It's our first full day in Venice, FLA, staying with my mom and her ebullient husband, Ron. They have a pretty nice setup; their home has a big netted-in patio with seating and a pool (this type of thing is referred to around here as a "cage") and, as you see above, a tricked-out entertainment system that can only be described as SWEEEET. You can see it above: ginormous TV, Netflix on demand, all mod cons. Ron loves to watch tennis, so they chose their set based on what type of display would best allow him to scrutinize line calls. It also receives, among others, The Sacred Channel (Cartoon Network), although we passed a happy mid-day hour today watching "Junkyard Wars." Ike spent that hour diligently maintaining his faux-hawk, pictured above. I am both tempted and reluctant to equip him with the hair gel that would allow him to fully actualize his coif. I have informed the boys that if a real mohawk is desired, now is the time to get short. Dad is not present to object, and the noggins can be shaved clean in enough time to sprout a respectable stubble for the first day of school. No takers so far, but I'm working on it.
The first day in Venice would not be complete without the obligatory library trip. The Jacaranda PL is very close by, so we went brandishing my mom's card and checked out stacks and stacks of kids' books. I may have mentioned the fact that I have something like fifteen books in the trunk of the Beigemobile, so I was only inspecting the shelves out of curiosity. You can see the picayune number of holds sitting on the Jacaranda's shelves for pickup - presumably the number burgeons during the winter months, although if my own circ-worker experience is typical, all of the snowbirds are misguidedly trying to check out books at their own up-north libraries in the fall and asking daftly, "I'm going to be in Florida/Arizona/Texas for three months. Can you check this out to me for that long?". Um, no. Get a Florida/Arizona/Texas card. They have libraries there. I think.
On books and travel: so I don't have a Kindle or iPad, and will probably be behind the curve in getting one. I just love books as objects. Their heft, their covers, turning pages, seeing and feeling the accumulation of read pages and the dwindling of unread ones. Long books are heavier than short books. Trashy books have embossed covers, some with nifty windows through their outer jackets to reveal a cameo of the bodice-ripping portrait underneath. Books books books. I have been reading Justin Cronin's "The Passage" for a week and am on page 559. It is rip-roaring. Books I have seen others reading on this trip: "How To Win Friends and Influence People"; "Firefly Lane"; the new Atul Gawande; some piece of lady-friendly dreck by Kristin Hannah (more than once); lady-friendly dreck by Danielle Steele; "Killer Angels"; "The Catcher in the Rye"; two passengers on the DC Metro, strangers, one reading the first Stieg Larsson and the other reading the second. Yes, I have been keeping a mental list. Once, on a Caribbean cruise I saw a young woman reading a Chuck Klosterman book, "Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs" and it made me unaccountably happy.
The thing is, at least the people reading the dreck - or what I snobbishly consider to be the dreck - are reading something. Lots of people can be seen sitting around on the beach reading NOTHING. Just sitting there, staring vacantly at the unchanging horizon for hours on end. Perhaps these people are just incredibly Zen and have bottomless reserves of calm and the capacity for deep contemplation the likes of which I will never, ever experience. Or maybe they have the brains of molluscs and require nothing more than the line of demarcation between ocean and sky to occupy all of their grey matter. So right on, Danielle Steele readers. Godspeed, people who desire to Win Friends and Influence People. And a big wet smooch to library patrons everywhere!