Sunday, December 29, 2013

The spoils of holiday travel!

I was extremely excited to go traveling for Christmas this year.  My parents live 7 hours away so I figured I'd find treasures in their stores that I hadn't looked at 20 times like the stuff in the thrift stores up here.  My first find was in my mom's kitchen.  She had a small lava lamp sitting on a shelf collecting dust.  I asked if it was broken and she said that it wasn't, she just didn't use it any longer.  So I snagged that.  I did have to buy a new bulb for it but it works perfectly and looks great after a little clean-up.  I think it will be a curiosity piece.  Instead of telling them how it works, I'll show them how to look it up in a book or more likely, online.  The chances of me having a book about how lava lamps work sitting on the shelf is slim to none.

I was frustrated at the thrift stores we visited because everything on display was Christmas!  And there's nothing wrong with that, but it wasn't what I was looking for.  Hobby Lobby, arguably one of the coolest stores ever, had a lot of things that were very cool but were either breakable or too expensive.  I did find 5 posters in their clearance section I couldn't leave without:
1.  The Presidents of America - current, all portraits in sepia
2.  The Human Body - like what you'd see in a doctor's office
3.  The Periodic Table - with actual pictures of each mineral, and if the mineral couldn't be photographed, the person who discovered it.
4.  Neil Armstrong taking the first steps on the moon
5.  Shark species - in proportioned size

And my final treasure is one I'm extremely excited about.  It's a model of the human heart I found at a thrift store for $1.50.  The pieces are still attached to the little pegs, so it's never been put together.  It's dated 1973, that makes it 40 years old!  I was slightly disappointed to see that I have to take the time to paint it and then glue it, but it will be worth it when complete.  It can even be taken apart to show how different parts of the heart work.  I think I might invest in a glass dome to display it in so it doesn't get dusty.

My other big treasure from the trip is actually an idea.  Remember the oak card cases I wanted to turn into an I Spy Dewey Decimal Display?  Well, I realized on the trip that I was biting off more than I could chew.  Some of the sections of Dewey are too hard to represent with objects and if I collect them here and there for 5 years I still might not have enough to create the display.

I recently read "Wonderstruck" by Brian Selznick and I was enthralled with the idea of the Cabinet of Wonders.  What if I used those cases to create my own cabinet?  They lock and have clear lids, they would only need a few tweaks to make them work.  Now the part I hate.  I am not supposed to use power tools (my husband fears for my life) and so I am reliant on him and my father-in-law to rework the cases so I can use them.  I'd like cubbies built in so that when the cases are displayed upright each object has it's own little area.  I want a mix of sizes too - in case some objects are larger than others.  Since I have limited control over the exact construction of the cases, I am starting to think about what kind of wonders I want to put into it.  So far I have:
1.  a small wasp's nest that has been in the freezer for 6 months, just in case
2.  2 or 3 pieces from my fossil collection
3.  seashells
4.  this very weird lizard-foot-thingy
Someone left it at the public library and the other librarian on duty said it was too creepy to keep in the lost and found drawer, so I brought it home.  I think it's real.  The scales on the palm side of the foot are too detailed to be anything but.  It's the kind of thing to really get little boys asking questions.

I am bursting at the seams wanting to go out hiking this spring and summer.  I'd like to find some bones or feathers or even lake glass to display.  Who knows what I will find.  My mother-in-law mentioned she has a screech owl in her yard.  I wonder if I can find any owl pellets?
-owl pellets
-bones of small animals
-turtle shell
-snake skins

I am sure I'll come up with more ideas of things to look for.  And maybe once I have the case up, people will donate items to the display.  Those are ideas for "natural" display items but I could have any number of items in the display.  I even have my dad's old slide rule, it would require a taller cubbie, but it's something most kids wouldn't be able to identify without help.  It would be cool to learn to use so I could teach the kids.