Thursday, November 7, 2013

Evening and an Array of Re-gifts

Standing on the front doorway around 5:30 this evening, preparing to go out into the chilly evening for a walk, I was stopped short by the crisp, clear horizon on top of the mountain across the street. I stood there for a long time drawing the dark bulk of the wooded mountainside with a sickle moon rising near some clouds and the pure violet sky.  Our neighbor came walking past tugging his dog after him.  Jesse was in a wild mood, racing up and down the yard, finally landing on the edge of the sloping yard across the street that leads down to the woods.

After a quick, cold walk, I was happy to sit at the dining room table and draw the funky little collection of objects that live on a small table made by my dad.  All the objects on this page are things that were given away as gifts,  and then returned to the giver as a gift, an interesting cycle.  At the top left, a pair of salt and pepper hens, glazed ceramic, circa 1957, bought by me at Sutton's  Fairyland on Canal Street in New Orleans and given to my mother for Christmas.  Twenty years later my mom gave the same set of chickens, now slightly chipped in the beak areas, to my son David, then 7 years old.  He gave them back to me as a Christmas present shortly afterwards.  

Below the chickens is a tin rabbit, given by the Easter Bunny to our son Michael when he was very young, and given by Michael to the family collection of little tin wind-up toys when he grew up.  It still jumps around for a few hops when someone sticks the key in its tail, but its ears, which were plastic, are long gone.

At top right is a ceramic bunny who stands on his head while holding a carrot in his mouth.  Our son Erik flew alone to visit my mom when he was around 9 years old, and my mom bought him this bunny to bring back to me as a souvenir.  At the time, Erik was really good at standing on his head, and so this bunny had special significance. 

The bottom right figure is a plaster of Paris gnome that I made and painted when I was around 5 years old.  Someone had given me a plaster of Paris casting kit.  I clearly remember the red rubber mold into which I spooned the wet plaster.  The plaster got warm as it cured, and my dad, who was helping me, explained that the dry plaster and water gave off heat when they were mixed together.  I painted the gnome with watercolors that came with the kit, and I remember thinking it looked really good.    I gave the gnome to my mom, and she kept it in her curio cabinet for the rest of her life.  When she died a few years ago at 93, she left the gnome to me.


  1. I love the stories of the "stuff" around the house. We have a a collection of things from way way back, too. Each item has a special place in our hearts.

  2. I remember having one of those plaster of Paris kits. I had two playmates in my street and we used to play for hours, making the moulds then painting them - my mum must have got tired of all the ornaments! I have a picture somewhere of me and the others in our old garden in Hertfordshire doing this - must try to dig it out!!

  3. oh I would love to see that photograph! who would have thought those plaster sets were so popular? I wonder if they still have them in stores?