One Book at a Time

31 12 2009

In an earlier post I mentioned my addiction to very cheap or free books.  I explained how I came into possession of 68 books that were suddenly crowding my already full bookshelves.  Since that time, I’ve been trying to peruse my bounty and re-donate what I consider the riffraff.  I’m making progress.

To date I have read the following:

  • Marley & Me – I actually already have a copy.
  • Is It Hot In Here or Is It Me? – A book about menopause, funny but very out of date.
  • Life Lessons for  Women – From the creators of the Chicken Soup series – thoughtful, not life changing.
  • Finding Your Best Place to Live in America – Well, I’m ready to think about retirement, anyway.  Shows some of the right questions to ask, but better to go online and get more up to date info.
  • Christmas with Southern Living 1982 , also 1986 and 1987 – Were we really impressed by these decorating ideas?
  • Four of those paperback cookbooks you get in the checkout line at the grocery store: Family Dinners, Fast and Healthy, Lite Delight and Pasta, Bread & Pizza Snacks
  • Cannery Row – Great book!  I thought it would be typical Steinbeck (depressing) but it kept me smiling in my head the whole way through. Reminded me of our trip to Monterey when we saw where the book was set.  This one’s a keeper!
  • An Altogether New Book of Top Ten Lists (from Late Night With Letterman) – Slightly entertaining, once through is enough.
  • Multiple Sclerosis – I couldn’t find a single mention of Avonex, Betaseron, Copaxone, or Rebif.  Then checked the date and realized it was published in 1992.  Made me think about how living with MS just 17 years ago would have been very different from today.
  • Bitsy’s Bait & BBQ – Fun read, just fluff.
  • Creating a Beautiful Home by Alexandra Stoddard – Hated it.  The woman is so in love with her own home she mostly told me to make my house an exact replica of it.  Down to the paint colors.  “Paint the ceiling flat Atmosphere Blue.  Use full-color O’Brien 1-0-47.”  As if that weren’t bad enough, aside from a few penciled sketches, there were no pictures of aforementioned house.
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson – An oldie and a goodie!  Reminds me of a few Christmas pageants I’ve suffered through.  I can’t figure why they haven’t made a TV Christmas special based on it.  (Too much Nativity for prime time?)
  • Five of Erma Bombeck’s books: Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession, If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries – What Am I Doing in the Pits? , The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank, Aunt Erma’s Cope Book, and I Lost Everything in the Post Natal Depression – My mom loved her column in the newspaper growing up.  Me too.  It makes me wonder what she would have written in this age of cell phones and iPods and GPS.  A little poignant since she died of cancer.
  • Making Vintage Aircraft in Wood – Brought this one home for my husband.  He needs a hobby.  I don’t think this is it, though he enjoyed leafing through it.

So I’m keeping Cannery Row, Christmas Pageant, and all the Bombeck.  The rest goes back in the freebie bin.  I’m making progress.  Now, on to The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.


To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

29 12 2009

In my dream the sound tormented me, droning on and on, reverberating within the walls of my bedchamber.  It emanated from some amorphous being right beside me.  There was something eerie, evil, threatening about it.  I nudged it, hoping for silence.  Then I poked harder.  Eventually I was kicking it.  Still, the noise continued, louder and louder, it seemed.

The line between imagination and reality was fuzzy, for even as I dreamed it was all true.

But then in my fantasy (and only in the fantasy), I decided that to escape the sound I must flee from it.  I ran and ran down dark tunnels.  The laws of physics told me the noise should be diminishing (for even in my sleep I am a scientific mastermind.)  But no, it continued as loud as ever.  I glanced over my shoulder and discovered, to my horror, that the source of the sound, the shrouded, dark, ominous spirit, was following me.

At that point my dream turned into a nightmare.  I screamed.

Back to reality again.  Because, in fact, I really did scream.  My shriek woke me up.  My husband paused in his snoring briefly, and then started up again.

I grabbed a blanket and headed for the spare bedroom.

Merry Christmas, Faithful Reader!

25 12 2009

M arvel at what you’ve accomplished this year.

E njoy watching your favorite Christmas show.  Charlie Brown? The Grinch?

R emember the fun of Christmas as a child.

R elax!

Y ou’re not perfect.  Forgive yourself.


C elebrate the manger birthday.

H elp a stranger.

R elish the magic of the season.

I ndulge in sweet treats that aren’t part of any healthy diet.

S ing Christmas carols—at church, with the car radio, in the shower, wherever.

T ake time to count your blessings.

M ake a road trip to look at holiday lights.

A sk for help—unloading groceries, carrying boxes, clearing the clutter,  whatever.

S leep late.

Snowbound, Part II

23 12 2009

Being snowbound the last weekend before Christmas may have impacted my shopping, but I loathe going to the mall anyway.  And it gave me more time to focus on holiday gift wrapping.  Such as:

Won’t the recipients be surprised when they discover the packaging is a lot more impressive than the actual contents of the packages?

Being trapped at home also provided more time for sprucing up the holiday decor:

I even gave the cat something to look at during meal time:

And, most of my Christmas cards are out now.  This year I created a design based on a delightful co-mingling of two art forms: ancient Japanese origami (Santa Claus) and the decidedly less highbrow twisty paper stuff that I found at the Restore (his sack.)  The result:

The sentiment inside says “Great news!  We heard Santa took you off his Naughty List this year.”

Snow Days!

21 12 2009

I live in a house on a hill on a cul-de-sac.

When Mother Nature sends snow, no matter how well we’ve shoveled our driveway, or how thoroughly VDOT has cleared every other street in the county: certain laws cannot be broken.  I speak not of DMV statutes, but of the Law of Gravity and the Law of Traction, or lack thereof.  (Also the law that says if the snow depth is greater than the distance between the bottom of your car and the top of the road, you will have trouble.)

Because until we can get our vehicle up the hill, we’re not going anywhere.  There are no shortcuts, no little known tricks, no secret passageways that will get us out of the hole.

As the snow fell on Saturday, we, along with all our neighbors, sat tight and watched our television to learn how the rest of the county was faring.  When we went to bed we wondered—did we dare hope?—if we might wake to the sound of the snowplow.

Indeed, at 6:30 Sunday morning I did wake to the sound of a motor, but it was not the plow.  It was my neighbor, he of the large and well-equipped SUV.  He thought he could evade the aforementioned laws.  But no, he got himself stuck, 15 feet from his driveway, and right where the plow would need to go.

When the people with the four-wheel drive SUVs can’t get out, those of us with Prisms and Camrys know to sit tight.

It was actually quite nice.  My kids were just home from college.  They postponed plans to meet up with friends.  There were errands to be run and shopping to be done.  But for two days, we hung out together.  We talked, we watched football, we cooked and ate, we shoveled our driveway, we watched more football, we (mostly me) decorated the tree, we played Rummikub, more shoveling, more football, more eating.

Finally, on Sunday afternoon, we got the neighbor’s car dug out and back in his driveway.  Then the plow came.

Today, the frenzy may begin again.  But I did enjoy the interlude.

Rebecca, I Hardly Knew Ye

18 12 2009

“This is Rebecca Pines.  I’m calling to see if you have any clothing or household items you would like to donate to Purple Heart.” (or AmVet.  She called for both.) “Our truck will be in your neighborhood on January 4.”

Rebecca must have called me every two or three months since my arrival in Northern Virginia.

Her voice was always instantly recognizable, very raspy, rather deep.  The opposite of warm and fuzzy.  Everyone in the vicinity of the phone knew it was her when she called, her voice carried so well.

She never expressed disappointment when I had nothing for her.

She never expressed gratitude when I did have something for her.

Several months ago, other people started making the phone calls.  Actually, I’m not sure if it’s the same person or different people.  They’re so nondescript, not memorable in the least.

So I’m wondering about Rebecca.  After all those years, I know nothing about her.  Did she live down the street or across the country?  How old was she?  Was that her real name?  What kind of life did she lead?  And why doesn’t she call anymore?

We spoke on the phone oodles of times and all I ever said to her was “Yes.”  “Not this time.”  “Okay.”  “I’ll do it.”

I have no idea what’s happened to her, but I feel I’ve lost an opportunity I won’t get back.

Un-Happily Ever After?

16 12 2009

The party to celebrate my niece’s wedding is this weekend, so I’ve scoured the internet to find amusing bits of wisdom to pass along to her and her new spouse.  But I’ve found more witticisms suggesting marriage is a bad idea.  And more often than not, the  comments lay the blame on the woman.  She spends too much.  She talks too much.  She’s too demanding.  Not true!  Not fair!

The best way to remember your wife’s birthday is to forget it once. — H.V. Prochnow
I have learned that only two things are necessary to keep one’s wife happy. First, let her think she’s having her own way. And second, let her have it. — Lyndon B. Johnson
My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God, and I didn’t. — Unknown
Getting married is a lot like getting into a tub of hot water. After you get used to it, it ain’t so hot. — Minnie Pearl
A man is incomplete until he is married. After that, he is finished. — Zsa Zsa Gabor
“I haven’t spoken to my wife in years. I didn’t want to interrupt her. — Rodney Dangerfield
Why does a woman work ten years to change a man’s habits and then complain that he’s not the man she married? — Barbra Streisand
I came from a big family. As a matter of fact, I never got to sleep alone until I was married. — Lewis Grizzard
The husband who wants a happy marriage should learn to keep his mouth shut and his checkbook open. — Groucho Marx
When a girl marries she exchanges the attentions of many men for the inattention of one. —  Helen Rowland
Marriage is an adventure, like going to war. — G. K. Chesterton
A husband’s last words should always be, OK buy it. — Unknown
My wife has a slight impediment in her speech. Every now and then she stops to breathe. — Jimmy Durante
There’s a way of transferring funds that is even faster than electronic banking. It’s called marriage. — James Holt McGavran
Marriage is like a phone call in the night: first the ring, and then you wake up. — Evelyn Hendrickson
One advantage of marriage is that, when you fall out of love with him or he falls out of love with you, it keeps you together until you fall in again. — Judith Viorst
Marriage is a wonderful invention: then again, so is a bicycle repair kit. — Billy Connolly
Car Manufacturer’s formula for a successful marriage : Stick to one model! — Unknown
Marriage is give and take. You’d better give it to her or she’ll take it anyway. — Joey Adams
Three rings of marriage are the engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffering. — Unknown
Women hope men will change after marriage but they don’t; men hope women won’t change but they do. — Bettina Arndt
The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret. — Henny Youngman
Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays. — Henry Youngman
All marriages are happy. It’s the living together afterward that causes all the trouble. — Raymond Hull
An archeologist is the best husband any woman can have; the older she gets, the more interested he is in her. — Agatha Christie
Men make the highs higher and the lows more frequent. — Anonymous
The four most important words in any marriage…”I’ll do the dishes.” — Anonymous
No man is truly married until he understands every word his wife is NOT saying. — Anonymous
A man is already halfway in love with any woman who listens to him. — Brendan Francis
Marriage has no guarantees. If that’s what you’re looking for, go live with a car battery. — Erma Bombeck
I was married by a judge.  I should have asked for a jury. — Groucho Marx
To be happy with a man you must understand him a lot and love him a little. To be happy with a woman you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all. — Helen Rowland
Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes.  There’s too much fraternizing with the enemy. — Henry Kissinger
Marrying a man is like buying something you’ve been admiring for a long time in a shop window. You may love it when you get it home, but it doesn’t always go with everything else in the house. — Jean Kerr
Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your heart or burn down your house, you can never tell.–  Joan Crawford
You have to walk carefully in the beginning of love; the running across fields into your lover’s arms can only come later when you’re sure they won’t laugh if you trip. — Jonathan Carroll
The only time a woman really succeeds in changing a man is when he’s a baby. — Natalie Wood
Whenever I date a guy, I think, is this the man that I want my children to spend their weekends with? — Rita Rudner
Marriage is a great institution for those who like institutions. — Tommy Dewar
“I am” is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language. Could it be that “I do” is the longest sentence? — George Carlin
Don’t marry for money. You can borrow it cheaper. — Scotts Proverb
In Hollywood a marriage is a success if it outlasts milk. — Rita Rudner
I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life. — Rita Rudner
Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, and half-shut afterwards. — Benjamin Franklin
An ideal wife is one who remains faithful to you but tries to be just as charming as if she weren’t. — Sacha Guitry
By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll be happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher. — Socrates
Getting married is very much like going to a restaurant with friends. You order what you want, then when you see what the other fellow has, you wish you had ordered that. — Anonymous
I think men who have a pierced ear are better prepared for marriage. They’ve experienced pain and bought jewelry. — Rita Rudner
In olden times, sacrifices were made at the altar, a practice that still continues. — Helen Rowland
Inertia accounts for two-thirds of marriages. But love accounts for the other third. — Woody Allen
Do you know what it means to come home at night to a woman who’ll give you a little love, a little affection, a little tenderness? It means you’re in the wrong house. — George Burns
We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops. — Henny Youngman
When my husband comes home, if the kids are still alive, I figure I’ve done my job. — Roseanne Barr
Cherie has many excellent qualities, but once she goes to sleep, it takes a minor nuclear explosion to wake her up. —  Tony Blair
A man doesn’t know what happiness is until he’s married. By then it’s too late. — (The Joker is Wild, 1957) Frank Sinatra
Marriage is nature’s way of keeping us from fighting with strangers. — Alan King
The best way to get most husbands to do something is to suggest that perhaps they’re too old to do it. — Anne Bancroft
I never mind my wife having the last word. In fact, I’m delighted when she gets to it. — Walter Matthau
If love means never having to say you’re sorry, then marriage means always having to say everything twice. — Estelle Getty
Marriage is an investment which pays dividends if you pay interest. — Bob Monkhous
In my house I’m the boss, my wife is just the decision maker. — Woody Allen
My wife Mary and I have been married for forty-seven years and not once have we had an argument serious enough to consider divorce; murder, yes, but divorce, never. —  Jack Benny
Before marriage, a man declares that he would lay down his life to serve you; after marriage, he won’t even lay down his newspaper to talk to you. — Helen Rowland
A married couple are well suited when both partners usually feel the need for a quarrel at the same time. — Jean Rostand
Marriage is not just spiritual communion, it is also remembering to take out the trash. — Dr. Joyce Brothers