Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Three Elizabeths and the Sensory Life

I've been remiss in telling you about my reading. I stopped midway in Elizabeth Shackleton's Touring Through France, and it sits on my bedside table yet. I was thick in the middle of Elizabeth Goudge's The White Witch, an historical drama set in Civil War England, when friend Lisa sent me a lovely temptation: Elizabeth Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Bronte. Not many books could lure me away from Goudge, but the powerful combination of Gaskell and Bronte won out in an instant.
So many Elizabeths. 
I gave away all my books by Alexander McCall Smith because the Dalhousie book I read did not attract me, and I don't have reading hours to sacrifice to books less than what I love.

Living has changed much since I was a girl. Cell phones, computers, the internet, Alexa, GPS and Google Maps, Amazon Prime and Netflix. I, like some of you, am ironically conflicted between using and wanting these things, and missing the simplicity of life without them. Would I turn the world back? Would I prefer life with only a land line, a set of encyclopedias on the shelf, and 3 major networks on a Motorola TV?

I want a sensory life. Living in front of a screen (of any size) for hours each day seems so killing to me. I want activities that engage all my senses; screens and internet overwork the eyes, give little to the ears, and leave the rest of me -- taste, smell, and particularly touch -- starving for stimulation.

In my studio, I keep incense burning, and often a candle, for the scent. I usually have tea and some little cookie or crust to nibble. I keep Pandora or a youtube channel or my turntable going. And then I turn my face from the screen and do something with my hands, giving my eyes a rest. What relief! My desk is a cluttered mess, as is the room, but what that means is there is lots to touch, lots to fuss with and sort through. Spinning is tactile. So is painting. Washing dishes, digging in dirt, petting a dog, hanging laundry -- I find myself longing for these things. Typing, on the otherhand, is hard on the fingers, a brutal, repetitive work that tires the hands and does nothing to satisfy them. 

I am only 54, but I am too old to be wasting any time. Eternity on a beautiful New Earth awaits me, but that's no reason to neglect life here, and not make it all God means for life to be -- chock full of beauty, kindness, gentleness, joy, and life. I ask myself more often these days, "Is this activity life-giving?" Does it give life and joy to anyone else, or to myself? If not, it's time to cut it out.

When the weather warms just a bit more (next week?) I may do a little walking tour video of the herb bed. I enjoy other people's youtube videos; why not contribute some myself? We'll see.
Beginning a new celery plant

Last summer's celery plant, miraculously surviving winter
Adam's organic potato, developing eyes

Last summer's tomato sauce, being reduced now to paste

A new batch of fleece cloud, dizzed moments ago

A tomato plant I dug from the garden last fall,
 that's survived winter somehow on the front porch


  1. I hope you do make a video of your herb bed. I wonder if that tomato plant will flourish and produce fruit again this year??
    I have never much cared for Alexander McColl Smith's books.

  2. M.K. I have such fun making my little videos. I hope you've seen mine that I posted earlier in my yard as the storm was winding down. You need to try it. Seeing your garden would be wonderful. It's also fun to hear the voice of the person you've been corresponding with, too. LOL Sometimes it is a total surprise. Enjoy your day!

  3. Oh I liked all the Alexander McCall Smith books, especially the series in Scotland with Bertie.

    I feel that I have found a happy medium with the new electronic era. I spend lots of time outside, reading, and doing things not on the computer. I can't imagine not being able to blog though and really enjoy it.

  4. Glad you're loving the Life of Charlotte Bronte! I spend way too much time on my computer, I know. Can't wait 'til I get moved out to the country where I can just walk outside and do things! And I agree, it's not worth spending time on books you don't love. :)

  5. I have a little old copy of Mrs. Gaskell's book. It was the first book I remember buying when I was at college. I seem to remember getting it for a really cheap price as the owner of the second hand bookshop took pity on a poor student.

  6. I feel the same way. While I love being able to look things up quickly, and visit with blog friends and write my blog, it does feel that sometimes it's all so life-sucking!! (The screen, not my friends!) I still am trying to find the balance. There was something about the quietness of the past that is so appealing, isn't there? I am knitting a sweater, a first for me, and I have to do it in complete silence. I am really enjoying that enforced quiet.

  7. I know what you mean about the screen time and wanting to do real things! I need to get beck that balance!


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