Tchotchke:pronounced (ˈCHäCHkə),Yiddish – A small object that is decorative rather than strictly functional; a trinket (Webster’s Dictionary). The Urban Dictionary defines Tchotchke as: A small piece of worthless crap.
Everyone has them. Little knickknacks hidden behind other knickknacks collecting dust. Perhaps they are kept in a box, maybe a secret treasure chest type box. Tucked away.
To an outsider it may look like a rock, but to me, it’s a gift my son gave me when he was three. I keep it in my purse. A blue bird with a chip in it’s beak, was a gift from Edna Degraffenreid, a woman who worked with my mother. I was fourteen. I don’t remember packing or unpacking it, but it has moved with me and after 40 years, it still has a home on top of my dresser. I have three Murano glass frogs my mother-in-law brought back from Italy. There was a slight panic when I dropped one and broke its leg and a failed attempt at gluing. The sentiment remained intact.
When Uncle Winston passed away, a couple of the cousins and I packed up his house. One keepsake I took with me was a faux Limoges box shaped like a carrot. There’s a tiny white rabbit inside. Turns out, my sister was the one who gave it to him.
Inside the goodie bags at my daughter’s 5th birthday party, her guests found a tiny ballerina with a magnet at the base of its feet. The tiny mirror that came with it is also magnetic. Put them together and the ballerina dances. I want her to dance. She spins and stops, spins and stops. She stares. In the end she performs a lovely adagio.
A tiny glass dolphin. A small glass bunny. A turtle, a pig, a teeny weeny rubber chicken. A long neck goose carved out of teak, a pencil sharpener shaped like a cannon from the Alamo. A minuscule teddy bear and blanket crocheted with vintage yarn. The craftsmanship of this little bear is amazing. I met the artist and admire her work, we belong to the same Artist Guild. The teddy bear wanted a ride on the bicycle after he saw the rubber chicken ride by.
Tchotchkes. Taking them down from the shelf is kinda like looking at old photographs. The memories come flooding in.
Something I like to have readily available in the fridge is a simple syrup made with the juice of freshly squeezed lemons.
Squeeze the juice from several lemons and strain the pulp and seeds. Place equal parts juice and sugar (raw works very well) in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Once boiled, reduce heat to low. Stir occasionally, so not to burn, for 5-10 minutes. Liquid should reduce and thicken slightly.
When life gives you lots of lemons… make syrup!
I like using this in tea, a variety of cocktails, as well as combining with seltzer water for a sparkling lemonade.
Often I’ll toss in strawberries, raspberries or blueberries. I will let it cook a bit longer in order to get as much of the color and flavor of the added fruit. Again strain the pulp to keep the liquid clear. Store in a jar or bottle, keep refrigerated.
When I was growing up, the piano in our home was an upright covered in lime green vinyl. A memory that makes me smile. I recently called my mom to question this interesting choice in furniture decor. Her simple response, “because her mother (my grandmother) wanted it that way”. Then she told me to stop laughing at her mother!
Grandmother played the piano by “ear”. My dad would have said, “that’s because she’s so short!” She was only 4’11” and her ears were close to the keys, of course she could play by ear!
The sound of her playing and singing “If I Can Help Somebody” is very much alive in my heart. My sister and I would imitate her, giggling when we’d get to the chorus, “then my living shall not be in vain…” We’d screech to reach the high notes, (just like Grandmother).
If I can help somebody, as I pass along,
If I can cheer somebody, with a word or song,
If I can show somebody, (where) they’re traveling wrong,
Then my living shall not be in vain.
~Alma Bazel Androzzo