life between the pages

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”
Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

Sunday, October 08, 2006

recommended reading

we began the day at 5 a.m. with a power outage, that lasted until after 3 o'clock in the afternoon. apparently a car went off the road in the rain in the early hours of the morning, snapping a power pole in two and thus cutting power to two towns and a sizeable portion of this part of the county. i am ashamed at my unpreparedness; we had no firewood cut and laid by, no way to make coffee. i am not actually quite able to function without morning java, and so much of the day was, sad to say, wasted.

we made our way to the huddle house around noon, joining scores of others who'd no way to heat breakfast. we decided coffee was the only immediate necessity given the jocularity (or lack thereof) of the populace and wait staff. again, ashamed of our dependence on the power grid and inability to decide what to do with the day. on the way back, we noted the repair trucks were driving away from the scene of the crash and assumed the power would be back on soon. we were right, for about fifteen minutes. it came and went just long enough for me to (finally!) get a shower. well, thank goodness for at least that. i wouldn't have been fit to talk with otherwise. don't suppose i've mentioned that it was raining off & on on most of the day. much-needed, desperately needed rain. and still, we griped. unforgiveable, positively hedonist. we were tested & found wanting. ouch.

in sheer punishment and to remind myself what is important, i made myself sit on my bed and read the latest issue of Countryside magazine, all about people who have certainly quite a bit more get-up-and-go than either I or my husband this morning. it just happened on a day when we were both tired, wanted to rest, and yet be entertained. i wanted to work on my writing (requires a computer as my latest drafts have not yet been printed out); he wanted to watch Talladega. so much for our healthy, back-to-the-earth philosophies about life. finally the power came back on and my husband happily settled in to make heavenly chicken gumbo. i made more coffee and met my friend outside at our habitual outdoor sitting room for erudite conversation and comment on the state of the world at large. we were joined at length by her brother and the conversation turned to "what to do --what is happening to our world?"

as a planner, i can certainly comment on that, at length; and so in order to be helpful i recommended "anything by Jane Jacobs."
Cities and the Wealth of Nations
certainly is an excellent beginning for laypersons to begin to understand how we literally shot ourselves in our economic feet decades ago, and why it is so critical that we stop buying from overseas or patronizing any company who outsources to the new Third World. buy locally whenever you can. eschew any retailer who lays claim to the pennies in your pocketbook while robbing your community of its identity and local economic strength --namely, the mega-retailers. buy small, who promise strength and stability for the long haul, and give you an honest product for reasonable (not "cheap") prices. and while we're making recommendations, use geese or sheep to mow your lawn, grow your own vegetables and/or patronize the local farmer's market, raise chickens for meat and eggs, barter with your neighbors, make it yourself, use it up, wear it out, and on, and on. until you do, you won't understand how simple it is. it's actually the lazy way. think how much simpler our day would have been with only a few minutes' preparation in the form of chopped wood stacked ready by the door. we have all the necessities for an 18th century life in the woods, including hand-ground coffee and all the cooking accoutrements... but no fire! instead we had to wait, get grumpy, and eventually saddle up the mule (ok, start the automobile), and mosey down to the local corner hangout where we were served up a mediocre substitution for the morning's necessity. for shame, for shame.

of course, we learned our lesson. firewood will be neatly stacked a couple of days from now. we just need to go down in the woods to get it. but most importantly, our mindset has been necessarily altered with the realization that we just aren't the know-it-alls we sometimes think we are. and too, how humiliating to realize our rumpled discontent all stemmed from the fact that, unlike the youthful steward pictured feeding the ducks above, we couldn't just accept what the day gave and found some joy in it. humility will season our next cool morning, to be sure.

Friday, October 06, 2006

plain as plain

and what, you may well ask, is plain? well, for starters, me. i am plain. i live plainly. plain keeps life "doable," so to speak. anymore when life starts to clutter up it lets me know that i'm not living plainly enough. so i look about for something to divest.

that latest divestiture is worry. worry about whether or not i'm doing the right thing, mainly. all i know is i really am doing the best that i can.

also, i'm concentrating on the planning work, and my writing. besides my children and my husband (and two houses!) that is enough. i'm not cut out to do manual labor for others, my family keeps me busy enough. recently we re-incorporated adair fox as a non-profit. it better fits our mission, and makes us able to work more closely with others aligned with the same tasks: that of bettering the world, instead of our own pocketbooks. in all honesty, i have never felt so free to do what i see that needs to be done in the world.

thank god, thank god.

i just like to be able to sleep at night, and my work must continue to enable me to do so. i quit the government sphere because my body told me "no more stress." i am honored to be seeing my work being fulfilled at last with love, honor, and truth. this is all that matters. so. onward and upward. when my children no longer need me there will still be this work. it continues to be the most important contribution i make aside from them. i am glad to be able to say it is all finally coming together, amen, and amen.