A Maple Glaze Saves the Day

Photo by Amelia Hallsworth on Pexels.com

The other day I was sitting in the car outside of a medical facility waiting for my rocket-man.

Oh, wait a minute: Can I even call him that anymore now that he is out of work?

The air was crisp at 32 degrees but the sun was finally shining after a week of winter gray…and forty-eight hours of intermittent snow showers. I’d brought my Kindle to read as I waited in the car. I’m still working on Sharyl Atkisson’s book, Slanted and Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winning, All The Light We Cannot See. Hubby’s procedure from start to finish was expected to take a little more than an hour but due to the ongoing pandemic (read, Chinese/Wuhan/Corona Virus), I was relegated to wait outside of the facility. I’m barely peeved about it, really. It’s a tad inconvenient but honestly I would rather wait in the quiet of my car, in the cold, without a mask, than the alternative. I’m reminded too of my dear friend who’s husband was not allowed in the hospital during her thirteen hour-long surgery and six days in the ICU; now that had to have been agonizingly difficult for the entire family! Thankfully, she is on the mend and forging ahead with unwavering positivity because that is always how she rolls.

Snow blankets the large grassy area in front of me and it sparkles in the morning sun as if dusted with a thin layer of diamonds. I have yet to touch my Kindle as my mind is cluttered with worry. Worry that my husband doesn’t get a clean-as-a-whistle report from the doctor; worry about what lies ahead…and, perhaps too, what doesn’t. And what’s with my own head? I’ve lost track of space and time. For starters, I am still making referencing mistakes on the new year. I seem to be stuck in a 2020 worm hole, still referring to 2021 as 2020. Wrote February 2020 on a check yesterday and even entered a calendar appointment for eight weeks from now in the wrong year…2020.

Why on earth is my headspace stuck in such a catastrophic year as 2020? Surely I am not sliding into early mental decline. I can only chalk it up to the fact that the year 2020 with all of it’s ugliness, strife and insanity…not to mention a million 2020 themed memes, is so seared into my psyche that I can’t seem to shake it, even well into the new year. And why not? After all, has there been some magical turn of events now that 2020 is behind us? Is the world happier, healthier and saner since you know who left office and you know who took office?

From my perspective at least that would be a resounding “no.” So now we’re supposed to wear not one but TWO masks? It’s hard enough to breathe with one! And how about our nation’s capitol? Truly, for me, the daily Trump drama of four years had well passed it’s saturation point; the fatigue so overwhelming that I forsook all mainstream media and fell deep into a Netflix addiction. Trying to clean myself of that habit should be easy now, right? Trump is out so I should be relieved. Ah, but it’s been replaced by even greater division, even more insane political theater, and the rapidly accelerating avalanche of a pernicious brain virus of woke culture, not to mention a sock-puppet for president. There you have it. Just my humble opinion mind you. Cancel me if you will.

A large black crow swooped down onto the snow. It breaks my train of thoughts which obviously were going nowhere positive fast. I watch as he pecks at the ground, his beak piercing the snow, as he looks for food. I look at my watch and note that only five minutes have passed since my husband entered the building. As I reach around behind my seat for my bag to retrieve my Kindle my eyes spy a place of pure delight. Why did I not notice that upon entering the parking area? Lord have mercy this day has taken a deliciously lovely turn for the better.

All is well and right with the world!!

Instead of the Kindle I reach for my wallet, exit the car and of course, don the damn mask. Less than five minutes later I have happiness in my hands.

A cup of hot coffee and a Texas Doughnut. Caffeine and maple-glaze sweetness has saved me from falling into a dark hole of sad thoughts. I care not, in this deliciously sweet moment, about what’s happening a stone’s throw from where I live. Hubby will be just fine. The vaccine is here and mask burning is on the horizon.

There is bliss in that.

So Many Books….So Little Time.

It’s a rare weekend that I’ve got Rocket-man’s undivided attention. He’s either working or traveling for work. So just this past Saturday we went out for a lovely breakfast during which he asked what I had planned for the rest of the day.
“Hmm,” I said. “Ive got the same mundane errands to run as usual:  The cleaners to drop off shirts…the grocery store (how about steak on the grill for dinner?)…then my car needs a good wash and I have a couple of items that didn’t work for me that I’ve got to return to the mall. Oh…and, I’ve got to stop by Barnes & Noble.”

And there it was. Just for a nano-second. Not clear enough for an outsider to notice but a spouse of sixteen years can. That split-second tightening of the jaw.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Absolutely nothing,” came the reply.

“Ahh…I know. It’s the last item on the list…Barnes & Noble.”  Rocket-man smiled. “Do you think you really need another book…what with all the packed boxes of books stacked in the spare bedroom? That would be because at some point we are moving! And, yes folks…. I’m still researching any potential benefits of acquiring eye-of-newt for getting a house sold.

“And…” he continued, “You know you read perhaps all of two pages a night before falling asleep. And aren’t you reading Jacksonland now”

True,” I said, happy indeed that President Andrew Jackson will not appear on future $20 bills.  And true too…I’m not the fastest reader even though I took a speed-reading course in college.   “But, I don’t just read at night,” I reasoned.  “I’ve even started spending more time at Starbucks, taking a book with me and reading over coffee.”  It’s a delicious luxury.  “Besides, “I’ve got a 20% off coupon. As a loyal Barnes & Noble member I just cannot let it go to waste.”  No more explanations needed, right?

We leisurely finished our breakfast –scrambled eggs and sausage for me and huevos rancheros for him– and then took off to run our errands. Our final stop before home was Barnes & Noble. I honestly believe Rocket-man was hoping that I’d be tuckered out by this time as our errands took longer than expected.

“You know we cannot stay long,” he said as we headed inside the bookstore. “You’ve got those steaks and a gallon of milk to consider.”

“I know. I’ll make it quick,” I said.

Now folks, I’ll happily go on record by stating that Rocket-man is indeed right. I have enough books to keep me fully occupied until I pass from this earth, hopefully if I am lucky, not for another twenty or thirty years from now (so many books….so little time really!)   Whats more, those books cover a wide range of genres. You name it, I’ve got it: romance, thrillers, health and fitness, history, spiritual, political, travel, comedy, literary classics, and how-to books as well.

Still, I have a 20% coupon burning a hole in my purse. And did I mention I’m a loyal Barnes & Noble member?! (Oh, um…yes…I did).

We’re in the store for about a half-hour. Rocket-man has perused the aisles but, as it happens nearly every visit to the store, he meets back with me empty-handed. “You didn’t find one thing to interest you?” I ask him. “Nope. I’ve got plenty of books on my Kindle that I still haven’t read.”

“And your point is…?” I reply dryly. You can see that his fiscal restraint in this area doesn’t make sense to me!

“So, what are you getting,” he asks eyeing the books I am cradling in my arms.” “I’m putting all of these back except for two. And, before I show you I admit I have no idea on God’s green earth why I want to read this because it looks like it will be agonizing to get through. It’s by Homer.”

Scholarly Homer Simpson

Scholarly Homer Simpson

And no…not Homer Simpson. The other Homer.  The Greek poet who was born sometime between the 12th and 8th centuries BC.  Yes, so little is known about the guy that one can only speculate about his birth date and in fact, it is even disputed whether Homer was the sole author of both classical works  The Iliad and The Odyssey.

Homer, the Greek Poet

Homer, the Greek Poet

 

I turn the book over and show him. Homer’s,  The Odyssey. “Did you read it,” I asked. “Yes, in the ninth grade,” Rocket-man said. “But you would have read it as well. It was part of the curriculum.”

“I know. But I vaguely remember the whole story. Do you remember it?” With that Rocket-man started into the story. I saw where this was going. Quickly, I put my hand up.

“Stop!”  How silly of me. Why did I even ask? Rocket-man has way more brain cells than I.   “Of course you’d remember the whole story after reading it more than forty years ago,” I sighed.

Truly, I’ve no idea why I want to tackle this book after all of these years but I’m gonna give it the “ole college” try— knowing full well that I said the same of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (and yes…I am still working through that book!). I’m keenly aware that my brain cells are slowly shrinking with each passing day. Between the Greek poet Homer and my Duolingo Italian app on my iPhone, I hoping to stem the loss just a bit.

What was the other book, you ask?   Cliff Notes for The Odyssey.

Rocket-man literally busted a gut over that.

Bliss.

An Honorable Addiction

Rocket-man has been away again on business travel for the week and I’ve had extra time on my hands, or so it seems, due to days of ridiculously cold weather (and some snow showers too) that have kept me indoors. In an effort not to feel like a caged cat I used to literally plunge my way outdoors even on the worst winter weather days but age seems to have made me a veritable marshmallow. Now, more often than not, I much prefer sinking into the coziness of my sofa with a book, a cup of hot tea and The Poodle, curled up into a ball at my feet.

I did however brave the elements—as it were—the other day when cabin fever seriously nipped at my heels. Since I had a Barnes and Noble coupon I decided an outing was in order–just a quick trip mind you–to spend an hour, or so, perusing the book store. As I drove down one hill and up another making my way to the store I made a mental note to not succumb to purchasing books despite the 20% coupon burning a whole in my purse. I’ve boxed up what seems like a ton of books for the upcoming move and I’ve donated boatloads more in the last two months.

I do not need any more books! Repeat: I do not need any more books!

Once inside the store I pulled off my scarf and gloves, donned my reading glasses and got straight to the business of leisurely strolling through the book aisles, stopping as well at the various tables and book displays. After about a half hour or so I had a pile of books in hand. It was now time to indulge in my favorite part of my ritual of going to Barnes and Noble.

I headed for the coffee counter.

Ah, Yes. This is the part of my Barnes and Noble fix that I love the most…and, naturally, what sets it apart from spending time in a library. I love to take my stack of books to a small table—preferably by a window— and sift through random chapters or even the table of contents while I enjoy a cup of hot cocoa or a grande non-fat latte. Sometimes I even get a sweet treat to go along with my hot beverage although I am trying to break myself of that habit. I’ll thumb through my stack of chosen books determining whether their contents resonate with me on any level. What can I learn from this book? Or, would this one be an entertaining read? Through this process, made all the more enjoyable with a cup of coffee is often how I select books to buy (other than the word-of-mouth route).

Hmm. Wait a minute. Didn’t I vow not to buy any books today?

Ah…you guessed it. I did not listen to my advice. I walked out of the book store..back into the cold night air…with not one, but six books.

One of the many stacks

One of the many stacks

Sigh. I should have known better; I’ve never come out of Barnes and Nobel empty-handed.  I’m an addict, I know, but I am here to say that there is such a thing as a good addiction.  Mine takes a small bite out of the budget for sure, but it is a certainly a well-intentioned, honorable one.

Yes, there are a lot worse things to be addicted to.  Still, my only problem with reading is the amount of time spent sitting.  Though I see lots of people doing it, I’m not one for reading while on the elliptical at the gym, or the spin bike either;  It just doesn’t work for me. And, though I’ve only seen it once, I cannot read while walking outdoors (truthfully, I was in awe of the woman doing it.).   Hence, it takes me huge chunks of time to get through my stacks; quite the work in progress really.  What I need now (hint, hint… you know who you are) is at least one week at the beach!  That would be a sure-fire way of knocking down my growing stack of unread books.

(Ahem. In case you missed it: that hint-hint would be for you Rocket-man.)

 

Inquiring minds might want to know that my Barnes and Nobel purchase was an eclectic mix:

The Seven Story Mountain, by Thomas Merton
It Is About Islam: Exposing the Truth About Isis, Al Qaeda, Iran, and the Caliphate, by Glenn Beck
The Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson
The Art of Grace; On Moving Well Through Life, by Sarah L. Kaufman
The Time of Our Lives, by Peggy Noonan

So off to the sofa I retreat with my stack of books, The Poodle and, because it is after a certain hour, with a glass of red wine instead of coffee. I close my eyes and pick a book from the stack.

Okay then. Let’s start with The Art of Grace.

So many books. So little time.

Book lover…Bliss.