Tuesday, October 2, 2012

the ordinary course

“Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.”

~ Charles Dickens

“When things are taking their ordinary course, it is hard to remember what matters. There are so many things you would never think to tell anyone. And I believe they may be the things that mean most to you, and that even your own child would have to know in order to know you well at all.”
~ Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

I'd picked up Gilead this morning, read this line and that passage.  It's among the very finest books I've ever read. The voice sinks into one immediately, and it's so full of wisdom and joy and sadness. It's been a while since I read it, and mainly I put the above quotation here to remind myself to read it once again. 

I began the post with these interior shots, which seems appropriate on a rainy day in the changing of seasons.  And thinking about the gestures we make in our home, a couple of roses in a milk glass, placing a nectarine in a bowl of apples. And the way the light finds these things.  Well, the genre of still life has been going on since Pompeii, before that even. My life has been centred around the table, around the still life for 23 years. I have been long attuned to the slant of light on a table. I'm yet astonished by what I see. By what I don't see. What I hurry by, or miss, because I'm in the midst of getting ready for work, or readying our daughter for school, or bogged down in this or that.  

It is hard to remember what matters.  What you would describe to your child if you knew you had only so much time. 

And I think strangely, that's partly also why I've begun, ever so slowly, this new book I'm writing, have just started, called Transactions with Beauty, and which is going to be partly based on the mutterings and natterings of this blog for the past several years. I want to write it for her - to tell her those things I'd never think to tell her. So that she may know me well, that part of me.  

Best of all, I have 4 days in a row, where I'm not working at the day job, which means I'll be able to dive into this project - something resembling a writing retreat, in my own home - for me, the best place to retreat, and to work, and to be creative.


  1. What a wonderful title, Shawna, and what a project. Lucky her. Lucky us.

  2. Yes, I envy you that. So much to say . . .

  3. gosh, I was enjoying those tasty images and then I nearly fell apart reading about how you've begun your new book dedicated or addressed really to your daughter. I've often thought I should do a journal, of sorts, for my son. He appreciates my writing, my thoughts, and what I do. I haven't written anything down for him -- yet. I pass along the occasional blog post for him to read. It never seems enough. As I get older, I worry that I'm not leaving him enough. OF course, I don't mean money, I mean parts of me.

  4. I also don't think the letters I've sent him are enough either ... I want to leave him more.

  5. thanks, all. and Diane - you should, you should!


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