Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I collect things.
I collect moments and the memories held in things.

I have collected rocks and stones since I was as little girl. My most precious and prized rocks have been kept variously in drawers, special boxes, and more recently, a red velvet bag.   My father has a Masters Degree in geology, so I was constantly in his face asking What kind of rock is this?
There is something mystical and magical about holding a stone( or any object) in your hand, feeling its history and imagining all that it has witnessed.

If you collect stones, then it is obvious that you would also want to hold your prayers in your hand-- and so I also collect rosaries --stones on a string, beads (or bedes--which is Old English for prayer) in my hand, ropes of knots, or other indigenous and wonderful materials (Lava rock and seeds from Hawaii, seeds from the garden of the Abbey of Gethsemani, wooden beads from Jerusalem, rose petal beads from a friend who knows I collect rosaries, silver, etc.)

I make rosaries, as well.
For those who are counting beads--these that I made as gifts for folks are Anglican Rosaries (33 beads)

I had always wanted a Pandora bracelet since the first minute in 2003 this product was introduced in the United States.   I saw a catalog for it--pages and pages of charms (beads). When I retired from teaching, my staff at Salem Elementary gave me a Visa gift card.  Instead of frittering it away on a variety of things, I decided this was the moment to begin my Moments collection with  Bracelet number one and few charms.  Thus begin the collection/addiction.

For my sixtieth birthday, my husband gave me a Pandora necklace on which I can wear one or two or three beads ---so the collecting  continues....

I recently discovered a a beautiful new book that affirmed and delighted my collector's heart-- a book that honors the moments and memories held in small things.

The Matchbook Diary by Paul Fleischman gives glimpses into the life and memories of a man as he shares with his great-granddaughter. As she looks around a room filled with many wonderful and interesting objects, He invites her to pick...
Pick whatever you like the most. Then I'll tell you its story.
So the story begins. She selects a cigar box which contains dozens of matchboxes--his diary.  Each small box contains and item or two---and a memory--and a story.  

As each box is opened its story unfolds  and colorful images give way to the sepia tones of his remembered experiences.

Click here to access a companion guide for this book including a letter from Paul Fleischman about the origin of the idea matchbook for this book, as well as related writing ideas.

Sometimes it is rooms or shelves that hold our memories.  In Denis Horgan's case it is his desk which includes many significant objects.  One of those objects is a rock found lodged in a
car windshield on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center.  Each personal essays in Flotsam: A Life in Debris is about one of the objects on his desk.

In Show Way , Jaqueline Woodson shares the quilts that hold her families stories-- her history.  The bright pieces of cloth tell of pain and sorrow, death and separation, births and celebrations.  The quilts, the fabric remnants pieced together, hold her inherited memories and allow her to tell her story to her daughter.

Can an object bring back a lost memory?

That is the theme explored in Wilfrid Gordan McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox.   A young boy who lives next to a nursing home collects a number of objects in an effort to help an elderly woman who, according to his parents " has lost her memory", to regain her lost moments.  The objects he brings her do, indeed, help her to remember bits and pieces.This poignant tale treats the loss of memories and aging in a delightfully, non-patronizing way.

In our writing group last night, several Columbus Area Writing Project teachers wrote about our own collections.  Our collections and our writing were as diverse as we are.

One person wrote about her ongoing collections of books-- a third floor was built to hold it.  As she read, she constructed and sorted shelves of books with her words that we could see, as if we were in that third floor.

Another wrote about not collecting as a result of the collections of her parents taking over their house, the lives, and their thoughts.  Inadvertently though, she actually and quite accidentally began collecting greeting cards, notes from parents and students and other correspondence--all an affirmations of her life and her work.

I am still immersing myself in ghazals, (see related post Guzzling Ghazals) so my response followed that path:

Ghazal #4- On My Arm
 I collect moments of my experiences and life --cold on my arm
I recollect each moment of joy and pain and strife of old on my arm
I wander the world- my small part of it anyway-- collecting
Bits and pieces, beads of silver, and maybe a little gold on my arm.
The heaviness anchors me to earth and to the ones who walk with me
The reflected shine –tying me to the sun and the moon and the stars --glowed on my arm
As I grow and tarnish, so the beads grow dark-- and then re-silver again
I recount each moment  from time to time— remember each – told on my arm
Infants grab my bracelets -- instant baby-catchers- Auntie Robin show me your arm.
I wear my heart on my sleeve and my loves and lives --bold on my arm

For a related  writing prompt and additional resources see Stones in my Pocket in Deeper Writing (pages  37-42)

Today's Deeper Writing Possibility

In addition to the items listed above, I collect Kalimbas or African thumb pianos and other musical instruments from other countries.... and of course, books. 

What do you collect?  Make a list of all the things that you collect?
How did you begin to collect that item? 
Why is this item important to you?
How does this item affect your life?

Think about your collection(s).  Are there patterns and and connections between different sets of items that you collect?

Write a personal essay, narrative, or poem about your collection or one object from your collection.  

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