Life’s flotsam

Tomorrow I fly away again, this time to Charleston, SC to visit my doctor son, my eldest child.  The day before a trip is always a restless one.  There are a hundred things I should do to get ready.  First of all, pack.  Then, of course, I should leave the house in order for Jerry, who will stay here and look after our 3 black animals – two toy poodles and a 15 pound cat.


Instead being diligent about travel preparations I started rummaging through old papers and files.  I was looking for a collection of poems that I wrote some years ago, thinking I might dare to put some of them on my blog.  For some reason I’m reticent about doing that.  I think they might be terribly bad poems.  Anyhow, it’s not really a problem since I couldn’t find them.


I found lots of other stuff.  Webster gives as a second definition of flotsam: (after the original meaning, floating wreckage of a ship which works) “an accumulation of unimportant, miscellaneous, and often disordered trifles.”  That pretty well sums up the things I was looking at:  old bills, divorce decrees, letters, diplomas, scientific papers that I wrote years ago, artist’s statements, term papers, drafts of my daughter’s novel, my kid’s report cards, vaccination records of long dead animals.  Enough. 


A couple of things I’ll share here.  They are excerpts from journals I started and abandoned.  I have many notebooks with a few pages filled followed by emptiness.


I kept a diary part of the time when my second husband, Willis, and I traveled around Europe for 6 months during his sabbatical.  We had 3 of  my/our children with us: Julie, 20, Debbie, 12, and Benjamin, almost 1.  We camped when we could, because we had little money. Here’s a diary entry, undated, but sometime in spring of 1973.



“We picked up our camping stuff in Frankfurt and drove to Heidelberg where we spent our first night camping.  Julie and I unpacked the new tent and began figuring out how to assemble it.  The weather looked threatening.  We ended up pitching the tent in a hurry in the middle of a thunder storm and poor Jules got sopping wet.  Benjamin didn’t like the tent and tried to crawl out under the flap. 


When the storm was over Julie and I walked down to the kiosk and noticed that all the other tents looked nice and neat, smooth and tight over their supports.  Ours was kind of wrinkled because we had poles of various lengths and had assembled them wrongly.


There was a high bank up to a highway from the campground.  During the thunderstorm a Mercedes Benz had crashed over the bank and landed upside down, demolishing 3 cars below in the campground. 


The camping place was pretty, on a canal with mountains rising behind it.  It turned out to be the noisiest place I was ever in.  All night long trucks roared up the highway.  Barges chugged continually down the canal, and it turned out that there was a nearby railroad station and an airport.  At 6:30 an air hammer across the canal commenced hammering.  However, the bathrooms were good.  Heidelberg was lovely – what we saw of it – brown, pinkish stone ornate buildings with lots of roses all around.”



In another unfinished notebook, 10 years later, this time dated Jan1, 1983, Clearwater Beach:



“I took a morning walk to buy this book and some fast film to use at the race track today.  The weather is just the same as it was last New Year’s Day at Bradenton Beach – gray and warm.  Warmer, perhaps this year and not so foggy.  Maybe warmer because of the hot spot in the ocean near the Aleutian  Islands which is causing us to have this peculiar winter weather.  I like this warm gray air. 


I like the motel here with its ambience of slow elegance from some earlier decade.  The 30’s perhaps.  It is well kept and quiet.  Full of Swedes all the time.  The streets and alleys around here are dilapidated – little shops not prospering but hanging on.  You don’t need to make so much money in a warm climate.  There are a lot of scraggly tropical plants and a light smell of garbage in the soft air.  Lots of old people. 


I walked down a short dead end to a trash littered beach on a small bay.  There was a float in the water with a big rumpled blue heron sitting on it, hunched and disconsolate looking.  I liked it all anyhow. 


A child rode by on a small bicycle, and a child in not so common a sight here.  He had long messy hair and looked too thick and muscular for his height.  He spat, and when I looked more closely his face seemed tight and hard.  I wondered if he was really a child.”



Now it is evening.  I have spent the day focused on bygone times.  I did go with Jerry for our walk with the poodles at around 4 this afternoon.  The weather was clear, and spring is coming.  And I cooked coq-au-vin, a whole chicken so there would be food for Jerry while I am gone. 


It’s finally time for me to go and pack.  I have to be up at 5:30 tomorrow and travel all day.  I’ll be back with all you ethereal friends of the blog world next week.

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6 Responses to Life’s flotsam

  1. Jan says:

    Happy traveling! I hope your, erm, jetsam gets you there safely. 😉

  2. Darlene says:

    Next month I will have to go through preparing for a trip to visit my daughter. I am so slow now that I have to start a week early to get it all done.

    I love travel but hate the ‘before’ and ‘after’ chores.

    Enjoy your trip and visiting with your son.

  3. Annie says:

    I have done that too. Land in my office to look for something emerging hours later with reflections and memories from things discovered. I wish you found your poems, I would like to hear those. Have a safe trip.

  4. Dick says:

    Bon voyage! Those vivid, detailed accounts are going to go down the generations. Now there’s posterity!

  5. beth says:

    Your journal entries are fascinating and I hope you’ll share more – and also that you’ll find the poems. Like you I have some of those notebooks that are a good start followed by emptiness; it was the computer that finally allowed me to keep a journal going, back in the early 1980s. Odd.

  6. btchakir says:

    Forgot to say happy Birthday last week, which I regret… so Happy belated B’day and have a nice trip.

    Under The LobsterScope

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