Archive for January, 2010

I have this problem with books

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

I have this problem with books, but I do not think it merits an entry in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. However, I cannot be certain, because it is not like I have a copy and could easily look up a ìcategoryî to find out if I have a disorder beyond being a bibliophile.

Granted, I love books, both their physical attributes and the possibilities of what stories, along with the language in which they are told, could be secreted inside.

I have been a reader since elementary school, the intensity and frequency of my obsession following a wavy line on a bar graph. In college, for example, I read textbooks and novels for my English class and was too read-out for reading during my free time. Now, I read instead of watching television, to relax and to escape into a place other than Larimer County, Colorado.
So my problem is that I am very committed to my books, whether I buy them, borrow them from family or friends or check them out from the library.

I can start reading a book and not like it, or even hate it ñ I donít like the style, the setting, the plot or the characters, for example ñ but I have to give it a chance. I figure 50 pages is fair, and then if I still do not like it, well, Iíve read 50 pages and thatís 1/6th the length of the average book I read. I think, oh, I put all this time into it, Iíll read some more. And when I still donít like it, I have become committed to finish the book. I have to finish the book! Even though life is too short to read a book one does not care for, I end up reading in a race trying to finish the book to read something I like.

Iíve decided my problem is book-aty, or an excessive loyalty to books that causes one to make A Too-long Yowl of frustration.

Framed by Fay Ulanoff

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Sitting in a local health food restaurant I noticed some art work hanging on the wall behind my mate, who turned around to look at it.

ìHow much is it?î† I asked.

He twisted his head around to answer me and read off the price, which was $270.

ìWow thatís high for a photograph,î I answered in between bites of my delectable sandwich.

He tells me that price is for the original, but an unframed print is only $100.

I tell him with the digital age upon us, everyone and anyone is a photographer, and there arenít any negatives, which makes them all prints.

He agrees with me, and remarked that perhaps if it were signed it would be worth it.

ìWell maybe itís under the matting. Look over there,î I pointed.

ìWhat are you looking at?î

ìThere, above those two men eating at the table across from us.î

ìYeah so.† Exactly what do you see?î

I pointed once again to a white frame and told him that picture is only $6.00 framed.

Reading back to me he said, ìNo it is $6.99 for an 8 piece chicken dinner.

Olive and My Book Club

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Belonging to a Book Club can sometimes be a challenge. Take for instance this month. Our January selection was "Olive Kitteridge" by Elizabeth Strout © 2008 Random House.

Olive Kitterage by Elizabeth Strout, 2009 Pulitzer for Fiction

No wonder Olive Kitterage nabbed a Pulitzer!

Before Christmas I went to the Loveland Library but their copy was already gone; I didn't have any road trips planned, no Denver outings, so a book on tape wouldn't work this month. Next I checked the Poudre Library District online and all of their 4 copies were out.

Finally I chose Prospector (inter-library loan) and hoped for the best. After all, I was early and most people have time off work over the holidays. Surely they must read then?

When the calendar announced our Book Club meeting last Tuesday I was still bookless. Since I did have a business meeting that would make me late for the Book Club discussion, I opted out with regrets.

The book arrived Wednesday. Go figure.

But since "Olive" had traveled all the way from Greeley, and inter-library loans are usually short with no renewals, I dug right in.

It jazzes me to experience a story unfolding - I simply love it when I have no idea what a book or movie is about.† It's hard in this age of information to maintain such an innocence, but when it does happen, I am enthralled.

Kitterage and Pulitzer vaguely connected, but I did not know anything about the story.†† I purposely did not look at the back-of-the-book blurbs. Did not read online reviews. Nothing.

Reading a book this way is truly like taking the author's hand and allowing myself to be led around unfamiliar territory.† This book is unfamiliar Ö in style and content. Olive Kitteridge is odd, quirky and thoroughly engaging.

Thanks to the savvy readers in my Book Club for yet again launching me on a worthwhile journey.

The Day Without a Computer

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

A Day Without My Computer

Following my usual mode of operation, I made some notes and did some organizing for my almost due article the night before my writersí meeting. I intended to write the rough draft the next morning. This time my procrastination caught up with me. When I sat down at the computer in the morning, the monitor screen was blank, black, not a glimmer of light. I did the only trouble-shooting I know how to do. I turned the computer off and then on again. The screen remained black. I called Jeff, my computer guru, in a panic and listened impatiently to his voice-mail tell me that he was out of town for the week. He did offer an alternate number. When I called this number, Charles gently explained that he was swamped with trying to service both Jeffís clients and his own and, yes, everyone was working toward a deadline. He would fit me in as soon as he could. Turned out that did not happen on the same day.

What to do with no computer? I came to realize how much I depend on having my computer available when I went a full day without one. My first thought was to do a bit more research for the article. Whoops, no access to web sites. I may have some papers to grade for my online course. Wonít work! Canít get to the internet. Wonder what Laura Lee has posted on Midlife Crisis Queen and I always get a chuckle out reading Heatherís Samanthaís Mom blog. Whoops! No blogs.

Instead, I will sort magazines and catalogs ñ and feel righteous about getting to a task long postponed. But I can not reward myself with playing a quick computer game (or two). Oh well, I will mix up that new casserole I tried last week. No luck. The recipe is in my computer files.

In the meantime, I am worrying that my computer has a virus, that all is lost. I do have a back-up system, but what a hassle. Or a worse worry, what if a hacker has gotten in and stolen important information?

Charles came the next morning. He checked everything out. My monitor had died. Thatís it. Nothing was lost. Nothing stolen. He gave me the specifications for buying a new monitor. I bought one and my granddaughter hooked it up for me. My life can return to normal. Thank goodness!

Good Enough

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

My name is Cindy and Iím an perfectionist. My whole life Iíve held myself to ridiculously high standards, agonized over mistakes real and imagined, and endured entirely too much stress over things that donít matter.

Did you notice the typo in the first sentence? Believe me, itís killing me to leave it there. But in my ongoing fight against being smothered by perfectionism sometimes I have to do things like that.

Iíve found perfectionism is like the kudzu vine engulfing the southeastern United States. It digs in its roots and insidiously takes over your life. You can hack it down, but when youíre not looking, it grows right back.

Thatís when I make a deliberate effort to cut myself some slack, try something new, or make a mistakes on purpose. Who needs perfection anyway? Good enough lasts a lot longer!

Transferable Skills

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Attended NoCoNet's presentation yesterday and learned more about summarizing quantifiable transferable skills as I, along with 250 displaced professionals, step on the path of Reformulating Ourselves to the Job Markets of 2010.

Big words--essentially--look for the stuff I did that I can do for anyone else.

In reading Heather's Blog about Haiti, I had a thought...isn't that the miracle of reaching out across the water--finding something I can do for others?

Pat, God and Haiti

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Haiti has been on my mind. Haiti has probably been on your mind too. I have tried to put my feeling to words but sometimes things are just too awful to verbalize.

So I have said nothing.

But then Pat Robertson said something....putting words to my emotions.

In case you missed it, Pat said the Haitian earthquake was "God's punishment for Haitian slaves' 'pact with the devil' to win freedom from France."

Instead of sorrow, I felt rage, disbelief, horror and embarrassment. The Christian Science monitor stated that his remarks "got the usual chuckles of disbelief among local intelligentsia about American culture."

Boo, hiss, Pat.

I gathered my rotten eggs in retaliation. I came up with poopie-head names to call him. I started to throw my stones. And then my smart friend Renee posted this on Facebook; A Response to Pat Robertson's Comments about Haiti. I read Don Miller's forgiving, intelligent post and lowered my eggs.

When Samantha got sick, I used to comment that we must have done something in a past life to anger the Karma gods. . I would think, why us? Where was God in the ICU?

And then I discovered that God was not in the seizures or the sickness, not in the sadness. God was in what we discovered from our hard times; the people in our lives, the amazing doctors, the ability to tell our story, our fight for Samantha and others. God was in our ability to keep loving and be loved.

God is not in this earthquake; not in the overwhelming death and destruction. God is in the doctors who fly in for 20 hour triage missions. God is in the small miracles that we hear about day by day. God is in the outpouring of aid to this poor nation.

This is not my sermon. People who know me know that I am far, far from a Saint. This is my speech, for myself, to keep me from throwing rotten eggs at Pat.

I want to say I feel sorry for a man whose spirituality is embedded in guilt, blame, hell fire and brimstone but I can't. His words are too damaging. Instead I will search for the good and compassion in people trying to help. We will make a donation to help the people in Haiti and I will put down my stinky eggs.

Too bad...I was hoping to clean out my refrigerator

-Heather Schichtel


Monday, January 11th, 2010

I am having an issue with my new 2010 calendar.† In the bookstore, I passed over the calendars of butterflies, scenes of Ireland, cats and meditation gardens.† In a hurry, I grabbed the one decorated with art by Georgia OíKeefe† and now I am living to regret it.† The January photo is a close-up of an orange poppy. (Poppy 1927) As art it is okay and I have no strong feelings about it one way or the other.

Now, most people know the assertion that Georgia painted genitalia.† Duh!† Of course she did ñ flower genitalia.† Wondering what flower genitalia looks like?† Just cut open an apple and have a look.† It seems in the world of biology the design of external female genitalia is similar regardless of species, animal or vegetable.

My life is filling up so I had to flip to the February page and painting.† What a graphic shocker! Every time I glance at the giant painting on my desk, I nearly fall over. (Series 1 White and Blue Flower Shapes 1919.)† I am no prude, but give me a break!††† If this is flower genitalia, no wonder Oíkeefe caught the attention of the art world and became famous.

Concerned, I flipped through all twelve months.† Except for May (Bleeding Heart 1932) which is a bit dicey, thankfully, there are no other shockers, just pretty flowers.† As far as February goes, I need a plan Ö.probably a brown paper bag.

Bad Time for an Ear Cleaning

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Bad Time for an Ear Cleaning

January 8th †2010 by Fay Ulanoff

I told my husband I couldnít hear.

I told everyone that things were getting far away.

They didnít listen, until days, turned to weeks, and then a month had passed.

What to do?

What to do, you say to yourself.

Why not visit an MD.

They always know what to do.

Or at least their credentials say they will.

I hoped so the day I took a chance and called upon my friendly neighborhood physician.

What have we here, ìHe say.î

I say,î Things are getting far away.î

ìWell, letís take a look.í

So he looks with his eye.

Then he looks with his instrument.

He tells me that my ears have to be cleaned out.

I say, ìNo, I just washed them in the shower.î

But he tells me that is not the case and he must do it right now, so he may see in.

ìSee in? I answer.

ìYes and we must hurry about it, so that I can tell if thereís anything wrongî

Wrong.† Of course there is something wrong or I would not be here. What is he thinking?

ìAlright, bring in the tubes and lots of water,î he orders a passing nurse, who smiled and rushed away.

Away? †Where I wonder?

Where has she gone?† I already told him that I washed my ears in the shower.† What could he be thinking?

ìThis is a mistake. I tell my husband, as they tell me to bend my head to the side as they slide in a syringe and pour water all over my shirt and pants.

ìStop that!î I told everyone that I already had clean ears and I donít think this will work.î

All involved in this procedure agree that this was the best thing.

So I go out of my way to cooperate.

ìîHold your head still.† Bend it down this way.

No that way,î said the nurse with gentle hands, until she took out a white very enlarged


ìWhatís that?î† I ask.

ìOh just lean back and Iíll pour this half pitcher of water down your shirt.í

Well she really didnít say that.† In fact she told me to hold still so it would all go down into my ear.

Every drop did not go directly into my ear, but my husband, who witnessed the entire ordeal, could only see it with my back to him.† So he thought that every syringe and pitcher full of water did enter my ear canal.

When in actuality, most of it fell out into the sink basin I was sitting next to.

Now let me get back to the giant tooth pick device she was about to explore my ear with.

ìOuch! That hurts.í

ìDonít worry dear.† We are only trying to pick out the wax.î

Pick out?

Pick out?

I thought they were only going to use the water and that was enough for me, especially because my ears were really, really clean from this morning.

ìJust hold still and weíll be done in no time.î

I did hold still and she pulled out something that I did not want to hear of nor see.

And although the nurse, doctor and my husband were so pleased with the yucky yuk that she had fished out.

I saw nothing †rewarding nor gratifying about her mining results.

In the end, the nurse and doctor told me to change out of my wet shirt into the sweater I had worn over my blouse, when I entered the torture chamber, and be sure to wear a hat.

I did as I was told and my husband and I left the office with my hearing in the same condition as I went in.

It just goes to show you that perhaps it is better to stay away from the doctors lairs as much as you can, because the only answers comes from within your head, but not from mine, because I am just as cloudy as the day I entered.

A new calendar ... brings another 365 dilemmas

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

This year I received an interesting gift for a writer: Book Lover's Calendar for 2010. It pleased me and challenged me, just as it did last year when I received the 2009 version. A colleague told me calendars like this make her nervous.

I pondered this at length, and decided the calendar seemed to be a treasure trove waiting for me to dig in. It didn't make me nervous, it exhilarated me! Great books, recommended by the calendar which met the ì365 Days of Good Authors, Good Books, & Good Readingî criteria as touted on the calendar's cover.

Each day presents one book by Title with Author, Publisher, and Date. There is a short synopsis that strives to spotlight each tome in such a way, it makes you want to run out and buy it, devour it in one gulp.† Burp.

I suppose each author pumps the air with a triumphant fist when notified her or his book has been chosen for the next year's ìBook Lover's Calendar.î Out of the hundreds of thousands of books published each year, for one day of the year all eyes [albeit only calendar users] would turn to her or his book. Gravy, advertising at its finest.

What I did not expect was my reaction to the calendar by, say mid-March. Let's take the Ides as an example. I laughed to see ìCaesar: Life of a Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthyî taking up the 3/15/09 page. Equally amusing was the pairing of April Fools' Day and the dark comedy with frightening undertones by Michael Crichton, ìNext

But, as the year progressed, I felt more and more like a slacker. Too lazy to keep up with the calendar of great reading suggestions, I fell hopelessly behind early in January and never gained a foothold.

This year I'm doing much better. How do I manage to read a book a day?

I don't.† Moreover, I give my self permission to choose from a tiny sprinkling of the diverse advertisements numbingly numbering 365. Nervous? Nah. No way. I am taking this daily billboard of books less to heart. It is much easier this way, and I have not the indigestion of gobbling† a book a day.† Burp.

Today's suggestion ìHow To Be Aloneî was penned by my old ìThe Correctionsî buddy Jonathan Franzen. Maybe I'll get around to it before the 2011 edition of the Book Lover's Calendar challenges me all over again.