Friday, September 10, 2010

Boo-Boos, Dings, and Uh-Ohs

A couple of days ago the Jewish New Year began. The Boy, The Hubby, and I were in services. The Hubby and I simultaneously looked at this permanent stain on his tallit (prayer shawl) and smiled:

We smiled, because the stain was made by The Boy, back when he was a drooly toddler. A snacking, drooly toddler, depositing chocolate-laced slime on his daddy's tallit during services long ago.

Now The Boy is a 6-foot-1-inch, almost-18-year old. He doesn't drool any more (except, perhaps, in his sleep). But the stain reminds us of when he was little enough to snooze on our shoulders.

This got me thinking about objects we own and treasure despite--indeed because of--their mars, flaws, owies, and various insults. And how we love them all the more for it.

This is my Nana's (my mother's mother's) locket. Her maiden name was Edna Agniece Condit. When she was a young mother, Edna Sr. wore this locket on a silver chain around her neck, where her baby, Edna Jr., could grab it.

Baby Edna used it as a teething toy. Her chomp marks are still all over the locket, back and front:

How precious those dents are to me!

A few years after breaking in her baby teeth on the locket, my mother was old enough to sit in a high chair. My Nana and Grandpa set their daily table with silver napkin rings. Toddler Edna would enthusiastically bang her napkin ring on her high-chair tray, much to the detriment of the napkin ring:

It's been dinged so out of round that it can actually stand on its side:
I guess because I'm a third-generation "Edna" (my full first name is "Juliedna"), the napkin ring was passed down to me. And how I treasure it!

Some of the boo-boos in our house are of recent vintage. Like this comfy chaise, near a window and close to the fireplace. It's the perfect place to read a book or curl up for a nap. But it has a big ol' stain on it. Can you see it?

Yeahhhh, that'd be a drool stain. But who drools in the middle of a chaise, and not near the head?

Dogs, that's who! Clearly, our pugs like to curl up for a nap as much as we do.

Don'tcha, Mu Shu?

My Nana (she of the "let's give a toddler a silver napkin ring") was raised in luxury and wealth back in the late Victorian era in New York City. Her family had a maid for the upstairs and one for the downstairs.

Nana inherited many lovely things from her patrician family. But she didn't necessarily know the best way to take care of them. That was what the maids did, not the young ladies of the house. To wit, this silver samovar:

It graced her family's dining room sideboard for many years, serving hot coffee to guests. The coffee stayed hot due to a little votive candle placed underneath the elevated legs of the urn:

My Nana inherited the samovar and, like her parents, served hot coffee to guests one night. Except that she used not a candle, but a pot of Sterno. The intense heat of the Sterno melted the legs of the samovar, and even expert restoration couldn't undo the damage completely:

See the crack? The samovar is still a pretty object, and the story reminds me of my elegant but sometimes-slightly-clueless Nana.

But I've been clueless, too.

This lovely circle on our kitchen table is because one autumn I decorated the table with dried leaves and a real pumpkin:

Note to self: Fresh pumpkin and naked wood Do. Not. Mix.

The next bit of damage was due not to lack of housekeeping skills, but to a miscommunication. In our dining room is this picture called "After the Hunt," painted in the late 1800s by a guy named A. Greux:

There's pretty people in it:

And a bunch of hunters and horses:

And a dead stag, which is probably why not everybody is crazy about this oil painting:

My Nana's friend Phyllis originally owned this painting. She sent it to my mom, Edna, Jr. (the locket-chomper) when Edna, Jr. was a young married lady. Phyllis didn't want the painting any more and thought that my mom might be able to make a lovely mirror using the frame. Phyllis sent it all wrapped up in a huge package, encased in a big wood crate.

So, my mom opened the crate with a crowbar. She didn't realize that the oil painting was still in the frame! Mom put a big gash in the canvas over the hunters' heads:

The gash was rather clumsily repaired, but it's still a pretty painting. And every time I very carefully slit open a cardboard box or padded envelope that's come to me in the mail, I think with fondness of my mom, and how she learned that lesson the hard way.

This next Oops! makes me think of my Nana. These silverplate candlesticks were hers. When she was getting on in years, my Nana grew a little fearful, as some seniors do, of robbers and such. So she rented an engraving tool...

And did this on the underside of each candle holder's lip. "Edna"...

Middle initial "C" for "Condit"...

last name "Lewis" (her last married name--she had a couple, but that's another story):

I like to think that between engraving the first candlestick and the second, she thought to herself, "Hey, wait a minute: I want my maiden name on there, too!" Because the mate is engraved "Edna Condit Lewis":

How many people can say they have their grandmother's signature permanently etched in silver?

Makes me smile, every time I see it.


  1. Oh, I'd totally forgotten about grandnana's scratched signature on the candlesticks! I love them even more now. :)

  2. The silk tallit must be long enough to be worn over the shoulders (as a shawl), not just around the neck (as a scarf), to fulfill the requirement that the Tzitzis be on a "garment.



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