OCTOBER 17th, 2014
By LANA CARBON & JOHN LILIES
Our blog begins by remembering a road trip in the summer of 2013…
[John] To end our 2013 summer, we decided on a mini-holiday in the form of a road trip around parts of Ontario, over the course of a few days. The drive took us through Prince Edward County, Port Hope, Port Perry and Peterborough (I promise we didn’t plan it according to the letter ‘P’!).
[Lana] Prince Edward County - This quiet area (to anyone who hasn’t been there during the summer tourist rush) is a perfect mix of outdoor enjoyment and quaint small town feel. A beautiful day will grant you the opportunity to visit the much regaled Sandbanks Provincial Park. This is a great place for a relaxing walk or bike ride, a classic family picnic or to indulge in one of the best beaches in the region. Alternatively, if wine tasting is something you find inviting, there are a multitude of wineries that offer tours which allow you to sample their wares. Speaking of the finer things in life, another attraction that one can partake in is following the Arts Trail. Artists of all types have their work on display in galleries, many of which run from their own homes (which makes me wonder if it is mere coincidence that the Arts Trail follows the same path as the Taste Trail). For people like John and I, who enjoy ALL of the above, places like this truly speak to us.
Funnily enough, on this particular trip, we did none of the above. Instead we found ourselves in an antique shop in Bloomfield with one of the best, not to mention appropriate, names I have ever heard… Dead People’s Stuff. I find anything like this fascinating. Were these artifacts of days gone by simple daily tools or did they mean much more? What kind of emotional importance did the previous owner place in these random objects? Were they the physical representations of the love between a man and woman, mother and child or, on the darker side of things, an item to be feared… or perhaps much worse? If these ties are powerful enough, is it possible that the energies or even spirit of the former possessor could remain attached even to this day? While there were a few interesting items, the most interesting was the pin that John found with her mother’s name on it…
[John] Dead People’s Stuff… This is a shop I had heard of many times but had never made the time to check it out until this day. On our way to the shop I was talking with my mother who, upon hearing we were heading to Dead People’s Stuff, remarked “Just don’t take any ghosts home with you”. If only she had known what was about to happen…
We arrived in Bloomfield and aimed for the antique shop. Walking into Dead People’s Stuff I noticed the air to hold that musty scent often associated with old objects but mixed with it was the freshness of country air and freshly cut grass – lingering in the air as though a mist. I was left feeling caught between wanting to stay and feeling oddly out of place and unsure of my decision to be there.
We looked around and perused through the various items – old postcards that had been through the mail, a decent stack of old 45’s, a small pile of sets of Marshall McLuhan’s (“The Medium is the Message”) playing cards (“Distant Early Warning”), and a host of objects from other people’s pasts.
As we eventually walked towards the exit I noticed a small table against the wall and felt drawn to it. As I drew near, my eyes were pulled to stare amazingly at a small broche sitting towards the front of the table. The brooch was shaped as a white Scottish terrier with my mother’s name hand-written on it in black marker. It was as though the Dead People had heard her telling me to not take any of them home and decided to personally call her out. To say I had chills upon finding the brooch would be a severe understatement. I fought deep temptation to purchase the brooch. For as much as I felt I needed to take it home with me I had a similarly strong feeling that taking it home was exactly what I was not to do.
So there it stayed… and my mother was beyond grateful for that fact when I told her what had happened. My mother is fully aware of the strange things that happen to me – since birth I have felt things and known things and seen things so the last things my mother would want hanging around me lest gifted to her, would be the unseen from Dead People’s Stuff in Bloomfield, Ontario.
[Lana] So, nothing came home with us from Dead People’s Stuff this time (at least, not to our knowledge) but it was an interesting stop along the way to the next location on our weekend excursion.
Port Hope– Instead of the normal meander through small towns we usually take when we travel, we had to be careful we didn’t lose too much time as we had a lot of ground to cover. One of the goals on this trip was to take John to one of my favourite stores… Primitive Designs. If you are looking for a unique piece of art, furniture, clothing or jewellery from around the world, then you will absolutely love this store.
[John] Set against highway and farmland, this is an impressive store where I must admit I had my first ever encounter with a 23-foot tall Optimus Prime.
[Lana] … and a 10 ft Bumble Bee.
Having grown up in the ‘80s, the Transformers were a huge part of John’s and my Saturday mornings. To see these impressive heroes in the (metallic) flesh was like a dream come true and well worth the trip all on its own…and we had not even entered the building yet. A quick tour of the outside gave John a hint of the diversity that could be found here as we viewed totem poles, tiki hut style gazebos, gargoyles and a large wooden crocodile sculpture.
We finally made our way inside. I glanced over to John and the look of amazement on her face made me smile. Cultural masks, driftwood tables, ornate light shades, paintings and antique furniture were everywhere.
[John] …and door knobs… so many door knobs!!
[Lana] We didn’t know where to go first… and this was only the first floor. After looking around for over an hour, I snuck away to pick up a little gift for John. She is quite the music lover so I knew I had to get her an instrument of some kind. I found an interesting looking string instrument made of bamboo that had that esthetic appeal I thought would be a great conversation piece as well as fun new musical experience. In researching it after the fact, I discovered it is an instrument from India called an ektara which is used during devotional singing. I doubt that it will have her singing Kumbaya anytime soon but I do hope she enjoys it.
[John] No hesitation on that… I love it completely.
[Lana] We were actually extremely lucky that we left with only one unexpected purchase considering we wanted basically everything in the store. Perhaps next time we will try to spend a little less time in the store and get to see more of Port Hope while we are there. For now we bid adieu to Primitive Designs and make our way to the town that I called home for over 15 years.