Thursday, March 31, 2022

Ellie Reading and Rearranging

Earlier this month, Ellie came up with her own plan
of removing a shelf - length of books & stacking them
all as high as she could reach on top of Gerry's desk.
My friend Len wrote:
"Wonderful photograph capturing the concentration and joy of rearranging books (with the hint of dangerous adventure!). I remember when Leah was first able to crawl around and reach for items on the shelves. We had to keep the bottom shelves tightly packed or she pulled them down on her head. But perhaps this was an early forecast of the great pleasure she has still rearranging books and shelves."

For her project, Ellie picked the section of cookbooks that overlap with autobiography. Here she is, placing Michael Pollan's Food Rules on top of Nora Ephron's Heartburn.

When she picked up Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a copy of this poem fell out. I forgot that I had stuck it in there -- no doubt, "for future reference" -- several years ago. Unfortunately, many of the things I store away "for future reference" end up lost forever; but luckily, this one has made its way back to me.

Hope; An Owner's Manual

Look, you might as well know, this thing
is going to take endless repair: rubber bands,
crazy glue, tapioca, the square of the hypotenuse.
Nineteenth century novels. Heartstrings, sunrise:
all of these are useful. Also, feathers.

To keep it humming, sometimes you have to stand
on an incline, where everything looks possible;
on the line you drew yourself. Or in
the grocery line, making faces at a toddler
secretly, over his mother's shoulder.
You might have to pop the clutch and run
past all the evidence. Past everyone who is
laughing or praying for you. Definitely you don't
want to go directly to jail, but still, here you go,
passing time, passing strange. Don't pass this up.

In the worst of times, you will have to pass it off.
Park it and fly by the seat of your pants. With nothing
in the bank, you'll still want to take the express.
Tiptoe past the dogs of the apocalypse that are sleeping
in the shade of your future. Pay at the window.
Pass your hope like a bad check.
You might still have just enough time. To make a deposit.

Taken from Kingsolver's commencement address
at Duke University, Durham, NC, May 11, 2008.


See also:

Leonard Orr's poem: "Desperate Times."
Risk and hope are so much alike, after all.


A Year of Ellie Reading
@Kitti's Book List
“Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows
she can read printed words. . . . From that time on,
the world was hers for the reading”!

from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
by Betty Smith



Reading Charm
@Kitti's Book List
"What an astonishing thing a book is. . . .
proof that humans are capable of working magic"!

from Cosmos
by Carl Sagan


  1. Love the coincidence of Kingsolver being found by Ellie—and the feathers!

  2. Thanks Jan! Takes me right back to "Lucky Rock"!