Written By:  Scott @ County Seat Living

I am a firm believer that you can tell a lot about a person by the unexpected. I can be given a tour of someone’s home and know very little about them but give me five minutes in their medicine cabinet and I can piece together a pretty good idea of who they are. I’m kidding…I don’t do that.

I’m referring to the subtle details that people possess that often sit quietly below the noise of idle chatter and social media. They are usually characteristics we fail to notice in ourselves. They way a person walks down the street speaks volumes about their emotional state. “People watching” at a red light gives you a rare glimpse into someone else’s “bubble.” The next time you are in line at the grocery store look at the people checking out in the isle over. Is someone nervously biting their nails? Is someone quickly thumbing through a gossip rag while looking over their shoulder? Does that lady have a color coded coupon binder? These are subtle details that convey so much.

The other day I wash washing my hands in my Mom’s kitchen sink and took notice of an eclectic array of items on her window sill; things I had never stopped to notice before. Among a few small Buddha statues and a bowl of change sat a turquoise Mason jar that seemed to hold a weird collection of knickknacks…

mom jar overview

Since it was taking up space in a public location I figured it was meant for everyone’s eyes. I took her jar and carefully emptied it upon the harvest table. I was amazed by what I saw spread out before me. Some people might have thought their parent needed to be committed by finding such a variety of trinkets and oddities. This was not the case with me. I knew this treasure told a story of some sort; a story both bizarre and beautiful.

mom jar birdseye

My Mom has very little “stuff”. She subscribes to her father’s philosophy that it’s better to have a few nice things rather than a lot of crap. As a result, her home is essentially sparse but scattered around the house are tiny baskets and boxes filled with tokens that have caught her eye. Most of her finds come from nature as she walks her old yellow lab, Henry around the city parks at least three times a day. I call these “death marches” because Henry can barely put one paw in front of the other but together they continue to shuffle along. Perhaps this is why she has time to look for things.

Separately, these items are without much value. Collectively, they tell a story of my Mom. It’s her creative way of keeping a journal. Perhaps she has never thought of it in that regard.

My Mom is a very sensible and practical person so the presence of useful objects didn’t surprise me. Beige buttons, a vintage bottle opener and a cork holding a needle seemed appropriate for a kitchen windowsill…

mom buttons

mom bottle opener

mom cork and needle


I bet the wooden nickel and a lone marble are things that remind her of her youth; growing up on the mid-century streets of this rural community she still calls home…


mom wooden nickel

mom marble

And if I were to bet, her jar would provide me with an old poker chip to do so…

mom poker chip


I notice a few things I’ve gifted her over the years from my youth. I imagine the ceramic Penguin whistle I once wore around my neck and a hand forged nail from my field trip to “Pioneer Village” remind her of being a mom and how quickly time can pass by…


mom penguin whistle2

mom nail


My Mom is in her element when she is walking. Being in movement and in nature is her form of therapy. That’s why I wasn’t surprised to find tokens of her daily walks amid here collection of things. Arrowheads are abundant in our parts and acorns and gnarly tree pods blanket the ground in the Spring…

mom arrowheads


mom nuts3

She recently showed me a “crucifix” she found at the park that was created by tiny twigs, a little mud, and the neglect of a bird’s nest…

mom cross


I thought about how impossible it must have been to discover this object no bigger than my thumbnail and the creativity it took to see something beyond a jumble of nature.

Then the looking glass into my Mom’s psyche via her Mason jar gets interesting. I find it impossible to make conclusions on a few items…

mom tiny tabasco

mom lips2

mom sailor on barrel

There is too much to conclude from a miniature bottle of Tabasco sauce, a bright red pair of lips and a tiny sailor, playing a tiny accordion, while sitting on a tiny barrel. Try to connect THOSE dots. Just when you think you can figure someone out, they throw you a curve ball.

For Mother’s Day this year, I was inspired by this particular well curated jar of my Mom’s findings. She is the type of woman who thinks a floral arrangement is a waste of money and a visit to a restaurant for a Mother’s Day buffet is gluttonous. As you can tell by her jar, she marches to the beat of a different drummer.

I found a little box that would give her the best gift of all; the gift of inspiration. It’s something she can fill as she collects the next story of her journey in life.

mom box overview


The day after Mother’s Day I was in her kitchen and out of curiosity, I peeked into the new box. Nestled at the bottom was an extra big die and a sand dollar. Her new story had already begun…

mom box best2


Happy Mother’s Day to a woman who is as beautiful and eclectic as the things she finds out in the world.


Scott Rager

Robert Scott Rager is a Nebraska native who returned home to start a boutique business called "County Seat Living". His personal goal for "County Seat" is to translate the lifestyle design he was creating in Los Angeles for the past twelve years and apply it to the sensibility of the Great Plains. Whether he's writing about decorating, homemade ice cream, floral creations, event planning or product design, he wants the personality and style of Nebraska to shine bright.