Travels With A Donkey In The Cerennes,

I was elated to discover Travels With A Donkey In the Cerennes on line, free of charge through LibriVox Recording. Strange as it may seem, I was not aware this book existed until a dozen years ago while reading Footsteps, by Richard Holmes, a British Romantic Biographer.

Holmes followed Stevenson’s path across France duplicating his trek, taking his meals at the same time and sleeping where he slept. Holmes achieved his goal for the mostpart. However, the driving force behind this journey would remain a mystery for awhile.

From published essays Holmes determined that Stevenson was on the trail of Fanny Osborne, An Indiana woman ten years his senior, the woman he would eventually wed.

The Radio



While reading The Winds of War, by Herman Wouk, I came across the description of Admiral Pug Henry rising from bed. It was 1939 and his first day on his new job – American Naval Attaché in Berlin, Germany.

Hitler had invaded Poland, so the first thing he did was switch on the radio for some news and wait impatiently for it to warm up.

The description struck a nerve, sending me hurtling back nearly 60 years. The experience I was recalling wasn’t nearly so important as Pub’s, but for a 13-year-old it seemed rather critical.

My grandfather had a new crop of Hampshire pigs. Nearly 400 of them. The feed mill had delivered several tons of a feed supplement, all in colorful 50 pound paper bags. My job was to make certain it was properly rationed. When I was finished the bags were to be burned. However, in the process of getting the job done I’d spotted a coupon on the back of each one. Before setting them afire I paused to see what they were offering. A dozen or so prizes were listed but as is always the case, an astounding number of points were required, especially the one that interested me most – a white Arvin table radio.

My first reaction was that earning the radio was impossible. on second tought, however, Grandpa would be purchasing additional tons of this supplement. There was a chance, so I began clipping them. By early winter my stash filled a Wolverine shoe box and there were enough points to fetch my Arvin radio.

I mailed the box to a Chicago address as instructed, and then impatiently waited the six weeks.

The house in which I lived was old, as were the people who called it home. Heat was provided by a single living room fireplace. And there were two closed doors between it and my bedroom. Before the six-week waiting period expired I had moved my bed into the basement. It was just as well. They would it have not appreciated the Grand Ole Opry or The Louisiana Hayride nearly as much as I did.

Three years later I enlisted in the air force. When I returned to the farm to collect my stuff the radio was gone, but not the memories of those joyful Saturday nights listening to Web Pierce, Earnest Tubb, Red Foley, and the voices of many others.

Tip And Other Things

About five years ago while visiting Barns And Noble I came across a display of books that had evidently fallen out of favor, books that were taking up valuable display space. In the stack I found Tip O’Neill and the Democratic Century. It was authored (or compiled) by John A. Farrell. Politics is not my chosen reading subject, but I did recall when Tip was Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

I’m a sucker for cheap reads when the subject matter touches on someone or something of whom I’m familiar, even vaguely. Besides, where else am I going to find 750 pages of text with an index for a couple of bucks. Now, after hauling this book from pillar to post for half-a-decade I’m reading it. But it’s not a leisure read.

I’m working my way toward the last page, augmenting it with two other books I bought from the sale table:

Yank,a compilation of texts from a magazine by the same name, a World War II history written by the enlisted men who were there and did it. It written by Steve Kluger.

The third book is 1919 by William K. Klingaman. It’s a close up look of the world as it was the year after the Great War, World War I (I found the sales receipt on this book dates February 1992.) My goodness.

Second Time Around, And Then Some

Currently, my favorite novel is Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco. The lead character is a schizo with at least three different personalities, each unknown by the others – a priest, an army officer, and a forger. I’ve read the book three times. Each time I learn something new about this person.

It’s a handbook on switch. I have it saved on my Kindle and no doubt I’ll read it again. There are other books I’ve enjoyed equally as well, too many to mention here.

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Old Books

I enjoy used book stores, the scent the feel of secondhand pages. They each have a character of their own. Seldom do I visit a used book store but what I’m reminded of Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco and his chance finding of the ancient book leading to the Abbey of yesteryear. I have yet to find anything equaling such interest, but I haven’t lost hope.

The Joy In Reading


Image from the Internet


I’ve read a good many books in my day. My taste changes with the wind, fiction and
As well as nonfiction. Still, I’m particular about how I invest my time. I know a lady, a retired nurse, who reads anything and everything. Once she starts a book she continues to the last page. Not me. I’ve set many books aside when the author has switches from story to fluff. So about a half-dozen years ago I switched to Kindle, an electronic reader. I’m no totally electronic. But close.

Some of the old classics have not been scanned, and perhaps never will. I keep many of these gems in my small library. I occasionally find them during my frequent visits to used book stores. There is something about the feel and the scent of old books that attracts me. As yet, I’ve found no parallel.

While a Kindle book is more affordable, but I must sift through the listings in search of something readable. Because e-publishing often bypasses the proofreader this sifting isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Sometime ago Kindle offered “Kindle Unlimited”, a list of several thousand books. Access costs only $10.81 per month, close to the cost of one paperback. Some authors add a book to this list in an effort to attract more readers to their other books. Others have yet to develop their writing skills.

I subscribe to Kindle Unlimited because it makes my reading enjoyment affordable.

Bell, Book, and Dog


Near the end of this block off McKinney’s Square is a used bookstore. During fair weather Barb and I have visited it many times. Beneath the proprietor’s desk is a pillow on which his dog naps during business hours. The moment Barb enters the store and the dog hears the bell tingle, he rises and stretches. He knows she’s brough him a treat.


While rereading Moon’s Prairy Erth. I became enchanted when his search for Og, the Orient grade, a fabled railway that once crossed Chase County, Kansas. Rumors told that the Og followed the now abandoned Kansas 13, linking Kansas City Missouri with the north shore of the Sea of Cortez, thereby ships headed for the Orient. Moon failed in his search, but his effort reminded me of my cousin’s railroad.

Jim purchased one hundred acres, half wooded, half pastureland. Before turning his cattle in, he set out to inspect the fences. While following the fence line he came upon what appeared to be an abandoned railroad grade. Delaying his fence inspection, he walked the grade and discovered it petered out at the edge of the woods. The previous owner provided no clues, so Jim searched the Bates County Records.

He came to learn of a 19th Century businessman came to town promoting a new railroad, and was in search of investors while his road crew built the grade using draft horses and slips. When the time to accept delivery of ties and rails, the businessman was not to be found. He’d absconded with his investors money.

Is there a similarity here, or what?.