Friday, February 13, 2009


I'm not a superstitious person. Black cats make me call, "Here, kitty, kitty." I walk under ladders if they are between me and where I'm going. Friday the 13th is no big deal – one of my nephews was born on a Friday the 13th and he's a great guy. No rabbit ever lost a foot for me. So why is there so much stuff hanging around my work area?

My talismans are all within view and easy reach as I work. There is comfort in their familiarity. Each piece has a reason for being here, even if it's only that I liked it at some time and just haven't gotten around to moving it since.

On my desk lamp alone there are:

  • One yellow sticky with two horoscopes I liked
  • a bit of ribbon in the burgundy, green, and gold colors I chose for my website, tied around the lamp pole with a "gold" skeleton key dangling from it and a blue jay feather stuck in the knot
  • a mini-cow with magnetic feet that keep it wrapped around the swing arm
  • a bendable skeleton about 5" long that I picked up at the Malice Domestic mystery convention a few years ago, also hanging from the swing arm
  • a small dream catcher that came with a donation solicitation
  • and a small plush elephant, also with magnetic feet, wraps himself (herself?) around the pole at its base.

On the other end of the desk, clustered around the phone, are the red lacquer cup that holds my fountain pens, the Cumberland Rum Flavoured Butter crock from Fortnum & Mason (souvenir of a 1973 trip to London) that holds pens and highlighters, the hand-thrown stoneware mug from the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen store in Center Sandwich, NH. Nearby is one of my favorite gifts – an intricate wire mesh and glass bead rattle that looks like a sorceress' ice cream cone. Hand crafted and a gift from my best friend, it's always close at hand.

Don't worry – I'm not going to go into all the things that are near and in view but not on my desk – photos, quotes, magnets, etc. The point is that I don't think of myself as superstitious, yet I surround myself with familiar things throughout my workday. It's a human thing to want familiarity; I can imagine that early humans had favorite items – skins of animals they had killed, pointed stones, and other tools they crafted. How many of us had a favorite bear or blanket that went everywhere with us as toddlers? For that matter, how many have a favorite mug or a lucky shirt/tie/shoes/outfit that we wear to those important events?

What's the point? Just that we should be careful about laughing at the superstitions of other days and other people. We're rational, logical, modern people today, but the creatures who wondered at the magic and mystery of fire still live within us. I happen to think that's a good thing.

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