Ephemeral, Incorporeal Books

I even made my own illustration for the book!

I just finished reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was a great book and if you want to know how I really felt about it, here is a great little article. I could not agree more and I could not have said it any better.

Anyway, I loved it so much, I marched right out and bought the next one … oh no, that is not how it happened. I loved it so much, I hit a few buttons and ordered it wirelessly and had it delivered to my Kindle and started reading it immediately at 11:30 PM.

When I first announced in a status message on my Facebook page how much I wanted a Kindle, my friends’ responses were surprisingly disapproving. The hue and cry was a decisive ‘no!” The general feeling seemed to be a protectionist stance, a kind of defensiveness for books, beloved books. “I will never give up books!” one told me. “I love the way a new book smells when I open it,” declared another.

I was a little bemused and found myself defending my love of books. I saw the Kindle not as a repudiation, but as a way to access MORE books. I knew I would never give up my love of the physicality of books, the spine, the end boards, the paper in between. I remember writing, “I have books scattered on nearly every surface of my house!” which was part of the reason a Kindle intrigued me so. I am literally running out of space. Books are my guilty pleasure and while I could resort to only using the public library, as an amateur writer I decided years ago I wanted to support the publishing industry by being a consumer. So, I buy a lot of books. Unfortunately, I began to see that I will run out of room eventually. Fortunately, Kindle came on the scene.

At first, I wanted a Kindle because it holds thousands of books and they are less expensive to buy. Now that I have one, I love it for it’s compact size. It is light weight and has revolutionized reading in bed. No more bulky book to hold, no more having to take my arm outside of the warm covers to turn a page because with the Kindle, I just a click the button and the next page appears. I also love the built in Oxford English Dictionary and the book marking ability. Plus, I never lose my place since Kindle remembers where I stopped reading.

It seems, however, that I am an oddball in all of this. According to this article, it is primarily men who are attracted to e-readers. Older men. Baby boomer men.  The only criteria I fit for all this gadgety reading is the fact that I am a baby boomer. I have thoughts about this. I truly believe reading is not a priority for most of our children, I think the true readers, the reading public, if you will, is aging. Books are becoming less necessary. I know people will squeal when they read that (IF they read that!

Now, I have taken a look at the iPad. It is sleek and lovely, like all Apple products. When the iPad was announced and I saw the way the e-book components worked, I was sorry I had not waited for the iPad. But, I have visited the Apple store and determined the iPad needs to become lighter and smaller for comfortable book reading. In my opinion, Kindles and Nooks are superior for truly dedicated book worms. Having a Kindle has not made me love books any less. I still buy real books. There are MANY books that are not available to read on Kindle.

We live in an e-world. Kindles, Nooks and other e-readers are just another option, not a replacement for traditional books. If anything, Kindle just makes room for more. The way I see it, you can never have enough books … especially if they are incorporeal.

Paraphernalia as a Verb… and a Cracker Jack Commercial

The Lady of Shallot


n paraphernalia [pӕrəfəˈneiliə]

a (large) collection of (small) objects, often the tools etc for a job or hobby



v paraphernalia [pӕrəfəˈneiliə]

a (large) emotional collection of (small) objectives, often the tools etc to live life as a continual hobby

ex After work each day, Dody likes to paraphernalia.

I named this blog Paraphernalia for a reason. I knew I could not focus on one particular topic and stay engaged. Long ago, I used to make bridal head wreaths and French ribbon rose brooches. I called my little ‘business” Paraphernalia – in keeping with one of the official definitions of the word A married woman’s personal property exclusive of her dowry, according to common law.” I love the word… I hate that it is associated with drugs … but I choose to ignore that definition…

Lately, it seems I am surrounded by Paraphernalia – the lovely, comforting flotsam and jetsam of my intellectual and creative life. It reminds me of that old, old Cracker Jack commercial; the one where the little boy empties his pockets and reveals a treasure trove of marbles and string and maybe a jack or two… I loved playing jacks… writing about playing jacks could be an entire blog post. The paraphernalia of that little boy’s pockets was very satisfying.

If paraphernalia was a verb, you could say that I paraphernalia throughout each day: I read a little, I craft a little, I write a little  – in other words I function within my large collection of small objectives, collections of words, collections of images, collections of thoughts manifested as art and beauty. So, what are these collections? What does it mean? What is paraphernalia-ing?

For one thing, it means I read little bits of many books. I have found that I need to get hopping if I am going to read everything on every topic that interests me. So, I read many at once. I am currently reading five books. The first is The Man Who loved Books Too Much which is a quirky, true life crime story of a rare book thief.  I plan to write a whole post on the book as soon as I am done, which is in fifty five pages.

I rather imagine this looks like Jane

Since I am a Janeite – I am reading Jane Austen, The World of her Novels by Deirdre LeFaye. This book is delightful. It is a wealth of information about what it was like to live in Jane’s age. I pick it up and learn something everyday…about travel arrangements, currency, the countryside. It is a wonderful book, with beautiful illustrations.

If you read five books at once, at least one has to be a novel. Right now that novel is  The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova. I will review it as well. So far, it is…fine. However, it doesn’t make me want to live in it for days on end, so it must not be amazing. I have 250 more pages. It is getting better. I will let you know.

Finally, I am finishing two biographies – The Mistress of the Monarchy, by Alison Weir which is loosely about Katherine Swynford, mistress and the eventual third wife of John of Gaunt. I say loosely because it mostly reads like the Franklin daily planner of John of Gaunt with shout outs about Katherine. It consists of many, many passages which begin, “we can assume” or “most likely”Katherine was…” and nothing really definitive. Read the novel Katherine by Anya Seton. Except for the fact that Ms.Weir sorts out some misconceptions about who died of what or when, the novel is the way to go.  However, I have really enjoyed learning about this period, which includes information about Chaucer.  So, read it for the history.

The second biography is also by Alison Weir, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor was one scrappy lady. I would like to say I am like her, but I am not, I am a wimp. I would have stayed with Louis and sunk like goo into the quick sand of history. She kind of proves (fortunately or unfortunately – I make no judgements) that in some cases, taking that risk, divorcing, can move you up in the world. Carpe Diem.

I am feeling very medieval these days. I bought Loreena McKennitt’s The Visit from iTunes to accompany this mood. Listen to The Lady of Shallot to completely immerse yourself in this medieval mood. Every now and then, it is good to just go all out and be medieval.

This covers the reading part of my paraphernalia-ing.  I am also working on a project. It feels very fun and very consuming. I will tell all about it soon, maybe even tomorrow…

By the way – if you feel so inclined, comment. A paraphernalia of commentary would be fun.

Here is that Cracker Jack commercial…

“There is one day that is ours. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.” O. Henry

Pilgrims - An illustration for an old children's book

I love Thanksgiving. I love stuffing the turkey, making the pies, deciding how to prepare the sweet potatoes…I have a couple of recipes one old, one new. My daughter was born the night before Thanksgiving and her birthday falls every so often on this best of family holidays, in fact her birthday is today! I have so much to be thankful for… My husband, my darling, beautiful daughter, the life of my mother, my sisters, my gorgeous nieces, nephews, beloved first cousins a surviving uncle and his dear wife, the wonderful men I work for… I know there are more who should be on the list… like… my friends, near and far. What an amazing country we live in…

I hate to read stories about school districts and municipalities which are suppressing the traditional story of Thanksgiving such as this one. Making construction paper pilgrim hats, or drawing turkey feathers by tracing my little girl hands provide an especially strong memory of my little girl grade school years. The religiosity of Thanksgiving is part of our heritage, the relationship with the Indians, the Native Americans the Pilgrims encountered and were assisted by, can and should be told romantically. I am weary of political correctness. Let’s retain SOME of our traditions.

One of my favorite books from my girlhood was “Constance, A story of Early Plymouth by Patricia Clapp. I think I read it in fourth grade, but it gave me a firm foundation in understanding the Pilgrim story and the challenges they faced their first hard winter here in the New World. Naturally, it was written to appeal to a young, romantic reader such as myself. There was a a wonderful mix of romance and the hard realities of life experienced by those early Pilgrim souls. For years after reading the book, I wanted to name my child Damaris – the name of Constance’s younger sister. I checked “Constance” out of my public library in Naperville, Illinois in 1969 or so. Later, when Amazon came around, I ordered a used copy, so I would always have it, to share with my grandchildren someday.  I think it is out of print, which is a shame…

Apparently, the author is a descendant of the real Constance, who left the Pilgrim colony with her family to farm independently. The book is written as a diary and it is compelling reading, even if you are all grown up.

Have a wonderful, wonderful Thanksgiving….

Time for a Fashion Plate!


This looks summery
This looks summery


I am trying to figure out something to blog about. I read a great review of some books about Mary Tudor, aka Bloody Mary, sounds like she was not such a bad sort after all. Isn’t that always the case? Richard III and now Mary – makes you wonder and realize  how contemporary sources can be twisted to corrupt the record. I’m sure that couldn’t happen nowadays…

I watched that amazing wedding video the JKHeinz Wedding entrance on YouTube – pure, unadulterated joy. Anyone who blathers on about it being improper has serious happiness issues. Who says? I mean – let’s reflect on what music Jesus was listening to – should we limit ourselves to lutes and bizarre string instruments?  I say – shake it up!

If a Tree Falls…..

If a blog is posted on the web and nobody reads it, does it matter? I have been mulling this question for awhile. Writing a blog is a bit of a paradox. It satisfies the writing urge, but you never really know…

Blogs provide a temporary therapeutic outlet for writers. If you have the urge to write and a correspondent need to GET IT OUT THERE, hitting the PUBLISH button is immensely, albeit only momentarily, satisfying. There! You think to yourself, I have PUBLISHED my blog post! The operative word in that statement is PUBLISH.

Moby Dick serves as the ultimate writer’s metaphor. Once you make the decision to put stuff down on paper (or into Microsoft Word) you can’t deny you have the urge to publish something, ANYTHING! But, like Ahab in Moby Dick, you ride alone on the vast ocean of the written word, hoping to spear a periodical that will accept the submission you sent six months ago. It isn’t easy, however. They dare you to write enough stories to BE ABLE to publish something. You have to have a stable of stories because, for the most part you can’t send your story to any other periodical because they don’t accept simultaneous submissions.

Let’s say you have written five really good, polished, finished stories. This means you can only send it to five publications. Each publication takes a minimum of three months, usually six to reject you. Can you see where I am going here? You will be 86 before you can make the rounds of a modest list of publications. Your heirs will receive your final rejection notice or if you are really lucky, they will receive 10 complementary copies of the publication and the honor of telling everyone their dead mother’s short story will be published in the next issue.

You begin to develop a criminal mind. Yes, criminal. You say to yourself, “How will they know this is a simultaneous submission? What are the chances of all ten literary magazines accepting this story?” And so, you defy the carefully bolded submission guideline, that looks and sounds sinister “No Simultaneous Submissions….” You begin to dissemble…deceitfulness enters your writing habit.

Blogging is like being a shopaholic. You receive a momentary rush when you boldly PUBLISH what you have written. It feels like buying a new chatzka for the house. It comes perfectly packaged; the bag the shop owner places it in is crisp and new. Once you return home with your darling purchase you take the item out of the bag, which you carefully save as a reminder of the chatzka shop. You flit about the house, placing the chatzka here and there, you step back, you admire it, you feel a rush of contentment and tell yourself it is enough. Like Yahweh on the seventh day, you can rest. You have enough and you don’t need to ever buy another thing.

And then a week goes by and then a month. The rush is gone. Something is missing inside, you need something fun to happen , you are low, maybe you burned your oatmeal that morning or had to pump gas and the nozzle dribbled on your best pair of shoes so you smell like gas all day. What can you do? SHOP!!! Yes! You tell yourself “I’ll just look around, that’s all!” And the whole cycle starts over again.

Blogging is like that. Only instead of shopping, you write something. You bold the parts you want to emphasize, you lean back and make sure it looks fine on the screen, you move bits around with the mouse, you cut and paste. Finally, like Goldilocks, it looks JUUUUUSTTTT RIGGGHHHHTTT and you PUBLISH it. I just love that part, the PUBLISH part….can you tell?

But then, time goes by. You have a bad day. What to do? Write! Yes! Write something, work on that short story that has been rejected, add a creep or a big hearted prostitute! That will get their attention! That will make them want to accept your simultaneous submission, besides, since you added the creep and the prostitute, it isn’t simultaneous anymore! What if you change the first sentence! Make it “pop” as they say.

But you end up doodling around because you just don’t like to write creeps and prostitutes and you decide instead to comment on the immediate present, Maybe you have read something somewhere that makes you feel crazy like some wacky judge who just released a serial sex offender. You type a few hundred lovely words! You turn it into a blog post, you hit the publish button… You feel as if you have accomplished something…

But, if you publish a blog on the web and nobody reads it, does it exist?

Google philosophy! Google has all the answers. It is the giant chatzka emporium to the world. It has an immediate answer for every burning question. You click the best looking link and it makes you feel better because you find a long list of “ISM’s.” You are browsing in the ultimate chatzka store and you end up buying into the ism that puts everything in perspective:

MODEL REALISM -a philosophy propounded by David Lewis, that possible worlds are as real as the actual world.

So the answer is, if you publish a blog on the web and no one reads it, it doesn’t matter because it’s your own little possible world!