Monday, October 27, 2008

The "Heirloom" Project #1: Oscar the Grouch

I have started a project.

In Grade 10, I was big into art. Actually, my entire childhood/teen years were much about my ability to copy pictures of Charlie Brown with great accuracy and to shape mounds of clay into stuff that vaguely resembled things. Grade 8 saw the creation of "puppy in a high-top shoe" which won many awards and is now forever (or... for like a month) showcased in the Board of Education Building somewhere. Likely in a janitor closet.

However, it was Grade 10 Art class which saw the pinnacle of my talent. My best creation was Oscar the Grouch. I worked on him for many weeks. Shaped and reshaped the clay, scraped and glopped, poked and scratched until he appeared before my eyes. I painted him, threw him in the kiln, and got a 98% when he was finished.

Then, I did what every child does with their art projects. I gave him to my mother.

My intention was for Oscar to be a cookie jar. If you take his body off, the can is a receptacle for items. However, I am not good at spacial reasoning, so his can would hold about... 4 cookies. Max. Since there is never 4 cookies left in my house, he became the recipe card holder.

My mother once had a computer program where she entered every recipe she ever collected and used with any regularity. The recipes were sorted by topic "Bread: Cinnamon Raisin" or "Cookies: Chocolate Haystacks". She printed them each out on our old Dot Matrix and cut them each into 2x4 cards. Each card was hole punched in the corner and was slid, one by one, onto a metal ring. The cards fit perfectly into Oscar's trashcan -- circling the can with the ring in the middle.

The cards permanently curled after years of being held in the trashcan. Unless you put something on each corner, it was hard to read the recipes as you couldn't lay them flat. Each recipe told a story of how often it was used. Some were fairly pristine. Like "Pie Crust". Others were so well used, it was difficult to make out most of the ingredients. Stains covered the words, bits of flour and dough stuck to measurements and oven temps. Each stain reminds me of Mom, food, chaos, and laughter.

Oscar now stands empty on the ledge in my kitchen. I have tried to throw him out many times and always been thwarted by some thing. Now he sits and waits for me to decide what to do with him -- ship him to Ukraine, put him in storage, donate him, garbage him, learn to cook. He'll wait for a bit longer.


  1. I think you should have gotten a 100%!

    Well, you could put him on your sink and he could hold dish scrubbies or something.

  2. "Each stain reminds me of Mom, food, chaos, and laughter.", ... I think you can find a special place for it.

  3. Oh keep him. You can always find stuff to put in him. It would be so sad if you let him go.

  4. He's so cute, though. How can you be rid of him?


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