There is something that emanates from my brain giving me the propensity to collect. I am the member of the segment of society that we’ll call the sorters/ categorizers. Not compulsive or a heavy burden, I actually enjoy that part of me. My collections are not limited to the concrete. I collect names, people I have met, and all sorts of historic facts, design elements, natural phenomenon, lyrics to songs, quotations….yes anything I can sort and categorize.
If you count all the abstract stuff in with the concrete stuff I collect it could be quite the mess but since I try to avoid clutter I keep it organized. Let’s take a concrete example, buttons. I love them because there a zillion of them made of a marvelous array of materials. Very few of them are actually costly even when they date back centuries, ideal for collecting. Here is where the limitations are put into place. I have focused on ONLY wood carved buttons that will fit in a birdbath. The birdbath is used as a side table with a glass in place for a surface. Through the glass you can view the buttons. Far from being to restrictive, the allowance for variation is wide. The elements of diversity include size, shape, color, type of wood, age, design etc. Nonetheless I like to add a layer of surprise, discovery that will break the rules or boundries I have created within the collection. In the case of the buttons I have include a nonbutton, a Japanese wood carved fish to swim in the bath of buttons, a Chinese printing block for a prescription medicine and a (horrors!) a metal button of a bird. Well, it is a birdbath after all.
What benefit is a hundred or so buttons in a birdbath in bungalow living room? To me they are attractive, interesting and tactile. If little kids come to visit I let them pick them up and rearrange them within their confines. Something I would not allow them to do, with say, my vases. And, yes, they remember the buttons.
“Moving to the mountains, rather than living in lowlands, can keep you going longer. Adaptation to altitude helps the body cope with lower levels of oxygen, and walking uphill regularly aids the heart.”~ Psychology Today
The plan was…. Who am I kidding? There was no plan, until I felt the company starting to crumble under me. The sense of forboding, that some time soon the company would let me go and/or the company would implode, made me keep my eye out for the next place to be. As it happened the company let me go and then folded a few years later. I considered staying in Norman Oklahoma but downsizing to a small bungalow home where we would reduce our space, our collection and our living expenses. We both had adjusted well to Norman it had OU, arts, entertainment, shopping and parks but I could tell Michael was not enthused. I needed him to be enthused. And then it happened. On a lark we took a trip to Medicine Park; we had an open Saturday (before the demise of my job) and were dressed with no particular place to go. A few Oklahoma friends had had alluded to the mystique of Medicine Park but we had never acted on their advice until then.
Driving in down Eastlake drive I wasn’t convinced of Medicine Park’s draw as we passed a mixed batch of generic country houses and trailers but as we inched closer to town my perception changed. Who could resist the beauty of the Medicine Creek and the backdrop of the Mt. Scott and the quirky cobblestone houses made up of grapefruit sized red granite stones? The picture imperfect made me smile, but more significantly Michael got a bit of a misty look in his eyes. I knew it reminded him of Fish Creek a rustic cottage his family owned in the hills of West Virginia.
We looked for a lot down by Medicine Creek but the prices, even then, felt a little high seeing our goal was to footloose and mortgage free. Subsequently we built our home on Mt. Cummins, Big Rock Road. It’s quiet up here except for the occasional Ft. Sill artillery training and the Sunday night exodus of tourists heading home. And the vistas, oh the vistas. Our little mountain bungalow looks out to valley, mountain, sunsets, clouds, rocks, wild flowers, grasses and post oak trees. And the exercise, there is no way to go but up and down when you walk. And as Psychology Today said it is good for heart and health.
Five years later we still look out in awe as we are presented with another sunset, lightening display or some newly arranged clouds. Sure stress still comes through via the phone lines or wireless through email or cell phones but we can walk the mountain or stare at the sunset and lower the anxiety a little.
One would think if a person has been working with computers since 1985, on the Internet since 1987 (anyone remember CWRU Free-Net?) all their correspondence would be email. One would think. But I am inconsistently unpredictable if nothing else. Ask my family. I have been told that I was the most serendipitous person they knew. I like that. Anyway I still write snail mail to one person. A good friend and former art director from my greeting card days at American Greetings.
I look forward to writing her letters and receiving hers. She hand writes her letters having retired before computers took their place along side paintbrushes in greeting card companies. To add more handcraft she adorns her envelopes in collage style. The envelopes, since they are pictures, are probably worth a thousand words however I am always too eager to get to the content to meditate on their meaning. Her letters expound on garden delights; what rare new fern she has discovered for her Pteridological garden and what affect the current weather is having on her tomatoes. And what would a note from Lily be without one of her political rants, a clipping from the Progressive and copies of her latest letter to the editor? I devour her letters. They cannot be forwarded but can be filed in my sock drawer.
I write back, occasionaly in longhand because I like the feel of the pen in my hand or I am traveling somewhere but more often I type it on the computer and add photos. I like to craft my writing (control issues) and get frustrated if I have to cross out or do inserts with arrows. My envelopes combine my photography with my computer imaging and on occasion poetry of philosophy. Sometimes the envelope is plain but the letter is designed. Last letter I sent a hard copy of one of my posts. It is my way of meeting her half way. (I think that would be someplace near Springfield, IL.)
Coke bottle 1948, roller skate remains 1940’s, roller skate 1970’s, Nehi Upper 10 bottle 1954, muffler, broken glass, mussel shells, misc clothing and hundreds of pull tabs dredged from Medicine Creek bottom. Rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks….
What is the experience worth? The uniqueness of the color, the texture, the weight, the shape that made each lifting of a rock different than the last. Taking the muscles and senses out of storage and putting them to work. Sixty volunteers moving in a Seven Dwarf precision, so few words only the sound of rocks splashing as they are thrown in the direction of the shore, the clunking of stone on metal as they hit the wheelbarrows and the groan of the laden down barrows as they wend down the trail.
A day in the sun to ruminate of swimming holes past.