Category Archives: The Things I Carried

EMMA CHRISTINA: The Things I Carried

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Ghent, NY  I  Thursday, 19 October 2017

The oval, cut-glass bowl on the top left came from Goodwill in Greenport, NY. The gorgeous cut-glass dish on the top right belonged to my father’s mother, my Grandma Emma Christina. She gave it to my mother, Carol, and now, finally, it’s been passed down to me!

The two pretty dishes on the bottom came from Deseret Industries, a thrift store in Utah. The rectangle tray, on the left, is pressed glass. The oval fanlight or sunburst on the right is cut glass.

When you’re traveling cross country by airplane, like I did earlier this month, you have to decide what to put in your carry-on luggage, and what to check.

Because, as we all know, sometimes the airlines lose your checked luggage. Sometimes it turns up hours or days later. But sometimes, it’s never found again. In December of 1995, my garment bag, containing all my favorite dresses, it disappeared into thin air and was never seen again. Thank goodness I learned this lesson early in life, and only with clothes!

So, when I was flying on this trip, I carried with me my white Herschel backpack, the one I got on a fantastic sale at Urban Outfitters, which used to be by my work in downtown Salt Lake City. I paid $20 for a bag which was $75 normally.

Can we talk about pockets? “Because you know how a bear feels about pockets!”

One of the things I loved about my new backpack was all the pockets, right down to a fleece-lined pouch in the very top, perfect for sunglasses and reading glasses, a fleece-lined laptop slot, and all kinds of other little zippered and tabbed pockets, plus a key clip. It’s lined with red-and-white stripes, a signature of the Herschel brand.

Anyhoo, on this trip, in my backpack, I carried:
-some old family photos
-my mother’s little dark-blue suede high school diploma
-two pieces of her wedding silverware. (The dinner knife was confiscated by TSA and I had to mail it to myself from the airport.)
-Black Beauty, my treasured Fujifilm X30 camera
-a bunch of camera cards
-a composition book (I use them to plan events.)
-my keys
-my wallet
-my journal
-an assortment of pencils, pens, and Sharpies
-some snacks
-October issues of Martha Stewart Living and Southern Living. I love me some fall magazines, I do!
-my Chromebook, which fell out of my carry-on tote and into an overhead bin, getting left behind. It had to be retrieved by a ramp attendant, panic!

But in a separate black Barnes & Noble book quote tote bag, I carried some other pieces I treasure too much to leave behind, and far too much to put in checked baggage. Three dishes: one of them pressed glass, two of them cut glass. I have a large collection of pretty, clear-glass dishes, picked up at thrift stores for 50 cents here, $1 there. (It’s all Cami’s fault! Her mother got me started on this hobby. But that’s an entirely separate blog.)

But these three are my absolute favorites, and I simply must have them on my table at Thanksgiving this year. My pickles and olives demand the best!

Last October, as I was moving to New York, I was determined to take two of these favorite, fancy-glass dishes, and placed them on the table for last-minute packing in a carry-on bag. But, after a rough all-nighter of closing out my apartment into storage and suitcases, then turning the place over to Thing 1 and his best friend, I was just too tired, too rushed, and too stressed to pack them.

They got left behind on the table, and I’ve missed them so.

This past trip west, earlier this month, I went to Thing 1’s apartment in Salt Lake City to drop off a bag of BLT fixins from our favorite sandwich shop in New York. (That’s a story for another day. Or another blog, as well. Or whatever.) I ransacked his cupboards until I found the two dishes.

They were coming with me this time.

Up at my parents’ house in northern Utah, two of The Rockets helped me pack at the end of my stay, before driving me, my father, and Thing 2 to my friend Tina’s house, to spend the night before flying back to New York. What good friends I have, truly. Anita took the task of wrapping the three dishes carefully in newspaper and plastic grocery bags.

Pretty sure she wanted the chance to admire them up close, since she likes antiques as much as I do!

I can’t wait to see them on the table this Thanksgiving, holding Cranberry-Orange Relish, dill pickles, sweet pickles, and black olives…

Welcome to Emma Christina @ My Copper Kitchen! New features will be available on an intermittent basis, whenever I inherit a cool dish owned by my paternal grandmother, Emma Christina. I will also feature newly acquired dishes from her era which I think she would have liked.

She, a lovely Swedish lady who died before I was born, she loved cooking and gathering her many children around her Craftsman table, with its four leaves.

I’m told that sometimes, when Emma Christina felt bad and life was wearing her down, she would head to the Implement and put a nickel down on a dish. Kinda like me, her youngest granddaughter, heading to a thrift store and picking up something inexpensive to buoy my spirits, something special and beautiful, all for 50 cents…

“You know how a bear feels about pockets” is a line taken from the wonderful children’s book, A Pocket for Corduroy, written and illustrated by Don Freeman. I highly recommend it, and its predecessor, Corduroy, for all the children in your life.

The first book, Corduroy, was groundbreaking in that the main character, a little girl named Lisa, she and her mother are obviously not white, probably African American or Hispanic. They live in an apartment in the city, several flights up.

Considering the white-picket-fence, blond-haired, blue-eyed Dick and Jane books (used to teach children to read in the 1930s through 1970s), Corduroy is welcomingly inclusive of ethnic children who live in large cities.

Plus, Don Freeman’s artwork, scratchy black-and-white outlines, filled in with color, is truly delightful.

I love Herschel backpacks!

Read Finding 50: The Things I Carried, at:

Read more about Grandma Emma Christina at:
A Word About Windows

Learn how to make Cranberry-Orange Relish for Thanksgiving at:

The subtitle of this blog is a derivation of the book title, a modern-day classic, The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien.

FINDING 50: The Things I Carried

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Claverack, NY  I  Tuesday, 17 January 2017

This tote contains my journals from age eight through my early marriage. The little red notebook was my first diary, and the navy blue corrugated notebook (placed spine down on the left) was my journal until 2002.

When you’re moving cross country by airplane, like I did last October, you have to decide what’s really important to take with you. For me, it was a pretty simple decision, because it had already been made years ago.

What do I mean? Well, I’m sure you’ve stopped and thought about what you would grab first if the house was on fire or if you were suddenly forced to evacuate, right? (This is, of course, after the people and pets were safe!)

What things would be irreplaceable? What things would you sorely miss?

I’ve thought about it a lot over the years, and the things I would be devastated to lose have been packed away into totes for quite some time.

Years ago, I discovered Sterilite totes, and I love them. The lids come off easily if I want to view the stuff inside, and then they snap back on again, securely, if I want to carry the totes. If my place was to flood, my valuables in the totes would be somewhat more protected than if they were in cardboard boxes. And, bonus! The totes line up neatly and stack nicely, as well.

Anyways, there were three of us flying last October, moving Thing 2 and me from Utah to New York. I knew, according to Southwest Airlines’ rules, we could travel with a total of nine pieces of luggage for free: two checked pieces and one carry-on each. In a notebook I mapped it out, what to put in each of the small, medium and large suitcases.

I decided we would carry on the three plastic totes containing my most valuable things, packed in the small, carry-on suitcases. These are the things I would be heartbroken to lose, the things I couldn’t leave behind in a storage unit, the things I couldn’t even trust to pack into my checked bags.

Because, as we all know, sometimes the airlines lose your checked luggage. Sometimes it turns up hours or days later. But sometimes, it’s never found again. In December of 1995, my garment bag, containing all of my favorite dresses, it disappeared into thin air and was never seen again. Thank goodness I learned this lesson early in life, and only with clothes!

Along the same vein, once I had a backpack stolen while riding a bus, and it contained two of my journals. They contained four years worth of writing and I’m still upset about it. I was going through a really rough patch at the end of my marriage, and I agonized about it on paper, but I also wrote about my kids and other details of my life, too…

I’ve tried to console myself, thinking maybe the journals were meant to get lost. Maybe my posterity wasn’t meant to read these details of my life? Maybe they’re in the hands of someone who was meant to read them? Maybe they could help someone? But most likely they ended up in a trash can, and my loss still stings.

So, after all this, I decided there are certain things I will never trust to storage units or moving men or airline baggage handlers. I will carry certain things myself and not let them out of my sight.

So, I packed my clothes and beauty products and a few of my indispensable kitchen implements in the medium and large suitcases we would check, and my most treasured and important things, the ones from the plastic totes, they went into the three small suitcases we would carry on.

I also carried the boys’ yearly Christmas ornaments on the plane with me, in a tote bag at my feet. I’d been saving little bubble wrap pouches from work as I unboxed gift items for display, and they work great. I like them a lot because I can see through them to tell which ornament is inside. They work much better than the previous ornament-wrapped-in-a-paper-napkin-in-a-fold-over Baggie method. Ha!

It was a struggle to lug all this stuff onto the plane, since each suitcase contained a heavy tote and was difficult to hoist into an overhead bin. We left a wake of glaring passengers and disgruntled flight attendants, to be sure. But I didn’t care.

These are the things I carried.

This tote neatly stores all the boys’ formal photos: their first baby pictures from the hospital, photos from Kiddie Kandids, and all their school pictures. It also contains our birth certificates, immunization cards, and Social Security cards.


This tote contains journals from later in my marriage, the medium-sized ones lined up on the left. Also, the green notebook is from sixth grade, the red journal from ninth grade, and the navy blue binder took me from college through the mid-90s. Also, I started journals for both of my boys at the time I found out I was pregnant, and they’re the three thin ones near the navy binder. The canvas pouch contains various candid photos.


I probably need a fourth tote for the boys’ Christmas ornaments. As I unboxed gift items at my work, I saved small bubble wrap packages and used them to package each of the boys’ Christmas Santas and snowmen.


Wow, this was quite a move. Thank goodness for luggage carts!



The title of this blog is a derivation of the book title, a modern-day classic, The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien.