Monday, January 03, 2011

The Accidental Altar

I was unpacking a box of tchotchkes a couple of weeks ago, and I ended up arranging my favorites on the only empty flat surface in my entire room-- my dresser.  It wasn't until a few days later that I realized that it's got the vibe of an altar.

Starting at the top left, there is a picture of my brother and sister-in-law.  (I fuzzed out their faces because I don't have their permission to post a picture of them on the internet.  As far as I know, they don't even know I have this blog.)  In the middle is Flower Annie, my Wee Peeple doll, made by the wonderful Kandra Niagra.  Isn't she beautiful?  I love Wee Peeple dolls.  They have such personality and energy.

Next to Annie is a drawing I made when I was about 10.  We'd just moved to Texas for the first time, and it was the Sesquicentennial.  (150 years of Texas statehood.)  I was the new Yankee girl, but they liked it so much that it was framed and posted in the hall at my middle school for years.  I'm not sure how my parents got a hold of it, but they put it on the wall in the yellow guest bedroom in Massachusetts (which was briefly my bedroom).  I think because the frame is yellow, so it matched the room.

Coming around the corner, there is a little pixie box I've had since I was a little girl.  It's sitting in a wooden bowl that my dad carved.  I'm not sure why it's sitting in the bowl, but when I took it out it didn't look right to me, so back in it went.  Next to the pixie box is a large shell I got once on a trip to the beach in Galveston.  The beach is kind of a special place to me.  (I'm a Scorpio.  That's a water sign, so I guess that makes sense.)    I always feel more relaxed at the beach.  Like I can exhale.  All my muscles unknot and I sleep better.  If I ever win the lottery I'm buying a house on the beach.

In front of the pixie box there's a crystal that I love.  When I did have an official altar I used it to represent the energy of the God.  There's also a pretty little shell that I found once walking on the beach.  In the bottom right corner is a little dish given to me by a friend.  She used to read cards at the Texas Renaissance Festival, and she used the dish as a tip jar.  I know you can't tell from the picture, but it has suns and moons and stars all around the edge.  In the dish is the fortune I got in my fortune cookie when we had Chinese food New Year's Eve.  It says, "A new romance is in the future."  I'd say that's pretty accurate, since a romance novel that I'd pre-ordered downloaded to my Kindle on January 1st.

Next to the bowl is a plastic canvas coaster I made for my parents.  Their living room in Massachusetts was painted barn red and tan, with black accents.  I made about a dozen of them in different quilt block designs, and I made that one, with a black cat on it, to represent my cat, Trouble.  Mom and Dad love him to bits, and Mom calls him her grandson, so I thought they'd like it.  I stole that one in Massachusetts so that I had something to put my sweating drinks on in my bedroom.  Somehow it never got put back with the rest of the coasters when we packed.

In the center, in front of Flower Annie, is a little frame that used to sit on my grandfather's nightstand.  On the left side there's a picture of my mom as a little girl in her Girl Scout uniform.  (You can't really see it because of the glare.)  We looked so much alike at that age, that I asked my granddad once when that picture was taken, because I didn't remember doing it.  I thought it was me.  There used to be a little picture of her brother, my Uncle George, tucked in there, too, but it slipped out.  It's probably still in the box the frame was packed in for the move.  I need to look around for it, because I don't want to lose it.  On the other side is a picture of my grandmother and grandfather.  I can see that picture from my bed, and it makes me happy to be able to look at them.

In front of the frame is my mascot, Super Becky.  When I was a freshman in college I went into a Hallmark store around Halloween, and I spotted these cute little miniatures.  My roommate and best friend is a huge fan of dragons, and I found a puppy in a dragon costume for her.  For me I found a bunny in a super hero costume, with a capital B on his chest.  I immediately knew his name was Super Becky.  (Don't ask me why Super Becky is male.  It makes no sense.  But it is what it is.)  I don't know how I managed to hang on to Super Becky for almost 20 years now without losing him.  As you can see, he's pretty small.  But I have.

Moving on to the left, there's a pretty little porcelain box that I got as a favor at a birthday party when I was in elementary school.  It's got a butterfly on top and my name written in liquid gold on the front.  I always thought it was the coolest thing.  Next to that there is an old-style Weeble Wobble.  I was at my grandparents house one day, and I decided to give it to Grandmom.  She was so touched that I gave her one of my toys that she kept it forever after on display in her china cabinet with all her other treasures.  I never had the heart to tell her that my 5 year-old self decided that he was the grumpy one, and I didn't want him any more.  It kind of makes me laugh now.  I still think of him as the grumpy one!

The stack of stones in the bottom left corner is something that my brother collected.  I'm not sure why I kept them (I found them on the bookshelf in my room in Massachusetts), but they seem to fit there.  Behind the stones is a little angel that Mom used to put out as a Christmas decoration in my room every year.  I loved to play with her.  One year I kept her, and she lived on a shelf in my apartment in Houston.

Behind the angel is another item that was always on display at my grandmother's house.  I think I mentioned a while back that she was a professional church soloist in Philadelphia.  As you may be able to tell from the little photo that lived on my grandfather's nightstand, Grandmom was also a sizable woman.  This figure looked so much like her that her coworkers gave it to her as a gift when she retired.  I love having this little piece of my grandmother on my dresser.

And the last figure is pretty well obscured by glare, but she is the little statue I used to represent Goddess on my altar.  Here is a site that has a picture of the collection she came from.  The name of the figure is Devotion, and she's just about exactly in the center of the page.  You may notice that the whole collection is a bit, um, Georgia O'Keefe, but I like them.  You can't see it, but there's another little shell at her feet.

And that is my accidental altar.  Little bits and pieces of family and history and places that are important to me.


  1. Anonymous7:07 PM

    I don't know that I'd be able to showcase all my tchotchkes (I so love that word) on the top of a dresser. I've got an entire wall of angels. I've got an entire kitchen of roosters. Doubtful I could contain them all on a dresser - I'd have to choose favorites.

    But I so loved wandering through your collection. I love the way you're so "real".


  2. Thank you! Yeah, there's more around here... somewhere. And I had to let go of some of the stuff that was less personally meaningful. There was just no way to ship and store it all. But this is definitely some of my favorite stuff.

  3. Anonymous11:29 PM

    Oh this makes me so happy! You are starting to feel more at "home" there now, I can just tell. Surrounding yourself with these "sacred" items is very good and very healing.
    Thank you for sharing them with us. I love the Devotion goddess and the found shell from Galvaston. All so special.


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