Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Beside my easy chair, the shelf of the bookcase nearest my knee holds a neat rank of journals, ready-to-hand when I hear a line on TV, see it in a book, a magazine, a letter. I grab the latest in the array and jot down whatever catches my fancy, whatever makes an impression, while I can remember the quote and the author. Some of the writing needs deciphering in the light of day, as I’ve been known to write in the dark, scooting the pen up and over the lines of the paper, and dotting I’s and crossing T’s in inappropriate places, leaving myself to wonder if I’ve jotted down a grocery list or a gem of wisdom unsurpassed in philosophy.

Some are small things, tiny bits of wisdom or insight which I’d like to keep and make a part of my own pattern; others just struck me for the composition and the flow of the words. I don’t care who said ‘em, I just want to keep them, to read later or to happen upon with a little lift of Ahhh when I’m searching for a recipe or a phone number.

The books are filled with such little sayings, such interesting tidbits, sandwiched among the pages of parties we’ve catered, addresses and e-mails and phone numbers and tracking numbers for packages. They just wait there, for me to thumb back through, picking up the spilled bits of ribbon or torn paper or recipes or shattery-pressed four-leaf-clovers, fragile as dried spiders on a windowsill.

A few of the hundreds of little thoughts which people my journals---they’re small things, but they BRIGHT me.

Every rock and bump and detour in the road puts one more muscle in my moral constitution.
Barney in The Music Festers, known as The Choir episode

Friends are quiet angels who lift us off our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.
Someone named Aunt Dolly, somewhere on the Internet.

My temperament and my instinct had told me alike that the author, who writes at his own emergency, remains and needs to remain at his private remove. I wished to be, not effaced, but invisible—actually a powerful position. Perspective, the line of vision, the frame of vision—these set a distance.

When we are in the act of writing we are alone and on our own, in a kind of absolute state of Do Not Disturb. Eudora Welty 1909—2001

One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don't come home at night. Margaret Mead

If you don't use success to enrich your life, then you're just putting failure into Gucci shoes. Mick Jagger's character in Elysian Fields

I want to be my Momma when I grow up. My Friend Kim, in an e-mail---no present or accolade in a Mother’s life can top that.

John Russell, on why he continued to lend a fair ear to less-than-stellar music and an open-minded eye to the indecipherable art with which he was confronted in his post as Art Critic of the New York Times:

“I do not see my role as primarily punitive,” he wrote in “Reading Russell.” “There are artists whose work I dread to see yet again, dance-dramas that in my view have set back the American psyche several hundred years, composers whose names drive me from the concert hall, authors whose books I shall never willingly reopen. But it has never seemed to me much of an ambition to go though life snarling and spewing.”
John Russell NYT Art Critic 1919—2008

Dear Miss Manners: What should a lady carry in her purse?
Gentle Reader,
A clean handkerchief and enough money to get home if she needs to use the handkerchief because she has been taken ill or made to cry. Judith Martin

Re: the I’ll Apologize When SHE Apologizes Philosophy of life:

"It's these little gestures, where closeness could have been fostered and instead distance was formed, that are life's great tragedies because no one mourns them" A brilliantly insightful young woman named Tabris on Etiquette Hell.

We're here. We're required to show up, attend the party, and clean up afterward. Life, according to Minnesota Matron

On the ordinary, unexpected GOOD things:

It was a gentle jolt, a reminder that these inconspicuous, ordinary moments of nice— the cups of sugar, the genuine smiles, the held doors, the jumped batteries, the can I get that for yous— are what keep us fastened and snapped, what keep us gentle and sweet. Like milk and eggs, these unexpected twinklings of everyday grace are the staples of life. They are what measure us.
Mrs. G. Derfwad Manor

There are pages and volumes more, and I hope to be open to new ideas and philosophies and bits and pieces of learning, as long as I and the books last.

Opening one of the books and finding a forgotten snippet is like encountering a valued old friend.


Indy Cookie said...

Yet another eloquent post! Perhaps I should take your lead and start keeping paper and pen at hand!

Anonymous said...

Racheld, you decorate the world with your presence, beauty, & prose Daily joy just reading your post.

Cousin Maggie

Anonymous said...

This is one of my favorite snippets.

Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of others. Oh, be swift to love, make haste to be kind.

Maggie in Birmingham

RobinfromCA said...

I have a shelf of blank journals because I love them and can't stop buying them. But then, I don't write in them. This is a great idea. I need to keep one in every room for when I hear something (or see something) great to write down! Now - how about a picture of your journal shelf! ;-)


racheld said...

I'm adding that one to my journal, Maggie---thank you for everything.

I just snapped a picture of the shelf, and will wait for Chris to come home; I can post pictures, but he must have the card thing in the car.

Kim Shook said...

I'm honored to be included, Rachel. I do the same thing (mine is in a Word document, because most of my favorite quotations are found online) and here's one of my very favorites: "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body...but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOO HOO what a ride!" I want to have this painted on my kitchen wall.

racheld said...

I can just SEEE that!!! It's just like you.

Minnesota Matron said...

The Matron is flattered! Email any time at

That's zero one seven. Love all these snippets, by the way!!