I love books. Not simply reading, but books. I love the physical presence of books.
I have a Nook. I use it sometimes. In fact, it will be my companion on my upcoming trip.
But, my books are my treasures. Not every book on the shelf, but several are among the items I would load up if I had to evacuate. (Living where we do, that is a consideration.)
On my shelves are non-fiction books from the thirties through the sixties. I have a title called Orchids On Your Budget by Marjorie Hillis and its predecessor called Live Alone and Like It. I got the second to go with the first. I love her writer’s voice as much as the format and content of the books. They are copy written in the thirties.
I have a 1947 Good Housekeeping’s Housekeeping Book. I found this book at the university library over 30 years ago. I couldn’t recall the title, so I faithfully dug through piles of old books at resale shops over the years until I hit pay dirt. I paid $3.00 for it. I would have dropped $20.00 for it without batting an eye, so much did I want it.
Sixpence in Her Shoe and How to Be a Successful Mother also hold high status on my shelves. M. F. K. Fisher’s works are there alongside a book about folklore and customs of pre-WWI England.
I have some modern titles along the lines of keeping house and lifestyle or fashion. My family also supplies me with books about things of the Pacific Islands.
I have always admired the Hollywood costumer, Edith Head. I always look for the costumer’s name in the credits and am pleased when it is her. I had picked up a book at a resale shop a few years ago called The Dress Doctor. I thought it was simply illustrated by her. I finally picked it up while tucked in the house out of the cold rain we have had these many recent days. What a find! It is written as her in first person talking about fitting and costuming the legendary ladies of what is now considered Old Hollywood. I am loving it!
Having recently seen Gloria Swanson in Sadie Thompson and Clara Bow in It, I was delighted to read about what they were like. They are “new” in my experience. Mae West was another I have only just recently had an opportunity to see in film. She is another one Ms. Head writes about who is remarkable in what she would do for the effect she wanted. Strong women with a strong sense of who they were and what they wanted. If they had fears or reservations, they held them in check and moved forward.
My love for old books has linked up with my love for old movies. I am particular and odd in my tastes. But, being “different” is one of my favorite things about me. Now to get my fears and reservations in check and move forward as well. My treasures provide inspiration and hope for me.
My grandmother called them “nerve pills”. She would go to the doctor and get a prescription for anti-anxiety pills. I wonder what demons chased her. I wonder why she could be so violently angry and yet so generously loving.
When I was growing up, she would come spend the night and sleep with me in my bed. She would rub my back for the longest time. I guess until I fell asleep sometimes. That was good medicine for me. I need to be touched to feel loved. I need hugs and kisses and cuddles and back rubs to feel all is right with the world.
These days those kinds of things are scarce in my life. There is only him and infrequently my angel baby to provide such affection. That need in me is why in never put a certain baby down when she is with me.
I must often turn to another kind of good medicine. A muddy waterhole on the Neches River. It is actually a legitimate lake. Neglected and dismissed in the shadow of grander drama queens in the area. She is home to me as much as this house in which I live.
When the tears flow, I run to her like a mother. I walk through my abandoned parkway and the tears fall. I call out to the ones who have gone before. I call out to Him. Always, I am met with one or the other of them. This evening my grandmother, not the one above, but the other one, passed through my mind. I talked to her and felt her presence. I could see her clearly and recall images of us together.
I was overcome with despair and grief at the losses I have faced. But, then suddenly, unexpectedly, something changed. Rather than ending in resignation and toiling home to endure a season of sadness, I stopped in my tracks and turned to the water. I spoke out loud.
“I do not want to feel this way. I do not want to be sad and grieving. I do not want to feel useless and without purpose. I will not do this. I will not despair.” And I looked out over my muddy waterhole and saw the beautiful lady that she is to me. I was filled with courage, peace and strength.
Further evidence of my ever improving emotional health. See my beautiful lady. She shines gracefully and serenely. Welcoming my tears and returning them to me as calmness. She is my nerve pill. Just to have her in sight is enough to allow me to reach deeply into my soul and straighten out the tangles of darkness. I never know which of my ancestors will meet me. My Lord always meets me. And my lady, the lake herself, patiently awaits. I live here on a hill above her. I cannot see her from here, but she in only minutes away on running feet. Comfort to me for as much of my half century I can recall. Here she is in her cold winter evening shimmer, veiled with black lace. Isn’t she lovely?