The cake that broke her heart


I wrote a blog post about this strange silver-plated utensil I found. Decided to publish it the next day instead of right away. Good thing, because when I woke up this morning I had a quick, ten second memory of a dream. That  dream is the basis for this story.

my ‘what the heck is this?’ find

About this find:

I was off searching in the downstairs area(aka basement) of a cool thrifty place nearby when I saw, back behind the vintage mixing bowls, this strange-looking forked item. Now, things were jumbled up down there, with the row below these bowls sporting two yellowed copies of chinese folk tales, so placement did not necessarily have anything to do with the object itself.

Or did it?

My first thought was dog comb, but I ruled that out pretty quick because the handle of this thing is silver-plated and, although we all love our pets/fur babies/four-footed children,  it somehow didn’t feel right. I asked  upstairs but she wasn’t sure what it was, I think to cut vegetables with is what she told me, so I scooped it up for one dollar.

Now, to find out what it is.

A half hour after I bought this item, I stopped by an antique place, the kind that has lots and lots of 6×10 areas where people sell their wares.  I moved through with my hands clasped behind me so no one thinks I’m stealing anything, because no one is around except one woman reading a magazine at the front entrance. Yup, that kind of place. I’m almost done walking through when I see another one of those metal-tine comb-looking things, except this one is inside a box and it has instructions.

Unfortunately, it is also under glass, so I take a quick peek at the bold print and have to lean forward to read it again because I swear I just read Cake Breaker.

Yes, it’s an actual culinary tool. WOW.

Now, my take on it, aka The Story…starting with my dream

The bride, stunning in yards of creamy white, brushes through a crowd mingling by the front entrance. This is an old colonial-style home, either hers or where the wedding reception was held. Up near the entrance is a staircase, carpeted in the style of the day with a gleaming banister with a slight curve to its burnished-brown sides.     

Standing five steps up is a man. His one hand rests on the shined handrail and the other grips a rectangular package wrapped in silver wedding paper. The knuckles on the hand touching the wood turn white as the bride approaches the open front door. She is smiling and laughing and clinging to the new husband by her side as she catches sight of the man standing five steps up. She trips on nothing as her smile fades, replaced by a flicker of bare longing. The man’s face betrays nothing, but a lone twitch flicks at the corner of his upper lip.

The bride pauses a moment by the door as packets of white rice are given out to the crowd on the lawn. The diamond over the wedding band on her finger catches the sun and in that moment the man on the stair lifts the gift in his hand  to her as a tear slides down her cheek.

A space opens as the crowd inside shifts by the telephone table and the man leaves the rectangular box in silver wedding paper on the table as he disappears into the crowd behind the bride.

That next morning the bride opens her wedding gifts before leaving for the airport and her future. Inside the rectangular box in silver wedding paper is a silver-plated cake breaker. The shine of the silver reflected off the overhead light brings another tear, two this time, down the bride’s cheeks. She doesn’t look for a card because she knows there will not be one. Just like she knows that there will be cake, many cakes throughout the years, sliced with the back and forth motion of a silver-plated cake breaker.

The cake breaker that broke her heart.


The Candy apple frog



One day at Goodwill I saw a small group of ceramic green frogs sitting on the middle shelf. Four were green with happy, cartoon-like faces, but one was shockingly different. This one was an odd red color, with a straight serious line of a mouth and beautiful marbled coloring underneath the red. I plucked that frog up and brought him home, without first seeing his story. It took a while, but finally…

Here is his story. 


Divorce is never easy on a child. As soon as the papers were signed, mom packed up her son, and their belongings, and headed up north, back to her family. She packed shirts and squirt guns and newly-purchased winter gear. Together they sold off all the extras in little piles in their front yard.  They left the ancient dog, the iguana that bites, and the two feral cats behind for his father.

They also left behind an empty aquarium. Hand prints hugged the sides of the glass and tears dried next to the imprint of a little boy’s cheek. His very favorite thing, his little red frog named Kermit-not Kermit, was missing. 

Kermit-not Kermit was an ugly little frog, first scooped up from the back yard after a summer rain. he was on the small side, with silvery bumps and a body of muddy red . An unusual find, his parents told him when he brought it inside that day, the same day that they sat the boy down and told him about signing papers and the divorce.

Kermit-not Kermit disappeared the morning of the boy’s move. He was heartbroken. The three searched the house, and the yard, and the road, looking for either the red frog or his squished remains. The boy continued to look as his mother blamed his father and his father blamed his mother, and the empty space in the van was filled with an extra bag of clothing instead of the little  glass aquarium.

Before the boy closed the door to his almost-empty bedroom, he picked  a small  squarish box  out of his trash and headed out to his soon-to-be old backyard, where he buried it after whispering a tear-filled prayer for his missing friend.

On the first full weekend of spring that same year, when the air smells like wetly-warmed dirt and lawnmowers sing their songs across the town, a box arrives for the boy.

It is small, squarish-sized, with traces of dirt on its outsides,right where a sticker proclaiming “Jelly Belly red apple” used to  be, before a certain little boy’s fingers pulled it free from the cardboard some time ago. 

Inside the box, surrounded by bright red jelly beans and the faint appley scent of the candies, sits this little red frog. He is not alive, not the boy’s missing friend, but something even better.

This frog is a mere two inches in length but heavy in the hand. He is made of compressed plastic, hard and shiny, not unlike the red coating of the candy apples sold at local fairs in the fall. This frog also has hard shiny bits of what almost looks like quartz, in shades of grey and white, barely visible under that bright red coating. The boy instantly falls in love with this little frog, who he names Candy Apple. 

He also knows who dug up his little box, and took an hour’s drive to that particular candy shop where the boy had picked out those unusual beans. He knows who filled that box with the boy’s most favorite flavor, and who searched all these months until he stumbled across a two inch frog, with a bright candy apple red color, sitting on top of a pile of other frogs on a long wooden table at an outdoor flea market.

The boy knows, even though there is no note. he knows who didn’t forget, even though his mother told him different.

He knows, and he smiles. A happy tear slides softly off the back of the candy apple red frog as the boy hugs it to his face.



The case of the odd little whisk


minus the cheetah...
Phyllis Gordon, silent film star, shopping with her cheetah

I  was casually walking the aisles at my local Goodwill the other week when I came across this small whisk. I wasn’t searching hard, like down on my knees and moving things around but instead was performing my initial stroll. If you ever see me out and about in a thrifty store you’ll most probably spot me doing this.

I  move at  roughly the same speed as a student on their first day back from winter break, arms down by my side, not too interested in much, or so it would appear.  What I am actually doing, however, is walking to be surprised. No, I did not mean waiting, as in waiting to be surprised. I am moving along the aisles to see if something jumps out at me, or at least screams quietly from a corner.

That is exactly what happened with my little friend here, the piggy whisk. 

People might say, “oh look-how cute!” and pick it up, smile, show their shopping partner, and then place it back on the shelf.

Not me.

As soon as I held that little cutie I knew he was coming home with me. Why? Was I in need of a whisk?

doesn’t everyone have multiples?

Not hardly. Did I need to add to my collection of whisks(all of which I do actually use, some more than others but they are all hard-working). I guess my next question was, is this whisk for real?

What I mean by that is, first of all, this baby is on the small side. My smallest little whisk(think salad dressing, if you were wondering what it can be used for) is plumper in the metal whisk parts AND the whisk itself has six hoops and not three like my little piggie here. Plus, piggie has a flat bottom, like he was meant for display. which makes me wonder…who would feel the need to display a whisk like him in their kitchen? Personal tastes aside, I knew there was only one kind of kitchenista who would have this little piggie on their counter.

A collector, that’s who.

Someone who collects pig paraphernalia. THAT was my AHA! moment. You see, way back in my twenties…I collected pig stuff. I’m not sure why or how it even started, I think I simply decided one day that I needed to collect something, like so many people do, and I settled on the pig. I remember being gifted a pink pig pitcher, a pink pig waste basket(that I still use in my downstairs bathroom) and assorted little collectible pig statues. There are probably more pig things but I have since forgotten.

My pig fascination lasted a few years and then one day it was gone. It wasn’t a big heart-wrenching decision on my part, no. I simply, stopped. I packed away the items(except for that waste basket) and sent them to the basement in a cardboard box.

Has finding this little piggie whisk sent me scurrying to the basement to uncover my own pigs?

Nope. Not even tempted.  I will, however, add this little guy to my collection of oddities that sit proudly strewn about my writing area, just in case.

You see, writers never know exactly what they’ll be needing. Until they need it.

piggie and his new old friend


The lonely-headed salt shaker



showing the size

I thought this was an old woman right off, as soon as I stumbled across her at one of my favorite haunts. She stood out on the shelf, among  all of the other salt and pepper pairs, because she had no mate.  I rummaged through the shelf, gently moving other pairs apart but I could not find another head to balance hers.

a closeup

She sat right up front, like she was waiting to be noticed. I picked her up, said something about her that I don’t recall, and returned her to her stance. but like a creepy black and white movie, I began to feel her eyes on me, watching.

No, waiting.

(Here is a link to a cool article in How Stuff Works all about how those eyes in paintings actually follow you  )

I circled back and picked her up. She had no weight to her, like she had been born from the lightest of glass, but she was not dainty. I had the oddest feeling that she was, instead, a survivor, which makes sense seeing as I could not locate her mate.  I snuck a finger through her handle and carried her around the rest of the store, both floors, even into the unheated upstairs where we could see our breath in greyish plumes.

At some point I tipped this salt shaker(or is she pepper? four holes and a female. Would the female of a salt and pepper pair be salt or pepper usually? The must be some sort of code on this…) upside down and discovered that the little stopper was missing, which would have rendered her useless.

And now we have the story.

Once there was a Mr. Pepper. Like his wife he had a large head and no body, but unlike his wife, he was a mean one. They had spent decades together, side by side, through holidays and every days, shut into a dark cabinet when not needed.

Some years on they ended up here, at the thrifty store. Still together, hoping to be sold and moved out of the dim corner where other oddities lay. No one bought them, no one even picked them up. People reached over them, and around them, and Mrs. Salt and Mr. Pepper watched as first the light brown printed pfaltzgraff pair left, then the apples, even tiny little milk bottles moved on, but still this pair remained.

After an especially heated unspoken argument, Mr. pepper yanked out Mrs. salt’s stopper and laughed without changing facial expressions as the little cork piece bounced off the floor down below.

Before you get too sad, stop, because Mrs. Salt exacted her revenge. She waited patiently, as days turned to weeks, until a searching hand moved her slightly behind Mr. Pepper. From there, it was an easy push with her non-moving handle right into the small of Mr. Pepper’s backside and, blame it on a slamming door, Mr.Pepper skittered right off the shelf and hit the floor, splintering into hundreds of small shards.

Now, this would be the end to the story, except for one thing—

When I moved Mrs. Salt this morning I felt a little something bouncing around inside of her. I quick flipped her upside down and shook her back and forth until I could see what that item was.

Any guesses?

Yes, it was a tiny little cork. Now I understand that smirk of hers perfectly.

Pass the salt, anyone?




The boys on the bottle

I’m going to start off by showing you a picture of one of my latest finds, and I’ll let a story fly from there.

When I first stumbled across this bottle, sitting eye height for me, middle of the shelf in a dimly-lit area of the store, back where cobwebs sail in the breezes of bodies passing by and dust reigns supreme, I said “awwww.”

Didn’t you?

Next, I stepped closer, really looked at it sitting there among the discarded beer steins in a lonely corner of a rather large store and thought, “how sad.” How sad that these two boys should be here, glued onto the label area of a green glass wine jug for all to see, yet not see, for all time.

It happens that I was at one of my favorite haunts, a great place to pick around and scrounge up a few oddities because the guy who owns the place also packs up/buys/removes all the clutter that is left behind when a person downsizes due to age or circumstance. Think grandma going to the nursing home and you’ll get it. So for me initially, aww turned to ohh… pretty quickly, and I wanted to know why this particular bottle was saved through the years—and how.

People do showcase old photos in vintage bottles, they’ve been doing it for years and personally I find it pretty cool.  If I had a mantel or shelf that the cats wouldn’t bother I would put some up myself.

I ran a few different scenarios through my head and didn’t like the way I was going with one of them(I will blame that on the song Psycho Killer by Talking Heads that was rambling around my brain that day) and this is what I’ve come up with instead—

The photo, with the color schematics and the dress-like polo shirt buttoned up top button, and the staged look of a professional photographer in a studio as opposed to the current trend for beach photos, leads me to believe the photo itself is late 50’s. 

At first I thought early 60’s but those shirts threw me back to the 50’s for some reason, or was it the coloration of the photo itself. Either decade would probably work, right?

The story of the bottle children is really, an easy one(now that I have managed to eradicate Psycho Killer from my head). One of the boys, most probably the older one, carefully cut the photo into a circular shape to fit the flat part of the bottle. Being a child and perhaps using those crappy kid scissors, the photo does have some ragged edges. Pretty good job on the cutting, and I would definitely blame it on those dull scissors.

Once the photo was glued in place-not by Elmer’s, mind you, but the original stuff with the rubber tip that you had to stick a paper clip into the opening to unstick it, the boys let it dry while they went outside.

my dad always had a crusty-tipped bottle of this on his workbench

You see, Mother’s Day was coming up soon, and they needed to pick a few wildflower stems or cut a couple roses off the bush out front and fill that fat wine bottle full of water so the flowers wouldn’t die out too soon.

That’s why that bottle survived all these years, packed away after both boys became men and the men became fathers.

I have my own versions of that bottle, minus the photo, safely stored down in the basement, never to be tossed. I know just how that mother felt.

Don’t you?




Smitty, I thought I knew you

When I first saw this vintage book, smaller than a traditional mass market paperback but a paperback nonetheless, I was psyched. Smitty was lying in a Word War II display, hugging a black and white of a soldier and other memorabilia from 1940’s wartime, so I assumed that this book was one of THOSE books—a special edition, specifically made for the armed forces.


“It was H. Stahley Thompson, a graphic artist working in the army’s Special Services Division, who proposed printing paperback books on the rotary presses typically used to produce magazines. Titles could be printed two at a time on the large, whisper-thin paper; a horizontal cut would separate the pages into two small books. Once the cut was made and the spine stapled, each finished book would be just the right size to slip into a fatigues pocket. It was an artist’s solution—elegant, simple. But best of all, it was practical: each book cost only six cents to manufacture.”

Here is the link if you’d like to read more of the article from

I was excited. Such a cool piece of history. I’d read other articles about these editions , that they were made of a cheaper paper, and  they were passed around from soldier to soldier, sometimes after being ripped in two so that a soldier could share that valuable commodity with another.

And Smitty was intact–a bonus for me…until I dug a bit further into dear Smitty. Turns out, this edition is from the 30’s, based on the famous comic strip of Walter Berndt’s called…Smitty.


So, this is not one of the armed forces special editions.


Should I go back and tell the thrifty store to change their display? Would you?


We play it this way.

Yes, this paperback book is from 1935. However, many,many,many books made their way overseas to  soldiers, hardcover and paperback both. Donations poured in from all over once the slogan Books are weapons in the war of ideas took firm hold in war-time America(combating the nazi book burnings I would imagine).

Yes, I believe Smitty did make it to war. In my mind I see a soldier’s mother, missing her son dearly, sitting on his bed. She notices Smitty spine out on his bookshelf, or lying faceup on his desk, and she carefully wraps it up in his next care package, for that little slice of home.

That is what I believe, so I am glad I did not purchase that book, and separate it from that soldier’s photo, in case the two belonged together.

I consider it the wisest $12.00 I never spent.

Headless Elvis


My headless Elvis

This oddity is a special one. It was my first find back a few years ago, and readers of my previous blog may remember my gravatar(oh, ok, so you don’t…)was actually headless Elvis.

I named this one Headless Elvis because, um, Elvis has no head. the funny thing is, you need to look closely to realize what it is. Sure, it’s a flashy little red car with a Vegas sign and a slot machine and a show girl riding shotgun, but this could easily have been some other staple like Wayne Newton or…well, perhaps not Celine Dion, but maybe Liberace?


I found Elvis while rummaging around Ocean State Job Lot, looking through their odd bits and tangled messes. The chain, out of Rhode Island, is a mish-mash of items, with everything from dog food in cans with the identifying paper labels removed to olive oils imported from Italy, and absolutely everything in-between. They are abundant here in Connecticut and  each store has its own unique items, although they all seem to carry my son’s favorite gnocchi.

Elvis was in an aisle with candles that has lost their scent and paper decorations out of season. I picked him right up and immediately knew it was Elvis, just by the white spangly outfit. The  $14.00 price tag threw me but undeterred I put on my humble face and asked for a price reduction, due to the lack of a head. Awesome people that they are, Elvis rode home with me that day for a buck fifty, and now resides in my kitchen.

And yes, he is not far from my jar of peanut butter.