Earlier this week, Steve and I drove to Cannon Falls where we visited the gorgeous public library. What a friendly space! They are in the midst of their summer reading program, the theme of which “A Universe of Stories” has been met with stellar success. To all the children’s librarians in all of the public libraries across America, thank you for caring so much about kids and reading that you put forth supernova efforts to bring readers and non-readers into the library.
I am grateful for order, specifically alphabetical order. It suits my brain. In my first job, I was a library page, putting books back on the shelves in alphabetical or Dewey decimal order. After 7 years, I couldn’t walk into a bookstore without scanning the shelves to make sure they were in order and using the one-arm technique to align the spines. Today, our home bookshelves are in alphabetical order (except for the nonfiction which is in Dewey, not LC, order). Our DVD collection is in alphabetical order. Even our spices are in alphabetical order although one of us in this household doesn’t seem to realize that. “Where is the marjoram?” So, to the very first person who put things in alphabetical order, I am grateful. You bring me joy daily.
One of my favorite composers, Prokofiev, composed the Lieutenant Kijé Suite to accompany a film by the same name. It was 1934 and it was Sergei Prokofiev’s first commissioned piece. The movie is about a fictitious lieutenant, invented by a bureaucrat, upon whom blame is laid for an action that displeases the tsar. Here, Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra play a glorious version. Listen to the first few minutes and you will be hooked. I am grateful for Prokofiev and his contributions to the music canon.
I am grateful for Rosalie Maggio and the lifetime of work she has done collecting quotes (think about how organized she must be) and writing books about non-discriminatory language, how to say it and how to write it (the right words and phrases for every occasion), and great letters for every occasion. If you’re a writer, you know how much you enjoy having her books on hand. And if you’re not a writer, well, you know how much you need to have her books on hand. Rosalie lived in our area for awhile and I was privileged to meet her. I am in awe of this women’s prodigious knowledge of language … and grateful that she shares a daily quote that provokes me to think. She is an Extraordinary Woman.
I am grateful for Birthday Month. There, I’ve said it out loud. Not that my family and friends are slouches in the Treat Vicki Well department throughout the year but there’s something so … gratifying about claiming a month for your very own. Growing up, my grandmother’s birthday was a week before mine, so we always celebrated our birthdays together with a small family birthday party. That was it. One day. Which is sufficient, right? A whole month is so decadent. Isn’t it? A big thanks to my husband for making this woman feel so special.
Some days it’s tough to reach for a positive attitude, to find something to be grateful for, to pass through the overwhelmingly bad news to believe that it’s up to us to transcend the evil in this world. And then we look up. As one component of millions of people who create the consciousness of this world, looking up is our best reminder of how large our world is … and what we are fighting for.
I tackled my mending pile today. Blanket binding, towel hems, and clothing seams. Besides ruminating about the fragility of cloth, machine sewing is a lot of pinning and measuring and trying to keep the lines straight. As I took pins out, I realized that I should sew that seam again to make it stronger. My mind, being more accustomed to computers than sewing machines these days, immediately thought to press CTRL+Z, to undo my last move. How many times in life do we wish we could press CTRL+Z? I am grateful for the opportunity to “undo” when it arises. If only it weren’t needed so often.
We moved here when I was six and the next year my mother began taking me to the Twins games at Metropolitan Stadium. We sat in the bleachers. We most often went to the game when there was a double-header. It was thrifty. Between games, we had a barbecue beef sandwich and a frosty ice cream cup. It quickly became a tradition. My mother was a bad times and good times fan, far better than I am. But I am grateful to my mother for a strong connection to one sport (she was connected to them all) and the memories of Zoilo Versalles and Harmon Killebrew and Jim Kaat and Mud Cat Grant and Tony Oliva and Halsey Hall and sunburns and getting rained on and hoping someone else would catch the foul ball if it came our way. The crack of the bat … it’s a part of summer for me.
Who would have guessed that I was reading the same books Salman Rushdie was reading at about the same time? I am grateful to Kurt Vonnegut for writing the books that so deeply formed my feelings about war and reality. And I am grateful to Rushdie who so vividly reminds me why these books marked me. Rushdie writes, “It tells us that most human beings are not so bad, except for the ones who are, and that’s valuable information. It tells us that human nature is the one great constant of life on earth, and it beautifully and truthfully shows us human nature neither at its best nor at its worst but how it mostly is, most of the time, even when the times are terrible.”
When our perennial garden blooms each year, I am besotted. Such beauty. We are so blessed by the grace and persistence of these individual works of art.