Moments of Extreme Emotion Series: Curio Cabinet Explosion

It was twilight.

And twilight was turning to dusk as Cliff and I sat down to eat supper.

He said, “Let’s light a candle.”

She said, “Well, that’s a good idea. It’ll look pretty.”


One of us said, “Let’s put the candle into the curio cabinet. The mirrors behind will amplify the light.”

“Okay,” said the other. And so we admire the ambient light illuminating the cups and curios.

“It would look even prettier if we closed the glass door. More shimmer and glisten.”

Just so you know: We have surrounded a lighted candle with irreplaceable china (Dumb)! The deceptively romantic light disguises the fact that the candle flame is heating the upper glass shelf (Dumber than Dumb)! We leave the dining room momentarily to clear the table.

BOOM, BANG, POW—The glass shelf shatters, and shards of glass cascade into the once placid display of nineteen antique cups, some from Grandma Longenecker, some from Mother, and some from the travels of itinerant artist Cliff.


I scream with the first boom. Then I scream louder as I survey the damage. Cups with dismembered handles.. Saucers in slices. Family heirlooms gone with a poof!

Blog_Curio Cabinet disaster_7x10_300

Just because a scene looks artistic doesn’t mean it‘s not dangerous.

Just because a candle is seated in a pretty place doesn’t  mean the laws of combustion won’t operate.

What remains:

Doll bell from Mother Mug from Buckingham Palace
Doll bell from Mother & Mug from Buckingham Palace
Japanese teacup from Grandma Annie Metzler
Japanese teacup from Grandma Annie Metzler

And a few more cups and saucers, not pictured.

Have you experienced the loss of family heirlooms? Other losses? What remains of value?

Your comments make me happy, and I will always respond.

Do read My Gutsy Story on author Sonia Marsh’s website:

Voting for My Gutsy December 2013 Story begins Jan. 2 and ends Jan. 15, 2014.


26 thoughts on “Moments of Extreme Emotion Series: Curio Cabinet Explosion

  1. I clicked to say I like this but actually I’m very sad for you… I have a china cabinet full of precious china and would heart broken if this happened to me. I love the three pieces left. I also love your sketches! I’m assuming you drew them. You’re an artist!


  2. SO sorry. You had a beautiful china display, many pieces remembered from childhood. Certainly mother would understand if you take some more from her cabinent and so would your sisters.


  3. Goodness, gracious, sakes alive!

    Your husband did great renderings of you screaming and the cabinet exploding into shards! He’s a talented artist! And while those family heirlooms can’t be replaced, the great news is, nobody lost life or limb.


  4. I too lost a precious heirloom. I wore a gold key and an old gold coin on a necklace. The coin had been purchased by my Dad from a family friend. I had worn it for 30+ years. I added the gold key, a gift from my uncle when I was between 13-16 years old. He said it was the key to his heart. He passed away in 1980 and it became precious. I asked God for me to recover them, offered a monetary reward worth more than their value. I did not get them back but the memories, love and enjoyment from having them for a time can and will never be replaced!!!


  5. I take it this event happened recently? You are proving the thesis that whatever doesn’t kill you turns into a good story. Or blog post. :-).

    My mother still grieves the loss of the gold jewelry she gave up when she joined the church. I don’t think I have as many heirloom treasures as she does. But I did feel extraordinarily happy to reclaim my lost red hat in the lost and found at church. I bought the hat with my daughter’s help in Victoria, BC, and I valued it at more than the cost of replacing it.


    1. If “recent” is a few years ago, this event happened recently. My Moments of Extreme Emotion Series is about more contemporary happenings. Maybe I should clarify that in a subtle way.

      I love all the stories this post evokes. As you so aptly say, “finding the universal in the particular . . . ” My mother had no gold jewelry, but my grandmother had 3 gold rings she gave to her shocked grand-daughters one Christmas before she died. I’m smiling at your reclaiming that lost red hat. That’s another tale you can tell!


  6. You have a wonderful blog; I’m so glad I discovered it!
    I attended the Church of the Brethren with my grandparents and cousins when we visited them in Missouri, and the church in their little town was shared with a group of Mennonites. Just wondering: have your read MENNONITE IN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS or the sequel? The author lived for awhile in Hillsboro, KS. while her father taught at Tabor College, and I attended nearby McPherson College, which was Brethren.
    I love your picture at the top of your blog–a fascinating combination!


    1. Marylin, welcome! It’s nice to know we have a common “plain” understanding.Yes, I have read Mennonite in a Little Black Dress but not its sequel Rhoda Jansen certainly has a rollicking story to tell.

      Thank you for discovering, reading, and commenting. Now I’m off to check your blog as well!


  7. I once stacked all of my dishes on a solid teak dining table with an undiagnosed faulty leg. The leg splintered and I caught one stack of dishes before the rest hit the tile. I lost some fine pieces that day, none of any sentimental value, and yet I was still sick to my stomach. Can’t imagine how you must have felt looking at those family memories!


    1. It was a while ago, so I’m mostly over it. I still have some items from Grandma Longenecker, including her 100-year-old New Year’s postcard which I’ll post January 1. I’ll pass your compliment onto Cliff. Thanks for reading and commenting, Merril. I always enjoy your insights.


  8. Oh, Marian, I’d likely have been as “dumb” about the whole concept of combustion inside the cabinet, but I am so sorry for the loss of family heirlooms. As always, Cliff’s illustrations added to the post.


  9. On the topic of combustion, at least the event served as fuel for a story. So nothing is wasted. Besides, I do have some other mementos from close family members to cherish. I’ll pass your compliment on to Cliff.


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