Expensive Tastes

Digital illustration: The Jeweled WhatsitMy magpie nature challenges me. I don’t see any particular inherent problem with being attracted to shiny objects or distracted by what sparkles and catches my wandering, curious, childlike attention. Most of the time, anyway. But when it comes to how I respond to those attractions and distractions, I think I’m pretty weak-willed. I’m easily enchanted by the handsome and impressive, the glimmering and magical Stuff that catches my eye.

What is complicated is not that I like such things, nor even that I waste many a waking hour on admiring them. It’s when I covet them. When I spend resources more precious than my pining glances on them. When I fill up space in my home, my bank account, or my heart with them that would be far better spent on more substantial things. Love. Sharing. Living.

I hope that recognizing the flimsy character of such tinfoil treasures as most Things are is at least a healthy step toward not letting myself be led too far astray by them. But there is always danger in admiring any sort of tempting prettiness. My inventory of belongings is proof enough, especially when I go about tidying the house and come to the end of the day with boxes or bags full of books, clothes, kitchenwares, electronic devices, decorative objects, or any other kind of trinkets that are no longer so shiny and have fallen not only out of my favor but completely off my memory’s radar. Perhaps what I need to do is to train myself to look at such tempting collectibles as catch my eye with a magical pair of glasses that allows me to see how short their lifespan of use and pleasure will be, and how little the return on time, money, and energy I spend on them can possibly amount to in real terms. My lifetime’s garage sale value must be worlds smaller than what I invested to amass all of the frivolous wonders that ended up in it.

…What was I saying there? I just happened to look out the window as a dazzling butterfly tumbled past, and of course I had to follow it, and then that made me notice something red and glittery off in the distance…

Hot Flash Fiction 12: The Marvelous Machine

People traveled for days to see it. The warm gleam of copper and brass on its mysterious curved reflected their own faces, if a little blearily, and they were mesmerized. The ticking and clicking of that machine and its workings’ purr and whirr drew whispered speculation and quietly fearful puzzlement and some observers began to contemplate whether they oughtn’t to summon the constable ‘just in case’ before the process was completed on the morrow. Yet so much study and work and testing had been reported before this debut of the machine that no one was fully prepared to admit so brazenly to such cowering mistrust. So at last, on the appointed Friday, six of the town’s leading citizens—with a few nervous titters and a little confused shuffling and tripping over each other—untied the network of cautionary tapes that had held back the crowds, and everyone surged up in a breathless wave for a closer look.
digital collage

There it was: coming forward on the slow conveyor belt from its central tank was a very small but perfect object of glowing copper and brass curves, ticking and clicking and purring and whirring just like its larger forerunner. It was followed, as the conveyor moved along, by ninety-nine other minutely perfect replicas.

And that is how the world had its first hint of what lay ahead.

In Rust I Trust

It doesn’t really matter all that much what I’m doing or where I am; two things almost always grab my attentions, whatever I was supposed to be focused on at the moment. Is it a shiny, twinkly, sparkling object? Oh, yeah, that’ll catch my magpie eye. I adore that kind of stuff. But I love its polar opposite, too. I am as easily distracted and attracted by rusty, crusty, crumbling, peeling, decrepit things as by the polished and gleaming ones.

You already knew these things. What can I say? The world is just so ridiculously full of prettiness.photo photo photoIt’s a great source of happiness for me. I’m simple in that way. Among many others.

Shiny Objects & Flying Illusions

Beetling Brow

Inside my skull’s a fizzing insectarium

of mystic, magic, merry little things

so wildly pretty that my brain can’t carry ’em

without the power of all their tiny wings,

Abuzz with sparkling brilliance and their fleeting,

so speedy that they’ve utterly forgot

regard for gravity or need for beating,

become instead bright vestiges of thought.

Now, you may think I’m just a bugged-out entity

with not a thought for anything of sense,

but every person has his own bugs, hasn’t he,

and with their glittering gleam, the joy’s immense;

I never really cared that much for images

or what all others thought my problem was,

but just embraced my inner insects’ scrimmages,

and love the shiny ways they make me buzz.digital collage

All that Glisters is Not Gold, but If It’s Shiny It’s Good Enough for Me

Miss Magpie here, reporting for duty. I have been out and about doing errands and chores, being an everyday sort of person in my everyday sort of way, but as always, I am in a constant state of watchfulness, snapping to attention at the slightest glimmer of a sun-ray zinging off the corner of the windscreen, the flicker of movement that snags my eye (ouch!) on a brilliant yellow weed wildflower (and yes, Steve, it was tiny but beautiful), the broad gleam of a hawk’s white underside lighting up like a beacon as he banks away from the sun over our ravine.


Some things, like this golden gilt cockerel weathervane, are clearly made to dazzle us . . .

While I harbor my exceedingly childlike admiration for the wonderful works of intentional glamor and glitz without any hesitation, I am all the more moved by those things that through their very nature or some moment of perfect serendipity become jeweled treasures to be savored every bit as deeply and wildly. The crinkled aluminum foil from last week’s roast (seen here) becomes in my eyes a stolen bit from the vault of the Crown Jewels; the bottom of an empty jar and its creased shadow on rough concrete is transformed into an alchemist’s beaker bearing a mystical, nearly invisible elixir for eternal romance.


One sip, and I am transformed into an otherworldly being . . .

Even the most mundane of things can–and should–be able to become beautiful to one with a practiced magpie eye. Thankfully, those around me have patience while I crouch at the curb picking up bits of broken glass and shreds of steel that have fallen off of passing vehicles (probably spaceships, to be sure), while I lag behind on a walk to pick up opalescent beetle-wing shields and bent pins and uselessly blunted coins. And the smallest scrap of Japanese tea-chest paper or damaged disposable pie tin or leftover curling ribbon, the parts from a broken watch, keys and candy-wrappers and bits of metallic thread–these have no need of monetary weight, if they can spur the heart to visit places it’s not gone before.


The value of shiny and golden things is not always intrinsic but arises from what can be imagined about them, dreamed about them, hoped . . .