Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Life In a Small Spiral Notebook

Here I am putting words on this blog for no purpose other than to justify my morning activities. Rosario was here to make order in the house and her arrival often prompts me to decimate a paper pile.
I also find it easy to suspend any scheduled work of the day to turn instead to another task which may be useful, but ancillary. For instance, if I schedule time to write, then I find that it's far easier to putter over collages. If I intend to collage, I am suddenly inspired to write. Things do get done. It's often 'other' things.
This morning, in an effort to find several old tape recorders for a friend, I cleaned out a bedside drawer. I threw away random cough drops, gathered paper clips and stowed them properly away at my desk. I collected a handful of seeds, dropping them in a plastic bag and wondering where I might plant those seeds.  I remember pulling those seeds from their pods several years ago on a walk through the neighborhood. They could become bushes with yellow flowers. I did find the several tape recorders and emailed my friend. I even scrubbed out the drawer and now, there is very little in it.
Several years before she died, Mom told by sister Kate, "You girls have a really big job ahead of you." She meant going through her belongings after death. Kate and I did indeed have a big job. However, I actually think my girls will have it worse.
Once stacked, paper piles are almost beyond my ability to file in any meaningful way. The girls will see these paper piles before they reach cupboards and closets of plates and serving pieces, glassware and pottery, clocks, clothes, books, vases and candle sticks, Caribbean sea fans and coral, photographs, fabrics, paintings. And then of course, there are the boxes and boxes of letters and receipts and family photos, programs from school plays, report cards, PTA records. Shall I stop here for now?
With a degree of pride, I can tell you that even with all this stuff, I can host a supper party or brunch for  friends right here in this house, the piles hidden under beds and on closet floors until....
And with pleasure, I use those plentiful serving dishes and linens on the table from which we eat. So where is this post taking us? To a pile that I feel inclined to list with descriptions and commentary. But I know that would take the rest of the day, so here are things I found in the small yellow spiral notebook on the top of said pile :

1. In this notebook, I wrote Fall '77,  and then a list of meeting hours for the National Women's Conference held at the old Houston Coliseum. Yes, that conference, the one which was sponsored and paid for by our Federal government during the Jimmy Carter administration. Four president's wives spoke and women from around the country and the world debated health care, civil rights, equal pay, child care. Those were heady days when anything seemed possible.
The few notes that I took at the conference are 'It is time for foot soldiers, not kamikaze pilots', 'The vision ahead of us will overcome the problems', 'Let us look into our mirrors, as we are each a contributing factor', and 'Not making a difference is a cost we cannot afford'.

2. Further along in this little notebook, I wrote this pun:
'It's ecstasy when you are lying next to me.'
'And I am prone to agree.'

3. Then are are notes for Robert's Rules of Order. Could this have been the year I was president of the Poe Elementary School PTO and sadly lacking in knowledge of meeting procedures. Notes include, "Are you ready for the question?" I think that means debate must stop and a vote must be taken.

4. Toward the end of the notebook, I wrote this:
"There was the noise of air conditioning, the freeway, crickets and a helicopter, but for her all was quiet because no one was asking her questions. The girls were playing house on the stairs with their Dawn dollies (smaller versions of Barbies), several cats, many scarves, toy furniture and baskets.
"She cried in the dark, because she was sad and they were playing so sweetly, all three together, softly with no loud taunts, no nudges against the stair railings. They were safe. How could she maintain their safeness, shore it up amid her shambles?  They weren't safe, anyway. Jeanne had been approached on North Blvd. by a man wearing a yellow sweat band and blue jeans. She'd ignored his calls and ran quickly to her friend's house as previously instructed."
The entire yellow notebook is scribbled over with an orange pen and here and there Jeanne's name. My three daughters invariably scribbled in every one of my notebooks.

I just dipped into the little blue spiral notebook and see a question that Jeanne asked me during a communion offering of canned goods at St. Philip Church:
"How will those poor people open these cans?"
"With a can opener, just like you Jeanne."
"But will they have a can opener?"
I answered yes, but now I am not sure.

So you see, it is right after 1:00 p.m. and I must get to Dr. Luk's and then buy a couple of scarves for Caroline on Harwin and stop by the shoe repair shop. I wouldn't have traded the time it took to meander through these two small spiral notebooks. On with the day.

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