in the middle of unmuddling


I think of the letters shared by women who preceded me . . . “I put up 7 pints of bread-and-butter pickles today.” . . . “Jerry is down in his back again.” . . . “Katie sent me her upside-down pineapple cake recipe. It’s in the oven baking now, and it smells so good. I’ll let you know how it turns out.” . . . “My iris are blooming this year. I separated them last year, planted them not quite so deep.” Sometimes a copy of a new recipe was tucked inside the envelope along with the letter . . . sometimes an article snipped from the local paper . . . sometimes a picture of a grandchild.

I love these old letters. The handwriting is evocative and so is the dailiness of a (so-called) ordinary life. Women staying in touch. Sharing. Reporting in. Plucking jewels from their ordinary day.

Something Sarah said in her comment got me thinking about these letters . . . (she always opens a window for me, and i never know what the view will be but i always love it) . . . about how back in The Day we used blogs and the comments as exchanges of letters. We’d read a blog post and respond in the comment how it resonated with us, what it brought up in us, how it affected us. We’re share stories. Sometimes we’d take something from a comment and write a whole post around it, carrying on the conversation. We had the same 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week, and we used some of that time to read each other’s blogs.

I miss that.

So that’s what I’m gonna’ do here in this blog. That’s what feels right in my bones. It’s like it touches some deep longing and beckons it out to be tended to. Susan says in her comment: “Share when the urge hits and if you don’t feel like it, don’t bother.” Advice that feels real good to these bones. And that’s why I’m posting twice today. Maybe even another post before bedtime (cause I’m getting of an age when at bedtime I can’t remember what happened in the morning, so why not make it easier on myself).

(But hey, one thing you’ll never read here: “I put up 7 pints of pickles today.” You can take that one to the bank.)

p.s. The photo is altar #103. I’m revving that up again. It’s 365 or bust.

p.s. 2: The altar is treasures I picked up on Daytona Beach a couple of weeks ago when we went down for the opening of the museum exhibit my first hymn of cloth is in. Yes, really. Me. My cloth. In a museum exhibit. SQUEEEEE!!!!!


  1. Lindsey Mead

    I miss those days too. xoxo

    • whollyjeanne

      i guess we made so many friends it was hard to keep up. and as we wrote and commented and connected, our voice, our purpose, was honed, becoming less generic, and in that we drifted apart. i don’t know why, exactly, i just know that those were indeed the good ole’ days. xo

  2. Susan F.

    I’m so glad that my suggestion resonated with you. Take good care of yourself and bask in the glow of your work being in a *museum*!

  3. Merry ME

    I don’t know if this is true or not. How could I know? But this is how I felt reading this post. That you’ve been on a different road and now you’re rounding the bend towards home. At first I thought of a hamster in one of those wheels. You’ve been more on the move than any one person I know. Now it’s time to step off the wheel and settle for awhile, get back to baking or gardening, or pickling. The stuff homes are made of. Maybe you’re in a mood for sitting and resting in your own space. It’s inevitable that in the quiet you’ll pause in front of the day’s particular altar, your writing a kind of soul prayer.

    And since I’m getting all woowoo here I’ll finish by saying that since the Nancy project is finished and shared, you might be needing to rest before you start another one. Kind of like when your first child gets to be about 2 or 3 years old and can handle all his/her bathroom chores without too much help. And you kick back to get reacquainted with yourself , then boom, you find you’re preggers again. Creating is creating – babies or art projects, not so different. I encourage you to listen to your heart. It’s telling you what you already know.

    • whollyjeanne

      i read this and hold my heart, grateful to have such a wise, insightful, caring friend. soul prayers, i love that term, and yes, there was a bit of a pause . . . and now i’m starting on Nancy’s scratchings, set 2. it will be the same, it will be different. xo

      • Barbara

        I never even read a blog ’til yesterday and read some of yours for almost an hour — didn’t go to bed until after 11:30! I haven’t seen Nancy for over a year now. Yes, I/we (my Husband) visited at her home and took her to lunch. Love that girl and she still had that sweet smile the last time we saw her. We also took her to get snacks for her “friends.” It’s been nice catching up w/you, Andy and Nancy. Margaret told me she thought Andy had been quite ill. Saw w/interest “the barn.” I remember going there and thinking it would someday make a beautiful place to live.

        • whollyjeanne

          Hi Barbara, Good to hear from you! Hope you’re doing swell. Nancy is definitely still adorable, isn’t she?

  4. Mark

    I miss getting letters in the mail…

    • whollyjeanne

      i do, too, mark. i do, too. and i worry about what future generations will know about us and about this time we live in. i mean, really, can you imagine anybody sitting down and going through our emailboxes? me either.

      • Mark

        I’ve a friend who spends time backing up all his emails from friends in gigantic text files. I think he has saved all our chats as well. I’m not sure whether this is a good or a bad thing….

        • whollyjeanne

          as a personal historian, i see how that would make it easier for future generations and harder. overwhelm sets in and causes shutdown. plus there’s just something about holding a piece of paper and looking at the handwriting . . .

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