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Home for the summer: Oh fer cute

From Jan Kent

When I remember, I try to be careful who I'm with when I remark with enthusiasm that something is cute. (For Minnesotans, that would be oh-for-cute.) Something about this enthusiasm seems to inspire friends to begin accumulating whatever it is in order to give it to you.

A case in point, for me, is the smiley face. You know – that round yellow head with the black oval eyes and the big smile and no nose. I have endless variations on this theme, and I still think they're cute, although sometimes I wonder if they're gaining on me.

In the back of my car I have a yellow folding chair with a huge smiley face on the back. I use it for outdoor concerts, grandkids' soccer games, or just sitting on the beach. At home I have smiley face mugs and a matching plate, hot pads (their faces tend to be a little grubby), a trivet, a wall light, pens, stickers . . . Some of these things I have bought for myself. Once you get caught up in this cute thing, it's hard not to get carried away.

Up here I have a little flexible mold in which I can make seven small smiley face jello (it would have to be lemon) servings. I also have a yellow pancake turner with that famous face. Of course I have T-shirts and sweat shirts and socks that sport smiley faces.

To be honest, I have a few things in the cute category that I got involved with all by myself. That plastic stuff that glows in the dark. I have stars and stones and insects, and nail polish that I wear on my toenails. You should see me barefoot at night.

And bubbles. I have things of many varieties for blowing bubbles, all shapes and sizes, despite the fact that whatever shape your bubble is blown through, it's always going to turn out to be a sphere.

It could be worse. I know a woman who said (probably in jest) that she thought that hippopotami (I looked it up – it can be muses or mi) were cute. Over the years she's accumulated quite a few, although they're much scarcer than some critters.

Like cows. A friend who doesn't even like cows, was gifted with a cow this or that until she protested so vigorously that it finally ground to a halt.

Here at the cabin the animal that shows up most often is the moose, although loons are running a close second. One slow day I counted them. (Hey – it rained every day for the first two weeks we were here.) We house 33 moose. I confess to making one moose wall hanging, but aside from that, all moose came from someone else.

Twenty of those moose make their home on our inside bathroom door. (They are all mini-moose.) Everyone who uses that little room comes face to face with that collection, but we rarely hear a word about it. Maybe it's too weird to discuss.

I like our moose. They seem right at home up here in our North Shore cabin. And you've got to admit – they are cute.