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The collector (02/22/2012)
By Frances Edstrom


After my mother died, my sister packed up my share of the “pitcher collection,” which mother had inherited from a good friend and fellow faculty member of my Dad’s, Marjorie Sparrow. (I know, great name. My mother had another friend whose name was Blanche Partridge.) I have just felt guilty about the pitcher collection ever since the boxes (yes, plural) came in the mail all those years ago.

I am not a collector. My attention span is too short to remember to seek things out for a collection. I don’t have the patience to make a list of what I have so I don’t duplicate parts of the collection. I once bought a Leo Smith creation, even though John told me we already owned a copy, because I liked it so much. So if I did collect things, I’d probably just find one thing I like and collect a hundred copies of it. And, the biggest reason of all not to collect is that I hate to try to display collections artfully and then dust them when they’re out there.

The dog-who-must-not-be-written-about 2, however, has decided to take up collecting. He collects sticks. We first discovered this when he appeared at the window in the den to let us know he wanted to come in the house, and he had a three-foot long stick in his mouth. My sister went to let him in, but told him he had to leave the stick behind. He went back and left the stick on the window sill, where he picked it up the next time he went back outdoors. Soon we noticed he had another stick, a slightly smaller one, which he carried around the yard and tried to sneak into the house.

After having to tell him over and over that he couldn’t bring the sticks into the house, my sister finally addressed the situation.

“No sticks in the house,” she said.

“But it’s my friend,” he said. “It’s my new friend. I just met him, and he said he has to stay outdoors day and night. That just doesn’t seem right. I promise I’ll keep him in my kennel. Please?”

“Sticks aren’t friends,” she said. “They’re inanimate. They don’t get cold, so they can stay outside.”

“You have friends who are inanimate,” he said. “I’ve heard you tell Fran you are going to listen to your friends on the radio.”

“Those are real people, just talking over the radio, and I don’t invite them in to stay overnight. I just call them my friends to be funny,” she said.

“You should take friendship more seriously. Do you think these people know they aren’t really your friends,” he asked.

“This is a ridiculous conversation, as so many are with you,” my sister said. “The long and short of it, Buster, is that the rule is no sticks in the house. Now it’s either in or out, I’m getting cold.”

He left the sticks on the window sill, where he checked on them from inside every now and then.

“How are they doing?” my sister asked, perhaps a little sarcastically.

“They say they’re cold, and it feels like snow,” he answered. “But they promise they’ll wait for me.”

That afternoon, my sister and the dog went out the kitchen door, and the dog, looking down into the driveway, spied a tiny stick on the asphalt. He ran down to get it.

“A baby!” he cried. “I found a baby for my stick family. Now they are complete.” He raced around the house to unite the stick family on the den ledge.

“Your dog is crazy,” my sister said that evening. “Do you think he needs counseling?”

“Not yet,” I said. “So far, he’s only a collector, not a hoarder. If it gets any worse, maybe…”

“Is that an empty pill bottle?” John asked me, pointing to a little bottle on the kitchen counter. “Can I have it for my collection?”

“It’ll be family counseling,” my sister said, turning her radio on low.

It’s cookie time!

Girl Scout cookies are here! This weekend, girls will be selling cookies at HyVee (4 - 8 p.m. on Friday,10 a. m. - 7 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. - 7 p.m. on Sunday), Walmart (4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. - 6 pm. on Saturday and Sunday) and Winona Mall (10 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Saturday and 12:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. on Sunday).

And there is a new cookie in addition to all the favorites (okay, why bother with anything except Samoas!). The new cookie is Savannah Smiles, which is a lemon cookie with powdered sugar coating, very yummy! They join Trefoils, Thin Mints, Tagalongs, Do-si-dos, Dulce de Leche and Thank You Berry Munch. Not only are they great cookies, but they help local troops fund their activities. 


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