By Kimberly Gerry Tucker
The children who visit me always ask to look for treasures with me. I am more than happy to oblige. I have shoe boxes filled with treasures: sparkly rocks, cracked hollow geodes, rocks shaped by nature like hearts, and the odd sterling silver half dollar; among other things. Given my attachment to objects (which is gargantuan) I have a difficult time parting with such things as trinkets, things found on the ground in parking lots and even bureaus, end tables and the like. The time usually comes to toss things out and I know this. But I’m what my aunt used to refer to as an “odd duck.” For example, if I get a new gadget (let’s say an electric can opener), I can’t use it immediately. I’ll place it in its new assigned spot on the counter and then for a week or so, I acclimate my presence to it by glancing at it peripherally. Eventually it’s a routine object and I use it.
Perfectly normal, right? 😊 I don’t do normal. As an Aspergers woman who happens to have selective mutism AND anxiety, my anxiety sometimes gets the best of me. Special interests help, of course- they help me re-energize, kind of like recharging a flickering brain. The digital painting I did here of the lady with crows has helped quell some anxiety which I realized was getting the best of me when I stepped into the bathtub the other day, and had an irrational fear it would crash through the floor and into the basement with me in it! Treasure hunts calm me, too.
I collect a lot of stuff so when I rediscover something it’s always fun. But I do throw things away when I have to. Letting go is as hard though. To ease the mourning of parting with an object, I often throw out broken or old bureaus for example, in the neighborhood free bulk pickup-and then I keep the drawers for a while. After maybe ten years or less, I either have repurposed the drawers or I finally am able to throw them out. One bureau I used to own was acquired from my (first male!) fifth grade teacher, and this is because my mother worked at a school and bought it from him…Some of you may be familiar with that red bearded teacher of mine if you have read the Chapter called “Eraser Balls” in my memoir. For many years I owned that teacher’s bureau… but I’m digressing.
Anyway, this bureau became shot to hell after years of use. It was second hand when my mother bought it; after all. It had seven tiny drawers with white knobs along the top under the big mirror which I just couldn’t part with. I still have these little drawers lined up; one atop the other, balanced on a shelf inside my room (and filled with who knows what).
There are times I feel like snooping for treasures and when the weather gets colder as it is here in the east just now, I partake in treasure hunts. After all, if I find a tiny bell, a wee knit cap pilfered from a broken stuffed toy, or a round piece of styrofoam- (all are things I have ‘found’ stashed away) these can be repurposed into holiday ornaments which I am compelled to make every year. Every treasure has a story and indeed I could fill blog entry after blog entry on just that topic of ‘things’ alone.
My mother and I were always good at repurposing found or saved things. In Girl Scouts my mother was the leader, and along with thinking up crafts for us girls, she felt it was also her job as my mother to immerse me in things that might socialize me (Fail)… So the pill bottle necklaces came about. Someone had the idea to put various baubles, colorful beads and shiny things inside plastic pill bottles (with the labels removed of course- the bottles were always amber-colored back then) and then melt them in toaster ovens. You can watch the melting process through the toaster oven door’s window. (What a terrible odor however, this activity must be done with an extension cord leading outside with the toaster oven placed on a picnic table-that’s how we did it). When the plastic is still hot and pliable, a needle can be poked through it, in order to make it into a necklace. Apparently, people still do this because I found this very craft on Pinterest.
I was on a hunt for forgotten things in my home when I found this little mustard seed suspended inside a cracked heart which once had a neck chain attached, I assume. I vaguely recognized it as being something my mother once owned. This prompted me to look up the story of the mustard seed. Turns out it is a religious parable:
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field; which indeed is smaller than all seeds. But when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in its branches.”
The parable refers to the black mustard plant, specifically. I found this long forgotten mustard seed in one of my little drawers pictured earlier in the post. (not the fingers; I mean I found this trinket). I admit it; I’m a border/hoarder… My mother; she was a full out hoarder (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but I’m just a borderline hoarder (thus the term border/hoarder.) As such, I often come upon things in the back of one of my closets; cheap plastic shopping bags full of ‘tangled necklaces or quartz rocks or antique wooden rulers with cute pictures on them;’ hanging there on hooks behind well-worn garments. Garments I will wear again when I lose more weight…
I do love objects and I never know what I’ll find on my treasure hunts. I’m not at all super-religious but I like the mustard seed parable, which you have probably heard before. The tiny seed becomes the biggest tree, big enough for birds to perch within it. I look at my mother’s old mustard seed necklace sans chain, my mother who has now passed away, and I’m glad I saved this. It makes me think of tiny things that become larger. Like kindness. Or my random little thoughts. Because I am quiet, I have always thought I should have a sign on my forehead: “Thoughts and ideas may be bigger than they appear.”
“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.” – Napoleon Hill
Kimberly Gerry Tucker is author of Under The Banana Moon. She lives in Connecticut with her fiancé, a dog, and two cats. Kim’s art was chosen for the cover of Samantha Craft’s (2nd printing) book Everyday Aspergers (Nov. 2018). Her most recent publication was in the anthology, Firsts-Coming of Age Stories by People With Disabilities by Belo Cipriani. She arts every day.
Ipad Art on Header by Kimberly Gerry Tucker