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I brought two big cardboard boxes down from the attic the other day. My life is in those boxes. They are full of photographs--full of other versions of me, other time periods, memories, people, places. I have been pulling them out by the handful and sorting through them. I have been exclaiming in wonder; caught off-guard by things, people, and moments I had forgotten.

We are so many different people over the years. I have photos of me as a young teen with braces, big glasses, and feathered bangs-- the '80s were not kind. There are handfuls of school photos from that time signed on the back with love from friends I barely remember and friends I have lost touch with. I am in my twenties and newly married. I am a new mom. My kids arrive and I am not in the photos much anymore because I am behind the camera. There are five million of my son with his happy grin and chubby belly. There are almost as many of my daughter, adorable and shy.

When my daughter was a few months old we got a digital camera and the photos are all on the computer now. We can scroll through them whenever we want but somehow it isn't quite the same. I do it sometimes and ooh and aah over the memories but shuffling through stacks of photos or paging through photo albums feels different. The photos are tangible and somehow that makes the memories tangible too. I am there at 16 in the middle of a slumber party with my friends. My kids are little again. My husband and I are young and newly in love. That trip just happened. I feel like I can walk down that street, walk into that room, talk to that person.

I showed lots of the photos to my kids. They were polite about some, baffled by the fashion choices in many, and quietly fascinated by their resemblance to us. Yes, my son does look just like his father and a lot like my brother. How is that possible?

I sorted all the photos and threw away the blurred ones and the duplicates, or most of them. It is hard to throw away cute photos of your kids no matter how many similar photos you have. I put them in photo boxes in vaguely chronological order and then I stacked the boxes on a shelf. I might not look at them again for a long time but they are there, waiting for me. All our past lives. Our memories.

A Poem for a Thursday #15

Raymond Carver was an American short story writer and poet. His writing is described as stripped down and minimalist. His work helped revitalize the short story genre. While his short stories made his reputation he was also known for his poetry. In fact, he had two volumes of poems published before a volume of his short stories was published.  His poetry has been compared to that of Robert Frost. It was said of him that he "consciously chisels a world out of workaday details." This poem is a perfect example of that. You read it and you see what he saw. You are in the poem with him appreciating the moment of happiness.

So early it's still almost dark out.
I'm near the window with coffee,
and the usual morning stuff
that passes for thought.

When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.

They wear caps and sweaters,
and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy
they aren't saying anything, these boys.

I think if they could, they would take
each other's arm.
It's early in the morning, 
and they are doing this thing together.

They come on, slowly.
The sky is taking on light,
though the moon still hangs pale over the water.

Such beauty that for a minute
death and ambition, even love,
doesn't enter into this.

Happiness. It comes on
unexpectedly.  And goes beyond, really,
any early morning talk about it.

Raymond Carver

Being Crafty

My daughter likes doing crafts. I am not so good at them. However, in my ongoing efforts to be a good mom, I have been trying a few different things lately. My daughter throws ideas out right and left and I grab onto the ones that seem vaguely doable. We have had some abysmal failures and some results that have potential. Since I am proud of my efforts, if not the results, I am going to show you what I have been up to lately.

 I mentioned a little while ago that I bought a typewriter. I decided I wanted to type some of my favorite bookish quotes and display them. I now have this quote on my mantel. I am quite pleased with it and now have a long list of other quotes I want to use though I can't imagine where I think I am going to put them all. Typing on a typewriter has made me realize just how sloppy my typing has gotten. When you can just backspace you don't worry so much about mistakes.

Celia and I spent the afternoon with an old friend of mine and she taught us a bit about how to make jewelry. The earrings and necklace in the photo are my creations. Celia made a necklace but she is at school and I can't ask her permission to post a photo. When she gets home I'll add one if it is okay with her. It was a lot of fun to mix and match beads and see all the different possibilities. I think we might get together again and make something else. Of course, I don't think I have an outfit to go with this. I'll have to do something about that.

I was puttering around on Etsy and I came across listings for tea wallets. It seemed like a brilliant idea since I drink a lot of tea and most restaurants I go to have a horrible selection of teas. I thought I could probably figure out how to make one and this is the result. I am not a seamstress so don't look too closely. It is full of mistakes but I am sure I will do better with the next one. The tea was a gift and not my usual brand.

I had scraps of fabric left so I used it to make a gift bag. It was so easy and so satisfying. Maybe I should learn to sew properly. I also have an apron half made. I need to get back to that.

Celia and I have also made a few knotted bracelets and necklaces. None of them have come out particularly well but I am sure practice will improve them. I am not the most patient person so I tend to want immediate results but I suppose that is not reasonable.

What quote would you type and display in your home?