Carnival Glass Bowl

Carnival glass is molded or pressed glass with a shimmering finish created by applying metallic salts while the glass is still hot.  The name came from the belief that these inexpensive Tiffany knock-offs were given as prizes at carnivals; in actuality most of the pieces were purchased.

This piece was given to me by my Aunt Sylvia.  When I was young, she seemed the most fun adult I knew, always ready to roll down a grassy hill with the kids.

Aunt Sylvia was really my mother’s cousin, one of 10 on that side of the family.  The oldest and the youngest were boys; the eight in the middle were girls, born in sets of two.  The girls were raised close and remained close, even after they had married and moved away.  In later years they started a tradition of “cousin reunions.”  They also had a traveling letter (remember those?) — when the letter came to you, you removed your last missive, read the others, wrote the new news and sent the packet on.

Aunt Sylvia was a librarian and worked with many Chinese exchange students.  Eventually she got to spend a year in China.  The job was advertised as helping setup a library but she ended up teaching English, helping graduate students with their papers.  She didn’t speak Chinese; on the trip over, it was explained to her that she’d have to change trains to get to her destination.  She had one of her stateside students write in Chinese where she was going.  She pinned that note to her coat and went off, in her words, “just like a kindergartener.”

This post is in her honor!

Small Carved Statue

Chinese scholar with abacus.  8 ½ inches high, heavy carved stone.

The most vexing family objects are those that have been around since your childhood and you forgot to ask about them before your parents died.

This little statue sat in our living room for years.  My father, an architect, designed our house, including steel-framed teak cabinet that covered one whole wall of the living room.  In the bottom were stereo speakers.  Above were shelves, artfully placed so as to make interesting niches.  The original wall behind the cabinet was covered with a green burlap which my parents mounted on panels.  Very modern, very DIY.

This little statue had a niche all to itself. In contrast to the flashier glass and carvings on display, the scholar kept his own counsel and tended to be overlooked.  I assume Daddy brought him home from the Pacific where he served in the war.  But I don’t know for sure. So the story is that there is no story.  Sort of sad…


This is Orbit, the energizer dog in a rare moment of repose.
She is all tuckered out after a day of chasing squirrels and her own tail, barking at dogs lucky enough to get a walk, and running from window to window to monitor foot traffic outside the house. She’s sleeping on her two favorite toys. The bird has since been pulled to pieces – my hubby calls the pieces road kill. The sheep was messed up at the factory: instead of saying baaa when squeezed, it quacks like a duck!

Speaking of squirrels: this one hunkered in the backyard fence, trying to figure out if it could get into the bird feeder and/or avoid the dog.

The Son of Magnus

The Son of Magnus
By Paul Harboe, first edition, 1902.

I kept this book because of the beautiful cover but to my astonishment, it has recently been reprinted as “Culturally important.”  It tells the story of some Norwegians and their struggles.  I haven’t read it yet, but perhaps I should!

It belonged to my grandfather who wrote his name on the front page; his hand is still childish.  I doubt he ever read it.  Or if he did, he was fiendishly careful.  Although he put great emphasis on school for his children, he only completed grade school.  He was gruff spoken and rugged; I remember cringing at his “whiskery kisses” when I was young.

The famous story about Granddaddy concerns a roof repair.  They lived in a small Kansas town and their house was on a corner close to downtown.  There was always a lot of foot traffic.  One Saturday he was up on the roof, fixing the shingles.  He lost his balance and fell, landing in the yard.

Several people saw the fall and concerned, they stopped.

Granddaddy got up, dusted himself off, and said to the gawkers, “You can git on your way.  I ain’t going to do it again.”

An Engagement Ring

Art deco filigree ring, white gold with aquamarine stone.

Every engagement ring has a story.  Here’s mine.

My then boyfriend, now husband, told his family he had found a woman he wanted to marry.  He hoped to give her (me!) an antique ring, preferably with a blue stone.

His grandmother, whose first husband died very young, offered this ring.   It had been her engagement ring, but since she and her fiancé planned to elope, it was given as a birthday present.  No one in the family had ever heard story.

White gold is very soft and when I had it resized, the jeweler told me not to wear it all the time.  I ignored his advice and much of the marcasite detail has worn away.  The aquamarine is also scratched.  But I treasure the connection its story makes between me and my husband’s beloved grandmother.


One of two current dogs; rescued, as were all our dogs. Leaves fluffy bits in every corner of the house. Named because of her furry coat – a Dr. Zhivago type character, winter in Russia. She looks sweet, compliant and lazy, lying on the rug after a day of playing. Hah!

She’d been with us for a couple of weeks when two guys made a delivery to our house. I carefully shut the door, whatever we ordered was set down, and I’m signing the paperwork when I hear, “Come back, nice doggy.”

One of the men had opened the door and Pushkin was OUT. After much running, calling and swearing, to no avail, I got in the car to search. A couple of blocks away, she was socializing with a woman and her children. She showed no shame when I pulled her into the car. Just a happy panting grin that said, “I can’t wait to do this again.”