Home Maintenance for Dummies – Dewey Decimal 643.7

This book should have opened with a chapter called STOP:  Call a handyman. The end.

I’ve owned my home since 1990.  I became physically ill when I signed the papers.  My rent at the time was $444 and my mortgage payment was going to be GASP!!!  $650.  I was a nervous wreck.  I had no clue what I was getting myself into.  All the reading in the world was never going to change that.  The only way that you learn how to care for a house is to call plumbers, electricians and handymen and hope like hell that they’re polite enough NOT to laugh themselves silly when you describe the problem.

The problems that I encountered were always conveniently left out of all the do-it-yourself books I bought.  There was no Internet back then so my first strategy was to bore the crap out of my co-workers with stupid questions. 

My biggest issues always revolved around water.  Why are there brown spots on my ceiling?  Why does my basement leak when it rains really, REALLY hard?  How does it all work together?  Plumbing still terrifies me and I refuse to touch it myself.  Thank goodness I have a young handyman who needs the extra money and finds my ignorance adorable.  🙂

For new homeowners, I have one HUGE piece of advice.  Listen to Angie.  Visit angieslist.com and SIGN UP.  You will not regret it.  Thankfully I’ve never had to send anyone to Angie’s Penalty Box. 


The Bridges of Madison County – Dewey Decimal 813

Along with the rest of America, I read this book when it was first published.  I liked it at first, but it uncovered in me an attitude that I have yet to shake.  I’m just plain old fashioned when it comes to love.  Maybe it’s because I had married parents; many of my friends growing up had divorced parents.  I don’t see any honor in cheating on one’s spouse.  Period.

Maybe I’m a prude, but it’s how I feel and I don’t anticipate changing my mind anytime soon.  Of course I’ve never been desperately in love with anyone, let alone a married man.  When I see others flirting with the opposite sex and I know they’re married already, it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  I know that couples break up; that’s OK.  Get divorced, THEN look for another companion.  But I’ve seen cheating husbands divorce their wives, then remarry the woman they cheated with….and (SHOCK!!!) the man cheats on that wife too.  So what kind of idiot falls in love with a married man and expects to have a great marriage? 

I guess I’m too logical for love.  I’ll have to pay a visit to this post in a couple of years to see if my attitude has altered.

Accidentally on Purpose – Dewey Decimal 791.43

This memoir by actor Michael York marked a major epiphany for me.  Upon reading the first few chapters, I learned first hand what the phrase “don’t give up your day job” meant.

I was so in love with MY when I was a kid.  I saw him in The Four Musketeers in the mid 70s with my best friend and laughed so loud during the movie that my friend told me later that she had been embarrassed to be with me.  After that, I was smitten not only with this tall, lanky D’Artagnan, but with musketeers as well.  I tackled the original book that following summer while staying at my grandma’s house.  It was a struggle; Dumas isn’t for sissies.  But I was enchanted and have been a Dumas fan ever since.

Later when I moved away from home to begin my career in Columbus, Ohio, a friend and I rented musketeer costumes and took pictures of ourselves scaling walls near Grigg’s Dam.  I even bought a sword (which I still own) for the event.  We wore our costumes to the Ohio Theater Spook Out.  Once a year, the Ohio Theater would show a silent horror movie at midnight (near Halloween).  Theater goers would prance across the stage.  During the movie, Dennis James would play the organ dressed in vampire garb.  What fun!!!

Gooseberry Patch Christmas Book 13 – Dewey Decimal 745.59412

I own several of these.  Once I started buying them, I couldn’t stop.  Now they arrive every year like clockwork.  I have YET to create one craft, cook one dish or bake one treat as outlined in these adorable books.  But I like that they’re available whenever I get the itch.

Crafters are like that.  They collect ideas, recipes, kits, patterns.  I’m a cross stitcher and have amassed a huge “stash” of projects that I may never get to.  But we’re enchanted by the finished projects that are so carefully displayed on the front.  The potential of owning something so beautiful is just too tempting.  Cross stitching is a long process, so most stitchers (unless they’re real fast – I have a friend we call “Turbo Teresa” because she can crank out projects like nobody’s business) will never finish all the projects lurking in their ever growing stashes.  But as they say SO often now, it’s all good.  My stash is full of friends that promise to engage and delight me when I have free time.  May I never discover that my stash is empty.  🙂

Art and History Florence – Dewey Decimal 914.55

My mom and I took a Mediterranean cruise in 2006.  It was her first plane ride.  No short hop to Florida for my mom.  No, she had to endure a ten hour trek across the Atlantic.  I took a photo of her as we were taking off from the Pittsburgh airport.  But after that, air travel was everything I’d promised – five minutes of tension and ten hours of total boredom.

Our stop in Florence was one of my favorites.  Europe was such an experience.  Americans do not get that “aged” feeling when they walk their city streets.  The United States has made but a blip in history compared to the centuries of European struggle and glory.

Florence streets are narrow and cobbled.  Vendors are everywhere.  I regret that we were forced to wait so long to view Michelangelo’s David, which was a priority for me.  And it was amazing.  But there were so many things I missed.  Eight hours in a city like that is hardly enough to kick up enough dust to disturb a mouse.  I plan to return someday, to park my behind in some local hotel and just wander around, soaking it all in.

One store in particular stands out in my mind.  A small shop called Signum located in an alley.  Handmade leather books and wonderful trinkets for a bibliophile like myself.  The windows that flanked the front door displayed miniature bookshelves that cost about $300 each and I ALMOST caved and bought one, but decided they were too delicate to travel so far.  I did, however, spend about $200 on other items.  I consider Signum to be one of my top ten “finds” during our journey.

Here’s an example of a Signum miniature:


Bibliotherapy – Dewey Decimal 028.9

I think I bought this book because I loved Cinematherapy so much.  I have browsed through it, but I have not read it cover to cover.  It does remind me  of one of my favorite topics:  Top 10 (or 100 or 1001) lists.  I used to HATE these lists.  How dare someone presume to tell me what I should read.  How does a perfect stranger (or group of strangers) know what books I should be adding to my personal Bucket List???  I was a unique person and wise enough to select my own books, thank you very much.

That was my opinion when I was in my 20s.  At 52, I look back at the past 20 or so years and remember the chaos of my life. Undergraduate degree, graduate degree, countless family “events,” a job that drained the life force from me, a house constantly in need of repair, bouts of depression, an OCD diagnosis, hysterectomy, atrial septal defect.  Good stuff too.  A trip to Europe and many other fun vacations with my mom and best friend, Sarah.  My dad died in 1995, one of the more memorable family “events.”

Well, my 20s wisdom was a joke.  I’ll never be as wise as I want to be, but I’m damn smart enough to know that books like Cinematherapy are a GODSEND to people who A) love to read and B) have real lives.

I’m a serious reader; I have many favorite authors but I’m not afraid to shop around.  I’ll read anything that catches my attention and obliterate an author’s literary portfolio with zeal.  I love reading enough to admit that I don’t know every good author or book…and I welcome those bulleted suggestions.  I’m reminded of the 70s series Cosmos.  I loved it so much, but was saddened when Carl Sagan revealed a small section of a library (I think it was in the Library of Congress) and explained that this was how many books the average reader would read in a lifetime.  I hate that thought.  Life is too short for the abundance of books that are left for me to read.

Listmakers, keep reminding me of my bibliophilic obligations!

The Riverside Shakespeare – Dewey Decimal 822.3

ImageI added a photo because this volume is so beautiful.  As a teenager I was enchanted with Shakespeare but, of course, I couldn’t understand much of it.  It wasn’t until I took a Shakespeare class at Otterbein that I learned to truly appreciate the bard and his voluminous vocabulary.

I saw this volume at Walden’s Books in Fort Steuben Mall in the mid 70s.  It was so expensive, 20 whole dollars.  However could I afford what promised to be the crown jewel of my growing book collection?  Around the same time, my next door neighbor Dorothy offered to pay me if I would type up a manuscript she had written.  I jumped at the chance and typed up her book (using a manual typewriter, of course).  She gave me 20 dollars and I ran to the store.

I spent hours running my fingers over the delicate pages, reading passages here and there, but never REALLY diving in.  Not until years later, when students were required to purchase the SAME book for the Otterbein Shakespeare class – the price twenty years later:  60 bucks!!!  Mine was old, had no UPC code, but it worked just fine.