Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Confessions of a Mad Menagerie Owner

It's not my fault. I didn't do it--at least most of it--except for one or two creatures among the menagerie. Other people did it. I became their unwitting victim. For some reason, I am viewed as a "critter magnet." It's true that I really love certain types of animals, especially reptiles and amphibians, fish and odd beings like armadillos. Yesterday's influx of frog gifts just finally made me give up. Why fight it? I'm like an inanimate-object equivalent of a crazy cat lady. If I weren't so terribly allergic, I probably would BE a crazy cat lady. As it is, my "pets" are surrogates and require no vet bills.

I'm not sure how it all started, but one by one people pegged me as someone who "needed" this or that little animal thing they saw. They spied it while they were out somewhere and immediately thought of me and decided to indulge me in it without my express consent. I hadn't really examined this issue until one day I was looking around the kitchen thinking, "If we were to renovate this kitchen, what would be the aspects of it I'd want to keep, and what do I hate that we will change?" It was then that I truly noticed the plethora of stupid little animals everywhere in the kitchen. They sit on window sills. They hang from window frames. One has been living in the fruit bowl since Halloween of 2002. They lurk on walls and sit atop the canisters. It's embarrassing, really. I've just been so preoccupied that I hadn't thought about the alarming quantity of kitsch I've collected. I just dust them off regularly and take them for granted. They're members of the family.

As an attempt at therapy, and perhaps to keep for posterity in case I ditch them all if we redo the kitchen, I've made portraits and have decided to "out" my strange collection.

Cam the Ram and e-Claire the Cow

I got these one per year on two annual trips to the museum shop of historic Deerfield, Vermont. They're old-fashioned cast iron and are excellent for holding open cookbooks. I got Cam because in the 1400s to 1700s my ancestors, the Camfields of Northamptonshire, England, became serious experts in sheep husbandry. Matthew Camfield was the first to move to New England--right here where I now live, in fact--and became a greatly celebrated wealthy man for selling his services as a sheep consultant to the settlers who had no idea how to keep their animals alive in this new environment. Matthew moved his way right up to the top of society and married Connecticut's first colonial governor's daughter, Sarah Treat.

E-Claire appears desperate to be milked and was discovered and named by Tyke, who is very fond of anything pastry, sweet, or creamy. He came up with the name instantly and no one could think of any improvements--it was just the right name for her.

About five or six years ago we as a family attended a Halloween costume party. This was before Harry Potter was fabulously successful, but we were among early adopters and by 1999 we were wild over the first book. G went as Harry (this was before the movies and we had our own idea from our imaginations how he should look). Honey went as Hagrid and was quite the riot. We recreated Hagrid in great detail and I decided that he had to have a mouse for his pocket (this is mentioned in the book, along with the pink umbrella which actually disguises his forbidden wand). I made the "mouse" too big, however, and it came out more like Ron's stupid magical rat, Scabbers. After his debut at the party, Scabbers was relagated to the fruit bowl, where he guards the bananas on a daily basis.

Assorted Little Guys

The wonderful beaded Huichol turtle was brought to me by a friend/neighbor who has a time share in Puerto Vallarta. He is hand-carved of wood with individual beads placed in black wax. He hangs on the wall. To his right are two frogs--one Fimo clay, the other pewter. They don't have names. The small armadillo was my Christmas gift from G a few years ago and is named Austin. The shark has no name but is a small bath toy that can squirt water. They all live on top of canisters and get baths on Saturdays.


Hand-carved and hand-painted in either Malaysia or Thailand, he has lovely details. He is a "flying" fish hanging on nylon line from the recessed light panel above the window.

Finally, there's the

"Duck" that's not

. . . whom I wrote about in an earlier post.



At 1/16/2007 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy to see you're an H.P. fan and an animal lover. However, if it is good writing you're looking for, there is not much of it in blogland. In fact, it looks like there are no teachers and few students that have ever even heard of English grammar. I sometimes wonder whether their knitting is as sloppy as their writing, but have seen some who do beautiful knitting and can even figure out patterns. Be interesting to see in what direction the world goes in the next 100 years. Apparently, it will not involve much writing or speaking among the masses.


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