The Goddess of Small Lost Things

Dawn in Pembrokeshire Cottage

 6th November 2013

Tales from Pembrokeshire

Dawn gushed into the dark spaces of the holiday house through the old tree window, shocking in its intensity and unbearably golden.

Cows walked up the field behind the mill stream, a robin sang sweetly, the corvids took off for their day jobs, the farmer hurtled down the lane and splashed through the stream, rattled over the grid and over the hill. Out to the west the shoreline beckoned as the tide dropped.

We ate toast and chatted about a little packing up to go out for the day. I struggled with Brian’s two slimline flasks but twisted them open, filled up with hot water, measured out instant coffee into tiny container and tucked it in next to Brian’s teabag collection,  all squeezed into an old fashioned toffee tin, remembered teaspoon, remembered biscuits for us and biscuits for dogs, apples, put a towel in bag to protect the flasks, in short tried hard to get my fraying act together.

We had a leisurely stroll up and down one beach,  admired a curious Atlantic grey seal fishing ten foot out in the surf, and then headed off to a point on the map that looked like it could be fun. We are very bad at reading tourist guides, so have the joy surprisingly often of stumbling on views which are (we realise with hindsight) famous and we think we have discovered them for ourselves.

We tried one way, Road Ahead Closed, so we went back and round the other way where there was also a Road Ahead Closed, but we carried on figuring out that it was one break in the road signed from two directions, either that or an MI5 safe house being camouflaged by signage in which case they would come out and shoot us.

Finally we got to Bae Ceibwr, walked down to the cove, played around and then up again to the car. It was long gone lunch time, but we would make do with a drink.

I had forgotten the cups.

I hovered on the brink of throwing myself over the cliff – how could I forget the cups? –  but decided that was a little hysterical even for me and so it came to pass that Brian performed the outdoor tea ceremony. First he found some ancient teabag, one which I hadn’t included, so he must have had it somewhere in a pocket, along with some green fluff, stale dog biscuits and a dog bag or two. He unscrewed the lids of our new slimline flasks. The  water was piping hot!

pouring tea

“We can drink out of these.”

I gave him a look.

He delicately poured two spoonfuls of water over the teabag, waved and dibbled it in each lid and passed me a lid with its miniature curl of steam.

We sipped it decorously, stared at each other and then grimaced: it was tasteless, nothing quite as dispiriting as a teabag which has given up the ghost.

We chucked it away, extravagant gesture of two people with tiny tiny cups maybe, but a necessary one.


Moving on, we went for the decaff instant coffee option.  Brian slipped open the tiny tin I had put it in, tapped a few granules into each flask-top and delicately poured the hot water over it. We repeated this exercise three times and ate our ginger biscuits, which as you can see, just about fit into the lid for a quick dunk. We discussed biscuits and agreed that ginger biscuits are the saving grace of the British Empire, without the ginger nut, civilisation would cease to exist.

Happy again!

We walked a little way on and stood on the cliffs admiring a group of young people diving off the rocks and swimming off round the coast, like water sprites.  My vertigo has got worse over the years and though I would have loved to have walked along the cliff path and stared into the Witches Cauldron we didn’t go, but by all accounts it is fantastic and a wonderful place to explore in a sea kayak.

I had a moment of memory loss compensating genius later that evening. Brian was looking for the dogs’ hair clips. Yes the dogs wear those hair clip grip things on their dangly ear fur to try and stop it getting full of bits of dinner. They look silly but a poodle is used to looking silly, they have a hard life, anyone with a pompom does. Back to Brian, man on a mission.   He couldn’t find them anywhere. I was busy trying to make a sort of soup thing. The dogs were crying because they could smell their food but they weren’t going to be allowed to gulp it down till the hair clips had been found.

Eventually his voice became more desperate, we get very hung up on small things like this,  and I said,

‘If you had them in your hand now, where would you put them to keep them safe?’

There was a slight pause, and I swear I could feel little sparkles of electricity as a neural pathway lit up a memory circuit Day-Glo yellow in the brain of Brian.

‘Of course, my special dog box!’  he said.

Apparently he had made one for this trip. We would fail miserably on that Mr and Mrs show I think. Anyway my Goddess mode was working well, and what was lost was found  and the prospect of dangly ears full of cooked cabbage and boiled fish receded happily into the distance.  Everyone was happy once more.

It reminded me of a long ago time when I had been out with family somewhere in central London. On returning to the car Dad couldn’t find the keys, we retraced our steps, returned to Tower Records, looked here and there, forlorn, suddenly tired and desperately wanting to be anywhere but the middle of the city at midnight.  As we debated going to the police station I contemplated Dad’s smart country walking and hiking jacket, bristling with useful pockets and toggles.

“You didn’t put them in your extra-extra-secret secret pocket, did you?”  I said. (I had no idea how many or what pockets he had on the damn jacket, he said he had already looked everywhere…)

I saw an embarassed grin and picked up some small nonverbal sounds – the gasp of the person who finds that there is in fact one more layer of chocolates in the box thought empty, the catch in the throat of the person who thinks she has missed the last train but it has been delayed so she hasn’t, those moments when the universe smiles sweetly and Lady Luck gives you a small tender kiss and sends you on your way –  and joyfully he rummaged in the dark recesses of his jacket and yes he did indeed have an extra secret pocket which offered up the car keys, which trilled triumphantly on being rediscovered.

All of which brings me to the title of this post, I think I have a raison d’être: I am going to be the Goddess of Small Lost Things.

Don’t ask me for reasons or hows and whys, don’t ask me what motivated the object to lose itself in the first place, nor why life is sometimes so hard and so random and capricious or why people go hungry, why people are cruel, why, why why, so many questions, a person can go mad looking for answers…. but finding small lost items that have a way of holding up your life till you find them – that sounds perfectly possible and like being an Automobile Association rescue person, you turn up, step one and then, step two, with luck you fix the car, everyone is happy, and even if you didn’t fix the car, hell at least you tried!

So tell me what you have lost and I will help you find it if my Goddess mode is operating on full power and if we don’t find it, hey it passes the time, looking for stuff you find all sorts of other things you have mislaid, which is pretty exciting too.

Just remember you always find what you are looking for in the last place you look. And.. a world full of crazy beliefs and unwarranted assumptions that is as good a thing to believe as anything else…

…and even if the Lost Thing stays lost a little longer, eventually the dawn will come again and life will go on.

dawn interior

49 thoughts on “The Goddess of Small Lost Things

  1. Misky

    You are a very engaging writer, and a pleasure to read. Be well, my friend, and enjoy being lost for a few days.

  2. Elaine

    What a wonderful post – the imagery made me feel as if I was there with you and Brian experiencing all the joys of the beautiful scenery as well as the ‘despair’ of not having the cups. I think you will make a fantastic Goddess of Small Lost Things and I will certainly call on your skills the next time I cannot find my keys or other small things without which life becomes difficult. Although I do agree that even if they are not found the day will go and another will dawn. Beautiful pictures and yes I agree with your comments about ginger biscuits. In fact it reminded me of holidays I took with my parents down to Devon. My mother always baked cakes and packed a picnic for us to eat on the long journey and one year she produced this very pale brown cake and announced it was a ginger cake. When we went to eat it though it became quickly apparent that the ginger had been left out! I was so disappointed.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I had fun writing it so I am very pleased you enjoyed it Elaine! My skillset is now available and if I bring one of the dogs along they could employ their nose if it was food you had lost of course. I feel for your younger self and the gingercake moment!

  3. Anne @ Life in Mud Spattered Boots

    Still smiling at the thought of your dogs wearing hair clips. Loved reading this.
    My mother’s stock answer when we lost things was that they were where we left them. Obviously. I may have to call upon you next time I lose my glasses. I don’t wear them all the time so tend to take them off whenever I realise I don’t need them, which can be in some pretty odd places.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thankyou Anne! We tried all sorts, wrapped hair bands, and slides, but these are the best, sometimes the dogs shake their heads and they fly across the room with a loud clatter. I will have to work on my finding glasses skills, I am not too good at those ::)

  4. heidiannie

    Small lost things seem to be a way of life with me, as well.
    I hope your holidays are treating you well, even with the annoyance of forgotten necessities and the loss of small things. I think poodles are all a special kind of diva- worthy of the extra attention and paraphernalia! Ear clips and some such devices….
    Great post- and so great to hear from you.
    Today I am making cardamom buns- and so my thoughts have been turned toward you. So if you feel great warmth your way- it is coming from Northeastern Ohio and is filled with much love and affection.

    1. Joanna Post author

      This was a holiday that has been and gone last month but I would be happy to be back there again right now. Oh ho cardamom buns, my thoughts are turning bunwards it must be the time of year, and I do feel a great blast of warmth, thank you Heidi xx

  5. frandough

    Joanna, What a joyous read.You are as descriptive as always. I always felt my mum was watching down when i had lost something and guided me to find it.
    You will make a wonderful Goddess of small lost things.
    Stunning photography as always.
    Cardamom buns, visted a tea shop in Harrogate sells Scandinavian goodies , had a bun and took a cinnamon bun home, delicious.
    Fran x

    1. Joanna Post author

      I think that is lovely that your mum is watching and helping you find lost things, maybe the world needs lots of goddesses, so much stuff to keep track of after all. I like the sound of that tea shop in Harrogate; it is definitely bun time any day now Fran :)

  6. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    You made me happy at 5.30am in the morning. I will be your apprentice – I found family heirloom rings for a friend over the phone the other day. She’d been shooting a television program and couldn’t find the rings for two days after. “What’s the first thing you do when you get home from a shoot?”, I asked. “Wash my makeup off”, she said. And sure enough, there were the rings in her bathroom cabinet. :) I think you and Brian are both creative at solving a problem, I’d have probably tried to drink hot coffee straight from the flask. And I agree that ginger biscuits can save the world – I think I might need to make some more now that I’ve read your post! Much love xxx

    1. Joanna Post author

      I reckon we can all do this job, I was just feeling particularly useless so decided I would apply. Funnily enough the thought of drinking it from the flask didn’t occur! I hereby declare you Goddess of Creative Solutions to Life’s Small Dilemmas xxx

  7. narf77

    I commiserate with your tea ceremony. As my Nan would say “needs must when the devil drives!” and those gingernuts certainly held their end up for the empire reviving spirits and restoring energy. I also commiserate with the dogs. I have socks with pom-poms on them. I stupidly headed out into the forget-me-not forest that is currently Serendipity Farm to hunt for eggs amongst the blackberries (where the hens LOVE to lay…sigh…) and ended up with forget-me-not seed infested pom-poms on my socks :(. Nothing a Gingernut won’t fix though! Is that Mr and Mrs show where they separate the married couple and ask them questions about their significant other like “what is her favourite food?” or “What does he keep in his shed?” sort of thing? If so, Steve and I would be doomed! We wouldn’t even manage a single compatible answer between us ;). As it is officially almost summer and every single chook that we cohabit with seems to be hell bent on going clucky, we have taken on the monumental task of creating a massive 250square metre fully enclosed vegetable garden to halt the veggie scoffing native animals in their tracks, we are working on our final and most difficult assessment for our course and everything needs to be done at once here or it will end up covered in forget-me-nots and thistles I fear I have lost my mind. I would be most grateful if you could find it for me. I get the feeling it might be covered in forget-me-not seeds and a clucky chook might be sitting most determinedly on it out there under a blackberry tangle. I will sit here in a somewhat bewildered and confused middle aged way and when you eventually find it, I will be ready at the kitchen table with a large bucket of hot tea dunking gingernuts eagerly awaiting its return.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Heehee I could de pompom them, in fact their tails are more bullrush or cigar like than pompoms these days. Read an amazing piece about how the direction of the wag indicates happiness or anxiety, left wag is anxious and right wag is happy! Yes the M and M show, though I don’t think it runs now. Good luck with the vegetable garden and the chook wrangling. I fear that your mind might not qualify as a small thing and might be outside my remit, but maybe it will pop up when you next make bread and drink tea somewhere in the flour container. Good luck with finishing your assignments both of you, much love Joanna xx

      1. narf77

        I read that too! I have been trying to look at “nervous Nancy’s” (Bezial’s) tail to see which direction it goes but it isn’t easy! Sorry to hear that my mind is out of your league…I notice that today is Google doodle day for Hermann Rorschach’s 129th birthday (my…he IS getting old isn’t he?) and they are asking us what we can see in the Rorschach blog images and to share it with friends…maybe one of my Facebook friends will know where my mind went? It certainly looks like one of those blobs that are being illustrated ;)

  8. drfugawe

    Lovely thoughts. or maybe just reminders of our own personal hauntings – although I love my nightly dreamlife, a recurring theme is being lost – or losing things – and of course, in those dreams, I never reach a successful outcome. Upon waking, I always rationalize by telling myself that these dreams are the best venue for these small tragedies of life to occur – and perhaps such dreams are therapy for a waking life.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Ah dreams, it used to be thought that those were sent by the gods to guide and confound us. My goddess remit does not extend there though, I am a modern sort of a goddess, self-defined but very mortal when I dream, lost, spilling posessions out of suitcases as I run down train platforms, wander through post-apocalyptic landscapes, such dramas which I hope stay in the dreamworld.

  9. ardysez

    Possibly my all time favourite post written by anyone at any time. Delightful. What is it about finding lost things that is so very rewarding? XX

    1. Joanna Post author

      That is very kind of you, I am so pleased you enjoyed it. It is pure reward isn’t it? like a grumpy car engine spluttering into life. All good :)

  10. cityhippyfarmgirl

    Completely agree with you about ginger nuts Joanna. A dunked ginger nut is a splendid thing.
    I’m not sure what I’m missing, and it’s unlikely I’ll ever find out. There is a hole in a knot in our floor boards, about the width of two pencils. There is also two little hands that like to quietly put anything she can down this hole. Who knows what vast amounts I’ve lost due to this other wise inconspicuous hole. Pencils, paintbrushes, crayons, flag pole, treasured Japanese chopsticks…they’re the ones I know about. Maybe the poodles could go under the rest of the floor boards and retrieve them all for me??

    1. Joanna Post author

      The dogs would be delighted to pop under your floorboards Brydie. Are you never tempted to err… fill the hole or is she having too much fun ? xxx

  11. maree

    A very enjoyable post..lovelly pics. too.
    I am often in need of help when it comes to small lost things…generally the “thing” that was literally in my hand less than five minutes ago but for some misguided reason disappears into the ether…only to reappear exactly where its supposed to be.
    I pay hommage on my knees to my new goddess if she will only save me from my maddness!!

    1. Joanna Post author

      It sounds as if your inner goddess is working well if it only takes five minutes for the lost things to re-appear, maybe I need lessons from you Mariee xx

  12. Ann

    Loved reading this – so evocative.
    Spot really, really wants to see a photo of dogs with hair clips!

    1. Joanna Post author

      I will have a look and see if I have one somewhere for Spot, though I might email it to you :)

  13. andreamynard

    Next time I fumble around for keys or a hair bobble for my daughter, rather than getting irritated with my own shoddiness, I’ll enjoy thinking I’m the goddess of small lost things now! I love that golden light flooding in the very lovely window of your holiday house, how beautiful.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I had to write the post to share the photos – I am so pleased you liked them, it was a stunning moment, from a very dark interior to golden flush, something like an eclipse when the sun comes out again from behind the shadow of the moon. Thanks for reading Andrea!

  14. Jan

    That is such a beautiful piece Joanna. Absolutely lovely photos, beautiful light. My Mum and Dad used to use a peg to hold our Poodle’s ears out of his dinner. I’m sure he had no vanity whatsoever when it came to food! As for lost things, I sometimes think it is worth the anxiety of the hunt to experience the simple joy of finding the small, lost thing. And sometimes I feel like a small lost thing myself and head for the hills (home) and there I usually manage to find my sense of humour skittering around all by itself thinking it was lost. Thank you for the pleasure.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I didn’t know your M and D had a Poodle…. and no they don’t care at all, in fact they associate the clips with their grub so it is all quite happy. I lost a dog lead on the Downs this week, I retraced my steps, wandered all over the football pitches, wandering, looking, wandering and then I applied the GSLT principle and asked myself what I had been doing apart from walking and a faint memory popped up of rummaging in my rucksack for something, and I looked in the rucksack and there was the lead. Ah so happy was I. And I agree if one manages to find one’s sense of humour even headed far and away into the hills, life seems more bearable.

  15. michaelawah

    Such lovely writing :)) Missed your posts – though if that means you’ve been holidaying, all the better. So now we know that in addition to being funny and baking delicious things, another good reason to have you around would be to sniff out our little misplaced bits and bobs.

    This reminds me of a cake that I’ve long wanted to bake. I think you’ll enjoy the story. Maybe one day you’ll have a cake named after you :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Wow Michael that is a wonderful story, thankyou for that! I doubt somehow I will ever be a saint ;) I have come across the theme of baking as an act of meditation/mindfulness or devotion in many places, a testament to how it is rooted in human culture on many different levels. I am sure there are saints in many religious traditions for lost things. Life is so often concerned with loss in its many manifestations from hairpins to cataclysmic events. The truth is that my life and the way I view it is often a bit absurd, concerned with minutiae and detail and I guess I tell stories to myself to get my own perspective on my behaviour and thought patterns, doesn’t everyone do that? Have a running dialogue propelling them along? Anyway blogging just lets me share some of those stories.

  16. lovinghomemade

    Great post! I have been looking for my necklace since July when I went to France, took it off and put it somewhere “safe”. Have looked in every pocket of every bag, toiletry bag, etc that I can remember taking. Still hoping it will turn up at some point!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Now you are asking ! is it in with your swim things or could you have wrapped it in a scarf or a pair of socks or something similar, or put it with a phone charger? or a camera case, or in with another necklace and it is somehow masked from view? something safe but a bit unusual? Or in a sub-bag with cottonwool or something protective like that in it that would be in a toiletry bag, or a ziploc bag? Think more about containers and not specifically bags, or a pocket on a shirt with a button that you have unpacked and put away?

      I guess it depends a bit on where you had been when you took it off and what you did next, I lose necklaces quite often, take them off when I am changing clothes and they somehow end up in my clothes or in a bedside drawer. Any chance you did in fact unpack and put it away in the gefuffle of coming home? I hope it turns up one day – those are my best thoughts xx

      1. lovinghomemade

        Thanks very much for all those brilliant suggestions – I will be trying them and will let you know if I find it. I hadn’t thought about having unpacked it and not noticed which is a very good point, thank you!

  17. Choclette

    Lovely writing Joanna. I do hope you enjoyed your break. I might pass this tip on to a friend who has been trying to find the earrings she put away in a safe place 5 years ago. When I was young, it was my job to find all the things my mother had lost – hairbrush in the fridge, cereal bowl on the bathroom windowsill, keys and purse in any number of places. Now I have turned into my mother and forget most things – all very frustrating. I find praying to St Anthony helps – occasionally!

    1. Joanna Post author

      I wonder why jewellry gets lost so often, particularly when put in a safe place. I think it all ends up under Brydie”s floorboards or on top of a bsthroom cabinet behind an unloved bottle of shower stuff. Shoes are fairly easy as they lurk in dark spaces at a funny angle looking as if they are something else, disgused by perspective. St Anthony sounds like a good bet :)

  18. sallybr

    Simply wonderful! I loved each word, and had a great time following you virtually through each image and feeling…

    almost choked at the “decided that was a little hysterical even for me” – I cannot tell you how often my mental process mimics that! Seriously. Too often…. (in fact, my next post, scheduled for midnight, deals with such issues! ;-)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thanks for reading and for your loving enthusiam, I am always so touched by it xx jo



  19. Sincerely, Emily

    Wonderful post! I can relate to so much of it. LOVE your window photos. LOVE the visual of your dogs with hair clips…. are they neutral in color of bright and colorful ones? In my piles of creativity I can find things 99% of the time. That other 1% is when I have moved something because I think I am being good about organizing things better. It usually never works and I can’t find what I moved. I am in the process of moving around 2 rooms….. it will be nice when it is done, but I know I will have lost things for a long time. Your day of wandering and exploring sound wonderful. Back in the day, the old thermoses where made where you drink out of the top/cup! Way to go!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thanks Emily! The hairclips are black and tortoise shell, thinking about it maybe they are called haircombs? they have two parts that look like little curved combs that come together like clasped hands? Good luck with your moving around of rooms, moving house is the ulitmate time for losing stuff, packed ‘safely’ away. I found something I had tucked into a bag of embroidery wool when I moved house one time, about five years later! I think Brian decided we should drink out of the tops old style as you say, well we had no other option anyway xx

  20. hotlyspiced

    I think finding things is a gift and it’s a gift males don’t have. Here in this house I have to do all the finding. I should have been a detective! I love how you describe your gorgeous poodles. Oh, and re the cups…I have done that with wine; taken it somewhere with the wine glasses but forgot the bottle opener! xx

    1. Joanna Post author

      I have no sense of direction though and frequently get personally lost, whereas B never gets lost nor my Dad… good thing we need each other eh? The forgetting of the bottle opener must have been fun, hope it ended well xx

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