4 days ago
Monday, March 3, 2014
OK, I know most of you out there are up to your armpits with the winter blues. It was even getting to me a bit especially since we are in the middle of an ice storm right now. However since I don't have a dependable grumpy gene, I decided to look for the positives of bitter cold, being house bound, outrageous heating fuel prices and going flat out bonkers inside the confines of our homes.
Though Arkansas has not had any sense of what most of you have gone through, it was a taste that surprisingly, I tired of quickly. My heart goes out to those of you for whom Winter has become a never ending foe that has kept the bread winners struggling to get to work, the kids out of school and the rest of us falling gracelessly on our duffs.
Still, there really are positives to be found.
1. You have to admit that fluffy white is prettier than stick brown trees and burned beige lawns. Snow covers everything indiscriminately and smooths out the world. Winter's masquerade ball really has "pretty" firmly on its positive side.
2. A recent check at my local dealer for the price of Propane made me clutch my chest and declare aloud to my long gone parents that I was "coming home." Scared everyone in the store and startled my parents whom I am sure were hoping for a bit more warning.
When gasoline prices go up, we can try to curtail our driving. It is hard to curtail being warm. However we actually can adjust how we keep warm a bit and here comes the advantage. You can break out those ugly sweaters you keep meaning to donate, toss on a down vest and lower the thermostat. Also a half hour on the stationary bike periodically really warms a person plus burning unwanted calories. Biking also helps with the restless crazies. No bike?? Jog in place.
3. The simple fact of being house bound, even considering higher fuel prices, is a money saver. I no longer zip to the store for coffee only and check out with a cart full of impulse buys. My gas credit card this month was 1/5 of normal. What a nice surprise. My grocery store spending was minuscule. I actually only bought groceries. My trips have been less frequent and 'need' only inspired. I just balanced my check book and was pleasantly surprised. On a whole, actually better than break even after heating fuel was included.
4. Shoveling snow?? Yes annoying to most Weird I know but I kind of enjoy it once my shoulder has been tamed by pain killers. Shoveling does burn calories and lets us indulge in comfort foods with out guilt. Being guilt free at the dinner table is a huge plus.
5. It makes you realize as you walk around on the fresh snow in the early morning that your area (no matter where you live) is alive with creatures. So many tracks, most unrecognizable to me, make me realize, night time is a very active time for Nature. Wish I had one of those wildlife video cameras.
6. For those of you who feed the birds in Winter, what an entertaining and rewarding sight the feeders are. True there is squabbling, bullying and shoving at the feeders but it is like watching a smaller and more colorful version of why we will probably never have world peace-- but will survive. Even with the bigger birds being pushy, the scrappy little guys still eat and prosper. Gives one hope and a smile.
7. Being forced to spend more time indoors, makes one appreciate all the methods we have today for keeping in touch with family and friends. As long as the power holds, we are just phone call or a finger stroke away. The need to reach out intensifies yet is easily satisfied.
Ok, I was hoping to scrounge up ten reasons but will settle for 7. Perhaps the ice storm plus all day sleet has weakened my resolve. Maybe you have some of your own pluses to share?? Think hard, it does help.
I will leave you with something my Florida friend Sue sent me. If you actually enjoy crying and smiling at the same time, rather the same effect Winter has on us--click on the link. What a lovely cry it was. The best soldier-dog reunion ever.
at 5:25 AM Posted by Arkansas Patti
Monday, February 24, 2014
"The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared" by Jonas Jonasson is the most delightful read I have enjoyed in a long time. Thank you Djan for turning me on to this book. You always finds great books but this one is exceptional. I even paid full price for it which as most of you know, I am primarily a freebie reader. Not cheap, just no longer in the work force. It took a while to make it to the top of the "read now" list but it was worth it.
Allan is a nice, apolitical Swede who just wants to avoid his 100th birthday party in the nursing home so he climbs out the window and takes one more fling at life. Barely out of the home, he becomes unwittingly involved with and the target of some nasty gangsters who want what he absent mindedly has stolen.
As he runs ("run" might be a bit ambitious of a word for a 100 year old) from gangsters or worse being forced to return to the home, the characters he meets and becomes involved with are as delightful as he.
There is the aging thief who offers him friendship and refuge from the weather.
The hot dog stand proprietor who went to college for 30 years. He kept changing majors right before graduating to keep the money flowing according to his inheritance stipulations. Thus he became an "almost" everything. Almost veterinarian, almost architect, almost lawyer, etc.
The middle aged lady harboring a runaway elephant, who falls for the "almost everything" guy.
Mr. Jonasson is a delightful story teller. As people enter and alter both Allan's former and current life, they are nicely fleshed out. Were they stand alone and taken out of context you probably wouldn't like most of them. However,he makes them lovable and funny as well as quirky with sometimes iffy morals. However, with most of the gangsters he does nothing to make them lovable, just hapless and not too bright.
The author takes you back in time to introduce you to the young Allan as he travels the world and inadvertently becomes involved with a variety of world leaders.
Allan is really only in search of the simple comforts in life with sufficient Vodka to keep things pleasant. Pretty one dimensional. However, through him, we tour 20th Century world history. I am thinking he is quite a bit smarter, not quite as lovable, but just as fortuitous as Forrest Gump.
Is any of the story probable? Not likely. Is it a funny and delightful read? Positively. I kept marveling at the mind of Mr. Jonasson as he took his characters somewhere I would never have imagined.
I know when a book is really good when I rush my all ready ridiculously early bed time just to curl up with a really old man. I also know it is good when I tend to savor it like a fine meal and don't want it to end.
One thing that may disturb some is the complete lack of dialog punctuation. Oddly, early in I became quite comfortable with this unusual writing style and never once wondered who was saying what.
If you don't want to pay the price, check with your library. If they don't have it, ask if they will order it.That is if you want to feel good for however long it takes you to read 402 pages.
Enjoy, I certainly did.
at 5:06 AM Posted by Arkansas Patti