Tag Archives: books

Fifteen Pounds Of Words

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And sometimes I STILL can’t find the right one…

It has been over a month since I wrote a post here.  I have wanted to write, but it has been difficult to find the words for my emotions lately.  The thoughts I want and need to convey, are sometimes beyond words.

For five months I worked as a temporary contract employee at the Oak Ridge Public Library.  It was only supposed to be a three-to-four week assignment, but some changes in library staff, illnesses, and retirements allowed me to stay far longer than the original time frame. It was only part-time, certainly not enough to live on.  But the assignment was more enjoyable than I ever imagined, so I stayed as long as there was funding for my position.

Early in the assignment, I assisted with processing items being withdrawn from circulation.  On one of the carts I was to stamp and sticker one day was an ancient and ENORMOUS dictionary.  I stamped and stickered it, and inquired as to what happens to items when they are withdrawn.  William, the reference librarian who was working that day, told me they are either donated to the Friends of the Library for their book sales, or, in some sad cases, destroyed. I asked about the huge dictionary, (having fallen quite in love with it) and he said it might go to the FOL, and might be available to purchase.  When I returned to work the next day, he had pulled it out for me.

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I placed my donation into the “bird box”,  a bird feeder on the wall in the Friends of the Library nook where people place their donations for the books they purchase.  Then I brought in a sturdy bag to contain my new/old treasure as I carried it out to my car.  A regular grocery bag would never begin to hold a volume of its size and weight.

Not long after, I visited my Dad and Bonus Mom Carole, taking along my dictionary for them to see.  The copyright pages are gone, but the illustration pages all have “1934” printed on them…before Dad was born.  I thought they would get a kick out of seeing such an artifact, and they did.  We actually weighed it.  It weighs fifteen pounds!

As a lover of words and language, this dictionary is far more than just a book for me.  It is a work of art, with line drawings and sketches adorning its pages to illustrate many of the words therein.  It is a piece of history as well, especially considering that it lived in Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project and Cold War years.  I imagine what hands might have turned its pages, whose brains may have searched its contents…scientists, perhaps, or educators, as well as students seeking the right words for their research papers and university applications.  Old books have a scent and feel about them that appeals to people like me.

And to my friend, Isaac, who rejoiced with me over my find.

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To answer his question…1934 smells like history, nostalgia, a mixture of curiosity, knowledge and wisdom…its pages are smooth and yellowed from age and use.  Its  contents are the very foundation of communication.  Fifteen pounds of words…and still sometimes, I can’t find the one I want.  But at least I have a tool that can help me as I search.

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(My hand is for scale, to show how thick this dictionary is!)

I found a similar but not-nearly-as-nice volume online that was destined for the trash heap and bought it for a song.  It is now destined to be repurposed into art and craft projects.  Its pages will find their way into the homes and lives of others who, like me, appreciate the beauty of words and language, even if not as originally intended.  I still like to think that some knowledge and wisdom will go with them.

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The Comfort/Sanity/Happiness Kit

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Because we all need our marbles…

I enjoy giving goofball presents to people who appreciate my sense of humor and understand the spirit behind the gift.  Gag gifts between me and Reed at Christmas happen from time to time, although it is not an annual occurrence.  He started it when we were kids and he bought me a Chia Pet.  Over the ensuing years various crazy presents have passed between us, such as monkey dishes (I gave him a set the year after he presented me with a monkey lamp), bright pink slip-on sandals from him that decorated my office wall back when I had an office, and an extremely ugly “giggle jug” lamp that I gave him which had a goofy smiling face on one side and a frowny, but hilarious, face on the other.  My crowning goofball gift to him happened the Christmas I was able to obtain a beauty school head that a friend’s sister-in-law had worked with as she completed her training to be a hairstylist.  Score!  It was by far the goofiest gift I have ever given to Reed, or to anybody for that matter.  One Christmas, Reed overwhelmed me with 4 additions to my ugly necktie collection!  I actually wear my outrageous ties now and then, so this gift was priceless.

I have been working on an idea for a comfort/sanity/happiness kit to give to friends and family who need one or all of those things, especially in times of sadness or stress.  It would contain things like bubble wrap for stress relief (who doesn’t LOVE to pop bubble wrap?!  Again, when I had an office, I kept bubble wrap in it to work off my frustration);  A Slinky, for the soothing sound it makes as it passes from one hand to the other; and some jingle bells for those moments when a little music is needed.image

And definitely some marbles.  Who among us doesn’t occasionally feel like we have lost our marbles?  The gift of marbles assures the recipient that, no, you haven’t lost your marbles, because right here they are!

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The comfort/sanity/happiness kit might contain other items like bubble bath or a scented candle, a mix CD of music tailored for the recipient (a few people still actually use CDs, I think!), a book the recipient might like, a special snapshot, a recipe, or a jar of bubble-stuff to blow bubbles at the world. It’s a lot better to spread bubbles than profanity (although, I’ve been known to spread both!).  The only limit to the kit is one’s imagination and the desires/tastes/needs of the person who will receive it.

What would be in YOUR comfort/sanity/happiness kit?

The contents of mine would vary day by day…but I would always want, and need…

My marbles.

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Bookworm Paradise

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Read. Nap. Repeat…

My idea of the perfect vacation has changed over the years (and decades).  When Reed and I were little kids, Mama and Dad took us on a week’s vacation to Myrtle Beach every summer.  What I looked forward to then was spending lots of time floating and frolicking in the surf and sand, looking for shells and sharks’ teeth, and riding the rides at the amusement park.  And one night during the week we would usually go to the movies as a family, which was a huge treat and something I always enjoyed.

As an adult with a job and responsibilities of my own, my desires for a vacation are a lot calmer and simpler than they used to be.  One of my greatest pleasures on a trip is just being able to read as much, and for as long, as I want to.  I’ve been a bookworm since childhood, but as a child, school and reading were my job.  So I didn’t always read a lot during my summer vacations.  Now, my JOB is my job, and reading often has to take a backseat to the other demands on my time and energy.  So now, vacations provide me with a block of time in which I can read all I want.

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That probably seems boring to some people, and that’s OK.  Some folks are weekend warriors who enjoy adventurous vacations filled with bungee-jumping-rock-climbing-skydiving activities.  Cool.  I looked into ziplining for this trip and that’s still not out of the question.  Flying sounds like a lot of fun to me!

I always bring my Bible with me when I travel, because, like my vitamins and supplements, it is part of my daily nourishment.  I would feel lost if I didn’t have it with me.  The practice of daily Bible reading doesn’t make me good or pious.  It makes me grateful.  And over the years it has become a part of the day that I look forward to.

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Vacations provide me with a change of scenery, new places to read and write and rest.  Right now I am sitting out back enjoying a balmy Gulf breeze, crystal clear blue sky, sunshine and the rippling water of the swimming pool, a scene very unlike the autumn chill we left behind back home.  It feels like a different season… a different world.

My friend Eileen, and her husband Brad, have a charity website dedicated to bookworms and reading.  It is called gonereading.com.  In addition to offering products for reading enthusiasts, the website donates 100% of their after-tax profits to fund reading-related charities, particularly READ Global and Ethiopia Reads.  One of their very cool t-shirts summarizes my vacation dreams perfectly:

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So, I encourage you to visit http://www.gonereading.com.  They don’t offer books, but they offer everything else a bookworm needs and desires to support their reading habits!  And they help to provide reading resources to people who would not otherwise have access to them.   For now, I am off to enjoy a little more Bookworm Paradise!