There is an ancient tradition that a cricket on the hearth brings good luck. (Although I think that a chirping cricket is an invitation to mayhem, as one tries to find and destroy the pest.) The best sort of cricket to have on one’s hearth is made of brass, one can get the luck without the nuisance of an actual cricket. I fortunately have no crickets (yet: it’s still early summer), but I do have some little creatures around that amuse me, and amusement is much more reliable than ‘luck’.
I love little frogs (as you will soon see) and this one lives on a quilted wall hanging.
This one bookends the other side of the wall hanging.
Now how did this frog get there? And why don’t I pick it up and put it somewhere else? I just like seeing it there, a small splash of color against a large beige floor.
But it’s not all frogs around here, these finger puppets are ready to leap into action from the top of the door jamb.
But wait, there’s even more of them. (The rest of the finger puppets have gone to Afghanistan.) Finger puppets add a cheery touch to any room, a fact that decorating magazines have chosen to ignore.
And Pteri is currently residing in this room (doesn’t want to hang out with the rest of the dinosaurs), perched atop the carbon monoxide monitor. Perhaps considering attacking the giant fly nearby, or perhaps just being admired.
As you know I have a rather extensive collection of wind-up toys. I love the cheap and colorful toys that are aimed at children (or at their parents, as parents have more money). But I found these ones recently, and I think they fall into the category of ‘art toys’. I don’t remember encountering such things before, and it is always good to have new experiences at my advanced age.
This one wobbles along and has a mechanism to make sparks as the center platter rotates. Not exactly the sort of thing one might give a child, it would be broken in mere moments of use. It is not the only sparky wind-up in my collection, I also have a sparky King Kong and a sparky Godzilla.
This one is called ‘the pea’, presumably because it is small. It has a rotating walking mechanism.
This one is a tall, skinny walker. In the background is my knitting basket, perched atop some of the new books that have come into my house (I know that I say I am trying to cut back on books, but I’m not too successful).
This one is sort of as described, but it’s more of a fluttering heart. And why do I describe these as ‘art toys’? Well they were about twice as expensive as ordinary wind-ups, and probably twice as fragile. And I bought the first two at an art supply store, and the last two at our local art museum. I really have no sales resistance to this sort of thing.
When I dragged out my Christmas stuff after all these years, I came across Bowser Holly, a delightful part of the Christmas decorations.
Of course I originally bought him (I can tell it’s a boy by the voice) because he reminded me of Miss P and I would tease her with him. And after I found a small Phillips head screwdriver, replaced the batteries and removed the corrosion, he started to sing again. He sings and barks his way through “Deck the Halls” in a very engaging version.
This is my other singing battery operated Christmas decoration/toy that I got two years ago. I include him in Christmas just because he is a reindeer wearing a scarf. He sings “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands”, not a very seasonal tune. But he is cute and he claps his hands and raises his ears, and is generally adorable.
The Three Stooges are not part of Christmas, but they do have batteries so I’m including them in this post. These were sold as “dog toys”, although they are quickly demolished by any competent dog. (I sent a set to my fellow Stooge fan and brother. His dog took an instant dislike to Larry and killed him at the first opportunity). They don’t have any moving parts, but when squeezed they feature voices of the actors.
Dear Rex is the senior among these battery operated marvels. I probably bought him in 1985, and he has gotten a little arthritic over the years. But his eyes still glow and his jaws still move. He is the king of the collection. He is somewhat modeled on Godzilla, and as I recently argued on Facebook, Godzilla is part of Christmas too (at least if you live in Japan, where he is part of every holiday).
I find myself in want of cheering up, so when I was downtown I stopped in to purchase some new toys. This has always been a sure if temporary cure (it’s why I have hundreds of these things).
A flipping penguin. Not a euphemism.
A flipping boxing kangaroo.
A strolling robot. It doesn’t really do anything but look cute.
There were a lot of these rolling metal robots to choose from, but something about this one caught my eye.
But perhaps this one reflects me the best.
Just as I accumulate books, I also accumulate toys. But not just any toys, they have to be mechanical, with a wind up key. How did I start this collection you may ask? It all started when we were in college. We were invited to a friend’s house for their child’s birthday. I think she was going to be six. So we went off in search for a present, knowing nothing about children, except from our own dim memories. The thing that I found most exciting was a wind-up frog. It had a lovely motion, was small and waterproof and could be used in the bathtub. Well, how cool is that? So after I bought one as a present, I had to get one as a present to myself, and another and another. These toys are inexpensive and they keep making new ones, so it is a great hobby to collect them.
It was too hard to decide which color to pick of these cheery dinosaurs, so I got them all!
These holiday hoppers were on sale after Easter so of course I needed to add them to the collection.
This one was a late (I mean we are talking months late) birthday present from a friend. A wind up and bubble gum, what a great combination.
This side walker looks like it could have been made for Easter as well, but perhaps not.
I’m not sure if this side walker is a dog or a polar bear, but I like it.
A hopping strawberry was definitely something I needed to have. And unlike books or clothes, when I get a new one in I don’t have to send an old one out. They are all mine forever.
As it is now officially the “Year of the Monkey”, I looked around the house and discovered that I am harboring quite a few representations of these wee beasties. There is something adorable about the traits that we share with our simian relatives.
Here are a few of the monkeys that I have laying about the place.
The vintage tumbling monkey sits next to the flying screaming monkey (scream-less now thanks to Miss P) who holds the tiny sock monkey.
Side walking monkeys.
A plastic sock monkey that jumps rope.
A flipping monkey (that means it does a back flip, not a euphemism).
In snow related news, I had to shovel 25 feet of snow off the street to be able to get my car out. Why did I have to go out? Miss P had an appointment!
While I was cleaning up I found a couple of new additions to the collection that I had not photographed. And as ‘Back to School’ season is over, we are now moving into ‘Halloween’ season on the retail calendar. So here they are.
The chik-fil-a cow, it’s really quite adorable.
These two are vintage windups, around 30 years old.. My friend saved them after her kids stopped playing with them because they are so cute. She gave them to me because her sons didn’t want to play with them any more.
Hopping monsters, reduced to their iconic images and ready for the scary season (no, the scary season is tax time). Well they are quite prepared for Halloween and now so am I.
In the hilarious movie parody of Star Trek, Galaxy Quest, the catchphrase that is constantly repeated is “Never give up, Never surrender.” I would like to amend this to “Never grow up, Never surrender (your sense of humor). So here are some of my recent purchases of toys and my most recent knitting project that is not a scarf.
Paper dinosaurs that one puts together and runs with a wind up motor. Does it get any better than this? The single tentacle is a bonus.
Giant wind up bugs, how fabulous it that! They are definitely the largest wind ups I have.
This sweet faced pair scoot along, then roll over. They make me happy just to look at them. They are too cute.
He’s just a walker, but I couldn’t resist this tiny robot.
I know what you’re thinking, ‘hey these aren’t wind-ups. How do they fit in the collection?’ I know that they aren’t, but they were tiny and adorable. And who doesn’t like or need Nessie?
I am in two knitting groups (a bunch of ladies and one guy). In one of the groups we are having a dishcloth exchange. Everyone brings their dishcloth in a plain brown bag and we will pick someone else’s. Of course some are plain and utilitarian, but I saw this pattern for a Darth Vader square and decided that he would be the one I knit. I think it will no doubt be the coolest one there, and whoever gets it can use him in the washing up. Never grow up indeed!
I did get a load of new toys at Christmas time, so I thought that I would share them today. But first is an old toy that I have had for a number of years.
I bought this in Boston. I was walking down the street early in the morning, when I saw a neon wind-up key hanging on the front of a building. Well that got my heart beating faster, then I saw the owner taking out the trash and I convinced her to open up just for me. Of course I made lots of purchases including this fellow. You put a coin in front of him and he (I’m not totally sure he’s a guy, but it seems logical;-) reaches up and takes the money. It’s a totally cool toy and every kid that I’ve shown it to wants one.
This year’s version is not as cool, it just has a hand that reaches up and the skull just bobs a little. But it’s still interesting and so I had to have it.
I got a new selection of pterodactyls (and a pteroducktyl).
It was quite the haul and now that I’ve photographed them they can go to their proper places in the cabinet.
Presents come and go, you play with the toy for a while, then it’s relegated to a lesser favored pile. There are some presents that survive despite the odds. These are a few of the favored.
This doll was a present to my mom in the mid 1930’s. The doll had a perilous existence on the reservation. She lost a few fingers to Joe, the dog (I think Joe was aided by Mom’s brother!). They did not have electricity, so she was safe from that. Much later I played with her and put the makeup on her. She is wearing a dress made by my grandmother. I’m not sure when she moved to the city, possibly my grandmother sent her for me.
This book was a present for my father-in-law on his birthday again from the 1930’s. It was probably his only present, because his father had died unexpectedly and they did not have a lot of money. My father-in-law lived on a ranch ( 1 1/2 sections) in a very tiny town, where they raised a few cows. (A section is a square mile, and the town doesn’t exist anymore.) Standing next to the book is Howland Owl (probably mid 1960’s) from the comic strip Pogo. He was the prize in a cereal box and perhaps my husband played with him, although my husband’s favorite toys were little green army men. Howland survived because my mother-in-law would not throw away a dead skunk (and I love Pogo).
These cardboard army men were in my husband’s grandmother’s basement. She gave them to me because I collect toys, but they don’t really fit in with my collection.
I still have one of the many dolls I got for Christmas, but unfortunately she is hiding in a box somewhere. I used to have her on display, then she escaped.