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August 2012

Books I Miss

I woke up this morning missing books. No, they didn't disappear from my house. I was remembering books I once read that I can no longer find. Some because I gave them away, and others because they were library books I didn't own. I've Googled them all trying to locate copies, but alas I either don't have enough info, or they no longer exist except perhaps in some dusty box of a used books store in a remote town in the middle of nowhere. Here are three books I wish I had so I could read them again. Well, the descriptions of them, anyway.
The first was a library book I checked out of the Litchfield Elementary School library more than once during my three and a half years there. It was large - probably printer-paper dimensions and a half-inch thick - and was the story of a boy named Hans, whose dream was to ride the Royal Lipizzaner Stallions. He got a job in the stables as a groom and developed a relationship with one of the horses. I believe it was a mare and I think in the end, through some fluke or accident, he got to ride her in a show. One of the main things I liked was the artwork. There were several beautiful full-page paintings and, on the text pages, soft pencil drawings that filled the margins. One in particular was an illustration of a dream Hans had of the horse, in which her front hooves had turned into hands, and she was angrily pointing at her left 'hand', the whole thing being a play on his name. It was a very freaky scene and has stuck with me all this time. Because of this book I always wanted to see the Lipizzaner Stallions. That wish was granted as a birthday gift from my husband a few years ago. Front row seats. What a guy!
The second was library book I repeatedly checked out of the Sayre High School library when I was in seventh and eighth grades. It was another story involving a horse, this time a filly that somehow made it into the Kentucky Derby and won against all odds. I think she went on to the Triple Crown, and in the last race injured one of her legs right out of the gate and barely won. Again, I cannot remember the name of the book, the author, nor even the name of the horse or the young man who owned her. What I do know is that the story was told in first person from the horse's point of view, à la "Black Beauty", and in one scene, she sums up her virtues and short-comings. This is where I learned what the word 'virtue' meant.
The third book was one I swiped from a box of reading material the nurses' lounge in the ICU of North Penn Hospital, now known as Abington Health Lansdale Hospital, when I was working there as a housekeeper in the late 80s. I would read it on my breaks and discovered I liked it so much that I took it home with me. I don't know the name of the author, but I'm pretty sure it was a woman, and I'm also pretty sure the title of the book was "Swords and Sails" (the reverse of Arthur Strawn's 1928 "Sails and Swords"). It was the fictional story of "beautiful buccaneers", with a protagonist named Garnet, a young woman who entangled herself with pirates and ended up being first mate to female Captain - a statuesque redhead whose name I think begins with an "s" - on their own pirate ship, plundering the seas whilst running from pasts and perils. It was a meandering, coming-of-age tale that I thoroughly enjoyed. So much so that I read the book at least three times. Then, believing I'd enjoyed it as much as possible and would not miss it, I got rid of it during a move in the 90s. Of the three, I would really, really like to find a copy of this book again.
The loss of that last book taught me a belated lesson. Namely, if you have to make room or lighten the load, give away books you've only read once. There's a reason you've read certain books repeatedly, and it's not just because you don't have anything better to do or somethine else to read. Put them away, let some time pass, read them again and enjoy. And never, ever put them in a give-away box.

Seven Things on a Sunday

A few weeks ago one of my favorite Twitter peeps, Sarah L. Fox, posted a blog listing seven random things about herself. I thought it was interesting and looked like fun, so I decided to give it a go. Here's my list, in sort-of no particular order.
1. I was almost named Gretchen.
2. My first love was a redhead. Richard Limon, in Mrs. Sutter's third-grade class at Litchfield Elementary. With longish copper hair, freckles, and big gray eyes, he was just the cutest thing I had ever seen. He was also the fastest runner in the class, and I nicknamed him Grasshopper because he was so hard to catch. We'd spend every recess running races and generally chasing each other around the playground. He moved away the following year, and I learned for the first time was a little broken heart feels like.
3. My current love is also a redhead. Norman Mirotchnick. I met him on a Star Wars bulletin board, using a computer I had just purchased from my ex-husband. The Phantom Menace had just been released, and it was one of the first things I looked up when I went online. How's that for fate?
4. I once held a job where the dress code was thong bikinis and high heels.
5. I can tie the fingers of my left hand into knots. It was a nervous habit that started when I was a kid, along with hair and clothes twisting. I don't do the hair thing anymore, and the clothes thing only tends to appear when I'm yakking on the phone. But the finger knots have always been my own personal little parlor trick. I even gave them names: The Bowtie, The Stairs, Basket-Weave, The Square, etc. Great pub entertainment!
6. My one weird food habit is putting mayo on just about everything. Except breakfast food. Now that would be icky.
7. The only bone I ever broke was my tailbone when I was ten, when the chain on the porch swing hanging in the giant oak at my uncle's house gave way. It was all hilariously funny, until I tried to stand up and couldn't. I also badly hyper-extended the fingers of my right hand a couple years later. By accidentally sitting on them.
That's it! Now you know me just a little bit better. Feel free to post your own list, here or somewhere else. Either way, I'd love to see it!