Friday, August 12, 2016


Declutter! Simplify! Why? I rather like the clutter. I feel comfortable in its midst. It makes me feel secure. Yes there are times I get stressed when I can't find an important paper or a tool, but with the help of St. Anthony, it always turns up. Had I been the decluttering type, I might have thrown it out.
As the guy who wrote Winnie-The-Pooh said, untidy people are always making interesting discoveries. For example, the other day someone sent me an email with a picture of a fly in amber. That reminded me that I had a fly in amber too. I had thought of it many times since I packed it away 16 years ago in preparation for a total remodel of our house.
I had bought the amber at the Agassiz Natural History Museum at Harvard with the kids a few years previous. After several hours of hard thinking at any museum, we always reward ourselves with a memento from the gift shop. The kids usually opt for something like a chocolate dinosaur while I go for the fossils. The pieces of amber on display were very expensive; those with regular sized flies in them. These flies had been going about their business millions of years ago when they got stuck in a resin flow and were fossilized. I found a small piece I could afford. The fly within was tiny, but there was also the wing of normal sized fly.
Once back home, the piece of amber went into the "museum." Our museum was initially the area in front of the books in the built-in bookcase, one of the few pieces of furniture I ever made. In fact the only furniture I have ever made has been bookcases.  Our museum contained Civil War bullets, worry beads from Greece, small vases made by the kids in art class, small pieces from toys that had been broken, e.g. the plastic motorists who survived the crushing of a parking garage. The small vases soon filled with smaller items, tacks, paper clips, morning glory seeds. The main treasure besides the amber was a graffitied chip of the Berlin Wall which Matt had bought during his post-secondary tour. It came with a little stand and a certificate of authenticity.
Where was I? Oh, yes, the email that made me think again about my own piece of amber. This morning I went out to the garage. There atop a tall cabinet were three small cardboard boxes. I lifted the top box down and blew away the dust and dirt. On the box in my handwriting was the word "Museum." Inside was the chip of the Berlin Wall and a small box containing several Minie balls and more items too numerous to name. I took down the second box, also labeled "Museum." This box contained mostly gnarled but decorative pieces of tree, also some kids toys but no amber. The last box was larger than the other two. I spotted some fossils inside, a good sign. Some worry beads, a cup full of foreign coins, a small plastic box with a magnifying glass in the cover for examining insects, and inside this plastic box, the amber, as bright as it had been that day millions of years ago.
And people tell me to declutter!


Joe said...

This sounds like the first episode in a series: "Archeological Discoveries in and around the McDonnell Homestead."

Chairman Joe said...

I could spend a lifetime just describing the contents of those three boxes.

Jean said...

There is definitely a good book in the contents of your "Dad's Room" at Sunset Point.

Chairman Joe said...

And an encyclopedia in "My Brother Steve's Cellar."

Catherine Stenzel said...

My goodness, Joe! It has been a while since I checked in at your blog, so today seemed like a good one to catch up. This "amber" piece reminds me of my times in Poland where amber was very inexpensive at the time, flies and all. I bought many pieces as gifts for friends and relatives, and one piece for myself. This blog gave me pause for thought about my piece, and I checked on it to be sure I knew where it was. Exhale. It's there. I have no "museum" but I do have my treasures, too. CatherineS