LIFE IS HARD – OUR BED IS SOFT

It has been many long years since I craved luxury, if I ever did. My mother used to tell people I didn’t care about “that stuff” … even when I was young. I was surprised that she had noticed because it was true. I wanted things that were interesting and different, but luxury never entered into it.

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In this part of my life, we live in a home that is more than enough for our need. It’s a bit too big, really. It contains twice as many rooms as we need and too many stairs. But it’s comfortable (excepting the stairs). It is sufficiently isolated so we can use it as a hideout for two not-s0-sociable people who do not crave close neighbors. A friendly chat by the mailbox is enough.

Stockbridge - Red Lion Inn -- my idea of luxury travel
Stockbridge – Red Lion Inn — my idea of luxury travel

When we travel, I don’t look for luxury, unless you count cleanliness and good mattresses as luxurious (I don’t … I think those are the basics). Anything beyond that is luxury to us. We’ve stayed in some pretty awful place … and then again, lucked into some wonderful, charming places.

In our lives, luxury is almost never even a part of the goal. We want a car that runs, and will run even in the middle of a bad, New England winter. I want good food to eat, especially since there are so many things I can’t eat at all. I want good quality appliances, but they don’t have to be the best or fanciest. All they have to be is up to the tasks for which I need them.

Although I don’t consider it a luxury, I’m willing to pay for the best computer I can stretch my money to afford. I want the best video card, the most V-RAM. A fast CPU, a huge (dependable) hard drive and a very high-definition monitor. I want all of it to fit into a five-pound package.

Cameras, too. Although none of my equipment is currently top of the line, much of it was when it was new. I have every lens I might need and a few I really don’t need, but enjoy having anyway. Since I don’t make money from photography and have no plans to make it pay, I guess you could say all my lovely camera equipment is a luxury. I wouldn’t argue the point.

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Our ultimate luxury and the only one I think I can’t live without? Our bed. Every night, when we settle in for however many hours of peace we can steal from a crazy world, I am grateful for that bed.

Life is hard, but our bed is soft.

LUXURY | THE DAILY POST

TO READ OR NOT TO READ, by ELLIN CURLEY

I recently read an article in the New York Times about the efficacy of ‘bribing’ children to get them to read. The article was “The Right Way To Bribe Kids To Read”, by KJ Dell’Antonia and ran on Sunday, July 24, 2016. The article cited a study that showed that bribery does work. However it also showed that the kind of bribe determined the longevity of the positive result.

The study found that monetary or other material bribes worked only as long as the rewards continued. Once the money stopped rolling in, so did the reading. So parents have to find another kind of bribe to foster enthusiasm about reading in order to form lasting reading habits. The most effective form of bribe used in the study was the promise of one on one time with a parent. This time could be spent reading together or just talking about what the child had read.

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This reminded me of one of my finest parenting moments, which I would like to share with you. When my daughter was 13, she was obsessed with reading a series of books below her reading level, called “The Babysitters’ Club.” Neither I nor the teachers at her school felt this was a serious problem. She was reading and loving it and that was enough for the school and for me.

However, her father (my ex-husband) was adamant that we “make” her read more adult books. He favored the classics, like Dickens and Jane Austen. I had hated these books when I was 13 so I did not agree that this was the way to go with our daughter. He also favored the banning of TV and other ‘punishments’ as the means of ‘motivation’. I obviously was against this approach as well.

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My solution to this sticky family problem was brilliant, if I do say so myself! I conceded to my ex the goal of getting our daughter to read age appropriate books. BUT, I would be the one to determine the method used to accomplish this goal.

My daughter loved movies. So I proposed that she find books that had been made into movies. She would both read the book and watch the movie. We would then talk about how the two versions differed, which was more ‘successful’ and why. And how well the book translated to the screen. The first book she choose was Fannie Flagg’s “Fried Green Tomatoes” – a movie she had already seen and loved. She loved the book too. Without parental prompting, immediately read every book Fannie Flagg wrote. She took her library of Flagg’s books to sleepover camp with her and traded them with her camp friends for other books. She was off and running as a life-long, voracious reader.

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My daughter is 31 now and is still an avid reader. She reads all kinds of books, fiction and non-fiction, covering a wide range of subjects. She particularly loves history and historical fiction. I feel that my creative solution to her reading ‘problem’ years ago allowed her intellectual curiosity to develop freely. I firmly believe that we could have destroyed that curiosity and squashed her love of reading had we mishandled that situation when she was 13.

I guess the moral of this story is that you have to nurture and encourage your children’s interest in reading. Making reading a chore or something to do for Mom and Dad is apparently not the right approach. You have to make reading something exciting that they can share with you and with their friends. You can always ‘make’ your child read. The trick is to create an adult who loves reading and learning and passes this love down to their kids.

THE SUPERSTION MOUNTAINS – A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE

A Photo a Week Challenge: Natural Monuments


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The Superstition Mountains of Arizona is familiar to everyone who watches western movies. Viewed from close up, they are even more formidable than they look on-screen.