Tag Archives: sentiment

Long Life

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Prophetic treasures and simple pleasures as Valentine’s Day approaches…

As I have asserted before, I am a collector, of objects and of memories.  Gathering has been a lifelong pursuit for me, and each object I have found (or received) and kept has a story.  Some of my collections are large. I own more neckties than most men I know, for example, and most of them are outrageously colorful, ugly or interesting in some way.  And yes, I actually wear them, usually styled with a tailored shirt, a vest and girly jewelry. The Necktie Collection deserves to be displayed in an art museum, but it will have to settle for its own entry on Patchwork And Potpourri at some future date. Be on the lookout for that!

My collections include figurines of angels, dogs and pigs.  I have collections of baskets and wreaths.  A favorite wreath, heart-shaped and made of grapevine, contains dried flowers from weddings I have sung for, funerals of loved ones, flowers I have received from Sweet Pea and other friends and loved ones, and flowers I’ve sent to Sweet Pea over the years.  Of course, there are also the hymnals and Bibles that came to me from Mama and other forebears, as well as treasure boxes filled with priceless cards, letters and pictures.  I must be the most sentimental person in the world.  Each item I have received or found has a story behind it, a reason why it belongs with me.

Someday when I am gone from this world, someone may wonder why I kept so much…stuffPart of what I hope to accomplish with Patchwork And Potpourri is to explain my collections, and to make other people contemplate their own, and share the stories behind the stuff.  Hence Longlife.

When Sweet Pea and I returned from our honeymoon, he immediately went back to work at his job, and I set about unpacking and setting up our very humble little household.  Cardboard boxes filled our tiny rental house, which to us seemed like a palace even though it was really sort of a dump.  We made it home and filled it with love as newlyweds always do.  The first day of married reality when he went to work and I started unpacking, I was thirsty. It was the end of June, 1986, record heat and no air conditioning.  We had stocked the fridge and pantry and started getting the kitchen in order, but I didn’t know which box contained the glasses.  I checked boxes and scrounged around the kitchen to find something to pour my icy-cold Mello Yello into so I could fuel myself for the day’s work.  In a corner of the counter I saw a grimy old pint-sized Mason jar.  Just the right size for my frosty beverage once I cleaned it up! 

Unlike the Mason jars Mama and The Aunts used for canning their green beans and tomatoes, this little jar did not bear the name of Ball or Kerr.  It was stamped “Longlife”.  Long life.  What a wonderful omen for a newlywed couple starting life together in their first little rental house, filled with love and dreams and optimism.  I cleaned out my new little jar, filled it with my bubbly beverage of choice and began unpacking our life together, one box at a time. 

So someday, when I am gone, someone may wonder why, among the china, silver and crystal, a humble Longlife Mason jar has a place of honor in the china cabinet from Mom Cutshaw’s house.  These days I don’t drink from it very often. I usually use a larger, lidded 32-ounce bottle to make sure I consume enough liquid each day, and I keep the lid on to avoid spills because I am a bit clumsy.  And, truthfully, I don’t want to risk breaking my precious little jar, again, because I am clumsy.  It means more to me than I could ever explain.  I hope someday, now that I have told its story, it will mean just as much to someone else.

Longlife…long life. 

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The Confidence Charms

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Musician Superstition

Lots of people have superstitions. Black cats and sidewalk cracks don’t bother me, but I always knock on wood. I can’t help it, it’s something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. I don’t even remember how it got started, or when. I only know that I have to do it. It’s almost pathological!

Athletes, performers and musicians often have some ritual that they follow, or some lucky garment or charm that they wear or carry. I don’t believe in luck. Luck, to me, implies something randomly working out well. I don’t believe in random, either. I believe in preparation, blessing and confidence.

That being said, I have a musician superstition of my own, a set of confidence charms that I wear for every concert, solo, audition, interview or any other occasion (musical or otherwise) when I feel like I need a little extra confidence. The collection has grown over the years. When I was a teenager, my only charm was a simple, small gold treble clef that my parents had given me for Christmas or a birthday. I wore this pendant for every musical event that was important to me, from wedding solos to All-State Chorus auditions and performances, to my college choir tours and voice recitals. I gave this charm to my friend Kathryn as she was graduating from college the year after I did. I found a replacement treble clef shortly after that and began wearing it, but it didn’t look like the original.Image

At some point I added the gold heart locket that my sweet husband, Jeff, had surprised me with for Christmas one year. On one side it contains a photo of him on our wedding day. The other side has a picture of our first dog, Ernie The Wonder Beagle.Image

After Mama died, I purchased a tiny gold and ruby cross pendant. Ruby was her birthstone and I wanted something in ruby to honor her.Image

I began wearing the cross with the locket and the treble clef, sometimes on a necklace, sometimes on a bracelet. Later on I found another treble clef charm that looks more like my original one, so I added it to the collection.ImageThe most recent addition is a tiny broken watch, and the story that goes along with it. Mama was notorious for over-winding watches, and her old jewelry box contained several little ones from the 1950’s that no longer worked for her over-zealous winding habits. I added one of them to my collection of confidence charms while I was doing a ministry class in a hospital last year, as a reminder that the present moment is all we have.Image

I wore my charms every night I was on call at the hospital because I never knew what a given night would hold and I definitely needed confidence. Countless times I touched those charms as I prayed for a patient, a family member…for wisdom and compassion as I tried to minister to them.

The charms are currently on a gold charm holder pin, which has been their configuration for a while now. I also have a charm holder pendant that I can wear on a necklace and will probably alternate between the pin and the necklace.Image

Some people might think my confidence charms are silly. I will just say that they are sentimental. Each one has a special meaning and history. They are beautiful to look at and soothing to touch. When I have a special occasion or a challenging day, wearing them makes me feel more peaceful. Someday, along with the rest of my belongings, the charms will be passed down to someone I love, and I hope they give that person the same sense of peace and calm that I wear them for. And I hope that person will feel the love that is passed down with them.