Monthly Archives: April 2014

Moving Things

Note:  For those of you saying “geeze, Jo, you can’t even keep your posting schedule going for more than a week?” I must apologize; the internet company forgot to transfer our services to our new address, and so I was internetless on Monday and Tuesday.  Things should be fairly normal starting next week!

Onto the original post:

I’m no stranger to moving, even if I’m only distantly acquainted with being packed in a timely manner.  There’s probably some sort of “like many of my generation” here, as I’ve moved at least once a year every year since graduating college.  College, too, came with back-and-forths, but at least in the end I was always going the same place: home or school.  It’s been four years since I’ve had any real permanent sense of place, but that’s for another post.

This post is about my stuff.

As my mom is so fond of saying, when she helped me move from Seattle she refused to pack a single box for me.  She cleaned the entire apartment top to bottom (and got our security deposit back in full–thanks Mom!), but I was responsible for throwing everything in boxes and making sure they were safe and secure in the back of the car.  I may have lingering shame about my inability to avoid procrastination, but I take great pride in my packing–protecting breakable items with paper towels, fitting things into boxes so they don’t rattle around, not mixing kitchen things with bedroom items so that unpacking is relatively easy–that, I’m darn good at.

I’m also something of a pack rat, so the process of packing allows me to unearth not only old things but old memories.  Ask me “what is this?” of some ratty old piece of paper and almost every time I will be able to tell you not only what it is, but also why I kept it.  I know what they say about cleaning out, how you have to throw things away and narrow down all your memorabilia to one or two things that really matter, and it’s something I’m slowly trying to get better at, but it is not my forte.  (Of course, I also have a secondary memory of many of the things I’ve thrown out, possibly because I find the experience vaguely traumatic.  For me, it’s much easier to lose things and forget about them than it is to have to decide consciously to get rid of something.  My pencil pouch from high school with nearly every important note I’d ever passed in class disappeared somewhere in my sophomore year of college, and I only felt a vague regret.  Had you actually made me get rid of the notes…well, clearly I was incapable of doing it on my own.  And I was younger then! but clearly have not made much progress in that department.)

Moving has always been a chance to revisit those memories, and my last-minute style of packing has often forced my hand in terms of disposing of things that I don’t know what to do with.  It’s also a chance to take ownership of my things–to recognize what I value, what I think is worth dragging around with me, to be aware of just what all I own, to maybe donate or give away those things that I really don’t need anymore, or maybe never needed in the first place.  It forces me to take stock of my life and my possessions and to reflect, if only for a moment, on their importance in my life, and it allows me to start life in my new location with only the things I really wanted to bring with me.

Unless, of course, someone else does the moving for you.

Since my husband’s in the Army, and the Army will pay to move you, we had movers come last Tuesday to pack up our house and load it onto their truck and haul it away.  The one bright spot here was that I was in no way expected to have to move any furniture, which is a really big deal because I am pretty useless when it comes to heavy lifting.  And we don’t have to rent a U-Haul and drive it ourselves, which is nice.

But standing around while other people pack my things just about drove me up the wall.  It did drive me out of the house to run errands while my husband supervised the movers.  Part of it was I think a class issue.  I’m not at all accustomed to paying other people to do that kind of work for me or to sitting around while someone else does something I could clearly at least help with.  I understand that they can’t put boxes we packed on their truck because of liability issues–I understand they’re being paid to do the work–but not being able to help, having to sit and watch and try to stay out of the way, just made me feel uncomfortably lazy.

But it was also the fact that the movers, who were very polite and professional gentlemen, just happened to be packing my things.  These things are not important to them; they don’t have memories associated with them; and since I hadn’t had a real chance to go through the house and sort everything, I don’t even know what I sent on that truck with them.  Furthermore, they took my stuff away on a truck and with it I lost all control over what happens to it.  And yes, I understand that if they lose it or break it they owe us money, but money doesn’t replace memories that I didn’t even get to retrod.

And then part of me feels guilty for being so concerned over what happens to my things–part of me feels guilty about the amount of things I have, thinks of Christ telling the rich young man to sell all his possessions–and we’re all called to stewardship and to share our blessings freely, and some of us are called to give everything up and others are called to prudence with what they have.  And I wasn’t called to a religious order; I was called to marry my husband, which means compromise (another topic for another post).  Yet rather like my pencil pouch it’d be easier to let everything go if the truck simply disappeared, drove all that stuff out of my life and never brought it back, instead of making me responsible for those decisions.

Am I too comfortable with the life and things I have?  Do the things I have help me to serve others, or only to serve myself?  When I do dispose of things, do I make every effort to find ways they can be reused or transformed, instead of just rotting on a landfill?  Do I recognize the difference between mementos and junk?

Some of those I do better at than others, but it’s always worth the reflection.  (Even the language I’m using here–“things” and “stuff” instead of, say, “belongings” or “possessions”–subconsciously points away from ownership and towards something more objective.  Maybe it’s just lazy writing!  OR IS IT.)

I guess I’ll be doing mine on the unpacking side this time around.

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The name of this blog comes from the following poem, a poem, as my husband said, about things as they ought to be:


The Satisfactions of the Mad Farmer


Growing weather; enough rain;
the cow’s udder tight with milk;
the peach tree bent with its yield;
honey golden in the white comb;

the pastures deep in clover and grass,
enough, and more than enough;

the ground, new worked, moist
and yielding underfoot, the feet
comfortable in it as roots;

the early garden: potatoes, onions,
peas, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots,
radishes, marking their straight rows
with green, before the trees are leafed;

raspberries ripe and heavy amid their foliage,
currants shining red in clusters amid their foliage,
strawberries red ripe with the white
flowers still on the vines–picked
with the dew on them, before breakfast;

grape clusters heavy under broad leaves,
powdery bloom on fruit black with sweetness
–an ancient delight, delighting;

the bodies of children, joyful
without dread of their spending,
surprised at nightfall to be weary;

the bodies of women in loose cotton,
cool and closed in the evenings
of summer, like contented houses;

the bodies of men, able in the heat
and sweat and weight and length
of the day’s work, eager in their spending,
attending to nightfall, the bodies of women;

sleep after love, dreaming
white lilies blooming
coolly out of the flesh;

after sleep, enablement
to go on with work, morning a clear gift;

the maidenhood of the day,
cobwebs unbroken in the dewy grass;

the work of feeding and clothing and housing,
done with more than enough knowledge
and with more than enough love,
by those who do not have to be told;

any building well built, the rafters
firm to the walls, the walls firm,
the joists without give,
the proportions clear,
the fitting exact, even unseen,
bolts and hinges that turn home
without a jiggle;

any work worthy
of the day’s maidenhood;

any man whose words
lead precisely to what exists,
who never stoops to persuasion;

the talk of friends, lightened and cleared
by all that can be assumed;

deer tracks in the wet path,
the deer sprung from them, gone on;

live streams, live shiftings
of the sun in the summer woods;

the great hollow-trunked beech,
a landmark I loved to return to,
its leaves gold-lit on the silver
branches in the fall: blown down
after a hundred years of standing,
a footbridge over the stream;

the quiet in the woods of a summer morning,
the voice of a pewee passing through it
like a tight silver wire;

a little clearing among cedars,
white clover and wild strawberries
beneath an opening to the sky
–heavenly, I thought it,
so perfect; had I foreseen it
I would have desired it
no less than it deserves;

fox tracks in snow, the impact
of lightness upon lightness,
unendingly silent.

What I know of spirit is astir
in the world. The god I have always expected
to appear at the woods’ edge, beckoning,
I have always expected to be
a great relisher of this world, its good
grown immortal in his mind.


–from The Collected Poems of Wendell Berry, 1957-1982

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A Brief Introduction

Who are you?
For the purposes of introduction, my name is Jo.  I’m a twenty-something missus with an internet connection.

What do you do?
If you’re asking about employment, I’ve worked as a cashier, a ticket office girl, and a teacher, the latter being my favorite.  At the moment I live at home and contemplate how describing myself as a “homemaker” suggests that I ought to make sure the dirty clothes make it to the laundry hamper 100% of the time.

If you’re asking about hobbies, I read, I write, I play video games, I surf the internet.  I accidentally memorize movies.  I bake.  I photograph.  I play Dungeons and Dragons when I can find a group.  You know, the usual.

Why a blog?
An excellent question!  It does seem to me that the internet has an abundance of these and that my voice may merely be adding to the cacophony.

On the other hand, I’ve been meditating recently about my internet usage and general productivity, and the thought of starting a blog popped into my head and refused to go away, so we’re giving it a try.  Like I said, I believe part of everyone’s uniqueness stems from their unique communities and relationships, so maybe my corner of the cacophony will reach those who otherwise wouldn’t hear it at all.

So what can we expect from this blog?
I figure I’ll see how it evolves, but my tentative plan is to try a three-times-a-week posting plan about whatever happens to inspire me.  General topics will probably include morality, popular culture, metaphysics, the outdoors, marriage, Army life, my dog–alternately, things I see on Facebook and want to talk about at greater length.

I see Facebook as a public forum, a place where people gather together and exchange links and pictures and occasionally have deeper discussions–but ultimately a public place.  Facebook is for little updates, for general questions–politics and religion (among other topics) certainly come up, but I personally don’t feel like it’s always the best place to discuss those things.  And so while I might occasionally post a link that conveys my opinion on something, it’s someone else’s words, not mine, and people don’t have to click on it.

People certainly don’t have to click on the link to my blog, either, but once you’re here this is my space, and I can discuss whatever I like at whatever length I like.  And my goal is to discuss it with you! to invite your opinion and commentary, to have conversations in the comments, to seek understanding a mutual accord–I am blessed with a diversity of acquaintances and seek to grow and better myself for having known them.

So welcome again, and I hope you’ll stick around.

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I believe every individual is unique, created for a unique purpose only they can fulfill.  I believe that purpose exists within the context of their surrounding community, and that we have a responsibility to help each other achieve that purpose.  I believe these purposes give us dignity, and if we all have dignity we deserve to be treated with it.  I believe in Truth and in encouraging others to seek it.  I believe fear is the greatest obstacle we face, and I believe we have a responsibility to encourage each other to overcome it.

I also believe we are human and prone to failure, that we hurt each other, that forgiveness is hard, that the world can be a harsh and nasty place, often because we make it that way.  But I believe we are created, that we are created good, and that we are created for love, and if we trust in these things and seek them, we can make the world a better place.

So welcome to my blog!  I look forward to making the journey with you.  🙂

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