It took me twenty years, but I finally set up my collection of curios this past Sunday. We had packed up my lovely figurines when we moved to our current home in June of 1999, and they had remained boxed ever since.
It’s not that I didn’t care about them anymore. Quite the contrary, each piece is quite special. But I kept putting off the task, and putting it off, and putting it off—because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it without dropping and breaking them. My fingers just aren’t that nimble anymore.
I began collecting glass animals when I was a kid. Every summer, our family would vacation on Cape Cod, and one of the highlights of the trip was a visit to a store in Hyannis where an artist would manipulate sticks of glass over a bunsen burner to create whimsical creatures. If my parents had let me, I would have watched him for hours. Among my favorite purchases with allowance saved for weeks were a white horse rearing on its hind legs, a pair of pink elephants, a tiny red hippo, a dove, a turquoise dolphin.
At some point along the way, I was given my paternal grandfather’s collection of miniatures. These included two painted metal orchestras—one made up of frogs, and the other of monkeys, elephants, foxes and a devilish conductor. There were some carved wooden figurines, and some of carved ivory, as well. Eventually I found an enclosed glass curio box and displayed them in the living room of our prior home for many years.
I missed them. But with all the bandages and ulcers and Raynaud’s and hand surgery, I just couldn’t get myself to risk displaying them again. That is, until this past year, when I began keeping a Bullet Journal, which is a great system for keeping track of just about anything you need to get done. For my list of things I wanted to accomplish around the house, I added in setting up my curio collection.
Now, you can keep pushing off items in a Bullet Journal and rewriting them in the next week’s or month’s to-do list. But after rewriting an item enough times, you realize that either you should take it off the list, or just do it, already. Given that June marked the twentieth anniversary of our move, it really was high time to take care of it.
So last week, I found the box with my collection, marked “fragile,” on the top shelf of my closet. It was filled with plastic ziplock bags, each containing about ten figurines, carefully wrapped in tissues. But where was the curio display box? Upstairs, downstairs, in the basement I searched, to no avail. Then Al came home, and within a half-hour, found it in the basement—in a box marked “glass box.” Well.
The glass box was in perfect shape, cushioned by yellowed newspapers from June 1999. I figured out a good spot to hang it in the living room, measured the box and marked the wall, and tried to hammer a picture hook at the correct spot. It slipped and dropped to the floor. I tried again, using a pair of needle-nosed pliers to hold the nail. This time I was able to start it, but the angle was wrong as I tapped with a tack hammer. Time to ask for help if I wanted to finish before dark. Al took care of the hooks and hanging the box.
Now it was time to place the figurines. As I unwrapped each one, it was like meeting old friends. Using a pair of round-nosed pliers from my jewelry-making supplies, I was able to place them without too much trouble. That is, until one piece, a green glass octopus, slipped, bounced on the floor and disappeared. I stopped myself from trying to move things around to find it, since I didn’t want to cause any more damage or knock another figurine out of the box. The whole process took several hours. Finally, when everything was in place, I poked around on the floor. There was the octopus, lodged between some CDs in Al’s music collection—in tact!
So, now all my little friends are back on display. I took my time, worked my way around the dexterity issue with the right tools, and didn’t break anything. And I can finally take that task off my list.