recipes on request

I cooked a lot today (guest for lunch): fresh mushroom soup (New York Times special recipes on soup last year); arugula bacon salad; chocolate dipped strawberries, oh, and a simple Pillsbury wrapper for Brie cheese, baked, with mango chutney.  

So I don't feel like writing a blog. I'll think about it tomorrow.

rich man's hobby

A friend sent me an essay she found in the Telegraph, by Toby Young . His 2001 memoir, "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People", sold a quarter of a million copies and was turned into a movie, but he still needs his day job. He says a writer these days needs a substantial private income to be a full-time writer, and he cites British statistics of writers' low incomes; it's similar in Canada. I remember reading that the average writer's income is lower than that of a corps ballerina.

As a similarly underpaid playwright, I have long been quoting  the Canadian playwright, Bernard Slade (Same Time Next Year):  "You can make a killing in the theatre but you can't make a living."  In other words, there are no guarantees. 

Years ago, when one of my early plays was being produced in Waterloo, Iowa, I was brought down to help with the publicity. One of my talks was to the Junior Chamber of Commerce. The JayCees wanted to know how much money I made on that play, so I tried to figure it out. I had to tally the hours of writing (and rewriting), plus marketing, plus paper and postage, and so on.  It was a ballpark figure, give or take, but I pegged my income at about 10 cents an hour, not quite a living wage. Mind  you, I had a husband who supported me but my day job was quite time-consuming: raising four children. Alice Walker (The Color Purple) has said that it's possible for a woman to write with one child but more than that she's a "dead duck". Okay, so Danielle Steel has 9 children. She says she had her first child and her first book at age 19. She held down three jobs and wrote at night. I guess that says something. 

Anyway, Toby Young concludes that writing is a rich man's hobby. One writer I read said it helps if you have a wife who will support you.  What about women? (See above.) The few, male or female, who consistently write best-sellers and get asked for their laundry lists (and get paid for them, too), only add to the mystique and the difficulty for lesser-known authors. People learn you're a writer and they ask "Have I heard of you?"  I have another writer friend who answers, "I don't know. Who have you heard of?" And you know the names without  my telling you.

Well, they're right, I guess.  I haven't heard of me, so why should they?

 

 

GAK

This is what my friend Marla writes when she is completely disgusted or frustrated with something. I've started writing it, too.  Well, yesterday was a double-gak day. It's a good thing I'd had a good sleep the night before because it turned out to be a miserable, maddening, no-win, horrible day.  And it wasn't all my fault. Granted, I forget passwords. Doesn't everyone? We've had this discussion, I'm sure. But I have one contact that never seems to remember that I forget, or doesn't remember what I last remember, or sends me to different pages.  I just had to check my account balance and got waylaid.  Bless the assistant; she was very patient.  So was I. But by the time we were finished, I was tired. I almost didn't proceed to pay my bill (online, through my bank) when we were through  Good thing I did. 

I had deposited a cheque earlier in the day, in US dollars to a new US dollar account. (This had to do with a refund from my cruise people.)  When I went to pay my account with the above-mentioned company, my online bank message informed me that there were insufficient funds.  Nonsense! There was loads of money, much more than I usually have. So I phoned a help-line.  Turned out the teller had put the money in the wrong account, changed it into Canadian funds and put a hold on it till it cleared. Wrong wrong wrong.  More time fussing around until I got it straightened out.  I checked this morning.  The bill was paid, but the cheque is still on hold till they make sure I'm not cheating them?

GAK

By that time I was too tired to write more in my daily blog for yesterday.  Hey, I've noted before that I couldn't do the work I do without a computer and the various services available and I am grateful. I can still remember typing out copy. It was a slow process and I never could afford a secretary/assistant/amanuensis/whatever. But when things go wrong, one is worse than delayed or hindered.  One is screwed, if you'll pardon my language. Up a tree, up a creek, behind the eight ball - what do people say these days to express total helplessness as they struggle with a balking computer? 

GAK

more to come

I slept eight hours last night!!! (1P)  That makes up for the dearth of sleep the night before. 

More to come....

how long is a wink?

Not a flirty wink, but a sleepy wink, as in "I didn't sleep a wink last night". My father, the doctor, advised his sleepless patients to ignore their seeming deprivation.  He counter-acted the general advice nowadays that says you should get out of bed and do something else until you get sleepy enough to try again. He said you get more sleep than you think you're getting and that at least your body is getting bed rest. Not all of your functions are shut down but some of them are, and that's good. I thought of that this morning when I realized that three hours had passed since I awoke and couldn't get to sleep again while I fussed and tossed.  Well! If that much time had passed, I must have had some sleep though it didn't feel like it during my restless meditation.   Later in the day, however, I ebbed very low with a guest  present and had a little trouble keeping both eyes from winking. 

Such nocturnal rumination can be productive.  You are in free-fall and while  you are sadly vulnerable and can get led down a path of disturbing memories with one sad fact (or factoid) leading to another, on the other hand, you are wide open for revelations , reminders and remedies for some of your current stresses.  After a so-called sleepless night I am surprised by my efficiency and what could be mistaken for energy as I look up something I had meant to check, or find something I had forgotten to look for, or phone someone I've been meaning to call. You win some you lose some.  

I guess.

Anyway, I almost didn't write this because I am so sleepy.  I'm going to bed right now.  Anon, anon.

i can resist anything but temptation

Oscar Wilde, of course.  The tricky thing about temptation is that new ones keep popping up. I try to avoid it rather than resist it.  When I changed computers (from HP to Apple) I decided I would not LOOK at the games.  I was spending far too much time on Free Cell and had just discovered Spider (was that what it was called?) so I simply ignored access to any play things.  Better not to get hooked than to try to get un-hooked.

But I just got hooked again, to something else. See, I used to get the Sunday New York Times, every Sunday, obviously, and I loved it, devoted most of my day to it and clipped and saved items for other people as well as for myself.  I realized I couldn't get it while I was on my six-month (now three-month) cruise, so I stopped it last month and subscribed to the daily NYT online, so I'd get it on the ship.  Well, oops.

 It's daily, it's early, and it's addictive. I usually wake early enough that it presents no threat to my 6 a.m. swim. But I find that if/when I wake too late, I still read and read and kind of slip by the time of immersion.  So far it's 6:05 or 6:15 but once last week it was 6:30.  The thing is I like to swim alone.  There are other early risers, not quite as early as me, but if I leave it too long, it's not my private pool. 

Always a new challenge.  

But I'm learning a lot. 

don harrow

Donald Harron died over the weekend.  I met him and worked with him at a strange turning point in both our lives.

(I get so mad at the predicted text service!  The name is Harron, not Harrow.)  Ah well.  We go on....or back, to 1976.)

I had just moved into Toronto to live, to try to make a living after my husband had died, just recovering from major surgery (five-eighths of my stomach removed for a bleeding ulcer) and very short of energy, funds and hope.  Don had just separated from his (second?) wife, Catherine McKinnon, the singer. He was very unhappy, and had taken on an acting assignment new to him, for all his experience. He had agreed to star in a new Theatre Pase Muraille production, The Horsburgh Scandal. It was new to me, too.

 I had been researching the life and career of the reverend Russell Horsburgh, the United Church minister who had been arrested, tried and convicted on some 27 counts of contributing to juvenile delinquency in his church.  He actually served time (90 days) in the Kingston prison until he was acquitted by the Supreme Court of Canada,  because he had been convicted on the uncorroborated evident of juveniles.

Theatre Passe Muraille, as you may or may not remember, was making waves with its new, award-wining approach to play production. It was called collective theatre: a company of actors would set out to collect information and scenes connected with their subject material, and come back and present what they had learned.  No one had a role assigned; each actor had to earn his or her spot, playing a character he more or less "created."  Improv was the action of the hour. I actually chose the theatre because Horsburgh seemed to be such a chameleon. I thought PM's approach would capture the man in all his unpredictable variety.  It did, too. 

What was new to me and new to Don Harron has to do with PM's method.  They would not allow me to write a script.  I gave them research information and facts but they wanted to "do" the people themselves. No paper.  And Donald was not given a script to work with.  He was accustomed to ad lib but not improv.  No script??  Pretty terrifying. So we were both struggling.  

Every day the company gathered and played and it was fun and we laughed a lot. but no one had any idea what to do, where to go with the material, though we knew that the  poor man had to face a trial by the end of the play.  I'll get into that some other time.  Right now, it's Don Harron I'm concerned with.  He was floundering and so was I. We were both graceful about it.  He was always polite and patient and he kept on making jokes.  He had a quicksilver associative mind given to puns and word play.  Someone was talking about Christopher Fry, the playwright. I guess a Fry play was on in Toronto.  Anyway, Don said, "I haven't seen him too frequent,"  referring, of course, to another of Fry's plays, "A Phoenix Too Frequent". I looked around at blank faces. I said to  Don quietly, "No one got it."  He said,"You did."

The quick mind and the constant need for an audience are, I think characteristic of a born entertainer.  I've seen those traits manifested in other players. Jerry Lewis and Robin Williams come to mind, and oh, Victor Borge. Perhaps that gives us an insight into what drove Don Harron.  

He had enormous energy but along with that, he could let go, and relax at will.  I was short on energy at that time, still not very strong with my remaining stomach unable to take on much sustenance. (Don took me for lunch once day and commented on the minuscule amount of food I ate, saying that I was a "very cheap date.").  But after the group lunches each day, both of us would sneak back to the rehearsal hall and flake out for 15 to 20 minutes, to tap into a reserve of energy somewhere.  I can still do that: cross my arms across my chest like the Lily Maid of Astolat and snooze.  It's a talent worth cultivating. We played out of town on our way to opening night in Toronto. I remember in Waterloo, Ontario, we each, unnoticed by each other and the others, crept into the theatre before the doors opened and disappeared.  I lay down on the floor in a row between seats, and slept for 15 minutes.  Don did too, in some other aisle - we only discovered each other when we rose like Venus from the seats. Apparently he did this, too, anywhere he toured.  He had a driver and he could sleep in a car or van or anywhere.

At one time Don actually suggested that we take the play elsewhere, do something more with it - not sure what - a movie?  But  it was not to be. Shortly after the play opened in Toronto, Catherine returned to him and they were reconciled.  So The Horsburgh Scandal was an interlude in his life, and it was the beginning of my post-mortem career. 

God rest his soul.

what did you learn today?

I've told you before that I felt I had to justify my existence every day to my father. "Just the good news, please," the doctor wanted to hear from his family to compensate for the complaints he heard all day from his patients.  So we/I wanted to give a good report, preferably entertaining and as I progressed in my studies, informative, thought-provoking and stimulating.  Well, it goes on: what did I learn today?

Actually, a lot.  It's Sunday and The New York Times is full of news and ideas. It's hard to choose. Discussions are going on apace to determine the  WOTY - the Word of the Year.  (Last year it was the selfie.)  As I read this morning, an argument has not been settled about the validity of a hashtag#phrase as opposed to one word.  We'll see.  If you didn't know it already I loove words.

Another NYT article tells the story and the difficulty of naming: products, games, all kinds of things.  At this time in the history of the world, a name has to satisfy all people, no matter what their language is. What sounds good in English might be an obscenity somewhere else.   "One man's meat is another man's poisson."  I didn't originate that, it's by an American author, poet and mystery  writer called Carolyn Wells  (1862-1942). I remembered the line and true name of the person who said it, knowing nothing of the writer till just now when I looked her up. 

The article about naming went into great detail about the difficulties involved, the research and the clearing required to establish a brand name.  You can look that. up; it's quite interesting.  But what I learned today was that Carolyn Wells was a prolific writer when all I knew was one line.

Learn something every day.  

gone yesterday

Three announcements of deaths within the last week: one, a very old woman who had pretty well left her body; two, the brother of a friend after a three-week hopeless illness; three, yesterday, the husband of a close friend with no warning, as far as I know, I don't know the details yet. I am so sorry for the pain of loss suffered by close ones.  

What can I say?  At my age I know for a fact that no one is immortal.  As my late husband used to say, "One out of one dies of something." And I have already said, keep saying, that I feel like a duck in a shooting gallery, surviving so far, but with everyone being picked off all around me, it's just a matter of time.

So it is with everyone: just a matter of time.  Rather than rage against the dying of the light, I try to concentrate on what brightness there was.  I really am grateful for what gleams have been  granted to us.  And I still say, in spite of everything, have a reason to get out of bed in the morning, however slowly.  Some days are darker and slower than others.  

De mortuis nil nisi bonum.  About the dead, nothing but good.  (I think I got that right.) That's what wakes and shivas are for, what mourning is for: to remember the good times and the good things about the most recent absentee, to honour the life that was and to cherish the memories. "What comfort is in me.  If thou shouldst never see my face again pray for my soul. More things are wrought by rare than this world dreams of."  

And prayer can take many forms.  This is one of them.

next

I was thinking some more about my seedbed bookcase, looking it over. It's always a surprise.  Ideas that attracted me still amaze me and get the cogs going.  Take Erving Goffman (1922-1982). I often do. I first came across him in 1972 wen I read  a review of his book, Relations in Public, New irk, Basic Books.  He was already well known by that time, well on his way to what he is now considered to have been one of the finest sociologists of the 20th century. I began to buy and read his books, most published before that review I kept. I have:

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, 1959

Encounters: Two Studies in the Sociology of Interaction, 1961 (but my edition is dated 1985)

Behavior in Public Places, 1963

Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, 1963

Of course, I'm not a sociologist, but I found what Goffman has to say - and you'll pick up on it immediately from his titles - I found his insights enormously fascinating and useful to my development as a playwright.  I even found some of my notes indicated possibilities of plays based on his analyses of people and their relationship.  .Later I was told  that Goffman was on a drama course at the National Theatre School.  

Not only are there not enough hours in each day to do what I want to do, learn, think about, accomplish and write, there aren't enough years in my life. The darn thing is, in spite of my desire, I get tired.  I  goof off, I take naps, I play.  What am I going to do?

 

oh for some real talk

My blogs have been dreary lately as I ricochet from crisis to crisis.  I do apologize. I/we need to consider something fun and stimulating.  When in doubt I turn to Elias Canetti  (1905-1994), the Bulgarian/British writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1981.  Most of his work is too heavy and serious for me.  I was tempted recently to read Crowds and Power but a friend and mentor warned me off, saying it's nothing like the two books I love - that he didn't know about. They are The Writer's Notes: 1954-1971 and The Secret Heart of the Clock: Notes, Aphorisms, Fragments (1973-1985), and they are delicious.  My copies look like hedgehogs, bristling with post-it notes sticking out of them  and inside, the pages are lined and underlined with comments and notes and references by me.  These books will go into my archives because they have influenced me so much.

There are descriptions of people or situations that cause me to note for possible stories; there are phrases that trigger (light) poetry; others that (perhaps) describe a state of mind that Canetti was going through at the time, or maybe not:

"If you had traveled more, you would know less."

"If you just wanted to name everything that exists, a lifetime would not be enough.  Let alone wanting to know it!"

But then here's an entry that sounds more like a journal, i.e. more than merely (?) an aphorism or a summary:

"...now the silence has entered me and I am happy.  I am not tempted to go anywhere.  I don't know what to do next. I am waiting, waiting for the thunderbolt and the powerful voice...I often regret that my mind never acquired an English wardrobe...."

I mustn't say too much.  You have to see for yourself. 

I have an expression I have often used, and describe what it means in my book about writing: seedbeds. I keep a special bookcase full of books that are my seedbeds, like petri dishes ready to grow something from a germ or seed. These two books by Canetti are in my seedbed bookcase.  

"Insatiable need for words.  Is that immortality?"

Maybe.

 

 

 

i heart pamela dries

Where would I be without Pamela Dries-Smoley?  No where, that's where.

Years ago, when I was fighting for my economic life, I had several flurries with stock brokers , one of them  guilty of churning, and all of them (male) patronizing and uncaring about my welfare or future.  I got passed along several times and followed meekly, until finally it was too much paper work and I stayed with the last one I inherited, a young woman, as it turned out.  I was living up north by then, but I was in Toronto and she agreed to meet me and let me interview her (and her me), to see if we could be compatible.  Oh my, yes. I'm afraid to start the superlatives too soon. 

When she changed firms she came up north to see me in my cottage on the lake and brought me a birch-bark reindeer who stayed with me the rest of my time there plus an obscenely generous amount of fresh fruit (hard to get in the winter in Muskoka). I would have stayed with her, anyway.  

When I "retired" at the obligatory time for a RRIF to cut in (age 69 then, over 71 now, I think), Pam set up my RRIF account and has worked wonders with it.  Lo, 14 years later and I'm still drawing the same amount (the requisite 10%) from the account as when I launched it.  In other words, she has "self-administered" it so that I am getting a ten percent return on it.

When I first read about this "Around-the-World-in 180 Days" cruise, I called Pam and said if I could be guaranteed to die when I got home so that I wouldn't need any money left to live on, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Let me see what I can do, she said.  Several heartbeats later, I was in, I was on, and I spent the remaining year and a half or so, not cutting my hair, not buying new clothes, except for bathing suits, which I wear out, and being generally very frugal.  I paid my full fee in July, 2013 and started preparing  my body as If I were getting married, checking my teeth (expensive), eyes, bone density, blood, and so on, and getting all my shots.  

Well, you know the rest, I think.  The ship had a fatal fire in the engine room in December and went into dry dock for repairs, scheduled to last for 9 weeks.  So the first 79 days of the trip were cancelled, not postponed, cancelled.  Then we, the passengers, had to decide what to do, whether or not to reschedule our lives and funds and arrangements for a truncated cruise, starting in Singapore in March. I opted for carrying on with what was left of my trip of a lifetime, my bucket list. 

The refunds and new payments have been confusing and the Canadian dollar being what it is now, quite difficult. Again I called on Pam for clarification.  Well, not just clarification,  She is my watchdog, my duenna, my planner, my caregiver and she is so

S-M-A-R-T!

How can I ever thank her?

Last year, when I had the grant to write in Stegner House for a month in Eastend, Saskatchewan, I had occasion to talk to Pam about my (puny) affairs, and I mentioned that I was pleased to find that the little gift shop with one set of shelves serving as a liquor store, carried my favourite wine (Heritage Park Road, Bloodstone, Shiraz, from Australia) which the LCBO in Toronto does not offer. Later in the day I attended a a knock at my door to find the owner of the gift shop standing there with a bottle of that wine and a bunch of flowers from Pam.  How she found it and him and managed to persuade him to deliver the gift to me, I don't knowl. She can work miracles.

Just so you know. WOW!  I heart Pamela Dries.

routine versus ritual

You'd think by my age I wouldn't have any trouble with my daily routine, that it's all a matter of custom and habit, that I move easily from one activity, chore, task, whatever, to the next without pausing or thinking about it.   I wish.  

I have missed my early swim.  If I dally much longer, I am going to miss my mid-morning swim. I'm still in bed and my feet are cold. I've had breakfast (a light one, because I'm having a friend for dinner and he wants cheese fondue - loaded with calories or Points, if you are acquainted with Weight Watchers); I've put in an order for Grocery Gateway to deliver tomorrow morning, early,  to force me out to swim before they arrive; I've written a couple of letters, and spent far too long with the New York Times, and I learned a lot. But I have not had my swim. 

I have discussed  routine and ritual in my new book, and I'm going to have to re-read what I said. I may have to add to it.  There's a difference, a mystical difference.  

Just do it.  I think that was a slogan a while back, a simple imperative to enable people to act on the impulse, or principle, as the case may be.  I think it works best if you don't think about it.  That's the point, isn't it?  Just Do It.  Don't think about it. Just do it.  Any minute now I'm going to go swimming.

"And thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought."

 

a garden derstandof literary delights

That was NOT the title of the blog I had almost completed when I pushed SAVE.  What part of SAVE does Squarespace not understand?   The blog disappeared.

I am so tired of the electronic, faceless, unfeeling world.

It was a good one, too.

I'll try again, soon.

Not now.

And now I can't even correct my title: It's supposed to be a garden of literary delights.  Where did that interruption come from?

GAK

here we are

Rogers cut me off for three days, completely,  so I was incommunicado. I won't go into the detail I wrote into my whining Word piece -  I actually wrote a blog on Word, intending to slip it into cobwebblog when I was back online but that document has disappeared.  Just as well.  I wasn't happy. Isn't it terrible how dependent we are now on that cable?  I took the time to read a lot and that was a blessing.  Two books, both recommended:

ALLTHE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr.  According to booksellers it's this year's Goldfinch, a runaway best-seller.  I won't say anything about it, just that it's a page-turner and beautifully written.

STONER by John Williams.  Actually published in 1965, it has flown under the radar till recently.  It began to surface some time last spring. I read a few catchup reviews and I finally caught up with it.  I bought both books with book gift coupons. This one is a classic novel, a quiet, clear story that could be depressing but somehow isn't. 

As a writer I feel obligated to buy other writers' books rather than borrow them.  They need the money. (So do I.)  What have you been doing?

more words

Always. More words. But are they useful? Significant? Drivel?  I've been awake for a couple of hours, awake but not upright, huddled in a cocoon of blankets, plus my winter duvet. It's cold outside and my apartment can't cope below a certain temperature.  I have to add extra shots of will, energy and discipline in order to plunge my shivering body into a swimming pool at 6 a.m. So with all that thinking you would assume that I have a blog to order. Not.  I have a potpourri of disparate thoughts still to be organized and packaged.  

So I looked up potpourri in Wikipedia:

Potpourri /ˌp pʊˈr/ is a mixture of dried, naturally fragrant plant materialused to provide a gentle natural scent inside buildings, most commonly in residential settings. It is usually placed in a decorative (often wooden) bowl, or tied in small sachet made from sheer fabric. Potpourri is used inside the home to give the air a pleasant smellThe word "potpourri" comes into English from the French word "pot-pourri." The French term has two connotations. It is the French name for a Spanish stew with a wide variety of ingredients called "olla podrida," specialty of the town of Burgos. The word was taken and copied by the French military during the Napoleonic occupation of Burgos (1808-1813). Literally, however, the word "pot" in French has the same meaning as it does in Spanish and English, while the word "pourri" means rotten. In English, "potpourri" is often used to refer to any collection of miscellaneous or diverse items.

An olla is a ceramic jar, often unglazed, used for cooking stews or soups, for the storage of water or dry foods, or for other purposes. Ollas have a short wide neck and a wider belly, resembling bean pots or hands. (Wikipedia again)

Olla is a good crossword puzzle word.  But in this weather it makes me want to cook up a big stew of some kind.  Comfort food. I still don't want to get out of bed, but it's 5:53 and I must swim now.  Discipline!

25 words or less

I was saving myself for the end of the day to write a brand new blog but guess what?  I have 3% battery left and I am about to be cut off.  I hope you had a nice day.  I got a lot done, well, I got things done that lead to a possible gratifying fruition.  Right now; I'm plugging along and I have to plug in my Little Mac, right now.

Anon, anon.

sweet william

I've already written this, but SAVE doesn't seem to mean the same thing to Squarespace that it does to me. So I'll write again, in praise of my polymath grandson, William.

 I've written about Wiiliam before,  how awesome he is and here is another proof.  He reads my blogs (can you believe it?) and he responded to a recent one in which I was complaining of a pain in stiff muscles from having indulged myself in a Blue Bloods Marathon, sitting in a bad chair in front of the bedroom television because the living room set was showing only talking lips and headless bodies. He not only sympathized but suggested a practical solution, that he come and take a look at the weird picture.  He did and he did - not only looked at it but fixed it, and adjusted the sound while he was at it.  Amazing!

I am not quite computer-illiterate, but almost.  I am so grateful (and awestruck) that this young man has mastered such computer skills, and that he helps  his grandmother.  Wow!

feeling good

You already know that I procrastinate. And I have told you that procrastination brings its own rewards, like not having to mend or iron things that have been left so long they don't fit anyone I know.  That used to be true, but I live alone now and my children have completed their vertical growth, anyway, so they don't outgrow clothes the way they used to.  But I have encountered a new pleasure predicated on procrastination (sorry, but I love alliteration).  Coupons.

I'm clearing out my Paper Desk, catching  up on neglected correspondence (with computer-illiterate friends, and I have several).  And I have come across obsolete discount coupons, expiring at the end of 2014, and some, even better, as early as 2013. It is with such a feeling of abandon that I toss them in the waste basket for recycling.  They don't owe me anything, nor I them, not even a spasm of guilt.   

The one thing I cannot toss, of course, is a note to myself. Several notes begin with "I cannot go anywhere without paper..." and there follows a date, a time, and usually, the name of the  place where I am writing. It might be a clinic waiting room, an airport lounge  or, most frequently, a coffee shop, waiting for a friend. (I'm always early, having allowed enough time to get lost.) I remember reporting on Joan Didion's collection of these bits of paper; she compared hers to a ball of string. It might look impressive but it's just short bits, nothing long enough even to make a cat's cradle (that's my expression, not hers).  So I don't throw out my paper trail.

But everything else has gone past its recommended date and must go. It feels good.

what do you want?

I used to think my life would not be complete without a star sapphire ring. Or a sterling silver hair-dressing set (basic brush, mirror and comb), or a silver tea service.  Or an Electro-Lux vacuum cleaner. 

Well, I got over the ring, and the hair dressing set. 

 I inherited my grandmother's tea service for a while: an ornate, full service, including the tea "slop" jar, tea pot and strainer, coffee pot plus a coffee urn sitting on a swinging tripod over a burner to keep the coffee warm, plus, of course, creamer, sugar, and so on - all in sterling silver with raised roses in the design. I never used it. I had too many children and I didn't throw large tea parties, or even small ones. My son inherited it, too, (Mother said it belonged to the first son) and he sold it on consignment and got stiffed. Small Claims Court declared him the injured party but there was no redress.

Now the vacuum cleaner....we saved 50-cent pieces until we had enough to buy a Eureka cleaner, a tank with a bag and a vacuuming wand, but not an Electro-Lux.  My best friend's mother had three of them, one for each floor of the house. but I never did get one, just struggled along trying to keep things clean with machines that, as the Dyson ad goes now,"lose suction." I no longer want an Electro-lux, I'd sort of like a Dyson, but like its predecessor, it costs too much for me, and I don't vacuum much. Swiffers are easier on my weak muscles.  

Eventually, you grow out of your wish list, and substitute new wishes, or not. Remember St. Augustine's line: "We do not leave our sins, our sins leave us."  That's true of wish lists, too, I think.  I remember a bit of doggerel from a Ladies' Home Journal magazine, two lines by a writer whose name I never noticed, but I remember it was a verse about a teen-age girl and her wish list: "Her social standing is in danger/Without the latest record changer."  Lo, how technology has changed but how little has desire changed. 

Be careful what you wish for. One or the other is going to go out of style.