Desperate Times

“Desperate times breed desperate measures”–William Shakespeare

On most days I have lunch alone, either here at Doright Manor or at one of a handful of Tallahassee cafes. Now, before you feel sorry for me you need to know that I enjoy my solitary lunches. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy having lunch with Studly Doright or with a friend, but when I dine alone I pull my Kindle out of my purse and read. And there are few things I’d rather do than read.

One day last week I had a whole list of errands to run, most of them in Tallahassee. I planned the most efficient route and left home around 10 a.m. with the goal of having lunch at the best little vegan eatery in the world, Sweet Pea Cafe.

With my errands halfway done, I drove to Sweet Pea and ordered that day’s special, Tempeh Temptation. I found a table and reached into my purse for my Kindle. Hmmm. No Kindle. I searched every zippered compartment with no luck.

“That’s okay,” I said to myself. “Just read from the Kindle app on your phone.”

“You’re so brilliant!” I answered.

“I know.” I said.

Unfortunately my brilliant self had managed to leave my phone at home as well.

As I waited for the meal to arrive I wondered how I was supposed to eat without a book in hand. How does one do such a thing?

“You can do this,” I gently reminded myself. “Just be more mindful of your meal. Pay attention to every bite. People watch. Listen to the music playing. Enjoy the experience.”

“Shut up! I NEED my book. Or just something, anything, to read.”

Gee, one of us needs anger management therapy.

In the midst of my angst I noticed a woman who’d been reading from a book as she dined at the table nearest mine. She’d finished her meal and as I watched from the corner of my eye saw that she was preparing to leave.

I hesitated for a second before asking, “Excuse me, this is going to sound weird and slightly desperate, by I don’t suppose you have an extra book that I might buy from you.”

Now, the beauty of this is she totally understood my question. The sad part is that she’d just returned from a trip to see her sister and had given the sister a box full of books that she usually carried in her car.

We laughed about our respective reading addictions. She apologized for not having a book to offer. I laughed and told her no big deal while underneath my smile I was thinking, “Couldn’t you at least have saved one book for us, I mean, me?”

She left the cafe as my meal arrived and I began to eat in a desultory fashion. The food was excellent as always, but damn it, how could I enjoy myself when there were intrepid space explorers trapped on an exoplanet in my book, and how the heck was I going to save them if I couldn’t read the remainder of chapter 55 while I chewed?

That’s when an angel came to my rescue. The woman who’d taken a box of books to her sister came triumphantly back into the cafe waving a book.

“Look what I found,” she smiled.

“It must’ve fallen out of the box. It’s yours if you want it….”

I wanted to hug her, but I restrained myself, offering effusive thanks as I tried to pay her.

“Absolutely not!” she said. “I don’t know how anyone can eat alone without a good book for company.”

A true hero, that woman.

I opened the book and began a new adventure. John Grisham paired quite nicely with Tempeh Temptation.

Peace, people.

A Wilde Find

My dear husband, Studly Doright, doesn’t quite get my fascination with estate sales. Or rather, he doesn’t understand my non-competitive attitude toward them.

I don’t arise at the crack of dawn to go pawing through the belongings of some recently deceased dowager in order to find items of value. No, I’m quite content to wander through homes looking for books and/or small objets d’art to add to my collection. Now, should I happen onto a rare first edition hardcover in mint condition, or a unique piece of jewelry, I’d likely snap it up; however, there’s a whole different mentality involved in the search for pieces of that nature.

I see these people at every sale. They arrive even before the doors open and walk around with a no-nonsense air about them. They block the bookshelves until they’ve examined every vintage book, and their bags are filled with promising finds to list on eBay.

On the other hand I wander through rooms picking up nonsensical items and looking for the next book in the Harry Potter series (currently I need book 4). This isn’t to say I never find anything that’s been overlooked by a more avid shopper, but my goal isn’t to turn a profit.

This past weekend I discovered a couple of fun items in addition to The Prisoner of Azkaban. One was a small piece of art that I thought was interesting:

The other was this book of fairy tales by Oscar Wilde.

Neither is worth much, but I couldn’t leave without them. I pictured both probably going to a Goodwill shop somewhere, and thought surely Doright Manor could provide a better home for them.

Of course at some point my kids are going to have to go through my stuff and decide how to deal with my treasures. At least I won’t be around to see how they are disposed of. I hope they’ll be treated kindly.

Peace, people.

Houses With Books

A house without books

Is a heartless edifice

No stories, no soul

Build for me a shack

Every wall covered with shelves

Each shelf filled with books

No ivied mansion

With fixtures of finest gold

Could be more desired

I’ve been going to estate sales again. No real treasures this week, but I realized as I walked through houses, marveling at the objets d’art, some beautiful, some bizarre, that people have collected, and browsing through these museums of their lives, that I spend far less time in a house where there are no books. I suppose that makes me a bit judgmental, but a house with no books seems incomplete.

This is fairly hypocritical of me. Ninety percent of the books I buy now are for my e-reader. And I know a good many well read people who seldom buy a book, instead borrowing from libraries. I do still purchase print books, though, and I have a good many from which to choose. Still, when I die, and you visit an estate sale to pore over my worldly goods, look for my Kindle. There are thousands of books on there.

Peace, people!

Participation Time

I came upon this graphic online and shared it on my Facebook page. So far, it’s generated a good many responses. My answer was easy: jeans, books, and wine.

However, I don’t drink much wine, or any alcohol, since my stomach decided to revolt back in May, so I’ve need to make a different choice for the third spot.

Since I’m losing something consumable let’s examine similar choices. I don’t drink coffee anymore, and I can live without chocolate. Tea is lovely, but not a must have. Tacos are the part of my Mexican meal that I leave for last in case I become too full to eat everything on my plate, so they can be dispensed with.

We don’t do Netflix at Doright Manor, so that’s something I can easily do without. The same goes for dry shampoo. As short as my hair is I can’t see any advantage to dry shampooing over wet shampooing. And along the same lines, there’s no way I can form a messy bun. I have a messy strand or two, but nothing “bunnable.”

By my reckoning that leaves jewelry, pajamas, lipstick, and leggings. I own a few pairs of leggings, but apparently they’re only in my closet for decorative and dust-catching purposes. They are super comfy on rainy, stay at home days, but then so are pajamas. Out with leggings, then.

Lipstick, they say, is critical for aging women. However, since I don’t know who “they” are, I’m going to ignore their advice. My lipstick never stays for more than an hour at a time, anyway, so buh-bye. I can always use crushed berries gathered from the forest if I need to color my lips.

Down to two choices now, jewelry and pajamas.

I love my pajamas. They’re soft and they keep my thighs from touching each other at night. I own three nearly identical pairs of pajamas, and they give me comfort.

As for the jewelry, I don’t own many expensive pieces. My wedding set isn’t worth much, but it has significant emotional and sentimental value. Studly Doright has bought me a couple of lovely items these past few years that in a pinch I suppose I could sell. Then there are the Celtic earrings I picked up in Scotland and the necklace I purchased from a craftsman at the Poulnabrone Dolmen in Ireland. I wear those pieces nearly every day.

Pajamas or jewelry? Oh man. I’m going with jewelry. No, pajamas. No. It’s jewelry. Final answer. My thighs are going to have to find a way to get along. I’ll just invest in anti-chafing cream and hope the stock market makes us rich.

Give it a go–which three items would you choose to keep and why? I’m curious.

Peace, people.

Almost a Review of “Children of Time”

Amazon periodically sends me suggestions for new books based on my reading history. Some of their book picks are hits; others are complete misses. My most recent purchase was a home run in the sci-fi genre.

Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky is riveting. The setting alternates between an ark ship from a dying planet earth and the green planet that the humans have targeted as their best hope for mankind’s survival.

Unbeknownst to the travelers, the planet has been seeded with a nanovirus by much earlier explorers from earth. Originally, the nanovirus was intended to mentally enhance a colony of monkeys from earth; however, the best laid plans of monkeys and men go awry and the nanovirus interacts with an entirely different species, several of them, in fact.

The trials and tribulations of the crew members on the ark ship, Gilgamesh, as they travel for thousands of years going in and out of suspension and awakening to new realities every few hundred years are fascinating. There are coups and crises, romances and disappointments among the humans trying to establish a new foothold on an alien world.

But even more intriguing is the nanovirus-triggered sentience in an unexpected alien species. I won’t give away the details, but I found myself rooting for these non-mammals in the epic, penultimate battle for survival. I want to go live on their extraordinary world.

If I had ten thumbs, I’d raise every one of them for this book. The author spins a great tale.

Peace, people!

Dark Tower End or Beginning

For the past few months I’ve been traveling through more intertwining worlds than I can name thanks to the genius and imagination of author Stephen King and his Dark Tower series. I’m not a rapid reader, and these books aren’t particularly easy reads, so perhaps it took me a little longer to travel the road of the Gunslinger than it would another reader. Now that I’ve completed the journey, I’m bereft. How will I go on without Roland, Susannah, Eddie, Jake, and Oy? Especially Oy, the billy bumbler.

My son is to blame for insisting I read the series. As a long time Stephen King devotee, I had grimly resisted reading the Dark Tower books. I’m not sure why. I started book one years ago, and I only made it through a few chapters before putting it aside. It didn’t feel like a Stephen King book. I believe at that time I wanted another Carrie, Salem’s Lot, or Christine, and this didn’t fit the bill.

More recently I’d seen the film and wasn’t impressed, but I must tell you the film bears only scant resemblance to the enormous scope of the books. The film was akin to a dry saltine cracker, while the books are a magnificent feast.

In this past year our son, Jason, persisted in cajoling me into reading the series. He fed me little tidbits that he knew I couldn’t resist, such as “Stephen King writes himself into the books,” and “He includes characters from other novels he’s written,” and finally I succumbed. Thank goodness.

Most of my books nowadays are read on Kindle, and books 1-6 were readily available in e-reader format. When I completed book six in the middle of the night, though, and immediately went to the Kindle store to download book VII, it wasn’t available. I had a panic attack. Roland and his intrepid ka tet were in dire circumstances.

I made myself wait until morning to check again on its availability, but I tossed and turned all night. The book still wasn’t available. I called my son.

“Help! I can’t get book VII on my kindle.”

“It’s there,” he said. “I read it on mine.”

“Then why can’t I?” I whined.

He laughed evilly. Kids these days.

I even tweeted Stephen King. “WTF, man! Why can’t I download Dark Tower Book VII on my kindle?”

No response. Argh.

For a week I checked almost constantly on Amazon and finally gave up, broke down, and ordered the physical book. It was HUGE. Seldom do I think about the size of an electronic version book. The space one takes up in my hands never changes. A 35,000 word book feels exactly the same as a 200,000 word book. But this book. Whoa! I felt as though I might as well have begun reading Webster’s unabridged dictionary.

It’s also a first trade edition. Briefly I wondered if it might be worth something more than I paid for it, but knowledgeable friends assured me it was not.

Gamely I plowed through. Ah, the sacrifices I made for these characters: Cramping wrists, having to use a lamp to read by in bed, not being able to tuck the tome into my handbag. Agonizing. But rewarding.

When I finally reached the end I began to cry and couldn’t stop for many minutes, not necessarily because the series has a sad ending–it really doesn’t, but because it was over. No more Roland of Gilead. No more Susannah, or Eddie, or Jake. Mostly though, no more Oy, the billy bumbler. Oh good and faithful Oy. Dammit. I’m crying again.

Peace, people.

P.S. Guess what book is now available on kindle? You guessed it, book 7. Maybe the universe was trying to teach me a lesson in patience.

Minimalist Challenge, Day 22: A Disturbance in the Force

As I journey deeper into February with the Minimalist Challenge, I’ve begun to realize how much I cling to certain unnecessary things: empty boxes, shopping bags, expired spices. Ridding myself of those kinds of items, though, caused me little to no angst. Today’s choices, by comparison, almost made me cry.

I’m a Star Wars geek, having lost count of the number of times I’ve watched episodes IV, V, and VI. And during the desolate years between the film Return of the Jedi (episode VI) and the prequel series beginning with The Phantom Menace (episode I), I consoled myself by reading books about the Star Wars universe.

The collection pictured above is but a drop in my personal Star Wars bucket. The books commence where Return of the Jedi ended and follow the intrepid rebels and their imperial enemies on one adventure after another. Some of the books are outstanding, stand alone novels that would have made great follow up movies to the original series. I fervently hoped the story lines in these George Lucas approved novels would be pursued on the big screen. Alas, the writers and directors went a different route.

I’m going to see if my grandson wants these books. If he doesn’t I’ll donate them to the Goodwill book store. Farewell. May the Force be with them.

Peace, people.

Christmas Recap

Doright Manor was too quiet this Christmas. Studly Doright and I had gotten together with our kids and grandchildren in Texas at Thanksgiving, so we had to suck it up and spend Christmas without them. I’m going to be honest and tell you, Christmas for just us two isn’t much fun.

We tried to be as festive as possible. We took in a movie on Christmas Eve and then drove around Tallahassee to view the holiday lights, returning home to open gifts from each other. We’d agreed neither of us needed any big gifts this year, so I bought Studly books (he really isn’t a reader, but I always hold out hope), and T-shirts featuring vintage motorcycle brands.

He bought me Star Wars stuff: a Resistance leader’s jacket, a BB-8 handbag, and several pieces of jewelry in the shapes of light sabers and droids. So if anyone in Tallahassee sees a late middle aged woman sporting any of the aforementioned gear, you can be fairly certain it’s me. Say hello and we’ll go find some First Order thugs to put in their place before heading for coffee.

Our dinner on Christmas Day was outstanding, even if I do say so myself. I ran Studly out of the house to work in his shop, opened a bottle of Chardonnay, and made a meal for the ages. I’m a much better cook when fueled by wine, and that’s a fact. Studly went back for seconds and thirds which I took as the highest compliment. And the pecan pie, oh my word! It was one of the best ever. Studly said I was going to have to stop telling people what an awful cook I am.

We went to another movie after dinner, getting home much later than is our norm (10 p.m! Absolutely decadent!) and then spent a quiet post-Christmas Tuesday. I had planned and executed the perfect turkey and cheddar sandwich on soft white bread for dinner, while Studly warmed up the leftover turkey and dressing for a repeat of Christmas Day’s meal.

So, while nothing exciting happened, and we missed being with our children, we had a pleasant holiday. I’m writing this on Tuesday evening and thinking I might have to have one more piece of pecan pie. Wednesday’s post most likely will deal with how none of my pants will button. Exciting stuff. Stay tuned.

Peace, people!

Read it Again, Ma’am

I read all the time. If I could no longer read for some reason I’m sure I’d wither away and die. Oh sure, I could listen to books on tape, and I suppose I could make do, but there’s something magical about the way a reader interacts with a book that a recording can’t replicate.

My taste these days runs to science fiction/fantasy, but I’m always looking for some new delicacy regardless of genre. And then there are my favorites. These are books I’ve read more than once, and for someone like me who’s always looking for the next literary thrill this repeat reading is the highest compliment I can pay a book.

So what select books are among my repeats?

1) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is number one. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve delved into the world of Scout Finch, and I read it at least once a year in the fall.

2) Stephen King’s, The Stand, is a close second. The epic tale of good versus evil still gives me chills, and I become suspicious of any sniffle or cough, certain that Captain Trips is about to wipe out most of humanity.

3) A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, comes in third, and I can’t really say why. There’s something about this coming of age story that draws me in. My heart aches for these boys on the brink of manhood and all of the pitfalls awaiting them. If I pick up my well worn copy when I’m dusting or otherwise moving stuff around I can’t help but begin reading it again.

4) I’ve read all but one of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series multiple times, having read the series from the beginning every time a new book in the series was released. So I’ve read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone seven times, while I’ve only read Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows once.

I’ve recently added a new book to those deemed worthy of a rereading. This book, The Whistling Season, by Ivan Doig, is the first book that comes to mind when a friend asks for a recommendation. So when I didn’t have a new book in the queue, I thought it might be time to remember why I recommend it so often.

The Whistling Season is set in Montana in 1909. A widower with three sons takes on a housekeeper whose ad, “Can’t cook, but doesn’t bite” intrigues him. The widower and his sons get much more than they bargained for when Rose and her brother, Morrie come into their lives.

This book is an homage to education and the one room school house, and to a time when life was a bit slower, but no less complicated than it is today. The language is incredible and the story so compelling I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to reread it.

Those are mine. What books have you read repeatedly? I’m always looking for my next favorite. Looking forward to suggestions.

Peace, people!

A Suggested Guide for Reading in 2017

I found this reading checklist on Facebook and thought it was worth sharing. 


Wouldn’t it be fun to tackle the list in order? I’ve needed to shake up my reading pattern for awhile, and this might be the ticket. Anyone care to join me? We could discuss our choices at the end of every second week.

Peace, and good reading, people.