You have an innate talent for rubbing people the wrong way

We attended the Prince Family Reunion last week.  This year it was at a campground at Lake Siskiyou, near Mt Shasta.  As usual, it was an amazing and enjoyable gathering, even if the weather was rather cold and rainy to begin with.

Mt Shasta shrouded in clouds

In spite of the cold, our hearts were warmed by familial companionship, humorous reminiscences, and gallons of hot cocoa.

While I was at the Bottom Shelf a few months ago, I came across a book that I thought needed a special home, so I took it along to the family reunion with me and, during our talent show, took a moment to explain to my family the book's significance and purpose.  It all began, I said, back in the early 1970s.  My sister Diane had a teenage crush on the actor and singer Bobby Sherman.  She found his picture in some fan magazine like Tiger Beat or 16, cut it out, and taped it to the wall of the bedroom we shared with Leah.  The thing is, she taped it right near the entrance to the bathroom so that, even though from my side of the room I couldn't see most of my two sisters' lame stuff because of the long desk topped with decorative plastic dividers that delineated our separate territories, there was no way I could avoid seeing Bobby Sherman's face very time I went into the bathroom or out of the bedroom.  It's not that I had anything personal against Bobby Sherman; I liked Here Come the Brides as much as the next young girl.  But if you extended the line from the desk partition out to the baseboard, that Shermanified piece of wall between the bedroom door and the bathroom door was technically on my side of the room.  Being not only a teenager but an older sister as well, I was affronted by this territorial breach.  So I took what I thought was appropriate action.  I got a black marking pen and drew concentric circles on Bobby's face so that he looked like a target, suitable for throwing darts at.

My sister was pretty upset.  I don't know why.  I thought it was hilarious.  Later, of course, when I grew up and matured and began to see things from a more adult perspective, I still thought it was hilarious.  But I also began to see her point of view.  So, up at the reunion, during the talent show, I took a moment to apologize for my vandalization of Bobby Sherman's photo and gave Diane the book I'd found a few months earlier at the Shelf.

Everyone had a good laugh.  Diane said she didn't even remember the incident.  But I felt better within myself, so it was worth it for me.  And she got a book that has been listed on eBay for $10 or more, so it's probably worth it for her.

As the weekend wore on, I began thinking of other mean things (intentional and accidental) I had done to my brothers and sisters in my rude and rebellious youth.  And I began thinking of how I could sustain that worthy feeling of making amends and achieving inner peace in those other instances.  For example, Bob, who had been learning karate, tried to teach me a bit of self defense one time and showed me how to flip someone who was coming at me.  Then he had me try it.  So I flipped him and he landed on his nose and bled on the living room carpet.  I felt really bad.  At the next reunion I could give him a book.

     So many tantalizing choices

I'm sure there are other incidents in my past that are book-worthy.  I'll have to give it some thought.


All right, listen up!

About a week ago, I read a little article wherein the author asked the question, "Have you audioread any good books lately?"  Ever the inquisitive sort, she (I think it was a she) also asked, "Is listening to a book the same as reading a book?" and answered herself with a firm "Yes!"  Then she recommended a handful of audiobook titles, but I can't remember what they were because I was still caught up in her two questions.  And I decided I didn't like them.  Well, actually, I decided I didn't like the word "audioread":  it's stupid and unnecessary because we have the perfectly lovely and useful "listen".

As for the second question, I disagree that listening to a book is the same as reading a book.  I'm not talking about the benefits of reading or listening to a book, like the "intellectual enrichment, emotional satisfaction, entertainment" (as a Forbes writer put it when discussing the same question), and, I would add, appreciation of an author's writing style, that a book gives you.  I'm also not talking about if you get more out of reading or listening.

Suppose you're bedridden with digestive tract problems and you have a tube going up your nostril, through your nasal cavity, down your esophagus, and into your stomach, and there's a bag of some protein- and vitamin-enriched slop hooked up to your little machine, which pumps it all into you, and someone comes in just afterwards and says, "Have you eaten today?"  You can say, "No, my meals are pumped into me, as you can plainly see.  Now leave me alone," and it will be completely true.  You can also say "Yes" and it will be sort of true, because the stuff got into your stomach even though you didn't use your tongue, tastebuds, teeth, saliva, throat, etc, to get the job done.  The food didn't even touch any part of your mouth, which is where we consider the eating process to begin.  But you're not going to say, "I pumpconsumed my breakfast today.  It's the same as eating."

Here's another scenario:  suppose it's Thanksgiving and you're sitting with your siblings and cousins in your grandmother's backyard, eating your turkey-and-trimmings dinner at a picnic table, while all the adults are enjoying their food and intelligent conversation indoors.  Suppose also that you hate dressing and, after one little nibble of soggy bread cubes, you try to sneak it onto your brother's plate, and your brother over-retaliates (as brothers are wont to do) by not only giving you your own dressing back but some of his as well.  Suppose you then hit upon the brilliant idea of furtively tossing small, squished up handfuls of dressing over the back fence into the neighboring orchard, and execute the plan so well that when your mother comes out to check on your progress and says, "Did you eat your dressing?", you can say "Yes" and it will be sort of true because of that little nibble you took.  But you're not going say "I overthefenceate it" because your mother will punish you even though you try to explain how it's the same as eating.  And she will probably say something like, "How many times have I told you not to waste food?"  But she will never say, "Why don't you ever audioread me?"

There is nothing wrong with saying, "I listened to a book."  I've listened to a few myself.

There is also probably nothing wrong with saying, "Oh, I read that book" when you actually listened to it, because it got into your brain somehow, even if it wasn't through your eyes.  (Even though I don't see why you can't just say, "I listened to that book", because there's no shame in it.)

There is no good reason to say, "I've audioread a few good books lately."  If you say it to me, I will mentaltoss you over my grandmother's back fence into the neighboring orchard.


The boats are coming for us

Several boxes of children's books came in the Shelf today.  As we were sorting through them, I found my attention drawn to one in particular:
 This is one unhappy tugboat.  Why?  
Probably because the flora and fauna won't leave him alone.

You know how sometimes you hear a word that you either didn't know before or hadn't heard for a long time, and then, all of a sudden, it keeps turning up?  Well, it wasn't long before I came across this book:

Naturally (most natural thing in the world), I immediately thought of this book:

Then I began to wonder if there were other literary tugboats out there having adventures and spreading smoke and steam and germs and such.  Indeed there are.  I found that there are tugboats named Toot, Theodore, Ted, Toby, Tubby, Tuggy, Tuffy, Scuffy, and, inexplicably, Mavis.


There are also unnamed tugboats, but with personalities nevertheless:

This tugboat favors a sort of Beatles-style haircut

And then there are just tugboats:


I noticed, and you may have, too, that most of these tugboats are anthropomorphized, whether they have been christened or not.  Well, as my train of thought careened down mountains and across wooded valleys, I began to wonder if other seaworthy craft of literature had been treated likewise.  Apparently not.

We got canoes aplenty:



We got rafts:


But these water-going conveyances are just what they appear to be.  They do not suffer from depression or upper respiratory tract infections; they do not sport trendy hairstyles or clever nicknames.  There are no canoes named Cubby or Candy or Carlos or Alyssa.  There is no Ralph the Raft.  I wonder why that is.

Until I figure it out, I will leave the subject for now with recommendations of some of my favorite books about boats.  I've mentioned some of them before, but they bear repeating.

My favorite sailboat story

My favorite canoe story, especially the edition 
illustrated by Edward Ardizzone

My favorite punt story; in fact, probably my favorite boat story ever.
Read it.  Read it now.