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Monday, 12 September 2011

An Unusual Fondness For Elephants





As a woman actively trying to cull her possessions and achieve some sort of transcendent, zen-like, materially detached peace ;), I truly have a problem when it comes to anything embellished with an elephant design or made in the shape of an elephant itself. I loath collections but I have been guilty of buying totally useless items only because they were in the shape of a gaudy, colorful, dazzling elephant.

Take this summer for example. My husband, brother, sister and I went to Oslo. While my husband worked, my brother and sister and I like dutiful Catholics, attended daily mass in St. Olav's which actually was not a duty at all but a serene pleasure as for once William wasn't there wreaking unholy havoc during the sacred celebration of the Eucharist. When mass was finished we got out my brother Sean's laptop and searched out various thrift shops in the vicinity. Unlike North America or the UK, Norway isn't big on thrifting unfortunately but there is the odd shop here and there so each day we walked hours through the city streets in the pouring rain and hit a new one.

When we found them, we would stumble in, dripping water victoriously all over the threshold and go off in search of...treasure. Each day I discovered something elephant related. Each evening I went through buyer's remorse as I agonized over why I had needed a marble elephant shaped ashtray that was heavy enough to double as a murder weapon if the need ever arose. I giggled in alarming hysteria, eyes glazed over as I said in anxious tones..."It's for my guests that smoke! My guests! They'll use it! They will! They'll love it! When they come over and want to smoke, they'll be very happy to see a marble elephant ash tray!" But alas, I convinced nobody. Sean rolled his eyes and asked why any guests that smoked couldn't just butt their cigarettes out in an old beer can like any normal person and I had to concede that he had a point. That and the only guest I have that smokes is in fact Sean.

The next day we again searched out another Fretex (Salvation Army), this time in a more ethnically diverse area of Oslo, where we all searched through piles of garments and after some time paid for those we had chosen. Outside we all smiled at one another and were eager to see what the others had got. Mary-Anne and Sean showed their purchases and then it was my turn. "What did you get Colleen?" Clutching my tiny bag, I can't decide whether to be brazen and confident or self-deprecating... so with a flourish I reach into my bag and pull out a huge necklace with large wooden beads and a massive wooden elephant hanging off it. I try for confidence "It's really cool, isn't it?" They stare at me. Mary-Anne bites her lip. Sean looks at his hands. Awkward silence. Then with what seems a huge collected effort, they both meet my eyes and say "Yes, very nice Colleen!" But I am not fooled by their insincerity, they hate it. I look at it with new eyes. I hate it too. The next few days and purchases remain a blur. Perhaps this is no bad thing. We also enjoyed Vigeland's Sculpture park and the Edvard Munch museum very much. One must throw in a couple cultural delights in the midst of so much mass going and thrift shopping after all.


Have a most lovely day!

Much love, C.

27 comments:

Martha J. M. Orlando said...

Congratulations on your award, Colleen!
Loved this personal and humorous tale of your time in Oslo. Thanks for sharing!

Blessings!

Susan Deborah said...

I like collecting bells, or at least I used to until I completely forgot that I was collecting bells. I like elephants too but haven't started collecting yet. I forget, I collect book and anything that remotely resembles a book fascinates me.

Congrats on the award and your fiver is great.

Joy always,
Susan

Life with Kaishon said...

I would like some of that in my coffee right this very second.

You (and your elephant compulsion) make me smile ; )

Anonymous said...

i think i am similar in my love for elephants.... every since i took a liking to the little ebony ones grandma had one her windowsill.... but thanks for the ashtray... im going to work today have a good one colleen

Savira Gupta said...

Congratulations on your award. Your post was a light, fun and went well with my morning coffee...
Thank you

ModernMom said...

I love a women who can make up an excuse for buying bric a brack (as my Grandma calls it) on the fly! Buy those Elephants:) Love this!

Kelly said...

If your going through an elephant phase, you might try "Elephants," by Rachael Yamagata.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOBwWnoNI6U&ob=av2e

Brian Miller said...

nice...we so need a picture of the elephant necklace...lol...my clutter is books...ihave a mild obsession...and it stinks i cant blame my boys any more...they just blame me back...lol

JIM said...

I enjoyed reading this.. I know people who collect elephant statues but only if the trunk is pointing up. Some sort of good luck charm not good luck if its pointing down lol. Never understood good luck pieces lol


http://jpweddingphotograpy.blogspot.com/2011/09/faces-of-ground-zero.html

Nelieta said...

Lovely! I enjoyed reading this Colleen :)I collect fridge magnets. It is one of the first things that I buy when I am in a new town. I am also quite particular. They have to ´speak´ to me..LOL!

Dangerous Linda said...

Hi, Colleen! --

I love thrift shopping!

Once, I found a beautiful, handmade doll's house, which I excitedly purchased because I had always wanted one when I was a girl but my parents never got me one.

I started finding all sorts of furniture and little dolls to inhabit the house at thrift stores, as well. Then, I found another doll's house, and another!

Finally, I had 6 doll's houses, like a little doll's village -- haha! I couldn't stop! I realized I'd crossed over a line ;-)

I finally got rid of all the houses, but I still have a huge box of dolls and furniture for the grandchildren I may have someday to play with ...

Peggy said...

I love your fun post. It made me smile. I have a trio of little elephants that I received as a prize in a game years ago and have not been able to part with. I collected pigs for a time (football mascot in my area is a Razorback-a wild hog) until I got sick of pigs and got rid of them all. I enjoy you, Colleen, and your sense of humor.

Jan said...

Great post, a cheerful easy read. You make me smile.<3

Colleen said...

Becky, it's delicious. :) Thank you, you make me smile too!

Sean, I am glad you can use the marble ash tray, remember that it can double as a weapon as well if necessary.:) Hope your day at work (?) is great! :)

Savira, thank you very much! Sometimes a light refreshing post is great fun to indulge in. I'm glad you enjoyed it and wish you a good day!:)

ModernMom, thank you!:)

Kelly, I shall check that link out, thanks.:)

Brian, oh I hear you...books are a trouble for me too! And as for a picture of the elephant necklace...maybe next post.;)

Colleen said...

Jim, that's funny and I didn't know that! I must say I have never understood them either...I don't think about "luck" very often.:)

Nelieta, you must have a marvelous collection of magnets considering all the wonderful places you've been.:) You should post a photo of them all!

Linda, your sentence "I realized I'd crossed a line" made me snort with laughter in an unladylike manner.:) I love that description!! I think the dollhouses sound lovely...growing up I collected dolls from all over the world, I had so many exotic beautiful ones...they're gone now but at the time I loved them.:)

Peggy thank you very much for the compliment! Your trio of elephants sounds nice and how fun that you won them!:)

Jan, I am happy to make you smile today!

Terri said...

I smiled at your second revelation above.

I sheepishly admit to collecting elephants, although I don't buy them they are generally given to me. As a totem, I like many things that elephants represent--their maternal instincts and their sense of mortality.

Rachna said...

I can't give away my books no matter how torn and tattered :). Most of the other things I can part with. My husband collects almost everything -- wrapping, old magazines, even broken things that can be reused later :). So once in a year, I "make" him dispose of things. It is tough, trust me ;-).

Zuzana said...

Dear Colleen, I have been traveling thus am trying to catch up on your lovely writing.;)
Buyers remorse, don't I just know about that! Have a lot of it right now in fact as I bought a VERY VERY expensive dress in London.;) Loved your elephant story.;)
And congratulations on your award - I enjoyed getting to know you, I too love Nutella, do not knwo if that is the same thing;))
Have a great Monday dear friend,
xoxo

Judi said...

Congratulations, and if I gave an award it would be to you, for, well for buying things like a gaudy elephant necklace...no one needs one, but being able to buy one and laugh at yourself for doing so makes you an amazing women in my book! Love You!

Karen Kyle Ericson said...

I love this post and had to giggle several times! Personally, I blame the cats when the laundry isn't done or something goes wrong. I collect teapots- not sure how many I have. They're so cozy : ) Maybe it's the movie "Beauty & the Beast." I do the same, go places and must have a souvenir. Have a great week!

Corinne Rodrigues said...

I would love to see a picture of your elephant collection, Colleen. Recently I visited someone's home and they had about 20 statues of elephants (in different materials) all in one room!! I'm certain I heard a herd ;) When (and not 'if') you come to India, I'll take you shopping for more! Hugs...

Crown of Beauty said...

Hi Colleen, you must visit Thailand someday. They have lots of elephant farms there, farms where these huge animals are trained to do paintings, dance jigs, and play football. Amazing.

And the shops are full of elephant things! They come in many unique shapes and colors.

Congratulations, on your award. You really are a versatile blogger! The five things you wrote about yourself... I found them cute. I've never tried Nugati before, maybe I will one of these days.

Oslo is one place I have always loved to visit.

Have a blessed day ahead of you.

Lidj

Adriene Joyce (a.k.a Sweepy Jean) said...

Sounds like a fun trip. No excuses needed for buying cool stuff. Also congrats on your award. I'm like you on #5 except I can't even throw away the ones where the covers are falling off! First time visit to your blog and I love it. Well written.

Adrienne said...

I love thrift store shopping!! :)
Thank for coming by yesterday and leaving such kind words. I'm a new follower!

Ann Nichols said...

I always so enjoy reading your posts! This one was especially fabulous!
I don't like collecting things either (unless it's fabulous history books - those from a hundred years ago even better!) but if I were to collect something I think elephants just might be it! They are magnificent creatures... so big and yet, they allow us to be a part of their lives...
And your trip to St Olav's...sounds just lovely.
Enjoy that little boy of yours!
Blessings!
ann

brenda said...

I collect books, words, sometimes people, and other useless china. It's a funny thing when our hearts become attracted to something we simply have to have.. I found you via Corinne. Loved you post.

Jimi Ann said...

I also cannot give up my books -- even ones I know I'll never read. How do I follow your blog? I didn't see anywhere for me to click. :) I look forward to exploring your blog more!