The Others at Myristica by
(7 Stories)

Prompted By Stuff

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Because I’m an animist (one of the reasons I was so enthusiastic about Dana’s Shinto post) I don’t collect “stuff” so much as welcome new pals to the posse.

Julie and I are minimalists with penchants for toys, books, and outsider art.  (And ground hogs.  Our resident groundhog, the latest of many generations, just passed through the backyard gate on the way to his burrow under the shed.)  Our house is small, so the crew congregates. We don’t get into appliances.  No air fryer or microwave, but one well-loved set of Le Creuset picked up over the years at yard sales, and a stack of Lodge cast iron skillets acquired the same way, except for the ten-inch skillet which I got from my landlady in Deale, Maryland in 1974, an oysterman’s wife and pot grower, who said, as she gave it to me: “I’m gonna give you this skillet since you like to cook, but you ain’t goin’ anywhere with it until I teach you how to season it.)

Oh, we thin books that “didn’t grip”, and take used clothes to CC’s Closet, the local community services store, although I get about 15 to 20 years out of pants and shirts (old clothes know how to drape when you’re standing and envelope when you’re sitting, or better, napping).  But we’d never abandon our tchotchke pals.  We save abandoned tchotchkes who like our looks.  Myristica (the name we’ve given our home, after Myristica fragrans, and its bond of nutmeg and mace) is a safe house and rehab center for others.

Our others have stories.  I use my grandmother’s bread and batter bowls, for baking cookies and bread.  When my mother married my father, my grandmother gave her the wooden spoon I use.

Many years ago, I met a beautiful old woman while waiting in line at a fruit stand.  She was luminous.  Silver hair, glowing skin, wore a honeydew green cotton dress and a thin white, violet print cardigan. We got into a conversation about making biscuits.  Compared shortenings.  I said I liked butter.  She advised lard. (Which I tried but stuck with butter. Crispier crusts.)  Then she gave me a “I’m gonna let you in on a secret” look and said: “Use bowls and utensils that have some baking history.  They know how to bake.”  I told her about my bowls and spoon, and that my friends who dropped over for biscuits on Saturday morning called me Aunt Jo-Mamma.” We laughed, simpatico.

Julie and I know a new recruit when we’re in a shop and hear it say something like “Hey! Get me outta here!”  We also love objects found serendipitously on the street or in the woods.

Julie is a fantabulous artist and craft person.  Look closely at the featured image (the north and west walls of my nest).  She made the dolls lining the top of the woodcarving of three dancing men (which she also painted), made the dolls on the top of the box theater hanging on the wall, and drew the picture of Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus.  Who downsizes love?  Many others in Myristica.

There’s a quality to others that often gets dismissed when they’re only seen as materialistic stuff.  Sometimes when I feel uncertain or vague about what I’m doing, I look at the things I’ve collected, and they remind me of who I was at the time and help me bring into focus qualities I want to maintain, qualities I had when I obtained them, feelings that are still fine, not useful, life is not a utility, no matter bidness jive about “human resources.”

One more look at the picture.  Beneath Sargent’s portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson is a twig wedged on top of the carved white cat face. I found that twig wobbling in water near the bank of a reservoir in Raccoon Twp, PA, in 1969.  That twig, the water, the light, and the buzz, said, “ya know, life is tres groo-vi,” and it’s always helped me remember that.

We’ll all get out of here in a box, but here’s to a long, loving wear out.

Profile photo of Zeque Zeque

Characterizations: right on!, well written


  1. Wow, Zeque, you are one sweet personality. You have a very fetching (writer’s) voice. Some of the characters in your story were animated versions of “sfuff;” I mean certain objects spoke to you and you responded. And maybe, probably, they still speak to you? Well, part-way through the piece, I started imagining, maybe this piece is not written in the narrative voice of Zeque (a human I presume) but in the voice of one of those objects. It would make a really interesting perspective. It’s already halfway there. I reckon.

  2. Namaste Zeque, and thanx for introducing us to the artful things you and Julie keep and prize!

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    Marvelous, Zeque! I can barely cook, so I truly admire the way you love your utensils, cookware and objects. And are willing to try others techniques (lard vs butter), even if your way turns out better. I also really enjoyed your delicate description of the older woman you met at the fruit stand. She came to life for us, as did every one and thing you described with such tenderness.

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    I could really relate to your loving descriptions of the treasured odds and ends—you could appreciate our collections of rocks and hand-made eclectic arts and crafts that we can’t part with in our house. Not to mention the 20-plus year old clothes—including one sweatshirt with the 1976 date on it. Thanks for the smile.

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