Surprise gifts are always a pleasure, and I’ve had some real doozies! Topping the list: the set of rings Peter gave to me the holiday we spent in Greece (I thought we’d agreed to forego exchanging presents). I think my jaw dropped nearly to the sidewalk, when in the most romantic spot imaginable, in the shade of the Acropolis on Christmas Eve, he pulled a treasure box from his jacket!
Other surprise gifts aren’t nearly as dramatic but just as welcome. On Wednesday, at the strategic planning session of the Community Foundation of Teton Valley, my friend and fellow board member Susan Lykes pulled a Zip-loc bag from her purse for me; it was full of little rocks she’d collected for me on a recent fishing trip to Alaska.
Here they are. The only big one was distinctively heart-shaped. All of them had stripes or markings that Susan thought would be nicely put to use in my jewelry and junk art pieces.
Tough to see the detail and various textures in the photo, but trust me, each one is unique.
But this isn’t the first bunch of things from Susan; she’s also brought me a slew of precious seashells from Florida, gathered while she and husband Mayo were at the Lykes’ family beach-house there. But shells are lightweight and easy to carry: stones, not so much so!
Nor is Susan the only one who has contributed items for my artwork over the years. Both Joan and I started making different kinds of art pieces with costume jewelry that had belonged to our mom. It was a way to honor Mother’s memory and assemble something incredibly special from the memories…..I’ve simply expanded it from that original idea.
Our employees found me things. So have my sisters, and Rusty, too. And it was always a fun day at Dark Horse Books when someone walked in and said, sometimes shyly, “I have something for you, if you want it.”
These surprises came from a host of friends and customers — Carole Flaherty, Janna Rankin, Erica Burns, Joyce Zajac, Jeannette Boner, LaVon Grandy (especially poignant as some of them had belonged to her mother Bertha Gillette), from the now-gone Carolyn Kasnak, the then-newly arrived Mona Monroe, to mention a few. I apologize for not listing the names of others.
I’ve received special boxes of shiny buttons, Mardi Gras garlands, a fishing tackle with sorted beads, a basketful of earrings, strings of necklaces (some falling apart from frayed fittings but all still beautiful), wedding cake decorations, tiny kids toys, a beat-up brown bag of old keys, and much more.
It was always like Christmas to hear the particulars about what was inside.
I especially love the feeling of connection I have when I find the absolutely-perfect piece and place it on a work in progress. The person who gave me the bit becomes part of the story for the recipient of the finished frame, tin, or whatever I happen to be working on. Put them all together and even the smallest thing is transformed.
Thank you, again, Susan, for thinking of me and carrying this precious cargo all the way back to Teton Valley for me!
And to anyone out there who would like to take part of the ultimate in upcycling, well, start me a small container (a plastic bag that closes works especially well) and just throw any piece of jewelry or junk you had thought about pitching into the garbage into the container instead! Let me know when it’s full, and we’ll figure out a way to get it to me.
I know I’ll be once again touched by the effort, and surprised, too!