Posted tagged ‘books’

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”

January 22, 2018

When I woke up, I could hear the drops of rain. Still lying in bed, I looked out my window and saw a dark morning with a cloud covered sky. I looked at my clock. It was 10:55. I had gone to bed early for me but couldn’t get to sleep. I read a while until my hand was cold then snuggled under the blankets. I fell asleep but woke up a few times.  When I finally got up to face the day, I noticed my covers were askew and half the comforter was on the floor, evidence of my restlessness.

Maddie was strange yesterday, and it scared me. Her dish was filled as she hadn’t eaten the night before. She didn’t use the puppy pads but did use the floor in a variety of spots, totally not a Maddie move. She wasn’t having her usual morning nap but was following me. She didn’t eat her treats. In the kitchen, she started to squat on the floor. I stopped her. She then dragged her butt across the floor. I grabbed her and checked. Yup, she needed a little help in getting clean. I was thrilled which sounds like a strange reaction to having to clean a cat’s butt, but I was relieved she wasn’t sick. I couldn’t have dealt with that right now. She is my one and only. Maddie was fine this morning. Her food dish was clean, she’d eaten all the treats and used the puppy pads. She’s now asleep on the couch. All is well with my world.

The Patriots did it again. They were behind 20-10 at the half, but we weren’t worried.  Okay, maybe we were a little worried, but they are the Patriots, and we held on to that. They scored two touchdowns in the 4th quarter while the Jaguars scored only two field goals in all of the second half. The Pats won a trip to the Super Bowl with a score of 24 to  20.

I have nothing needing doing today. I have some stuff I could do but don’t have to do. I know that sounds a bit convoluted, but it just means I’m choosing to be lazy, a less than noble choice I know but one I love and continue to espouse.

When I was a kid, I was a busy kid. After school I played outside, and on Saturdays I roamed the town. I rode my bike all year including snowless days in winter. I never  tried to be busy. I just was. The only exception was when I had a good book or even two good books. I’d read all day long. Time passed, and I was unaware. I remember looking out the window once and being surprised it was dark. I still do that with books. I read all day and often into the night. It is never time wasted but rather time to be savored.

“Sleep is good, he said, and books are better.”

October 3, 2017

Words are never enough. We can throw around sympathy, sadness, sorrow and tragedy, but none of those salve our feelings or change the situation. Sarah Huckabee Sanders at her press conference said, “And it would be premature for us to discuss policy when we don’t fully know all the facts, or what took place last night.” What more does she need to know? 59 people were killed and over 500 wounded by a man who had legal weapons according to Nevada law. She continued, “And this isn’t a time for us to go after individuals or organizations. I think that we can have those policy conversations, but today is not that day.” We know there will probably never be a day that strict gun control becomes the law of the land, especially now.

Last night I watched a variety of news programs until I couldn’t stand them any longer. I switched to Cozi TV and watched, of all things, The Munsters. Finally I just turned the TV off and read and tried to lose myself in the pages. That didn’t ‘work. It was a long night.

I slept late this morning. That put me way back. The house was cold when I woke up. I’m thinking it will be that way every morning for now on. Good thing I had my sweatshirt handy. I fed Gracie and Maddie and then took care of myself. I’m on my third cup of coffee. I had an English muffin slathered with butter and jelly. I shared with Gracie.

Tonight is game night, postponed from Sunday. It is my turn to bring food so I’m making Mexican. Yesterday I shopped for all the ingredients. That leaves most off my day free. I do have bird feeders needing to be filled, but that takes only a little time. I got a new book from the library yesterday but I’m working on another, the one I tried to read last night.

I’m thinking what I need is a B movie, a black and white science fiction movie from the 50’s. They hold my attention. They make me laugh. I’m going hunting. Talk to you on Thursday.

“It takes a special kind of personality to enjoy watching the grass grow.”

September 9, 2017

It has been a busy morning. The first ring of the bell was two Mormons hoping to chat. I thanked them and sent them on their way. The second bell was four of the neighborhood boys. They wanted me to know a dead bird was in my little library. They had opened the door to check out the books, and the bird fell out. They also told me there was a hole in the back the woodpecker had made to get in, but obviously not to get out. I went to investigate. It had to have been recent as two weeks ago the library was just fine, no holes, no dead birds. The boys moved the bird out of sight. I went back inside and got Gorilla tape and cleaning stuff as well as a few new books. I scrubbed the inside shelves and cleaned away the bird poop and a few feathers, covered the hole from the inside and the outside with the tape then added and arranged the books. I found a Book of Mormon. I wonder how that got there?

Today is pretty. It is sunny despite wispy clouds, but the sun is only a backdrop. It gives light but little heat. The morning is cool, only 65˚, and it won’t get much warmer. It’s a good day to do errands.

I could hear the lawnmower working from house to house this morning. They did my neighbor next door, who is the landscaper, my neighbor across the street, my lawn and two more down the street. They also used the hedger and the leaf blower to finish each yard. I could tell what was going on from the sounds of the different motors.

I was reminded of my dad and all the neighborhood dads on Saturdays when the lawns were cut and the yards cleaned. They used push mowers and hand clippers. My father loved mowing his lawn and never did convert to a power mower. I gave him rechargeable clippers one year for Father’s Day, and he used them. He even liked them. That was my dad taking this first step into a modern era.

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

March 8, 2016

We have actually hit 50˚ today because there is no wind. The day is bright and the sky is clear of any clouds. I just got back from my library board meeting so I’m done for the day. My outside clothes are going to be replaced by my inside comfy clothes. I brought home three books from the library, and I have yet to read the morning papers. I’m thinking turning pages might just be my only exercise for the day.

Libraries have always been favorite places for me. I used to go at least once a week when I was a kid. The librarian probably didn’t think I was reading all the books because I returned them so quickly. You’d think librarians of all people would understand how books capture you and how difficult it is to put a good book down. I’d sometimes read a book in one day. I’d even read during class by hiding my book inside a textbook. It had to be a big textbook. The best was always geography with history a close second. Not once did I get caught. I’d turned the text book pages to make it all look real. I was adept at concealment.

When I was in Ghana, I read constantly and swear I read most of the books in the Bolga library. We had no radio, no TV and terrible movies shown once in a while in town at the Hotel d’Bull, the hot spot of Bolga back then. Preparing to teach the next day never took long and neither did correcting so with all this time to fill I read. Trips anywhere took what seemed forever so I learned to read while I was on the bus. It used to make me dizzy and sick when I was younger, but I got used to reading on the road in Ghana. Anytime I had a volunteer stay with me, book swapping was part of the visit. We all carried books. When I was in Accra, I’d go to Legon to the main campus of the University of Ghana. It had a book store. I always spent a good bit of money there. Books were almost as important to us as food and water. I don’t think that’s changed.

“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”

November 30, 2014

Yesterday I gave the local economy quite the boost as did so many others. Some shops were filled with people. One store, a small one, had too many shoppers. You could barely move or even get close to the displays, but I still managed to find a few treasures and some unique gifts including the perfect one for my friend. I also found small ornaments to dress the wrapped packages. I do that every year. It’s a small gift, a remembrance for the tree. The book store was a wonderful stop. I got help in choosing just the right books for my 8-year-old grand-nephew and a couple for the 2-year-old. I also bought myself one. Gracie and I were out for almost three hours. She napped in the backseat between trips to the stores and watched for me whenever I parked. I napped when we got home and so did she. Today I have a few things to get: cat food, coffee filters and candle bulbs for the windows, nothing fun, just utilitarian. I’ll go before the football game.

Today is still grey, but it’s warm, in the 50’s, and will be for the next few days. I called my factotum about putting my lights up, and he hopes to be here tomorrow. Last year it was in the teens when he was doing the lights.

Birds galore at the feeders this morning. There were even a few battles for space. One bird swooped in and the poor bird already perched at the feeder took off in a bit of a fright. I have yet to fill the thistle, and I have a bag of sunflowers seeds to fill the big feeders. From my kitchen window I get to watch the birds. I sometimes stand there for a while drinking my coffee.

Yesterday my Turner Classic movies arrived. I now have 6 different 1950’s science fiction movies to watch. It will be black and white movie heaven. One of the films, Them, is actually a fine movie which always gets 3 stars. The rest I haven’t seen, and they  tend to get one or maybe 2 stars: The characters in two movies, Beyond the Time Barrier and The Time Travelers, arrive in futures decimated by plague and nuclear war. Only a handful of normal humans survive. Satellite from the Sky is another one I have never seen. It is about the outer-space detonation of the feared tritonium bomb, but it doesn’t go as planned, of course. I figure a cold night, a howling wind, popcorn and maybe malted milks balls will make for a perfect evening to view those old science fiction B-movies I love.

“The only escape from the miseries of life are music and cats…”

July 8, 2013

I have turned off the AC and opened the doors and windows. The morning is cooler than it has been for days, and there is a slight breeze. Gracie is in heaven. She gets to go out and come in as much as she wants as her dog door is accessible. The temperature is still in the 80’s, but I decided to brave the heat for some fresh air. The forecast is for thunder showers tonight which will be welcomed after all these steamy days with no rain. If the weekly forecast is correct, it will be in the high 70’s by Friday.

Yesterday afternoon the backup was 25 miles long to get off cape over the Sagamore bridge. I can’t imagine how long it took to go those 25 miles, and I can’t imagine sitting in a car going inches at a time. I’d have been crazed.

The open windows have brought the world back. I can hear the sounds of mowers and trimmers but even better I can hear the songs of birds. Yesterday I watered the plants on the deck and filled all the feeders. Even the two suet feeders were empty. Today I’ll sit on the deck for a bit and read. I haven’t had the inclination to read in a while. Usually I read a book or more a week, but since the surgery, for whatever reason, I haven’t be able to focus for too long. Maybe a new book will kick-start my reading.

In the mornings, Maddie is my only companion. She sits on the couch beside me. When I got Fern and Maddie from the shelter, they were both five and had grown up together. Fern right away took to the house and to Maggie, my dog. Maddie, on the other hand, spend at least three weeks under the bed. Part of it was the new house and part of it was Maggie who chased her, not with any malice or intention to do harm but for the fun of it. I used to lie on my stomach and give Maddie treats under the bed and talk to her. She came out but stayed in the guest room on one of the beds. I put a gate up so Maggie wouldn’t bother her and added a hole in the gate so Maddie could go to the food and litter. It took a while but she came downstairs and chose the dining room table as her safety spot. Gracie came only a few months after Maggie died, and she chased poor Maddie. It was puppy fun for Gracie. Poor Maddie ran for her life, but she didn’t hide. She stayed on that table. Now Maddie will even sit on the couch where Gracie is sleeping. She heads butts me for pats. During the day she sleeps on my bed and during the night she sleeps on the rug in my room. She won’t go so far as to join Fern, Gracie and me on the bed, but she stays close. Miss Maddie is a sweet, lovable cat. It’s nice to have her around. Now if she and Fern would stop hissing at one another, this would be a happy home.

“There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It is like falling in love.”

May 3, 2013

It was 10 o’clock when I finally woke up this morning. My room was cold because the window was open so Gracie was curled up right beside me on the left and Fern was curled up on the right. They were pretty cozy. I wasn’t.

The day is dreary with a cloudy sky and a feeling of dampness in the air. The breeze is strong enough to blow even the thick branches. As my coffee was brewing, I checked the feeders through the window and saw two new visitors: wrens. I also saw a woodpecker, the goldfinches eating thistle and a robin eating suet.

Today we have a couple of errands, Gracie and I. It’s time for a new dump sticker then a visit to the dump and finally the pharmacy. It is getting closer to the time when Gracie will come with me to do errands only when I can leave the air conditioner on for her. Luckily, the dump is one of those places.

Days like today were among my favorite days when I was a kid. It was too ugly to play outside so when I’d get home from school I’d put on my coziest clothes, hop into bed, turn on the light and read. I’d lose myself in the pages all afternoon. When I got older, I always carried a pocketbook book with me in case of a spare minute or two. I’d read on the bus or even standing waiting for the bus. I disguised my book and read it in church. Last summer in Ghana for three weeks, I read 12 or 13 books. I had no radio, no TV and no computer, but I had books, and they were more than enough entertainment.

When I became a volunteer, we were given settling in money to buy whatever we needed for our houses. I bought a few dishes, a giant coffee cup, some pots and pans and I bought books, lots of books at the university book store. They were as essential as that coffee cup.

Every Christmas from the time I was really young, first Santa then my mother would give me new books. When I was older, my mother would ask which books I wanted as she was afraid she’d buy ones I’d already read. One year I got Alive, The Story of the Andes Survivors. I started reading it right away and read it all of Christmas Day. My mother told me I was reading it too fast and should save it by reading only a little at a time. That made no sense at all to me. I am a firm believer that you can’t put a good book down, that you are drawn to its pages over everything else. I can remember reading The Stand straight through for days. Sometimes I was far too engrossed to realize I had read the night away then I’d hear the birds greeting the morning and look up and see the first light in the window. I still do that every now and then. I love a book which makes me forget everything but the page I’m on.

“Why can’t people just sit and read books and be nice to each other?”

January 3, 2013

Winter made a dramatic gesture by sending us the coldest day and night so far this season. I almost said this year then I remembered how young the year is. It was 12˚ last night, a perfect night to stay inside, cozy and warm. Poor Gracie got sent out before bed, but she was out for only a minute or two. I think it was squat and run.

My tree is standing in the living room covered by a white plastic bag. It is ready to be taken outside and brought to the dump. I took off all the ornaments and the lights yesterday. I hated doing it, but it was time. To accomplish that task I had to bring up the bins from the cellar, fill them then slide the heavy bins down the stairs and pile them until next year. My back bears witness to all the work I did yesterday so today is a nothing day. The tree can sit until tomorrow. Gracie and I also did errands yesterday, and I carried in the bags of bird seed and cans of dog food. I figured I’d already done in my back so what the heck. I did leave the 20 pounds of cat litter in the trunk, but I’m going to need that tomorrow to change the boxes. I have designated tomorrow dump day and the old litter has to go.

My scrub pine, the ugly fake tree, is still in the dining room where it will be lit every night until twelfth night. I have also left some decorations around the house to keep it a bit festive. There is no rush to return to drab.

I’ve finished Mr. Penumbra and moved on to Merry Christmas, Alex Cross. Nothing better than hostages and terrorists at Christmas. The book is short and won’t take long to finish. I think James Patterson has caught Mary Higgins Clark’s disease of hiding a short story under the guise of a novel.

It’s a wonderful world when I can plan my day around the couch and a book. I have the whole day to do what I want. How lucky I am!

“There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It is like falling in love.”

August 21, 2012

The morning is lovely, sunny and cool. All the animals are having their naps in all their favorite places. Every now and then I can hear a kid’s voice from down the street and a bird or two, but mostly it’s quiet. I love this kind of morning.

I took my time this morning. The day has lent itself to leisure, to reading the papers slowly, missing nothing, and having an extra cup of coffee. I’m staring at the laundry bag in the hall. It hasn’t moved and neither have I. The morning has brought a contentedness and laundry can wait.

When I was young, I loved summer mornings. They were always the coolest part of the day, and they smelled sweet, of grass and flowers and sometimes rain. I was up and out quickly after a bowl of Rice Krispies and a piece or two of toast. Sometimes I went to the playground; sometimes I rode my bike, and sometimes I’d go uptown to the library, a favorite summer spot. It was always cool on a hot day even though it wasn’t air-conditioned. The floor was highly polished tile. The librarian sat at a round wooden station to check out books. She also had a desk near the mysteries. Sometimes she’d sit there and work. The chairs around the tables were wooden and had fancy backs like captains’ chairs. I was always careful not to scrape mine across the floor when I moved it to sit down at the table to browse through a few books. I’d sit there for a while then I’d return those books to the shelves and start to choose the ones to take home. I always took the maximum.

Books never lasted too long for me. I read them quickly, sometimes in a single long sitting. Books held me enthralled and the day passed unnoticed. When I was older, it was the night which passed unnoticed. I remember finishing a book, looking up and seeing it was morning. That still happens to me.

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”

May 25, 2012

Today is cloudy and chilly but the weekend will be spectacular. I suspect the fortuitous weather report will have the cape lined with cars and tourists for the weekend. The water is still too cold for swimming, but the sand and sun will draw the crowds to the beaches. My deck is a mess with pollen and stuff from the trees, but today is cool enough for cleaning and getting ready to spend the next two days outside.

Today is garden shop day. I only need about four or five flowers for the front garden, but I need several for the deck pots. I also need herbs for the garden and for the flower boxes on the deck. The last on my list is one more vegetable for my small raised garden. This is one of my favorite days: when I wander the aisles of the garden shop. All self-restraint seems to disappear. My cart overflows, and I wonder if I’ve bought enough.

I am 100 pages from finishing my book: A Dark Dividing by Sarah Rayne. I started it on Wednesday and have been reading every spare moment since. My errands were more of an annoyance than usual knowing that my book was sitting at home waiting. If today weren’t flower day, I wouldn’t move off the couch until I’d finished. I love finding a book difficult to put down.

When I was really little, my mother read the Golden Books to me. She thought me the smartest of all children because when I was two I could identify all the animals circling the back cover. She told me my favorite story was Chicken Little. I still have a special place in my heart for Henny Penny, and I will always remember Foxy Locky, Goosey Loosey, Turkey Lurkey and Ducky Lucky. They are such wonderful names. It makes me laugh a bit thinking about my favorite childhood book and how the main character thinks the sky is falling. It is no wonder I have always loved science fiction. That Foxy Locky eats most of the characters seems a bit chilling, but I guess it never scared me as Henny Penny, my heroine, runs away safely.

My mother read Treasure Island to my brother and me, a bit of it every night before bed. It made bedtime palatable knowing I’d be following Jim and Long John Silver on their voyage. I still love that book, and I’m still pained by Long John’s treachery.

When I taught English, some kids took pride in saying they’d never read a book. Others told me my course books were the first they’d ever finished. It saddened me that these kids had never entered the amazing world of books, but once, many, many years later, a former student stopped me and said thanks. He told me he had read all of the books in my science fiction course and hadn’t stopped reading since. That was about my biggest accomplishment: helping make a student a reader.