Monthly Archives: December 2007

Merry Christmas to all . . .

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
Next year all our troubles will be miles away

Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us once more

Someday soon we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

. . . and to all a good night.


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The trouble with books

I can’t read. Maybe I should rephrase that. Lately, I can’t seem to finish reading an entire book. I’m lucky if I can get halfway through. It makes me feel like I can’t read. Right now I have 15 hardcover books checked out of the library. I’ve read the beginning, some more some less, of nine of them. I’m also partway into reading at least seven paperbacks.

Normally, I’m reading at least three or four books at the same time. I like variety. I do that all the time. But I finish them. And then start others. It is not normal for me to have started reading more than a dozen books, yet not finish ANY OF THEM. As my kids would say, that’s just messed up.

I have become very familiar with the library’s online renewal system. Sometimes the system tells me I can’t renew a book, so I take that one back. And bring home three more. As if I’m stocking up, hoarding what I can against a long dark winter where books will become scarce and dear.

I’ve run out of bookmarks and started using Kleenex. Quincy the Wonder Dog tears off and eats the bits that stick out along the top and sides. Sometimes he pulls the entire thing out of the book. Doesn’t matter if I can’t find my place again since lately, once I put a bookmark into a book and set it aside, I’m not likely to go back to it.

There is nothing wrong with these books. I’m sure they’re all interesting and well-written and wonderful. Many of the authors are those whose books I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed in the past and there is no reason to think any of them, let alone all of them, have suddenly lost the ability to write a compelling and entertaining story. No, the problem is with me and it seems to be getting worse.

I’m sure it’s very unfair of me to keep these books stacked all over the place when other people could be reading them. Poor things, sitting there partially read and cast aside like inedible half-baked lumps of dough taken from the oven just as they started to heat and rise. But I keep thinking I’ll finish reading them. Soon. Right after I see whether the next one is perhaps more captivating.

I have finished reading exactly one book in the past month. Maybe two months. I checked it out because of the author’s name: Per Petterson. You have to be at least curious about the writing of someone named Per. And also because he’s from Norway and wrote the book in Norwegian and this was the English translation. I grew up listening to Norwegian men tell stories, I was curious to see how this compared.

The name of the book is OUT STEALING HORSES. It is unlike anything I have ever read. The writing is beautiful and spare. The first person narrative is all over the place but the words flow so smoothly you don’t care. You know there won’t be a happy ending but you don’t care about that either. The writing is pure and wonderful and you just want more so you keep turning pages. The ending comes abruptly like a slap to the heart and you draw a great shaky breath and hold it while you decide whether to cry and somewhere deep inside you know– you will never forget those words. If any of my Norwegian uncles had given a similar small glimpse of emotional vulnerability in the stories they told, they might have sounded like this book. But they didn’t, so I’m not sure about that.

OUT STEALING HORSES is a book you can’t not finish reading. Even if you can’t read.


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After the Fall

We had beautiful weather here today: 72 degrees and hazy sunshine. This is not usual. Average temps are roughly 20 degrees less than that this time of year. Since I’m fighting off a cold, I decided to take it easy and sit on the deck and bask in the healing warmth of sunshine. Except the deck was covered with leaves. Again. Here is a picture of some of the trees responsible for this surfeit of leaves.

Can you tell I was a wee bit bored? Sitting there taking pictures of the trees with my cell phone? So I decided to sweep the deck. Sounds simple, right? Well, not when Quincy the Wonder Dog morphs into Quincy the Helper Dog.

Quincy seemed to be Very Concerned that I was attempting any activity at all. He stood in the leaves I was trying to sweep. The only way to clear a section of deck was by sweeping around and between his legs as he stood guard. As soon as I finished one leaf-covered section, he’d move to the next one. At one point I yelled at him and made him go sit down.

Good dog. Stay.

I turned to sweep more leaves and there he was. Standing right in the middle of the pile.

When I was done, he pouted. Refused to look at me. So I took this picture of him, mourning the loss of his leaves. Or chagrined he was unable to protect me from all that dangerous physical activity. Not sure which.

Here he is later, inside, sitting with the cat. He’s still sad about those leaves — has his back turned to the windows that look out over the deck. The cat is sitting in a fading ray of sunshine, content to have no opinion whatsoever about leaves. I’m not sure you can tell from this picture, but neither one of them like it when I try to vacuum either.

That’s my excuse, anyway.


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My inner slug is trying to kill me. I have evidence.
I’m pretty sure it’s a conspiracy.

It has teamed up with my boss:

If you give her more to do and make her work late,
she won’t want to exercise when she gets home.

It has talked to the cat:

Climb into her lap and purr loudly. She’ll sit
there long after she’s watched the news.

And the dog:

Don’t jump all over her and slobber in her face at the crack
of dawn. Let her sleep late, she’ll be sluggish all day.

It has spoken convincingly to people who have my phone number:

One of you call her every night. Talk for hours at a time.
Don’t let her hang up and get on that treadmill.

It has even communicated with those who have my email address:

Send her 50 emails every day. By the time she reads them all
she’ll be too tired to exercise. Plus she’ll have a headache.

My inner slug does not seem to understand that ours is a symbiotic relationship. I go down, it’s going down with me.

Symbi-what? Any of you got a dictionary?

Yeah. It has been a tough week. But I just took my inner slug for a half-mile walk and it is feeling pretty subdued at the moment. That won’t last. It tries to contact you with suggestions for thwarting my resolve to exercise, just ignore it.


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