November 24, 2010

The 12 - little things that count


This week I am compiling a new pocket luxury piece for the Vancouver Sun.

The idea is small gift ideas for men which are of superlative quality and yet fall under the $150 price tag. I think of them as heirlooms of the future.

And considering our austere times, and by that I mean my austere times, it nice to give fine objects, which have a greater destiny than the landfill, as gifts. (I finally saw Toy Story 3 and the garbage incinerator was a vision of hell and existential despair. Thank goodness for squeeze toy aliens, "The Claw is our master.")

BUT, it got me thinking about the little things I already own that matter to me. That I use everyday.

Here is the first of The 12 Little Things That Count.



The 12 little things that count

Number 1. This pocket knife belonged to my great grandmother. The larger blade is broken. The smaller blade has been sharpened so often it has changed shape. It doesn't quite close.

My paternal great grandmother was terrible to my mother. But she adored me. I loved touching her hands and her face. They were wrinked but always soft. I never learned Cantonese, so I never really got to know her, but I always felt special around her.

As a baby, she collected scraps of fabric from the garbage bins of the garment factories along St. Laurent and made me a quilt with them. Even though she lived in a one room boarding house in Montreal's Chinatown. Every time we visited she made a meal for me out of a rice cooker. My siblings were allowed to balk but I always had to eat some or she wouldn't be happy. Salted fish. Chinese pork sausage. There was always something.

There were occasions I begged my parents not to visit her. The rooming house had cockroaches and there was powdered cockroach poison along the floor moulding. Eventually, she became to feeble to live there and she was moved to an old folks home. Most of her belongings were thrown out because of worries of infestation. But I remember opening her night table and palming this old knife.

In university I used it as a palette knife in painting class. Now, I save it for opening CD cases and opening boxes. It's always right beside me.

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