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.

1 comment:

Rachael said...

I hear you, Susan! I hate the dependance that we have on the fragile power grid. Since the power outage due to a hurricane two years ago, I've been trying to convince my parents that at the very least we need to invest in a generator that's big enough to power our well and our kitchen should we loose power for an indeterminent length of time again. Our toilets won't flush more than two times each without (I think my dad said) pressure build-up from the well. Our well won't work without electricity. And we can only eat out so many times... 52 hours we were without power and every second sucked big time. We don't have anything to build a fire and our house here is not constructed to keep cool without central air. And I had at least one buckets of cold water from the swimming pool shower during that time. All totally not good. Of course, if I really got my way, we wouldn't even need the generator because we'd get everything switched over to a solar power system, and then we'd have no problem. I think I'm close to convincing my mom that that's the way they need to build the new house in VA (We close this Wednesday! Yay!).

But in some ways, the power outage two years ago and this one for y'all are good things. They remind us of how much we've come to depend on electricity to "function normally" everyday and now we can prepare for what to do next time, so that it's not as burdonsome. I recommend figuring out some way to make decent coffee without electricity. ;D If you can figure out how to heat water (which I'm sure you already have), something like this might help with the rest: "Norpro 3-Cup French Press - Make your morning coffee in this no-fuss Norpro French press, a brewing device many connoisseurs prefer to electric coffee makers. Brewing is simple: Spoon leaves or grounds in the glass flask, add hot water and let the drink steep for 3–5 minutes. The lid is equipped with an extra filter, so when it's time to press the plunger down, every last particle is trapped. The unit's design is modern and practical, with a shiny base, lid and curved loop handle. Includes brewing glass, stand with handle, lid with plunger and instructions. Makes 3 cups. Dishwasher safe. Made in USA." Target sells it via their website.