Friday, October 24, 2008

Time flies....and thoughts about books and newspapers

I got busy. That's not a bad thing: I've been writing stories for Enjoy magazine and the Record Searchlight, and they've been interesting to do.

And I've been taking a photography class, although I've not been the best student by a long shot -- my cataract surgeries knocked me out of two class sessions, and the strong north wind kept me from the sunrise outdoor shoot (aw KNOW how I love getting up in the morning....not....) But I have learned despite myself and even shot the last two stories' pictures on manual settings.

We're still in caretaker mode with Princess #1, too, which means taking her to various appointments and to her new part-time job. While I don't mind the time, and indeed am grateful that I have the ability to be so present for her, it does take some scheduling.

This afternoon, however, she's with a friend, I finished the last assignment, and I spent the rest of the afternoon polishing my nails and catching up on Oprahs that have been DVRed -- even though I've deleted a bunch of them. It was thoroughly indulgent and relaxing. And my toes look much better.

Today's show featured the Amazon Kindle, an electronic bookreader that Oprah is just crazy about. She had Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO and creator of the Kindle, on the show to talk about it. I'll admit that it DOES sound enticing -- to carry around all the books or newspapers you want to read in a 10", thin volume -- and to be able to download them without a computer.

(And by the way, for this next week you can get $50 off the Amazon price with the code: OPRAHWINFREY ...)

But I have to admit that I'm not ready for that.

I love to read. I have always loved to read, and my earliest memories are of being read to and of reading myself. My favorite gifts have always been books. I love the type fonts, the thick pages, the heft of hardback books. I love the portability and affordability of paperbacks.

I love my red room that has crisp white floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on one whole long wall, and I love that the non-fiction is roughly categorized on one shelf and the fiction is all alphabetical by author on the rest of them, and that I have room for some little treasures, some photos, and my old high school and college yearbooks as well as all the photo albums I got from my folks' estate. I love sitting in the rocker there and feeling the enticing warmth of the stories float all around me.

And I love newspapers. I love the ink smell, the feel of the newsprint. I've read at least one daily paper most of my life, ever since elementary school, and I cannot imagine not having one, even though every newspaper in the country is struggling for its life and thousands of employees are being laid off and solid journalists and designers are out of work. And those remaining on staff are forced to do far more with less time and fewer dollars.

Tony reads newpapers and magazines online. I read blogs, but only read magazine or newspaper specific articles that are linked to from other sources. I like not being tied to the screen.

Which is probably why I'd like the Kindle. I could take it with me and be able to read most anything....


How would you clip articles or ideas? How could you highlight or make margin notes? Tear out pages and send them to a friend or save them in an idea file, or use them to make collages? Share a loved book with a friend, recycling them over and over? Or just randomly leaving a good book for a fellow booklover to find through Bookcrossing?

Yes, it would save trees (which would also cost people their jobs). It would cut down on waste, even though paper is recyclable (but the junk mail we all get would certainly keep the recyclers in business).

I'm just not ready to lose the comfort of the paper and of a book in my hand. Maybe someday.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Four years -- happy blog-iversary!

This blog is four years old, believe it or not. I wrote the first post on Oct. 11, 2004, wondering if I would even like this medium for my thoughts and words. After four years and 276 posts, I think it's obvious that I do.

I'll never have the readership of some of the blogs I read, it's not likely to get a lot of referrals from other blogs, and I don't care. There is a little group of regulars who check this site most days -- I know who some of you are because you've told me, and I can take a guess at who others are based on location. And then there are those who just find it because of a key word search.

Probably the words that show up most often in a search have to do with getting out of life what you put into it -- words I've used over and over in this four years of writing. I know this to be true: life is what you make of it, good or bad. How you react to problems and issues determines the course your life takes and how happy or unhappy you may be.

Not that there aren't things beyond our control. But it's our reaction to those things that determine what course our lives take.

The other thing I know is true: this too shall pass. Nothing lasts. Everything changes.

That goes for everything. Savor the good, learn from the not so good.

Thank you for reading my words, all of you. I hope you find a few nuggets in the stories and memories that help you along your path. In writing, I often find renewed energy and hope to continue along mine.

My brother came through his surgery very well, although I haven't talked to him yet, but it sounds as though he will have the best possible outcome. I am grateful for prayers and energy that have been sent to him and to me, and to my dear sister-in-law. I am grateful for surgeons who are skillful and compassionate, and for ever-advancing techniques in cancer treatment.

One day at a time is all we can ever live. Today I am grateful for my life and for those who I love.

Like a duck

...I'm trying to float on the stream, but underneath I'm paddling like mad.

There are a lot of things up in the air, some of which won't be resolved anytime soon. My brother's surgery is today, so part of me is there with him, feeling anxious, and trying not to be. There are challenges with work for both Tony and me, and again, part of me feels assured that we will be okay, but there is still anxiety. We continue to see problems with our daughter come up, and it's disruptive and a little frightening.

When you've lived a fairly low-key life for a time, it's hard to get dropped back into drama and uncertainty.

And I sure don't need to talk about the global economy. Money that was there (on paper, at least) a few months ago has disappeared. That's for everyone. These are unsettling times, tight times, anxiety-ridden times.

I don't like not knowing. I can cope with whatever a known issue is, but I have problems with the what-ifs and the wait-and-see ones. I want to know NOW.....whine......

I feel like there are so many loose ends, so many threads that are unraveling, and no time to really complete anything, not that it could be completed anyway. That extends to chores around the house and yard as well: we need to get rock and gravel and then spread it, but when? I need to yank out the summer garden and till. I'm nearly done with changing out closets, but part of it is still sitting in my bedroom. And then there are stories that need doing, if I can ever get hold of the people I need to talk to.

Too many what-ifs. Too much up in the air. And it's not just me. Nearly everyone I know feels much the same way.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


My second eye surgery was yesterday -- the other cataract was removed, this time in eight minutes (it was earlier -- maybe he hadn't quite gotten into the groove).

I can read the computer screen while actually leaning back in my chair, not hunched over the keyboard with my nose 8 inches from the screen.

I can watch TV and actually see the characters from my favorite chair.

With one of the many pairs of readers I have from when I needed to wear them with my contacts, I can read the newspaper and books at a reasonable distance, not held way up to my face.

My eyesight this morning tested 20/20 without correction of any kind.

And all this is with my eye still dilated some from the surgery. I am in awe of this miracle. I am grateful to those who have invented ways of doing it -- one nurse told me that not all that many years ago cataract patients had their heads immobilized with blocks and had to be flat on their backs for 10 days. I am grateful to be able to see again, better, actually, than I've ever seen.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

October's transitions

It's October 1 -- the beginning of the all-too-rapid slide down to the new year. And it appears that our summer weather may be over, with a forecast of highs on Friday and Saturday only in the 60s. Looks like we may well go from swamp cooler to wood stove in the same week once more.

And I'm so glad. I am so tired of hot weather, of dry, dusty roads and ground and air, of fire threats with every lightning strike. I'm tired of hot weather food and clothing. It's been a very long summer this year.

Change is all around us today, and we're truly at a crossroads with the economy. Our lives, what we buy, what we eat, how we work depends on what happens with the economy in the next few days. While we must take personal responsibility for our own choices and deal with those consequences, much of this mess is fallout from the decisions of big business. And yes, what happens to these big companies impacts our ability to purchase ANYTHING. Our economy revolves around credit.

October is one of my favorite months. The weather is cooler, days are often spectacularly bright blue, local festivals are nearly every weekend, gardens yield up the last veggies, trees turn brilliant colors.

My little brother was born this month and celebrates a birthday next week. Not that big 6-o, but he's not far away either. *snicker*

Mind you, when he was born, I wasn't particularly thrilled about it. I was not quite three -- two years and 11 months older than him, he'd tell people throughout our school days -- and rather enjoyed being the only child. I remember the day we brought him and my mother home from the hospital. I think my dad's mother had come to help out, because I remember being in the back seat of our car with her when we picked up my mother from the hospital, and peering over her shoulder to see this squawky red thing that looked not at ALL like my cute babydolls.

I'm told, although I don't remember it, that I used to pop him and then go helpfully tell my mother that "Jimmy has a bloody nose!" He has blamed me all his life for his propensity toward bloody noses, although *I* think it has much more to do with the blood vessels in his nose being very close to the skin's surface. (I never get bloody noses.)

But he was my playmate. We'd play house. We'd play dolls. We'd play trucks and cars sometimes, and conduct pretend orchestras with chopstick batons while we listened to LPs that our parents had, and our own "Lemmerlemmer Street" and others. We knew all the words to "Oklahoma." We could recite and sing the whole monologue from "It's in the Book." And sang gibberish German with some boys' choir recording -- can't remember the name. We knew the all the Smothers Brothers routines from their recordings too.

And we fought. I remember chasing him around and around the house, angry about something or other, and trying to hit him but only rarely succeeding. I took a slug at the neighborhood bully when he was in first grade and I was in fourth, and the bully was trying to beat up on MY BROTHER. *I* could beat up on him, but nobody else was gonna, by god. I got a chipped front tooth for my efforts, and we moved out of that neighborhood shortly thereafter, but I'd protected my little brother. By the time I was in high school he was pretty much of a pest.

And we've been friends for years now. When our dad died, we were in a mind-meld about what needed to be done for our mother. When our mother was failing and died -- three years ago at the end of this month -- we spent time together, just us, for the first time in many years, and were reminded just how much we treasure each other. We did what we needed to do, and we leaned on each other for strength to do it.

October is a transition month: you'll remember the Greek story of Persephone, where she prepares to return to the underworld for four months. When she and her mother Demeter are reunited, the earth flourishes with growth, but when she returns to Hades, it becomes barren. It's the myth explaining the changing of the seasons. We have this month yet of life, and then the barren time comes.

Only partly, of course, in northern California, where the hills and fields green up with the rains. But hey, it's a good story.

It's a transition month for the elections too, where all the candidates make their platforms clear (we hope), and campaigns and publicity heat up, and the fireworks and mudslinging start (yuk). By the end of the month we'll all be sick of hearing it and ready to vote.

Be sure to watch Palin and Biden go at it tomorrow night, by the way. It should be on all the networks as well as CNN, and on radio. Doesn't matter who you're for -- just be informed.

Anyway, happy almost fall. I know the calendar shows that fall began more than a week ago, but for me, this is its beginning. And days are getting so short -- barely 12 hours of light these days, with the sun setting by 7 p.m. Remember that daylight savings time doesn't change (fall back) until Nov. 2.