Archive for the Objects Category


“Hi I’m Lisa

The trash that I’ve brought today is from the beaches of Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth Rhode Island.

It shouldn’t be there so I pick it up.”

“This is also the area of the state in which I live. I became passionate about the trash when I became involved with the Surfrider Foundation and Clean Ocean Access in Rhode Island.”


“My name is Nate.

In his will, my grandfather made a bequest to me of this boarhead and two rifles- one of which was used to kill the animal.

I cherish them because he specifically wanted me to have them.”


“I’m here today with a collection of cards that I’ve found over the last 20 years on the streets of different cities around the world. On a backpacking trip through Europe in 1995 is when I first realized that these cards generally appear around pivotal life moments, such as changes in career, relationships, breakthroughs etc.

I remember this one card I found in Spain vividly. That same day I had been dumped by my girlfriend at the time. It was a pivotal moment in my life because it opened my eyes to what was in front of me and all that was about to unfold.

I’ve always written the date and location on the cards to track where and when I find them. One day, a mathematician friend of mine recommended that we chart them to see if there were any patterns to be found. Sure enough there was. On several occasions I had found the same exact card on the same exact day years in a row, and in some cases, every other year.

That freaked me out in a cosmic kind of way, but made me realize that for me, this was more than just a random hoarder habit. I stopped charting them, but I do still collect the cards, and now it’s a nice surprise when I find them. It reminds me to slow down, evaluate the current state of my life, and take note of where things are at.” 

Brian and Shirley

My name’s Brian, and this is my wife, Shirley.

There’s something about it. I dunno, we surround ourselves with all the goods and trappings of life, and when you power your life down to living out of those little boxes on the side of the motor bike, and each other, that’s what life’s all about. You really find out about yourself and how you can cope.

I’ve been a motorcyclist all my life. I love that experience where all in one day, you can go from the hills in Peru, feeling the bite-ness in the air where its zero degrees at five kilometers high, and then you come down beautiful twisty roads to the Pacific Ocean, and it’s 30-plus degrees celsius.

And it’s great to be able to share that with your partner. Shirley does an amazing job sitting on the back of the bike, day in day out.

I’m Brian’s wife. I have no desire to ride myself, but, I’m a pillion in a million. Sat on the back of that motorcycle for 60-plus thousand kilometers on this trip. The motorcycle is our home, our transport, it carries our worldly possessions, and it carries trinkets from home, things that are important to us. We’re like little turtles.

Some days can be tough and hard whether it’s raining and cold…or dry and hot! People always say, “Oh, when it’s hot, that must be really good on the bike.” I heard someone use this analogy – “Stand in your bathroom, get your hair dryer out, turn it on your face and leave it there for about three hours. See how you like riding in the heat.”

But the motorcycle is a conduit to making really good friends. There’s a camaraderie about motorcycling, and there’s a fascination with the public that they like to know what we’re doing. When you ride into a gas station, people come up to you: “Oh, nice bike. Where have you been? Where are you going? Where have you come from? Oh, you’re Australian.” You don’t find that when you fuel up a car.

And that just develops a bond. It’s a bond that no one cares how old we are, what we’ve done in the past, what we’re gonna do in the future. It’s just the bond of travel and the bond of exploring new things.

The bike just breaks down all the barriers.

In 2011, after retiring from 36 years with the Victorian police, serving in the drug and homicide squads, Brian and Shirley packed up this bike and embarked on an 18 month journey. Starting in Santiago Chile, the southern most point in South America, they traveled to Deadhorse Alaska, the northernmost point in North America accessible by road. From there they continued to Europe and South Africa before making it back home to Australia. There’s more of their story here:


“Hi my name is Shyno,

My object is the umbilical cord that connected me to my son and my son to me.

It was part of this little seed inside of me that grew into a beautiful young man. This was the initial connection, and now there is this huge emotional connection.

Though my children may travel and live far away, I’d like to have a little piece of them nearby.”


Hi, my name’s Teddy

After a long day at school, the house phone rang and my mother answered. It’s Apple and they want to have a word with you, she said. I was 17 at the time, and had been hustling iPod parts around the world.

The voice at the other end of the line said “I’m not telling you this as one of Apples attorneys, but as say, an uncle figure: you need to stop what you’re doing.”

It all began a couple years earlier, when my iPod broke. With no funds to buy one new, I scoured eBay and purchased a logic board and read countless tutorials on how to crack them open and perform the surgery. The operation was a success. It lead me to realize that older iPods broke a lot and people rarely bothered to fix them due to warranty repairs being absurdly expensive. Word spread amongst my friends. I started accumulating a surplus of parts to fix friends’ iPods.

The hobby and good deed turned into an obsession that led me to buy bulk orders of broken iPods just to sell them for parts on eBay. By the time I was 17, a spare room in our house became an iPod graveyard. I had taken in more than $65,000 in revenue from the iPod and eBay ventures before I could even legally hold a Paypal account.

As the iPod progressed, components shrank and repairs became harder. The market for parts deteriorated. So I started to buy broken iPods, mail them back to Apple under warranty and receive brand new refurbished iPods for the cost of shipping.

This was the most lucrative venture of all, until it caught the attention of Apples legal department!

They let me off the hook but the lessons learned were invaluable. From customer service, to accounting, to shipping logistics. I differentiated myself by offering international shipping and received orders from numerous far flung regions.

The  power of e-commerce allowed a high school student to offer an affordable way for someone across the globe to repair their iPod. The power of the internet had won me over one iPod at a time.


“Hi, my name is Chris,

This is my rat rod 1960 Lambretta Li 150 Series 2 Scooter.

Among a junk pile I found along the side of a road I saw this scooter laying in the dirt, basically a pile of parts. I stopped to ask the owner about it and discovered that the Board of Health was writing him up for having it there. So he offers to throw it in my truck if I’ll drag it away.

I got it home, put all these parts on saw horses and embarked upon this scooter project. Rat rod’s are amazingly modified vehicles that intentionally use a patchwork of parts from different vehicles.

The engine, transmission and forks are from a bike I “parted out” 15 years ago. I spent the next year and a half amassing parts from Argentina to Vietnam to Britain and the USA. The parts were original, used and beat-up. If the paint was more destroyed, it was more in line with my vision for this scooter.

The bike vibrates a lot and it’s not the most pleasant thing to sit on. And because it looks so bad it brings out different things in people.

My total investment is probably $4500. A friend rebuilt the engine but the ignition cost a lot. I bought this fancy one because I wanted it to always start.

Since it looks so bad, it has to run really good!

Lambretta was a line of motor scooters originally manufactured in Milan, Italy by Ferdinando Innocenti in 1942. There are clubs across the world, both national and local, devoted to the Lambretta scooter. A rat rod is a style of remake that, in most cases, imitates (or exaggerates) the original. Most rat rods appear “unfinished”, whether they actually are or not, with just the bare essentials to be driven. (Source: Wikipedia)


“Hi my name is Julia,

I want be a princess when I grow up because princesses are pretty and I want to be pretty. They get to live in castles and wear princess shoes.

Julia’s first photo session had to be postponed due to the fact that she lost her princess privileges on our scheduled shoot day.


“I’m Laura,

This is my chicken, Jennifer. We have eight chickens and one rooster named Radio. Since Sweet Pea, who was my favorite, passed away this year, Jennifer has taken her place. But she is the last of the originals so I’ll have to get more that I raise.

I am not a crazy lady. Eight years ago it started. I just brought three of them into our family, one for each kid, so that we had that life to experience because that’s what it’s all about. I wanted the kids to be around that new life and watch them grow up. It’s been a lot more interesting and fun and valuable than I can imagine. Lessons for everybody.

We purchased our chickens as babies. You start them in the house. They have to be warm so you have a heat lamp and people are always holding them. I’d be making dinner and holding a baby chicken. And they really do bond with you in that way.

They become part of the family. The dogs protect them, the kids protect them, we protect them. And they give us eggs, and entertainment!

I once gave Sweat Pea acupuncture after she got injured and was limping. Down the street from us is a veterinarian that has dabbled in acupuncture and had helped our arthritic dog. I asked her if she won’t mind trying it on Sweet Pea even though she had never done it before. She had no idea if it was going to work, but it totally worked. She was not limping after the treatment and I was a happy momma.

Sweet Pea passed away this year but she had a lovely life.”


“Hi my name is Mehdi

It was February of 1981 in Tehran, Iran when my father had purchased a brand new car. On the morning of the 2nd anniversary of the Revolution he decides that he and I will go do some driving tests in the outskirts of the city on some empty roads near a military base. We switched seats so I can drive. Seven or eight minutes later I hear loud noises and realize that my dad has been shot. He opened the door, raised his hands and then fell to the ground and died. I was 14 years old.

We would eventually learn that he was shot by the members of the Basij, a paramilitary volunteer militia who had wrongly assumed our car belonged to the opposition group,  Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (MEK Militia) , just because of the color alone. Eight people fired on our car. All the bullets went through the vehicle without hitting us except for one that hit my dad in his heart.

What transpired in the following year and a half would be a process of negotiations by my mother that ultimately paved a way out of Iran and into Germany and then the United States for my mother and me.

By Islamic law, the father of the victim gets to decide the fate of the convicted, i.e., it’s an eye for an eye.  My paternal grandfather chose to pardon the accused because “it was a mistake”. This led to an unspoken agreement, a deal with the government, that if he pardoned the soldiers it would help in allowing my mom and I to leave the country. My grandfather died about a year later and my mom continued to pressure the government to admit they had made a mistake and with the help of a lawyer was able to acquire a letter from the government that was an admission on their part. She wanted desperately to save what she had and this was our way out legally and with passport as tourists. Had I stayed, I would have been banned from leaving the country at the age of 16 and potentially eligible to become a soldier and fight in the Iraq/ Iran war.

I was thinking of making a stop-motion movie with a scale model car to illustrate what had happened on that day. I did a lot of searches on Ebay and finally found this exact replica of a Renault 5 and in the exact color. I have never shared this story with anyone and not even my wife knows the history of the car.”

Mehdi graduated from the University of Texas in 1991 and received his Doctoral from the University of Washington in 2000. He currently is employed at University of Washington/Fred Hutchinson Cancer research Center as an Oncology pharmacist. His mom lives a mile and half down the street from his family and is the best grandma ever.


“Hi my name is LIz,

My object is a 1970’s New York Times cookbook. The reason I choose it is because in my family most things revolve around food. If we don’t remember something about a trip or we don’t remember what we did, we always remember the restaurants in which we ate and the food that we really liked and the food that we didn’t like.

When I turned twenty-one my mother gave me this cookbook. She learned to cook with this same book shortly after she married my father in 1975. It was helpful because it was not only a way for us to forge a relationship over something that was so important to the both of us but it was also saying something about independence. As you move on in your life and you graduate school, you should know how to take care of yourself, so you should know how to cook.

Someday no one will use cookbooks because so many recipes are online, but this book is my history, so I think I will use it forever. But I don’t think I will be as good a cook as she is!”


“I’m Eric,

I like to say I paid cash for a Papa Bear Chair. If you buy one new it can put you back nineteen to twenty thousand. Buy one vintage, ten thousand. I was able to pay cash: $34.50.

My wife and I are mid-century furniture enthusiasts and this was a ‘coup de grace’, greatest chair known to man. It was designed in the early fifties by Hans Wegner and it’s an icon of that period in Danish design.

We found this in the most unlikely of places, St. Vincent De Paul, in the heart of blue collar Bremerton, WA. We’ve always been driven and moved by art, gardens and architecture but have mostly had very little money to fuel these obsessions. We got the idea that we could own and enjoy the material essence of beauty without having to pay too much for it – coining the phrase “shoestring abundance” to describe our life philosophy.

Our daily excursions to St. Vinny’s were brought about when my wife and I were providing care to her grandmother with dementia. It was only a few blocks from our house and was something we could easily do together. That’s when we really got into shopping for furniture and it just became our daily thing and they came to know us at St. Vinny’s. We had this mindset that we don’t have to be limited. That we can find anything even though interior design is so stratified by income level.

There have been all sorts of great marketing ideas. But for St. Vinny’s it’s about being completely honest. Everything is on a cement floor. It stands on it’s own and it is what it is. You pay the price marked, no dickering and that money you give to them immediately goes into the second half of the store which is a food bank. In this time of “Green” and “helping others”, I think it’s the best thing we got going.

The day I found the chair I was just going through the store and then decided I’d just kinda look in the secure area in the back and see if there’s something I wanted. There’s a woman there. A great lady but really prickly and kinda gruff and she would say, you know, “Get out’a here” or that day she just looked at me and said “what do you want?” And I just said, “That chair!” And she said, “Okay, $34.50” And so I tried to act like it was no big deal and said “okay, great!”. She said, “Don’t say I said you could have it. We’ll move it out and you just act cool.”

So they brought it out and I brought it home and showed my wife. It was all very exciting, except for one thing! It had been re-covered at some point in something we call Eddie Bauer plaid, which is ok on a jacket, terrible on a chair, kind of a taupe and green. I mean it just was really bad to look at even though it was in good condition and would have lasted a long time. But we couldn’t have it. We live in the land of Eddie Bauer but we just can’t have it on a chair. We were lucky enough to find an upholsterer right up the road that did a fantastic job.

Our first furniture purchase at St Vinny’s was a piece by the same designer, Hans Wegner. It was a ten foot long,teak,drop leaf table. We purchased it for $24.50. I drive up in my ’84 Volvo and it just slides right in like it’s made for it. I said, “you know its amazing, those Scandinavians. They build the car to fit the furniture.” And the guy said-“It is amazing. IKEA right?” And I said, yup, it’s IKEA, and so we drove off. That started our love affair with Danish furniture and we still got it going.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was founded in 1833 to serve impoverished people living in the slums of Paris, France(source:Wikipedia). Eric and his wife are now working on a book called “Shoestring Abundance”, trying to encourage everyone to realize that you can find quality at thrift store prices. It’s all about knowing what to look for.


“I’m Brett,

At age 11 I started to play field hockey, hoping to be as good as my two older sisters. What I didn’t realize at the time was just how much more this would mean for me. It took me out the classroom setting where my learning disablity often made me appear lazy or stupid.

My mom was the only person who seemed to know I was always trying my best. She would be at every game running up and down the sidelines with words of encouragement. When I entered the 9th grade I learned that after her 7 year battle with cancer, she was told it was terminal. As her health deteriorated, I would work harder and harder to improve my performance on field. Or at least that is what I told myself. Looking back I now realize it was the only way I knew how to deal with my mom being so sick and my fear of losing her.

She wasn’t able to be there when I received my undergraduate and graduate degrees. Nor did she get to see me play Division I Field Hockey and Division II Lacrosse, but one thing I know is that she would have been extremely proud of my success. Her endless stream of support will never be forgotten.

In the summer of 2011 Brett summited Mount Kilimanjaro and raised $13,000.00 in memory of her mom to fight breast cancer for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. It’s never too late to help such an admirable cause. Just follow the link:


“I’m Susie,

I started writing in journals in order to confide in something that wouldn’t speak back to me. It allowed me to express myself in any way I felt like, with complete freedom. They contain travel, adventures and impressions, or to-do lists, but mostly they are the front story that people may know about and the back story that are my own thoughts. It’s a legacy to myself.

Sometimes I write in my journal and sometimes I don’t. If I have an empty journal lying around and I feel like having an emotional puke, then, you know, it ends up on the page. And it’s great in that way. It’s awesome!

The words in the journal are personal. They are about the inside and the truth. They are the thread that pull the truth onto the page.

That is my object, and that is the object.”


“Hi my name is Song,

I brought Hank, my Frenchie.

He’s the love of my life, my baby in a fur coat. His birthday is actually tattooed on my arm along with his name.

Hank never judges.

He just loves everyone.”


“I’m Norma,

I brought my insulin pump because I’ve been a Type I diabetic since I was 14, and I don’t need it any more. I took part in a medical trial at MGH last year. The diabetes had destroyed my islet cells so I couldn’t produce my own insulin. Without the constant drip of insulin from my pump, my body had no way of regulating my blood sugar levels. In October, I got the call that they had a match. The following day, over 600,000 strong, healthy islet cells were transplanted into my liver. I was told they would settle in, then begin to produce insulin. I wouldn’t have to balance my insulin with exercise and food intake. It would all happen naturally again, without the pump.

I have had a love/hate relationship with this pump. Yes, it kept me alive, but it was also a constant reminder that I was different. Convenient, but also something that was always annoyingly there, beeping and alerting, attached to me, and part of every outfit I’ve worn for the last 6 years. That’s why it was such a thrill to watch my pump inject fewer and fewer units of insulin into my body after the transplant. I was told to cut my insulin by half, then by three-quarters. Then, to remove the pump completely.

I have to admit that I was pretty nervous about doing that. It’s strange to think that after all these years my body is now producing insulin completely on its own, like it never skipped a beat. I’m comfortable with the fact that I won’t have to inject insulin any more, but the truth is, I am still getting used to the idea that I am no longer a diabetic.

Now, I see the pump in my drawer, and it doesn’t bother me at all that it looks a little dusty and lonely. I’m happy that it is no longer part of who I am.”


“My name is Don. I’m from Cambridge.

If you want your dad to stop smoking than getting him this pipe is probably not a good idea. I just use it now to chew on sometimes.”


“Hi my name is Marcello.

This is my monkey Chester, Chester O’Chimp to be precise.

He scared the shit out of me until I was about five, when I finally realized Chester wasn’t real. After that I hated it because it was Irish and I was the only Italian kid in a mostly Irish neighborhood who got teased and called guinea all the time. I’d take my anger out on poor old Chester.

When you pull it’s string, it’s mouth moves. He says about a dozen different things with an Irish brogue like “I’m Chester O’Chimp, diddly doodly diddly dum” or “I’ll be a monkeys uncle, Oh I am” or ” Lets go to the zoo and see the wild children”.

I’ve had him since I was 1 years old. It was given to me by my aunt, or some guy named Mr Anderson-I’m not sure. He’d been AWOL since I had moved out at 19 but has recently re-emerged.

I consider him one of my most prized possessions, I’ve always said that if there was a fire in the house, Chester would be the first thing I grabbed.

I think it just reminds me of my childhood and my bedroom and growing up in Boston.”


“So I am Abby,

Let me describe a bad week.

Show up for a week long rowing camp, immediately produce enormous blisters all over the palms of your hands and for a little icing on the cake, break your shoulder bone. Then spend the rest of the week telling your coaches “No, I Really Can’t Do That” and as a swan song, receive the coveted “I Hate Spring Camp 2010″ award made from a discarded horseshoe crab. Now that is what I call an awesome April vacation from high school.”


“My name is Kai,

I bring dinosaurs.  They say Grrrrrrrrrr.”


“Hi, my name is Doug and I want to talk about something and someone that changed my life.

My wife and I met in ninth grade. I was a troubled kid. It was back in the late ‘60’s and at the time I was hanging around with a bad crowd. I was 14 years old, selling drugs and the outlook for us at that time was pretty poor.

My girlfriend’s mother, who turned out to be my mother-in-law, and has since passed away, took me under her wing and showed me a different way of approaching life. We hear how people around you can influence the way and direction of your life. She did that. She just always took the time. It changed the way that I thought about myself and turned things into a positive light.

For me, this needlepoint captures the essence of basically who she was and the quality of time that she put into things.

In retrospect I see where my life has gone, taking me from someone who basically would have been a real loser in life to someone who can say, I’m proud of myself. I have accomplished a lot of things. I’m still married to her daughter and her father is still with us. We have a nice family.

All of this, pretty much, because of my mother-in-law who did this needlepoint.”


“Hi my name is Layla,

I brought my childhood blanket. My mom got it for me when I was born and I have had ever since. Well not exactly. The first blanket was mistaken for a rag and used to clean my friend’s floors after I forgot to bring it home one day. Needless to say I was not very happy, it was my number one possession. What are the chances you are going to be able to find the exact same blanket in the exact same store four years after purchasing it? Well that’s what happened and with that little piece of luck my mother skirted a major meltdown that only a four year old can produce and I got my blanket back.”


“My name is Bobby

A friend came over to my my house for dinner one time, left his tie on my sofa and it was a 1940’s palm tree tie. I tried to call him for the next two, three weeks trying to give it back, never got back to him and then I just kept collecting from there. By the time I was finished I had 70 different palm tree ties.

Grey suits, brown suits, navy blue suits were what was happening in the post war years of the 1940’s and ’50’s. Then these great flash ties appeared on the scene with bright colors and pictures and patterns. That is why I like them so much.

They’re bold and they’re bright in a world that was pretty drab!”

Most days Bobby can be found at his vintage clothing store, Bobby From Boston located just off Harrison Ave in Boston’s South End. He said that his love for vintage clothing probably came from his mother and father. “She was an interior designer and a clothes horse and he was a dandy”. Bobby has been in the clothing business for more than 38 years and has an international following. His clientele range from the random kid off the street to buyers of vintage at Ralph Lauren.


“Hi, I’m Kevin

This is the first purchase that myself and my wife made as a couple.

When we got married we loaded up the Subaru with camping equipment and had a ride through the American Southwest. About a week into the trip we came across this skull at one of these traditional Southwestern outdoor markets in Santa Fe, NM. Mexico is written on the back of it so it was probably killed in Mexico and brought across the boarder illegally, but, you know–who knows? I wish I could say that I killed it myself, but I didn’t.

The other option was to buy a necklace for my wife.

I really like this, honey, I’m going to get this dead cow head instead of a necklace. Yeah, the dead cow head-Yeah, definitely!”



“My name is Dan.

I brought a stone that my grandfather, Morris Jacob Wentworth pretty much carried in his pocket for most of his life. Or at least that’s what I was told. He owned an auto parts store in Syracuse, New York and was also a justice in the town. My grandmother told me he called it his worry stone. She said he would keep it in his pocket and whenever he had something that he was deliberating he would rub the stone and it would put him at ease.

So I think it’s a really interesting object, you know given the fact that he carried it his whole life. He must have derived a lot of inner power from this stone, which acted as a calming mechanism at times of difficult decisions.”