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Getting trashed despite brilliant writing

Back in 1800, Thomas Jefferson said, “If it were left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

When our third president wrote those words, his newspaper writings probably weren't used to plunk garbage into while toting them to whatever kind of recycling bins they had back then. Or for setting wet, sodden shoes on to keep mud from seeping into the carpet.

This is how newspapers usually end up now. And, yes, this is the thanks we authors get who've spent nights bent over keyboards writing accounts of what goes into those papers - so others can read them while relaxing in an easy chair over morning coffee. One doesn't just turn on a computer screen and out comes a story. Writing is work!

The same goes for the very piece you're reading right now.

Sometimes my husband will say, “Nice story.”

“Easy for you to say,” I answer. “Probably my work and my photo are being covered right now with potato peelings, egg shells and goodness knows what else.”

It makes no difference what section of the paper it is. When the contents of the vacuum-cleaner bag are emptied on top, or when your carefully edited story ends up lining the bottom of the canary's cage, it really doesn't matter who, or what, you are.

One thing about it: Having your literary piece and/or your picture in the paper is a great, social-class leveler; you can be a senior citizen, a young bride, or even President Obama - everyone's the same when you're looking up at the bottom of a bird.

Which reminds me… Did you catch that recent media story on the trouble zoo officials are having trouble finding enough newspapers to line all the animal cages? Just think how many it takes to keep the place clean for that new baby elephant (appealing as she is) galumphing around, and beneath, her mama!

Sometimes I ask myself: Why did you choose to be a writer instead of an artist? Or a musician? Or an architect? At least you'd have a piece of sculpture to grace your mantle. Or a painting to hang on the wall. Or a building with your name engraved on a metal plate by the front door.

Such thoughts surface each Monday morning when our neighborhood's bins are emptied, and my writing efforts are recycled with the rest of the trash.

I was fussing about such indignities to a friend who lives outside the city limits. She listened awhile, and then told me, “We don't recycle - we put newspapers to better use.”

I perked up a bit. “How?”

“We save them to wipe off newborn lambs. Nothing is as good as newspapers for a job like that. Any left, we shred for bedding.”

Now, if you have extra newspapers, please consider contributing them to the King City Lions Club. Members of this nearly 100-year-old, largest-service organization in the world collect them each Tuesday morning and subsequently sell them to a recycling company, and with the approximate $300 monthly stipend, provide local funds for sight, hearing, food banks and medical equipment for those unable to purchase such themselves.

Now, if you're not already on the usual pick-up list in King City, and you have at least three full sacks, call Bill Gerkin at 503-332-4550, and he will arrange one for you. Thank you!

©Copyright 2013 by Isabel Torrey. Torrey, a King City resident who is in her 41st year as a columnist.