Archive for Thursday, October 24, 2002

Reading makes for magical gray mornings

October 24, 2002

I love a gray, foggy morning such as this a great excuse not to paint the house but instead to ponder topics for this column. I also love October, the season of pumpkins, witches, re-reading the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow," and watching with my grandsons "Winnie the Pooh's Greatest Classics," which include "The Blustery Day" perfect for this time of year.

As I snuggle into my old favorite sweat shirt and sit in front of my computer (word processor for me), which is housed in a small closet of my tiny book-lined library, so many topics come to mind that the only title I can come up with is "Bits and Pieces."

Do you like to read? Some people read for work, for duty, for adventure. For me, it is pure pleasure. I'm not really sure when I read actually, I think it's constant. I'll read anything, even your mail or the messages and children's homework on your refrigerator. This is not just idle curiosity but an intense need that must be satisfied. And so in a roundabout way, we come to this topic. "Bits and Pieces" is inspired by so many of the articles I have read recently, everything from Time Magazine (the sad story of John Walker Lindh) to my daughter's most recent issue of "Vogue" and yes, The Eudora News, which I read cover to cover with my daughters and grandson on a recent trip to St. Louis.

There are also favorite places to read, such as coffeehouses and, of course, the bathroom.

Through 26 years of working in Lawrence, I became familiar with many of the coffee haunts in Lawrence and with the people who frequented them, from college professors to the homeless. These haunts provided me with the stolen time each day to catch up on the news or grab 30 minutes to finish a gritty WWII mystery or spy novel. These haunts are also the subject of another column, yet to come.

They (I'm not always sure who "they" are) say the majority of us do not read anymore; we have become addicted to the visual the movie, the video, TV, Game Boy, etc. What a loss. Books can become so real in my mind that I actually argue with others sometimes about whether or not a particular book has been made into a movie. The imagined picture is so clear that I have often seen the movie, if only in my head. I have also created a cast of characters to star in these movies, ranging from the really old stars like Humphrey Bogart to such current heartthrobs as Brad Pitt.

I vividly remember one particular summer when I was about 10 years old the summer of the polio epidemic in Emporia and when we (the children) were all quarantined to our homes and yards for the entire summer. I made a "room" for myself among my grandmother's lilac bushes where no one could see me (or find me) and read and re-read a book about southern living, complete with southern belles and servants. I only had the one book, since going to the library was forbidden, but that book transported a little girl in Kansas to the sultry, magnolia-laden south where "your Ma was good looking and the livin' was easy."

As usual, I have digressed from my original idea, which was to offer a collection of topics. I'll save them for another time.

I would encourage all of you, not just the children, to pick up a magazine or a book today and be transported into another's life or time or just catch up on what's happening in Eudora (a lot of you read The Eudora News). If you are interested in a book list, write to me at the paper. I'll be glad to send you my favorites, or visit our local or school libraries and talk to the librarians. I'm sure they have lots of favorites as well.

It appears the "piece" of this column became about reading.

Some of the "bits" remaining in my mind are a bit more practical: a recent conversation with our local school superintendent regarding safety issues for our schools and what we as good citizens of our community should be doing to support our administration and school board regarding these issues. Talk to Marty Kobza or local school board members, the current news regarding planning and zoning of housing developments in Eudora hats off to our planning commission, so glad to see you are awake and lively, and a housing lot for a Habitat for Humanity home in Eudora sorely needed by a young woman and her blind daughter (current residents). Call me if you know of such a lot as a possible donation.

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