to explain, should we ever speak to each other. Librarians and I don’t actually do more than wave in passing, thanks to the glorious self-check kiosks. We have some of the nicest librarians, ever, but I already feel a little guilty about asking them to bring me books from all over. ☺

Pleasant Hill 170

I used to love to play with my grandmother’s things. She was a woman who grew up desperately poor, but who was fortunate in her children, and saved wisely and well. Eventually she managed to have enough shoes that we gently teased her about being the Imelda Marcos of Patterson, Louisiana, and each one of her twelve children knew her weakness for rings and earrings and flashy bits of rock of all kind. She loved her jewelry, and so did I; I loved spending time just running my fingers through her pearls and trying on all of her rings (they swung wildly around my small fingers) and wearing all of her beads at once.

You may recall that my grandmother died in February. I was doubly saddened because, after her first stroke, the crackheads, whom I no longer give names nor consider relatives, swindled her out of her home and stripped it of a lifetime’s worth of gifts and possessions. This ugly truth worked like grinding shards of salted glass into a wound, and the grief was mixed with being very angry that I had nothing to hold which had been hers.

Please understand – being one of thirty-some fifty-four grandchildren of a working poor woman who’d had twelve children, I’m not talking like I was expecting the diamond tennis bracelet she got on her sixteenth birthday or anything. Let’s be serious. I wanted just something small… maybe a handkerchief, her favorite coffee mug, a jar of her cold cream (she still used all the old-old brands – Pond’s Cold Cream, original Listerine, and original Noxzema). Just something to remember her by.

Pleasant Hill 168

My dear friend Bean has given me two things to hold. First, an idea — she has a bunch of vintage 40’s pinafore apron patterns. My grandmother had tons of the things, and non-sewing, all-thumbs-with-a-needle me is challenging herself to make a very simple bunch of pinnies in bright colors. That’s a memory from her era to mine.

The second thing that Bean gave me is tangible. These obviously aren’t Madear’s buttons, but they’re vintage, from her era, and they’re like ones she had. There are glass ones, mother-of-pearl ones, carved bone and stone ones, and knotted leather. There are big, shiny Lucite ones, and small, thin painted slivers of wood, and each of them is unique and lovely. I find it weirdly soothing to just run my fingers through them, to divide them up by color, to imagine things to do with them…

What would you do with these little tangible bits of the past, to build a memory to hold? I’d welcome your ideas to add to my own…

10 Replies to “{gnomes, books, and buttons. no, really.}”

  1. I am so not crafty, but I do love a box of buttons. They make a great noise when you shift them around, and I like their textures. I’ll be interested to see what you do with yours!

  2. Your wayward lawn ornament makes my morning! I try to have a real live-and-let-live attitude toward lawns, but I’ve gotta admit that when I see a yard full of those things, I always think, “Whew! Glad they’re not my neighbors.” They ARE creepy.

    Hugs on the buttons and good luck with the aprons. What a lovely idea. Because it’s not holding onto the things that WERE hers. It’s holding onto HER in your heart and daily life. The aprons sound like a smashing idea for Chef Tanita!

    1. Thank you. I need someone who agrees with me on the lawn thingies; my sister just laughed at me when I told her the raccoon freaked me out.

      I just found THIS, and now won’t even feel like I need to spend tons of money on the fabric for the pinnies!!

  3. Lawn ornaments may be creepy, but at least they’re not weeping angels. (Oh, how could I resist? I really should have tried.) I think a flamingo may surely make an appearance.

    Blessings for Bean. Melissa found some nice ideas for the buttons. What I might do would be to fill some pretty glass bottles with the buttons and have them on a light-filled windowsill.

    1. Oyyyyyy. No. Just say NO to the weeping angels.
      Yes, I am looking forward to SOMEDAY getting all of our stuff and finding some wee-tiny little bottles a friend gave me – just the right size for polished stones and buttons.

      AND I have a slew of bobby pins which will become hair ornaments. I love shiny hairpins anyway, so me and my glue gun will be getting busy on that score.

      I just saw this. Oh, my goodness. Pinafores out of old sheets….!?!?! My grandmother was a comic book fiend, so I can totally roll with that. (My great-grandmother was into The Monkees. She was hilarious.)

  4. Lawn ornaments that crawl about by night? V. creepy indeed. I say you just go boldly to their door and present it as a ‘nice to meet you neighbors’ sort of gift. :mrgreen:

    I still am carting about some of my grandmother’s buttons. They spilled all over the U-haul on this last move, but I crawled around the rubber matting and rescued every last one of them.

    And I was going to suggest the same thing–gluing the buttons onto a large canvas. I’m getting ready to do something with my Scrabble tiles and some lyrics. I could see you incorporating them into a painting of yours and having a lovely visual of your grandmother.

  5. I’m so sorry about the stripping bare of Madear’s things…that’s a sharp ache. I wonder if you could string the buttons on a cord and make a kind of garland, pegged up bunting-fashion? Though there’s something enchanting about a bowl full of buttons. I want to bury my hands in there.

    I love the apron idea. Lovely thought.

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