I am so looking forward to seeing two friends in Akron next week--actually The Cupcakes for those of you who follow that blog--and to going back to New Hampshire for a time--and yet so much is happening here I almost hate to step away from it all. But this is good because I will want to come back again in July. We are rooting here. I never thought in a million years that you could pry me out of New England and yet here I am: a modern day pioneer woman in the wilderness (well, hardly, but the whole getting in the wagon, even though that wagon has made a few return trips in recent months, and striking out for new territory has just held that image for me). Thank you for that poetic reminder, Edie (and Emily and Melissa): "Where Thou art––that––is Home." ––Emily Dickinson, 1863 [is that like the modern day: "No matter where you go, there you are!"?]
Among the non-reading and writing highlights of this week: I have helped to butcher a hog for our freezer at our Mennonite friends (did not participate in the actual slaughter, just the meat fixings); learned to make scrapple and sausage; designed a chicken house for pullets and laying hens that we are getting quotes on now; went in search of wildflowers of Kentucky (with camera, not clippers); worked on a book proposal with another writer; sold a condensed version of my blog on "Appalachian Homeplace," with two of my own photos, to Old-House Interiors (for their twice-annual publication, Early Homes); and am finalizing my talk for Stan Hywet next week in Akron.
More writing irons in the fire, and other non-bloggable developments, which are also good ~ and let's not forget my monthly Bunco gathering with new friends in nearby Casey County. And I have more blog fodder, and photos, too. In sum, I've done everything but clean up my office and better organize it: the story of my life (and married life, too, but I have a patient husband and at least I keep my piles to just one room). I can hear the childhood refrain now: "Cathy, you can't go out and play until you PICK UP YOUR ROOM!" [Yes, I was a clutterer-piler back then when I had very little to clutter and pile apart from books and dolls.]
I realize as I've tried to step away from this computer and blog world for a time that I really can't: it is too necessary for what I do, how I think, write and process stuff. But it hasn't hurt to try and regulate my time on it a bit more. After all, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote her books on a tablet and typewriter, probably while multitasking in her farm kitchen. We know that Emily Dickinson certainly wrote (often in her pantry) and juggled household tasks. It's not impossible ~ one just has to be highly focused and organized.
These computers are supposed to give us more time, are they not? And yet I find them to be the ultimate time consumers. An hour later and there you are--if not writing "in the zone" as it were, I often ask myself what I have I done? "And you might ask yourself, how do I work this?"
One look at our Mennonite friends' cellar pantry (and this photo only shows half of their supply) and I realize how productive time can be. After a day of grinding up 74 pounds of sausage meat, packaging up scrapple and pork tenderloins for the freezer, and rendering and canning 16 quarts of lard it was not hard to compare the difference between that productivity, however combined it was in labor force, and 3,000 words on a good day.
There is also an inescapable Zen-like quality to working like this, in the moment and the task, with a productive output at the end of the day. Writing is similar, yes, but it is more self-absorbed and doesn't always keep the children fed and in clothing. Meanwhile, there are times when my own children probably think I prefer writing to their company. This is a hard thing for me and one reason I'm trying to better regulate my writing time. And yet, I can't imagine not ever writing. It has always been a part of who I am and want to be.