Day One – Monday, June 18, 2018 – Wunderkammer

Last year, a contest was published in The Writer magazine, and the contest writing prompt has stuck with me ever since I read it. I thought it would be the perfect first prompt to get you excited about our week of writing.

As some of you may know, I’ve recently given and attended talks about micro-memoir, or the art of writing memoir under 1,000 words in length. Today, I want you to write a micro-memoir piece about a wunderkammer, which is a 16th century cabinet (or room) of wonders. These rooms held all manner of treasures that were collected and curated to inspire awe, wonder, and even fear. They were items like taxidermied animals, shrunken heads, and scientific tools.

What inspires awe, wonder, or fear in you? What items from your past would you put in your wunderkammer, and what stories do those objects represent? What would your cabinet of wonders, or wunderkammer, hold? What treasures hold a dangerous or deeply charged feeling in you. Those are the magical objects that can inspire a lifetime of story-writing possibilities. Think up a few of these objects and then hone in on the one that speaks to and inspires you most. Then, write about it in 1,000 words or fewer.

If you’d like to read the actual contest prompt from last year, which includes a writing sample, click here. Then, if you feel able, post your micro-memoir piece below so we can, collectively, create one big wunderkammer.

 

 

 

photo credit: Groume Le Curieux Cabinet de curiosités via photopin (license)

43 thoughts on “Day One – Monday, June 18, 2018 – Wunderkammer

  1. Norma Beasley

    7 Day Challenge June 2018, Day 1, Wunderkammer
    Why are we inspired to collect and hold on to things? It’s not the item itself but the memories associated to them. I only have a handful of objects that I have held on to through the years…all photographs. My dad, who passed away before I was born, my mom who passed away when I was two years old, my high school year book, and a photo of an old friend who became mom, sister, confidant, and travel companion in the 30 years I knew her. If I were to lose all of my possessions tomorrow, I would still hold in my mind and heart a visual of the aforementioned forever. That’s all I need.

    1. Cheryl Floyd

      Yes, so true, Norma. Well said. I have been purging for two years and there’s still so much to go. I admire your advice and will tuck it in my heart as I continue letting go.

  2. Linda Ricci

    Today’s challenge is to write about a Wunderkammer, a room of treasures that amaze or frighten.
    It occurs to me that I have been watching movies and TV shows for years that feature these kinds of rooms. Horror or science fiction seem to thrive on them for obvious reasons.
    Collections of any kind mirror an obsession even if it is mild and that can lead to evil or wonder in a heartbeat.
    My Wunderkammer would hold doors, large enough for a giant to pass through or small enough for the tiniest mouse.
    The knobs or handles would be of interesting materials such as rubies, diamonds, intricately carved exotic wood, or precious metals stamped with cryptic runes.
    The doors themselves are in odd shapes; diamond shaped, round, square, S shaped, triangles.
    Some are beautifully carved with oak and maple leaves and vines that twine around in impossible shapes , some plain at first glance but they change colors or surface texture as you move around the room; the runes come to life as you approach forming words in a foreign tongue.
    Standing in my Wunderkammer makes me feel the wonder and the excitement of a journey’s beginning. If I open them where will they lead?
    Will I see a blank wall or another world?
    Is there beauty or danger waiting just out or sight?
    How can I contain myself ? Do I dare reach out and touch the strange knob to turn it and start my adventure?
    My room is in an old abandon mansion that I have dreamed of all my life.
    It exists and somewhere, sometime I will find it!

    1. Cheryl Floyd

      Linda, this was an interesting twist and description of the room with its doors and knobs that house the wonders. An different perspective.

  3. Ericka Parra

    7 Day Challenge: Day 1
    The Vase and The Mirror Frame

    When I visit my friends’ places, they always have an object that gives a touch to their houses. My father, for example, has a special space full of paintings and sculptures. The themes are horses, horseshoes, and metal keys of all sizes. On the contrary, my house walls are empty. My husband has decorated his office with pictures of his nephews, nieces, and mother. What object could be my wunderkammer? After looking around the house, I only saw bookshelves. This morning, I realized how important a ceramic flower vase and a mirror frame are to me.

    The frame of the wall mirror has blue tiles with white flowers. Hand-painted ceramic tiles depict cool green and bright white blossoms. The flowers motif reminds me of the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera’s paintings of “alcatraces” flowers. The handmade Mexican floral tin is a simulacrum of the Pyramids decoration.

    Every morning, I supposed to see the mirror in my office. It supposed to be the first object that could remind me to write. I placed it there, so I can respond to my critical self: “Go away 4 demons. Writing day.” But, sometimes it causes me homesick. Looking at the frame evokes memories from my childhood. It also inspires comfort. Looking at the tiles brings to my memory familiar smells. Every feeling but writing.

    The vase, interesting enough, is also a ceramic with blue flowers symbolizing the iconic Teotihuacan pyramids decoration from Mexico. The background of the vase is a white color. The shape of the vase simulates movement. It is not round nor rectangular. It is a twisted square vase. The blue color is what caught my attention. It is as if the color itself would recall my commitment to write.

    1. Terry Deer

      As a fellow collector of books, I can see and appreciate your home with its bare walls, full of possibility, and its many bookshelves. The mirror and the vase seem like touchstones from your early life. You describe them so well that I can picture them clearly. What a wonderful way to “psych” your way into writing, by looking into the mirror and telling yourself that you are looking at an author.

  4. Suzie Shaeffer

    A Skeleton in My Cabinet of Curiosities

    I’ve always been fascinated by the natural world, from the “invisible” creatures revealed by the first microscope, to what might be discovered on other planets or in distant galaxies. Looking back, I can see that I’ve had an evolving interest in reptiles, including that often despised and feared creature, the snake.

    When I was very young I found a beautifully colored snake in our backyard. I was horrified when my father killed it. He said it might have been poisonous or maybe not, but he wasn’t taking any chances with the life of his little girl. I kept my mouth shut, but I still didn’t think that was fair to the snake.

    A few years later, at a tourist stop on a trip west, I ate some rattlesnake meat on a Ritz cracker (and still have a certificate to prove I ate it). Even though it tasted like deviled ham, being served on a cracker to a curious kid probably wasn’t very fair to that snake either.

    Much later, all grown up and ready to start a family, my husband and I moved into our new house in a new development in Florida. One day a small snake sporting a diamond pattern on its skin was cornered by our cats in our screened-in porch. Even after we got the cats away from it, the snake wasn’t interested in leaving. And worried about the snake’s diamond pattern, its aggressive behavior, and the stories we’d been hearing of regular rattlesnakes and pygmy rattlers being displaced by all the building in the development, we killed the snake. That’s when I had a new understanding of my father’s motivation in killing that pretty snake years ago.

    Living in what used to be an oak hammock, I finally became used to seeing snakes around and learned that poisonous snakes in Florida mostly have wedge-shaped heads with a definite chin, with the notable exception of the coral snake. Then one day while gardening, I accidentally got between another a young snake (with that same diamond pattern on its skin) and it’s route to freedom. The small snake acted aggressive and even vibrated its naked tail to scare me away, but it had a slender head with no chin. This time I trapped the snake instead of killing it, punched air holes in a jar lid, took the jarred snake to my daughter’s middle school and showed it to her science teacher. He agreed that it wasn’t a diamond-backed rattler or even a pygmy rattler, but was instead a non-poisonous juvenile black racer with protective diamond markings that would fade away as it grew up. Once the snake, its jar and my embarrassed daughter and I were back in my garden, I unscrewed the lid and the snake sprang out just like the old ”gotcha” fake snake in a can!

    Despite that surprise, black racers were welcome residents in our yard, One racer in particular liked hanging out on hot days inside our relatively cool, dark mailbox. One time I found it under a stack of mail. After I shooed the snake out, I taped up the access holes. The mailman was quite startled to learn that he had put our mail on top of a sleeping snake!

    Still, I knew careful identification was in order when it came to snakes. One evening years later while on a family walk, I saw, lying in the gutter, a small snake with bright yellow, red and black rings. It looked dead, but I still wanted to correctly identify it. I called to my daughter to come look and help me figure it out, reminding her of the old rhyme: red on black, friend of Jack; red on yellow, kill a fellow. “So,” I said, “look close. Is it a scarlet king snake or a coral snake?” My daughter just shook her head and walked away, muttering, “Only my mother…”

    By now you may be wondering how this stream of memories is linked to the skeleton mentioned in the title. Here’s one last story. Returning one day from a long family trip, we were greeted by a skeleton stretched out on the sand beside our front door. It was a perfect, fully articulated skeleton of a small snake, probably another young racer. My husband and daughter continued inside as I stood there studying the snake. Now while I’ve often come across discarded snake skins while gardening, I had never seen a skeleton of one, except as a drawing in a book or on display in a natural history museum. The bones of this one were as delicate and fine as bone china. I was fascinated and definitely felt a sense of awe and wonder. And I am very sure that it belongs in my personal Cabinet of Curiosities.

    1. Cheryl Floyd

      Most definitely, that snake skeleton belongs in your personal Cabinet of Curiosities. Very well written, Suzie. You brought a few snake encounters to mind for me. Thank you. Can’t wait to read your day 2 entry.

    2. Terry Deer

      This is so like you, Suzie! What a thoughtful description of your ongoing relationship with snakes and their ability to inspire awe and fear in equal measure.

  5. Judi Graham

    The water is crystal clear. I keep trying to find a way out. I hate being under water. My biggest fear is to drown. I know how stupid this sounds, but I am able to breathe under water. I keep circling, going up, going down, swim a ways to my right… did I already go this way? It all looks the same. I’ll never get out of here….

    Okay, I have to calm down. Panic isn’t going to help anything. Calm down and get your brain working. Light. Look for light. I don’t see any light. There is no light. I’m going to drown!!! Okay calm down now, everything is going to be alright.

    I keep circling and after a while I see light. Not much, but some and I swim toward the light. O great! That’s what they tell you to do when you are dead – walk toward the light. Am I dead? Wait, what’s that? Is that a barge?? Maybe a raft? It’s square and it floats. I’ll swim to it. Slow and steady wins the race. Oh my goodness! It’s a tea bag!

    I have had this nightmare more times than I can count. I’m afraid of water, and I’m afraid of drowning.
    I don’t like spiders and snakes, so we’ll put one of each in our cabinet along with the water. Not much else I’m afraid of.

    1. Terry Deer

      Boy, you really had me with that description of your nightmare; I was ready to go anywhere you wanted to lead. The tea bag was a delightful surprise.

  6. Barbara Spieker

    WRITING CHALLENGE DAY ONE Wunderkammer
    My family have all been collectors, either of junk or antiques and I have inherited that love of objects. There are certain objects that appeal most to my sensibilities and I have those around me in my home. Among those are a number of glass door knobs taken off of doors from old homes that have been demolished.
    These door knobs have a layered story that appeal to me. Just as objects, the appeal is the sparkling faceted prism like effect that makes them so fun to look at and showing up so pretty on my bookshelf. However, there is so much more to them. I love the architecture of the old homes they were pulled from. Mostly Victorian, they speak to me of a grander time, a time when there was quality of workmanship and a grandeur of the home environment. I imagine myself wearing a silk or satin gown of layers of lace and other unique design, gliding through the room, fabric rustling with every step and turning a door knob to open the door to another room. Each room being filled with the beauty of design and furnishing that make the home a haven of peace and comfort. The glass door knob has to potential to reflect the room back in a microcosm of color and symmetry. I walk through that display of wealth and beauty every time with my own imagined grandeur, speaking softly to the servants or perhaps having my hair done by my personal maid to get ready for the day, or perhaps planning the days menu with my cook. All with the sparkle of a time gone by and a life that judging by this one, almost never existed at all.
    Happily, less grand home also displayed these sparkling gems on their doors after a while. The less fortunate classes then could also enjoy their beauty and feel they were soaring a bit above their usual rank. The door knobs were perhaps more appreciated in those homes because there wasn’t as much beauty, as much to compete with. I imagine the children staring into the magical prism that changed when you moved. I imagine a tired mother sitting in an arm chair, resting and glancing at the sparkle across the room, then getting lost in the pattern and light and emerging just a little refreshed.
    Another layer for me is the flash forward eighty years, past the general burning down of old homes to make room for the square boxes of the new without any attempt to see any value in what is inside, to the beginnings of people salvaging the treasures of these old homes slated for demolition. The recognition of the value of the mahogany or other valuable wood doors with their glass door knobs. Of course, there is the agony of thinking of all that has been destroyed, but also the gratitude that there were other people like myself that appreciated the old and wanted to preserve it.
    I no longer remember where I picked up my door knobs. I believe some of them came from Dad’s collection. He was one of the people that held reverence for the old building materials and craft. He, like I, had a flashpoint of feeling for how an object might have been used and of who the people were that used it, immediately conjuring pictures in the mind. For me it’s often a vague shadowy picture that seems to instantaneously come and just as quickly disappear. Other times I may be lost in the play of the scene before me in my imagination.
    Having the tangible object before me right now, winking and sparkling touches something in my soul that reminds me that objects we touch every day may go ahead into the future, touching other souls.

    1. Cheryl Floyd

      Thank you Barbara. I have collected two sets of such glass knobs, thinking one day I would put them on doors in my home. Recently I had the four knobs affixed to an antique mirror and made into a functional hall coat rack. Form and function won out. I love the way you shared your imaginings about the life led in the long gone homes that once housed the knobs. I wonder how many you have????? I was at a storytelling event once when a man shared about his last visit to his childhood family home before it was torn down. He asked if he could keep the front door knob. He shared his memories of walking through that door while growing up and as he did, he sent the door knob around the members of the audience, each remembering something from our childhoods. At the end, when the knob returned to him, he thanked us for infusing the knob with our memories.

    2. Kaye Byrnes

      My darling Barbara …. I loved your writing…it so reflects the woman that you are, your heart and passions. I know so well that your many lovely “things” have deep meaning for you …. and you articulated that beautifully. Sooooooo glad we’re doing this challenge together …. can’t wait to see what we write about tomorrow!

    3. Linda Ricci

      What a wonderful description of the feelings and thoughts something as simple as a door knob will spark. Just from this small glimpse I felt the joy and contentment having them in your home has brought.
      What a lovely thing to collect.

  7. Sarah Fine

    Your 16th ‘wunderkammer’ prompt reminds me of an exhibit I saw last year from Guillermo del Toro’s ‘cabinet of curiosities’ – in his case, he has an entire house, aptly called Bleak House. I saw art, artifacts, books and movie props displayed to reveal his creative process. As del Toro explained “These things are vital for my storytelling… things that have moved me, inspired me and consoled me as I transit through life.”

    My own cabinet of curiosities would have a shelf of childhood fears with a special corner for a pile of the carcasses of June Bugs.

    It was late Spring in Toronto and I was living with my parents in a 6-plex apartment building on a well-treed street. Each unit consisted of a long hall with a series of rooms running off it on one side only. The living room was at the front and my bedroom was at the back. I think it was the last room.

    It was about 11 pm and I had been asleep. Suddenly I woke up to the sound of something hitting my window which was shut but not locked. I had no doubt someone was trying to get in. It was either a burglar or a bogeyman, or a burglar bogeyman if they existed.

    I remembered a radio show I had listened to during an art class at school and the drawing I made – a terrifying picture of this exact scene. I was the girl on the bed lying stiff as a board with the look of terror on her face, and the masked burglar with one leg over the window sill, was climbing into my room.

    I slid noiselessly over the side of my single bed onto the floor, hoping there really were ‘no such things as bogeymen’ underneath or in the closet. Then I crawled to my bedroom door and out into the hall. I ran the length of our apartment to find my brother watching TV in the living room.

    It took both convincing and bribery to get him to check my bedroom where I was relieved to find out that the tapping at my window was being done by June Bugs – large brown flying beetles that feed on leaves and are native to North America in the late Spring.

    I realize my childhood was formed in part by stories I was told, books I read and the countless hours spent watching scary movies. No one can tell me that flocks of birds are benign.

    1. Cheryl Floyd

      I was right there with you listening to that scary sound at your window. I also could picture a huge June Bug with a needle stuck through it in a protective glass case on a mantle. Memories…

  8. Kaye Byrnes

    Kaye Byrnes
    7-Day Writing Challenge
    Day 1
    Wunderkammer

    Finally, I came to the realization. I not only had accumulated way too much stuff, I was also way too attached to most of it. Most of us gleefully confess that we collect Royal Dalton figurines or antique teapots. Collecting is an acceptable, justifiable interest. What we cannot confess is that the lifelong accumulation of material things is an exercise in validation.

    It begins in childhood. We just have to acquire the toys, the treats, the things we see that spark a visceral desire. I want it. I deserve it. I must have it. “Puh-leeeeeze mommy, puh-leeze.” My family lacked the money to fulfill my every whim but that desire to acquire was present none-the-less.

    As we reach the age of employability, our own financial resources kick in and we’re no longer at the mercy of someone else’s spending power. Now we have the freedom to acquire a cornucopia of things that validate our sense of self and our place in the world; Our first decent car, our first mortgage, clothes of our own choosing, artwork and knick-knacks, housewares and home décor. Every acquisition says, “This is who I am.”

    The inventory grows through purchases, gifts, and inheritance. The shelves, drawers, closets and countertops fill with things that brought temporary satisfaction, precious memories, perhaps even a sense of wonder or beauty. Some have very little meaning whatsoever but are kept regardless, stowed away in the “junk drawer” simply out of habit or neglect.

    So it was with me. Forty years of accumulated inventory. When the wheel of life turned, I was forced to confront the question of need versus want. I was unexpectedly vacating a large, comfortable home that held a lifetime of accumulation. The realization came, “I don’t need all this stuff.” But what amongst those things did I want?

    As I sorted and packed, every moment became a decision point; “Oh, but this belonged to my grandmother!” or “Someday I might just use this!” The pile in the garage grew, as things were deemed unnecessary, discardable. It became a metaphor for the turn of the wheel. There are times when we must simply detach from and release the things we once treasured.

    A multitude of housewares, clothes, shoes, luggage, and holiday decorations were the easiest. Then came the gray space, where the things I picked up resonated more deeply; mementos from family vacations, books that had profoundly impacted my thinking, old photographs of distant friends and family, small gifts that each had a special story. With conscious effort, I asked myself “How does this serve me now? Do I need this to give my life meaning and purpose?” I slowly came to realize that while my things reflect who I am and where I’ve been, they are only and simply things.

    The family and friends I’ve known, the work I’ve done, the places I’ve been; they all remain meaningful and significant without attachment to a single material thing. I do not need things to validate my life.

    But still, there are those things my heart cannot release; My mother’s old leather purse with her name embossed on the side, the red teddy bear my son gave me for Valentine’s Day when he was six, the porcelain bowl that graced my mother-in-law’s table. These are precious things I keep because they remind me of the love that has blessed my life. And what more could anyone want?

    1. Cheryl Floyd

      Oh Kaye, I am right with you on this. Having also released so many ‘things’ in my life the last couple of years, I did not physically have to move, so there are still so many ‘things’ waiting to be released and let go. There is some benefit to moving. I moved ten times in the first ten years of my thirty-seven year marriage, but oh boy did I make up for that with the next twenty seven. Thanks for your thoughts.

  9. Judy Watkins

    The Bottle of Fear

    After all the years, I can still feel the pain and feel the tears that came every time I saw the whiskey bottle come out of the cupboard. As a child I knew it meant my parents would have another screaming fight and in the end it would be me that would be beat with the belt.

    I ran away and got married at 16 to escape a lifestyle that was unbearable, but as they say, out of the pan, into the fire.

    My husband was not the typical alcoholic. He used alcohol more like medicine. I never saw him just sit and enjoy a cocktail. He kept his bottle under the kitchen sink and every few minutes he would drink half a water glass of whiskey followed by a smaller glass of water. He never drank during the day, only in the evenings after work but he drained a full bottle every evening. In addition, he was what is known as a periodic drunk. That means only occasionally he will go on a binge and really get drunk. So what has this meant to my life (in no specific order)?

    The first thing I learned was that verbal abuse can hurt much more than a beating. Scars and bruises go away but words can not be erased.
    It was his habit to stay drunk from his birthday on December 19th until the new year started. That meant on Christmas Eve I put the “Santa” gifts together by myself while he sat passed out in a chair in the room. He was there when the children opened their gifts only because he never left the chair from the night before.
    When I met him I knew he was divorced and he professed to having two children. He is 14 years older than I am so it made sense at the time. Some years later I discovered that he had five children. That was my surprise when child-support papers were served.
    Along with the serving of the papers I learned that his wife divorced him in Mexico two years AFTER we were married. I asked him if he would marry me again but in his opinion he was married and that was that. Big question, after 59 years, am I a married woman?
    About a year after we were married his sister and family was passing through Oregon from California and wanted to stop to visit him. He took me and my daughter to a friend’s house to spend the day and did not allow me to meet his family. I was very hurt at the time, was he ashamed of me? But now I realize that he didn’t want them to know that he had two wives.
    When his two oldest children were teens they came to spend their last two years of school living with us. We lived in a two-bedroom house and we had two young children. Our income was meager. He was the total breadwinner and he would never allow his wife to work. I tried to be friends with the teens, his daughter was only eight years my junior. I sewed her school clothes and her formal prom dress. I did without things to make sure they fit in at school. Our relationship went downhill when my husband reminded me that I was NOT their friend, I was their mother and I needed to remember that.
    I don’t drink, I never have. I tried once when I became old enough but if I had a drink in a bar I was accused of trying to put the make on every man there. If I ordered a coke, I was the wet-blanket that ruined the fun for everybody else. I quit trying to fit in.
    I was always accused of being ignorant, and maybe I was. I quit high-school two years early and the only contact I had with the outside world was my husband and whatever he talked to me about. I had a home and family to take care of and in the 60’s we had only one car and no television.

    I could go on and on but the message is clear. Right or wrong, I made myself physically sick when the bottle came out. Eventually I had a nervous breakdown and with the help of doctors found my way back to sanity. I quit worrying about pleasing my husband and found a job and went back to school. The problem with his drinking never went away but I learned that other people can’t make me sick, I have choices and I can find things that make me happy. I was 48 when I earned an MBA and by then I had established a rewarding career. After twelve years of night school I was no longer the shy and introverted young girl. I was a well-educated professional woman but my husband was still the same man that I married. I quit worrying about if he stayed or left. It was his choice but I would no longer bend to please him.

    1. Cheryl Floyd

      Isn’t it amazing what an image of one object can bring up. Sadly, the abuse of alcohol brings down so many and ruins families, lives and futures. Thank you for your candid, authentic sharing, Judy.

    2. Sarah Fine

      Hi Judy, it amazes me to follow the path of destruction alcohol leaves. I am happy you made it through to the other side. Thanks for sharing!

    3. Terry Deer

      What a harrowing tale. I’m glad to know that you have found some equilibrium in your life and can recognize your own worth and no longer allow others to define you. There’s an important story to be written here.

  10. Cindi Lynch

    Day 1: Inside my cabinet of wonder.

    Sitting down at my computer, I thought today’s challenge would be a piece of cake. Ha, wrong.

    For inspiration, I read through the memoirs already posted…but came up blank.

    I walked around my house, looking for treasures or other reminders of past experiences. Yup, nothing. At least nothing I wanted to write about.

    Back to the computer to read (again) the thoughts others shared, but still…nada.

    Am I that boring? Is my world that small that nothing stands out? Are my experiences so limited? Or my possessions so meaningless?

    I know none of that is really true but for some reason the thought of finally putting a voice to some ideas had turned out to be quite intimidating. But I couldn’t understand why. After all, I’ve been writing and posting a weekly blog since 2008. I seem to come up with little stories for that. So, what’s the difference? Why was today harder?

    Then it hit me: it’s not that it was harder. Not really. It’s the getting started that was getting in my way. And that’s why I began today’s memoir the way I did. I simply sat down and starting writing.

    On my earlier “looking for inspiration” tour through the house, my eyes took in two paintings, each depicting a young boy and girl playing on the beach or rafting in the ocean. They belonged to my mom and they are definitely a treasure to me. And they indeed hold a prominent place in my Wunderkammer. But, not necessarily because they hold tremendous monetary value or even because they belonged to my mom, who passed away two years ago. The value to me is in what they represent: complete love and acceptance.

    My husband has always liked the pictures purchased at an art auction while we were cruising with my parents many years ago. My mom bought them because the children reminded her of my own two kids, her first grandchildren. And whether or not my husband told Mom how much he liked them, she knew. And unbeknownst to us, she made provision for them to go to him one day.

    Two years ago, after Mom died, we ended up helping my dad downsize and move closer to us. In the process, we got rid of nearly everything he owned except all his paintings. With his new place being much smaller, we were amazed at how many paintings he was actually able to install. But he did have two leftovers: the paintings my husband loves. With his blessing, we took them home and got them ready to hang. And that, as you’ll see, set the stage for them being two of the treasures in my own Wunderkammer.

    My husband was in the guest room figuring out the best placement for each picture when he called out to me “Come here. Now. Please.”

    Figuring he simply needed a helping hand, I entered the room to see him holding one of the pictures, gazing at the back side. He looked at me…were those tears in his eyes? And then asked me to look. In my mom’s handwriting, on the back of each picture, was a note that upon her demise the paintings would go to Greg, unless she decided to give them to him earlier. And the two notes were dated in 2008, right after she purchased them.

    In her death, my mom was able to give Greg two of her own treasures. He was so touched that she thought about it ahead of time, in fact eight years earlier, and made sure her wishes were known so that these pictures would eventually find their way to him.

    But those two paintings are Greg’s wonders. My wonder is in how much my mother loved my husband. From the moment she first met him, she welcomed Greg into our family. She never considered him an in-law; he was her son. She even had a pet-name for him: Sonny. And he called her Mother Dear.

    There was so much love between them, at times I would joke with her that she loved him more than me! We lived about 2-1/2 hours apart so saw her every few months. Taking the elevator up to their 12th floor apartment, she would be waiting for us outside the elevator doors, arms outstretched…not for me, but for her Sonny. Often her greeting would be something like “You look so good.” And I’d answer “What about me? Am I chopped liver?”

    It never bothered me. It made me love my mom more. How many mothers-in-law really, truly, and fully love their sons-in-law as their own? Probably not many. But my mom did.

    So today, what began as just an assignment, has turned into a beautiful reminder not only of my sweet mama, but of a love between two people that not only brought much joy while my mother was alive, but continues to bring joy to this day.

    1. Cheryl Floyd

      Oh I loved your story, Cindi. Somewhere in my home, in a box, I guess, is a small print of a painting with two children playing on the beach. It was by an artist named, Natalie Guess, from Naples, Florida. I actually taught her two children. Funny, well not really, stories do commonly trigger other stories. Your story brought that memory up for me. I taught her two children when they were little. What a wonderful story of your mother’s love for your husband. I could picture him sharing with you the inscription by your mother. A beautiful treasure.

  11. Vera Zimmerman

    Day 1 – Wunderkammer – Vera Zimmerman
    I have a Wunderkammer of my own filled with interesting souvenirs of my travels. Well, it’s just a book case, but it’s my Wunderkammer. When I dust, not nearly as often as I should, it’s like taking a trip back in time. As I pick up each object I remember where it came from and how I came to find it or maybe how it came to find me. I have done most of my shopping at small art galleries, antique shops and flea markets and my collection has a decidedly anthropological bent.

    The one I’ve just picked up is a handmade stone knife. The handle is a curved piece of deer antler and the four inch long blade is translucent rusty-brown quartz. I bought it from the flint knapper himself. We had pulled our old camper into a gas station just west of the Arkansas-Oklahoma line. I noticed a small flea market setting up in the empty lot next door and I wandered over to browse while my husband filled the gas tank. One small table held several knapped stone tools and I struck up a conversation with the bearded man who had made them. I know enough about flint knapping to appreciate the patience and skill it takes. I picked up this knife and held it up to the low morning sun. Beautiful! I bought it and took a picture of him holding his knife to remember that cool fall day in Oklahoma.

  12. nancy nelson

    My name is Nancy Nelson. This is the second year I have participated in the 7-day writing challenge. I loved it last year and am so happy to be able to accept the challenge again. I winter in Florida and summer in Northern Wisconsin. I am a retired professor whose passions are photography and writing–especially poetry.

    INSIDE MY WUNDERKAMMER

    After considerable pondering about the treasures I would put into my cabinet, I gained new insights about myself from this writing challenge. Objects are not that inspirint to me, I realized, people are! My home is filled with pictures of family, friends and people I’ve encountered throughtout my life. I cherish the photos of my deceased family members, my parents and amazing husband, as well as dear friends. It keeps my memories of them alive.
    What also generates awe and wonder are the subjects of the many photographs I’ve taken of relatives and friends as well as the people I’ve met around the world. I enjoy taking snapshots of people, especially close-ups, and then I create stories in my head about their lives. I love the unique faces of people no matter where I travel, and I try to imagine what their lives entail. Some examples are: an Indian woman in traditional dress, children and adults in Peru, an old woman in China, a young Amish girl, a large African man, a group of card-playing men in Cuba, a cigar-smoking Cuban woman, a vegetable-selling woman in a boat in Thailand, Tibetan monks (one using a cell phone), a guitar-playing Croatian man, Irish street musicians, and countless others.
    Several years ago I traveled to China with a group of college students and two Chines professors from the school where we taught. We spent several day at the birthplace of Confucius. Because the temperature was quite warm, we were constantly supplied with bottled water. At one of our stops we were greeted by an old Chinese woman. Her very wrinkled face contained an engaging and warm smile. She never said a word, but pointed to our water bottles as she held up a huge bag that contained empty bottles. Many of the students quickly drank ther water and gladly offered her their empties. I help up my camera, she nodded, slowly walked to a nearby fence and posed for me. I took several pictures and then showed her some money which she eagerly accepted.
    Incorparating the images of many of the places and people we had already observed, I imagined that she was helping to provide for her family. I thought she lived simply and was rather poor. I envisioned her living in a small house like the ones we had visited outside of Beijing. I saw her coming to this spot every day to collect bottles. I also pictured her holding a grandson and speaking kind words to him as she stroked his tiny head. I imagined him looking into her eyes and smiling back. Her image remained with me the rest of the day, and I wondered what she was doing each moment.
    Taking photographs of people has always been a passion. With each one I feel I capture a small slice of their lives. I treasure the special moments of our brief encounters and the memories they provide.

    1. Cheryl Floyd

      Thank you for sharing your photo inspiration. You have a treasure cove of stories in all of your photographs. I look forward to reading more about your family in treasured memories.

  13. Cheryl Floyd

    2018 7-Day Writing Challenge
    Day 1 Wunderkammer

    The Shotgun
    He swung the shotgun from side to side as he yelled and slurred anger-filled Cajun and broken-English cuss words at all of us. At five years old on the other side of the shotgun, I cried in confusion and fear. My daddy’s hands wielded the gun and threatened to kill us all as we huddled in our living room. My Daddy’s angry words filled my head and seared into my heart like a piercing arrow. My brother Junior scooped me up and sat back down with me in his protective arms. Gerald held Glyn by his side and Mama soothed Ricky in her lap. I cried, Mama screamed, “No, Apsey, No!”

    My oldest brother, Kermit stood alone facing Daddy. Kermit found courage and the words to speak with quiet and calm, “Apsey, you don’t want to do this. Everything will be okay. Please put the gun down. We love you.”

    Kermit talked and Mama shushed us, “Sh, sh, sh.” My little brother whimpered, my mother shushed through trembling lips and her upper body rhythmically rocked back and forth; until the sound of my oldest brother’s voice, as comforting as Granddaddy’s windup clock, became the main sound in the room countering the slurs of my angry father. I clung to Junior; he rubbed my back and shielded me in his familiar, protective embrace.

    The long brown and black cylinder wielded by my angry, drunken daddy, slowed its frantic threatening air-slicing movements as he settled the barrel and aimed straight ahead. Daddy’s words running like a broken record over and over held me in a trance. His cursing words, lashed out in anger struck fear in that small living room in southwest Louisiana. “God damn, son-of-bitch, gonna kill every damn f****one of you and me too. Shit, damn, son-of -bitch.”

    No clock ticking to mark the time, the moment hung in that small room filled with fear. As Kermit’s soothing voice lulled us all into a quiet stupor, the barrel of the gun slowly slipped down onto my daddy’s lap. His shoulders shook with sobs. My brave oldest brother stepped closer to the resting weapon and eased the shotgun from my daddy’s open trembling hands. Kermit walked out of the room with the black barrel running along the side of his leg pointing down at the floor. His footsteps marking the time until the back door slammed shut behind him. My broken daddy slumped lower in his chair sobbing,leaning forward with his face in his hands, shielding his shame. Mama’s voice broke the silence, “Go on now. You’ll go to bed, all of you, go on.” Gerald lifted Ricky out of her arms and we all left the room without a word. And no one ever talked about that night again.

    Daddy went away for a while, to a hospital. Mama said that Daddy needed the doctors to help him get better.

    I don’t remember what happened to the shotgun and have never understood anyone wanting a gun for protection. The shotgun represented weakness, not strength, to me. I loved my Daddy, but from that day forward I feared him. I have a vivid memory of standing alone in the yard of my childhood home when I was about the same age crying with the realization that the world did not revolve around me, that other people had thoughts and feelings. In the past, I had not connected the two memories, but perhaps they are intertwined.

    Kermit may have been younger than nineteen, I know he wasn’t older because he married and moved away at nineteen. Being fourteen years older than I was; his age became the marker for all of our ages and a place-mark for my memories.

    Putting this all into perspective, Daddy became a step dad to my three oldest brothers when at the age of nineteen he married my mama, a twenty-nine year old World War II widow with three little boys, Kermit nine, Junior six and Gerald five. I worshiped and admired my oldest brother and on that day, marked by a shotgun, he became my hero. He claimed that he named me and yet always called me Little Sister. Mama told me that my feet rarely touched the ground because Kermit rocked me to sleep from the day I came home from the hospital until the night before he got married when I was six.

    When this incident happened, Daddy would have been no more than twenty-nine with a family of six children ranging from nineteen to three. His life filled with alcohol, anger and limited income making skills delivered a broken man into our home that night. I don’t know what stressfilled incident brought him to that dreadful moment and I will probably never know as they, Daddy, Mama and Kermit have all died. But the memory for me is unforgettable and the belief that guns are to be feared in the hands of the injured and broken was sealed on my heart that night.

    1. Cheryl Floyd

      Sorry my fellow writers, I promise myself each time I take one of Patricia’s prompt challenges that I will write about the first thoughts that come to mind. The shotgun image would not go away.

      1. Suzie Shaeffer

        No apologies needed, Cheryl. With your words, you took me entirely into that room and that long agonizing time as your brave brother talked the shotgun away from your father. Your imagery was both wonderful and chilling. Thank you for sharing it.

    2. Sarah Fine

      Such a scary story yet beautifully told. And your amazing brothers. You convey both the tension and the comfort so well. Thanks for sharing. We need to have conversations about guns.

  14. Regina Russell

    As I walk past my wunderkammer, I see photos of my family, and a sense of angst grip my heart as most of my family members are dead and a sibling whom I am estranged from. She got most of the music boxes and Faberge eggs, but in my passive/aggressive way, I still was able to hold onto the Don Quixote music box which plays The Impossible Dream and snatched a Faberge egg for myself. I forgive her for taking them, we all want a part of the memory. There are also pictures of my friends. And not friend, but people who helped me and showed me grace during the dark parts of my life when I was mean and hurt and raged out of control. which reminds me, books my Dr. Henry Cloud are in there too: Boundaries and Changes that Heal.

    I look at photographs of Aspen, Vail and Arvada, parts of Colorado where I grew up.

    My sheet music is in there. I play the harp and all my videos are videos of me playing. Well, I don’t have any yet, but when I get some, they’ll go in. The Wunderkammer still has space in it.

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