Typewriting, sewing machines etc (from St Juan Island)

Up on St Juan Island, Washington state, on a farm (more later). Just opened Robert Lowell’s Letters, which I am very much looking forward to reading, having already, years ago, read the lively correspondence he and Elizabeth Bishop had. But I stop because the Introduction, which deals with his typing skills or lack of them, takes me back to my high school days, when my mother insisted that typing—and eventually, shorthand—were necessary skills for a young woman, in case she had to earn a living between graduation from university with a degree is some femininity-enhancing field (just not engineering, law or medicine) and marriage. So I spent one soulless summer learning to type. Nowadays, of course, everyone can type. I can still do it, with all ten fingers. I also know how to iron a man’s shirt, make a bed with hospital corners—well, you get the picture.

I even have a poem in my new book (whenever) about sewing machines and how every home should have one. (Eventually I gave mine to my household help, and it very quickly ended up in the Philippines.)