"Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh."
We emptied an old closet today. It was packed to the brim with boxes and suitcases of memories from three generations of a family who can't throw things away - yet, they can stow them out of sight and not look back for thirty or forty years.
One old black paper embossed suitcase was filled with thin tissue missives - "v-mail" ( v for victory) from the early 1940's - letters from my parents to each other during World War II when he was a navy pilot and fighting overseas. They wrote to each other at least once, sometimes twice a day. Letters filled with love and longing - his, surprisingly, expressing his fear that he would never come back to his young wife and baby daughter, and hers full of funny little tales from home to cheer him up. The first two I read made my heart ache so I quit reading and closed the suitcase for someone else to deal with in another half century.
Another suitcase was overflowing with crocheted knick-knacks that certainly must have had a use a one point in time. There were lots of embroidered pillowcases and table runners, and a special little box with handmade baby clothes. They were mine. I'm sure my sister wore them, too. There was no time to make clothes for her since we were too busy after the war too do anything but celebrate and catch up with living.
There were lots of photographs. Photographs of intermediate family and kissing cousins - and one special old tin type of a very stern looking matriarch in stiff and starchy clothes, with a firm and disapproving face and tightly done up hair. I have no idea who she was, but someone loved her because that very unflattering picture was set in a velvet frame with a lovely little door that opened and closed with a sliver clasp.
And that started me thinking - the next person to go through this closet - because I know I'm not throwing anything away - won't find any pictures of me, or my husband, or my adult children. All our pictures are in the little electronic bellies of smartphones and ipads. They're out there somewhere on a "cloud" not in a old musty closet. More's the pity.
It will be a sad day when there are no more packets of love letters tied with velvet ribbons, or old dance cards with names circle in red and embellished with hearts. Now we send electronic texts and smiley faces to express our love. And it's not for the first time that I think we're moving so fast our souls are falling off the wagon. We may be hurtling into a new age but what we are losing is precious.
Today is a beautiful day here on the farm. The sun is shining, fleecy white clouds are meandering slowly across the clear blue sky, and the birds are having a merry time pulling long yucky worms out of the newly mown grass.
But my mystery writer's heart is saddened by the recent news that Elmore Leonard has died. He was (in a word) wonderful - a beacon for wordsmiths. His advice was usually the best, but there is one thing I always took great pleasure in ignoring. Contrary to his list of the ten things never to do if you're a mystery writer - I ALWAYS start my books with a description of the weather.
Clearly I loved being just that little bit of a rebel - disobeying the master to see if I could get away with it. So first grade, I know, but I have to get my fun where I can or what's the use of all this work in the first place? And to make matters worse, I always bragged about it when giving seminars or serving on panels at conferences.
I live on a farm, for goodness sakes! I may not be a real farmer, but my grandfather was in his later years, and my father - when he retired from NASA, had two gardens every summer. We lived depending on the weather. We raised corn and alfalfa for the animals, and tomatoes, beans, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers and squash for out table.
The first thing a farmer asks every morning is what's the weather like? And that usually depends on what God decides to do before he goes to bed at night. So now, I tell everyone who reads my books what it's like - first thing. And then we go on from there.