A Bookcase, a Crack, and a Song I Love

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Final Trio.”

My book collection is something I will always treasure. A few years ago, I wrote a book review blog. It was a very fulfilling time in my life. I’m thinking about starting it back up again. I certainly have a solid collection of books to get me back into the swing of things.

I probably rearrange my bookcases a few times a year. I have whittled my collection down to favorite authors, books I will read and/or re-read, and classics. So I rotate my collections periodically. My fiction bookcase is one of a pair from the DOCENT line at IKEA. In the beginning, I loaded its deep shelves with double rows of books in a visually-attractive horizontal and vertical arrangement. I have a photographic memory; so I had no trouble remembering what was on the back row. I tried to incorporate art and objects among the stacks; but there was not much room for them. When my collection began spilling out onto other horizontal surfaces, I knew I had to do something. And it was not buying another bookcase. Of course I put up a fuss; but it turned out to be quite liberating.

On one of the shelves of my fiction bookcase, there’s a beautiful oriental bust that I found at the Goodwill. It’s so poised and elegant-looking that the crack on the back WP_Oriental_Bustof it didn’t stop me from bringing it home. I haven’t patched it yet; but that is a planned project. And rather than a crack, it’s a small hole. But I enjoy looking at it. And I don’t mind grabbing it from the shelf to reveal the hole to anyone who admires it. That’s just what junkers collectors do. We take pride in preserving other people’s cast-offs.

Even though I’ve stopped celebrating Christmas, this song has wormed its way into my ear. I say, “wormed its way into my ear” because a cursory search of the phenomenon disclosed the term for it. When a song gets stuck in your head, that’s an ear worm . See, there’s always something to learn at a CommonPlace STUDIO .

A couple of Sundays ago, I was standing at the sink after breakfast; and the lilting melody of this song just drifted into my ear and, despite all the Deep Home Southern Gospel, Whitney Houston, and R&B I’ve tried to drown it out with — it keeps playing. So don’t blame me if this beautiful Christmas melody burrows its way into your memory. It’s from the soundtrack of “Home Alone” — which I’ve been known to watch in March or July. I was so determined to find this song that I reviewed the entire soundtrack. I’m not sure what type of memory this is; but when the song first popped into my head, I immediately recognized it as being from the movie. Have a listen: Christmas Star It’s really beautiful.

Me? I’m gonna head over to the stacks for a new read. Maybe this bookworm will find a remedy for her ear worm.

Final Trio


Cast Iron Collector

I’ve been a collector of vintage cast iron cookware for quite some time; and prefer a vintage Griswold or Wagner over the current offerings such as Lodge. The vintage is lighter in weight and smoother in appearance. I also have some unmarked vintage pieces that I consider to be equal in quality to Griswold and Wagner. I can’t attest to claims about hot spots or other performance-related qualities. I just know my chicken fryer is up for any task — deep frying, sauteing, baking, roasting. Just think — the same pan for all this.

As far as the cleaning and re-seasoning — it’s a past-time for me. I enjoy seeing the difference between the neglected, often rusted, item I purchased and the restored item. I frequent resale shops and thrift stores for deals on vintage cast iron. I’ve even won a piece on eBay. As far as cost, I’ve paid as little as $3.99 for a “mut” skillet at Goodwill and over $30 for a covered dutch oven at a consignment shop. This summer, however, I did have to draw the line at a Griswold covered dutch oven that was priced at $95.99 at an antique shop. It’s probably still there. Griswold is rare; but it’s not that hard to find. For me, the thrill is in the hunt; and, as the saying goes, “I have more time than money.” So I’ll wait. Over the years, I’ve had to become more discriminate when it comes to grabbing every piece I come across. I’ve learned to walk away from some pieces; and purchased a couple with the sole intent of restoring to give away.

I’d love to have a story about using my grandmother’s cast iron skillet. I wonder, even, who ended up with it. My Mother and all her siblings are gone. I wonder if Grandmomma’s skillet survived and is being used by one of my cousins. I think I’ll check into that just to satisfy my curiosity. As a matter of fact, I don’t have any specific memories of my mother cooking in a cast iron skillet. The only thing I can think is that she may have used one when I was too young to notice. I do remember, however, that when US Steel went on strike in the 1950’s, my Daddy started selling Presto Pride cookware door-to-door. I wonder if the cast iron was laid aside so he could become familiar with the product he sold. I do still have a few random pieces of it.

On the other hand, I have given pieces to my sons and to a family acquaintance. And, my niece rescued one that her friend was going to discard during a move. Try as I might — that skillet just didn’t like me! It would not cooperate with any of the techniques I’ve used on other pans. Determined to restore that skillet, I repeated my process three times! When I looked closer, I realized it was made in China — a significant deterrent when it comes to cast iron cookware. That stubborn rust didn’t budge! Never buy cast iron that was made in China. In addition to an inferior casting process, I’ve also read warnings that the quality of materials used are detrimental to your health.

I’ll write about the breaking down and re-seasoning process in a future post. I’ve even found an unexpected method of seasoning. The photo above shows my trusty chicken fryer on the back of the stove and a cleaned 12″ Griswold ready for firing.