Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, October 1, 2018


Openers:  The persistent, oily smell of fog-gas was everywhere, even in the little pill-box.  Outside, all the world was blotted out by the thick gray mist that went slowly across the country with the breeze.  The noises that came through it were curiously muted -- fog-gas mutes all noises somewhat -- but somewhere to the right artillery was pounding something with H E shell, and there were those little spitting under-current explosions that told of tanks in action.  To the right there was a distant rolling of machine gun fire.  In between was an utter, solemn silence.

-- "Murray Leinster" (Will F. Jenkins), "Tanks" (Astounding Stories of Super Science, January, 1930.   The story tells of a near-future war (in 1932) in which the use of infantry was practically discontinued.  BTW, this was from the first issue of the classic SF magazine now known as Analog.

September Incoming:

  • "Luke Adams" (evidently Bill Crider this time), Apache Law:  Hellfire.  Volume 2 in the short-lived western series.
  • Delano Ames, Coffin for Christopher/J. B. O'Sullivan, Don't Hang Me Too High/Helen Reilly, Tell Her It's Murder.  A Detective Book Club volume of three mystery novels.  Looking forward to both the Ames and the Reilly.
  • Charlotte Armstrong, The Better To Eat You/Carroll Cox Estes,The Moon Gate/Peter Piper, The Corpse That Came Back.  Another DBC volume.  I had previously read the Armstrong, one of my favorite writers.
  • David Carkeet, Double Negative. (revised 2010 edition).  Mystery; nominated for an Edgar Award.
  • Randy Cribbs, Ghosts:  Another Summer in the Old Town.  Supernatural mystery taking place in St. Augustine, Florida.  Signed by the author.
  • Frederick C. Davis, Another Morgue Heard From/Erle Stanley Gardner, The Case of the Restless Redhead/Roy Vickers, Six Murders in the Suburbs.  Yet another DBC volume.  I previously read the Gardner.  Davis and Vickers are always interesting.
  • Doris Miles Disney, The Last Straw/Margaret Erskine, The Dead Don't Speak/Lee Roberts, The Pale Door.  One more DBC volume.  All the authors are worth reading.
  • Friedrich Durrenmatt, The Judge and His Hangman/Leslie Ford, Murder Comes to Eden/Anthony Gilbert, A Question of Murder.  Return of the DBC volume.  I've read the Durrenmatt previously (actually, I've read about all of Durrenmatt's available work) and was somewhat surprised to find him in a Detective Book Club volume.  Ford and Gilbert are reliable stand-bys.
  • Frank Gruber, The Lonesome Badger/Genevieve Holden, Sound an Alarm/Roy Vickers, Murder Will Out.  My penultimate September DBC volume.  Gruber is here in his funny, fast-paced mode.  Vickers, as I have said, is always interesting.
  • Helen McCloy, He Never Came Back/Lee Thayer, Dead Reckoning/Patricia Wentworth, The Benevent Treasure.  My final DBC purchase of the month -- at 50 cents apiece, I couldn't go wrong.  All three authors have done top flight work.
  • Chad Oliver, Giants in the Dust.  Science fiction novel.  Always thoughtful, always entertaining, Oliver was a quiet Giant in the Field too soon gone.
  • Rebecca A. Rizzo, Short & Scary Thrillers.  Horror anthology with 15 stories.

The Time Has Come, The Walrus Said, For September Outgoing:

I'm afraid the economy is headed for a steep downturn -- at least for people like me.  At the moment we are living a comfortable, low-maintenance existence.  We own the house and the car outright and have no outstanding debt, but our only income is from social security.  After years of both of us being on disability, neither Kitty nor I have had an opportunity to amass a retirement nest egg.  The George W. Bush economy and the 2008 crash hit us very hard, and much of what we had left was given to our girls to ensure each had an affordable home.  Now President Cheeto (who believes he is smart, very smart, let me tell you, he has smarts like you wouldn't believe and you will be very happy with) and his allies in Congress are set to push America into the abyss.  Trump's tariffs are just the icing on the cake:  designed, like the much vaunted tax cuts, to hurt the majority of Americans in the pocketbook.

As I said, we are comfortable. not extravagant, but lately we have been sinking -- not by much, but month to month.  Add to that, our physical health make home maintenance difficult.  Also we have far more important things to worry about:  Jessie's health, the grandkids, etc.  The simple solution is to sell the house and downsize.  So that's what we'll be doing.

A major part of downsizing is what to do with my books.  I currently have over 200 banker's boxes full of books.  (It probably would have been four times that number but I have periodically culled my collection, keeping only the ones that were most important to me.)  Books have always been important to me and have been an essential part of my life for as long as I can remember.  The most essential part of my life is, of course, my family, but my books have helped center me.  They have matured me, informed me, and molded me into the thinking person that I am.  But the time has come.

Earlier this year I greatly reduced the number of my incoming.  I am in the process of reducing my collection by 75-85%.  It's painful but necessary.

So why am I still buying books?  I don't know.  I guess I'm an addict.  I do know my incoming lists will continue to shrink month by month.

I figure it will take about three years for us to regroup and plan the future.  Kitty and I plan at least 20 more good years and there's a lot we want to do in that time.

In the meantime, blogging will likely remain light while we tackle downsizing and some of the other things that have popped up.

Missing Mint:   The same day that Pirate (a.k.a. the best dog in the world) died, Mint, one of Christina's cats, went missing.  The garage door had been left open and the cat evidently went walkabout.  Mint is an indoor cat but she sometimes made it outside but he always came back within a few hours.  Not so this time.  Turns out a neighbor one street down has a cat with very similar markings and while searching the neighborhood, Christina and Walt spied that cat and gave chase along the neighbor's lawn.   Just as Christina and Walt realized the cat was not Mint, out came the neighbor, highly incensed that these two people were trying to steal his cat.  Apologies and explanations were given, though it is doubtful the neighbor believed any of them.  (A few days later, Kitty and I gave chase to the same neighbor's cat, thinking it to be Mint.)  Mint remains missing and we fear the worst.  The development in which they live has had sightings of bears, coyotes, and foxes, as well as snakes -- all of which does not bode well for Mint.

In the meantime, Mark bought a ball python to replace Rolo, his previous python who had died several months ago.

October:  My favorite time of year, not only because 1059 years ago Edgar the Peaceful became king of England, nor because it marks the 1931 opening of the George Washington Bridge, but because October is such a cool month.  Yes it has Columbus Day, celebrating the man who brought ruin to the indigenous people of North America -- something we should not be proud of.  But it's also the month of Halloween, a celebration for the kid in all of us.  October marks the final quarter of the year with its changing weather, crisp air, and lovely foliage.  October makes me happy.

Today, October 1, is the anniversary of the first game of the modern world series (1903; the Boston Americans would beat the Pittsburgh Pirates five games to three.  Go Boston!).  Thirteen years earlier, in 1890, Yosemite National Park was established by Congress.  (Sadly our National Parks and the National Park Service have been undermined by the current administration.  The pendulum, I hope, will swing back.)  And in 1958, NASA (another vital agency that has added much to the american character) replaced the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.  On a sadder note, it's been one year since the mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and injured 851 others.

Today marks the birthdays of Henry III of England (1207), William Beckford, author of the classic Gothic novel Vathek (1760), westerns author Ernest Haycox (1899), pianoist Vladimir Horowitz (1903), notorious criminal Bonnie Parker, who went out in a hail of bullets with Clyde Barrow (1910), President Jimmy Carter (1924), A-Team's George Peppard (1928), Julie Andrews (1935), and baseball legend Rod Carew (1945).

Harking back three paragraphs, I knew little about Edgar the Peaceful, whose rule (959-975) was marked by relative political stability.  His epithet can be called into question as he is rumored to have murdered Earl Aethewald, a rival in love -- a charge that was disputed by William Henry Hudson, the author of the classic romance novel Green Mansions.  Re:  George Washington Bridge.  It surprised to find out that many people do not sing the "George Washington Bridge" song while crossing the bridge.  Go figure.

Florida Man, Florida Woman:

The headline reads, 'Man Arrested for Refusing To Identify Himself as Florida Man.  Reading the story, the man in question turns out to be a transient from North Carolina.  Hmm.  A non-Florida Man refuses to be Florida Man.  Again, go figure.

In the meantime, Florida Woman was filmed twerking on the top of a car while speeding down the highway.  The video is available on the internet.  Go look it up.

Speaking of Florida Woman and video, a Leesburg Florida Woman was upset when her three-yer-old used some profanity.  She first wanted to wash his mouth out with soap but decided to go a more "fun" route -- dunking his head in a toilet and flushing it..  And she had her older son film it!  "It was a joke between the three of us," she explained. "My sons and I horseplay rough."  Authorities are investigating the incident.

I don't know whether Florida Man or Florida Woman was responsible, but five pounds of weed was discovered in a Sarasota thrift shop donation.  No indication of what price the thrift shop put on the marijuana.

And Corey Hatzl, 30, of Palm Coast, was arrested for chasing people around a Chick-Fil-A parking lot.  And, yes, he was naked, and yelling at people to look at his penis.  When he thought someone was actually looking at his person, Homophobic Naked Florida Man would call that person gay and try to fight him.   Sadly, what happens at Chick-Fil-A does not stay at Chick-Fil-A.

Today's Poem:

Sheila, dark Sheila, what is it that you're seeing?
What is it that you're seeing, that you're seeing in the fire?
I see a lad that loves me...And I see a lad that leaves me....
And a third lad, a Shadow Lad...(and he's the lad that grieves me)
And whatever I am seeing, There's no fearing and no fleeing...
But whatever I am seeing, it is not my heart's desire....

Sheila, dark Sheila, with whom will you be roaming?
With whom will you be roaming when the summer day has flown?
A lad there is who loved me -- but loves me now no longer,
A lad there is who left me (and oh! his love grows stronger!)
But wherever I go roaming,
You shall never find me homing, 
For wherever I go roaming,  I must wander all alone....

"Sheila, dark Sheila, will you listen to my pleading?
Will you listen to my pleading, will you recompense my pain?
For I'm the lad who loved you, the lad who so deceived you.
I left you for another girl, and oh! I fear I grieved you!
But if you'll hear my pleading
As across the moor you're speeding,
Oh! if you'll hear my pleading, I'll return to you again"

"Sheila, dark Sheila, will you harken to my calling?
Will you harken to my calling, as I call from far away?
For I'm the lad that left you (but never could forget you),
And I'm the lad that loved you from the very hour he met you!
And if you hear my calling
As the shades of night are falling
Oh! if you'll hear my calling, I'll be yours alone alway!"

But Sheila, dark Sheila, is out upon the moorland.
She's out upon the moorland where the heather meets the sky!
And the lads shall never find her, for there's walks by her side there,
A Stranger Lad, a shadow Lad, who would not be denied there....
She turned to his calling
As the shades of night were falling,
She turned to his calling...and she answered to his cry....

-- Agatha Christie, who would have been 128 this past Saturday


  1. Jerry, I am deeply concerned about your worsening financial and home situation. Things are tough these days, but we hope you both can work things out to keep head above water. There is always the storage solution for the books, but that's another expense and just as bad they aren't at hand when you want on of them. Good luck, and if these's anything you think we can help with let me know.

  2. This must have taken a long time to compose.
    I find it easier now to donate books to the library. In fact, keeping them seems like a bad idea when someone else might read them and the library derive money from the sale. And the books you love most, you can keep. It's the people I want to hold on to. If only I can.

  3. I hope that hurricane doesn't hurt you!!