Tag Archives: penny

a penny lost, a penny found

While packing over the weekend (yes, we’re really going after all this waiting), my daughter was playing with my “treasure box.” That is, the tiny box of rings, necklaces, and bracelets that I’ve kept over the years. When I started picking up the scattered jewelry, I spotted a second “tiniest penny in the world” that had somehow slipped out of the cardboard case my grandfather had fashioned. Suddenly I have two, but still no magic coin.

missing piece

Then a few minutes ago, I emptied my desk organizer and out fell the missing piece of my Turkish tapestry. I quickly slipped it into the bag in which I had carefully enveloped my rug for storage.

Today I’m amazed at how few important possessions I’m keeping, but I also suddenly feel richer for finding the missing pieces.

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moment of joy

Sifting through yet another box of “junk” from storage today, I stumbled upon a lost treasure. A number of years ago, I visited Iraq and presented teaching strategies in a workshop for Kurdish university professors. Our trip was so short that the only shopping I did was for camera batteries. My counterpart from the English department at the University of Dohuk, however, exchanged a 1 dirham coin for a U.S. silver dollar that I had with me. While I’ve held on to a 250 Dinar bill with Saddam’s picture on it for all these years, I haven’t seen the coin since 2004. I was convinced it was lost during a move.

Today I found a pen that was given to me as a token of appreciation at the workshop. My coin was nestled in the bottom of the giftbox. A moment of real joy swept over me when the coin dropped into my hand. It almost gives me hope that my grandfather’s trick coin is not truly lost. Incidentally, I discovered another “tiniest penny” in a jewelry box last week. Two of those (when in my memory only one existed), but still no trick penny. How is it my moments of joy at finding are so quickly shadowed by loss and absence?

roots in hoarding, hoarding treasure

D. and I were talking about this blog last week and something in our conversation reminded me of my grandfather. I’ve been trying to get at the root of this impulse to hoard, and I’ve only looked back to my father. When I mentioned my grandfather, however, I realized this may have been passed down the genealogy chart.

Family lore has it that my grandfather was a welder, trash collector, and jack of all trades. For example, he designed and built this groovy octagon shaped work shed and landscaped their terraced yard with little treasures all the way down to the lake. My memories of my grandfather are old and vague and really kind of magical, although no one ever told me he was much of an enchanting person.

On my desk in front of me as I type is a tiny cardboard square envelope that has been taped together. It makes me sad to look at it because it contains the tiniest penny I’ve ever seen, but it also used to contain my grandpa’s trick penny. That penny was given to me when he died, and I lost it sometime in college during a move. That absence tugs at my heart and makes me want to lose the cardboard that he fashioned as well.

Back to what I remember of my grandpa, though … he was a collector. From his years of trash collecting and using his metal detector, he had boxes of treasures. I don’t remember his house being particularly cluttered or untidy, but my grandmother is said to have been a very neat housekeeper. When she passed away, I believe things changed. I recall visiting his house after he had died to prepare for the auction. It was then that I got to choose what I wanted to keep, and along with the yellow towels and copper-bottom pots and pans that I would need for college, I took some of my grandma’s jewelry and photos of the couple when they were young. I do not know what happened to his elephant collection or his antique irons that used to sit by the fireplace … that is, if they existed and my memory is not inventing stuff.

My father has gone on to collect items he believes have value: hidden treasures in his house. He has a metal detector attaching him back to his father, and when I saw him in our yard with it two years ago, I could only think of him and my grandfather many years before going over our old yard (built on a former landfill), searching for treasure. Treasure in someone else’s garden. Treasure in my memory. But now empty trash here as I look at the only items remaining from Grandpa Herb.