Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summer Cleaning


Cleaning out the basement is meant to be a boring, thankless task. Fortunately for me, I seem to have been doing it for years, so now that I absolutely have to get rid of some stuff, I'm finding only the less junky stuff is really left to deal with. And so I find myself going through years of lovely stuff, things I had forgotten I own. Nice things. Things from my travels and other odd life-experiences...

George Carlin had a thing he used to do about "My stuff and your shit," but it seems to me this stuff is pretty interesting shit..

So I took some pictures.

But then, my thinking it's interesting is exactly the reason why it's in my basement.




This is one of those nesting Russian dolls, called a Matryoshka doll, but instead of those pretty girlie figures we get all the main Russian leaders, from Boris Yeltsin right back to a teeny-tiny little Ivan the Terrible.


They seem to be trying to educate us about some of the leaders, here...


Can't remember where I got these. Somewhere in Asia, during my rambles; they are opium tools, probably made for tourists, but then again, I'd bet they aren't too far off from the originals.


Glass soda bottles from a street vendor in Japan. You pay your money and the vendor bashes in the top, which is a little glass ball held in place purely by the pressure of the carbonation (see the picture below). Then you stand there and drink it, give the bottle back to the vendor, and go on your way. Needless to say, I wasn't a very good citizen, or I wouldn't have these.




The glass shell of a streetlight. Notice the interesting combination of Fresnel lens on the inner surface and wavy texture on the outside. The Fresnel lens focuses the light, and the wavy lines make it feel less like a spotlight. It's imprinted with the GE logo (see below).




A solid glass ball, about the size of a small grapefruit.


One of the few items left from my days blowing glass, probably my favorite.


Edward VIII coronation cup, horribly mended.


Everyone needs some good English stripey ceramicware!


A few of the many, many cups my father made for my wedding celebration...


...And my baby cup, also made by him.


Outside and...


...inside of a millivoltmeter, which seems to record its measurements on a soot-coated wheel marked with the hours.


A fan from a flea market in Japan. Anyone know what it says?


A very old, very beautiful, very well-loved double bridge pack of cards from the house of family in England.


And lastly, a child's toy from the same house (as are all the dolls in the bin at the top of the page).

This is only one afternoon's worth of finds. There is much more, like the things I unearthed last Friday: a set of opium weights, an opium pipe, a carving of a nasty little man from, I think, Irian Jaya (though I bought it in Kuching, on Borneo) who is clutching his penis and a knife, and who seems to have real teeth. A set of tiny old ninepins with beautiful wormholes in them. Some souvenir china from the Museum of Jurassic Technology. And on and on. I couldn't possibly put it all in my house, yet I have a hard time relinquishing it...

14 comments:

Christiane said...

keep it! keep it all! maybe you could catalogue it in a book... oh! just imagine future generations finding all of these wonderful things and wondering about their history! what treasures!

spacedlaw said...

A lovely collection.

Lady Meerkat said...

It's the middle of Winter here and I'm sorting through my stuff with a view to paring it back before moving. My stuff isn't as interesting as your stuff and you may well call some of it shit :P

Mim said...

Fascinating.

Susan Shaw said...

Definitely some interesting shit! I wouldn't be able to let go of it either.

ginsoak said...

Is that a Golly in the top bin?
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golliwogg)

I still have the one my grandmother gave me back in the '70s.

Heather McDougal said...

Yes, that's a Golliwogg. I think this one is probably at least fifty years old, probably more like sixty. It sat in the play room for many years before the owners of the house died. From the same house I also found, today, a whole bunch of little homemade dolls' beds and other furniture, with carefully-stitched mattresses, pillows, linens, and blankets. All about the size of my hand. Sigh.

Mrs. Grackle said...

Oh, c'mon! You can't tell us you have a carving of a nasty little man and not SHOW HIM TO US!

Heather McDougal said...

Okay, okay! I'm thinking of doing another post with some more of the strange stuff (sticking to stranger stuff this time), and I'll include the NLM.

Denon Wunderk said...

What a lovely Wunderkammer!

bzyglowi said...

The glass bottles from Japan are for a type/brand of soda called Ramune. Nowadays, at least, you don't have to give back the bottles: they're freely available in stores to buy (you can even find some of them in the States, particularly at anime conventions) and I've heard that it's a game among children to smash the bottles so they can collect the little glass marbles. They certainly are tantalizing with the way they roll around in there. :O

soubriquet said...

Those bottles were common in britain about a hundred years ago, can sometimes be found still in old piles of junk, I think it's great that they're still in use in Japan, sustainable technology, indeed. If only the Coca Cola Company would give it a try!

Jenn said...

FASCINATING! What else are you hiding in your basement? That's some cool shit, man.

Emma said...

My great-aunt and -uncle have one of those political carticture nesting dolls. Not sure which country it's for, though

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