Oh, my word! What a royal mess my writing studio had become. My space looked a fright at the end of March, just before my memoir launch party April 1.
On that day friends and family would descend on our home to inspect my second memoir. They’d head for the refreshment bar, but first, they might peer into my writing studio just inside the front door.
Winston Churchill says that writing a book begins as a toy and an amusement, becomes a mistress, then a master and then a tyrant. And then, “just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him out to the public.”
After the tyrant was tamed, my writing space looked like this:
I don’t know why I’m smiling. Maybe feeling goofy because I was keeping such crazy hours. Maybe because I no longer needed these pages and wanted to file them away–out of sight.
What I discovered after the dust had settled . . . snippets from the blue journal you see at the bottom edge of the photo above. In it, I found bits and pieces I wrote in long-hand about my Grandma Longenecker in 1963, the year I graduated from college and had begun teaching at Lancaster Mennonite School.
October 25, 1963
Her judgment: A couple at Bossler Church with 3 young daughters considered serving as house parents in Honduras. “Should we go?” they asked. “If you want my honest opinion—yes. But it’s your decision.”
Her joie de vivre: On the way to help out at a house sale in Newville, (PA), Grandma burst into song, “Oh, what a beautiful Morning.” (I observed then, “There are not many 74-year-old Mennonite Grandmas who are so spontaneous and plucky.)
An innocent “boast” I met a lady at the sale who hadn’t seen me for 40 years. She said I didn’t look any older than when I saw her last.
Anger vs. acceptance: My sisters and I were irritated about going to Harrisburg in Ruthie’s old, gray car. We sulked and acted peeved about our mode of transportation. Grandma said to us afterwards: “We had a very pleasant trip!”
February 7, 1965
Grandma to me after a rainy Sunday:
“I spent the afternoon recalling some of the poems about rain I memorized in school. Here is an excerpt from what she may have recited:
“Rain,” by Robert Louis Stevenson
The rain is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here, And on the ships at sea. . . .
July 24, 1966
During my short stay at Grandma’s while doing a writing assignment for Herald Press in Scottdale, PA, I hinted at paying board. Her reply: “Why, I tell the ‘wren-ies’ in the morning sometimes, “No rent, the place (bird-bath) is all yours!”
Another Discovery: A long-lost letter from Grandma’s daughter, my Aunt Ruthie Longenecker, via my sister Janice Caverly.
June 15, 1971 Here are excerpts from a letter my Aunt Ruthie wrote to me (age 30), I was a mother to Crista, finishing up teaching summer term, and expecting our second child, son Joel.
Now that school is over are you housecleaning, too? I’m getting ready for the kitchen tomorrow. On the table here with me are 2 cardboard cartons, full of Grandma’s ferns and flowers + my jar full of slips, and a tumbler with 3 lovely pink roses and some baby’s breath . . . The place generally looks a wreck.
The poem I found while “housecleaning” some magazines. This note places some more I found as a gentle reminder to please send a donation—I’m trying to catch after in an awful lot of places
We surely have been eating our fill of sugar peas and strawberries and lettuce right fresh from the garden. We’ve been having luscious peas and strawberries every day and sometimes 2 times a day for the past two weeks. Cherries and apricots will be next.
Grandma is real good—Last week for a couple of days her back was very crooked—she picked too many strawberries.
I had a letter from Bill. Hope your legs are better. Best wishes to all.
Ann Adams illustrated her hand-written card to me with a line drawing. After contracting polio, the artist trained herself to draw with a pencil between her teeth. Each drawing took up to two months to complete.
My Studio after the Clean-up
I’ve written about Clean vs. Messy before. Check out a previous POST .
A snap from the Launch Party on April 1, 2023, here featuring Bobby Oliver, whom I describe in a previous post as My Ideal Reader!
Find my new book HERE!
Besides Robert Louis Stevenson’s verse, what other poems about rain can you recall?
Does it matter whether your work space is clean? messy?