April 12, 2017

Starting my patch collection over again after losing everything to an arson fire


It is not uncommon for several months (or longer) to pass here on this blog between posts. As I've long acknowledged, this site has primarily been a way for me to connect with fellow collectors and GG/GS enthusiasts from the around the world, not a blog that I actively update on an overly frequent basis.

My most recent "quiet period" however was extended all the more due to a staggeringly unfortunate happening. On the night of October 13, 2016, my husband and I lost our house, my home based online (vintage shop) business, our beloved cat (Stella), and very nearly everything that we owned in the whole world when an eighteen-year old neighbour who lived kitty-corner to us in the same fourplex building decided to suddenly set fire to the condo/townhouse that she and her own mother lived in (the two were in the midst of a domestic dispute).

In doing so, she destroyed not only her own home, but all three of the other houses and their contents in the adjacent homes that comprised that fourplex building.

To learn more about the tragic events of that night, I suggest that you read this blog post of mine over at my vintage site, Chronically Vintage.

Extremely fortunately, neither myself, my husband or our darling dog (Annie) was seriously harmed by the blaze - nor were any of the other people who lived in the fourplex (sadly, another family lost their pet birds though, just as we did, our sweet cat). That was certainly miraculous and we were forever be grateful that we pulled through without being physically injured.

Tomorrow (the 13th) marks exactly six months, half a year's time, since that horrible night in which our lives changed in countless ways and a huge wrench was thrown into the plans, goals, dreams, and hopes for our future.

We've come a long way already in terms of getting back on our feet and have been blessed to receive help, love, support, kindness and generosity from so many amazing people around the world - without which, I'm certain, we would not have made the same amount of progress, nor been able to stay as positive (mentally) as we have.

Unfortunately, I lost absolutely all of my Girl Guide and Girl Scout related collection to the fire. Many, many years of tireless collecting, buying, and hunting were wiped out in the blink of an eye. I lost many other various collections that night, too, and spoke at greater length about the far reaching impact of such in this CV post.

It is a profoundly strange thing to find oneself without (virtually) any of their possessions and to have to start over from scratch in a multitude of different areas of their life, home and belongings.

I didn't have photos, videos or written records of all of my GG/GS items by any means. I had a small number of scans and digital photos (thankfully backed up on Photobucket) and used Louise's Excel spreadsheet GGC A/D/D and provincial checklist to track the Canadian A/D/Ds and provincial patches that I had, but beyond that, I really don't have much in the way of records when it comes to the large volume of GG/GS items that I owned.

Thus, I must rely on memory alone when I think back on the various types and volumes of Girl Guide and Girl Scout items that my collection housed. It included, amongst others, the following:


-A substantial number of A/D/Ds and provincial patches, including many rare/hard to find and unique ones (some of the rarest of which were those from the Yukon and Northwest Territories). I would estimate that I probably had in the range of 800 - 900+ patches of this nature (my Excel spreadsheet list of such was lost due to the fire destroying my computer and my/our external hard drives). It could have been a little less or more, but that range feels quite realistic.

As many here know, A/D/Ds have always been the main focus of my patch collecting, so losing all of those crests in one fell swoop really was a massive blow.

-A small collection of patches and other items pertaining to GGC packs and troops on foreign soil, as well as some items related to international (GGC) travel.

-Full or nearly full collections of Spark, Brownie, Guide, and Pathfinder earned badges from the 1960s (or later, in the case of branches that started more recently, such as Sparks and Pathfinders) onward, including the present day ones. I also had some, but not all, of the (fairly) briefly issued Ranger badges, which as some of you no doubt know, are so hard to find they make hen's teeth look abundant by comparison.

-A fairly extensive collection of Guides francophones du Canada / Guides francocanadiennes patches and badges, including many location specific crests.

-Various Religion in Life badges/patches.

-Lots of patrol badges/emblems, title tapes, and similar items, as well as branch helper (Spark, Brownie and Guide) helper patches.

-Hundreds of different Canadian silks, fun patches (including full sets of the cute GGC striped uniform polo shirts, camp hats, doll shaped, and "Happiness Is Being A" themed fun patches), camp patches, event patches, and (lots of) challenge patches. Included amongst which were numerous full sets of various different "shaped" fun patches (hexagons, wedges, petals, and so forth).

-Many different GGC related pins, including the official enrollment pins for all of the branches and their respective Guiders. Lots of location pins, challenge pins, award pins, membership year number pins (both star and circle styles), fun pins, camp pins, and an assortment of others.

-All-Around (All-Round) challenge pin and cord; Gold Cord challenge pin and cord itself (the latter being a relatively recent acquisition), and Canada Cord and pin (as well as my own Canada Cord set that I earned back when I was a Pathfinder).

-A variety of GGC related uniforms, camp hats, sashes (some with badges on them), uniform catalogs, program books/manuals, other GGC issues books, GGC bookmarks, GGC dolls and plush toys, GGC stationery supplies, GGC postcards, GGC stickers, GGC enrollment and branching related items, and a myriad of other GCC issued items (including jewelry).

-At least a few dozen different GGC button style pins.

-Approximately (and this really is a rough estimate) 250 - 400 GSUSA Council patches, as well as approx. 150 - 200 other Girl Scouts USA related fun patches, earned badges and similar items.

-Approximately (again, this is a total ballpark estimate) 500 different patches (including many location specific ones) from international countries, World Centers, and WAGGGS from around the globe. I had long been trying to obtain at least one official location specific patch from every country in WAGGGS and while that collection wasn't complete, I had made good headway for sure.

-An assortment (approx. 20 - 30 titles) of books about Guiding and its history from around the world, including several that one lovely friend in Australia had very sweetly sent me over the years.

-The campfire blanket that I made as an adult (sadly, my youth campfire blanket was long lost to the hands of time back during a move that my parents made when I was still a teenager).

-Any other (beyond my Canada Cord pin and cord, I mean) earned and/or collected GGC related items from my years in Guiding.

-Various other assorted GGC (including an array of vintage pieces), GSUSA and intentional items. When one's a collector, it can be hard to pass up anything that pertains to our beloved hobby. :)


I do not, and I cannot stress this point enough, share the scope of my collection here with all of you to brag or boast in any way whatsoever. That is the furthest thing from my intention or the type of person that I try to be. Instead, I post what I have here today both to help me remember, as time rolls on and certain areas of my memory may naturally fade, and to inspire me onward in the future.

At first, I won't lie, I had though that - especially given how relatively rare it is to find much in the way of GGC items for sale or trade online these days - perhaps I wouldn't be able to start a new patch collection again. However, the more time that passes (since the fire), the more I feel like it's an area of my life that I simply do not want to relegate simply to the confines of my memory and the past.

For a host of different reasons, I fully understand that my collection may never be as large, diverse or peppered with rare items again and I accept that. I was very fortunate to own all of the items (GG/GS related and otherwise) that I did before the fire and I don't take that for granted in the slightest.

My budget, when it comes to personal spending, is quite literally nonexistent at present in the wake of the seemingly endless array of expenses involved with rebuilding our lives, and will remain as such for quite a while to come.

That said, I would like to set aside a few dollars (say, $15 or $20 Cnd) every now and then to splurge on GGC related purchases and really hope that such will be possible.

Right now, I do not have any items to trade, but there too, as time passes, it is my steadfast hope that I will once more (especially since that can be such a great way to build up one's collection). If/when that happens, I will try to issue a new version of my Dupes & Traders page here on this site.

And speaking of this blog, which is now - rather delightfully - in its 10th year of life, I have every intention of keeping it online for the time being and hope to continue to still post here every now and then (especially since it might be fun, I think, to share with you how my brand new collection is, hopefully, coming along).

This experience (of the fire) has been, hands down, one of the hardest and most painful of my entire life. We lost so much in the blink of an eye and will forever be changed and shaped in countless ways by what we experienced. I am not the same person that I was before the blaze and that has both pros and cons to it, naturally.

Many of my longstanding passions, interests, and loves are as strong as ever though, even if my collections pertaining to such are small or even nonexistent at this early stage in the rebuilding game.

I don't think anything on earth could ever shake my adoration for GG/GS and the collectible items associated with such from my heart. That was planted there back on the very first day I ever became a part of the GGC when I was a small child and will remain with me for the rest of my days.

Hopefully, as time goes on I can build up a new patch (et al) collection once more. It may not be as grand or expensive, diverse or rare as its predecessor, but it will be no less loved and treasured - perhaps, one might argue, if such is possible, it might even be loved all the more.

Should you be curious, I plan to tighten my patch collecting focus all the more and try very hard to rebuild some of the GGC collection that I had before the fire (hopefully adding some items that I didn't have previously into the mix, too). I know that it will take time and effort, but those things rarely rattle me and I look forward to the lifelong challenge of such.

Wish me luck, my lovely friends, and do, by all means, still feel to drop me a line anytime if you'd like to chat about Girl Guiding or Scouting.