Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Cool, calm and collected, that is the ideal for the modern woman, yes?

Well, one out of three ain't too bad.  When it comes to "collected"  I have quite a bit going on.  I'm not sure where or when it started, but somehow I got the idea that once I had two of anything, it was imperative to get a third and officially begin a "collection".  

Take these for example.  Souvenir place plates.  These specimens, hung on the walls around my laundry room, help lighten the slightly murdery mood that can develop as a side effect of forced drudgery.
The laundry room art display keeps the plates safely out of line of sight of less sentimental/more critical eyes in the house.  At the same time, they serve as reminders of days long ago when I would get a special allowance from my parents as part of our family vacation trips.
My Mom encouraged the practice because she wanted me to learn how to budget and save.  Truth be told I usually got back home after a vacation trip with most of that "special" money still burning away in whatever passed for my pockets those days.
My Dad encouraged the souvenir fund process because it ensured I was a more enthusiastic ally in his quest to stop at every "World's Biggest Ball of String" or "Davy Crockett's Cabin" road side attraction along the way.

Was I interested in said string or reconstructed cabin?  Nope, not in the least, but every one of these places either was itself entirely comprised of, or at least prominently featured a Gift Shop as part of the touristy fun.

As a child, I was all about Gift Shops and Museum Stores.  I speculate I single handedly kept several Taiwanese companies profitable during most of the late 60's.
Not that I needed another tiny photo album, coin purse or teensy cast iron skillet to bolster my sense of innocent wonder, but when said items featured the stamped or painted rendition of some place we had just visited as a family?  The instant nostalgia was often too much to pass by.  
What I was not able to buy during all those years were the omnipresent souvenir place plates.  As a child, I was forced to stick to shopping the smaller items with their matching price points.   And although I carefully eyed them at each stop, the souvenir plates I truly coveted were big ticket items, scaled for folks with deeper pockets (and potentially as yet undeveloped ironic tendencies).
Ostensibly ignoring announcements about how much longer I had to shop from my parents, I would let the pressure mount as I carefully balanced my desire to buy myself something wonderful that I was already holding in my hand, against the wish to have however much money that something wonderful cost stay right in my pocket, banked against some future better purchase at our next unscheduled stop.

That was then.   Now I happily scan the shelves at thrift stores for cast off souvenir plates.  The time spent reminds me of minutes stretching into hours standing blissfully gazing into glass cases and slowly rotating wire racks in various gift shops along our vacation routes.

Now, when I am struggling Sisyphean style at getting dirt back out of things only to be reused and resullied, I can look around and thoroughly enjoy being haunted by the Ghosts of Gift Shops Past.

How about you?  Were you a gift shop devotee as a vacationing child?  Are you still subject to impulse buys while "on the road" that would never tempt you in a million years on a regular day?  Feel free to confess your best/worst buys in the comments section.   I like to think we're all friends here....


Tina said...

Those plates are cute. I'm not a shopper,alas. I'm too impatient and boringly practical. And, I don't like to dust. But I admire when others have cool stuff, especially when there's a history behind the stuff.

TexasDeb said...

Tina, I believe I am practical, too. I convince myself of it daily. Those souvenir plates represent a total departure from the usual demands of "must fill a real need, must be at a good price, must be of good quality", etc.

The plates are only for whimsy, which in a laundry room? Is a very practical addition at this house, where without something to distract me, I might get way too stabby/crabby as a result of prolonged exposure to CHORES.

The lives my family saves when they "allow" for such uncharacteristic silliness on display, are likely their own.