Monday, February 27, 2012


Today I’ve been thinking about work, my work, and also the tradition of work I come from. My father was a telephone man, a lineman; later he ran the switch room. These days one would say he worked in “communications,” as does my oldest son, and in fact, do I. Hey, as you read this, are we not watering the fields of communications, cyber-wise, blog-wise?

A few years ago I retired from a career in librarianship (which is very fine work, indeed) and am now a writer and teacher. I consider this my full time work though I admit to taking lots of long lunch breaks, yoga breaks, and weeks off to garden or paint the kitchen. If I had a union contract it would have to honor the time a writer needs in non-desk activity in order to find the hot wire, the live switch. But if I had a union contract now in the State of Oklahoma I’d be considered communist, a weakling, in cahoots with a leftist devil.

You see, now that my days have elasticity I sometimes find myself  reading the local paper. The current legislature is anti-labor and to make that clear is proposing changing the Oklahoma State motto from “Labor Omnia Vincit” established way back before statehood to “Oklahoma: In God We Trust”. In other words they want to dump the quote from Virgil’s poem Georgics (originally calling on more of the Roman people to take up farming) to a well-worn dollar-begging pious cliché. Shall I tell you what I think? I love Virgil. And though I don’t think we should fall for imperial propaganda and all move to the countryside, I like honoring people’s work.

My mother worked at home for years, sewing our clothes, upholstering chairs, refinishing furniture, canning (though she hated that) ironing, and doing many of the things a 1950’s wife did to very little fanfare. Later she worked as a waitress (I still love the sound of tip change in an apron pocket), and off and on as a seamstress. Once for a while she drew newspaper fashion ads for our local department store. She also trusted in God though she didn’t insist that everyone around her do so. I don't think she would have put it on a bumper sticker.

On a happier note, I also read in the news that the Oklahoma Book Award nominees have been announced. Congratulations to all you poets and writers. Your labor may not have conquered all but it has won the heart of a State that perhaps still knows the value of a seed well sown. I’m thankful for that. Keep up the good work, everyone, whatever it is.