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What is left behind when we go? | Manolo for the Home

Seeing into other people’s lives

There are few chores sadder than taking stock of the possessions left behind by an older relative forced by circumstance to move into a “home.” The things we gather over time define us in our own minds, but say something completely different to the outside observer. Some people–my mother, for instance–want everything to be new and flashy and modern. To them, anything vintage or outdated belongs in the dumpster.

Me? I like retro anything, even if it’s so kitschy as to be rather…ugly. I wouldn’t want a room full of kitsch, but a few crazy pieces of tacky history here and there can make an otherwise bland a room POP. People who visit say, “Oh my goodness, where’d you get this? My crazy old aunt had one just like it!” A ceramic cat or a crazy lamp really take people back…to spring vacations spent at the houses of grandparents…to their own childhoods. Everyone sees something different.

It’s Aunt Bea’s kitchen, bizzitches! And don’t you forget it!

The story behind this photo and the ones that follow is this: I have a friend whose aunt is moving into a home, and it fell upon said friend to catalog the stuff left behind. His ladyfriend, Jennifer P., took pictures, and I found them to be quite moving.

She shot that ceramic pig with a ceramic gun.

A pig head screwed into the wall is unexpected in and of itself. The inset doll eyes that catch the light are even more surprising. Is it a towel hook? An object d’art? Only the aforementioned aunt knows for sure.

Just like real kitties, sans mess, scratches, and rising kibble prices

Ninety-nine out of one hundred average Americans will hate these kitty statues. I, some might say sadly, fall into the other one percent who for whatever reason thinks they are totally cool. I think I’m going to hit up eBay and see what kind of crazy ceramic cats I can find.


I’m pretty sure these fruity reliefs are made out of some sort of icky plastic, but I like them anyway. If I saw them at a flea market, I’d seriously consider snapping them up. For reals. I have zero clue where they could go in my house without looking utterly ridiculous, but I’m fairly good at integrating weird stuff into my abode.

Anyway, there you have it — someone else’s life in four simple photographs. It makes me ask myself what someone would think of me if my house were treated as an archaeological dig site. What, do you suppose, people would think of you?

7 Responses to “Seeing into other people’s lives”

  1. Twistie April 22, 2008 at 9:10 am #

    My great aunt used to look around her home now and again and tell us: ‘every piece in here is a priceless treasure…and someone’s going to have a hell of a time cleaning up all this junk when I’m gone.’ These photos made me think of Auntie Fan.

    But now I know what to give you for your birthday, NtB! I’ll head on over to Ceramic Cats R Us today.

    As for me, I love that pig.

  2. Aunt Toad April 22, 2008 at 3:41 pm #

    I love your blog, but hate the annoying gold ad that pops up whenever I try to “Read the rest of the story.” It covers the rest of the story, and it won’t go away!!! After several frustrating tries to delete, page down, or make smaller, I just go away. Can’t it be the other way around?

  3. Never teh Bride April 22, 2008 at 6:18 pm #

    Ugh, that’s dastardly, Aunt Toad :-( I don’t know why, but I don’t see that same ad… I’ll ask The Manolo about it!

  4. Jennifer P. April 22, 2008 at 11:31 pm #

    I’m glad you enjoyed the photos.

    I need to destroy/perform an exorcism on the terrifying E.T. sculpture pretty soon. It was a childhood gift from my Aunt Mary, who painstakingly painted it in one of her adult education classes. Little did she know that I sided with the scientists and not the giant cockroach in that film.

  5. Eilish April 23, 2008 at 2:36 am #

    I’m with you on digging the wacky pineapples. As we inherited a 1970s era ranch home once formerly occupied by my husband’s grandparents, we have learned a lot about “retro” furnishings. (Gold-veined mirrors rock! At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.) We work with a lot of it, for instance, we have a great tiki theme going in the back yard (hence my love of the pineapples); some of it, however, is slowly going as the budget allows (wallpaper on the ceilings–why oh why?)

    If someone were to investigate my home now, they would find a house with stainless steel appliances in the kitchen and gold veined mirrors on the hall closet doors. Not to mention our old house had a very modern look and I still haven’t gotten rid of a lot of the furnishings and accessories from that look. I can only imagine the collection I will have when I am seventy!

  6. Carol April 23, 2008 at 6:20 am #

    Ditto what Aunt Toad said – when that lovely orange ad covers your words, I just take a spin around the Manolo Blogosphere and work my way back later. Sometimes that works, sometimes I try again another day.

    As to the kitsch, I too will need a place to park some once my parents move on. As long as I get the red ceramic ducks (lifesize!!), I’ll find a place to stash the rest.

  7. Nanette May 3, 2008 at 9:38 am #

    I actually have a ceramic cat like the larger one pictured. I inherited it from my Grandmother who died in January 2001 at the age of 93. My live cat will sometimes sit and gaze into it’s face as if he expects it to speak to him. It sits in the corner of my living room next to a large houseplant. I also inherited from the same grandmother an ash tray. This has a very feminine white long-fingered hand emerging from a black dish. The hand is posed to hold a cigarette and features dragon-lady red nails.