Long time no see!

Hi all! Sorry, I’ve been away for a while, I guess sometimes you can get too immersed in reading books! But now I’m back and hoping to share many interesting reflections on books, especially fantasy books, and reading in general! Wow, time flies and so much has happened in the meantime.

I traveled around and met so many amazing people, I even managed to pick up some French by spending a few months at my aunt’s place in southern France (oh là là – a longer post on French books is coming soon, I promise!). I also got a dog – I absolutely love my fluffy friend, but I didn’t imagine it would be as time-consuming to take care of a pet as it is (I am struggling not to neglect my lovely books!).

And finally, recently I also did some renovating in the house. I tackled the major works first, like removing the carpeting, and then I dealt with the smaller things, like having a new water heater installed. While repair work was necessary, of course, I couldn’t simply afford to waste too much money, so I was careful to ask around and do my own research on what the best options would be. And you know me, reading is no problem at all, so I read a bunch of articles and sites online on every single item I bought. For example, before getting a new tankless version, I was careful to read the reviews.

Anyway, while I was in France, I also had the opportunity to discuss French literature with French people. Do you know that stereotype about French people not being very good at speaking English? Yeah, well it turns out it’s not a stereotype at all, we honestly struggled quite a bit to understand one another in the beginning. This is not to say that these people didn’t speak English, but their accent was simply very strong, so it took a while to get used to it. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I ‘decided’ to pick up some French – it was not so much a decision as I was to some extent ‘forced’! But once I got used to their accent, I actually had a lot of interesting discussions about literature and even discovered some new authors that I have put on my reading list. The Little Prince (or Le Petit Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry I was told was especially good for people with basic French skills like me, though I tried to read it in French and it was challenging. I had read the translation in English when I was younger, but it is always better to read books in the original, of course. Well, until I perfect my French, I am going back to my fantasy books!

Some say I have a vivid imagination. Maybe it comes from reading so many fantasy books, my favorite pastime. My brain is loaded with images of all kinds and they swirl around actively seeking an outlet. Recently one product of all this mental stimulation is the dream of a tropical vacation on a faraway isle. I see the palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze below a clear blue sky. Nearby swimmers are playing in the sea among the white-crested waves. A few surfers are attempting to mount their boards, but the waves are too small and they are patiently waiting for larger ones. Families are perched in beach chairs sipping on tropical drinks from the nearby tiki beach bar. Carved wooden animals grace its front and people are also sitting on stools eating yummy snacks. There is an assortment of people doing various things like playing beach volley ball or just catch. Parents are applying sunscreen as the sun is intense and hot.

Any tropical destination is simply beautiful. Tahiti, Hawaii, you name it. They are rife with thick green foliage and colorful flowers. You simply must wear one in your hair as you walk around the small villages that are typical in island locations. There is plenty of local color to observe. Meanwhile the great resorts of the world offer amenities galore so you can be pampered while you also explore. It is relaxing and stimulating all at the same time. A tropical vacation beckons to me.

However, I have a limited budget. I have saved up enough to take this vacation one time, but I have also been dreaming about putting a swimming pool in the back yard. While a vacation comes and goes, a swimming pool is forever. It is there for you every day. I could decorate the covered patio to look like a tropical paradise. Some flowers in pots, some sea shells strewn about, and a bit of fisherman’s netting all would make it a special place. So what to do? The vacation or the pool. Your fantasy dream of the beach and your toes in the soft, warm sand or swimming laps by moonlight. On my budget, I have to make a choice and it won’t be easy. I weigh the pros and cons. I want both and I know I can’t have it. So I let myself ponder for a few days and arrive at my final decision. I will go for an above ground pool.

It is expensive indeed and will take most of my vacation budget. It will also require maintenance and supervision when kids are invited over. My tropical aspirations have died. But a pool is a locus of fun activities for the whole family and neighborhood. I will get a lot of on-going pleasure from owning one. I like to swim and was a water baby as a child so it is not surprising that I opted for the large above ground pool. No kiddie pool for me at my stage in life.

It’s time to fix up the place and do a little light remodeling at home. My spare room is a would-be office and this is where my renovation focus will be. I have boxes of books sitting in the garage that need a new and cleaner home. In short, I want to get a handyman over soon to build some bookcases right into the wall. I have one large one with no window or door. I have made a few sketches but need a more professional hand to arrange the right proportions and add a few custom touches. I would love a pull out shelf that can serve as a modest computer desk and a cupboard or two for storage.

I am also thinking of adding a small gun safe into these cool built ins. After all, it is an all-purpose unit, isn’t it? Are you surprised? Yes, I am considering a weapon, a wee pistol, for protection. There have been a few in–home burglaries lately and I don’t live in a security building. I am getting more and more nervous these days about the negative statistics. It seems to be getting closer to home. I have queried my friends and they all have the same complaint. It doesn’t matter if it is a good or bad neighborhood. The crime problem is the same. Day or night, thieves are on the prowl.

So a gun there will be. According to the law, I have to house this weapon safely in a true gun safe. I suppose they are all made of metal and offer fire, corrosion, rust, and water protection. The gun will not be accessible for little child-like hands or robbers. While the unit will be visible, it will also have a false wooden front. I don’t want it to be that obvious! Mmm. Maybe it is a good deterrent.

So I am pretty excited about an entire wall for practical purposes. It will address all of my needs, but mostly the space issue for hundreds of books. Yes, I am an avid reader and I keep everything I have perused. I do loan out books and also get some in return. It is kind of a personal library of sorts and I am proud of it. This wall unit will be worth its weight in gold if it can house everything effectively.

I decided that a built-in desk would safe space in the room so I could also have a daybed for guests and maybe a small chest of drawers. A computer station is usually unsightly in any case and I don’t relish its plastic essence at home. They don’t make nice ones in my opinion except for a real office. My wall unit will do double duty in practical ways. And I don’t think it is going to cost all that much. I will use prefab planks of wood that are already nicely painted or stained and some metal brackets. Once the books are in, the whole thing will have a coherent look.