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My Wall of Things: Part 2

Jess Lahey
Jess Lahey
Welcome to part 2 of identifying and explaining the items on my Wall of Things. If you missed part 1, click here.
Where were we…oh, yes. 21.
Item 21. From my father: “A sad story. These were in a beautiful 6x8 inch antique embossed and gold leafed leather family photo album with hinged enameled clasps. The family photos were from 1802 to the 1920s from England and the United States. Our Old English Sheepdog shredded the album and the identities of these relatives are forever lost.”
Item 22. This dish came from my parents’ house. When we rented a house in downtown Hanover, NH seventeen years ago, we were in the perfect spot to have a yard sale, so my father brought a lot of his stuff up to sell. I swiped this fish dish and have used it to hold special things ever since. Now it’s on my wall. According to my father, he got it in 1967 at a yard sale on Vine St. in Cincinnati, OH for about $1. He says, “I liked the painting of the Pike,” and I agree.
Item 23. My first real teaching job after law school was at Rowland Hall/St. Mark’s School in Salt Lake City, Utah. One of my students, Bailey Metcalf, gave me this little piece of paper one morning in 1999 because she’d made a connection between a quote and an idea we’d discussed in class the day before. There’s nothing more beautiful than that for a teacher, so I cherish these slips of paper (I’m so sorry, Min, I accidentally destroyed the piece of paper you gave me with your midnight revelation about Huckleberry Finn. ‘Twas no less precious to me, I promise). The quote is attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, and has been translated (and mis-translated and mis-interpreted, as there’s no definitive source) many different ways, but Bailey’s version reads: “You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.” For more (and there’s lots) on Heraclitus and his metaphorical river, see here, under 3.9 “Flux.”
Item 24. One of the Harry Potter wands I described in item 3.
Item 25. Oh, I’m so proud of this postcard. This arrived in the mail with my annual gift from the Op-Ed Project. I’ve been a mentor-editor for the Op-Ed project for the past five (ish?) years, because I’m so crazy about about their mission: to change who writes history. Founder and CEO Katie Orenstein is one of my heroes, and I’m so grateful she’s invited me to be a part of her vision:
Item 26. An item tag from one of my favorite stores in the world, Goodlinens Studio in Gloucester, MA. There are a lot of tags from this shop on my wall because I (and my parents) are in there a lot. I love everything Joanne (the owner) sells. Everything. Especially the many, many brushes for tasks I didn’t even know I needed a brushes for.
Item 27. See item 14. This is the inside of the card my father wrote to me from the cardinal babies, thanking me for taking care of them after their nest fell out of my lilac bush.
Item 28. My husband’s Aunt Maureen is an art professor at the University of Utah, and she’s forever sending us the most delightful items from art fairs, museum shops, and her students’ shows. This piece is by Edward Bateman, art and art history professor at the University of Utah. This card is part of his series called Mechanical Brides of the Uncanny which are apparently available in a really cool boxed set.
Item 29. My parents gave me this gorgeous bronze relief of a mother and her child about fifteen years ago and I dropped it. The base broke off, so now it lives on my wall.
Item 30. This item bugs both me and my father, but here’s his explainer: “I bought a wooden grain box of "smalls” including some old drafting instruments, for $2.00 and this claw was in there.“ We don’t know what animal it’s from but it’s some large cat. My dad traded the box for a blown glass medicine flask at a flea market and gave me the claw. Lion? Tiger? I wish I knew, but I also cringe at what is likely a terrible story of how it became separated from its feline owner.
Item 31. Salt and pepper shakers. According to my father, "I found these in a junk shop on Elkin Avenue in New Albany, Indiana in the 60s. They were bundled with a rare 50s Donald Duck camera and a painted tin duck whirligig for $9.00” The salt and pepper shakes out via the nipples. Because of course it does.
Items 32-35 (yes, the 33 is missing). William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens. When I started writing my column, “The Parent Teacher Conference” at the New York Times (note: many of the older articles have been archived and the art has been stripped off due to data storage limitations), we had no art budget. None. So my editor KJ Dell'Antonia and I started making our own art using Playmobil, Lego and literary action figures. They have featured in many of my articles about education and parenting. Eventually KJ got a production budget, but I do have to admit, we missed staging toys to illustrate our topics.
Item 36 (and 134). When The Gift of Failure was released in 2015, KJ threw an incredible release party for me. She even had custom M&Ms made and created these little stickers with the book cover as labels. This is one of the leftover stickers and 134 is my souvenir bag of M&Ms.
Item 37. In the first season of the #AmWriting podcast, KJ and I discussed the importance of “accountability buddies,” people who will hold you to deadlines, goals, and daily word counts. KJ and Sarina Bowen are mine. Every day we hit our word count goal (or editing goal or whatever the case may be) we text the word “sticker” to our text group to indicate we have earned the sticker we place in our paper calendars when we’ve earned it. This, ladies and gentlemen, is my “accountability bunny,” a holiday present from KJ in our first year of podcasting.
Item 38 & 39. Benjamin Franklin and Jane Austen. See items 32-35.
Item 40. Tom Riddle’s wand. That’s Voldemort, for those of you not in the know. See item 3, in the last issue.
A few links:
Finally, as per your (many) requests, here’s a picture of the new puppy, Moby, hanging out with his buddy, Luther. Henry was probably outside chasing squirrels.
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Jess Lahey
Jess Lahey @jesslahey

I write about all kinds of stuff but if you are into the writing life, the woods of Vermont, life with dogs, or my work in child welfare and substance use prevention, then you are in the right place.

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