Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Notebooks & The Daily Stats

I take notes out of habit and boredom, a practice formed in grad school, when at any hour of the day or night I might have to look up a Greek word like kakodaimon (evil genius) while reading Aristophanes's The Clouds. Later I bought hardback notebooks, but cheaper, lighter-weight notebooks are better for traveling. On a recent shopping trip, I bought inexpensive composition books (love the yellow one!  Only $1 at Target) and slightly fancier paperback Apica notebooks. 

Bess Streeter Aldrich's house
I use the blue Apica notebooks most often because they fit in my purse. There are quotes from Our Mutual Friend, indecipherable marginalia on Caroline Gordon's stories, "The Last Day in the Filed" and "One Against Thebes,"  and notes on our visit to Iowa-born novelist Bess Streeter Aldrich's home in Elmwood, Nebraska.  Aldrich (1888-1954), author of A Lantern in Her Hand, grew up in Cedar Falls, graduated from Iowa State Normal School (now University of Northern Iowa), taught for several years in Iowa and then supervised student teachers in her hometown, before marrying lawyer Charles Aldrich in 1906.  He bought a bank in Elmwood, Nebraska, where they moved in 1907. Here are some of my notes:

"Built house (where museum is located) in 1922 for $7,000. Piano came on steamboat. Visited Green Drug every day to socialize and pick up mail.  One bad Christmas, when there was no money, the Aldriches made gifts for children and put them in a big pine barrel:  wooden checkers game, log rocking horse, dolls, homemade doll dresses...."

We use another Apica for a bicycling journal.  Huh!  I never remember to write anything down. Bicycling is...boring...good exercise...relaxing...what else can we say?  My husband sometimes remembers to record our rides.

Then there is the big notebook for tracking health care problems.  During a relative's recent hospitalizations, I wrote down vital stats, notes on conversations with doctors and nurses, and health and behavior changes.

"Are you a nurse?" someone asked when I rattled off stats over the phone.

"No, no."  What can you say?  It's a matter of trying to understand the language of medicine, and going over the notes to make good decisions.

And so the notebook-writing goes on... 


Ellen said...

I keep notes in steno pads but as my handwriting has gotten so bad, I've now taken to writing on the computer. Alas, the trouble is I like to sit back at night when I read -- in the front room or on our porch -- away from a computer. (I'm not doing that tonight. It's so hot that my room with its ceiling fan is the best place.) I use my daily postings as a way of making notes on what I read the night before :). It forces me to make them more coherent even if on the Trollope19thC list no one reads what I write. All the better really, Ellen

Frisbee said...

Steno pads are perfect. Just the right size! My notebooks are of every size and shape.

I wrote first on the typewriter and now of course on the computer. It is certainly faster on the computer.