Bye-Bye Books … Think I’m A-Gonna Cry

January 18, 2014 § 2 Comments

I said it. And now I have to do it. In my post “In Search of Simple Things” I said, “Ways to declutter, organize, sort and divest” were sounding attractive.  It’s the actual getting rid of stuff, the parting, the excising that isn’t all that attractive to me. And where the ink hits the paper is the indisputable fact that complicates my life. I am a bibliophile. Yes. A lover of books. I’m hoping it hasn’t reached the point of bibliolatry … a state of being overly devoted to books.

IMG_1601

Mostly I borrow books from the library, and

don’t mind bringing them back as I can find them again if I wish. Complicating matters is my work as an editor/writer that has at times necessitated reading a book and writing about it. And then there’s the relative who has access and first pick of used books to purchase as a Friend of the Library and who arrives for visits with bags or boxes for me to peruse and buy.

Why do I love books so? They are friends who supported me in various phases of my life, who entertained, who kept me awake, who spun new thoughts in my head, who made me cry, who taught me, inspired me and kept me company. How can I get rid of them? I keep my friends. I don’t necessarily want to read them twice; I just want them hanging around.

And so my garage is filled with books, the downstairs bookshelves are filled, the upstairs shelves have no more room. Some of these babies have to go. I’m approaching the “old woman in a shoe” syndrome.

How to cull? What to get rid of? Here’s the plan. I’m also motivated by value, so I have three boxes ready to go to a used bookstore that buys books for their consideration. I’ve listed many on Amazon, and sold some most weeks. It’s not as painful getting rid of books if I consider they are going to a new good home and if I make a few dollars on the exchange. Those that don’t sell I’ll  save for my spring garage sale.

“What are you going to do with the ones that don’t sell then?” my husband asked.

“Oh, I’ll donate them,” I said offhandedly. But, it’s not that simple. I may just pat their covers lovingly and package them up and slide them back in the garage. I don’t have a problem with hoarding … after all. Or do I?

(c) 2014 Inger Logelin

Of Glass Plates and Other Unused Gifts

January 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

Rainbow soap bubbles sparkled on the clear glass plate as the winter  sun shone through the kitchen

Pass the Plate

Pass the Plate

window. I held the art deco handles, rinsed and wiped the flower-shaped plate and wondered. Wondered about the woman who had owned it before me.

I found it on a crisp November Saturday in Barron, Wisconsin when my sister-in-law and I stopped at an estate sale at a yellow one-story house on a quiet street. “Everything’s half off today,” said the antique store owner who was managing the sale. I walked through the house picking up clues. She must have been Scandinavian. Stainless and pewter serve ware, crisp linens, familiar patterns. A cheese serving set from the 50s in the original box with a Marshall Fields tag on it. Pink budded cups and saucers. Many items looked new or very lightly used. Some were obviously gifts she had never taken out of the box. A green and white chenille bedspread in perfect condition. A gilt mirror and brush and comb. Unused handkerchiefs and boxes of linen stationery tied with ribbon.

There’s something  sad about  strangers wander through a home, picking up and discarding, evaluating and critiquing  treasures the owner had kept and valued but perhaps never taken out of the box. Were there no children to value what their mother had or to want to keep some remembrances of her?

I walked out of there with a box and a bag. Some to keep, some to give to a daughter who particularly values the 50s. And I came home with something else. The resolve to keep on using what I have and what I have been given.  I want to take my gifts out of the box and give them a good go. Use them, pass them around, give them away. I want my gifts–what I am, what I possess–to wear the lovely patina that comes from loving interactions. Scratches and dents may result, but at the end my life won’t be one that was unused, unrealized and left in a box.

(c)  Inger Logelin 2014

In Search of Simple Things

December 29, 2013 § 4 Comments

It happens to me every year.  So much becomes too much.

Too many decorations … cookies … even carols and televised Christmas “specials.”Image

Too much rich food, too many gifts, too much pressure to buy.

I’m over it, I realize with a stretched out longing for the simple. A meal of homemade bread and cheese. A fragrant soup, not a rich sauce.  A clear sideboard, an uncluttered mind.

“‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free …” wrote Shaker elder Joseph Brackett in 1848. The song, known then as a “quick dance,” goes:

” ‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.”

As 2014 approaches, there’s a longing for the “place just right.” And I have a strong suspicion that true simplicity is the way to get there. Already, ways to declutter, organize, sort and divest sound attractive, rather than my usual acquire, pile up and collect. The Shakers danced to this song. And “coming down where we ought to be” I find to be a dance with intricate steps. Step back. Let go. Push forward. End.

Could it be that the way to more is through less?

(c) 2013 Inger Logelin

My Life Flashing Before Me

February 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

Colorful flashes of my life accost me at regular intervals throughout my day.

England, Sweden, Norway, HOP, home 013Well-loved faces. Places I have traveled. Scenic views. Bad hair. Gatherings of friends. Thanksgiving dinners. Spring tulips. A beloved yellow lab, now gone.

There’s the baby,  she must have been three months old.

Where were we when that picture was taken? I wonder.Camp 2004 161winter 06  07021

Who is that? My mind refusing to pull up a name.

Don’t ever wear that again, I warn myself.

Oh, remember that street in Nice … the dogteam ride in Greenland … Oh, there’s the wedding.

Does that top make me look fat? I muse, not looking for an answer.

Expressions of a fragmented mind? An end-of-life experience fast forwarding across my consciousness?Friends and Alaska trip Sept 2005 160

No, it’s iPhoto selecting bits and pieces of my life to rotate on my desktop computer. No rhyme, no reason, no pattern. Just a delight of discovery. A frisson of remembrance. A slight breath in.

I look at all the lives who have touched mine, places traveled I never thought I’d go, the rich and varied tapestry of my life and I’m thankful.

copyright 2013 Inger Logelin

What About the Children? The Slippery Slope of Juvenile Euthanasia

January 28, 2013 § 2 Comments

I’m not camping on this platform but I can’t leave it without talking about the children.

In my last blog I joined the others lifting up their voices about Marc and Eddy Verbessen, the 45-year-old deaf twins in Belgium, who chose euthanasia rather than await total blindness. Although they weren’t suffering froImagem a terminal illness, what they did has been legal in Belgium since 2002.

Shortly after Marc and Eddy were killed, Belgium’s ruling Socialist party went one step further and introduced a legal amendment to allow the euthanasia of children and Alzheimer’s sufferers. The legislation hasn’t come up for debate yet but is expected to pass. To qualify, minors are supposed to be “capable of discernment or affected by an incurable illness or suffering that we cannot alleviate.” By whose standards will discernment or suffering be measured? Will a three year-old with birth defects not be allowed to live, or a ten-year-old who is suffering pain be administered a lethal injection? Will an Alzheimer patient be able to demonstrate discernment? Will the government get to choose?

Under the 2002 euthanasia law in Belgium, doctors can terminate the lives of infants under the age of 12 months by deliberate medical intervention if the baby is disabled or deficient and likely to suffer as a result. In some 16 percent of cases studied, parental consent wasn’t considered.

The slippery slope of assisted suicide is frightening. The Center for Bioethics and Culture says, “The history of the last forty years shows unequivocally that a society which permits or legalizes euthanasia and assisted suicide for the few, embarks on a path leading inexorably to permissive mercy killing of the many.”

I live in Washington State where, along with Oregon and Montana, a physician-assisted suicide law is already on the books, albeit with stricter guidelines than in the Netherlands and Belgium. What’s next?

The extreme of this slippery slope is Nazi Germany’s elimination of “lives unworthy of life.” Before they began killing Jews, Gypsies and political opponents, they dispensed with the unwanted: the disabled, the old, the mentally ill.

In allowing legislation that leads ultimately to this slippery slope have we lost our way to the high road of valuing life? Is the love expressed by a Down Syndrome child of less value and not worthy of life? Is the selfless care shown to a severely disabled child by loving parents of no value? Is a child needing a kidney transplant not worthy of life? Are there no miracles, no answers to prayer?

Jesus Christ said when his disciples shooed off children that were brought to him, “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these” (Matthew 19:14, The Message).

copyright 2013 Inger Logelin

Nothing to Live For?

January 25, 2013 § 4 Comments

IMG_2448In the middle of December 2012, 45-year-old twin brothers in new suits and shoes drank cups of coffee together in the hallway of a hospital. They smiled, gave a little wave good-bye to family and were administered lethal injections by a doctor.

Marc and Eddy Verbessem lived in Belgium, a country where euthanasia is legal. According to an article by Simon Tomlinson in the Daily Mail Online on January 15, 2013, the  twins were deaf since birth and also had “severe” medical problems. After receiving the crushing diagnosis they would soon be blind from a genetic  form of glaucoma, Marc and Eddy told a brother they “had nothing to live for.” Unable to communicate with the outside world,they used their own form of sign language with family. Losing independence was untenable for the twins who worked as cobblers and had always lived together and taken care of themselves. The family tried to persuade them not to kill themselves, but failed.

Perhaps, if Marc and Eddy had met someone like Helen Keller they could have glimpsed hope for their futures.

Helen Keller, born in 1880, was blind and deaf at 19 months after a serious illness—probably scarlet fever or meningitis. Unable to communicate, her dark world exploded into light when Anne Sullivan held Helen’s hand under a water pump and repeatedly spelled out the signs for water. She was seven.

Helen learned to speak and read people’s lips by touching them with her fingertips. She earned a bachelor of arts degree at Radcliffe and became a world famous speaker and author. When she was introduced to Christianity, she said, “I always knew He was there but I didn’t know His name.” An author, speaker and political activist, she was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, a few years before she died in 1968.

Three lives facing the same obstacles. Two said they had nothing to live for. One lived out her credo, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

copyright 2013 Inger Logelin

Moving On: The Sounds of Silence

August 7, 2012 § 11 Comments

On our last camping trip together … for now.

It took a few days for the silence to be noticed. For a few days I was still coming across bits of my daughter’s life that she didn’t get into the moving truck. A hair tie from our 15-year-old granddaughter, Nikes that our 12-year old grandson had outgrown. Worn fuzzy slippers, a box of treasured cups, evidence of their life lived out first next door, then one house away. For twelve years.

Their house is empty, new owners moving garden art in bit by bit that looks out of place. It’s like the old magazine feature, “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” when you try to spot the items that don’t belong. I walk by their lush yard and think where did that come from? I want to go cut a bouquet from the lush crop of this season’s hydrangeas, but they’re someone else’s hydrangeas now.

Our house is quieter. Our daughter doesn’t breeze through the door in the mornings with a “Got any coffee?” Afternoon Scrabble or Rummikub games or the revolving back door, kids breezing in asking, “Grandpa?” or “Grandma?” are conspicuously absent. Life done collectively was noisy, rich and satisfying.

Moving on is taking on a new meaning for me. Our daughter and her husband  and family moved on to a new opportunity and a new life in a state four days drive away. Moved from the green and temperate Northwest to over 100 temps, from being surrounded by water to flat land and drought.

Now it’s our turn to move on.  No, not physically, but in terms of reinventing ourselves. Spoiled by the living-life-together privilege of close proximity, I dream of moving closer to our youngest daughter’s house and the bright and sparkly two-year old who lights up all our lives. They’re not four days’ drive away, just a ferry ride and 45 minutes, depending on notoriously clogged traffic. My moving on schemes range wide in imagination but will have to be played out in real time.

One thing is for sure, only God never changes, everything else does. My assignment, should I choose to accept it, is creatively filling the silence of their absence with moving on moments of my own.

ⓒ Inger Logelin 2012

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