Feb 9, 2011

Slogging through

I have had nothing funny happen to me lately and it's that time of year where in MO we are just slogging through till spring.
It's supposed to be 50 degrees by Sunday.  I would settle for 40.  Either way, it's time to get ready for the mud.  I use old sheets that I have saved for years because I couldn't bring myself to throw them away.  They are perfect, especially if you have dogs, or really anyone at all coming into your house.  Let them come in on an old sheets.  Once the shoes dry off you can gather it all up and just wash it.  I have one sheet for that and one that I use to roll out noodles.
I sound like I'm 85 years old.  Some day I hope to be.

I am thinking of my family members in OK, AR and South MO tonight.  They are all buried under a couple of feet of snow and enduring frigid temperatures to boot.  I know just how they feel.  One of my cousins posted on FB today that the street crews were going up and down the streets but they weren't scooping any snow, just running with their buckets above the ground.  I commented that  there would surely be a farmer along soon to organize them.  I'm sure there was, too.

I am reading a book called The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, by Allan Gurganus.  I really enjoy historical reads, not to mention old people, and this is great so far.  Her husband enlisted in the Confederate Army at the age of 13 ("Thirteen, and didn't even have to lie about their age.  They had trigger fingers and some eyesight, didn't they?  Was enough.") and came home at the age of 16.  Talking about his homecoming she says:
      "Just back from the war, Marsden installed his momma in rented rooms.  He didn't talk to her about his own sad deeds in the historic mud of Virginia and Maryland.  She couldn't yet speak, which spared her mentioning bad local luck-her getting in the path of Sherman's firebugs.  The Mardsen farm had been leveled.  Though she still lived and breathed, this lady's personal best-her character, the priss and fun and fuss of her-was mostly leveled too.  Her ruined face and arms and chest spoke three words: Scorched Earth Policy.  In twelve minutes, she'd gone from Beauty to Monster.  A story there.
     So, two well-brought-up souls just sat together.  He would clutch his large hat on one knee.  She would hold a teacup, sometimes a full one, more often empty, always white and always Spode.  She slept with this safe in her palm like some child clutching its toy.  And she never rolled upon or broke the thing, and rumor has it she was buried holding her favorite bone china, comforting in the casket with her."

If you have never experienced the South, the Spode reference might not have made you laugh your head off, but it did me.  Sometimes life has a way of making you face reality.  Not necessarily if you are a Southern woman, though, God love them! I know I am going to really love this book, and not because parts of it will be funny.  Those who don't remember the past are destined to repeat it.  I think it's important not to forget, no matter how vile or horrendous your experiences are.  Sometimes they turn out to be the most important.

Which brings me to another piece of wisdom that hit home with me like a lightening bolt the first time I read it.  I copied it down into my journal, which my kids will get to read when I die.  I first read it Jan. 26, 2006.  It's from The Life All Around Me, by Kaye Gibbons.  She writes about strong women, often unapologetic strong women, always unforgettable strong women and this is the 2nd book she has done about the character Ellen Foster.  This is the best passage about the strength of women I have ever read.  It reads like a prayer, and I have gone back to it ever since.  It's a very beautiful way of looking at the whole sum of your life.  And you don't have to be a woman to benefit from it.  I put the lines in because it should read like poetry (in my opinion, and this is my blog, so try it my way here folks, you won't be sorry) and the underlining is also mine:

   "No matter where  you're living, I hope you sleep peacefully tonight and waken into relief,
 not so hounded by worry you miss listening for the reindeer feet, even if you've grown older, as I have,
 and depend on memories of thrilling wishes. 
With no regrets or grudges against the tin and timber real life around you,
 let it be time to bring every memory inside you like wood you place in the fireplace peice by piece, wish by wish. 
The old need that wasn't met,
 the wants misunderstood,
what you absolutely knew and guessed, what you dreamed or half-invented,
saw and heard outright or saw and heard in words you read and adored,
what was done to you and calls for revenge that you let burn away.
 Each thing is of the same good use, and burning together, continually, the light the bundle makes belongs to you, you're love and work, what you see by, how you are seen.
  Now I understand that the deeper the dreams and beliefs,
 the brighter and warmer you and the rooms you walk through are,
and you're safe now passing through old places, not dark now, more than sufficiently kept lit by you."

It has always comforted me and brought me hope. I offer it to you, in these dark days while we are still huddled by fires.  Winter is almost over.  Best get started on the spring cleaning, girls.  (Onward ho!)

And if you are in the aftermath of a blizzard tonight, I hope you have a book to read. 

.....It also is helpful to know a farmer because you are going to have to have a tractor to get all that snow removed.  But take heart, you're in America, and one will probably show up soon.