• Bright Things

    Bright Things #14: Cat Treat Tin

    One of the themes of The Memory Collectors is our relationship to physical objects — the memories, emotions, and power they hold for us. Every week leading up to the book’s release, I’ll share the story of an object that’s special to me.

    Once upon a time, this container would sing the Meow Mix jingle when you opened the lid. You know the one: meow meow meow meow etc. The sound would bring our cats running for treats. It was a surefire way to get them off the top of the refrigerator or out from under the bed after I’d committed the terrible sin of vacuuming.

    After several years, the song grew decidedly less peppy, and by the time our dear old friend Oberon passed on at the age of 17, it made a sad warbling noise that was frankly a bit creepy. I’ve since pulled out the tiny speaker but we still use the tin, even though it’s dented on one side and doesn’t quite close properly.

    It’s a different pair of kitties who come running these days. Turns out the song was unnecessary; the sound of the lid opening is enough to get their attention. Godric here is waiting patiently for me to finish taking photos and open the tin for him. He looks sad but don’t worry, that’s just his face.

  • Bright Things

    Bright Things #13: Ticket Stubs Found in Unexpected Places

    One of the themes of The Memory Collectors is our relationship to physical objects — the memories, emotions, and power they hold for us. Every week leading up to the book’s release, I’ll share the story of an object that’s special to me.

     
     
    The tickets to this play were gifted to me by a friend who was unable to attend. I took my daughter, who was only seven at the time and had never experienced live theatre for adults. I worried the show might be too long and the language too confusing. I half-expected we’d have to leave before it was over, but I was wrong. She was enthralled.
     
    I found the stub recently in a box while looking for something else entirely. I don’t remember putting it there and was surprised I still had it. That’s often the case with small paper-based mementos like this. They’re used as bookmarks, or linger in overstuffed wallets, or fall to the backs of desk drawers. Discovering them years later can instantly call up associated memories: the quality of summer afternoon light under the tent, the sound of fans blowing to keep the audience cool, and Puck leaping across the stage in a black tutu and combat boots.
     
    It feels a bit melancholy at the moment to come across a reminder of the joy of a live shared experience. I hope we are getting closer to the day when we can begin collecting such memories again.
  • Bright Things

    Bright Things #12: Red Pot

    One of the themes of The Memory Collectors is our relationship to physical objects — the memories, emotions, and power they hold for us. Every week leading up to the book’s release, I’ll share the story of an object that’s special to me.

    I’m a utilitarian cook. I don’t have a great passion for cooking, but I love food and I love to eat well. Since we can’t eat out every day, I’ve learned and practiced over the years to the point of competency, and perhaps occasional excellence.
    It brings me satisfaction to prepare nourishing and delicious meals for myself and my family. I rely on a handful of old favourites, throwing in a new recipe or experiment when the standard rotation starts feeling stale.
    This is my all-time favourite cooking pot. So red! So warm and inviting. Soups taste better in it. I can’t say why but it’s a fact.
    My kitchen is tiny, truly a one-person affair. When I’m standing at the stove, everything is within arm’s reach. The red pot now lives on top of the kitchen cupboards, that not-quite-a-shelf space where normally only dust and cats go. Every time I get up on my stool and pull it down, its solid weight and cool ceramic handles make me smile.
  • Bright Things

    Bright Things #11: 20 Dates for 2020

    One of the themes of The Memory Collectors is our relationship to physical objects — the memories, emotions, and power they hold for us. Every week leading up to the book’s release, I’ll share the story of an object that’s special to me.

    So, this is probably the most bittersweet gift I’ve ever received. My husband presented me with this book at the end of 2019. Every page is hand painted with a watercolour illustration on the left side, and an envelope on the right side. Inside each envelope is a gift card or a description of an activity that we can do together. The idea was to get us out more in 2020 :/

    We did go on one or two lovely dates before, you know. But I keep the book on my desk where I can see it. First of all, because it’s romantic and thoughtful. And second, because it reminds me that we’re going to have 20 fantastic dates in 2022.

    (PS I would also like to brag that in all this time I have not peeked inside any of the envelopes. A true accomplishment.)

  • Bright Things

    Bright Things #10: Family Calendars

    One of the themes of The Memory Collectors is our relationship to physical objects — the memories, emotions, and power they hold for us. Every week leading up to the book’s release, I’ll share the story of an object that’s special to me.

    Back in 2010, I put together a photo calendar to give to the grandparents for Christmas. Everyone loved them, so we did it again the next Christmas, and the next. Eleven years later and we’re still doing it.


    When I was a kid we had boxes of old family photo albums in our attic that I loved to look at. Some of them had wide, black paper pages and photo corners, others (my favourite) those sticky pages and plastic coverings that made a crinkly tearing sound when you opened them (this was long before ASMR was popularized; now I know why it was so satisfying to peel that plastic back and then smooth it down again, carefully in order to avoid air bubbles). I liked looking at old baby pictures of myself and my brother, and seeing glimpses of my parents’ lives before I was born.


    The most recent album I have is from our wedding in 2005. Like most people these days, my images are all stored digitally. For better or worse, I rely on Facebook memories to prompt me to look at my daughter’s baby pictures. Except for these calendars. Every time I come across them I find myself flipping through them, just like when I was a kid. They’ve become a physical archive of our family’s story, an unexpected blessing.