Pretty Nonsense

Recently, I mentioned to a friend that, as an interruption in a busy weekend that was too full of Things To Do and too little with fun, Jim and I had dropped into an antiques and collectibles mall.  My friend asked, “Out of curiosity, what interests you most?  Furniture?  Jewelry….?”


My answer probably didn’t surprise her.  “Neither.  Weird stuff.  Oddities.  Sometimes flat-out junk.  Occasionally, I’ll buy one of those jars full of odds and ends of costume jewelry or buttons.  My short story ‘The Button Witch’ came directly from making such a purchase.”

It did, too

Often I don’t buy anything at all.  I just wander around, soaking in all the things that people have decided are important enough to keep, that other people have decided are important enough to buy.  I’m not looking for inspiration as such but, without such fueling stops, after a while the only things I would end up writing about would be cats, gardens, and guinea pigs.

Sometimes, though, we do buy something.  Old books, especially ones long out of print, are favorites.  No surprise there.

Last year Jim bought me a magnificent Chinese brocade shawl lined in velvet.  When I protested I had nowhere to wear such an elaborate thing, he said, “You can wear it to the Bubonicon Afternoon Tea.”  So I did.

Another time I bought a battered wooden lap desk.   I took it home, sanded it (with a little help from Jim) and then sealed it with “pecan” Minwax.  It still looks a bit battered, but shiny.  I’m considering covering the lid with a collage of cancelled postage stamps, and then using it to keep my stationery.  However, I need a lot more stamps before I can do that…

Such trips, where what we’ll see is completely unpredictable, are like mini-holiday for the brain.  I’m curious.  What do you do when you’re feeling a need for stimulation?

2 Responses to “Pretty Nonsense”

  1. James M. Six Says:

    If you have a public P.O. Box address, I’ll send you a postcard.
    (Don’t post your real address. There are weirdos out there.)

    I used to enjoy browsing the dealer rooms at F&SF conventions for new and interesting things, but it’s all become much of a muchness at this point.

    Museums, however, can usually still provide me with mental stimulation, especially as the exhibits interact with my recent reading/watching and my current interests. Once, I walked through a musem looking only for images and objects of dogs, thinking about the dog’s life in that time and place, about their owners, etc. Another time, it was an exhibit of early photographs from the first “pocket” cameras ca. 1900, and how the artists of that time used them – a glimpse into a new technology and how people used it. (From the very beginning, artists took photographs of themselves in mirrors. Selfies are a genetic condition.)

    • janelindskold Says:

      I like your idea of going to a place with a specific image in mind and then searching for it. It’s a neat variation on the concept that whenever you learn a new word, suddenly, you keep hearing it.

      I know that the couple of times I’ve bought a vehicle, I suddenly become very aware of the makes and models of cars on the road around me. Six months after purchase, they blur into background again.

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