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When I was younger, I developed a taste for decorative items — anything from carved wooden birds to baskets and dried flower bouquets. I suspect I came by it naturally since my parents were inveterate collectors of Doulton figurines — 30 of which have resided in my basement for 15 years…boxed and taking up valuable real estate. I can be forgiven for seeing them as my ’emergency rainy day’ fund, available to be sold for thousands should the need arise.

Ha! Apparently everyone else of that era thought the same thing so the price of the china dolls dropped and cheap Chinese knock-offs hit the market. I still have them since I can’t bear to simply give them away. My father in particular always viewed them as an investment…which explains why my mother handled their stock market portfolio. He was too nervous to play the market and, with a loss of more than ten cents on any one stock, he was ready to declare the next Depression.He hovered behind her while she checked the financial pages, white-knuckling it all the way, until he could stand it no more. A good stiff drink was his solution.  If he knew what had happened to the world of Doulton, he’d drop dead from the shock…if he weren’t already dead.

Needless to say, I never shared my parents’ taste in tchotchkes . My tastes veer to the whimsical, funny, and casual. (One need only point to Poopadoodle, my fuzzy, foot high plush chicken that sings and lays plastic eggs. She is jaunty and brings me to fits of laughter every time.)

But this past week, I have been having some renos done on my kitchen and this has precipitated a cleaning and ‘winnowing out’ frenzy. First out the door, Tchtzkes. But I must be careful what I throw out since Gill will notice anything amiss.(I’m really hoping she doesn’t notice the missing foil-wrapped chocolate Santas from Christmases past that she insisted on treating as museum pieces.) In fact, when I mentioned to her that I was cleansing my stuff, she panicked. After all, what would Ma’s house be if it were not filled with junk?

She then took it upon herself to find things to take the empty places. It seems Bristol has its share of touristy, as Gill says ‘twee’ decorative items. She spotted a set of two pewter birds that “had your name written all over them, Ma!” Of course I oohed and ahed, never one to pass up a new bird for my coffee tables or shelves…only to be told that she had decided to be sensible (for once) and not make the impulse buy.

“Well, why tell me about them? That’s just teasing me. You know I’m a sucker for stuff like that. You’re a mean person!”

“Ma, I’m trying to save you from yourself. I know you’d love the birds NOW, but you’d curse me eventually. Don’t you remember how upset you were at having to empty out Grandma’s condo? Have you forgotten the collection of plastic strawberry baskets and macrame projects from the 60’s? You don’t want to leave us with all that mess after you’re gone.”

“What? Do you know something? Has my doctor called you? How long do I have?”

“Ma! Calm down…no, I don’t know anything. Well, if it makes you this upset, I’ll go and get the birds for you. I guess one more set of birds won’t hurt that much…”

“Thank you, dear…” I said as I grinned like a Cheshire cat and gazed over at the spot I had cleared on the table for the new arrivals. “That was almost too easy.”