Bye-Bye Books … Think I’m A-Gonna Cry

January 18, 2014 § 3 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.

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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

You Can’t Be Anything You Want

May 15, 2012 § 2 Comments

Getting older takes the pressure off the grand scope of unrealistic expectations.

I know now that I’ll never:

  • Climb Mount Rainier
  • Sing back-up to Willie Nelson
  • Write the next Hunger Games-style trilogy
  • Have my own talk show on TV
  • Become a millionaire.

Our children are taught that they can be anything they want to be. You know, it’s just not true. For all of us there are choices, exclusions, forks in the road. Our natural giftings influence our successes.

It’s refreshing to me to now be able to shuck off expectations that put pressure on me to perform, to be, to do. The narrowing avenue of years ahead force me to concentrate on what is important, what I really need to do, the legacy I really want to leave.

“Teach us so to number our days, that we may acquire discerning minds,” says Psalm 91:12 (Modern Language version). I need to discern between what is good to what is best, what is trivial to what is eternal, what is time wasting to what is crucial.

I’m making a new list.

  • Love my people
  • Write down what I don’t want my family to forget
  • Get rid of the junk, the time wasters, the non-essential
  • And most of all to follow what God has in mind for me: “… to be fair and just and merciful, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8, The Living Bible).

Deep breath. Ah, yes. Simplify.

ⓒ Inger Logelin 2012

Why Affordable Villa Vacation Articles Are Injurious to One’s Health

March 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

I should never have subscribed to this magazine, it’s not good for my health. But, I fell for the old trade-your-measly-frequent-flier-miles for-magazine-subscriptions ploy. So, monthly, the revered Conde Nast Traveler shows up in my post office box. As I glance at vacation spots only the uber-riche will ever have a hope of enjoying, I can’t help but compare the “vacations” I’ve been on. Why are thou downcast, O my soul, I whimper.

A featured article in the April 2012 issue that touts “Affordable Villa Vacations (From Under $100 a Night)” gives me hope. Quickly turning to page 111 I find, gasp, not the $100 a night miracle, but a $19,070 a week villa in St. Barth. Why not start at the top? I say. (When, exactly, have I ever said that?) In the magazine’s advice on how to save money they suggest trying to negotiate. Like, who ever negotiates when they can afford $19k a week? Or maybe that’s how they can afford $19k a week.

I flip through fabulous offerings, dream rentals, and the insider’s Madrid, and flip right back into my own life. Where vacations usually mean camping. (Although there have been a couple of fabulous exceptions!)

I have this theory. If you started out camping on your honeymoon, you’ll still be camping when you’re retired. And here’s another one. If you can think of several friends who also started out by camping on their honeymoons, you know you’re hanging with the wrong friends. Not the ones who are going to offer you to join them for a week in their $19k vacation villas.Image

(To be continued)

© 2012 Inger Logelin

Of House Hunters, Masai Warriors and Bedouin in Caves

February 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

What is about other people’s lives that is so fascinating?

We’ve all done it. Driving through a neighborhood at dusk, we stare into rooms not our own, fascinated by the tableau of lives played out and lit up for us to wonder about. Or we have a fixation with TV’s “House Hunters” or better yet “House Hunters International.” Satisfyingly voyeuristic, this search for the perfect dwelling place allows us to imagine our lives as they would be if we lived in a tiny apartment in Paris, a seashore home in Central America, a super-sized Texas French country home, or a villa in the south of France.

I admit a fascination with life  in other places, other circumstances, other houses, other lands. When I recently sprained my ankle and couldn’t  move around for the first week, I indulged this fascination with the way others live. My Nancy Pearl recommended reading list was my go-to guide. The former Seattle Library System’s head librarian shares her favorite books every year at an every-seat-filled program in our Village by the Sea. Taken from her book of travel picks Book Lust to Go, I scanned her recommendation on adventure and travel, placed holds on the most interesting and waited for the books to arrive in the holds section of our small library.

Then for days I immersed myself in lives so different from mine as to be unimaginable. With my foot propped up on pillows and my husband willing to provide regular trays of steaming nourishment, I piled stacks of books on my bed and guiltlessly read. And then read some more. One day I confess to consuming three books. Normally, I restrict my reading time to after dinner in the evenings, but stationary I was, so the guilt-free daytime reading commenced.

I read Corinne Hofmann’s The White Masai: An Exotic Tale of Love and Adventure. While I couldn’t identify with this young Swiss business woman impetuously falling madly for a uneducated Masai warrior and living with him in his five-foot-high-cow-dung-and-stick traditional dwelling, I savored the clash of cultures, the possibilities and range of human relationships and resilience of Corinne and the Masai people she also came to love. Not satisfied, I ordered Back From Africa and Reunion in Barsaloi which tells the rest of Corinne Hofmann’s story. A relationship doomed to fail, it showcased her adventures and disasters and ultimately the cultural abyss that couldn’t be spanned.

Still set in Africa, but much tamer in scope, I then read Chameleon Days: An American Boyhood in Ethiopia where Tim Bascom writes of life with his missionary parents in Ethiopia’s outback during the days when Haile Selassie’s empire begins to crumble. A lonely tale of small children sent off to boarding school and the parents’ faith and purpose not being embraced by their sons, it still shows how Africa imprinted itself on a young boy’s life and changed him forever.

For a change of pace I then devoured Married to a Bedouin by Marguerite van Geldermalsen from New Zealand. Marguerite married a Bedouin souvenir-seller in 1978 and went to live with him in a two- thousand-year-old cave in the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. She raised her children there, learned Arabic, and loved her husband and didn’t leave his clan and return to New Zealand until after her husband died in 2002. Marguerite appreciates her adopted culture, writes with a clear, but not condescending, eye about the Bedouin and learns to be satisfied with the simple life that drew her there in the first place.

And that’s the secret isn’t it? While glimpses into the lives of others is fascinating and instructive, contentment in the life we find ourselves in is a key to happiness.

Gotta go! More books to pick up at the library. And what time did you say House Hunters International is on?

ⓒ Inger Logelin 2012

A Satisfied Gleaner

September 6, 2011 § 1 Comment

Jan J's jelly jars in late November sun

Two batches of blackberry jam are lined up on my kitchen counter. I like looking at the little glass jars, remembering my scratched arms, the reaching from a ladder, the pricked and blue fingers, the effort. It’s hard for me to leave the blackberry patch until every berry that I can reach is picked.

There’s something so satisfying about gleaning food … real food. Our garden is finally producing sweet sun-warmed tomatoes, along with the potatoes and zucchini. The carrots, chard, lettuce, beets, etc. we’ve been enjoying all summer. This spring Dave planted several varieties of garlic for the first time and has gleaned a nice crop.

When we lived in the Arctic our freezer was a storehouse–really a hole–in the permafrost where sides of caribou, snow geese, whole seals and fish were kept frozen. If you wanted to eat meat you had to go out and get it. In Aklavik Dave learned to set nets under the ice in the river for a winter’s supply of fish. It was too cold to grow a garden without a hot house so fresh garden vegetables were hard to come by. In Sachs Harbour we had an up-close-and-personal relationship with food. The wooden rack above the oil cookstove held drying strips of caribou and fish sharing space with cloth diapers.

It’s time to get our peaches and pears from Eastern Washington to can. Then I’ll line them up on my pantry shelves and smile knowing that a taste of summer is waiting to be opened some dreary winter day.

Dave with a little garden gleaning

ⓒ Inger Logelin 2011

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