Have you ever met a woman who keeps a library in the bathroom and sits on the toilet and reads for 20-40 minutes every day? I haven’t. But my grandfather did it, my husband does it and so do the husbands of most of the women I know well enough to ask about it.

I have never understood this practice. or why is it almost exclusively men who do it. If a woman was going to read for any length of time, the last place she’d choose to spend this precious “alone time” would be on the friggin’ toilet! No woman wants a red ring around her butt when she finishes a chapter.

I think I get why, in general, men think farts are funny and women don’t. It’s because men never outgrow the scatological humor of an eight-year-old boy. I also have a theory as to why men, in general, love slapstick humor and women don’t. Since we don’t have gladiators or jousts as an outlet for male aggression, men need a form of socially acceptable violent entertainment where the pain or humiliation can be laughed at and enjoyed publicly. This also explains violent video, which are also played predominantly by men.

But — I have no clue about the etiology of reading on the toilet. Maybe it’s a way to make goofing off appear legitimate — it shouldn’t count as “me time” if you’re performing a necessary bodily function. Yet men have no trouble sitting on the sofa with a beer and watching ball games for hours or playing video games endlessly. So I think it’s unlikely that they feel a pressing need to justify their pursuit of leisure activities, as women often do.

Maybe women shouldn’t try to beat them, but join them instead. So, ladies, the next time your husband wants you to start dinner, do the laundry, feed the dogs or pick up the kids, just grab a book, run into the bathroom and shut the door. Your husband can’t question or interrupt your toilet time without threatening the sanctity of his.

Try bringing a pillow and a glass of wine in with you to make the surroundings more user-friendly and relaxing. Let’s see if two can play this potty game!

This is the sculpture and the books in my powder room



Seriously, I don’t understand how it happened. I don’t have a job. I am definitely, absolutely 100% retired. Yet — I’m always busy!

It’s probably all the reading. In recent months, there have been publications of great books by some of my favorite authors, many of whom hadn’t released a new one in quite a while.

You know I absolutely had to read them. Immediately!

There were two new books and a short story by Jodi Taylor, “The Something Girl,” and “The Rest is History.” book 8 of her St. Mary’s time travel series. Both were great. I’m crazy about the time travel books. Sometimes I need a “time travel fix” and listen to them again.

Then, “Mary Russell’s War: And Other Stories of Suspense” was released — a whole bunch of short stories about Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes. “The Furthest Station: A PC Peter Grant Novella” by Ben Aaronovitch was released and while it wasn’t as long as the other books, it was a day of reading.

Somewhere in there I also read the last three Michael Connelly books, two about Harry Bosch and another new one for another L.A. cop. The new Bosch stories are narrated by Titus Welliver, who plays Harry Bosch on the Amazon series, so it’s not just any old book. You can watch the series — or the movie — in your head and the right guy is the star.

I stumbled across “Strange Practice” by Vivian Shaw which is the kind of book you sincerely hope is the start of a new series. It was way too good to be a onefer! It’s about Dr. Greta Helsing who specializes in a  medical practice for treating the undead. Great book and I hope it is followed by many more!

And then, Craig Johnson came out with a new Walt Longmire book — best one in quite a while — and there was Dan Brown’s “Origins” and Peter Clines’ “The Fold” and  Neal Shusterman’s “Scythe” … and finally, to finish me off, the long-awaited “Robicheaux” by James Lee Burke. It has been a few years since his last Dave Robicheaux story and this was a honey. Simultaneously, up came this new book about Trump, “Fire and Fury” and …

You know? I just realized why I’m so busy.

As you may have realized, I’m a listener rather than a text reader. I started listening to audiobooks when I was commuting long distances. I got so into the habit of listening … and very much out of the habit of focusing on text … that I pretty much always listen and very rarely read. I do read a few things because they aren’t available as audiobooks and I want to read them … or I’m committed to reading them. To be fair, though, I love listening. It’s like watching a long movie in your head. It’s better than movies, really.

It’s definitely the books. And that isn’t all of my list, either. There are at least a dozen more still waiting for me to get to them.

I’m in the middle of “Fire and Fury” right now. Curiosity won on this book … but really, I just can’t resist a good book!


Winsome. When I was editor of the Doubleday Romance Library … oh so long ago! … this was a great word especially when describing the attributes of a young woman in one of the Gothic romances.

Winsome, implying lovely, gracious, charming, and possibly attractive in a non-gaudy, un-flashy way.

So I was trying to think of what in my world might be winsome these days. Bonnie? Maybe? Dogs are always a bit winsome, at least by personality if not by visage. All those adorable things they do are kind of winsome-ish. Okay, not when Duke drags a tree branch in through the dog door and proceeds to imitate a wood-chipper … but when he plays peek-a-boo with his paws, that’s ridiculously adorable.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – At home with dogs

Less adorable when he take those same paws and whacks them hard on my keyboard. I had to pry up a key this morning and one of these days, he’s going to take the ship down with him. Forgive the digression.

I read the beginning of “Fire and Fury: Inside the White House” by Michael Fuller last night. I couldn’t help myself. After Tom Curley’s review of it today on Serendipity, my curiosity went into overdrive. One of the brilliant things about electronic books — audio and other — is that you get them instantly.

Want the book?Before you take your finger off the “buy” button, it’s in your library. It may absorb my time today. Just a warning. I’m in the middle of James Lee Burke’s (last?) book about Dave Robicheaux titled “Robicheaux,” and I want to read this one … and this is the month I’m getting a bunch of audiobooks for review, so it will be my “not-so-available” month.

My winsome dogs will smile at you, though.

FYI for anyone who is following the snow, the cold, and the bank: the bank gave us all the money back. The issue isn’t settled, but they gave us the money anyway. Nice! Thank you BOA. You done good.

The plow was here this morning, so we have a driveway. Paying the guy is going to be an interesting tale because as I have previously observed, free is not the way to go in the snow in New England. Unless YOU own the plow, you have to pay someone. Let us hope for less snow.

Unless there’s such as thing as “self-shoveling” snow? Is there an app for that?


Share Your World – November 6, 2017

Would you rather take a 2 week vacation with an organized tour or take a cruise of your choice?

First of all, the idea of an organized tour gives me the creeps. I think of being in fourth grade, in a line. At the beginning of the line because I was short, either the shortest or next-to-shortest kid in the class. The being marched as a group to “enjoy an activity.”

Our first cruise ship, the Mariner of the Seas – Royal Caribbean

Garry and I have been on two cruises. They were (for us), the opposite of “organized.” The boat is a gigantic floating hotel, except other than booze, everything is paid for in advance. You can do anything available on the ship and there’s usually a lot to do — and the ships are really big. We think of the Titanic as huge, but modern cruise ships are much bigger.

Our second cruise ship, the Rhapsody of the Seas – Royal Caribbean

You can watch a new movie in a theater — or watch the same movie in your room. Hang out on the deck, day or night. Exercise. Lounge. Swim. Eat. Eat more. Eat even more. Watch the sunrise from atop the ship … and eat. Have dinner in the dining room. Have dinner anywhere else they serve food — and they serve food everywhere. Go see a show in the evening. See another show, after the first show. Dance, if you like. Stroll the deck. Then check out the midnight meal — but if you value ever getting into your clothing again, do NOT become a regular attendee at the midnight food revels.

Spend however many hours at any of the places where the ship stops. My favorite was Jamaica. I hoped we’d go back, but it didn’t happen. I bought four pounds of Blue Mountain coffee beans and it made the best coffee I’ve ever had. We found a taxi driver on the island who became our guide and took us everywhere. It was wonderful.

The thing about cruises — you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to eat on a schedule. Shows you obviously have to see when they are on, but there are usually a variety of shows. And there’s always a singer in the lounge.

I loved watching the dolphins leap in the wake of the ship. I love the ocean everywhere.

Did you like swinging as a child? Do you still get excited when you see a swing?

I loved swinging as a child. As an adult, too. I don’t get excited to see a swing but it does bring up happy memories.

What is the most important thing that you ever learned ? (I bet it’s not something you learned in school)

Actually, it was something I learned in school and it became the basis of my world. I learned to read. In first grade. Nothing else I ever learned — or could learn — would mean as much to me as reading. Reading gave me the entire universe.

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week? 

I realized once and for all we cannot keep hauling groceries up the stairs to the house. More to the point, Garry can’t keep doing it. We aren’t getting any younger or stronger — so I ordered one of those weird three-wheeled carts that is supposed to let anyone — even me — haul stuff upstairs. I hope it works.


Stolen freely from sparksfromacombustablemind who stole it from purpleslobinrecovery and finally, from Patience of Willow

I’m not much of a rule-follower. I don’t think it’s rebellion, exactly. More like retirement. I followed a lot of rules for a long time. Now, I don’t have to, so I don’t.  You can check out the rules on some of the earlier followers of this page, but I’m going to suggest simply if you like this, then take the questions and write your own answers. I like books, so this appealed to me.

1. What are your top three (3) book pet peeves?  

When character behave out of character. This is especially annoying in a long series. I expect character development and welcome a character finding new ways to behave, but when out of the blue, he or she completely alters the way they act because the author needs it to move the series along, I get annoyed. If I get very annoyed, I stop reading and move on.

I hate fake endings. You can’t just drop an ending in from space. An end should have something to do with the rest of the book. A lot of books seem to run of ideas before the conclusion.

Good writing matters. That sounds so basic, but it isn’t. There are a lot of really dull writers out there. I have no patience with boring books. There’s too much else to read to waste my time. Write well — and find something new to say. I am so tired of books that are copies of other books. I don’t need another fake “Lord of the Rings.”

2. Describe your perfect reading spot.  

Perfection? My living room recliner. But anywhere I am will do in a pinch.

3. Tell us three (3) book confessions.  

A) I rarely read words on pages. These days, I mostly listen to audiobooks. My eyes got very tired and can’t focus for long on a page. I will read pages for the few books I love enough to not miss (even in print), but it is difficult to keep focused for more than a few minutes at a time.

B) I don’t like realistic books. I’ve had more than enough realism in life. Reading is entertainment. I want to be entertained, so it’s usually some version of science fiction or fantasy, mysteries, histories, and occasionally science.

C) I won’t read anything depressing. I won’t read about cancer and disease, the holocaust, genocide, or slaughter of any kind. I won’t read about torture and I don’t find violence sexy. Actually, I often don’t even find sex particularly sexy unless it is very well-written … and that is rare.

4. When was the last time you cried during a book? 

The last of Terry Pratchett’s books when the final old witch died after dancing with her bees.

5. What’s your favorite snack to eat while you’re reading?  Cherries.

6. How many books are on your bedside table?  

Like so many others, there is a Kindle on my night table. On it are probably 500 or more books, audiobooks and print.

7. Name three (3) books you would recommend to everyone. 

I could never do that. Individual tastes are so varied, so how could I? I would suggest that everyone read at least one good history because we should know where we come from. Everyone should also know some science. But which books? That’s not for me to say.

8.  Show us a picture(s) of your favorite bookcase or bookshelf. 

9. Describe how much books mean to you in just three words. 

Totally, absolutely essential.

10.  (Added by Embeecee)  Who was responsible for your love of books?  A parent, a teacher…or were you born that way? 

I think I was always kind of bookish, but my mother was a big encouragement. Neither my brother or sister were big readers. My mother read everything she could get her hands on. It made up for the education she never got. When she realized I was a reader too, she fed me books. Lots and lots of books. Crates of books. Rooms full of books. There was never a limit to what I could read, no age limit on anything.

I’m not sure I’d have survived childhood without books.


So I saw this headline:

Turkey Leaks Secret Locations of U.S.
Troops in Syria

and I thought — “What a strange business. Turkeys don’t usually have media ties.”

It took me a few minutes to remember that Turkey is a nation and not necessarily a gobbling bird trying to avoid Thanksgiving. This probably speaks to my overall loss of sanity regarding the world in which I live. I’m pretty sure that in earlier days, I’d have instantly recognized Turkey as the nation and not the bird.

Sanity is gone. What is left is a sense of being desperately short of sleep, broke … and holding a list of things I need to fix that exceeds any rational likelihood of doing them. Ever.

What to do next?

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve had more reality than I can handle. I’m going to read a book. Take me away, magic words.