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.
The Magic of Words
Thanks to Wordsmith.org and A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg, I have received for the last twelve years in my in-box a “word” with pronunciation, meaning, etymology, and usage. I must confess that the words eek into my brain and sometimes into my stories. Here are two words that struck me as noteworthy:
MEANING: Noun: 1. nonsense; pretense; deception 2. An impostor or fraud. 3. A kind of hard mint-flavored candy (British). Adjective: Deceptive. Verb: to deceive or hoax.
ETYMOLOGY: of unknown origin. Earliest documented use: 1750.
MEANING: Noun: In Cricket, a ball bowled with a deceptive action so that it bounces in a direction different from what the batsman was expecting. Adjective: (eyes) Staring, bulging, or wide open, in amazement or admiration.
ETYMOLOGY: Of unknown origin. For adjective, perhaps form google. Earliest documented use: 1901.
I wasn’t sure who was the perpetrator of lies. The googly, bulging look of despair, could have been a googly of deception, wide-eyed to distract from the double speak of the contestants, both humbug imposters who tried to woo the judges.
Yellow petals rise from the mud
Spring’s attraction to wetland streams
Odorous smells mark the arrival of skunk cabbage.
Attractions appreciated from afar.
Over the years, I’ve distilled my giving down to two main causes: Health and education. Without either a person doesn’t thrive.
Recently I watched a news snippet about a library in a laundry-mat. I was heartened by the simplicity of connection. Go where the families gather, create a learning environment. If this is something that appeals to you, here is more information. http://laundromatlibraryleague.org/
Our Goal is to make books available to children who have little or no access to books at home. We have created a network of laundromat libraries. Children can borrow a book, return it and take home another.
My talk with the Skagit Valley Writer’s League, held at the Burlington Library, was well attended by twenty-five members. Writers are found everywhere, and the library welcomes readers and writers and explorers. Well-equipped with a sound system and projector, I was able to hook a microphone to my label and walk as I talked. So much easier than when I strain to be seen behind the podium and my voice gets lost.
Libraries are old friends. The Deming Library in Whatcom County is where I raised my children. I just joined the Central Skagit Library, which lends books from all the branches in Whatcom County, Mount Vernon, Burlington, and Anacortes. I feel like I won the lottery.
Wednesday, June 12th I’ll be giving a workshop at the Central Skagit Library, stay tuned for more details.
Yesterday, I sent off the manuscript for Founding Stones Ariel my editor. First she’ll copy edit and then after my revisions, we’ll go for the proof reading. This is the best part of writing, knowing that another set of eyes, will find the holes and the ideas I didn’t quite explain. Sometimes thoughts remain in the brain, and the author thought she’d expressed them.
I’ve written three short stories and will pass the reworking of them to a final stage as well as researching, how to create a children’s picture book. It’s a dream but if I declare, it will become a reality.
Inspiring thoughts from others, that move me to action. Here are two thoughts that caught my eye.
Our lives are like islands in the sea, or like trees in the forest. The maple and the pine may whisper to each other with their leaves… But the trees also commingle their roots in the darkness underground, and the islands also hang together through the ocean’s bottom.
~ William James, psychologist and philosopher. (1842-1910)
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