Somethings never change. Of if they do, I tend to hold onto the simplest way of things. Call it old fashion, or wise, or stubborn. It doesn’t matter. I’m writing this blog article with a computer, way better than a typewriter where I’d make a multitude of errors and I’d have to begin again. Just ask my best friend from high school, Teri. She once watched me try to type my homework assignment. After five tries, she pulled my latest attempt out of the typewriter and within minutes had completed the assignment error-free. In my defense, she plays piano, has long fingers, and well, she’s talented.
For the longest time I used cartridge pens, the kind that left ink on the edge of the middle finger. I finally graduated to the fancy Cross pens, which left my papers smudge-less, and my hands clean. But for me it’s the pencil that satisfies my sense of order. If I’m stuck, I pull my hair up into a pony tail, and sharpen a pencil.
Not any sharpener will do. Recently Jim found his father’s old pencil sharpener—metal with a hand-crank, that works best if screwed into the wall or to a table. A circular set of sizes allows the sharpener to fit any width of pencil. I tend to like soft pencils, dark graphite, and a point that has girth. I write ineligibly and this combination at least gives the reader a chance to understand my words.
I have two boxes filled with hand-written journals, that contain themes of angst, love, fear, and finally acceptance. From the teen years where I have the green-keyed diary to college misadventures with fancy journals, to later adult years where the old fashion school tablets with wide lines sufficed. Reading my words from long ago, I step back in time to smile. I wrote but I wasn’t a writer. That didn’t happen until I let go of worrying about impressions. When I finally took the emotions off the pages and put them into a story that wasn’t my own, I authored tales that had universal meaning—showed and let others decide on the significance.
I’ve abandoned journal writing for essays, short stories, and novels. I create what I want, change the vision. And if the writing doesn’t go well, and a sharpened pencil doesn’t clear the mind, I mow the lawn.
Mowers are like pencils to me. I have visions of my father walking back and forth in the front of our suburban home in Pikesville, Maryland. One day my Bubbie was coming to visit. Above the din of his mowing, my father hears a voice from a car. “Excuse me sir, do you know where Muddy Rolnick lives?” It was my Bubbie lost, and my father., Morton, smiled and replied, “Muddy, why that’s Me.”
I’ve graduated to a self-propelled lawn-mower. I’m not one for a riding mower, but either am I a purist—going motor-less. It seems that every few years we must buy a new mower. (Carburetor problems). This year was the year. I found out that I’d been using a front-wheel mower, and that a rear-wheel mower had more umpf for bumps and uneven rises in our lawn. I upped the motor size, but refused the push button igniter, opting for the cord pull to get the mower humming.
My insistence on mulching and losing myself in thought, has created some funny stories, some are in book Tattle Tales: Essays and Stories Along the Way. The ten-dollar bill, that I have patched on my refrigerator is one these stories. Usually after an hour, my pony-tailed hair, has bobbed up and down sufficiently to rattle my thoughts and clear my head. I return to the essay at hand.
In 1984, I lived without electricity or running water. Not by choice, but by necessity as the land was raw and the finances flowed slowly in line with our needs. No cell phones, or faxes or computers, one land-line, pencils galore, and a quarter mile walk to the mailbox.
I communicated with long thoughtful handwritten letters. I even used carbon paper so that I’d have a copy. To this day my most favorite walk is to the mailbox. Our mailbox now has a key. Sadly, this means there have been too many stealing events. Times change and with it, I must adapt. I love to put the red flag up, to signal the mail carrier a letter is going out. The mail carrier and I have a silent but ongoing relationship. An exchange of messages. I know her route, her black and white jeep, when she takes a smoke break, and when she is late or ruffled. I wonder what stories my carrier could tell about me, my neighbors, and that dog that nips at my heels.Continue reading