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I'm happy, married, and looking forward to sharing my world with you! If you're interested, that is!

Monday, November 17, 2014

All About Those Books

LOVE this!!!
Kudos to The Mount Desert Island High School and Mary Ellen and the Readers~

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!!!

Happy Halloween!!!

I don't particularly like Halloween.  I don't remember liking anything about it as a kid except the candy.  Candy corn, especially.  Candy corn and Kit Kats.  Candy corn and Kit Kats and Nestles Crunch bars.  Yea, I could go on...

I'm not big on costumes, or masks, or even giving candy to cute little kids who ring my doorbell.  That's because even when I was sort of enjoying that part of it, there were the 16-year-olds standing there with pillowcases, wanting/taking candy but not even making an effort to dress up.

And these days I'm not all that comfortable calling them on it - what's to stop them from pulling out a gun and shooting me?  So I don't give out candy anymore - is there such a thing as a Halloween Scrooge?

Tonight we're going to my SIL to see my great-niece.  I asked her (she's 4) what she was going to be for Halloween.  Her response?

Vampire Elsa.

Really?  She's FOUR, how does she know what a vampire is?  So I asked her.

"It has pointy teeth and blood."

Okay.  Either she's growing up too fast or I'm getting old too fast.  Maybe a little of both.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Kidney Stones

Yea, the title of this post gives away the punchline...

O.M.G.  I ain't never birthed no babies, so I can't compare, but oh.my.God.  The pain!  The God-awful pain!

I have no history of anything like this.  My mom had kidney stones years ago, and I found out (yesterday, in the ER) that they're hereditary and it's likely I'll have a recurrence.  NO.EFFIN'.THANK.YOU.

We were up at the lake; it was garage sale weekend and we only had Saturday since we had a Cousin's Club picnic on Sunday.  We got up and into the car by 8:30, stopped at a few sales and hubby bought a few things:  a gasoline-powered pressure washer and a brand new shop vac for $30.  I bought 4 jigsaw puzzles for my mom. 

We stopped at Dunkin' Donuts to get an iced tea each, and a bagel for me.  A whole OTHER story in itself, a story for another time...  We got into the car and drove to the next sale.  I took a sip or two of tea, then a bite of the bagel.  Literally ONE bite.

After that I stayed in the car while hubby got out to check out a sale and all of a sudden I had THE.WORST.PAIN.IN.MY.SIDE.IMAGINABLE.  It was 1000x worse that my WORST gas pain, and I've been in a lot of pain from gas...

I was panting.  I was sitting, standing, bending, stretching, laying down - NOTHING would ease the pain.  It was so bad I told him to take me to the hospital right away - this was NOT normal.  It was nothing I had ever felt before.  We went back to the lake house - it was only 5 miles away - and picked up all our stuff; by now the pain had eased a bit.  I told him to take me to the nearest hospital, St. Claire's in Dover, but I also said if I didn't have another episode to go to our hospital, Mountainside in Glen Ridge.

I had another bad one on the way.  I can't describe to you how bad it was.  My mother said it was worse than childbirth.  While I can't confirm that, I can tell you it hurt like holy hell!!

[Edited 10/31/14:  I had him take me to Mountainside Hospital, close to our home, when the pain decreased. I was worried if they admitted me, he'd be at the lake without food...}
They took me right into ER Room #1, started an IV line of fluids, and gave me an IV dose of painkiller and anti-nausea medicine.  The painkiller was incredible.  From the second they inserted it into the IV line, my body felt as if it weighed 800 pounds and was sinking into the gurney.  Hubby said I was as high as a kite.  Everyone sounded small.  Small and far, far away.  Immediately there was no pain. 

I asked, but they don't provide doggy bags of this painkiller.  Rats...

I had one more episode in the hospital so they gave me another dose of that good stuff.  But then they discharged me.

He didn't want me to walk all the way to the parking lot; I couldn't have anyway.  I was LOOPY!  He sat me down in a chair by the door.  I told him to beep when he got there, if my eyes were closed.

I saw the car pull up so I started to stand.  Slowly and very carefully I started to stand.  He hopped out and ran around to get me.  As he took my arm, he muttered, "$hit.  I didn't."  He tried to open the car door, and it was locked.

The automatic door locks on our Subaru are "UP" for lock and "DOWN" for unlock.  He mistakenly hit the lock button.  I just stood there, swaying a bit, saying helpful things like, "You didn't."  "I'm dizzy."  I went in and asked for a hanger but apparently hospitals don't have things like hangars available.  In the meantime he tried his best to pop the window, and use the windshield wipers taped together to reach the DOWN button.  I came out in the meantime and there were two police cars there.  They refused to help - "We don't do that anymore.  They're calling the Fire Department to help you."

I went back inside and the 21-year-old heavily made-up receptionist used really big words to ask me how I was going to "rectify the situation."  I asked HER for a hangar.  She asked ME if we were going to drive home to get another set of keys.


Even in my drug-induced stupor I knew that wouldn't work.  Our keys were locked IN THE CAR, YOU DIMWIT.

Then he came running in to get me - the wipers worked!  I sank down into the car and we came home.

I slept for a couple of hours, then was up for a while, then took a Percocet and went to sleep.  Overnight I passed part of the stone and the rest of it this morning.  I vomited a little bit, but not too much - I think it was the jalapeños on the bagel...

 I feel a thousand times better today - thank goodness. 

More stories for you later this week....

Friday, September 05, 2014


After we'd been our home a couple of years, my wonderful then-boyfriend-now-husband gave me the B.E.S.T. Christmas present ever:  he built bookshelves in what was the previous owner's dining room, creating a real, live library for me. 

They're made of oak, beautifully trimmed, 16 running feet of shelves along the wall, 9 feet high from floor to ceiling.  We have natural chestnut and/or oak trim throughout the house, around all of the windows and doors (in every room but the renovated bathroom and kitchen).  I chose a dark cranberry color for the walls in the library, and later he built me a library table.  I bought an old Underwood manual typewriter to put on the table.  It's my favorite room in the house.  I have a section of signed, first editions.  There's a section of cookbooks.  We have the rest of the books sorted by category:  fiction, motorcycles, gardening, home/how-to, health, literacy, Shakespeare, coffee table books.  There's a set of three glass shelves in the center, with a spotlight I can turn on, to feature my Depression glass and a few collectibles and photos from our families.

The front end of the room has two windows facing the street.  This is where I've put my Christmas tree every year but one since we've been in the house.  I chose shimmery gold drapes which surprisingly look wonderful with the cranberry walls and natural trim.  I leave my icicle lights up year-round in the windows, although I don't turn them on except during the holiday season.

And yes, I know I have to straighten out my shelves; they're too messy!  (see next paragraph)

I have a library.  In my house.  Which you might think would ensure a place for every book and every book in its place.  But no.  I have too many books to fit in the library!  Besides, I'm a firm believer that there should be books in every room.  Books make a house a home.  You learn from them.  You love them.  You share them.  You live them.  You experience them.  You touch them and feel them and smell them.  Well, you do if you're a reader like I am.

I would not be me without books.  My mini-autobiography on our work intranet starts like this:  "Ask me to describe myself in two words and I'd say, "I read." I am always reading at least two or three books at the same time."  I've learned from my books, I've grown through my books, I've improved through my books.  They're a part of me and always will be.  I'd rather read than do almost anything else!

In today's Shelf Awareness PRO, Robert Gray writes about planning the bookshelves he'll be building in his home, and how they truly "make" a house a home...  Here's his article (below).  He's much more fluent than I could ever be but his article this morning sparked my thoughts about my library...

Shelf Awareness PRO - Friday | September 5, 2014 | Volume 2 | Issue 2335

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: When Bookshelves Make a House a Home

We are currently in the planning stages of an ambitious bookcase-building project in the house we had rented since 2010 and purchased last year. That means four years have passed during which our substantial book collection, while readily accessible on temporary shelving in the finished basement, has lived in relative exile. This will change soon and our home will at last be fluent in the language of books.  
Sadly, not my library

Whenever I think of the power of bookshelves, I recall a passage from Frederick Buechner's The Eyes of the Heart: A Memoir of the Lost and Found: "The Magic Kingdom is my haven and sanctuary, the place where I do my work, the place of my dreams and of my dreaming.... It consists of the small room you enter through, where the family archives are, the office, where my desk and writing paraphernalia are, and the library, which is by far the largest room of the three. Its walls are lined with ceiling-high shelves except where the windows are, and it is divided roughly in half by shoulder-high shelves that jut out at right angles from the others but with an eight-foot space between them so that it is still one long room despite the dividers. There are such wonderful books in it that I expect people to tremble with excitement, as I would, on entering it for the first time, but few of them do so because they don't know or care enough about books to have any idea what they are seeing."

It was not until early adolescence that I began to understand the influence bookshelves could have upon living space. Although my family did not collect books, my father built me a small bookcase. This modest addition altered my room, and life, forever. I've been surrounded by books since then.

"Any home, especially one that has been lived in for quite a while, is a three-dimensional text," Alison Lurie writes in The Language of Houses, adding: "For many people, the home is a kind of sacred site, one that is chosen carefully and honored in memory; sometimes it may be revisited long after they have moved away."

I think about the amazing book conversations Kathy Murphy--founder of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club (now with more than 550 chapters)--must have had in the Jefferson, Tex., house she is currently selling. Murphy recently told me that in 2000, she opened Beauty and the Book "on the bottom level of my house, out in the woods. Pulpwood Queens Book Club meetings were held in my home as we outgrew my tiny shop downstairs. I ran my shop and my book club there for years until I moved into an old house in town, which sold, then moved into the restored gas station." She has since relocated her business and book club to nearby Hawkins and will host the 15th annual Girlfriend Weekend in
Nacogdoches this January.
Ralph Waldo Emerson's study in Concord

Or consider legendary authors' homes. When we visit these "sacred sites," I suspect that even those of us who profess not to believe in ghosts may make an exception for the houses, and perhaps more so the personal libraries, of writers who matter to us. I know a discernible chill ran up my spine when I first visited Ralph Waldo Emerson's study, even though it is housed at the Concord Museum.

Real estate probably complicates matters a bit. In recent months, the former residences of John Cheever and J.D. Salinger have hit the market, along with Judy Blume's Martha's Vineyard waterfront retreat and even the "house that inspired The Adventures of Pinocchio's author." But I'm much more intrigued by the volumes that were shelved along the walls of these sacred sites than the people who lived there. It is the books that haunt.

"A building is an inanimate object, but it is not an inarticulate one," Lurie observes.

Maybe that is why I also love bookshops located in old houses, where the current inventory forms a kind of biblio-palimpsest over decades of bookshelves owned by former residents. Wendy and Jack Welch founded Tales of the Lonesome Pine Bookshop, Big Stone Gap, Va., a few years ago in a century-old house. In The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, her book chronicling their adventures and misadventures, Welch coined the term "B-space" to describe bookstores where "book-lined walls buffer against the world's bustling while browsing calms the soul and satisfies the mind."

I think that will soon describe our house, too, now that the books are coming home once again. --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Books and Kindles and Nooks, Oh, My!

From Shelf Awareness PRO, Wednesday | September 3, 2014 | Volume 2 | Issue 2333

Quotation of the Day

Indie Routine: 'I Like to See the Book Before I Buy It'

photo: Chester Higgins Jr./New York Times

"I like to see the book before I buy it. My husband does not like going to bookstores with me, so you might see him sitting outside, because he says that's the one place I tend to get lost in and forget I have a deadline. But I want the kids to feel that way, so I like taking them to bookstores with me. I think we've lost that love of the books themselves; it's almost, if you're on a Kindle or a Nook or whatever, it's a little bit of a separation. So we take them into a bookstore like BookCourt and walk around. And they'll walk out with at least one or two books."
--Carmen Fariña, chancellor of the New York City Education Department, in a recent "Sunday Routine" interview with the New York Times.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It's a Tough Week

It's been a bit quiet around here, I know...  I also remember that I had made a promise to stay on top of my weekly postings, both in the "LEARN" and "30 Days of Lists" categories.

But things have been going on around here that have gotten in the way of a normal posting schedule...

Hubby and I took some vacations.  We went to Florida and the Bahamas for 9 days.  We went to Universal Studios, for the Harry Potter experience, and on a cruise to Grand Bahama Island with 2 nights on the island, too.  Here are some photos...

There was never a moment in Harry Potter World - not at Hogwarts or in Diagon Alley - that you weren't touching a complete stranger who was either sticky with sweat or suntan lotion or both.  It was hot and muggy and SO crowded...

We took an overnight cruise to Grand Bahama Island and this is a photo of us on the cruise ship, waiting to depart, with yet ANOTHER storm rolling in - it rained on us 7 of the 9 days.  A friend who lives in Florida said it was the worst rainy season they've had in 5 years - this after I posted a photo of a storm on Instagram with the comment:  "We've eliminated FL and the Bahamas as a retirement option:  I'll be moldy for the rest of my life!"

I asked a stranger to take a photo of us; in return, I took a photo of her and her daughter.

This is the hotel we stayed at in Port Lucaya, the Grand Lucayan Lighthouse Point.  The room was HUGE and the grounds were lovely.  We didn't face the ocean, but we spent all day either at one of the three pools or on the beach.  We had a great time!

I took quite a few lovely sunset photos, each of which is completely UNfiltered!

After the first rainy visit to Universal, the one where we left at around 6:30, soaked literally through to our underwear, we bought ponchos.  Obviously we're always concerned about making the wrong fashion statement when we're out in public...

We came home and almost immediately we had a birthday party for my mom.

These photos hurt.

The other BIG thing that has kept me off the blog is my sister and my nephew are moving.

To Arizona.

Arizona.  That state on the other side of the country.

I already have a sister there, living in Tucson, who I miss every day.  Now my OTHER sister AND my nephew are moving there, and I'm sure it's just a matter of time before my niece moves there.

Which means my mom will most likely be spending more time there than she does now.

Which means I'm going to miss them all SO DAMN MUCH!!!

But I do have to say, she bought a house - 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, fully wired for cable and internet, all appliances, a 2 car garage, central air and a fenced in backyard.

For somewhere in the neighborhood of $137,000.

Her taxes are about $1200 (barring the usual increase they'll put into place for the new owner).


Her development has a gym and 3 pools and a lake.

If it wasn't for that damn weather, I'd think about moving there for our retirement, but I couldn't handle the heat.  No way.  No how.

And I'm married to an absolute angel who assured me that he'd make sure I/we (?) got a chance to visit "a couple of times a year..."  Sounds good, but even once a year would be great, and I hope he'll come with me...

They're leaving to drive cross-country on Friday morning.  I'm sick.  And I'm working from home so that I can be there when they drive away...  I'm already planning not to wear my contacts that morning, because I know I'm going to be crying...

I'll try to get back onto a regular posting schedule - with no family here (Mom will for SURE be going out there this year, I know), I'll have nothing else to do...

Thank God my in-laws aren't out-laws:  they are family, my family, too, and they're going to be really sick of me...

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Another Amazon vs. Publishing Quote

Shelf Awareness : Daily Enlightenment for the Book Trade
Thursday | July 31, 2014 | Volume 2 | Issue 2309

Quotation of the Day

Douglas Preston: 'We've Felt a Little Bit Betrayed by This'

"I think most of us think that Amazon is a good company. We're grateful to it for selling our books. We've been a partner to it, we've been supporting Amazon from the very beginning, from the time it was a start-up. And we've felt a little bit betrayed by this. I'm speaking to you now, not as an official spokesman for anybody. That's how I felt personally, and it's turned out a lot of other authors felt the same way....

"I guess our feeling is that there are going to be disputes between Amazon and publishers forever. There are going to be negotiations... these are two large corporations. Is this going to be Amazon's MO [mode of operation] from now on?--to hurt authors and inconvenience their own customers every time they run into a rough patch negotiating with a publisher? I guess our feeling is that that's not acceptable."
--Author Douglas Preston in an interview with Porter Anderson at the Bookseller's FutureBook blog.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Summer Reading, Had Me a Bla-ast...

Interesting article in today's Shelf Awareness...   All highlighting is mine as are comments in red...

Shelf Awareness : Daily Enlightenment for the Book Trade
Friday | July 18, 2014 | Volume 2 | Issue 2299

 Robert Gray: A Brief History of Beach Reads

First, sincere congratulations to CNN as the 2014 award winner (in a very competitive field) for most egregious use of a summer reading pun: "Whatever your definition of 'beach book'--romance, mystery, gripping true-life-tale--you'll find a shore thing here."

As I dutifully pored over all the summer reads recommendation lists released during the past couple of months, I began having sun-addled visions of beach reads from the distant past (sometimes called "hammock reads," I soon learned). After some seasonally appropriate leisurely research in the archives of the New York Times, I now offer for your summer reading pleasure an ever-so-brief history of the American beach read:

1890s: "During the Summer days a table was placed in the doorway and here were displayed a selection of the paper-covered books for 'Summer reading.' For some reason lighter books were considered more suitable to the hot weather."

1897: "The reader of to-day whose knowledge of books goes back twenty years must often have been surprised with the change that has come over books intended for Summer reading.... Society and civilization may take hope from the improved quality of the Summer books.... It truly seems as if all the world were writing novels. With bad ones plentiful enough, how good the best ones are!"

1900: "But if there is one season in which the printed book might be regarded as a questionable intruder it is when the pageant of Summer has attained its full splendor and the most attractive pages of the great book of nature lie open before us.... When he would for a brief period escape the spell of the printed page, break its chain, and rise to a rarer atmosphere, lo, the whole world seems leagued against him, and from a hundred throats he hears the cry, 'Books for Summer Reading!' "

1907: "What I'm trying to discover is whether any one reads in Summer, or whether the bulk of vacation literature is really an unopened contingent.... It isn't necessary to read a book in order to be happy with it. On a steamer or in a hammock you simply have to have the book in your lap or close at hand, with the paper-cutter and pencil."
Cincinnati Public Library bookmobile, 1927
Cincinnati Public Library bookmobile, 1927

1920: "It made us wonder just how Summer Reading has progressed in a world where excitement has been the rule and where nothing has remained as it was.... Gone are the days when the unambitious reader would lie in the grass in a semi-coma and meander blankly through a volume of trashy lovemaking and trashier thrillers."  Those days are NOT gone for me!!!  I plan on spending at least 5 days of my vacation doing nothing but...

1928: "What do people read in the summer?... They read, in other words, whatever the tastes and piety of earlier generations of Summer residents have stored for them on the hotel shelves."

1950: "There is, however, one error which is disastrously popular--namely, the assumption that only 'light' books, by which is meant trivial or foolish or badly written books--are suitable for summer. Nothing is actually harder to read than that which is not worth reading, and there is nothing more likely to produce boredom than a too desperate attempt to escape it." Wow...  really?  Light books are trivial or foolish or badly written? 

1953: "When an unwished beach picnic is suggested, for example, the necessity of reading a light romantic novel will not stand up as an excuse for not attending. On the other hand, the casual display of the somewhat weightier book will prove at once that even on vacation the thirst for knowledge rises superior to such casual pleasures as picnics."  IMHO, ANY book is an excuse for not attending something I don't want to attend!

1968: "There is nothing like the library of a summer house to reverse the tides of literary improvement.... It is wonderful junk--never weeded out, like other junk, because summer people just can't throw any book away, however transient its subject or purple its prose." (William Zinsser)

1971: "The reviewers must have reasoned that as we, book lovers all, packed to head off for vacation, we agonized about how to pack our limited baggage space with the most rewarding material available. Hence 'suggestions for summer reading.' " (Russell Baker)  The days of packing an extra suitcase/carry-on with multiple books to read on my vacation are not long gone; admittedly with the advent of $25 surcharges for checked luggage, I'm now a huge fan of the Kindle!

1985: "A feeling seems to have arisen that summer is the time for light reading. I don't know where anyone got that idea. The truth about summer is this. There are an enormous number of hours in it--slow hours--and yet, before you know it, somehow it is over.... Summer is the time for heavy reading, reading that works up a sweat. I wouldn't be surprised if there were scientific studies showing that the sun's heat melts eye-glaze." (Roy Blount, Jr.)

2014: "For me, being a reader, in summer or at any other time, isn't a 'lifestyle choice.' Rather, I made the choice--if that's what it was--so long ago, it has taken on an inescapable character in my mind.... The beach is one of the few places pathological readers can pass undetected among their civilian cousins." (Zadie Smith in O, The Oprah Magazine)

And, finally, these history-transcending words of summer reading perspective from George R.R. Martin: "Winter is coming." --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)