Tchotchkes: Junk or Juju?

May 16, 2008

Avon cat

What do you get when you cross a tiny house with a bibelot hound? Living Small!

Sure, I try to limit my intake. Souvenirs are just stuff, right? Clutter, correct? Or are they?

As you may have deduced, I revere old things. Storied things, with all their bumps and bruises. A cat-shaped bottle of long-gone Avon perfume that Mommo kept on the bathroom counter (above). A Parthenon postcard from 1954, with a message to Nikolais Dombroussuis of 720 South L Street, Tacoma, Washington, written in Greek. But what’s the use of old things if they aren’t serving a need? What’s the point of a shelf-sitter?

I know, I know: knickknacks are the cush of a home. They’re the jewelry, in a sense — they are the things that make us remember, and the things that can tell us who we are and where we’ve been. It would take a Hannibal-worthy elephant stampede to get me to cast off my Parthenon postcard, even though I have no clue who Nikolais Dombroussuis is. (If you know him, please tell me; that would be so small-world cool.)

But why can’t I imagine a life without a 50-year-old photo of the Parthenon and a message written to someone I’ve never met, and can barely read? Probably the same reason I’m itching to get a brick or two from the recently demo’d cold storage building of the old Rainier Brewery — history. Feeling the age of a thing, imagining the who and the where of it, gives me a thrill. Seriously. Plus, not only are these old items beautiful in their senectitude, they’re beautiful in their Greenery: paying homage to a mannequin head likely bound for the landfill isn’t only about design sense; it’s a good way to add a little timeworn trash to a room without contributing to the cycle of new consumption.

Is this normal? I’d bet. And while I’m no hoarder, I know there are things in my home that feather my nest without furthering my downsize. But what’s the real harm in tchotchke tableaux? A little more dust?

I’ll take it.


6 Responses to “Tchotchkes: Junk or Juju?”

  1. […] you know I’m a sucker for history, and especially for Seattle history. This multitude of giant timepieces, many of which were […]

  2. Tea said

    I am so glad to know I’m not the only person who was wanting to snag a brick from the old Rainier building. I didn’t do it, but the temptation was fierce.

  3. I didn’t go, either. What a bummer. But what would I do with a brick? Really. What would I do with it?

  4. Tea said

    I was thinking steps down the rather steep and slippery-when-muddy back slope I have to traipse up/down to get to my new compost set up.

    Of course, how one actually creates steps down a steep and muddy slope, I really have no idea.

  5. Ha! That’s a great idea. I wonder if there are any bricks left.

    I think you’d have to do a lot of digging first. Create steps in the mud, then line them with bricks. Of course, I’ve never built steps before, either. Perhaps I’m completely off-base. Wouldn’t be the first time.

  6. […] 28, 2008 Yes, I live in a tiny house. And yes, I strive to create nice sightlines and weird vignettes. Therefore, I am proud to announce a new addition to the Living Small house, handmade by my dear […]

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