October 2008


SMALL PLEASURES

One thing people might not know about me is that I enjoy postal stamps—but perhaps not in the same way as collectors do.  I just am particular about which ones I buy, and I very much enjoy choosing which ones to put on which envelope I am mailing.


Modern days have made this both difficult and enjoyable.  Because of email, I don’t send near as many letters as I used to, and that’s sad.  BUT if I go to the local postal office and they don’t have any interesting stamps to purchase, I can go online and buy them with only $1 shipping fee.  Not that their website is the easiest thing to figure out….still, it’s worth it.


There is only one stamp I have ever kept, because I couldn’t bear to part with it:  the Star Trek ship Enterprise.  It’s laying around in the drawer somewhere, and it’s nice to see it when I come across it.


 


Here are the ones I’ve been buying lately:


 


So, if you ever get a letter from me, be sure to look at the stamp.  Because I’ve chosen it especially for you!


SMALL PLEASURES

One thing people might not know about me is that I enjoy postal stamps-but perhaps not in the same way as collectors do.  I just am particular about which ones I buy, and I very much enjoy choosing which ones to put on which envelope I am mailing.

Modern days have made this both difficult and enjoyable.  Because of email, I don’t send near as many letters as I used to, and that’s sad.  BUT if I go to the local postal office and they don’t have any interesting stamps to purchase, I can go online and buy them with only $1 shipping fee.  Not that their website is the easiest thing to figure out….still, it’s worth it.

There is only one stamp I have ever kept, because I couldn’t bear to part with it:  the Star Trek ship Enterprise.  It’s laying around in the drawer somewhere, and it’s nice to see it when I come across it.

Here are the ones I’ve been buying lately:

So, if you ever get a letter from me, be sure to look at the stamp.  Because I’ve chosen it especially for you!

GLUTTONED, NOT GLUTENED

I made a glutton out of myself yesterday at a celiac conference (for those who cannot eat gluten –wheat, barley, rye, or oats).  A group of Pittsburgh doctors who specialize in gastroenterology hosted some lectures and then we visited 22 gluten-free vendors who behaved like barkers at a circus:  “COME!  EAT, EAT!  TAKE MORE!  TRY THEM ALL!” 

It was exceedingly fun.  I came home with tons of goodies, including some bagels that are “to die for.”

 

Heard while I was eating a brownie:  “This is like trick-or-treating for celiacs!”

Heard while eating a doughnut:  “I can’t believe I’m walking around drinking gluten-free beer!”

GLUTTONED, NOT GLUTENED

I made a glutton out of myself yesterday at a celiac conference (for those who cannot eat gluten –wheat, barley, rye, or oats).  A group of Pittsburgh doctors who specialize in gastroenterology hosted some lectures and then we visited 22 gluten-free vendors who behaved like barkers at a circus:  “COME!  EAT, EAT!  TAKE MORE!  TRY THEM ALL!”

It was exceedingly fun.  I came home with tons of goodies, including some bagels that are “to die for.”

Heard while I was eating a brownie:  “This is like trick-or-treating for celiacs!”

Heard while eating a doughnut:  “I can’t believe I’m walking around drinking gluten-free beer!”

IT’S IN THE COLOR

I suspect that nowadays, my “special places” are mostly special trees, and these mostly in the fall.  There was once a perfect orange maple on the way to town that grew on the edge of a woods, at an open field.  Because it grew unfettered from the others, its shape was magnificent, and it had autumn leaves of brilliant orange that made it stand out from everything else, like a bright exclamation point.

One day they cut out the biggest trees in that woods, for money.  And my tree was gone, just like that!  I was/am so affronted that they would take my tree, never even knowing its TRUE value.  I still look at its empty spot and think of it as I drive by.

I am blessed with another tree that gives me joy this time of year.  It’s just outside my window, and I can turn my head at any time to see it.  Every tree has its own annual habits, and this one is one of the first to turn color, so it glows with a green background behind it.

IT’S IN THE COLOR

I suspect that nowadays, my “special places” are mostly special trees, and these mostly in the fall.  There was once a perfect orange maple on the way to town that grew on the edge of a woods, at an open field.  Because it grew unfettered from the others, its shape was magnificent, and it had autumn leaves of brilliant orange that made it stand out from everything else, like a bright exclamation point.

One day they cut out the biggest trees in that woods, for money.  And my tree was gone, just like that!  I was/am so affronted that they would take my tree, never even knowing its TRUE value.  I still look at its empty spot and think of it as I drive by.

I am blessed with another tree that gives me joy this time of year.  It’s just outside my window, and I can turn my head at any time to see it.  Every tree has its own annual habits, and this one is one of the first to turn color, so it glows with a green background behind it.

MAKING IT YOURS

In her second book, Happy the Land, Louise Dickinson Rich talks about special places:

“Have you ever seen a place—a house, a meadow lying lazy in the sun, a walled garden, a reedy bend of river—and felt, finally and beyond argument, “That’s mine”?  It might have been only a glimpse from a train window of a place you knew you’d never again lay eyes on, but something quick and compelling sprang up in the heart at the sight, and when you were past you’d left a part of yourself there, forever….It was yours.”

I’ve been pondering this for a couple of weeks, wondering if I have such a place.  Two places immediately come to mind, but they are both from long ago, when I was in grad school.  One was a garden that was for some unknown purpose, supposedly used by the science school. Up on a hill, all by itself.  It was closed to us, by a strong chain-link fence. But every evening, my friend and I would stroll up there to chat and to breathe some fresh humid air.  We could walk the perimeter of the garden and smell the flowering bushes.  There was always a bunny or two on the way.

It was our place; no one else seemed to even know it existed.

Sometimes she and I drove to the former home of artist T.C. Steele and sat down to talk or read there.  It is a state historic site of Indiana, a beautiful and quiet place of trees and the House of the Singing Winds.  Oddly enough, we never paid money to see inside the buildings; we just sat and enjoyed.  We were the only ones there.

His wife left an inscription for visitors, and I always felt like it was written just for me:

“Would that you could walk these trails often—and many times alone.  Where T.C. Steele sought and found inspiration for his work, I am hoping that you can find some for yours, no matter what it may be.”

I always kind of wished I could tell her how true that became!

Brown County, Indiana

 

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