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Treasure Hunting

Posts tagged: Paris

The appeal of vintage maps



    Recently, going through boxes in the basement, I ran across an old map of the place I once lived. I brought it with me when I moved west, clipping it from a crumbling book that was too far gone to save, intending to frame it one day. But I never did.


    Alone in the room, tracing with the tip of my finger the twists and turns of surprisingly familiar rivers, mountains and geographic boundaries drawn on fine old gilt-edged paper, I could suddenly and distinctly recall the essential elements of my childhood in the South. The the slant of the hot summer sun and the heavy feel of the humid air, the sound of cicadas and Mockingbirds and the heady fragrance of gardenia and jasmine. It was as if I’d stirred the sediment at the bottom of a pond, releasing a wealth of memories only lightly buried. And all this from a piece of illustrated paper.


    In some ways every map is a treasure map. 


    An old map is a moment in history captured on paper. Time passes and people and places change. Rivers are dammed and swallow small towns. War and weather alter the landscape. Political pressures ebb and flow, shifting boundary lines. Governments fail, people rise, and maps are drawn and drawn again.


    There are other maps in other boxes in my basement. Some, like the state map I saved, are markers of another life. Others are souvenirs of places I’ve been or tokens of places I’d like to go. A few have no significance other than the fact that they are beautiful as only a map can be. Elaborately illustrated, beautifully designed, they are time capsules, a link to a place before it became what it is now. 


    Because I am a planner, I am already thinking ahead to the time when my life will shrink to fit a room, maybe two, and what I will carry with me when that time comes. I imagine the walls will be covered by some of my favorite paintings and a photographic timeline of the life I have lived; images of a young couple just married, both of us made beautiful by youth and happiness and love, portraits of the children we cherished and still more portraits of the families our children created. 

    And there will be a map or two, I think. A big world map and another of the United States.


    Maybe I’ll keep a map Paris, too. Why not? I like the idea of finding it again some day, of running my finger over the lines so finely drawn, chasing the memory of my younger self down those beautiful and familiar streets and boulevards, when I am too old or frail to fly.




Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at

Vintage Shopping on Etsy

On a recent trip to Paris, I did everything I wanted to do except one thing. I didn't get a chance to scour the flea market for the vintage linens I love to collect. The days were too packed with museums, monuments and sightseeing and I was there with my 17-year-old daughter who has no interest in spending hours shopping for “junk.”.

However, a few nights after my return, I did the next best thing. I logged onto Etsy and selected the “Vintage” shops. Immediately, items listed by sellers from all over the world filled my screen. One particular vendor, located in a small town in France, quickly caught my interest and sure enough, I made a purchase. Soon a package from France arrived in my mailbox and I unwrapped the beautiful old monogrammed linen bolster I'd ordered. It was exactly what I would have chosen if I'd found it in a flea market stall and even with international shipping, the price was comparable to what I would have paid in Paris.

Etsy gets a lot of attention for its endless selection of handmade and handcrafted items, but more and more the vintage side of the online marketplace is making the news. There are sellers who specialize in new items made from vintage materials. (the latest issue of Country Living Magazine features an iPod charger crafted out of repurposed vintage books) and it's worth noting that there are quite a few Spokane sellers listed on Etsy.

It's a cliche to talk about how small the world seems to be these days. But it's not always a negative thing. I loved every minute of another visit to Paris. And the quiet moments I spent shopping another corner of France from the comfort of my favorite chair in my own living room, were just as much fun.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer and antiques lover based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at

Parlez-vous Junque?

When you walk into Roost, the new vintage emporium on Main Avenue and Division, the first thing you'll see is a trunk filled with letters and papers. But what makes the papers so interesting is that they are a lifetime of correspondence, keepsakes and photographs of a woman who moved from France to Spokane after World War II.

Never have I wished I could speak, and especially read, French as when I was pulling out yellowed pieces of onionskin paper and AirMail envelopes covered with small, neat, lines of handwriting.

Owner, Dena Kieffer, told me the contents of the trunk were all from one estate and I spent at least half an hour rummaging through the ephemera.

Finally, when I'd run out of time, I committed to a folded sheet of stationary ($2) and a souvenir postcard book of photographs of the S.S. Normandie. ($12)

I chose the letter because it is the perfect size to scan and save. I'm going to use it for several decorating projects I have in mind.  The postcard book is a miniature history lesson. The elegant French ocean liner was built in 1935 and made 139 crossings to the Untied States before she was seized by the 1942 and put into service as the USS Lafayette only to burn and sink in 1942.

The Normandie was one of the last of an era, and as a frequent traveler I love anything to do with the elegant age of transportation.

I brought home my French souvenirs and spent a happy hour or so examining them. The last time I was in Roost, the big box of French memorabelia was still there. I'm tempted to go back and lose myself again in the photos and bits of paper history.

Parlez-vous Junque?


Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. In addition to her Home Planet , Treasure Hunting and  CAMera: Travel and Photo blogs, her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at




This find means the world to me

(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)  


   I’m in good company, I know, but I have this tendency to put my head on my pillow, completely exhausted by the events of the day, and then find myself wide awake, unable to sleep. The words I couldn’t come up with earlier suddenly pop into my head without warning, or one of my children crosses my mind or I am so excited about a trip or a project my brain is buzzing with ideas. I’ve learned over the years to not fight it. Instead I get up, make a cup of Chamomile tea and sit down in the dark living room, relishing the quiet.

   More often than not, if I am wandering through dark rooms when I should be in bed, I am guided by a small lighted globe that sits on my desk. A thrift store find, it is used as a night light as much as a travel reference.  

   Tonight, as I walked by, I looked down at the globe and noticed the story that could be told with the other items around it.

   The globe is surrounded by a souvenir model of the Eiffel Tower  I brought home from Paris, a clay dish made by one of my children which holds a handful of Euro coins, and a purse-sized pocket atlas, a gift from my daughter last Christmas.

   When I look at the globe at night, shining in a dark corner of the room, I remember the maps and globes of my geography class when I was a girl, the way they intrigued me and opened a world  of possibility, inviting me to explore and dream and go.

   Sleepy at last, the tea finished and the cup rinsed, I headed back to bed. On an impulse, I grabbed the camera that is always sitting on the desk and took a photo. I think I'll put it on my computer to light my hotel room when I travel.

   It’s funny. I’ve brought home so many things over the years. But this little globe means the world to me.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. In addition to her Home Planet , Treasure Hunting and  CAMera: Travel and Photo blogs, her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at

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About this blog

Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes about antiques and collectibles and the love of all things vintage. Millsap's Home Planet column appears each week in the Wednesday "Pinch" supplement, and she is The Spokesman-Review's female automobile reviewer. She is a regular contributor to Spokane Public Radio and her essays can be heard on Public Radio stations across the country. Cheryl-Anne is the author of "Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons."

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