Power of Observation

Never will I claim to be the most observant of humans. In fact, my husband of nearly 44 years, Studly Doright, is fond of telling me that I have “awareness issues.” I’d disagree with him if he weren’t so right.

Yesterday I wrote about a woman who, while visiting in my home, thought that when I said that I’d just finished my first novel that I meant I’d just finished reading my first novel.

https://nananoyz5forme.com/2020/06/08/my-first-novel/

Okay, I get it. I don’t look all that scholarly, but she was in my home, where literally the first thing one sees upon entering Doright Manor is this:

And this:

Look around a bit and you’d see this:

And this:

And even this:

Oh, and then there are my Star Wars books:

And

The dust is real.

Most of my books are on kindle nowadays, but the evidence that I’m a reader is pretty clear. So perhaps I’m not the only one with awareness issues. Maybe we can start a club.

Peace, people.

My First Novel

One day last week I ordered new carpet for the room that suffered damage from our recent water leak here at Doright Manor. The saleswoman who helped me decide on a pattern came out to the house to measure the area to be carpeted and talked me into also buying carpet for the two adjacent rooms. She was quite good at her job.

We chatted as she measured and eventually she asked what I did with my free time. I told her I’d recently finished my first novel. She looked at me kind of funny, so I elaborated, saying I one day realized I’d written 100,000 words.

“Oh,” she said. “I thought you meant you’d finished reading your first novel.”

We laughed, but then I wondered if I needed to upgrade my image. Surely I don’t look like a non-reader. Right?

Sort of relative cartoon.

Peace, people!

International Book Club Report

Several of my readers asked for a follow up post about yesterday’s book club meeting, and I’m happy to oblige. For those unfamiliar with yesterday’s post, here’s the link:

https://nananoyz5forme.com/2020/04/19/international-book-club-meeting/

This was my first Zoom experience, and for the most part the technology worked well. A couple of those attending experienced technical difficulties, and I know that was frustrating for them.

I believe there were nine of us in the meeting, and it truly was an international experience with one attendee from England and another from France. The U.S. was represented by folks from Texas, New Mexico, Oregon, Idaho, and Florida. Due to the time differences, some folks were enjoying a glass of wine while we met, while others were still savoring their morning cups of coffee. Me, being in the middle joined the wine drinkers, of course.

Opinions on the book, Infield by Téa Obreht were mixed. The story tended to appeal most to those of us who’d grown up in the Southwest. The themes of thirst and need certainly resonated with me. It’s not light reading, by any means.

But—there are camels in Infield. And who doesn’t love camels? A very small portion of the book is set in Camp Verde, Texas. Several years ago Studly Doright and I were staying in Kerrville, Texas, with a group of our motorcycling friends. The men left early one morning to enjoy riding the sweeping curves of the Texas Hill Country at speeds that make me shudder, while three of us women set off on our own slower paced ride.

It was my day to lead, and I hate being the leader, but I took my turn without too much grumbling. We had no destination in mind that day, so I just headed south. We hadn’t gone more than about 19 miles when I thought I’d begun hallucinating, for in the near distance stood a camel calmly grazing. There was a sign posted that read “Camp Verde” and another for a general store, so I made an executive decision and turned left into the parking lot.

My friends and I spent the entire morning at the General Store, shopping, having lunch, and learning about the Camel Corps.

The U.S. Army’s “Camel Corps” Experiment

It seems I got sidetracked on my book club report, but I’d recommend this method of meeting if your group is jonesing to get together. I’m not very savvy when it comes to technology, but I was able to join the meeting with ease. I did keep forgetting to mute my mic when others were talking. Next time I’ll put a sticky note on my computer to remind me.

Peace, people!

International Book Club Meeting

I’m a book club dropout. Over the years I’ve belonged to several, but after a few weeks or months I become disenchanted and gracefully, I hope, bow out.

On the surface, it would seem that I’d be a book club aficionado. My reading habit is nearly insatiable, and if I only had money enough for food and books, I’d grow very skinny, but I’d have plenty to read.

I have a couple of issues with book clubs, though. First, I like to read what I want to read when I want to read it. I think if I could belong to a club in which we all simultaneously read a book of our own choosing and then met to exchange information about our chosen books, I’d be all in.

The second issue is that often the book I didn’t want to read, but read anyway because someone in the book club chose it, isn’t really discussed at the meeting. The group might start off discussing the book, but within five minutes the meeting dissolves into a purely social occasion. Argh.

I’m certain there are clubs out there that I would enjoy. I just haven’t found one yet.

Today, though, I’m going to participate in an international book club meeting via Zoom with several people I know from my senior year at Dumas high school. The instigator of this group, M.E., recommended the book, Infield by Téa Obreht, after she’d read it and felt the need to discuss it with others. I’m one of the lucky others.

M.E. was particularly persuasive, leading me to hurriedly complete the Peter F. Hamilton book I’d been reading in order to read Infield. I was quite taken with the book. It reminds me in ways of some totally different kinds of tales: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, and John Steinbeck’s story, The Chrysanthemums. The book also includes a touch of the supernatural, and I’d almost say magical realism.

I cannot wait to discuss this book with M.E., et. al. The meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. my time—a time frame that will work for our friends in France and all over the U.S.

M.E., who lives on the west coast, has put a lot of thought and effort into making this happen today. And honestly, I won’t care if we end up socializing five minutes into the meeting. After all, many of those planning to take part today haven’t seen each other since 1975. We visit on Facebook, but nothing like we’ve got planned.

Here’s hoping technology doesn’t let us down.

Peace, people!

Good Times

I’m reading Light of Impossible Stars, the third novel in Gareth Powell’s Embers of War series. When I came across these sentences it hit me just how perfect they were for what we’re experiencing now. And, who knows? A month down the road these days in early April 2020 might be considered good times. Everything is relative. Look for the good when and where you can. We will survive.

I highly recommend the series to fellow sci-fi enthusiasts. Do start with Embers of War, though.

Peace, people.

Just Any Book Won’t Do

On Facebook a couple of days ago I asked friends what books they loved, but would NOT recommend people read during a pandemic. I started the conversation off with a couple of my personal favorites.

First on my list is The Stand by Stephen King. Every now and then I reread King’s tale of a biological weapon unleashed on an unsuspecting and unprepared world. The weapon, in the form of an awful disease nicknamed “Captain Trips” wipes out all but about 4% of the population worldwide.

Of course, being vintage Stephen King, supernatural forces also come into play. As if a global pandemic wasn’t enough. Every time I’ve read the book I’ve ended up with either an upper respiratory virus or a digestive illness, and become fairly certain that I’ve contracted Captain Trips. I definitely will NOT read it in the near future.

Another book I enjoyed and will at some point reread once we’re past the current crisis is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Her novel follows several individuals who have survived a rapidly spreading disease and are trying to make their way in a new kind of society. Multiple story lines explore how different characters cope with the initial panic, the decimation of the population, and the aftermath of the pandemic years later. It’s well written, creatively imagined. and thought-provoking. I just can’t read it right now.

There are a few more I could list, but I want your best DON’T READ RIGHT NOW BOOKS. These should be books you really like, but probably would just ramp up anxiety if read right now. And I’m changing my mind even as I write this. Maybe you LIKE to read books that parallel our current situation. I’d like your thoughts, as well. Ready, set, go.

And as always, Peace, people. Stay well.

Love of Learning

It might surprise some of you to know that I was not a perfect student. My grades were always good, but I never really applied myself. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what that entailed until I went to college as an “older than average” student and my adolescent children were watching me.

In spite of my rather uninspiring beginnings in education, I’ve always loved learning. From an early age I was fascinated by books. I couldn’t read enough. That kid reading by flashlight under the covers way after lights out? That was me. I read everything: biographies, horror, science fiction, travelogues, poetry. I like to believe I was the Floyd County Library’s best customer, but maybe not. As far as I know there was never an official survey conducted.

Nothing much has changed over the years. I still read a ton; although, thanks to my Kindle paper white I no longer have to use a flashlight to read in bed at night, and excursions to the library are more for research than anything else.

I still enjoy learning. Last fall I took an Olli class at Florida State University on “The Parallel Universe of Ants.” I enjoyed that so much that I signed up for a class this semester, “Fun With Writing.”

The class begins today (2/20), and I confess that I’m apprehensive. I’ve been writing for awhile now, but have I been having fun with it? Do I even know how to have fun in my life, let alone with my writing? Am I going to be expected to share what I’m writing with real live people who’ll be in the same room with me? I suppose these questions and others will be answered soon.

Please keep an eye on this space over the next few weeks to see if I figure out the whole fun thing. I joke, but I’m excited. Learning IS fun.

Peace and love, people!

Book Club Issues

Yesterday I wrote about the book The Worst Hard Time. It was a wonderful book club pick, one that’s stayed with me for many years. But there were several other books my book club in Champaign, Illinois, read that deserve a mention.

One of my favorites was Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson, a true story about a serial killer who plied his trade during the 1893 Chicago World Exposition. While it’s nonfiction, the book reads like novel. I was totally engrossed.

Another great read was Loving Frank, based on the story of a woman who loved the architect Frank Lloyd Wright so much that she left her family for him.

This was a book that stirred emotions and sparked heated discussions. It’s beautifully written and thought provoking.

My favorite book, though, from the book club years was The Whistling Season, by Ivan Doig. This is a book that honors teachers and education. It’s absolutely beautiful, and will make you yearn for simpler times.

I have book club issues. It’s difficult for me to read what someone tells me to read, but these books are evidence that I can follow directions. At least for awhile.

Peace, people.

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.

Oh, the Humanity!

It might not have been a good idea to watch Avengers: Endgame on Sunday morning and this season’s Episode 3 of Game of Thrones on Monday evening. I’m an emotional wreck.

No spoilers, but in both cases some favorite characters died. I know exactly which ones left us in Endgame, but thanks to the overly dark ambience in Game of Thrones, I’m not completely sure who was killed and who is still among the living. There may be tears shed after next week’s episode when we learn their fates.

On a slightly, but not really, related note, this floater in my right eye is bumming me out. My understanding is that it might be my new normal. I’m thinking of naming it “Splot” because it’s more than a “Spot,” but less than a “Blot.” Out, damned Splot!

I teared up as I told Studly Doright that there’s a possibility I’ll never get to ride a roller coaster again for fear of ending up with a detached retina. Roller coasters are my thing, and I’d hoped for a few more good years of riding with my grandkids. Studly, who doesn’t want anything to do with roller coasters had trouble empathizing with me.

“It’s like when you had to give up racquetball after your knee replacement surgeries,” I told him.

“Yep, and I did it,” he gloated. Studly isn’t exactly known for his willpower, so that carried some weight.

“As long as I can still read, I guess I’ll be okay,” I sighed.

“Look on the bright side,” Studly said. “Reading has never sent you to the chiropractor. Roller coaster riding always does.”

He’s right, dammit. Here’s to many more years of reading.

Peace, people.