Kindle, my kindle

There’s something to be said about having a Kindle.  I resisted for a long time getting one for myself.  But the last few days, I decided I needed a Kindle.  Why? You say.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love the feel and substance of a book between my hands.  I like poring over them, going from page to page, maybe looking towards the back or skimming the table of contents.  I like the heft of a book, something that tells a person that I’m serious about reading it – especially those voluminous novels by Ann Radcliffe.

However, space is getting a bit cramped in my home.  I have several bookcases, and the most recent one has already gotten most of its real estate taken.  I admit, not all those books belong to me.  However, in the future, I may have to really cut back on buying my books, even if they are from second hand booksellers.  It’s just a bit of a practicality.

So I got my Kindle yesterday.  It seems surprisingly smaller than I had imagined it to be.  And, it is black (it could have been white, but I got the black).  It has ads on it (cheaper version) but what I do is turn it over when not in use so the ads don’t show.  I don’t mind the ads.  I went to check out some ebooks from the library.  Turns out that our town does support the Kindle and I can easily borrow or put a book on hold using my Kindle.  I downloaded two books already, one is Wuthering Heights, and the other is the Biography of Dorothy Day.

It’s really convenient is unexpected ways.  For example, as I recline to read my book (the paper version) my two cats decide to take turns sitting on my lap.  They tend to rub their faces against my book, and then sometimes they get overcome by the experience that they want to bite my book.  And, usually, my books are biggish.  So that means the cats really have to contend with the book.  I sometimes hold my book afar so that I can still sneak a read while petting whatever cat I have on my lap at the time. I know, I really feel guilty about this.  I ought to stop reading, right? And put my focus on my cats.  But there are days when that isn’t possible.  Assignments are needed to be read, and papers are due.

With the Kindle, I find that its small size is just right.  I hold it in one hand and the pet settles on my lap happily enjoying cozy time with Mom.

Now that I read what I wrote, I figure maybe Kindles aren’t known to be cat friendly.  Only cat owners would know this. What’s the secret word?  Cats like it when Mom is not so obviously buried in a book.  Plus, the Kindle doesn’t look at all like a book, and they figure it’s just another piece of furniture, or something miniature they can ignore.

I suppose I could post this in my Amazon review. How many stars? I’d say 5.  I am so enamored of my Kindle.  I plan to download zillions of books in it.  I relish the lazy afternoons when I can settle back with it outside in the backyard, sipping an umbrella-ed drink, and get into the classics, or even a textbook for my MFA class.

And, that’s also a good thing.  For class, I have spent a small chunk of money for textbooks.  I haven’t looked into this yet, but I would bet good money that Kindle supports the books that I will be reading for my coursework.  Another win!

Well, I appreciate your attention.  Call me the latecomer in the Kindle appreciation family.  Enjoy your pina colada!

Joe and Max – Chapter One

Here’s Chapter One of Joe and Max – my YA novel.

“Max!  Joe! Time to get up and have breakfast!”

Joe heard his mom’s voice sailing through the house and leaving him with a feeling of haste.  His Mom’s voice always sounded alarming first thing in the morning.  Joe tried to pull his blanket over his head.  Then he heard Gus’ voice.

“Joe!  Max! You need to get down right now!”

Gus Whelan, proprietor of Whelan Car and Motor, Inc., was the new head of the household.  Joe cringed at hearing his smooth baritone voice.  Gus married Joe’s mother, Helen, about three weekends ago in a small chapel wedding.  Joe, all of thirteen years old, stood next to his petite and brunette-haired mother, uncomfortable in a tie and dark suit expressly purchased for the occasion.  Gus looked at his bride with such love and warmth that Joe could almost forgive him for marrying her and replacing his long-dead father, Joseph Engle, Sr.  Max, his new step-brother, looked on without an expression in his handsome face.

“What do you need me for?  I don’t have to get up till 7:30 today!” Max’s voice, a bit on the broken side, yelled back from his room.  Max was about 16, almost ready to drive the newish Colt that his Dad bought for him

“I don’t wish to argue like this yelling all over the house.”  Gus’ voice sounded serious.  He always sounded serious for effect, Joe thought bitterly. Gus might just want to run for state senator.  The thought made him cringe even more.

Joe finally got up, pulled a shirt over his ruffled brown hair and staggered to his door.  He opened it only to be almost smacked as Max’s body hurtled past him.  “Dawg!”  Joe uttered, blinking.

Max, a foot taller than him, and as strikingly dark as his father, glanced over his shoulder.  “Oh, hey, that’s what you get for getting in my way, Joe-Joe.”  He grinned and sprinted down the stairs.

Joe suppressed a desire to chase him and beat him up.

Gus and Helen stood in the kitchen engrossed in each of their activities.  Helen was pouring coffee and Gus was scanning the newspaper.  His eyes were narrowed through dark lashes poring over the ads.  “What the h—”  He muttered.

“Eat your breakfast, Gus.  It’s getting late.”  Helen was already dressed, as was Gus.  Helen worked at Macy’s as a buyer.  She looked pretty and trim in her trendy jacket and pants.  Joe glanced at her as he walked in after Max.  “Hello Joe, Max.” Helen gave the boys a once over.

“Morning, Ma.”  He went to give her a kiss.  Max looked at them with a sneer in his smile.

Helen ignored this and gave Joe his lunch bag.  “You boys have a good day at school.  I’m going off to work now.  Joe, text me when you talk to Mrs. Fletcher about making up your test.  I want you to get a good grade in her class.”  She took another brown bag and placed it in front of Max.  “Max, I hope you like ham and cheese.”

Gus grunted and sat down.  “They screwed up our ad.” He reached for his cell phone.

“Bye!”  Helen walked out the back door.

“Hey, do I get any breakfast today?” Max yelled after her.

Helen paused and peered back inside the door.  A sweet smile came over her face.  “Max, you’re part of the family now.  Get acquainted with the contents of the fridge and the cupboard.”  She disappeared from view.

Joe smiled to himself.

Max saw his secret smile.  “Hey, why don’t you get me some cereal, Joe-Joe.”

“Boys, don’t argue at the breakfast table.”  Gus remarked before he spoke into his cell phone.  “Curt, I need to talk about the ad in today’s paper.  It’s got a big mistake!”  He walked out of the breakfast room still talking on his cell, leaving the two boys looking daggers at each other.

“I do not want to be called Joe-Joe.”

“Make me stop.”

Joe made a fist.

Max held out a hand and stopped his movement.  “Ok, I’ll stop if you fix me a bowl of cereal.”  His voice sounded surprisingly conciliatory.

“I’ll make you breakfast if you tell me how to ask a girl out.”  Joe’s lips twisted in a smile.

Max looked at him, incredulous.  His face looked serious for a fleeting moment, and then creased into a big smile.  “Ho ho ho!”  He leaned over and gave him a chuff on his head. “Ok, little step-brother, what do you want to know?”  He sat back afterwards and whipped out his cell phone.  “I will take scrambled eggs, sausage and a glass of milk, and be quick about it!”

Joe felt silly and close to becoming ill.  Why did he say that?  He rose from his seat and went to the refrigerator.  He looked over his shoulder at Max and then he asked, “I’ll make you breakfast but if you give me a bunch of bull, Max, I will make you sick!”

Max never lifted his eyes to Joe, all the while scrolling through his email.  “Yeah right.”


No pain, no gain

Right now I’m getting into reading more of the assignments for our MFA class. I’m reading  David Sedaris and Joan Didion, and a smattering of other essay writers.  I wrote a couple of chapters of my new book (oh, did I not tell you I’m writing a book?) so that I’ve progressed and now am into Chapter 6.  It’s going well – getting a lot of ideas as I think of the different scenarios for my protagonist, Joe.  Suffice it to say, it’s a YA novel.  I’ve stumbled into YA as a result of an online class (not the MFA one) that I took in May.  I posted a story (the beginning of my novel) and the instructor (Dr. Eva Shaw) and my classmates liked how I developed the characters.  So – Eva said “You should think about writing YA.”  And so I am.  I’m actually writing a few other first chapters of novels.  It’s all crowding in my head.  Interestingly, last Sunday, I was a wreck.  I hadn’t written in a few days.  I needed to write a bit more on my class project.  So I decided to settle my anxious thoughts by doing three things first:  One, I went to Mass; Two, I read a passage from the Bible; and Three, I said a decade of the rosary.  And then I went ahead and wrote.

I’m always amazed at how settled I feel after reading the Bible, or after a period of meditation/prayer. I think that at the first moment of consciousness one must commune with God.  To get one’s head right.  Or before starting something new, prayer to the Holy Spirit is good.  This is straight out of my dear Mom’s prayer guide.  She told me to say 7 Our Fathers (the Lord’s Prayer), 7 Hail Mary’s and 7 Glory Be’s at the start of a project, or before a test or when I’m driving out of the house for the first time of the day.  And I’ve done it since she told me many years ago.  It helps.

I posted an excerpt from my novel on my Patreon page.  If you wish to see it, it’s here:  I sent the link to my cousin and she found a few typos.  So please excuse those.

So I’m off to read a few more essays to get into the groove of writing MY essay for my class.  Next time, I’ll post the first chapter of my YA story here.

I hope you have a peaceful evening.

The writing goes on

Yesterday was the first day of my next class in the MFA program.  It’s all about creative nonfiction.  I am excited to start this new class – as much as I was excited at starting the previous class.  I’m a bit more upbeat, this time – none of the anxieties from the last one. Not sure why that is.  Maybe because the texts are manageable – you know, they aren’t needing to be read in seven days – all 400 pages or 600 pages of them (ha ha).  And I’m looking at the writing assignment and it doesn’t seem too hard to do.  But what exactly do I write – something about a place in my past where something significant happened.  But there are many of these places.  And the common theme to them and what significance they had seem to be an unhappy event.  Like, in the kitchen – where things, events, scenes happen.  I can picture some movie where there’s a midnight conversation between a couple. What do they discuss at midnight?  Not a good sign, right?  So, I am still mulling this assignment over.  I have a few days to work on it.  I don’t really want to write about something depressing on my first assignment.  I think maybe I’ll write about our kitchen – the scene where I first kept my small puppy Duke when he joined our family. The crate, the gates at the entrances and exits.  His eager way of jumping and asking for treats. Once, my Dad dropped his blood pressure med on the floor and Duke, being so mouthy, pounced on it and ate it.  Oh, that was a hard day. It happened to be a Sunday.  So we had to take him to the ER at the vet hospital.  Let me say that it was a long day.  They said that they didn’t see anything abnormal with his blood pressure and heart rate.  They offered to observe him for four hours.  I didn’t want to do that – I was worried about the bill.  So, I said that since I used to work in a hospital, I would watch Duke.  And so they gave him some activated charcoal and let me take him home.  He looked pretty much like he wanted to vomit and fortunately, he vomited on his big oversized bed instead of my car seat.  I called my cousin Erwin and asked his advice.  Erwin said, “Walk him every half hour. That might help his blood pressure.” So we sat in the kitchen. For each half hour I’d take him for a walk in our neighborhood.  I’d watch him when he would start dozing – and I’d wake him up, and take him out again for a walk. I felt so tired by the end of the day.  I held him in my arms most of the time.  He was such a cute puppy.  And by the end of the day, almost midnight, Duke was still with me.  Yes, the vet said that the time span to watch Duke would be till midnight.  The kitchen was our little nest for Duke.  These days, if anything dropped to the floor accidentally, Duke won’t be the one to catch it.  He has learned his lesson.  Well, I think I already started writing my class assignment.