I am not a particularly avid collector. Collections, I find, take up way too much room, and requires dusting more frequently than I care to do. I do have a lot of books. They’re everywhere in my house, stacks of them in fact, and only some of them are considered collectibles (i.e. are signed first editions). Most of the books are there to read, or for reference, and periodically I sort through them to determine which of them I can let go of, and then I have my husband cart them to the “book house” at our local transfer station so that someone else may enjoy them.

I do have a collection of trinkets based on the ’39 movie, The Wizard of Oz. And for this, I deliberately set out to collect only small items that would fit neatly behind the glass doors of small cupboards and shadow boxes, thus taking up little room and keeping them virtually dust-free. Smart. Over time I have amassed figurines made of plastic, pewter, or porcelain, most the size of my thumb, and glass marbles painted with the heads of Dorothy and her pals. I have trading cards and thimbles, music boxes, tiny porcelain boxes with even tinier contents, and an assortment of glittery ruby slippers of various sizes. Mostly I acquired these items on eBay, or my husband has because he knows it’s easy one-stop shopping come Christmas time. But small as the items are, they are beginning to require more shelf space than I currently have. I’m working on fixing that.

I have another collection I’ve been working on my entire life, one that needs little storage space or dusting. It’s a collection of words. Words that are lovely and interesting, that have texture, and affect my senses so that I can feel them in my mouth and taste them. They are delicious. Words that conjure up colors and images for me, often unrelated to their actual meaning. Confabulate. Drupaceous. Nacreous. Rugose. These are the kinds of words I stumble upon here and there in the process of living, and I record them in notebooks. I have a lot of notebooks now, but you can keep a lot of words in a notebook. Some of the older notebooks I haven’t looked at in a long, long time, and some have gotten lost entirely. It’s okay. Because, sometimes I stumble upon a word I’ve forgotten or lost and it’s like meeting a childhood friend I haven’t seen in ages and there’s a flicker of recognition, followed by the charm of getting acquainted all over again.


Making Things Up

One of the things I love about children is that they make things up. There are monsters in their closets and under their beds but if they shut their eyes very, very tight it is a well-known fact that monsters can’t see them. My son, when he was little, could make himself invisible to monsters. Not only that, but if he ran past me fast enough he was invisible to me as well, and I wouldn’t see those extra cookies he had taken, or tell him that it was time to stop having all that fun with his friends because now we had to go home. My son was also a spy. He had powers of invisibility in that capacity, too, when he needed them.

I like to make things up myself. I like to make up characters who could be true, and put words in their mouths and thoughts in their heads that might be things that I would say or do, or that my son might, or even the man I saw once who looks very much like one of the characters in the book I am writing now.

I like to tell stories. My husband’s grandmother, a wise woman, used to say, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” By which she meant, every fact is not necessary to the telling, in the end it’s the story that matters. We are the stories we tell, every one of us. It makes us who we are, as well as entertains us, and that is where our truth dwells.


When I was very young, my mother read nightly to my sister and me, alternating between a glossy black bible filled with fables of prodigal sons and babies in bulrushes, and a battered book of fairy tales that told of goose girls and trolls. I think we had only the two books then, but they were both thrilling, and filled with wild, wonderful words that made my head spin. The first word I remember saying again and again just for the sound of it — archangel. Archangel. Not merely an angel, something far grander and more majestic. Something powerful. And thus I learned: A word beside another word and another made sentences and paragraphs and before you knew it you were completely and utterly lost in a wilderness of words. And that was a good thing.