Life in the Slow Lane

Contemplating life, faith, words, and memories

Hope Is Alive! — May 19, 2022

Hope Is Alive!

In March, we began year three of the pandemic and hoped for a return to normal. From afar, we watched the destruction of Ukraine and its people by Russia. In Portland, many people struggled with the continuing crisis of homelessness. Crime is on the increase with shootings almost every night of the week. And in Oregon, we are experiencing another surge of new Covid cases. It seems one thing begins to improve and another pops up somewhere nearby, in the country, or in the world.

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The Elusive Maggie — May 9, 2022

The Elusive Maggie

Last Friday we had scheduled a vet appointment for our cat, Maggie. As usual, Maggie took up her place on the end of the sofa in our family room. We sat down to breakfast and our morning devotional and prayers. When I got up from the table, I took note that Maggie was still napping on the sofa.
 
Some 25 minutes before we had to leave, I didn’t realize Bob had brought in the pet carrier from the garage. Nor did I notice that Maggie was gone from her post on the sofa. Suddenly I heard Bob ask where Maggie had gone. Who knew?
 
Getting Maggie into the carrier hasn’t been a problem before. This time it wasn’t going to hold true.

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Day Brightener — May 6, 2022

Day Brightener

Yesterday we awoke to the sound of rain. After two sunny days, it was a disappointment. We’d like summer to last a little longer than two days. Not much opportunity to get out and work in the yard or do other outdoor activities.
 
But there was something new on our calendar. Well, not exactly new. Only half new.
 
Our financial advisor for the last 15-plus years is a kind and gentle man. He is someone we trust and appreciate for many reasons. One of those reasons is how and where we meet when we need to sign documents or discuss our financial situation.

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Revisiting On the Brink of Everything by Parker J. Palmer — May 3, 2022

Revisiting On the Brink of Everything by Parker J. Palmer

My first reading of Parker Palmer‘s book, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old, occurred sometime between late 2018 and early 2019. I found great comfort in it then, and I am in my second reading. It’s even better now.

My second round of reading On the Brink of Everything began when I picked it up from my desk one day shortly after the pandemic began in March 2020. When I seek comfort, peace, and light, I turn to the Bible, prayer, or the words of believers. Palmer is one of those believers. On the Brink had brought me comfort before, along with a tasty tidbit of humor here and there. Why not give it a second go? Continue reading

A Collection of Mini Memoir Reviews — April 26, 2022

A Collection of Mini Memoir Reviews

It has been a while since I’ve posted reviews of memoirs I’ve read. Perhaps the most efficient way to catch up is to present them as shorter reviews. I hope the shorter format will be helpful in highlighting for you three of my favorites.

Remember, one of the best pieces of advice for those writing memoirs is to read the work of others sharing their life stories.

Trove by Sandra Miller, Memoir, Truth, Buried TreasureSandra Miller‘s memoir, Trove: A Woman’s Search for Truth and Buried Treasure, is a National Book Award Winner. A reviewer might feel inclined to let that honor stand as its review. But you need to know that Miller’s search for buried treasure isn’t all about a large chest filled with gold.

Miller’s writing is colloquial and thus allows you to feel like you are sitting over coffee or tea chatting with a friend. As a result, Trove is hard to put down. Miller’s words are honest and heartfelt while filled with courage and authenticity. I found myself cheering her on in her search for the feeling we have all experienced at one time or another in our lives—the feeling of regret and confusion in middle age. This is one memoir that I have kept on my shelf of favorites. I highly recommend it.

 


Marcia Butler is the author of The Skin Above My Knee. She is also a  professional oboist and has played with many world-renowned orchestras and symphonies. And yet Butler has led a life filled with stresses in her childhood home resulting from a detached mother and an abusive father. The oboe represents her lifeline to sanity as she moves through other difficult relationships and bad choices.

Through her truthful narrative, Butler shows how music can offer the benefits of healing and strengthening the human soul.

My favorite line from Butler’s memoir is: “You love to feel stable within music’s velvety language.”

An inspiring story that shouldn’t be missed.

 


Anderson Cooper, Gloria Vanderbilt, Memoir, Life, Love, Loss


I rarely purchase memoirs written by celebrities, but the first few words of the synopsis of Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt‘s The Rainbow Comes and Goes persuaded me to take a deeper look:

“A touching and intimate correspondence between Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, offers timeless wisdom and a revealing glimpse into their lives.”

The correspondence referenced here happened as the result of a busy man and his 91-year-old mother agreeing to change their relationship by committing to a year-long conversation. This agreement came about following a brief but serious illness experienced by Vanderbilt.

One could describe their letters as a son’s love letters to his mother and a mother’s life lessons to her son. This memoir is beautiful and affectionate as well as a truthful celebration of life. A must-read!

 


These three memoirs have been waiting in the wings far too long. It is my pleasure to offer you good writing examples, perhaps even different formats such as that used by Cooper and Vanderbilt in sharing their story. All of these books can be found on Goodreads.

Happy reading and writing,

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Featured Image Attribution: Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay

Note: Please see Disclosures for information regarding any links from which you might purchase a book or other materials.

On Winter’s Margin by Mary Oliver — April 13, 2022

On Winter’s Margin by Mary Oliver

Sitting here in the Pacific NW in mid-April, dark gray days with rain one day, snow the next. Sometimes wind and thunderstorms. Dumping of hail yesterday; it lingers still. I watch for nature’s population. Mary Oliver had a unique perspective on nature as can be seen in her poem, On Winter’s Margin.

I had another post underway for today, but our weather patterns in Oregon have been rather strange. Maybe they are mystifying where you live as well. One day last week we enjoyed a sunny day with a temperature of 75. Then our weather predictors began talking snow from the height of the mountains down to the valley floor where we live. My first paragraph above describes this week, so far. These conditions drew me to Oliver’s poem.

Now sit back and enjoy Mary Oliver’s poem. As always, Oliver fills her stanzas with an understanding of shadow and light both in nature and in human nature.

Sherrey

 

Featured Image Attribution:  Photo by Valentin Hintikka on Unsplash 

 



ON WINTER'S MARGIN by Mary Oliver

On winter’s margin, see the small birds now
With half-forged memories come flocking home
To gardens famous for their charity.
The green globe’s broken; vines like tangled veins
Hang at the entrance to the silent wood.

With half a loaf, I am the prince of crumbs;
By snow’s down, the birds amassed will sing
Like children for their sire to walk abroad!
But what I love, is the gray stubborn hawk
Who floats alone beyond the frozen vines;
And what I dream of are the patient deer
Who stand on legs like reeds and drink that wind; -

They are what saves the world: who choose to grow
Thin to a starting point beyond this squalor.

~~ From Famous Poets & Poems