The Treasure Box

The pink and silver striped tin held lollies: chocolate cubed violet crumbles, or perhaps colourfully striped liquorice all-sorts. But that was not the reason I was drawn to my grandmother’s cabinet. There were interesting treasures behind the locked glass doors; bright objects that caught the eye of a small girl.

I remember the Toby mugs of varying sizes, stern faces, coloured coats, white stockings, buckled black shoes, and handles on their backs. Also elegant porcelain ladies with full skirts feathered with lace folds. A Japanese fan that revealed a pretty painted scene when unlatched. The family of small black elephants with white tusks always proved to be safe play things for children. Tea sets; elegant glasses; crystal bowls; decorated plates; and small decorated boxes that could hold hidden treasure, but when opened revealed – nothing.

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The thing that always attracted me the most was a beautiful silver coloured tea set. It was modern in design in comparison to the other objects held in the cabinet. But I didn’t know anything about that then. My grandmother told me that I could have it when I grew up. This embarrassed me, as my appreciation of her things was just that, and so while I continued to admire her treasures, I stopped declaring this.

My mother inherited this cabinet minus many of the treasures within. My grandmother did indeed give me the silver tea set for a significant birthday. And over the years I have collected my own treasures. These things have been in boxes for the last 2 ½ years and it is only now that I am able to unpack them and put them into my grandmother’s cabinet that I inherited from my mother.

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My mother collected small elephant figurines. I don’t know why. Perhaps this love grew after the time she spent in Thailand. She had many of different styles, colours, materials, and sizes. At her wake my father said to offer them around to the people there. So I placed them all onto a tray and went around offering them like a plate of sandwiches. And almost everyone would say, “No I can’t take that one. That is the nicest one and everyone will want it.” People were drawn to the different elephants and almost all of them found new homes and a memento of my mother.

It is interesting to me the value that we place on objects. Why do we do that? Sentimental reasons and nostalgia count for a lot. What might have value in the market place might not be valued by me at all. I became an Industrial Designer because I appreciate well-designed good quality objects. Once I saw the ugly cheap plastic reality of mass production I bailed from this career path, not wanting to add to the already drowning plastic fantastic universe. “Form follows function” is the dictum of Industrial Design. And yet how many ways can we construct a chair? Or a tea pot? What do we actually need in our lives?

I cherish the memory of admiring the objects in my grandmother’s cabinet. It was a pure delight not yet tarnished with notions of monetary value, possession, greed, or competition. It was a small girl’s wonder that is precious in itself.

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Sprucing Up the Library with Kevin Hennah

Kevin Hennah is like a comedy act for Librarians. He is funny, sarcastic, and knows how to provoke his audience. He regularly sprouts comments like:

If I have to hear the word ‘makerspace’ one more time…

And:

The Internet has moved the goal posts, yet many libraries keep kicking in the same direction.

And:

If you have RFID, why do you still have this Titanic circulation desk?

I enjoyed his workshop that reiterated concepts that I had heard before:

  • Ditch Dewey in preference for genre collections.
  • Create boutique style collections.
  • Use face-out displays of books.
  • Adopt clear signage.
  • Use ‘library’ as the strong brand that it is. Don’t adopt new names such as ‘Learning Centre’ or ‘Community Hub’ or ‘LINC’.
  • Weed, weed and weed.
  • Make space for seating for customers.
  • Ditch the pin-board displays in favour of screens, QR codes, and quick pick displays.
  • Blame Kevin.

 

It’s not about me

When I sat in the ECU holding the hand of my dying mother, it wasn’t about me. It was about being there for her, to be a loving daughter, to be a physical presence for another soul, my mother, as she passed reluctantly from this Earth.

When I helped my father when he visited my mother in her final days, I was there for him, to support him in his grief, to provide his transport, to cook his meals, to talk with the doctors, as he struggled, losing his lifetime companion. It was not about me.

When my husband and I resigned from good jobs, sold our home and most of our personal possessions, in order to be there to care for my father as he declined into ill health, it wasn’t about me. It was to be there for him at 1am and 3am and 5am 24/7, responding to his needs, helping him stagger to the toilet, giving him medicine to ease his pain. As I tried to allow him the space and dignity he deserved as his body failed him, lifting him when he fell, keeping him clean and comfortable, it was all about him, never about me.

When I had to oversee the Will as Executor, to deal with their much-loved possessions; never mine to give or take; I did so with respect and as instructed. I repeatedly asked for help and was consistently ignored by some. It was never about me.

When I grieved for my parents, a hole in my life, it was about me. And while others grieved too, I could barely contain my own grief. But still I wrote the thank you notes and made the phone calls, not for me, but for my parents.

As I sat in my parent’s home waiting for the slow legal wheels to turn, waiting for the right to sell, and my husband cleaned their house after their cancers had taken the limelight causing five years of neglect, it was never about me, or him, but in restoring order and treating their Estate with respect.

When I try to give gifts to my adult children, to extend a kindness, to celebrate their birthdays, milestones, and Christmas, it is about every mother’s joy in being able to give something to the ones they love. Maybe that is about me. But when that joy is denied that is not about me.

IMG_2202When I go to work, to earn money to live, I feel privileged to be able to share a love of books and reading. It is not about me. It is about extending that known joy to others lives.

I only have two eyes, one mind, one heart, and that is me. It’s all I have to experience this world. My conscience is clear, as I know my motives are genuine. I am not selfish, but my loss is all about me. It is impossible to carry someone else’s grief. I can see it, sit with it, give empathy, be kind, if given the opportunity.

What else could I have done, I wonder? There were always others involved in these experiences, and I respect and honour their involvement and personal perspective. It was never all about me. But I can’t speak for them.

This blog, my blog, is all about me. And I have struggled to find my voice again, silenced and humbled by common personal life events. I stagger on; a zombie, like the walking dead.