tchotchkes

tchotchkes
I like this word, how when you look at it on the page your mind tries to handle the tch blend and the only thing it can drag up from your memory bank is tsunami so your lips can then form around the remaining letters chotch-ke(y)s while your mind says whew! because it hates roadblock consonants. 
knickknack was the word I was brought up with. in high school I added kitsch to my list, well, because I felt surrounded by ancestral collections of ticky tacky shelf hogging dust collecting kitschy stuff. this included various sized glass hen-in-a-basket, delft blue painted mini pots with covers that could hold baby teeth or pearls but held nothing, and my personal favorite: the painted mewing kitten cream pitcher, which in my myopic childhood, I believed that my grandmother had the only one. 

I prized my Nana’s kitten creamer above all other possessions in the world. this creamer, sitting in my grandmother’s oak china cabinet with rounded glass panels and glass shelves, was the reason I couldn’t run through the dining room or play hide and seek under the lace draped dining room table. that kitten creamer was so connected to my grandmother in my mind that when she passed I knew I had to find it to keep my memories whole in – but I was too late and it was snatched up by one of my aunts. 

I was heartbroken for years until I rationalized that of course the kitten creamer held the same memories for one of my aunts, but that didn’t soften the hurt. although it was unique in my eyes it took me years, maybe 15 years, to realize that the kitten creamer was mass produced during the 1920s and that maybe I could find my own kitten creamer in an antique shop. no luck. all the newer raised-paw-cream-spout creamers had flooded the market and weren’t a good substitute for my painted mewing kitten. 

eBay saved my day. I found a plethora of mewing kittens on display ready for my bidding, and that became my collecting obsession! I purchased one creamer exactly like my grandmother’s kitschy kitty for each of my siblings and kept the best one for myself. but I couldn’t stop there – I began my very own tchotchke kitten creamer collection to be housed behind my very own glass paneled china cabinet, which soon spilled over onto my cookbook (another obsession) shelves! 

I found two black kittens, one mewing and the other ready to hold teaspoons – I grabbed those right up! then I found two made-in-China kittens, one was holding a koi fish with an open spout mouth and the other kitten offered its paw as a spout; both had removable heads. then I found a mother cat holding a pitcher spout, and a sad cat with blue tabby markings offering me his paw and a smallish plaid kitten begged me for a home. one of my smallest mewing kitten creamers with raised paws comes from Japan and is a yellow good-luck kitten, it seems that his meow is the loudest of them all. but my most favorite mewing kitten creamer [patented as Puss’n Boots USA] is my own embossed painted kitten tchotchkes just like the one that graced Nana’s breakfast table waiting for my small hands to grasp, to pour milk onto my sugar pops cereal. now that was the way to start off a good day!