Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Shelled Collection

I am not a collector - to me it is just more stuff to dust. Well, I'll qualify that. When I was younger I had an extensive beer can collection. After looking over the list of merit badges I could earn as a Girl Scout, the Collector Badge seemed an easily assumed target. So, always being the contrarian, I figured that beer cans would not only be interesting, but would probably not have been the first choice of Miss Emily, my scout leader. By the time I left for a college I had a fairly diverse collection. But I digress.

The Judge I worked for decided that I needed to collect tortoises. She was incredibly generous and I was definitely a beneficiary of her munificence. I cannot remember where it started, but since she and her family traveled extensively around the world, I amassed quite the collection. I have tortoises made from marble, jade, wood, cloisonne, bone, aluminum, plastic, glass, and, clay among other materials. I have a sterling silver tortoise that when wound up plays "Brahms Lullaby". I have a Waterford crystal tortoise. (Bet you didn't realize they made one - but they do.) I have a miniature silver tortoise with a hinged shell designed to hold a tooth in expectation for the tooth fairy.

However, the gifts did not stop with tortoise statuettes. I have a (seriously) beautiful desk lamp that has a series of tortoises of descending sizes (top to bottom) stacked on each other. I have beautifully embroidered pillows and a door stop. For entertaining, I have several Arthur Court pieces including a salad bowl, which is styled like a large upside down tortoise shell, a chip and dip tray, and other assorted trays and dishes. Probably the most colorful piece of my collection is a pair of hot pink flannel pajamas decorated with green tortoises, complete with a matching robe.

The irony is I never told her I liked tortoises. After 14 years of receiving them, I found myself having to continually clear some of the herd off my desk to work. But, they kept multiplying like Tribbles on Star Trek. The Judge would call in while on one of her trips and say, "I have a surprise that I cannot wait to show you." or "I saw something that I know you would love to have." or "You would not believe what I found today."

Oh, yes I would!

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