Odds and Sods Around Our House

Back in the Dark Ages when Laurent and I were, for lack of a better word, courting we would occasionally bring home surprise gifts for each other. (Don’t give me that eye roll, you may well have done the same sort of thing.) At the time I was working at Ottawa Airport and there was a little gift shop that often had bibilots that seemed appropriate (i.e. cute) at the time.

So one evening after an afternoon shift I presented himself with two brass – no not monkeys! – mice. What they were meant to signify at the time or for that matter what purpose they served I’m not sure.

Though I would dare say that visitors never noticed them they have accompanied us in our travels and always had their place on shelves or in cabinets in our various homes.


I have always liked this inquisitive little creature. She, and I’m sure it’s a she, has gazed at family photos, festive candles, creche scenes and other nick-knacks for the past 43 years.


The word for September 27th is:
Bibilots /bē′bə-lō″/: [noun]
1.1 A small decorative object; a trinket.
1.2 A miniature book, especially one that is finely crafted.
1.3 A small object of curiosity, beauty, or rarity; especially, an object of this kind which can be kept in a cabinet or on a shelf.
French, from Old French beubelet, from a reduplication of bel, beautiful, from Latin bellus, handsome.

Things In the China Cabinet

Probably more than you need to know about my housekeeping but I don’t think that other than the Crown Staffordshire china and Holmegaard crystal anything has been taken out of the china cabinet since we move in several years ago. The cabinet itself is part of a Shaker dining room set Graeme Fenwick, a local furniture maker in the Ottawa Valley, made for us back in 2004. He used predominately cherry wood with some Birdseye maple as contrast. The joints are all dove tail, tongue-in-grove as well as some dowel. The only concession to modern carpentry are the screws in the hinges.

Our handcrafted Shaker china cabinet – part of a set created for us by Graeham Fenwick at Simply Shaker in Perth, Ontario.

But I digress, as is my wont. Several days ago I thought it would be a good idea to turn my attention to the long neglected china cabinet. This meant of course removing everything from it and a thorough cleaning with Murphy’s. Which also means many pauses for trips down memory lane as long ignored bibelots bring back memories of people and places.

Back in 1979 Laurent showed up at the door with the first of many gifts. I honestly forget the occasion – mind in those days I seem to remember we didn’t really need an occasion. Something would catch our eye and we’d think how much pleasure it would give to the other person. Ah young love!

I don’t know where he found this little piece of the glass blowers art but it has travelled around the world with us. It posses the eternal question – what comes first? Well this little gift did!

Another piece of glass that has moved from house to house was an earlier gift from a loving colleague at Air Canada. In 1976 I moved from Toronto to Ottawa – a long complicated story involving a break up, a house sale, a denied promotion because I was gay, and a general mood of “let me live anywhere but Toronto”.

My Kosta Boda Penguin from Norma Jean Montgomery in 1976.

At my farewell party at the old Park Plaza on Bloor St I was given quite a few parting gifts – people were glad to see me go I guess – but none that I treasured more than a Kosta Boda crystal penguin. It was from Norma Jean Montgomery the most senior employee at Toronto Reservations. She had begun working for Trans Canada Airline in 1946, the year I was born, and was #2 on the cross-Canada seniority list. She was also terrified of flying – she had done it once to visit her family in Winnipeg and came back by train. She never boarded a plane again in her lifetime. Norma Jean was not an emotional person but that gift and the hug she gave me when I left, I treasure to this day.

The word for April 16 is:
Bibelot /ˈbib(ə)ˌlō/: [noun]
A small, decorative ornament, curio or trinket.
First appeared in 1873, from French bibelot “knick-knack,” from Old French beubelet “trinket, jewel” (12c.), from belbel “plaything,” a reduplication of bel “pretty”. What they fail to mention is the memories that bibelots can conjure up.

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