I couldn’t believe my eyes. There it was, lying on the floor, a blast from my past.


It stopped me in my tracks. I’d know that cover anywhere. We’d been cleaning the attic and out of no where it appeared. I hadn’t seen it in years, didn’t know I still had it. It was the first book I chose to read, from start to finish, on my own. That is, I wasn’t forced. This was BIG. I hated to read in grade school. It was torture. I didn’t see the point. I would much rather run with the boys, climb a tree, or better yet, jump out of one and do it all over again. Reading was a complete waste of time. B-O-R-R-R-ing.

We’ve been on a mission, the husband and I. We were fighting the our-son-returns-from-Vietnam-soon clock and preparing the upper attic. After weeks of endless sorting and cleaning I saw the floors. Dust flew as we continued to purge. Suddenly there it was, my favorite childhood book. I knew it in that instant. I recalled my affection for the book, how much I loved it. My heart swelled. I think I smiled. Never mind that I’d completely forgotten the plot; what counts is that I remember how much I loved it (whatever it said).

Later that day as I recalled the book, my mind wandered back in time. It was the mid 60s. It was required we take weekly trips to the library. Can you believe that?! We had to line up single file first. The place was cold. We had to spread out and sit at long, tan-colored tables covered with pencil marks. The librarian was crabby. We had to be quiet. It reeked. It was where that kid Lonnie would, on a regular basis, cough up something disgusting, take aim, and shoot out the contents at whomever he pleased (1). He shot at me once. He missed. No wonder I hated the place.

One day, while sitting far away from Lonnie, I looked over at the book shelf next to my table. I spied a possibility. Well, I thought, if I can choose the book, maybe this reading thingy won’t be so bad. I looked for low word count. I wasn’t going to read anything thicker than a fourth of an inch. I wasn’t stupid. I picked a very thin book with a brown horse on the cover. Every week for the allotted time, I took out that book and followed the story, mindful of Lonnie and avoiding The Crab.

Before I realized it I began to enjoy the story. Something interesting was happening and I liked what I was reading. Not that I was reading, but what I was reading. I began to look forward to coming in, single file or not, Lonnie or not, to see what happened next. I had no idea at the time, but I was hooked and I wanted to finish. Besides, I’d sacrificed coveted play time–time better spent in a tree–because I had to (did I mention I’d been forced?). Oh, no. I wasn’t stopping now. I’d started something and I was in for the 128-page long haul.

I finished a book (2). I actually read a whole school book. Me. Karen. I did it!!! Oh, I’d been reading. By this time, I’d been reading for years. But this! This was different. I chose the story. I’d begun at the beginning, read it through, and finished it, down to the last period. I had never done this. I recall sitting at my pencil-marked table, looking around the room, filled with pride. It was quite an accomplishment. I was seven.

Inside the front cover I noticed something else: I started writing book reviews many years ago. My BFF Cherie agreed with my scholarly assessment.

img_20161231_123132.jpgIt’s probably OK to let you in on something else. This isn’t my writing, but someone else was aware that I was in love.

img_20161231_122921603.jpgThis would be Donny Osmond. We were very tight. To this day I’m certain he pines for me. Cherie begged me to “like” David Cassidy, but no. Donny was the man. Come to think of it, in second grade she begged me to like Robert M. instead of Robert F. Robert M. was OK, but again…Robert F. was THE man. I respect her willingness to share, but sometimes you gotta stand your ground.

Without giving away the plot I’ll leave you with one last temptation: the back cover.

img_20161231_124129045.jpgBe careful, though. “You will cry and get very interested.”

(1) Absolutely and disgustingly true. Years ago he tried to strike up a conversation on FB, like we’re pals. My memory is long and sometimes accurate. He’s been blocked.

(2) At my request, my parents later purchased the book.

“Bless My Whiskers”

When our son left for Vietnam a few weeks ago, the bee in my bonnet woke up. Andrew doesn’t know it yet, but he’s been moved to the upper attic. I took back his room–he doesn’t know that either–and reclaimed our guestroom. So now, our second floor consists of my office/sewing room and our newly fashioned guestroom (and we’re working on the attic).

In the process of all the sorting, rearranging, and clutter dusting, I found something that took me back, way, way back. We must have been 3 and 4, my sister and I, about the time shown here.

I’m holding a mini sewing machine

I recall that the time before bed was for reading, always. Our grandma Lalla was a very willing participant. When we were very young, our parents made the trip to Tacoma from Gladstone most years, although as was the case here, our grandparents came to Oregon.

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Note the books in the photos. It’s hard to tell, but this may have been what we were reading:

kerry-kittens_nov-2016-8These are the very Christmas books my sister and I read as children (and we are pushing 60).

There is something about these books that lit my fire, probably the miniatures. I was fascinated by little things as a child. It doesn’t look like I was ready to part with that sewing machine, and the mini piano was close by. My sister loved dolls far more than I did; I was fascinated by trains, machines, and noise makers.

After all these years, the miniatures have been well preserved (I’m grateful they came in these wonderful boxes). These are the Christmas books I loved most.


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This next one, by far, was my favorite. Poochy had a spirit after my own heart: he was in trouble, always.


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Maybe it’s the miniatures, maybe not. Maybe it’s the colorful illustrations that held my attention. It could be the stories themselves. I’m guessing it’s the memories of long ago, the times with mom and grandma, that tug at my heart. Dad is no longer here to take pictures of those moments; that is my job now. I’m thankful for the gift he gave–enjoyed in this moment–when we see what he saw the moment he took these Christmas photos. I’m grateful our parents taught us to take care of our possessions, that they saved these special mementos. I’m reminded of Christmases past, my elders, and having parents and grandparents others would envy.

Cleaning and dusting can be messy, but bless my whiskers, sometimes we find a little magic.


Giggle, Snicker, Snort…

Before I retired I found buckets of time for reading, one of my favorite pastimes. Since hanging up my scalers, there is insufficient time. For reading. And, I’m starved for it.

I have a hard time reading during the day. It’s a personality flaw (the only one, I’m sure). Days are supposed to be filled with cleaning the house, preparing meals, grocery shopping, laundry and so forth, right? (Giggle, snicker, snort.) Or, volunteering at the library, soup kitchen, or taking in every stray animal I find (we live in the country=dumping ground for pets=you do the math).

Then SHE showed up. Again. Inner Martha. She’s been hanging around since I retired and she pains me in my hind quarters. I feel her glare, the heavy dose of guilt when I think of reading. Dagnabbitz. Reading screams leisure time, even though I’VE EARNED IT. (The battle continues and it’s ugly. My right eye started twitching yesterday, bordered on a seizure, and I may have perspired, but I predict Karen will win).

Thinking creatively, I decided to make this a goal, to make time for reading. For my master’s I had to read, had to write, had to research. That was in addition to reading for pleasure, an escape from the pressure of academic success, doing well. My inner nerd was happy. Since retiring, other pressures have surfaced. Dagnabbitz.

So: I’ve created a new category, A BIT OF LIT, where I hope you will share with me some of your good reads. Here are a coupla my recent distractions.

I was drawn to this one having been to Brazil, twice. During his adventures blazing a trail across this enormous continent, through deserts and jungles, do you think he is bitten by a snake? Between the people he met, learning Portuguese, the “food,” the red tape of travel, and creatures he encountered, I could not put this one down.

current reads_May 2016 (5)I started reading author Joshilyn Jackson with her Back Seat Saints. I adored that one due to her writing style; she made me feel as though I’d jumped into an existing conversation. Love that. The story deals with domestic abuse, which I did not want to read, but, the ending was perfect (no spoiler here). I’ve just started this one (below), my third of her books. They’ve just taken down a tree in the yard, only to discover jaw bones. A baby’s jaw bone.

current reads_May 2016 (3)I found Walking the Amazon the same day I found this fabulous book about the bond between women and their grandmothers. Used bookstores at the beach are simply the best. This collection is filled with stories and poems about women and their grandmothers.

After I began blogging, an unexpected connection surfaced between my grandmother and me, even though she passed when I was 18; yet, I could not get enough of this book. Have you thought about the bond between you and your grandmother? What would you tell her if she were here today? Simply, this is rich. A gem.

current reads_May 2016 (1)I have never read Laura Moriarty, but my mother handed this to me last week, said she couldn’t put it down. It’s about mothers and daughters, relationships, what happens when tragedy strikes. It gives me a lot to think about. My mom is 87. I’ve been thinking about that, too. A lot. Any mother with a teenage daughter will relate to this story. Or, anyone who drives, or anyone who has parents.

current reads_May 2016 (4)You may remember that Ralph and I are tight.

Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing, then Beauty is its own excuse for being…

Oh, my….can’t get enough of that. Here’s where you may have seen this before.

As a birthday gift this past week, my son and his wife gave me the following.

So. What the heck? Who says I have to read the whole time? Giggle, snicker, snort…

current reads_May 2016 (2)REQUEST: Please share with me some of your favorites, whether a current read or a past favorite. Shall we start a book club?