Mar 252022

From the collection of my grandmother and her two sisters. Abt. 1919

July 17, 2021 — My book is finished. Now, my office is a complete mess, a space that looks like Dorothy Gale’s house during the Kansas tornado.  My office is usually a mess, but after 29 months of slavish devotion to one project, it is worse than usual.  I am not Marie Kondo.  There will only be the appearance of clean and organized, not the actual state of clean and organized.

Victrola, anyone? There are many things I need to do, and probably, the most important is decide what I’m going to donate to various museums, societies, and libraries out of the family stuff I’ve worked with for the book.  I have been unable to convince my son, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment in a city, that he needs Great-Great-Grandfather Long’s walnut library table or the 1918 Victrola and all the records.  Imagine what fun he could have at parties with the greatest hits of the 1920s?  He isn’t buying it, either.

And the deeds.  Stacks and stacks of legal documents that relate to the farm sit on a table near me. I will give those to the historical society. These documents contain much beyond what one would expect.  Attached affadavits  prove that Person X knew Person Y.  I just picked one off the top and started reading and was immediately immersed into a property dispute from 1857.  I did not recognize one name; this likely means it was attached to the history of a property that someone in my family bought a century later.  For a history nerd, it is fascinating reading.  I moved the table the documents rest upon, giving the impression in Zoom calls that the space is much more organized than it is.  The table is out of camera sight.

Compact discs.  Yes, some people still use them.  I’ve never been a slave to convention, so I don’t necessarily think that a Journey CD must go into a Journey jewel case.  This drives my husband crazy (librarian that he is.)  In our basement, we have a special place for CDs, and they are in order.  I mean, THEY ARE IN ORDER.

I just opened my CD player and found “Christmas Serenity.”  The jewel case it came out of was for the Broadway version of “I Do, I Do.”  I do not see any problem.  When you live this way, life is filled with delightful surprises.  My “Keely Smith Sings Sinatra” CD jewel case has Bach’s “Brandenburg Concertos” inside  Patsy Cline’s “Greatest Hits” jewel case features the 2009 Spanish-language version of “West Side Story” from Broadway.  I’m Crazy.  I Feel Pretty.  It’s all good unless you insist on perfect order.

Random Books.  We have books in almost every room in our house.  There are some books I want close to me, where I spend most of my day.  Do you feel this about your books?  Do you need to have them close to you?  On my desk, I have an AP Stylebook, a Webster’s word speller (from 1975), Mark Twain’s Quotations, my address book, Poems for Boys and Girls by Helen Ferris, the programs from the last few Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshops, the books I’ve written, and Birds of Indiana.

Close by are my history books, other poetry books, a Bible with a red leatherette cover, and writing books. Always open on my desk is Simple Abundance by Sarah ban Brathwaite.  I need to have these books near me, and I need to see the other books.  You will have to pry these books from my cold, dead hands, to paraphrase Charlton Heston.

Notecards, pens, journals and paper.  Not so long ago, people used to send mail.  This involved various kinds of paper, notecards, etc., as well as a writing instrument.  I took pride in this old-fashioned hobby.  I still have a few pen pals, believe it or not.  The rest of the world wants to send me a message on text, which I can barely see and have to decipher.  “Will I c u soon?”  Having not moved into this century, I still have many notecards, pens, journals, and paper.  I still have a manual typewriter that works perfectly well.  In Pat Frank’s iconic post-apocolyptic novel of the 1950s, Alas, Babylon, a small Florida town copes with life after a nuclear blast.  In this world without electricity, the two most important people in town are the newspaper reporter and the librarian.  The newspaper reporter has a manual press and can reproduce information, and the librarian has books with knowledge and information about most anything needed by those remaining.  When the big one falls, I’ll be huddled in my closet with my typewriter and extra ribbons, my books of poetry, and enough pen refills to last a millineum.



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