In a Nutshell

April 12, 2007

A few years back, my daughter gifted me “The Book of Myself: A Do-it-Yourself Autobiography in 201 Questions”. I was tickled to receive it, but woefully it remained on the shelf untouched. As silly as it sounds, it was hard for me to write in a hardcover book. I wanted what I wrote to be perfect and polished. When she suggested I might want to post instead of actually writing in the book, it sounded like a good idea. So, I began In a Nutshell last December with this post. I got as far as number eight and hit the wall. Number nine sat in the drafts folder for a few months and I finally trashed it.

In the mean time, I received an e-mail from the author. This is what he said:

This is David Marshall, the co-author of The Book of Myself: A Do-it-Yourself Autobiography in 201 Questions. The revised and updated version (green cover instead of gray) is now on the shelves and available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Check out our Marshall Books website for more information about this book and our other titles. Thanks again for your support. David –

So, I thought this was pretty cool; I need to get back on track and see if I can pull it out. After all, I really enjoyed it for awhile. Here’s the thing…we have a very small family. My mom and dad are both gone, as are all of my grandparents. In fact I only knew my dad’s mother. Anyway, there is Willi and me, and my two children who are now making lives of their own. I am blessed to have a wonderful extended family, but the majority of the questions seem to apply to a time before Willi came into my life. It didn’t take long (eight posts) to realize that my subject matter was very limited. In fact, it became downright depressing. Almost everyone I was writing about was dead. Sheesh.

I’d like to resurrect In a Nutshell, but on my own terms this time. I’ll probably stray from the format. I may write about my extended family and on occasion, my friends. And maybe even a critter or two. So here goes…


In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions from a mother for her daughter.

This may take awhile…join us if you like.

9. This person in my family was more serious than the rest: This is my Great Aunt Martha, my mother’s Aunt. She lived a distance from us, so my memories of her come in snapshots at different points in our lives. She married pre-teen to man much her senior and was a widow for the most of the time I knew her. She lived in a small house that I remember had an apricot tree in the back yard, and she made preserves that my dad just loved. He called her Aunt Marthie. My mom told me that she lost a child named Billy. I don’t think he was actually her’s by birth. I also don’t think she ever got over the loss. I liked to go to her house and she like having us, but did not like us to go home. She seemed to have a sense of emptiness, like something was left undone. I always wanted to stay longer.


Aunt Martha is the one who taught me how to “coffeepot”. I’m not sure how much of an education she had, but she had the most inventive way of reading. I believe she was self-taught and it served her well, as many of the pages of the Bible she left were worn thin and lacey around the edges. This is how it worked. As she read, whenever she came to a word she did not know how to pronounce, she substituted the word coffeepot. I loved it when we would read together. I never let on that I knew coffeepot was not the right word, and neither did she! Even now I pull out the old “coffeepot” every once in awhile, and say it again just for Aunt Martha.


6 Responses to “In a Nutshell”

  1. mjd Says:

    What a wonderful post you have written with your return to In a Nutshell. I am glad that you have decided to write the autobiographical stuff on the blog instead of in a hard-bound book. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

    Your memory to Aunt Martha is sweet. Saying “coffeepot” is so much more fun than simply omttting the word or saying the word incorrectly.

  2. Tink Says:

    I missed these! Great story. “Coffeepot.” I just might coin that. 😉

  3. I see you’ve moved to WordPress!! I hope you like it as much as I do. Great memories of Aunt Marthie. I will have to adopt the use of “coffeepot”, too.

  4. I’m so glad that you returned to this. You got me started and I love it and I was afraid that I had driven you away from it!

    Just like you, I had the book for years and couldn’t bring myself to write in it. Also, it was too restricting for the kind of writing I was doing when I was given it, which was stories for Maya. The book didn’t ask the questions that led to those stories. Now I find myself writing about things that I might not have thought of if it weren’t for the book.

  5. pjlibrarian Says:

    Really like the new layout and the “in a nutshell” concept. But, I especially like the coffeepot memory. I often find that people of little educational background sometimes have the most knowledge of life to give as well. They are not cluttered with all that book knowledge and have learned creative means in which to deal with life in uncomplicated and simple ways.

  6. Susan Says:

    I didn’t realize you had been getting your questions from a book. I may have to get this for my folks and get them to answer them for me. Coffeepot certainly is an inventive way to read. What a great memory for you.

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