Tag Archives: Book

I Fall To My Knees

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I’m reading a book by Norman Vincent Peale: Positive Thinking Every Day. It has a little prayer or meditation or positive message for each day of the year. I feel, most of the time, that I could use more positive thoughts in my life! Actually, the book is one I bought for my mother. It is inscribed, wishing her “Merry Christmas and much love, 1996.” When Mom died, my sisters set it aside for me.

Though it makes me feel good to think that as I  turn the pages I am following her movements, I’m not really sure she ever read it. Probably, though.

Mom was a positive-thinker, a believer in miracles, a pray-er. She had so many children, I suppose she had to be.

My most sincere prayers have been for the health and well-being of my children. Or dogs.

For the most part, I’m not much on praying, though. When friends are ill or having difficulties, I’m careful to offer “best wishes” or “good thoughts” rather than prayers. Worse than not praying, I figure, is offering to pray and then not doing it. I cut my losses.

Even so, I’ve been spending a lot of time on my knees.

These longer, warmer days provide a chance to work in the garden.

Snowdrops are wildly blooming along the edges of my flower beds. Clusters of Narcissus and Daffodils show all shades of yellow. Tulips have fat buds at the top of their stems. Iris and Day Lilies have presented their fan-shaped leaves. Through it all are layers of wet brown leaves that fell from the maple trees last fall, long bunches of pale Day Lily stalks and leaves and the remains of the fall-flowering plants. Together, they hide the progress of persistent spreading weeds.

Every day I come home from work, stash my papers and bags, let the dogs out to enjoy the sunshine, and I drop to the ground. My tools are simple: one claw tool for loosening and lifting roots, one ratcheting pruner for wayward rose, grape or wisteria branches. The creaking, wobbly and rusty wheelbarrow stands nearby.

My rule is that I’ll work at least one hour, and fill the wheelbarrow at least once with debris.

First, I pull all the dead stuff away, working with my hands around stalks, raking with my fingers though the blooms. Then I tackle the weeds.

Years ago, when I had about four fewer jobs, and much more impressive gardens, friends would ask me to come over in the springtime, to look at their gardens, and help them determine what was a desired plant, and what was a weed. I couldn’t help. I don’t recognize every good plant, and I don’t know all weeds, especially in the springtime. My advise was this: “Pull what you know: pull the grasses; pull the dandelions. If you’re not sure about it, wait until you’re sure.” Weeds show their true nature soon enough.

That’s the way I do it. One at a time, I move the rocks that border the flower beds. Roots of grasses are visible there, as they try to move into the gardens. I dig in with my fingers. I try to use gloves, but can’t get a sense for what I’m doing, so I usually set them aside. I pull roots up one by one, and follow them to the end, or until they snap. When an area is clear, I move on to the next rock, and repeat the process.

When I am working at the hardware store, I’m often thinking of things I need to accomplish for the news magazine, or for the townships. When I’m driving to and from other obligations, I’m planning art projects or remodeling projects, or plotting where I’ll find time to get groceries or do a load or two of laundry. When I’m awake in the middle of the night, I’m running through to-do lists or writing articles and doing interviews in my head.

When I’m working in the garden, I’m hardly thinking at all. One leaf, one root at a time, I am in the moment. It’s the closest thing to a meditative experience in my life.

The entry for May 1st, in my little book of positive thoughts, says this:

The secret of prayer is to find the process that will most effectively open your mind humbly to God. So experiment with fresh prayer formulas. Practice new skills and get new insights.

May 7th, I have heard, is the National Day of Prayer.

If the sun is shining, I’ll be on my knees…with my hands in the dirt.

Found!

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In early December, the title was “Lost!”

The subject was my red notebook.

I was planning to write about my friend, Emma Jean. She was one of many on a list of “60 most influential women in my life” that I had compiled at my sixtieth birthday. The list was in the notebook, along with other lists, poems, quotes and ideas.

The notebook was lost.

It seemed that everything hinged on information it contained.

Should I start reading just any book, when the notebook contained a list of books I want to read? How can I finish a letter without the quote I had planned to include? Could I write a blog without notes and ideas collected for inspiration?

I was stalled, for the loss of my red notebook.

Finally, I had to resign myself to the idea that I might never find it.

At last, I had to move on without it.

I managed. I bumbled forward. I got by without it.

But I never stopped noticing the loss.

Last week, getting ready to go away for a few days, I pulled my little suitcase out of the attic.

Inside, along with the little travel slippers I keep there, was my red notebook!

Contained within are all the things I knew were there, the bits of information that I’d felt the need for and sorely missed all these months.

Here, the notes on the diet plan I knew would change my life, the lists of books and websites and movies!

Surprises, too!

Here, a poem I had forgotten about…a quote that brought tears to my eyes…the notes for my sister Sheila’s eulogy, jotted down on a tearful drive nearly two years ago. Here, a bundle of old photographs tucked between the pages…a recipe for home-made sidewalk chalk…my menu for Christmas dinner, 2011.

It’s such a joy to find something that’s been missing, I have half a mind to start hiding things on myself!

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”

~Helen Keller

Lost

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I have a couple ideas for what to write about.

I have gathered photos to accompany these posts.

I have notes to remind me of what I want to say.

It’s all in my red notebook.

And I’ve misplaced my red notebook.

My daughter, Kate, gave the book to me a couple years ago, for Christmas. It’s a blank book, with lined pages in the eight and a half by eleven inch size. It has a red, corrugated vinyl cover that is easy to spot, and easy to keep clean. Red is my favorite color. It has a black elastic band attached, to hold it closed when not in use. That keeps the pages neat.

Very special.

I’d been thinking, around the time I received it, about how many magazines I kept around, simply because there was one recipe I wanted to try, one web-site to explore, one special bit of inspiration I wanted to remember or information I wanted to have at hand.

Perfect!

My habit became this: when sitting down to page through a magazine, I’d keep my red book and a nice pen beside me. When I came across a tidbit I wanted to remember, I’d jot it down in the book. In addition, I kept it close when surfing the internet, to take down inspirational sayings or snippets of information. Quotations from books, references, sequels or authors to remember were added to the pages. When putting in a DVD to watch a movie, I’d grab the book in case, in the previews, I saw another that I wanted to remember. When blog ideas came to me, I’d put them in the book, to refer to later.

Now, the book has gone missing.

It’s all I can think about.

I have searched the house and the car.

I have retraced my steps, in my mind, a hundred times.

I don’t know exactly how long it’s been gone.

I wake in the night with the puzzle still on my mind. “Oh!”, I’ll think to myself, “It must be in the old satchel that I took with me the last time I went to the mainland…” or “in the big bag that I switched off for the smaller purse last week…” or “under that box in the back seat of the car…”, and, sure that in the morning I will now be able to put my hands on it, I go peacefully back to sleep.

But, in the morning my nighttime ideas do not pan out. Then I think, “Okay, not the satchel, but what about the little overnight bag…” and one idea will lead to another search and another, until I once again feel like I’ve exhausted all possibilities.

But things do not just disappear.

It has to be here somewhere.

Sometimes I think I saw it recently, and I only need to remember where.

I can’t remember the last time I wrote in it, but I know it was not that long ago.

One week…maybe two I have been without it.

Every bit of information it holds has taken on added value simply from being inaccessible. I can’t fathom retrieving all of that absolutely vital knowledge. It is gone.

Until I find my red notebook.

Do things become more important, or just more appreciated, when they are gone?