I used to take some pride in my handwriting -- back when I was in Miss Alderson's grade 3/4 class -- and we studied a subject called penmanship. I wonder if that exists anywhere anymore. My writing then I remember as being balanced, thin and elegant while my best friend, had a loopy, round and luscious hand. I like round handwriting. I think it's generous and warm, like my friend.
I certainly don't recall my own kids having penmanship classes. I do remember my kids coming home with stories they had written in a technique that involved a teaching theory called creative spelling. Not sure about that
at all. Yet, I still don't dismiss it as a method, totally. I think learning to spell is a combination of rote memorization and creative use of some phonics and lots of other mental gymnastics we will probably never understand.
Anyhow, about my penmanship
. I was starting in my round-about way to tell a story about myself and my handwriting, which these days is, (ok, ok!!) I admit, terrible. My son dropped by yesterday to help me take apart some things like my shelving in the workroom. I was away while he was here. So, when I came home, I looked around and wondered at first if he had been here at all. Then I saw the list I had left for him on the kitchen counter. He had circled an item he couldn't read, with lines bristling out of it, like a child's drawing of the sun. Underneath he had written (not in screaming capitals, but in tiny bewildered lower case letters) "what?"
But that's not the worst part. When I tried to answer for myself, "what?",
I struggled for several seconds. Only the context gave me a clue. Part of the problem is my habit of running one letter into the next, and not closing round vowels like a
, even when printing vs cursive writing, so "table" looked like "hible", without the dot on the i.
I guess my handwriting, like so many aspects of who I am, are resembling my mother more and more every day. What am I in such a hurry to say that my handwriting is so strained?
Taking a break from my packing today, the closest I came to trying to problem-solve was a brief attempt to pry loose two pots of the evergreen boxwood I found on sale at Canadian Tire this past fall. The pots are outside, stuck fast, frozen
to the ground near the drive. I couldn't budge them. We are in a deep freeze again, weather-wize
, and I am worried that we are perhaps pushing the envelope as far as zones and hardiness for boxwood here, particularly as the forecast is for - 25 degrees C, tonight, even colder with the wind-chill.
I often abuse plants I have bought by inertia. I couldn't decide where to plant the boxwood and a small tamarack tree (bought at a roadside farm stand). I have been guilt-ridden all fall and now I'm worried I will be responsible for the deaths of three perfectly good plants that were a bargain, all due to my indecision and inertia. I had hoped at least a good snow cover would give me an out...but no, there is not enough snow. Oh, we have
snow, unlike the city where I go to my paying job, but we have also had wind. The drifts do not cover the spots where the suffering, potted plants are. An idea, something like shoveling snow over the plants or something, to make a protective blanket, was quickly dismissed, because...well, I was just too cold
out there to stay outside any longer!
A kind mention by Don
, had me uncomfortably blushing
. While I admit I don't understand it, I do have the desire to share my thoughts in public or whatever the magic of the internet is. But then maybe I had a little fantasy that my words would drift off somewhere, unnoticed, and I could remain safe in my little corner of the great big world. My near-and-dear might listen to my stories or read some of what I write, lovingly supportive and tolerant...When I read that I had been noticed
outside my little sphere, my hot flush was a potent brew of fear, embarrassment, and something akin, I'm sure, to a paralyzing stage fright!
I love the brave bloggers
I re-visit regularly. I admire their humour, their insights, their way with words, their poetry...so many things. I also admire their openness. I don't think it is vanity to lay one's soul bare, to expose oneself, like so many of these writers do. It's madness! It's risky for them, but I am grateful to the bloggers I read. I am grateful for their willingness to share a piece of themselves with me, a mostly anonymous reader, who enjoys recognizing my own humanity in their writing.
I watched a bit of a discussion on TVO on the topic of the possibility that is open now to "anybody": writing reviews
of books (etc.) on sites such as Amazon. The democracy of it is stunning. The professional critic on the show still expressed some professional proprietary rights. (packed my dictionary, so I am not sure of my spelling there) A mention was made of some strong reaction from Anne Rice to reviews of her latest book. I'm curious and will have to check that out too.
I loved what Her Little Bird
had to say about writing
a couple of days ago.
In another essay Weil writes :
"It is quite wrong to reproach writers
for being immoral unless one reproaches them at the same time for being writers.
. . Writers with pretensions to high morality are no less immoral than the
others, they are merely worse writers. "
I've been thinking it is difficult to at
once be a writer (or be in any way possessed) and be good. Writing is, above
anything, a wild state of arousal. Everything is perked up, owned by process.If
I would take the mode of contemporary analysis and see this wild and frantic
arousal in the context of a series of exchanges, I should put down Weil as if
she were a rattlesnake.If you find yourself among the good and pure, you shudder
at the this you find you've given up for the that.
It seems quite clear that any of my
reasons for writing are certainly not clear. The messages about being nice and polite, being seen and not heard etc from somewhere in my childhood are very loud in my head.
My granddaughter was quite matter of fact when I told her she was gorgeous, all dressed up for our family Christmas dinner. Like all children, she was confident in herself. I have read in many places that children are also quite confident that they can draw. The nasty, destructive messages start to take hold early however. By the time Granddaughter has been in school for a while she will be comparing herself to others and saying she can't do it.
Talking with her great-grandpa, when I commented that I would have been knocked down as a child for having that "bad" attitude
( that of course, I am gorgeous -- "too full of herself, that one!"), he observed that it's a great
attitude to have, balanced with kindness and thoughtfullness, etc., and no child can have enough
of it! Lovely wise man, that Karl.
I missed my brother's phone call yesterday (sob sob). He is planning to visit from Alaska in May and will take in his high school reunion at the same time. He was the heart throb of many a girl in high school. Girls were always trying to be friendly with me and my sister, in the hopes of getting closer to our brother, the Heart Throb. The funniest thing here is, as with most of our wildly inaccurate self-assessments
, he was totally unaware of all the attention and very insecure in high school, by his own report! See what I mean??
A thought-provoking bit of writing on compassion
that I found through Superhero Journal
by the Zen teacher, Norman Fischer
Compassion has a warm fuzzy flavor as its usually understood, but if you
actually look into it, its chief characteristic is sorrow and sadness at the
plight of another, whose fate is also exactly one’s own. So mostly we don’t want
to feel real compassion- naturally we either ignore someone’s troubles, or we
want to fix them immediately, so we don’t have to feel so badly. Yet, though it
is difficult, compassion is the gateway to self transcendence, for it is
compassion that opens wide the doors of the enclosed self, our personal prison.
As usual with spiritual practice, things are not so simple as they seem at
first, and something difficult and seemingly obviously to be avoided turns out
to be something precious and beautiful. Compassion. In Zen we say there’s
nothing but compassion. The sun right now shining through the window as I write
these words: perfect compassion. Painful, powerful, bright, and warm.
I think this will also be a blog that I will be re-visiting often.