Hodgepodge talks of catalogs

Here they come.

The catalog* season has officially arrived.  At our house the catalogs from different sources never stop coming.

We receive many of them in our mailbox all year long, but the annual pre-holiday onslaught begins well before Halloween.

(*Catalog – According to the definition offered by Merriam-Webster, “Catalog is a book containing a list of things that you can buy, use, etc., and often pictures a group of similar or related things.)

I guess that just about sums it up).

I can’t say with absolute and complete confidence that we receive a catalog from some source every day of every week, but I also don’t think that would be a baseless boast. I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that we will receive hundreds of the inviting, colorful advertising manuals in the mail.

They start showing up in volume long before Christmas, explode to ten or more a day before leveling off and then expanding again during the pre-Easter season. We do enjoy looking through them and there is usually a stack of them from various sources on the kitchen counter.

“Catalog Kings?”

During a recent chat with our mailman he referred to us as the “catalog kings” on his route.  On most days we get at least four catalogs and on “good” days – or are they bad? – we get many more. I can’t  remember ever asking to receive a catalog in the mail, but wherever they come from they find their way to our mailbox.

Some of them contain fairly useful items – such as a vertical rack that offers you the opportunity to “evenly cook chicken wings and legs while unhealthy fat drips away.”

On the pages of another catalog there is an 18 inch clock / thermometer / hygro- meter that keeps perfect time as it synchronizes the time, even changing for daylight saving time.”  There is a flexible garden hose that stretches to 25 feet and never kinks.

However, not everything is focused on practicality.  Not quite as useful are items such as a tulip spinner with glow ball (?),

a metal “snacking bunny” handmade from recycled oil drums (in Bali), or a “dancing rabbits” lamp.

Some catalogs and their offerings:

“What on Earth”:  The first thing to get my attention was a “Pierogi” shaped ornament, which the copy states “is sure to become a family heirloom.”

One of my favorites is the “Sturbridge Yankee Workshop” catalog which features furniture and household goods for three and four figure prices. I think I might order an “Iron Star candle/match holder” for $7.95.

In the current pile on the kitchen counter are catalogs from “Deutsch Optic”, a German company which always includes many fascinating objects – including in this issue – a Swiss officer’s grooming kit.

Santa Slipper Sox, anyone?

There are also catalogs from “Plow and Hearth”, “Garrett Wade, Where Good Tools Come First”, and “Paragon”.  Their “Santa Slipper Sox” are neat, and “one size fits most.”

The catalog from “Potpourri” features a plaque which reads, “A Meal Without Wine is Called Breakfast.”  “The Vermont Country Store” offers all kinds of intriguing sweets–“Kookaburra Licorice,” in a 2 pound bag for $17.90; also bags of “Bit-o-Honey,” “Mary Janes,” and “Kits,” as well as “Bonomo Turkish Taffy” bars.

Remember those?

The choices are endless from “Old Durham Road,” with goods from England, including recently, Prince George com- memorative items.  One of my favorites is “Lilliput,” featuring replicas of the wind-up cars and trucks and friction-powered toys, like the ones I played with in the 40’s.

We also receive “Pretty Good Goods”, sent our way from Garrison Keillor and friends, as well as catalogs from “Gardener’s Supply Co.”, “The White House Historical Association”, “The Shop at Monticello”, “Gump’s of San Francisco”, and others.

Olive and Cocoa

One day this week there was a new addition to our mailbox – a catalog we had never seen before.  On top of the pile was a copy of the most recent offerings from “Olive and Cocoa,” just in case all those other catalogs didn’t give us the opportunity to order special fluffy plush versions of “Sweet Billy Goat”, “Charlie the Chicken”, and “Orla the Ostrich.”

After receiving hundreds of catalogs in the mail, which was only the beginning, it would take something a little different to grab my attention and make me want to turn the pages.  This one did it.

Just the name of the catalog was worth looking at twice.  Going through the pages, and after figuring out who Olive and Cocoa might be, I was greeted by “The Countess”, described as a “wickedly adorable and hauntingly chic 36 inch tall Regal Countess”.

Other characters scattered among the pages of unique gifts are Raven Bird, inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s classic poem; Agnes the Witch, ready to cast “a multitude of magical spells”; Hootie and Priscilla Owl, quietly watching over a mysterious enchanted forest;  and Zanzi-bel and Norbert, “an especially creepy couple.”

Here comes the mailman. Happy cataloging!

. . . Roy Hodge



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