Friday, March 10, 2006

On my mind--Lists

I've have been hard at work this week with tasks on my list and little concentrated computer time. So, while I've been hard at work at other things, I have come up with a bunch of topics I want to write about. But, translating those mental topics into the blog space is another whole subject. Often, those mental topics seem like such significant writing topics until the keyboard and the fingers come into contact, then, poof! It's gone.

I have been very diligent this year to "attend to my list." Without my list, I flounder. But with it, I succeed and can accomplish much. I laughed today while woodwashing the furniture and thinking about my obsession with my list, that I must like all things list-related. There's a book I've wanted to read for several years, in fact, I've wanted it since I first saw it in a catalog. It's called The List but it has to do with a list of English loyalists during the American Revolution.

I still want the book...which leads to another post topic. Again, while woodwashing a specific bookshelve, I saw several books I bought over a decade ago and have never gotten around to reading. Right then and there, I decided that I would do my best to go through the shelves soon, add the unread books to my to-read list (there's that list again), and make a conscious effort not to buy, no, try not to buy so many new books before I get these others read. So, while having a salad lunch computer check before I get on with the items on my afternoon list, I find two books I want to read. New books. And I add them to my shopping cart at Amazon. Not for immediate purchase, just for the next purchase. You see, I have lists there too--I have the shopping cart list and the wishlist list. The shopping cart list has priority over the wishlist. It's hopeless. Or I am.

Speaking of reading, if I continue to have these wake-up-at-1:30 a.m.-and-stay-awake until-dawn nights, I'll get through that to-read list. Almost all week, I've awakened at about 1:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. The cure is to turn on my booklight and read a few pages, whatever it takes, until I get a little sleepy. Works everytime.

That reminds me of how awed I am at writers who can create such visible you-are-there word pictures. I was reading in Jeff Shaara's book
The Last Full Measure the other afternoon. Shaara had transported me to the Civil War battle at Spotsylvania, one of the ten costliest battles of the war (out of 113,000 soldiers, there were 27,000+ causalties). It was raining, raining, raining. Mud was everywhere. No shelter other than some scrap of what-not a soldier could make-do with. Sputtering fires, if the rain hadn't put them out, producing more dense smoke than heat. And it was dark. Even when morning came, it was dark from heavy clouds and smoke. It was just an awful situation.

I say Shaara transported me there. When I finished reading that chapter, and it was dark and miserable in Spotsylvania, I put the book down and got up. Momentarily I couldn't understand why it was light outside. Where are the clouds, the smoke, the rain, the misery? As soon as the thought passed through my mind, I realized, oh, it was just in the book, not here right now.

An author who can paint words as the here-and-now has a gift. Read his book and see for yourself. In fact, be sure to read all his books. Shaara's Civil War trilogy starts with Gods and Generals, then The Killer Angels, and culminating in The Last Full Measure. Great historical books. I have only one of his left that I've not read, To the Last Man that is on my list for later this year.

The mail has just arrived, and lo and behold, a recent purchase has arrived. And it is a book of lists of sorts. I'm not sure where I came across this title, A Book of Days for the Literary Year edited by Neal T. Jones. (If one of you readers ever mentioned this book, feel free to raise your hand and tell me.) A Book of Days is out of print, but this just-arrived used copy is lovely and in good condition. Today, March 10, tells me that one of my most favorite authors was born, veteranerian James Herriott of the All Creatures Great and Small books. I am going to enjoy this each morning added to this year's daily reading of A Year with C. S. Lewis and The One Year Book of Christian History.

By the way, I call dusting woodwashing because I use a certain mixture of water and wood cleaner called Wood Wash. This stuff is great cleaner and doesn't hurt the wood. I also use it to mop my hardwood floors. A gallon of this lasts me 16 months or longer because it is concentrated. Then again, maybe it's because I don't mop or woodwash than often. Both tasks I will gladly pay someone else to do the day I earn an honest-to-goodness bona fide paycheck.

Spring looks and feels like it is here to stay. Most of the week has been unseasonably warm. This morning, when I put the cats outside at 6 a.m., the air smelled so good. And it was warm in my nostrils this morning. The cherry and nectarine tree buds are swelling and the red maple across the field is budding. It is always the first to herald spring with its scarlet buds against a grey woods.

Are you a list-maker? Do you find a list helps or hinders you with daily accomplishments?

Time to check my list again.


© 2003-2007 M-mv said...

Was it us?

Carol in Oregon said...

Janie, Janie. Janie!! I have "The List" on my shelf to read. We study through historical periods and I always have more books to read than time to get through them. We move on to the next period, and the book languishes on the shelf.

I read C.D. Baker's other book, "A Journey of Souls", about the Children's Crusade, aloud to my son when he was 10 or 11. It was excellent, and a particularly sweet memory of time shared together. I remember sitting on the deck in the summer, tears escaping down my cheeks as I read about the tragedy. I appreciated his writing and he helped to answer the question: How COULD parents allow their kids to go on this crusade?

I've read the first two of Shaara's trilogy but haven't gotten to Last Full Measure yet. The book on the Mexican War captured me. (When I have to read while I'm brushing my teeth, I know I'm hooked!) Also Shaara's book on WWI is on my to read list.

I admire your book reading list. I tend to be more impulsive. I have books to read, but they often get pushed out of the way for an impulsive read.

Have you ever listened to Capercaillie? A Celtic group, whose lead singer has been described by Sean Connery as "a throat that is surely touched by God." Just a tip to my Celtic-music-loving friend.

I love your blog entries. Keep writing, my friend!

Jeff Miller said...

I have been known to have lists of lists.....
I love book lists particularly.

Without a list, I am apt to wander aimlessly & live a very ineffective & inefficient life.