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.