Archive for the ‘books’ Tag

12-28-2015 Journal–New Year’s Resolutions!   3 comments

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Thank God the Christmas season is finally behind us for another year. As much as I enjoy it while it lasts,  when it’s over it’s over. Let’s’ move right along to the next all consuming holiday, New Years. It’s during this in-between time every year that I usually do a final review of my New Year’s resolutions and introduce my list for 2016. With that in mind here is a quick recap of 2015.

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2015

1.  I vow to exercise for forty-one minutes every other day for the entire year. COMPLETED – I’m now up to 46 minutes.

2.  I vow to call President Obama nasty names only during months with an "R" in them. COMPLETED, This one was easy.

3.  I further vow to never say anything good about President Obama in months without an "R". COMPLETED: This one was even easier.

CAUSTIC COMMENT – Goodbye OBAMA, your fifteen minutes is almost over.

4.  I vow to never blurt out any F-Bombs in front of the grandson now that he’s started repeating damn near everything. COMPLETED

5.  I vow to say many more F-Bombs around those people (except the grandsons) who irritate, annoy or piss me off. COMPLETED, and still going strong.

6.  I vow to stop flirting with just anyone.  There are times when I feel like such a slut and that’s not good for my self esteem.  INCOMPLETE, It’s really difficult to break this semi-bad habit but my hearts not really into trying.

7.  For the third year in a row I vow not to prance naked anywhere near the front picture window.  It creeps out the neighbors and one or two of our regular joggers.  COMPLETE, Due entirely to my better-half’s purchase of a new window treatment.

8.  I also vow not to screw with my cat as much this year due to his advanced age and sharp claws. INCOMPLETE, I have a few new scars but he really deserves being messed with whenever possible.

9.  I vow to take at least 500 really good photographs a month. INCOMPLETE, I’m just not getting it done.

10. Read 2 books a week for a year. COMPLETE, 104 AS OF 12/29/2015.

Now for my resolutions for 2016. I’ve been giving these a lot of thought because I feel the need to shake things up a little. Here goes.

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2016

1.  With the help of my better-half, complete the family recipe book. We’ve procrastinated long enough.

2.  Complete my blog book for 2015.

3.  Between August 8th and New Years, complete at least one more tandem skydive.

4.  Buy a dog.

5.  Keep my foul language to an absolute minimum around the grand kids. I know at some point they’ll both learn all those nasty words but let it be from someone other than me.

6.  Set aside at least two days a month for some quality time with my camera along the Maine coast or in the woods.

7.  Try as hard as I can to give a damn about politics. You should know this  resolution has absolutely no chance of ever being accomplished.

8.  Try to be a little more confrontational and assertive with ignorant people who insist on annoying me.  No more Mr. Nice Guy.

9.  Stop eating potato chips.

10. Set time aside to get back into sketching and painting.  I’ve gotten away from it for a few years and it’s time to return.

There you have it.  I completed seventy percent of my resolutions for 2015 and I’m really proud of myself but I’m also reasonably sure the list for this year will be a lot more difficult. 

I can only keep on keeping on.

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10-11-2015 Journal–Winter Prep Continues!   Leave a comment

The weather has finally turned and Fall is here. The nights are consistently in the low forties requiring that we permanently turn on the heat for the Winter. Over the last two weeks I’ve been slowly bringing out my winter clothing and packing away the sandals, shorts, and beachwear.  I actually look forward to Fall and the cooler temperatures even though the snow comes along with it.

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‘Any good soup requires fresh veggies.’

As the garden and yard work are coming to an end it’s time to look over my Winter inventories.  I’ve picked up a good supply of books and other reading material over the last two months which should carry me well into 2016. Add to that the Kindle books I intend to purchase and I’m good to go.

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Everything that could be harvested from the garden has been canned, frozen, and dried.  The garden will be officially over in three more days and I can put it out of my mind for a few months. My last cooking chore for Winter preparation was the making of a batch of my chicken and rice soup. This recipe I picked up from an old Korean women in 1968 and it’s remained one of my all-time favorites ever since.

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‘Looks bad, tastes wonderful.’

It’s not terribly difficult to make and each batch is usually good for ten to twenty large bowls that can be frozen and used for months without any ill effects.  Basically you take a large whole chicken and drop it into a gallon of salted water, bring it to a boil, cover it, and cook it until the chicken falls completely apart.  Add your favorite spices and herbs as well to really get the flavor of the meat to a high level and cook it for a few additional minutes.

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‘Even better than pulled pork.’

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Fish out all the bones and cartilage, remove the chicken and shred it, and immediately return it in the pot.  Add onions, carrots, leeks, or any other veggies you desire.  Last but not least add two cups of either rice or barley.  I prefer the barley flavor but as a compromise with my better-half this batch will contain rice.

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‘The final product.’

This is comfort food of the first order and is always good for what ails ya. With all of the soups, chili, salsas, and breads stored away we can now sit back and enjoy the Winter (except for the snow of course).

08-12-2015 Journal – Computers, Reading & Boredom!   Leave a comment

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I feel like I’m in a rut of late which means this posting may ramble a bit. I seem to spend most of my time these days doing yard work, gardening, fighting with my computers, exercising, and reading endlessly.  I’ve complained for decades that I never seemed to have enough time to read as much as I’d like and now I do.  I should know by now to be careful what I wish for.

I set a goal for 2015 to read two books a week. I thought that was an unreachable number but something still worth shooting for. Believe it or not I’m ahead of schedule for the first seven months with a total of fifty-eight books read.  I must have been out of my ever-loving mind. Since we decided to eliminate cable TV from our lives my reading time has increased ten fold. I’m making Amazon really happy because my purchases of Kindle books has also increased dramatically.

My better-half agreed to work a special two week schedule for Lowe’s requiring her to wake up at 3:00 am and to return home at 2:30 pm. Of course that also means she’s asleep by 7:30 pm giving us approximately five hours a day together.  Just what I didn’t need was more free time to read.

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I still love reading but OMFG.  This home has become a flop house for a cat who sleeps eighteen hours a day and for me who reads almost that much.

With the fiasco of Windows 10 making me crazier than usual and frustrating me beyond belief I immediately fell back to reading as a way to clear my head of all things “computer”. I never thought I’d see the day when I’d say something like this but I have no choice . . . Microsoft sucks!

Things have gotten so bad of late that I’ve actually considered going back to school just to have something to do. For someone who absolutely hated every school he’s ever attended, that quite the admission.

I’ve even thought about going back to a daily posting of this blog but decided against it. I’d rather start a new blog entirely to take a more critical look at current events and politics from my unusual and sarcastic perspective. I’m feeling a little meaner these days and with Obama on his way out the politicians of all parties have once again become fair game. It’s what our military would describe as a target rich environment.
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So to summarize . . . I’m freaking bored.

07-25-2015 Journal– Is Betty Boop Really Catholic?   Leave a comment

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It’s a Saturday morning in Maine in July. It’s rained through the night and everything is wet and bright green as you’d might expect.  The downside is that it’s 6:00 am and my better-half has awakened me because of our planned trip to a nearby church festival. I was informed that it’s critically important that we arrive before 8:00 am before all of the good stuff is gone at the Flea Market.  Just as a point of information the “Flea Market” is nothing more than the basement of the church filled to the rafters with crap.  If I chose to be politically correct it could be called antique, vintage or  preowned but that would be stretching the meaning of those words to the limit. Imagine thousands and thousands of objects discarded by hundreds and hundreds of people scattered across forty of fifty tables, in side rooms, and even outside in tents. The great majority of the items are priced at a dollar or less and even then it’s a rip-off (in my humble opinion). I understand it’s money raised for a church charity so overcharging for crap is accepted and expected.

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It was so crowded with crazy people I could barely move around.  I felt pressured and obligated to buy something because this flea market was being run by a friend and former co-worker.  I dug down deep into my moth infested pocket where I found two one dollar bills.  I decided on a purchase which I would present to my better-half on her birthday.  I imagine every women in the world wants, needs, and desires a beautiful yet tacky Betty Boop toilet paper roller.

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After that purchase I fled the scene and returned to the fair for some greasy and unhealthy fair food.  There was plenty to go around.

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‘Salted, greasy, unhealthy, and almost delicious.’

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‘Hot sausage sandwich, peppers, onions, and a butt load of cholesterol.’ 

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‘Chicken anyone?’

With my belly full I made a bee line for the tent where the books were being sold.  I try to buy a sufficient number to carry me through the upcoming winter but the selection wasn’t as good as in previous years.  I purchased a few but disappointed there weren’t more.

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No real fair or festival fails to have the obligatory Disney presence with Mickey and Minnie posing for pictures with the kids.  I asked cute little Minnie to sit on my lap for a picture but she adamantly refused.  Nobody likes a prudish and fake mouse and she was  really mean too!

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My better-half made a number of trips to the car with her arms loaded with just about everything.  She bought food, toys, raffle tickets, and enough other crap to fill my trunk and backseat.  I was more than a little happy to see that church in my rear view mirror as we pulled away. 

Another three and a half hours of my life I’ll never get back.

01-22-2015 Journal–Moody January Blues!   4 comments

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It appears I may have contracted one of a number of viruses, cold, or a flu of some sort.  Winter is tough enough when your confined to your home but being ill at the same time is murder.  My energy level is such that I’m postponing all of my current projects for a while.

The bathroom remodel is on hold after making a surprisingly good start.  All of the supplies have been delivered from Lowe’s and are piling up in my man-cave.  That’ll start driving me crazy in short order.  I’ve resigned myself to more sedentary tasks such as writing and sketching and a hour or so everyday of Halo where I can kill a few aliens without tiring myself out. There’s nothing so satisfying as ridding a planet of bad guys without getting out of your favorite chair.

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I just finished having my breakfast which was an experiment in eating.  One of our Christmas gifts this year was a NutriBullet used to make any number of smoothies to help us drink our way to good health. I always thought that was what bourbon was for but things change I guess. I eat more than my share of veggies and herbs and I really prefer eating them on a plate and not in a smoothie.  For me smoothies sole purpose is to give me a proper substitute for creamy, sweet, and satisfying milkshakes.  With that thought in mind I decided to try something different.

Normally I’m fairly regimented in my eating habits. I love cereal and try to have it three times a week.  My other option is bacon and eggs and I’ve tried to cut back on that in recent years to just once every two weeks.  This morning I filled the NutriBullet with two cups of almond milk (which I’ve come to love), a cup and a half of cereal containing freeze dried strawberries, oat chunks, and bran.  I dropped in a half cup of blueberries and gave it two minutes in the NutriBullet. I was as shocked as anyone when I tasted it. It was fantastic and I’ll be having it again real soon.  It may not be the oft praised health food that the fanatics require but it works for me.

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The cat and I are spending some quality time together this morning after a couple of weeks of disputes.  He’s been banned from our bedroom at night because of his insistence on waking us up at odd hours for no apparent reason.  I locked him out of the bedroom a week ago and he been more than a little pissy ever since.  He doesn’t like change in his life anymore than the rest of us but he has no choice but to adjust.

I plan on taking it easy for a few more days until after the Super Bowl and then try and get back to work.  I’ve just downloaded four more novels for my Kindle and that should keep me occupied until then. 

Life goes on whether we like it or not.

08-02-2014 Journal Entry – Festive Festivities!   Leave a comment

I’ve been so busy of late I decided to take today off.  My only task this morning was to can another ten jars of Bread & Butter pickles.  The garden is producing ridiculous numbers of cucumbers, zucchini’s, and beans, making it a little difficult to keep up. 

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‘After’

I really hope to get a little reading done over the next few days. Last weekend we visited a local fair at St. Matthews church in Limerick, ME. This is an event that we try never to miss. It’s a three day event and draws quite a crowd from southern Maine. It consists of a huge flea market where you can still find a treasure or two for a very low price.  Over the years I’ve found quite a few jewels and this year was no different.  I found two stainless steel stock pots in like new condition without a mark on then for $15.00. If I tried to buy them at a retail store it would have been more like $50.00.

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There were crowds of people everywhere but as always the biggest crowd was in the book tent.  Tens of thousands of books, sorted on tables, and being rummaged through by hundreds of people.  I normally am able to buy enough books to keep me reading for most of the Winter for less than $20.00. It’s hardback books for a buck and paperbacks for $.50 each.  I bought so many I had two make two trips to the car to unload the bag.  I may be a big fan of the Ereader’s but at these prices I’ll take a step back to reading actual books anytime.  I still like the feel of the book in my hands and turning each page manually.  An Ereader is more convenient to be sure but old habits are hard to break.

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‘My Winter Stash’

Another thing I look forward to are the french fries.  I’ve been on a no-carb diet for almost a year but there are certain occasions that demand that I eat some greasy, salty, and crunchy fries.  I pigged out and with the help of my better-half, her daughter and her husband, and the grandson, we totally destroyed a giant box of fries along with half a bottle of ketchup.  It was sinfully delicious.

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The grandson who is just now starting to speak spent most of his time near the tent where they sell used children’s toys.  He was drawn to a hot looking plastic Camaro with flashing red lights and shiny decals.  That should keep him occupied for a week or so making it an excellent investment.

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They offer some minor gambling with a chuck-a-luck wheel, a greenhouse selling plants, and a host of other food booths.  The odd clown or two doing face painting for the kids and a huge barbecue cooking area loaded with roasting beef and chicken.  The aroma is almost overwhelming.  I like all of it except for those clowns that always seem to roaming around the grounds and showing up right next to me. After all these years they still creep me out.

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‘Yikes!’

The better-half, the daughter, and the grandson are leaving on a road trip tomorrow heading south to Delaware and then on to Ocean City, Maryland. They’ll be meeting up some of her family members for a few beach days and a night or two on the Boardwalk. I guess I can expect another silly baseball hat and T-shirt to add to my collection. That also means a week off from everything on my better-half’s Honey-Do list.  I’ll be able to read a few books, relax on the deck with the cat, and clear my head a little. 

It should be a good week for us all.

04-17-2013   Leave a comment

My drywall frustration continued again today shortly after I started priming the ceiling.  I’m enough of a realist to understand that no matter how hard you try it’s almost impossible to do a remodeling  project in an old house that is just perfect.  I accepted that fact and decided early on I would deal with those problems as they occurred. Well, they did.

I purposely made the decision to for this to be a winter project and to take as much time as necessary to do it right.  From the first that freaking ceiling was a problem.  It wasn’t level and the room wasn’t square but I fixed each issue as best I could and proceeded on. In my heart I knew that no matter what there would be certain areas I could never get perfect.

As soon as I began painting today I discovered a new drywall rule of thumb.  Everything good is really bad and everything bad is really good. Every area that I was concerned with turned out perfect and the two areas I was worried the least about became the biggest problems. One area couldn’t be  properly fixed and will require additional repair work once the remainder of the room is completed. It’s just so damn frustrating.

Enough with the damn remodel.  I finally made my way outside and it was the most gorgeous day so far this month.  I managed to complete some of the yard cleanup, chatted with a neighbor or two, and cleared my head of remodeling issues.  After my better-half arrived home from work we sat down and began to plan the garden.  What and where we should plant, buying additional soil to fill the frames, and a possible expansion of the garden to allow her to plant thirty of forty of the larger species of sunflowers.  It was an hour well spent that will make this year’s garden preparation less of a challenge.

One of our neighbors stopped by and he really has a bad case of garden/spring fever.  Over the past few summers he and his wife created a basic home garden and discovered how much they enjoyed it. This year their two young daughters, ages five and seven, are becoming more involved.  The girls are are ready to jump into things immediately and  have already started a few seeds and can’t wait to get a little dirty with their mom and dad in the garden.   It should a great summer for all of us exchanging gardening tips and canning techniques.  I’m looking forward to my first visit from his girls to talk about our gardens.  They’re too cute to be believed.

My book reading goal was reached last night when I completed both my sci-fi and non-fiction novels.  I read well into the night and had a great time in the process.  Now I can finish the third book at my leisure and take a little time to properly enjoy it. 

Slowly but surely I’m making progress.

04-16-2013   2 comments

It seems to me that this one little room remodel has consumed me for a very long time.  It continued today much to my chagrin.  I thought I’d finally begin the priming and painting to move this project into its final stages but I was wrong again.  I decided to do one last up-close inspection before starting to primer and after completing that inspection I put the paint and supplies back in the workshop and returned once again to the joint compound to make a few small repairs. Nothing pisses me off as much as realizing I’m not as meticulous as I thought.

I put down the plastic sheeting one more time, slopped some more joint compound around, and now I’m forced to wait until tomorrow before I can again smooth it out.  Another freaking day  lost that I could be doing other things but can’t.  This project needs to be completed and over. I need to keep in mind that I can’t rush things because if I do I’ll be creating even more problems. So I’ll shut up now and get back to work.

It’s now a few hours later and the minor repairs have been completed to my satisfaction.  Of course, my better-half arrived to conduct her own inspection and make a few comments which always makes me a little crazy. She was somewhat kind and took it easy on me because she knew how pissed off I was. So now it’s time to kick back for a few hours and try to change my focus from drywalling and painting to the garden and yard cleanup.

I briefly checked in on the progress of the Boston bombing but there wasn’t much new to hear.  I realize it’s too early to expect anything new but like every other citizen of this country I’m angry and want justice and some dark and savage revenge on the fuckers responsible for this outrage.  Again I’m forced to wait for results.  I’m a very impatient person and waiting makes me effing crazy.

I have a little extra time today to catch up my reading.  I normally like to read one book at a time but I find myself with three different books only partially read.  I’ve been skipping from one to the other and it’s a little distracting. On top of that, one book is on an e-reader (science fiction), another is a large and bulky hardcover (non-fiction), and the third an old tattered paperback (fiction). It’s effectively ruining all three stories for me and it’s time for me to fix things.  I plan on finishing the sci-fi today which should be easy enough with only a couple of hundred pages remaining.  Then tomorrow I’ll knock off the non-fiction book after finishing the first coat of primer and paint in this freaking room.

The next few days are expected to be sunny and clear but not particularly warm.  I plan on spending some quality time with my camera and maybe walk a few quiet miles through some nearby woods.  It’s a little early in the season to expect much in the way of photographs but it’s really more about getting out  the house for a few hours.  Believe me, it will be a pleasure to take photo’s of anything that isn’t covered with or standing in snow.

C’mon springtime.

04-03-2013   2 comments

I’m celebrating a little today because finally the freaking drywall job has been completed.  If I never see another sheet of the damn stuff again it will be too soon.  I estimate about an hour of sanding and smoothing before we can do a whole-house cleanup which could take a very long time.  That insidious white dust can be found in every room of the house even though I took great pains to control it.  Some things just can’t be avoided I guess.  The mere fact that I’m actually looking forward to doing the priming and painting should tell you how much I won’t be missing drywall. DONE AND DONE!

Other than the remodel things have been very quiet around the house of late.  My better-half’s been working a couple of weeks of some really weird shifts making our time together somewhat limited.  The grand child has brought an illness home from daycare and their entire family has been sick for more than a week.  I’ve been pretty much left alone except for the cat who is also not too happy about the lack of attention.

Today was first day in a while when I didn’t have to get up early and work on the remodel.  A day where I could sleep in and lounge around and even get out of the house to run a few errands. Why did I ever think that things would happen as I’d hoped.  The better-half left early for work and it wasn’t long before I wished she’d taken that damn cat with her.

The feline nagging started immediately since she left without feeding him.  He was unhappy and made sure I was too.  He walked slowly around the bed meowing at the top of his lungs until I brained him with a pillow.  Just as I was getting back to sleep he started his old routine of jumping on the bed, walking all over my body, meowing loudly, and then running away before I could grab another pillow.  He repeated this at least eight times before I found myself wide awake and none too happy.  Once he realized I was awake he disappeared from the bedroom and planted his furry little ass next to his food dish and just waited.  I made my way to the kitchen, fed the little bastard, cursed at him a few times and went back to bed.

Now I’m lying here writing this because I couldn’t get back to sleep.  Does the term "urge to kill" come to mind?  I think a few hours away from this place will allow me to clear my head a little and keep me from drop kicking the cat into next week.  The older he gets the more like my ex-wife he’s becoming.

This appears to be the beginning of what I fear could become a very bad day.  I think a few cups of really strong and tasty coffee just might do the trick to turn that around.  I’m willing to try just about anything to improve my day before the better-half returns from work.  The last thing we need is to have is a stupid argument instigated by the cat.

I think a quick trip to the discount book store might help.  I can calm myself with an hour of browsing through the racks to find a few interesting mysteries I haven’t read before.  This has been one helluva winter.  I been reading two books a week all winter but with the weather finally breaking that should slow down a bit.  I find myself actually looking forward to starting the yard work and preparing this years garden.

I’m out the door searching for a better day.

03-25-2013   Leave a comment

Probably my favorite pass time is reading.  If I have a free moment I almost always have a book with me or nearby to pick up and read. It’s been this way since I was ten years old when as I was walking home from school one afternoon and saw a box of books sitting at the end of a neighbors driveway for trash pickup.  I stopped for a few minutes and began looking through them. Up until that time I’d been reading the occasional Edgar Rice Burroughs paperback of which there were many.  They were a quick and easy read for a young kid and I really enjoyed them.  I can’t even guess how much of my meager allowance went towards those books.

As I continued to scrounge through the box I found one that caught my eye.  It was an old copy of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.  I stuck the book into my bag, took it home, and relished every word in it.  I sailed around the world with Captain Nemo on the Nautilus and deep sea dived in every ocean with his crew.  I kept that book for many years but unfortunately while I was away serving my country it was discarded by my mother with most of my other books.

I’m reading more now than ever before but things are changing dramatically.  With the advent of the Kindles and Nooks and the thousands of available ebooks it’s hard to  keep up at times.  As much as I love my Kindle, Nook, and IPad I can’t completely switch over from reading real actual books.  I’ve really tried hard to make the change completely to digital  but it’s seems impossible for me.  When I read to relax the process of reading an actual book gives me great comfort.

I’ve always given my business to those small discount book stores that can be found if you really want to search them out.  Every three or four weeks I visit a small one near my home to bring back books, get a credit, and buy another bag full. After my visit last week I find myself feeling very sorry for the proprietor.   We’ve become friends over the years through our mutual love of books. He’s a former reference book author with many titles to his name and has settled in for the last few years of his working life to run his bookstore. He fears that the digital revolution in reading will eventually put him out of business and has resigned himself to that fact.  He’d planned to run his store after retirement but that no longer seems a valid option.

I hope he’s wrong but that’s just nostalgia talking.  I can’t imagine sitting with a young child on my knee and reading to him or her from a Kindle.  The act of touching a book, turning the pages, and introducing a young child to millions of new experiences is the ultimate gift and I look forward to doing just that for my better-half’s  new grand child.  My better-half while not much of a reader has kept every children’s book she ever purchased for her kids who are all grown and gone.  She understands the importance of those precious moments she shared with each of them as she read to them.  We have a huge library of children’s books which have been stored for many years in the attic in anticipation of the expected grand children. They were unpacked and dusted off soon after her daughter announced her pregnancy last year.

I hope that books survive these modern day changes and in all honesty I’m not sure they will.  Maybe it’s just me refusing to accept change. The best thing I can do is to pass my love of books and reading on to the new generations and hope they do the same with their children and grand children. If that happens then books will continue to survive and be enjoyed by many more generations of readers.

We can only hope!