Friday, October 28, 2016

Surprises and Sentiment

From time to time The Missus Herself and I will make our way to a book store. She likes to browse, sometimes a book will catch her eye and, while I prowl the history and fiction sections, she'll find a comfy spot in the store and start reading. Most of the time the book heads back to the rack, sometimes the book will catch her fancy and she might, maybe possibly, buy the book. She's rather picky about what she spends her money on. She's the smart one in the family. (In case you haven't picked up on that yet.)

Me? I'll usually head for the checkout stand with at least three, oft times five or six, books which I have determined that I simply must have. Quite often these are offerings from a favorite author (think Coonts, Clancy, Flynn, Child, Shaara, or Dale Brown), though lately I have been completely addicted to history. I go through these swings where fiction simply won't cut it, at other times I've had my fill of hard history and want a good story.


There are times where we get home, the new books go onto the chair in front of my son's old roll top desk (which I "inherited" and where I seldom sit) to await their turn to be devoured by my almost insatiable appetite for the written word.

Then I start to read them, one by one, slowly working my way down the pile until they've all been read. Then they go onto the book shelves, which are starting to get a bit overcrowded, (hold your thoughts on that for a moment, I do have a Nook, but...).

Perhaps half of my books, I'm not altogether sure just how many books I own. I read them, I don't count them...
Time for an aside (what you might call a digression, but this one was planned, sort of...)

The observant among you will see a few things in that last photo which might make you question the old Sarge's sanity, maturity, and perhaps even his masculinity. Let me explain a few things before you go running off...

The panda, the pony, and the puppy on the left: the pony (according to my Mom) was a toy I received at my very first Christmas in 1953. She was going to throw the old boy away! As a sentimental old softy, I couldn't have that. I mean he's a pal from way back, right?

The panda is nearly as old and is a pleasant reminder of the days of my childhood. Back when I had a full suite of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. A lot of those folks are gone now, so is my childhood, but, truth be told, I like to remember those days. They were good days and had a lot to do with who I am now. (And my panda's name is Andy. Good name, Andy Panda. No, I wasn't the cleverest lad to ever come out of Vermont, not the dullest but not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer either.)

As to the puppy, that little guy is actually a coin bank, his name is Sandy. Actually says that on his tag. My two brothers and I all had one. The Olde Vermonter's bank was a black dog and The Musician's was a brown dog. All shaped the same as Sandy. We received those one Christmas a long time ago. Again, Sandy was slated for the dumpster if I didn't want him. How could I let that happen? So there they are, and there they shall remain.

The sharper-eyed among you might have noticed the penguins, not too far above the toy kitchen (which the grandkids play with when they come to visit, I blog, and the grandkids prepare me imaginary meals, which I devour with great relish, if you have grandkids, you'll understand). I have written about the penguins before, you can read about them here. In truth, I really am a sentimental old git. Not ashamed of it either. (And the bass guitar is indeed a Fender, just not the expensive one, but it suits my needs. I'm an "okay" bass player, I can pick out a note or two and maintain a rhythm. Paul McCartney or John Entwhistle I'm not.)

Alright, I see I've wandered far enough afield on this aside, time to get back on topic, the original reason for this post and which explains that opening photo. (If you have questions about other things you might "spy with your little eye" in, on, or about my book shelves, leave a comment, I'll answer you.)

Back on topic in 3...2...1...

So, that pile of books I mentioned up there near the beginning, sometimes, when I'm working my way through the stack, the lady my wife, SWMBO, ya know, The Missus Herself, will decide that my room must be tidied up. Why, I don't know. My command center room has a comfortable, shabby, disheveled look to it. I like it that way, but periodically, command will decide "this just won't do!"

Then she falls upon my comfortable hidey-hole and "cleans" and "arranges" things in a manner which, although nice, leaves me rather out of sorts because now I can't find anything.

"Honey, where did you put those books I bought?"

"I put them away."

"Um, where exactly is 'away'?"

"Where they belong..."


So I usually assume, unless "where they belong" is obvious (usually it's not), that I had read all of the books in the new book pile and move on with my life. Usually by searching for a book which I haven't read in a while. As I do have rather a lot of books, that's not usually a problem. And yes, I do read my books over and over. For instance, my copy of Swords Around A Throne (by Colonel John Elting) has been read at least ten times over the years and is starting to get rather dog eared and loose in its binding, so to speak. (And I actually sprang for the hard cover. Probably because I don't think it was ever published in paperback. At least not when I decided that I just had to have it. Yes, I get that way with books.)

On occasion, rare occasions I must add, I will stumble across a book that I bought at some time in the past and never actually got around to reading. I will think, "Hhmm, I haven't read this one in a while." And then discover that I've actually never read it. It's one of those books from the new book pile which got put "where it belongs" at some point in the past. (And which I never discovered exactly where that "where it belongs" was, until now.)

Such is the case with Rorke's Drift by Adrian Greaves. I thought it would be a good idea to refresh my memory on the Battle of Rorke's Drift as I still wish to write about the Siege of Jadotville. Two similar battles where a company of infantry, armed with modern weapons, withstand attacks by 3 to 4 thousand rather angry indigenous personnel. And win.

Lo and behold, Rorke's Drift was one of those happy surprises where the book in my hand, while not new right from the store, was still new as in "new to me." (And as no one had ever actually read it, it was in "mint" condition. So it really is new, for all intents and purposes. Probably as a point of law as well.)

So I'm reading that now, a most excellent account of the battle. And to my surprise, the original receipt was still lodged in the pages. Seems I bought the book back in 2007!!! Yes, nine years ago. At a Border's Bookseller, an establishment, to my knowledge, which went out of business some time ago. I also note that I picked up a copy of a book titled Wellington's Rifles (which I have to track down, I remember reading that one, but nine years ago, so it's due a re-read). Oddly enough, it seems we also purchased a bottle of ranch dressing. At the bookstore. Hhmm, that's curious. (But it's there, on the receipt so it must be true. As there are no bottles of ranch dressing on any of my bookshelves I'm assuming we actually consumed that. Back in 2007. I'm sure it wouldn't be any good now. Maybe.)

Anyhoo, that's the kind of surprise I like. Sort of like putting on a jacket that you haven't worn in a while and finding money in one of the pockets. (That has happened a couple of times. For which I always get questioned, "Why did you put money in your jacket pocket?" And I have no idea.)

So I like the occasional surprise and I'm sentimental.

Eventually you'll know all about me.

Then what will I write about?

I forgot to mention the Nook, rather I forgot to explain the Nook. I have one which the progeny gave me as a gift back when I was on the road. Was very handy in the hotel, didn't take up a lot of space, and when one book was read, I could purchase another, electronically, right then and there.

Still and all, there's nothing quite like the feel, the smell, and the heft of an actual printed volume in one's hand. For military history that's almost a requirement. Why? It's the maps you see. (And the good ones ALWAYS have maps.) Those are deuced hard to make out on a Nook. So for history, it's nearly always paper. I say "nearly always" because I do have Six Frigates on my Nook. Which reminds me, I need to re-read that one too. Haven't read it since 2011 I think...

That is all....


  1. I, too, would have a similar book shelve, if it were not for my CO ( wife ). Also, we are in the process of sell our house and thus most of my books are in boxes, hidden away. Not having the wealth of JPG or some such, I frequent libraries to secure books to read.

    Anyhoo, nice to know that someone else feels the same way I do about the proper form a book should take.

    Paul L. Quandt

    1. I really do need to get down to my local library. I already have a card, just haven't been there yet. No doubt I could save a lot of money and space that way!

    2. That same sentiment was expressed by RAH in " Rolling Stones ". BTW, I'd love to chat with you on books and favorite authors.


    3. I feel a favorite books post coming on. Probably soon!

  2. It's out of breath, I am, jumping through all those hoops.


    ps- Did you change something?


    1. I don't know what game Blogger is up to today. I tried leaving a comment from an anonymous page and yes, it was through hoops I was jumping. Rechecked my settings, I still have verification turned off. Sometimes Blogger takes it into its head to do that all by itself, in direct violation of my wishes.

      It's hard to get good help. (Then again Blogger is free. One gets what one pays for.)

    2. I'm really lucky. Here in Oregon, the libraries are run by county, and I live where I have easy access to three counties. Have cards for all three, makes getting the latest books much easier.


    3. We in Colorado are very lucky. We have a state library linking system called "Prospecter" whereby we can request a book from any of the member libraries. See here:
      It's also linked to the Missouri multi-library system called "Mobius". See here:

      There's no reason why other states cannot do the same, eh? Except perhaps, lack of vision?

    4. Obviously, it's call "Prospector." ...must be your Blogger messing up the spelling! ;-0

    5. I remember the Colorado library system. IIRC CSU was tied into that as well.

    6. As to spelling...

      Blogger has been naughty lately.


  3. I had that dog!
    He was black, like your brother's.

  4. I want a play kitchen in my libarry!

    There's something exciting and pleasurable about holding and reading a real book. That said, I'm still a bit surprised at how much I love my kindle. Just amazing to have an entire library in my pocket. Sure comes in handy when I'm getting my iv antibiotics.

    1. Hahaha!

      I do like my Nook when it's impractical to haul a paper library around!

  5. I am on page 583 of Swords around a Throne, because someone told me it was worth a read. It has been so far.


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Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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