Between the Books

Last week I was in the room of discarded books at my local library, scouring the shelves, when an interesting lady came around the corner. She was an older woman, wearing a black dress and low, black pumps. She even wore a black hat—the netted, funeral, boxlike type. I made room for her, and as she walked past me in the narrow aisle, I heard her humming to herself. I was intent on spine-scanning, but I thought the humming was nice because I hum all the time.

Old Books in the library
Old Books in the library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She picked up a book, started flipping through it, and quietly chuckled to herself. I looked up from my book to glance at her. Most people do not start laughing to themselves immediately after opening a book unless they want to get your attention. Well, she had my attention, kept her nose in the book, and went on humming. It was a cookbook.

Being the judgmental sort that I am, I thought, “She’s probably not all there,” and turned back to my spines. She placed the book back in the shelf decidedly, walked by me with a polite, “Excuse me,” and left the room. I concluded she was eccentric. That’s when this quiet little thought slipped into my head: “I bet she’s a writer.”

I told Realm about this, and he asked, “What did she do that made you think that?”

“I don’t know… the humming, the classy outfit, the little laugh to herself. I can see myself doing that when I’m older. I mean, being eccentric.”

“So, you’re saying you plan to be eccentric?” he asked with an eyebrow raised.

McReynolds, Miss Haldane, Haldane  (LOC)
I think a hat like this would make me very happy. (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

“I don’t plan to be, but I know I will be. Most people, as they get older, become more persnickety and take on odd habits. I intend to embrace it.”

He shrugged. “I guess I can see that, but how eccentric are we talking here?”

“Well,” I thought aloud, “someday I want to wear just what I want to wear—and hats are one of those things I think I’ll probably start wearing as I become more eccentric. I will dress up to go places like the library, and I will dress down when I go to formal events. Really, it ought to be that way. The formal occasions are more uncomfortable because of pinching shoes and things. I don’t mind if my shoes pinch when I’m on a short outing to look at books, though.”

We were silent for a bit, and then he said, “I still haven’t figured out how, exactly, being eccentric and being a writer go together…”

“I guess they don’t,” I admitted with a shrug. Then I added in a dramatic whisper, “Maybe she’d just buried her third husband that morning and was indulging in a quiet laugh of triumph between the books.”

He shook his head at me as I chuckled to myself and returned to my humming.

Advice for the Writer #332 (Revised!)

Correction to my previous post of writer advice:

Don’t give your sister your half-edited MS to read with the instructions, “Don’t read it if you find yourself saying, ‘I really need to finish this for my sister.’ Just give it back and tell me the truth.” unless she happens to be a thorough, thoughtful type who is willing to tell you honestly that some parts “feel forced; and I know what you’re thinking, but you’re not going for realism. It’s fantasy, after all.”

If she’s ready to bleed red ink on your tendency to drift into conversational slang in one section and verge on purple prose in the next, then hand that sister your manuscript.

She’s actually halfway through the book! She says the story is interesting. She says there are parts where she can tell I’ve really found my stride. I didn’t ask her how few those were. 😛

Currently Uncontrollably Bookish

I have a new addiction: free Kindle ebooks. I think it’s making my phone sluggish. How many ebooks can I download before my phone announces, “Dead” instead of “Droid”?

Right now I’m 23% into Les Miserables. I have no intention of reading more, though I’m thinking I’ll have to finish it someday. I cannot not finish a book that’s a classic, right? But, wow, it’s boring. I’m at the point where, contextually, I’m years away from grasping the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars. I’m sure I should, but it’s not happening for me. The descriptions of the region on which the battles were fought, and all the strategy that went into it, are dull. (I can’t believe I’m saying this. I thought I loved descriptions.) Anyway, somebody tell me it gets better at the 24th percentile, please.

I just finished Waiting for Summer’s Return by Kim Vogel Sawyer. It was my first try at an Amish romance, only the characters are Mennonite. The Amish part didn’t speak to me—or the Mennonite part. So, I give it 3 stars because it was quality writing and good character and plot development. Someone who likes Amish romance would probably give it more.

The Bookworm,
The Bookworm, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve read 68% of Half a Rogue by Harold McGrath. There is an antagonist that has just made his presence known by using profanity. I’m seriously irked. I half liked the story. It could be worse: I could’ve really liked the story. Now it’s taking up room on my phone, but not for long.

I’ve laughed through 21% of The Holiday Round by A. A. Milne. I don’t understand any of the golf or cricket jargon he uses, but that doesn’t matter. I read it in bites, like savoring chocolates. I’m thinking of getting a hard copy and giving it to my mom and dad. They like to read funny anecdotes together.

I’ve read 1% of The Heart of Rachel by Kathleen Thompson Norris. I don’t know what this one is about yet. I wasn’t in the mood to read it when I started it.

Delia Blanchflower by Mrs. Humphry Ward is on the top of the stack at present. I have 17% of it read. It has an interesting premise: The woman is an heiress whose deceased father keeps her from coming into her inheritance because she’s a rabid feminist. I find that situation rather ironic.

I’m not promising to continue past 7% of Everyday Foods in War Time by Mary Swartz Rose. Her fallback plan is milk, which doesn’t make much sense to me. Where do you get milk during wartime? Families in tough times resort to dry milk. I have a friend whose fallback plan is kudzu. If you live in the South, you know he’s on to something.

I enjoyed Quick and Easy Cooking from Deep Cove Publishing by somebody whose name is not on the cover and who seems to be confused about whether to go with “I” or “we” throughout the book. But, hey, I’m still going to try, “Salt and Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas” and the seasoned salmon and rice in a foil packet. Then I can delete it off my phone.

There are still 10 ebooks I have yet to open just waiting in my carousel. There is a stack beside my bed that eyes me reproachfully when I turn in, too. Oooo, and I bought a lovely 4th edition of Interpreting Literature by Knickerbocker/Reninger, Copyright 1969. Hardbound. I started reading it while I was supposed to be entertaining guests from out-of-town. That didn’t go over well.

How ’bout you? Are you feeling particularly bookish?

Dear Fan

Every writer needs her own stationery. I’ve found mine.

My good friend and fellow-blogger, Holly, who happens to be a card-making machine and a genius at all things paper, has an Etsy shop, HS Homemade. It’s one of my haunts. I found a set of cards with sweet little butterflies that needed me. So, I told her I loved them; and then I said, “Only, I wish they were dragonflies.”

Guess what? I got my wish!These are my new friends.— These are my new friends.

I ordered my first two sets last week. Now I can take up my pen in fine style and send you the latest buzz.

Isn't that little fella on the envelope splendid?
See the curious little fella on the envelope?

I told her, when I’m a famous authoress, she has to create the custom cards for my personal Dragonfly Prince correspondence. A girl can dream, right?

Mom’s Legacy

Every mom wants to leave a legacy, something her child will hold onto when she’s long gone. Today’s my mom’s birthday, and I’ve been thinking about what her legacy will be.

I remember how my mom taught my Bible Class when I was a kid. Mom is a natural when it comes to teaching. She knows how to create a hunger for learning.  Once, she brought me in to watch my five-year-old sister playing with Cuisenaire Rods. My sister stacked the different lengths of rods into cubes on the table, and my mom whispered to me, “See that!” Her hazel green eyes sparkled with excitement. “She’s doing square roots and doesn’t even know it!”

When she’s in teacher-mode, her enthusiasm is contagious. She is super at inventing activities to bring home key concepts, always introducing a new game. Even as I grew older, I realized her talent at bringing a lesson to life.

I remember the year we fell in love with Anne of Green Gables. Mom purchased the whole set for me for Christmas, then promptly read it before she gift-wrapped it. She would ask, “Have you made it to the part where…?” as I read the series. We shared Anne, and that may be why L. M. Montgomery is my favorite author today.

My mother sang all the time while I was growing up. I can remember being rocked while the soothing sounds of her Irish alto, reverberating against my ear, lulled me to sleep. I never wanted her to stop singing.

When I’m in my final years, I know her words will come back to me. I think I will hear them in song, just as she sings to me now when I’m in the midst of a hard decision:

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart,
and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge Him
and He shall direct thy paths;
and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Mom, how blessed I have been to have you as my mother! Please, don’t ever stop singing to me.

Advice for the Writer #332

Don’t give your sister your half-edited MS to read with the instructions, “Stop reading it if you find yourself saying, ‘I really need to finish this for my sister.’ Just give it back and tell me the truth.”

I know what she’s doing. She’s putting off looking at the first page for fear she’ll hate it. Argh.

I have less than 100 pages left to edit in that manuscript, and I haven’t worked on it for a month!

Finis rant.

Otherwise Entitled: Help

English: Ostrich
English: Ostrich (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been digging a hole in the sand and burying my head in it long enough. This is gonna be a catch-up post, and I don’t like those. I’ve been up to too much, and I am soooo behind on everything I love!

What I love:

Planning the posts for this blog, writing my new children’s fic, and finishing the Dragonfly Prince sequel. (The dialogue is so funny!)

What I hate:

Crafting one and two-year old activities for my homeschool co-op class.

I detest crafty things. And, wow, I’ve forgotten what it was like to teach that age.

For five weeks I’ve been pickled in a preschool jar and trying to stay afloat on the home front. Realm says he’s proud of me. Anytime Realm says he’s proud of me it means he’s scared to death I’m going to start crying and blubbering against his shoulder again, begging him to be the bad guy and tell me he won’t let me do co-op anymore. But he knows better. He knows the moment the words come out of his mouth, I’ll look up, wiping the snot from under my nose with the back of my hand, and say, “Are you serious? But I’m not sure I want you to put your foot down!”

And I don’t. I don’t want to give up. I’ve been planning for this class since May. I had grand dreams back then. Curious future Einsteins and Jane Goodalls would toddle to their stations and develop amazing critical thinking skills with the use of paint, play dough, and some clothespins. Montessori lives! But then they started chewing the paint brushes, and the play dough became a glob of drool (and, to tell the truth, some of it was missing). I reevaluated. It went like this:

“This isn’t working. I think cages would be better for these creatures.”

That’s when I gave up on the blue and red-dyed ice cubes and the alphabet magnets hiding in the bucket of beans.

“Let’s think harnesses,” I told my helper. “Let’s think duct tape.” She totally didn’t get what I was going for, but that’s okay. I need to save the rope and duct tape. By the end of this year of co-op, I’ll need them for my cushioned one-man room with the sign that says “Rilla is away on vacay! Don’t knock.”