Many of you know that my husband Tom had to have triple bypass surgery recently, much changing the landscape of our winter holidays. We did have a lovely family Christmas as usual, but two or three days later, much of the family gathered again at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital to visit us there. Within eight days he was home, beginning a predicted 6 - 8 week recovery period. We are hoping for the best and from all we hear, hopefully he will feel like a new man soon. I am home with him most of the time, except when I nip out for yoga classes or shopping. I managed to buy a new file cabinet one day while his daughter stayed with him at the hospital, and thus begun a fun period of home office reorganization.
Some of my old files were overstuffed, and I was able to weed out a lot of unnecessary paper. We'll get plenty of recycling points from the City of Houston this month! But the most fun was had going through photocopied poems, short stories and articles on writing I had collected over the last three decades. I reselected favorites and moved them into notebook binders, making them much more browseable than when they languished in files. Now I might even reread them from time to time, exactly my goal in saving them in the first place. And when I am a little old lady and it is time to trot off to assisted living, I'll have my handy notebooks to take along! I even alphabetized the stories and poems by author (like a good librarian), and in the process reconfirmed just who some of my favorite writers are: poets Billy Collins, Raymond Carver and Jane Kenyon, as well as several small press poet friends, especially Albert Huffstickler; short story writers Edna O'Brien, Julie Hecht, John Sayles and Barbara Kingsolver to mention a few. And there is room to add more. Of course, I also have entire books by some of these writers. And yes, I have electronic files of favorite literary treasures too, largely due to the daily Writer's Almanac email I receive, but there's nothing like an actual binder you can pick up and browse through, especially when the "anthology" is hand-selected.
Other findings included old cards I made for my father as a child, my elementary school report cards, a poem a friend wrote about her father that she no longer had a copy of, and hand-written letters (imagine that; I miss exchanging real letters, something I now only do with a very few friends)! Now it is time to move along into the kitchen, where I intend to move more recipes into binders there. My recipe binders have been multiplying for years. It is very hard to stop collecting recipes, even when you know you will probably never really cook a third of them. But because only you know what you and your family really likes, there's nothing like a personalized collection, especially when notes and comments are added. I love being an armchair cookbook reader, browsing around for the perfect recipe for some special occasion. When I borrow cookbooks from the library I often take photocopies, plus there are so many good recipes online to print from. Cooking from a laptop screen doesn't work for me, but maybe someday I will do better with an iPad.
Best wishes for good health and prosperity in this new year of 2013!