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Archive for the ‘collections’ Category

The perfect present

Have you ever gotten the perfect present?  The one that makes you gasp a little when you open it; amazed that the giver knows you so well?  The one that you could never have picked for yourself, but when you see it you know it is “you?”

I got one of those this year.

Before I go on I have to let you know that all of my friends and relatives regularly give me wonderful gifts.  I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by such thoughtful, loving and giving people.   I am a very lucky person.

This year, though, one of the gifts I got literally rocked me back on my heels.  It was from my niece, A, a twelve year old wonder.  She was clearly excited about it in the days leading up to Christmas, but didn’t play games with me (ask me to guess, giggle quietly to herself, or get that “I know something you don’t” look in her eyes).  Instead, she seemed calmly confident that she had made a good choice.

And she was right.

So, with all that build-up, before I let you in on the secret, I’ll remind you of an earlier post I did on one of my collections.  Even though that post was back in August, it must have made an impression.

Here’s the gift:

According to A and K (her mother) this was A’s idea completely.  She ignored suggestions given to her by others, AND she picked every button individually, with me in mind.

And every button, every single one, is perfect.

She won’t tell me where she got them (probably a good thing).  Right now I am playing with these buttons; imagining adding them to hats, scarves, mittens, socks.

And feeling good every time I look at them.

Thank you.

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If you know me at all you know that I am a fanatical baseball fan.  To be more precise, I am a St. Louis Cardinals fan.

06penant

My appreciation for the Cardinals leads me to do things that are pretty much totally out of character for me — yesterday I walked up to a perfect stranger wearing a Cardinals baseball hat and introduced myself.  Today I sadly asked the guy behind the counter at the food co-op if he really was a Red Sox fan (he was wearing a Red Sox cap).

Growing up in St. Louis it was hard to avoid becoming a die-hard Cardinals baseball fan.  I remember watching the 1967 Cardinals win the World Series behind Bob Gibson, my all time favorite pitcher; they brought televisions into the school gym so that we could all watch the final game.

bobgibsonclose

gibsonfromthetop

I have attended one World Series game in person.  In 1987, the year the Cardinals lost the Series to the Minnesota Twins* (after winning all three home games they just couldn’t make it work in the Metro dome), I won a pair of tickets in a raffle at work and took my father to see Game 4 at Busch Stadium on his birthday.

careerleaders

And, of course, while living in New England in 2004 I endured the jeers of Red Sox fans when the Cardinals lost the Series in four straight games.

albertwheatiesbox

After a wonderful 2006 World Series win, the Cardinals had a couple of “rebuilding” seasons and are back at the top of their division this year.  The team is lucky to have “el hombre,” the man most likely to be referred to as the “best player in baseball,” Albert Pujols,

albert

as well as a remarkably talented pitching staff led by Chris (or Cris) Carpenter who, in his last regular season outing this year, hit his first-ever big league home run, a grand slam, and ended the game with a win — the score was 13-0 — and a total of six RBIs.

baseballcards

The Cardinals’ ’09 post-season starts on Wednesday, October 7 with a game in LA against the formidable LA Dodgers. It’s a long way from there to the final game of the World Series but here’s hoping there’s another World Championship in the Cardinals’ near future.

*who just now clinched a spot in the American League playoffs with a 12th inning win over the Detroit Tigers.

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Collections, part two

oldbuttonsoncard

I have been planning to do another “collections” post for awhile now, and two things have made me choose buttons as the focus for this entry.

First, I had the chance to attend an opening at the Beet Gallery here in Portland, where my two friends Ilisha Helfman and Joe Freedman are showing their work.  Ilisha and Joe’s art is incredibly beautiful and wide ranging; between the two of them the media they explore range from laser-cut cards, to handmade paper dolls, to photography (both designing the camera and printing the photos) to knitting, with almost everything in between.  One of Ilisha’s projects even involves creating very very small things, including buttons.

Second, I was fortunate to receive a new lens for my camera as an anniversary gift from S (with assistance from my stepson, G) and it is a macro lens, which lets me take extreme close-ups of small things.

twobluebuttons

Even though my mother was not someone who sewed (in fact she was the person who cheered when my friend J and I created “no sew clothes” for our dolls, an invention that left J’s mother, a woman who spun her own wool and wove her own cloth from sheep she raised, aghast), she did have a box of buttons and I remember pawing through it from a very young age.

My own button collection began with those extra buttons manufacturers like to provide with new clothes, in case the buttons they sew on at the factory fall off.

llbeanbutton

Those buttons piled up in various drawers for years, until I started to create a more intentional collection.

Now I look for buttons at garage sales, in thrift stores, and at flea markets.  Since most people have buttons lying around, it’s rare that I don’t find something.

Most of the buttons I have wouldn’t be considered “collectible;” instead, I would describe my collection as eclectic.

Many of my buttons are colorful,

pileobuttons

buttoncloseup

buttonrainbow

but not all.

onewhitebutton

Some of my buttons are old,

pileofoldbuttons

fourblackbuttons2

and some are new.

newredbuttons

keybuttons

A lot of them are mounted on cards,

buttoncards

cardobuttons

cardoblackbuttons

and some are tied with string.

ringofbuttons

paintedbuttons

When I haven’t spilled them out for photographing, I keep my buttons like this

buttonsinjar

and this.

canobuttons

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In the midst of getting myself ready to travel east for work (and some fun, I’m sure) I couldn’t resist revisiting my thermoses.

oldgroup2

No, really, when I was updating the “about” page on this blog I took a few pictures of my recently stalled thermos collection and got inspired all over again.

My thermos collection started by accident.  I was out with a friend visiting garage sales in southern New Hampshire one day about three years ago.  At one of the sales there was a box near the end of the driveway with the word “free” scrawled on the side.  In that box, with a lot of other totally forgettable stuff, was a thermos.

thermos#1

For some reason, I decided to take it.  My thermos collection started there.

“Thermos” is one of those brand names that has come to stand for the product, like “kleenex” or “xerox” or “polaroid.” Like my first thermos, many thermoses are actually made by the Thermos company.

thermos1

There are, however, other brands of “thermoses” not made by Thermos.

universaltherm

icyhot2

aladintherm

This thermos is called the Atlas, but is made by the Faris company in St. Louis.

atlastop

faristherm

From the start I had two rules for my thermos collection.  Thermoses added to the collection should be inexpensive (or, ideally, free).  And they should be aesthetically interesting.

thermostops2

Most of the thermoses I have are glass lined, and many are old enough to have corks under their caps.

cork2

Some come with their own cases.

thermoscase

thermos4

Most of my thermoses sit on a shelf in my study, but some get used.  This one always reminds me of the cold, windy day when we filled it with Bloody Marys and took it to the beach on the Cape.

beachthermos2

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