My study is a mess. I've written about this before, but I'm afraid things are not much better, even though I just spent two hours sorting and tossing and gnashing teeth--not because I suddenly got a Tidy Urge or experienced the decades-late expression of an until-now silent Fastidiousness Gene. No, the reason is that a workman is here in the house (it's 7:59 p.m., September 4) to replace the ceiling fan in our bedroom. He said he'd be here between 4 and 6. That meant 6:30. He was here by 6:45. Oh well ... he's a pleasant guy.
The other ceiling fan had performed with silent efficiency since we moved in here in the fall of 1997 (and the fan was "used" by that time, believe me), but lately it's been ... complaining--performing silently for several hours--until we were sound asleep--then groaning, clicking, hiccuping, snarling. We would wake. I would turn it off. We would stare at the ceiling for a long, long time.
Anyway, he's still here (8:01 p.m.), and I, as I said, have been "straightening" my study. And amid an astounding mass of garbage (e.g., multiple drafts of speeches and essays and whatever) I found some glitter--even some gold.
Well, and some things I promptly put in a file drawer--deep in a file drawer--like my high school and undergraduate transcripts, which do little but depress me. And a few bills I would have sworn I paid (nothing crucial: the lights are still on, the ceiling fan will soon work again--it's 8:04 now). Some hurriedly written addresses and phone numbers of people whose identities I have no clue about now. (Recycle.)
I also found a few books I've intended to read and, earlier, could not find. There they were, not two feet from my desk chair.
But the best thing--the brightest gold of all--was a printout of an email I'd sent to my family on May 29, 2000, from this very desk. I'd just gotten back from a Western trip that had multiple purposes: I was making a Jack London presentation at the American Literature Association, held that year in Long Beach, Calif. But I was out there about two weeks--leaving home on the 15th. While I was out there, I drove about a gazillion miles and did the following things (all recounted in this long letter)--these are not in order:
- Met some of the many Dyers out in the Walla Walla Valley--saw for the last time (though I could not have known it then) my uncle John (one of Dad's younger brothers--and a wonderful man) and his daughter, my cousin Patty, who would die a few years later. I loved her. And my aunt Virginia, Dad's little sister, who was losing the war with Alzheimer's.
- While I was there, Uncle John and I scattered some of the ashes of my father, who'd died in late November 1999, at the site of their old family farm in Milton-Freewater, Ore. (Still a farm--just not theirs.)
- Stopped in Eugene, Ore., and saw for the first time the grave of my uncle Ronald, my mom's only sibling, another wonderful man who'd died only a year before. I'd not really accepted/believed that he was gone--not until then.
- Drove up to Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, near Portland, Ore., where I scattered more of Dad's ashes. He had climbed that mountain in 1937--and it remained one of the last things he remembered--and loved to talk about (and embellish, I'm sure).
- Drove out to Cannon Beach, Ore., where my parents had spent the early years of their retirement. I scattered the final 1/3 of Dad's ashes in Wolf Creek, not far from their home, where it cuts across the beach and joins the surf. We had walked there many times--not far from Haystack Rock.
- Drove to Stanford, Calif., where I spent a wonderful couple of days with Claude and Dorothy Steele, great friends from Hiram College days; both were (and are) teaching at Stanford. While we were there, we went to a couple of presentations by Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel). Oh, and we chatted for about a half hour with the Stanford president. No biggie.
- Back in Long Beach, I spent some great hours with my favorite professor from Hiram, Abe C. Ravitz, who'd moved to California in the mid-1960s. I met his wonderful wife, too, and understood immediately why he'd fallen in love. We had meals, took long walks, haunted bookstores. (We're still in touch via FB.)
- At Long Beach, I also had dinner with Dr. Sanford Marovitz, a KSU professor who was so helpful to both Joyce and me in grad school--and remains a good friend.
- And on the plane? I was reading one of the forty-seven novels of Anthony Trollope (The Eustace Diamonds); not many years later I would finish reading them all. And I was also reading a mystery by T. Jefferson Parker, whom I still read (though not so eagerly, I fear). And reading some books to review for Kirkus.
That trip took many to see many places and people of enormous significance to me. Virtually all aspects of my life touching those two weeks in some fashion.
I don't know why I printed out that email from May 29, 2000--the cyber-version is long, long gone, as is the email account I was using then. But I thank my self of thirteen years ago, thank him deeply for showing a bit of foresight. I would have forgotten. Plain forgotten.
I'm alone in my study now; Joyce is upstairs working; the electrician left about 8:15. I'm glad he was here now--and not just because of the ceiling fan. But because I went through the garbage. And found the gold.
|New fan--at work!|