Monday, March 21, 2005


I planted peas Saturday. It was time. Spring insists on advancing every day. It doesn't wait for me to have time to work in the garden. Some years it sneaks right past me and I realize that the days for planting peas have come and gone while I've been worrying about tax tables and tennis tournaments and other aspects of being a household manager and mother.

My daughter had a lead role in last weekend's high school musical. We were within 15 minutes of leaving for Saturday's perfomance when I headed out the door with my seed packets. I quickly made a trough in the dirt, threw in the seeds and tamped the dirt down over them. They were planted.

Later I said something about having planted peas. My husband noted that I hadn't undertaken that task until late in the day. I may have been reading too much into his tone, but what I heard was that a handful of seeds thrown into the garden at the end of the day wasn't much to show for an entire Saturday at home. While he had a point and I can't claim to have used the day as efficiently as I could have, he was also overlooking something: Peas don't grow well in uncultivated soil. I had been out earlier in the day and turned over the soil in the pea bed. Two days earlier I had moved aside the cover that had been protecting the bed from spring rains so that the heavy clay could dry out enough for early planting. I put that cover there a couple of weeks ago. It was covering soil that had been turned in the fall so that less work would be required now. I've also been sorting my seed collection and pulling out those that need to go into the ground in the next couple of weeks.

Sometimes I'm aware of how little other people know of what makes up my days. When I hit a series of stupid mistakes that's nice. As long as I change settings between goof-ups, no one person sees the full scope of my stupidity. It's not so nice when someone looks at the results of my days and decides that I'm not using my time and talents productively. They see how little I've accomplished on tasks that are important to them and fail to notice any progress on tasks that I'm doing for someone else. Or they underestimate how much effort it took to do something. Like planting peas. 10 minutes. That's all it took. Grab a couple of seed packets, walk out to the garden, open up a shallow trench, toss in some seeds, and cover them up with dirt. Not much accomplishment there.

How often do I lack perception when looking at the actions of others. Do I see them as less mistake-prone than I am since I see so few of their mistakes? Do I see them as contributing less to my favorite projects than they oughtta because I overlook the other demands on their lives? Am I most aware of the times they are relaxing and less observant when they're working?

We never have a complete picture even of those with whom we live. If we are so unaware of even their observable actions, how much less do we know the extent of their inner lives? Each of us sees every mistake we ourselves make. We are aware of every contribution we make to the general welfare of those around us. All day, every day, we observe our own actions and monitor our thoughts and motivations. We know how hard we try and how discouraged we are by our failures. In comparison, we are almost completely ignorant of every other person in the world. Yet, we are often tempted to assess the performance and attitudes of those people of whom we know so little. Is there a way to avoid doing so?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

On writing

Yesterday someone asked me if she could include something I had written on her church web page. She noted that, unfortunately, the church would be unable to pay me anything. Pay me for my words? I know this happens all the time, but it's hard for me to imagine that someone would want to buy my words. I toss out free words every day. There doesn't seem to be much of a market for them. I've even had people walk away while I was still talking, still handing out words to them. Does putting those same words in print give them more value? If so, why? Is it because they're edited and checked for grammar errors? Is it because they're less obtrusive than verbal words, more adaptable to the time schedule of the one receiving them? Is it because I put more thought into them?

Selling words. Come to think of it, some people sell their verbal words: speaking at conferences, preaching sermons, teaching classes. Of course, they have to show up to deliver them. If one sells written words, there's no need to follow them to their destination. I haven't checked back to the church site to see if my words are there yet. I won't have to pay any attention to them once they're there. Nor will I know if anyone reads them or, if someone does, what response they bring.

I have a few words scattered here and there around the internet, all handed out for free. Last time I did a search on my name and town, I discovered someone had copied an Advent devotional I wrote several years ago, along with the rest of the collection, onto a site I'd never seen before. I wonder if that person had permission from the owner of the site where those devotionals were originally published. Does it matter?

The lady with the church website isn't actually buying my words, simply asking for permission to use them. I wonder if offers to pay for words ever come in such unsolicited fashion.

Probably not.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Finding My Voice

As I read the blogs of others, I realize that the best blogs have a theme. The writer has a particular interest and addresses it. What would that interest be for me?

Do I want a diary? (Today I washed the sheets and hung them on the line to dry.)

Do I want a journal? (How pleasant it was to breathe in the fresh scent of the sheets today when retrieving them from the line!)

Will I write about gardening? Parenting? Life at the public library? Small town living? My spiritual journey? Marriage? The empty nest? Music? Books? Probably not movies or television since I so seldom watch either.

Shall I choose a theme or will one gradually find its way to the surface as I write?

I know someone who keeps three blogs -- a personal blog, a reading blog, and a thinking blog. That's besides the articles he posts on his website. I think if I tried that, I would end up neglecting all except one.

I've called my blog "Ponderings". Maybe for now I'll simply ponder as to what I should ponder about.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

On being a writer

I read an article this week that suggested a blog as a good start for becoming a writer. Of course, one would probably need to tell others they have a blog in order to become a writer with readers, but I'm thinking it won't hurt to practice first.

This article suggested writing a weekly column. That sort of discipline scares me. Maybe that's why I'm not actually a writer, only a person who writes.

Life is too wild to write. There are musical costumes to be sewn, meetings to attend, meals to prepare, taxes to figure, general maintenance of soul and body to which I must attend. I write anyway, but most of it is in the form of prayer.

Someone said that if a person can be anything besides a writer, it's a good idea to do so. Can I live without writing? Not well. Can I live without writing for the world to read? Probably. So why am I here?

A deeper question might be, will I keep coming back?