Tag Archives: Reading

Mine Eyes Have Seen

Books

My latest finds.

I was browsing through a bookstore the other night. The very act of walking through the aisles and by tables full of books, while being free to linger my hand lovingly upon them, is almost erotic to me.

A bookstore is like a candy store full of beckoning treats, or a bakery full of savory scents luring you inside. Thrilling delights for the eyes. Everywhere.

Books have been my companions, my buddies, always there to fill my needs. I coveted and collected them, all types finding a happy home with me, until the usurper’s (RA) unwelcome arrival forced me to give up reading hardcovers.

Their unyielding weight hurt my hands and my wrists, and robbed me of my pleasure. How could I escape into my story if the pain formed a blockade around my brain?

A self-admitted book addict, I switched to strictly paperbacks to feed my passion. They were softer, more pliable and lighter, and they didn’t hurt my hands or wrists as much. But on some the print was a little too small, and my bedroom lighting suddenly seemed too weak. I found it a strain to read myself to sleep at night, as had been my ritual since forever.

The magic of Kindle came to try to save the day. I could enjoy my stories once again at any time of day or night, albeit with a tiny light attached. If I held it in a certain way, I could avoid having the glare bounce back from the screen directly into my eyes. But still, I missed the feel of a book. I longed for the aroma of its silky pages. And I missed having those actual pages to turn. I’d enjoyed flipping back to reread a passage, or forging ahead for a sneak preview of what was to come.

A backlit smart phone followed. I could read without any other lighting even though the screen had shrunk right before my eyes. My husband berated me for straining my eyes by reading on that tiny device. He solved the problem by surprising me with a tablet one Christmas, nine inches of backlit screen with adjustable fonts. Awesome.

A second, more powerful tablet followed that one. And then one New Year’s Eve morning, half the screen went partially dark. I wake up as I go to sleep, reading. At first, I tried blinking the blur away. I wondered if perhaps I was still asleep, dreaming that I couldn’t see all the words. But no, I really couldn’t.

I learned that I’d had a “stroke in the eye.” There was a blob of blood obstructing the vision in my right eye. The cure they said, or rather the treatment, was injections. Injections into the eye. Now I’m no coward when it comes to what life has thrown at me so far, but a needle in the eye? Come on, man!

Nevertheless, I psyched myself up for it, or rather, them (plural). I mean, how can I live without reading? In the past sixteen months, I’ve had four shots and, no, it doesn’t get easier the more you do it. You don’t get the hang of it and it doesn’t become second nature. It’s sort of like dealing with RA, whom I should probably blame for all this. After all, I blame everything else on it.

But let me tell you, thank goodness for modern medicine, and thank goodness for doctors who stay razor sharp. The blur is almost gone, so tiny as to be insignificant.

When this first happened, I went and got prescription readers. Till then I’d resorted to the cheapie drugstore kind. I had a pair in every room of the house. At that point, the optometrist could only do so much for my right eye.

Last month, I went for my checkup and got a new pair of glasses, a progressive intermediate and reader. Neither the OTC glasses nor the old readers were really helping with my computer work.

Well, night has turned into day. I can read real books again. Because not only has my vision improved, but so have my hands and wrists. And during this window of time, I’m grateful that I can indulge my passion again. That I can browse and touch and feel, and accumulate to my heart’s content.

 

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Strong Women

I am reading Isabella, Braveheart of France by Colin Falconer. The book itself is unputdownable. Which sounds funny because it’s an ebook. But this makes it easier for me not to part with it, to keep up with it, whether it be on my tablet, my phone or my laptop, where I’m supposed to be working.

Rarely does a story capture me in this way, but this one sates several of my appetites. It’s based on history. It’s based on French and English history, which fascinate me. It’s based on a woman, a strong woman, with whom I can easily identify with.

I don’t consider myself a student of women’s studies, but I often wonder how women did it. Since the time Eve supposedly went rogue. How did they handle life’s challenges? No matter the culture, no matter the society, women ended up relegated to second class status, if even that high.

How did they handle their personal and family needs in primitive times? How did they get up each morning to ferry the water from the river or the well and carry it home on their head or on their hip, how did they go out to cut the wood to build the fire to cook the food that perhaps they themselves had grown or gathered?

How did they deal with illness when there was no science to lead the way, or at least point the way? Many died in childbirth and there were other diseases that killed them outright. But RA doesn’t do that, not so genteelly, for it is vulgar and rude. It toys with you like a cat with a mouse.

I’m sure this scourge of a disease existed way before we ever put the wrong name to it and I wonder how all who suffered from it dealt with its invasions and assaults. What fortress did they have to shelter them from its slings and arrows? What did they do when it battered at their gates?

I wonder about all its sufferers from the past, but mostly I wonder about the women. For all that we are called the “fair sex” or the “weaker sex,” we have to be mighty in all that we do. Even while being accosted by an uninvited, malevolent presence we have to grit our teeth and bear it.

And so it cheers me when I read about strong female characters, real historical figures. Though obviously fictionalized to some extent, these women did exist. These women did persevere. These women did prevail, and even flourish, in spite of it all.

Women like Doña Antonia Avero, whom I “ran into” at the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine.  avero2

I was both surprised and impressed to read
the words next to her portrait. I had not known this fact about Spanish Florida.

avero

 

I had never heard of her either, but I plan to find out if there is more to read about her life. Even at my age, I am always looking for role models, and for inspiration to help me face life with hope each day.

This might be another story I can share with my granddaughters. Already they have demonstrated a love for books and reading, which pleases me no end.

For you are never bound to one station or one place when you can read yourself away or beyond. When the portals to dreams and possibilities are opened for you by those who came before.

 

Ego System

For most of the year I’ve been toying with the idea of updating this blog. I’ve thought about changing the name, changing the perspective, changing the format. Many ideas have popped into my head, but none that clicked, none that made me feel this one is “it.”

I’ve vacillated between reading up on how to do it and paying for a class to teach me how to do it. Whether to take a blogging class from a blogger or at my local college. I’ve collected articles telling me how to increase traffic and interest in the blog. They are lined up in my inbox waiting to be read. Maybe I should just make myself pick up one of the two ‘blogging for dummies’ books that sit next to my desk and study them. A little more thoroughly.

One of the changes I considered was adding an “About Me” page. At first it sounded like a reasonable thing to do, but then I thought, isn’t that redundant? I mean, isn’t this whole blog an extended about me page? Granted a dynamic one versus a static one.

Ultimately I decided that until I had a firm idea of where I wanted to go with it, there was no sense in starting that journey. I set up this blog as a place to share and a place to connect from. It started out as an RA outreach platform, but I want it to be more than that. For we are more than our ailments.

I appreciate all my readers, all who stop by. And instead of reading up so much on blogging itself, I think I will spend more time reading and connecting with my blogging companions. I can learn more that way.