Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Collecting Impulse

More adventures in home maintenance yesterday morning: We had to have a plumber in to clear an external drain where the upstairs neighbor's washing machine empties. The wash water comes down an outside wall through a pipe and into this ground drain, which had become blocked. Consequently the washing machine was emptying all over the concrete alleyway at the side of the house. (It was even flowing partly onto Mrs. Kravitz's patio, and I'm astonished she never raised a ruckus about it.)

Anyway, the plumber came, mucked around with the drain, and now we think it's working -- although there was still a damp area when I came home from work yesterday afternoon, so I'm not 100 percent convinced.

As my mother says, "Everything has to be done at least twice."

Yesterday, one of my blog commenters mentioned the apparent contradiction between my minimalist decorating sense (as shown in the link to pictures of my old New York apartment) and my tendency to pick things up, like the t-shirt I found.

It is absolutely true that I am a collector at heart. I always have been. As a child I collected stamps, leaves, beer cans, bottles, bottle caps, seashells, rocks, coins and stickers, among other things. And I didn't just accumulate them -- I curated them, looking up proper identifications and, in some cases, typing up records of where I found them and under what circumstances. I was an obsessive little kid.

As you've seen, I still have those tendencies -- on Sunday, in fact, I picked up these beautiful feathers while walking the dog at Wormwood Scrubs. (I think they're from a pheasant -- probably a pheasant who met a bad end. I've never seen a pheasant at the Scrubs but I guess they could be there.)

That's why blogging is such a good activity for me. It allows me to type up that same record, in narrative form. Basically you're reading an account of all my daily collecting, whether objects or experiences. And I don't have to keep the objects, having recorded them here. (I didn't keep the feathers.)

Which is where the minimalism comes in. See?

I also really, really hate any kind of waste. If I can give a discarded object a second life, I will.

Here's a very minimalist plant from our garden. It's a sage that Dave planted about ten days ago, and as you can see, it was completely stripped of leaves almost overnight by our voracious slugs. I pulled it out of the ground yesterday morning and put it in a pot, giving it some protection on the patio table -- talk about a second life! -- but I'm not sure it's even going to survive at this point.

What is up with our supercharged, weaponized slugs?!

(Top photo: Shoreditch, on Wednesday last week.)


  1. Slugs and snails are abundant in our little garden and I hate killing them. When we had an allotment we used slug killer only once after watching the poor things wreathing and foaming while they died. We now only buy plants that slugs and snails do not eat even though I would love some of the others.
    As for collecting, my thing is of course needlework items, fabric, cottons, buttons and wool. I have tons of the stuff and still keep buying if I see it at car boots etc. lol I can always see in my minds eye what I could make with it.

  2. I collect unusual friends, and though their numbers have dwindled in recent years, I'm always on the look out for more...

  3. I think the owners of that chicken shop picked the wrong state. Surely, it should have been "Taste of Kentucky". I guess "Taste of Florida" would serve alligator burgers in a rich orange sauce. Another shop "Taste of Nebraska" would specialise in boring items like grey socks and lumps of wood.

  4. The Taste of Tennessee shot is fabulous.
    And I know nothing about slugs.
    I believe I may be collecting grandchildren these days.

  5. you'd probably have a nervous breakdown if you had to live with me with all the stuff I have.

  6. A good curiosity about things goes a long way to our collecting habits. AS a little kid it was one of your learning strategies. I often wonder where you learned scientific naming of plants .

  7. Blogging is the best for recording the crazy details of daily life. I love your art of collecting. I wish I had started mine when I was young.

  8. Despite our best efforts, our mint plant was eaten by aphids or something last year. SWMBO says she's going to try about 4 herbs this year.

  9. We tried everything under the sun but it all comes back to killing. In fact, we have created our own slug killing app, an alarm that goes off after sunset, whereupon one of us has to go out with the miner's torch headband and pick their way through the vegetable garden and assorted herbs and flowering plants.
    I just throw them in a bucket with petrol in it, R cuts them in half first.
    But otherwiese we are peaceful.

    I am considering getting a pair of Indian Runner ducks but apparently they make a lot of noise which will not go down ell with the neighbours.

    Still, a nice idea that seems to be working for some:

  10. I try to plant what the pests don't like. That way I don't need to kill anything. And if it can't be avoided, I wimp out and get my husband to do it. (ants)

    Other than that, a shrug of the shoulders is what I fall back on if something is eaten or otherwise dies.

  11. I would love to be minimalist, but I live with a collector & a "but we might need this" type of a person. Well, I also think we might need it. We're doomed. Ha!

  12. Get some diatomaceous earth - works wonders on ants and slugs. It is ground up coral and the sharp edges cuts into their digestive system. It is safe for pets. Good luck!