Books, books and more books

I devoured books when I was little. I was shy even though my party-circuit parents wanted me to be little miss sociable I was not. Eventually I learned to force myself to be charming, laugh at just the right moment, time my responses. I still didn’t like it. Well, I didn’t like having to conform to certain behaviors because circumstances required it. Don’t get me wrong, I had friends I enjoyed doing things with, and we laughed at the same things, we made each other laugh, we comforted each other’s hurts threatening all sorts of torment on the tormenter, and unless a secret was betrayed we were friends for life. I was (am still) a very loyal friend.

But I loved to read. I went so many places, ate incredible foods, encountered dangers that thoroughly terrified me, survived them gratefully. Books become part of us and change us in imperceptible ways. Once my mother said or did something that made me angry. I guess I was about 8 or 9 and I slammed my book on the floor. Profound silence. Mom looked very hard at me and said, “Books are your friends”. I have never forgotten this. And they are. They do not judge. Without expecting a thing in return they offer a virtual banquet of opportunity, ideas, adventure, and run the gamut of emotion in us from hope to despair to fury to indignance to elation to joy. We fall in love in some, realize why we should not in others. Our hearts get broken, we cry for others. We earn respect and are humbled beyond all imaginable. They give us depth, add to our experience even if we never leave the house.

I have lately realized I am becoming a bit over zealous about these books and my shyness threatens to consume me. I will read a review or see a great book sale. Before I realize what I have done I am collecting packages at the front door. I have no more shelf space. I really don’t have wall space to put more shelves. I need to read the books I have before I buy another one!

If no one hears from me I likely can be found beneath a massive pile of books.

At least I am among friends.

Chameleon capers

Probably more something like gecko gambols or skink skaters. Whatever these little lizards are they fascinate my rescue husky mix Lily.

They first started showing up late spring when I put meal worms out for the nesting blue birds. There were 2 mainly, a smaller one and the larger one who was molting. Anyway, anytime I went out into the backyard or even on the sun porch which I have to go through to get to the backyard Lily is pushing her way out the door to dash into the yard scouting for these little guys.

They aren’t afraid, either. She can be 2-3 inches away, they are camouflaging themselves in the bright green cardinal vine while Lily pokes between the flower pots on the patio. When I realized they were hoping for a meal worm or two I began putting a few on the porch stairs and posts. Shortly after Lily and I return to the house one or both of them will slowly creep out from under the steps, checking to see the coast is clear, then clamber up to where these little roasted worms are and begin chowing down.

Then can really put them away, too. No matter how many of those worms I put they eat them. Every so often if I haven’t put any out I will see one of the little creatures hanging out on the railing waiting for the meal.

These are good guys to have around. They also eat ants, flies, spiders and other annoying bugs. After they have had their fill of whatever it is they eat besides these worms they do their little calisthenics– push-ups, and ballooning the pink skin under their chins with happy thoughts.

I hope some bird doesn’t make a meal of these nicely fattened little guys.

Trellis trauma

So I went to Lowe’s for some bags of mulch, 2 plants and a small trellis. The problem started when I was loading the mulch in my car.

I had just got the last of 4 very large, cumbersome, heavy bags in the trunk when a tall, thin, elderly black man walked up, carrying a grocery bag and wearing a UNC jersey. He asked if he could help me (now that the heavy bags were put away), and my cell phone rang. It was my dog’s vet calling about some tests she’d had done so I could not deal with this homeless man.

I pulled the rest of my things (I thought) off the cart and tried to talk to the veterinarian. This man kept hovering. I was parked some distance from the store and no other cars were around. I tried to gesture to this man that I was ok, he did not need to help, and listen to this important call at the same time. Normally this is not difficult for me but it is 101 degrees today. Hard to focus.

So the homeless guy starts dragging the cart to put it in the rack which I thought was nice so I gave him a $5 bill, not noticing what he had in his hands. He left, I got in my car, finished the call and drove home.

Unloading the car I noticed it– no trellis. Oh! I must have left it on the cart, so I got back in the car to get it thinking I was so remote nobody would see it before I got there. Along the way I recalled I did take the trellis off the cart and lean it against my car, but didn’t remember seeing it as I left.

I got to Lowe’s, no trellis. I asked the gardening service managers if anyone brought one in they’d found. No. I told them about my encounter. OH, they said. This guy and another man works the parking lot, they live in some woods nearby. Their racket is to try to help customers, sneak whatever they can off the cart and bring it to the store for a refund!

I felt awful, like I’ve been part of a scam. They said to not worry but be careful.

After 30 years of living on my own I thought I WAS careful!

Apparently not.

So I bought another $5 trellis and came home. Five seems significant for me for some reason today.


So first it was a train whistle, then a souped-up engine revving. A few bells, a gong, wolf whistle… even though the hi-def, plasma television screen was black there was plenty of noise.

I was in the waiting room at my Honda dealer having routine service on my little civic. I counted 11 people in there, 7 of whom all had their personal electronic devices, thumbs and fingers flying over the virtual keyboards. Three men, four women. One guy a walking new age-jazz player. I never could figure out where the music was on him. Others coming and going as their cars were ready. Can people not sit and wait anymore without being entertained? Can we not be happy unless we have constant, instant access to news, emails, phone calls, messaging, alerts??

There were complimentary USA Today papers, so I read one glad I did not bring an iPad and do not have a smart phone, which likely would be too smart for me to understand how to use it anyway.

Only one young woman smiled at the lady sitting next to her. That lady had a pre-toddler in her arms and a daughter probably 9 or 10. Mom’s eyes darted frequently to roving daughter from her iPad screen. The baby squirmed and strained against his mother’s very strong encircling arm.

And no one spoke!

Ok, so one guy was sleeping in his comfy chair. There were maybe two or three couples who silently murmured to each other. God forbid anyone might hear their conversation. What, are they plotting something? Some dreadful thing no one must hear? Here we all live on this planet and have no or little interaction. People blame all this electronic stuff. Me? I don’t see why we can’t at least communicate– smile, nod, even dare to speak –to a stranger.

After all, how strange are we?

What’s in a name…

Old Glory, Stars and Bars, Stars and Stripes… these present days some individuals seem inclined to take their hatred against whites, rich people, laws, parents, truth, grace, hope, faith or whatever they are currently hating out on the flag. The flag that represents everything this country fought to establish for itself in its short-lived history: 239 years ago today.

The 13 stripes represent the original 13 colonies. The stars each represents one state. The color red stands for valor and hardiness. White, innocence and purity. The blue: justice, insistence, alertness.

Justice for all, the last words in the pledge of allegiance to the flag, used to mean just that. We each looked out for the other, not only ourselves. When circumstances got out of balance we called in someone with wisdom to help restore equilibrium. Nowadays that wise person is usually found in teams of maybe not-so-wise lawyers, thrashing it out because 2 people could not or would not work things out between themselves and perhaps thought to do a bit of gouging of the other in the process. Who can appear the more beleaguered?

Our fighting within our own borders has escalated to epic proportion. Most of the fighting is simple destructiveness. Once chaos occurs demons run amok, let’s see how much looting and terrorizing and burning and destroying we can do before the police/powers-that-be get hold of the situation.

Yet that flag still flies from its standard. It is inanimate. Its destruction, desecration now permitted by a Supreme Court ruling only shreds fabric. Mere thread, dye, nothing more. But what it represents will always exist. Maybe not in the United States of America, maybe nowhere on this planet. But those principles, truths, standards, values– whatever you might call them. They will exist forever. They existed before we were around to give them names. They will remain long after we are gone.

I hope we can get them back.

(Information on the American flag from