I love books in all forms – printed, as audio-books, and in electronic format. Over the past few years, I have seen public libraries gradually shift over to less printed material and more e-books. This makes perfect sense. No more overdue books. No misplaced or lost books. No crayon scribbles in books because someone’s toddler decided to use it as a coloring book. Audio-books play perfectly because there’s no physical CD discs to scratch up. And no more theft. It’s a great solution to all these problems.

Our local public library originally offered e-books and e-audio-books through Overdrive. It worked well. I could read books on my kindle, my phone or my computer. It was easy and never seemed to malfunction.

But this year the library decided to save some money by switching to a cheaper company. We now have e-books through cloudLibrary by bibliotheca. I have checked out six books through this app. Sadly, two of them downloaded with totally blank pages. I tried three different devices, with the same result each time.

My conclusions: 1, you tend to get what you pay for, and 2, don’t get rid of those printed books, as they never malfunction!


Finding A Bargain At The Library

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Some of my best shopping has been at the public library. Yes, the library. Most people only think of their local library as a place to borrow books. But many libraries also sell off older books and audio-books at a fraction of the price. Every so often I stop in the large downtown library and see what’s for sale. Sometimes it’s a book or two off the 25 cent bargain cart. Sometimes it’s a Mo Willems book for my grandson – fifty cents. But the thing I really love to find is a good audio-book for sale. Many libraries are gradually switching over from the physical CD version to the online version of audio-books. No more lost, stolen, or scratched CD discs when they’re electronic.

At the library, every used audio-book for adults is just a dollar, and every audio-book for kids is fifty cents! Some are long, some are short, but the price is constant. Every time I check the library sale, I find at least one great book that makes the visit worthwhile. (Most times I find half a dozen or so.) My latest find was “Buddy”, a hilarious true story about a journalist whose family lived with a rooster that drove him crazy. The listed price on the back was $39.99, but I paid only $1.00 and no sales tax (libraries are allowed to charge no tax on their used discards). That’s what I call a mark-down! So the next time you’re looking for something to read or listen to, that you can keep as your own, check out your local library.

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Time In A Bottle

Memory is a double-sided gift. It gives me the ability to hold on to the special moments in life, as Jim Croce sang about in “Time In A Bottle”. Like the memory of being four years old, and playing on the floor with my newly-adopted sister and brother. The first time I met my husband. The moment I held my sons in my arms for the first time. Watching the kids graduate from high school. Laughing and playing games with the cousins. Seeing “Star Wars” on the big screen back in 1978. Yeah, these memories are keepers!

But on the other side, there are the memories that I really want to forget, ones that play over and over in my head like a horror movie.  Like two years ago today, when our son  died and then was brought back. I remember watching him in the ICU on life support. I remember the groans of pain that I could do nothing to alleviate. I remember the slivers of glass and dried blood flakes that slowly worked their way out onto the pillowcase over many days. I remember the therapists trying to get our son’s legs working again as he struggled with nausea and excruciating pain. And yes, I remember that wicked fixator device that he had for almost two months to hold the bones in place.

But as I think more about that day in 2016, it brings to mind other memories. The family friend that came out to the hospital in the middle of the night to sit with us as life and death fought each other. The dozens of soap-makers from an international blog site who sent word that they were praying. Friends that came by to encourage us and pray. The Sunday School class that sent over a care-box of things to do. The crafty friend who brought over a couple looms and an entire bag of fabric loops to make potholders with (the cure for fidgety hands). The trauma doctors who kept tiptoeing into the room during the first week, wanting to see the young man that by all logic should not be alive. Then there were the nurses. I remember the gentleness of seven nurses changing our son’s bed-sheets, a difficult task with someone whose body was broken and damaged in so many places.

It’s been a rough two years for our son, and for all of us. Doctors’ visits and physical therapy are ongoing. There may never be total recovery, but we are getting used to a new “normal”. If you have a body that works perfectly fine, and you have no pain or physical ailments, thank God! All it takes is one unexpected event, one second in time, to take life in a totally different direction. We carry memories of both the joyous and the terrible times. But through it all, Jesus has walked with us, and that is sometime we remember always.


Note: See this post to better understand what happened to our son:



African American Short Films

African American Short Films

Yesterday I was flipping through channels on our over-the-air TV, and came upon an hour-long special of African American Short Films on one of our local channels. Unfortunately, I only caught the last short story of the hour. It was about ten minutes long, and featured a black WWII soldier walking into a little diner, and his encounter with a white couple who was running the restaurant. It was short but thought-provoking. It was an excellent film, and I was impressed by both the picture quality and the plot.

Today I checked to see if any of these films are available online. Yes, they are! The films are produced by an independent company called Badami Productions. Their motto is: “Educating Through Entertainment”. You can go to their website and see some of the videos: They also have a facebook page you can check out:

If you are looking for some creative short films exploring issues important to the African American community, watch one or two of these films (they average 10 minutes each). See the world from someone else’s point of view; it’ll give you something to ponder.



Something To Not Read

While clearing out a bunch of e-mails this morning, I clicked on the spam folder to empty its contents. I was surprised to see some e-mails from people I know. Well, not really from them. There were three supposedly from my brother, one from a sister-in-law, and one from an acquaintance I have never e-mailed. It was obvious from the first glance that they were spam, since the extension of their names went something like: Each e-mail had a link that they wanted the reader to click on. (Sigh. Do people honestly still fall for these spammy messages?)

Then there was a ridiculous spam message from some “Deputy Governor” asking me to confirm my name, telephone number and address – plus $10.7 million dollars! This one was so obvious that Google put a warning across the top of it in red. If you’ve never gotten one of these junk e-mails, here’s a screenshot of what it looks like:

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But the most disturbing one was the one that pretending to be from my health insurance that wanted to show me how to change the password for my online medical account. I have to say, that one actually looked pretty authentic. Maybe it was legit, maybe not. But it was from a health system that I am not even a part of!

It’s spam like this that makes me want to just walk away from e-mail entirely.



To Repair Or To Replace, That Is The Question

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To repair our old clothes dryer or replace it, that was the question a few days ago. On Monday, when I threw a load of clothes in it, the whole thing shook and rattled like it was someone mixing nuts and bolts in a metal pail. What an awful clatter! The repair man said he would be out on Wednesday.

So Tuesday I did my research. The dryer was a Magtag and had been a very good appliance, but we couldn’t remember when we’d bought it. We’d never had to repair it. It had just gone and gone, like the Energizer bunny. But how much should we sink into repairs, or was it better to just start over with a new dryer?

I checked prices at five different places in our area that sold washers and dryers. Wow, sticker shock! The absolute lowest price for a new dryer was $429 plus tax – and it was smaller than our broken one. From there the prices rose all the way to $1,600 if you wanted deluxe models. Hmmm, maybe I could find a cheap used one at the used appliance store not too far away. But their dryers started at about $200 and went up from there. Craigslist had some that were under $100, but I wondered why someone would get rid of a perfectly good dryer. Then there was also the question of how to lug the thing home, and what to do with our old dryer.

On Wednesday the repair guy came. It didn’t take him long to diagnose the problem. Our grandson had climbed into the dryer while playing hide and seek a few days previous, and the weight had bent the metal piece that was holding the round drum up. The guy tried bending the metal back, but the piece was so weakened that when he put the drum back in, it immediately started bending again. He would have to build supports to hold up the drum. He said if we didn’t want to fix it he understood, but that it was a good dryer.

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I asked him if he could tell how old the dryer was. He said we would have to enter the serial number online and it would tell us, but that our style of Maytag had not been manufactured for at least ten years. (As a side note, he added that my Kenmore washing machine was likely at least 20 years old!) He said a lot of people now want the old-fashioned, simple washers and dryers, but they have been replaced by complex, computerized appliances that cost more, break down more easily and are more expensive to fix.

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(Notice my clothesline in the background. I bring it in every winter, and put it back outside every spring.)

So we opted to fix it. The irony of this whole situation is that families pay so much for a device that basically does the same thing as my sweater drying rack and fan, or my clothesline and a little breeze do! For about half the year we enjoy the free drying power of sunshine and wind. Unfortunately, the other half of the year we need an indoor dryer. But it’s fixed now, and we hope that our little beauty of a dryer lasts us another ten years.


Low-Tech Laundry

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I was sitting in my basement, working on the never-ending family picture project, when the dryer decided to give up the ghost. Well, technically it’s not quite dead. It’s been a little noisy for awhile, but tonight the usual hum of the dryer sounded more like someone mixing nuts and bolts in a metal pan. I rushed to turn it off before it exploded or something.

I pulled the wet items out, and wished that it was warm enough to be using my clothesline. But it’s going to be at least two months before we can do outdoor drying. Time to improvise. Maybe I can string some clothesline inside the basement, like Mom did when I was a kid. Not enough space. So I set up the sweater drying rack, draped everything over it, and turned on the fan.

Tomorrow we’ll tackle the dryer, but until then, here’s a salute to low-tech solutions.