Friday, June 2, 2023

The China Cabinet

After the funeral, he settled into a solitary routine. When the funeral platters were finished, he ate a microwaved Swanson every night at the table where they’d shared their meals. Afterwards he’d linger there, staring into the China cabinet. She’d collected decorative plates, the souvenir kind, kitschy mementos of Disneyland, Mount Rushmore, Nashville. One day he boxed them all up and hauled them to the car, drove to the Niagara Escarpment, carried them to the cliff edge, and spun them like frisbees out into the void. He missed her desperately, but she should never have thrown out his Dylan records.

Inspired by My Late Mother's Collections. Photo by Jane Stotesbery.

Monday, May 29, 2023

My late mother's collections

Stamps, mint and postmarked, including a shoebox full of stamps still glued to bits of envelopes;
Postcards, carefully pasted into scrapbooks in the early days, later in giant bundles;
Love letters she received, only one set is from my father;
Her school report cards;
Dolls sporting national costumes;
Shoes (all uncomfortable);
T-shirts, all oversized and hand embroidered by her;

Part of the lace trim collection.

Souvenir beer mugs;
Lace trim and scraps of material;
Christmas decorations and ornaments;
House plants;
Decorative plates;
Bird houses;
Costume jewelry;
Miniature porcelain tea sets;
Perfume bottles;
Fridge magnets;
Bottle caps;
Dress-up clothes;
Colouring books and markers;
Dust and memories.

Inspired by all the stamp collecting stories.  Photo by Nancy.

Thursday, May 25, 2023


Was a time Canada Post took a much more conservative approach to their commemoratives, when a person needed to be at least ten years dead before the post office would even consider putting their face on a stamp. There were exceptions, of course, for Prime Ministers and Governors General, but perhaps the first and best exception they made was on April 13, 1982 when the post office released a stamp commemorating Terry Fox, who had died less than one year before. A fitting tribute to a national hero . . . and yet, going forward, it was clear now that all bets were off. 

Was a time when the only living person Canada Post would put on a stamp was the reigning monarch, that is until August 15, 2005, when they commemorated Oscar Peterson. Another good choice, I suppose, except that now, almost two decades after lifting that restriction, you don’t need to be dead; you don’t need to be Canadian; hell, you don’t even need to be human!
Yeah, that’s right, Mr. Spock got his in 2016—with, at best, a tenuous connection to his Canadian co-stars—and yet they still haven’t honoured Keanu Reeves . . . which is why I had to fake one up.

Inspired by Time Stamp. Terry Fox’s stamp by Friedrich Peter, Spock’s by Kosta Tsetsekas.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Time Stamp

Recently, Astrid and Dave sent Rich a birthday card. The envelope had the new king’s head on the stamp. One of the first signs of succession. But like many of us who only knew Elizabeth, it just looked weird. Anachronistic, like the ones of George VI in my collection. It reminded me of those commemorative plates, bought at Shanfields by dutiful Windsorites, safe-kept in that cupboard above the fridge, mired in decades-old kitchen grease and cigarette smoke. And never, ever used for anything. But really, what would you serve on a Charles and Camilla platter, anyway? Something eggy and crustless?

Inspired by I’ll Get to It Eventually. Image courtesy of Laurie’s fridge.

Monday, May 15, 2023

I’ll Get to It Eventually

Monarchs and presidents. Exotic, sometimes defunct countries. Historical figures and events. Stamps fascinated me as a kid. I became a collector, but my meager allowance necessitated frugality. I couldn’t afford to buy stamps, even cancelled ones. If a keeper arrived on a letter, I tore it off, pealed it from its backing, and pasted it into a notebook. Eventually I fell far behind with everything except the tearing part. The stamps went into a box till I got to them. I never did, and the boxes accumulated. I’ll get around to them, eventually, a life-roughened kid with his well-travelled stamps.

Inspired by Stamp Collecting. Image from Mail Adventures.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Stamp Collecting

My parents were both fifteen, shy, awkward. If he wasn’t playing baseball, and she wasn’t watching him play baseball, he’d visit on a Saturday afternoon. They would sit on her front porch, sipping lemonade, maybe, or coke directly from bottles he brought over from his mother’s depanneur. And they’d work on their collections, swapping stamps, two French for one Australian, dreaming of visiting those places. Did they draw their chairs close? Whisper to each other stuff they didn’t want the adults to hear? And under a light summer rain, pitter-pattering on the porch’s roof, did they lean in to kiss?

Inspired by the image for Six Degrees of Peameal Bacon. Photo by Nancy Kay Clark.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Six Degrees of Peameal Bacon

When Gordon Lightfoot died this week, my friend Peter posted a photo he'd taken of the two of them together—not just some selfie he was lucky to catch outside a concert: Peter and Gordon were friends. In a similar vein, my sister hung around with Keanu Reeves’s sister—all of us together at Jesse Ketchum P.S. In high school, I was friends with two of Margaret Atwood’s nephews and—decades later—my daughter attended the same daycare as her grandchildren. Toronto likes to fancy itself a bustling world-class city, but I swear we’re really just a small town, overblown.
Inspired by Pussywillows, Cat-tails, Soft Winds and Roses. The photo collage was created by the author. The Lightfoot stamp he found was part of series, designed in 2007, by Circle Design Incorporated. The Atwood stamp was designed in 2021 by Steven Slipp. The photo of a young Keanu Reeves is from the Michael Ochs Archives; the older Keanu was photographed by Anna Hanks; and the fake stamp, itself, is based on a 2014 definitive designed by Entro. And by this point, one has to wonder if the acknowledgments for a 100-word story should be as long as the story itself.

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