{a serendipitous smile at the end of a particularly tense week}

What a week!

Didn’t I just post a few  thoughts about the horrific attacks in Paris? I wouldn’t have guessed that so soon there’d be an act of terrorism approximately 50 miles from my home and 35 minutes or so from where I work.

I have been expecting California to be a target, worrying for a long time now about my loved ones working in Los Angeles and San Francisco civic centers, however, if asked to name cities I considered vulnerable, San Bernardino wouldn’t have been in my top ten. It’s a good hour from Los Angeles, but the point made this week is the shootings may have been ISIS inspired, but the husband and wife shooters took advantage of where they lived. They attacked their own community.

If this is the new “hybrid attack,” as some are labeling it, then there’s no place to claim perfect safety, and as disturbing as that thought is, it’s a thought we have to live with. Pay attention. Stay alert. But we can’t cocoon.

And as truly sad as I’ve felt for a few days now, I still found tremendous relief in a gift of serendipity. Serendipity with a twist of irony and a dash of humor.

I’ve been upfront about my near-hoarder propensity for holding on to books that I’ve already read, books I’ve somehow acquired but I’m unlikely to read, and the overall habit of bringing more books home than I could read in this lifetime.

Out of the need to make room (for more books) I’ve spent several months going through the hundreds on my shelves and carting them off to the library or giving them away to friends.

Just because I’m on a bit of a book purchasing diet doesn’t mean I boycott bookstores, however. Last Saturday Jay and I went to a friend’s book signing at a local independent bookstore. I bought our friend’s book, and as I handed over my credit card I was handed a raffle ticket in return.

I literally laughed when the young man handling the transaction explained to me that in support of “Small Business Saturday” all paying patrons were entered into a “give-away” of a book bag filled with books. There were five bags representing several genres and I indicated my preference for non-fiction.

Guess who once again needs more space on her bookshelves?


I’ve had radar tuned to “Born With Teeth” for a long time now, but I might have to share ‘Think Like a Baby” with my niece and nephew. “Blood Will Out” was a USA Today Top 10 Best Book of 2014, but comes with a warning comparing it to Capote’s “In Cold Blood,” which I’ve told you before scared me to death. The murder in this story, however, is a local story. Local as in within walking distance from where I’m sitting, so I’ll probably read it and just plan to suffer the consequences later.

It’s quite obvious that the Universe is giving permission to go forward with my book collecting habit, and since this has been a very stressful week, I think I’m going to just take that message and run with it!


Whatever you have going for you this weekend, enjoy every minute. In fact, savor it, breathing lighter if you possibly can, and if you’re having trouble with that, open up to possible serendipitous moments. If you stay alert, you’ll find them!


52 thoughts on “{a serendipitous smile at the end of a particularly tense week}

  1. You do have a lot of books, Debra! Wow! I also prefer the “feel” of a real book in my hands. With that said, only four of my last purchases have been for paper; others have come by way of the internet – mostly because of cost. On the flip side, I buy used books on military history. I guess if more of us download, I will be facing fewer opportunities to buy used books. 🙂

    Indeed, you were closer to the terrorist attack (I don’t like to play word games) than I but it is still not far away. The statistics prove terrorists prefer targets which lack armed citizens. I also did not care for how our WH and media handled the attack’s aftermath. “Mass shooting” or “workplace violence” was a use of words inappropriate for the immense gravity of the horrific attack to the point the victims families became victims for a second time: they became pawns for politics. I’ll get off my soapbox now… and I won’t be upset in the least if you edit or delete it. 🙂

    Stay safe… and I applaud the bravery of the law enforcement officers of San Bernardino.

    1. I don’t disagree with you at all, Koji. I am as bothered as you are about the way words have become political pawns. I don’t always know what the game being played is, I’m afraid, but the reluctance to call terrorists exactly what they are is a very big problem. At the moment I am much more sad than angry, as I’m not someone who can stay “worked up” very long without getting sick and I’m not going to do that! But it’s not all going by me as though I don’t see we have a big problem. And by the way, even if we vehemently disagreed, I would never delete your comment!

    1. Thank you for your sweet and kind offer to share your books. When I get new clothes or purchase some from our local resale shop, I get a bag out and take a few things off their hangers or out of drawers. Then I drop them off somewhere. My youngest daughter is always trying to get me to have less clutter!
      Maybe donate some books to the library. We have shelves in our library lobby with books for sake from people’s houses. The money goes to the library, too. 🙂 If your library doesn’t take any books I am sure church rummage sale or thrift store will.

  2. I was sorry to hear of the shootings on the news. Sadly, I think we all understand that we are in the firing line and I won’t be surprised if London or one of the UK’s other cities is attacked in the run up to Christmas. Keep Calm and Carry On is a good approach to these things and probably the only one that is open to us civilians.

    That’s an interesting selection of books you have there Debra 🙂 I’d probably want to read SPQR. I too have an ever growing collection of books. Most of my story books now are digital downloads to the kindle but Technical and History books are always hardcover. I recently enjoyed a second hand copy of Destiny in the Desert by Jonathan Dimbleby – I think you’d find that a fascinating read 🙂

    1. I always enjoy book recommendations, so it’s nice to hear what you’re reading, Martin. I have a Kindle and wouldn’t want to be without it, but I do prefer my history books in hard cover. I often purchase used books, which keep costs down, but doesn’t help me much with the space issues. I think most book lovers just learn to live with a little clutter! 🙂

    1. Thank you for thinking of me, Kate,and I’m certainly glad to know that your other blogging friend is okay. I spent quite a bit of time this weekend reading, which was a nice shift from the stress of the week. I need to “escape” a bit more often, I think. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Bruce. My book acquisition was also serendipitous in that it was the first time I’d been to this particular independent book store. I didn’t even know of it until our friend invited us to his book signing. I’ve added my new books to one of the more accessible stacks and I’ll slowly get through them! They do offer hours of entertainment and escape!

    1. I like your description, Andrew–Yes! It is getting weird out there. Too weird! And I do have one of the first Kindles as well as Kindle Fire. I go through phases between the readers and physical books. I plan to retire in about a year. I think that will be the true test. If I don’t make good progress through the stacks then, I really will need help. 🙂

  3. “a serendipitous smile at the end of a particularly tense week”
    I like this as a heading, Debra. Thanks for your thoughts on stressful events and on books. And you end this post on such a positive note. Thanks for that!
    I find I can get stressed easily. But I’ll try to breathe lighter today and enjoy this Sunday, the second Sunday of Advent.

    1. We focused on the second Sunday of Advent, also, Uta, and it’s a source of peace to think about the joys of the Christmas season. It isn’t hard to become overwhelmed with headlines and the current events of our day. There are so many reasons we could give for being fearful and suspicious, but we have to focus on joy whenever we can, and there are almost always little gifts in each day that can be our “serendipity” moments. I hope we can just continue to encourage each other in that direction. ox

    1. Good point Col! You are so clever here, and yes, I suppose if I’m too calm I must be reading a very tepid book! That brings me back to my “In Cold BLood” memories. You gave me a reason for a good chuckle, so thank you for that!

  4. I appreciated the flow of this post, allowing us to end on a high note.
    Great snag of book bag swag.

    Your decision to “Keep Calm and Read a Book” makes great sense to me.

    1. I still giggle when I look at that new book bag! Somehow when I filled out that raffle ticket I just knew I was going to win. Maybe it was just sensing the irony. Of course, you’ll note that no one forced me to leave my email address with them. 🙂

  5. I’m so sorry to hear your city has been attacked with terrorism. I have been reading about the victims and your city lost some incredibly beautiful people that day who didn’t deserve to have their lives cut short in the way that they did. A few days ago I read how since 9/11 there have been over 23,500 Islamic terrorist attacks around the world. And that is 23,500 evil attacks on the lives of innocent people. I never thought I’d be living in times such as these xx

    1. Those are really alarming statistics, Charlie, and I am concerned that there doesn’t seem to yet be the kind of leadership we need to effectively fight against worldwide terrorism. It’s very hard not to dwell on the potential escalation and then become overwhelmed, but we have children and grandchildren and for them, if not ourselves, we have to live our lives with joy and optimism for the future. Sometimes that can feel like quite a stretch though, I admit! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, my friend!

    1. It took me a couple of days to kind of gather my wits after last week, Colleen, but we are on to a new week and I’m limiting my “news coverage,” and should have done that before. I love the description of your home! I’d be comfortable at your house, my friend! 🙂

  6. Yes, it’s sad how terror again and again hits us. I feel for all those who lost their’s in the California attack. When will it ever stop? On a different note, I admire your ability to give away books. That’s one of the hardest things for me. And, yes, it means a constant struggle getting enough space and shelves…

    1. I don’t like to give away books, Otto. A little secret that I don’t tell my family–sometimes when I finally have to give a few books away just because of space, I will go ahead and buy the digital copy! I can hide the evidence. 🙂

  7. This has been such a tough time lately. So hard to know how to respond to the horror of terrorism being possible anywhere. I was so saddened by the tragedy in San Bernardino.
    Have to say I’m a bit of a book hoarder myself, so I really enjoyed your serendipity with being offered more books from the universe. I haven’t been blogging much or even reading posts much for months. Debra, really glad I read your post today.

    1. It’s so nice to hear form you, Karen. I have noticed that you haven’t been posting, and I just know that it takes a lot of time and energy, and I can understand when you can’t be stretched any further! Thank you for stopping by and sharing at this time. For those of us who love reading, books can be a bit of a refuge and I think we need to find places where we can at least rest our minds a bit, don’t you think? ox

  8. Oh, Debra, in amongst the horror of last week, it is good to “carry on”. I can’t think of a better recipient for a bag of books. I’ve been doing a bit of purging of my own: the local library, Goodwill, and a few other bookish spots. My problem is I usually come home with at least one in return. I’m particularly vulnerable at this time of year. It is is red or green, I buy it. Sigh. Can one have too many Christmas books?
    You words ring like a clarion call, Debra. These are frightening times, for sure, but, we are heading out for a screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, knowing that movie theaters are not safe places, while riding on expressways that aren’t safe, either. We’ll stop at a shopping mall, and, gosh darn it, we WILL shop, but, with eagle eyes.
    Now, where are my reading glasses?

    1. Ah, Penny! I really hear you when you mention going to the theater and riding the subway…vulnerabilities. It’s interesting that I surely don’t stop doing these things, but it would be so nice if my mind didn’t gravitate to thinking of those dangers. I’d like to be completely free of those thoughts, but they don’t linger. I hope you had a wonderful time at the theater! I’ve never seen “Its a Wonderful Life” on a big screen. That would be so much fun! I used to bring bags of books home from some of the used book sources, but I’ve learned I cannot even be trusted to go in them! I even send Jay to the library or Goodwill for me. LOL! Wish you lived closer. At least we could share. 🙂

      1. If you ever have an opportunity to see “It’s a Wonderful Life” on the big screen, I encourage you to take it, Debra. I’ve seen the movie so many times, but, when I’ve seen it in a movie theater, I always shed a few tears. The movie has also resonated with me on many levels, but, this year, it really did as some of the topics/George Bailley’s speeches, resonated with our time now.

        Ha! I know what you mean. I should send Tom, but, he doesn’t like getting rid on anything. 🙂 I wish we lived closer as well – though we’d probably be a bad influence on each other. 🙂 Have a good day, my friend.

  9. Debra! When I heard and read about the shooting my heart just about dropped to my toes. Like you said, I would have never expected San Bernardino to have experienced such tragedy. I appreciate what you said about being alert but not cocooning…it’s a reality we have to face with courage these days! And as for your book purging…I most definitely understand. That goes with me and anything…I can never let go of anything but then I get totally inspired in a moment and I have tons of boxes to give away! But of course, it’s just making room for more 😉 Read on my friend!

    1. I had taken all my old Nancy Drew books and put them up in the attic, thinking that no one would ever read them again, but I couldn’t let them go. Recently at the library Sophia saw some of the Nancy Drew’s and told me they had them in her classroom and she was interested. I was so surprised. I honestly thought they’d be too “dated” for 8 year olds today. So I got them out of the attic this past weekend. I felt so good about the fact that I still had them. There are worse habits than holding on to too many books, right? 🙂 As for San Bernardino, the sadness is in hearing the stories of the victims and their survivors, but this week I’m limiting how much I listen and try to not dwell on it too much. I hope you and DooHwa are doing well this beautiful Christmas season. ox

      1. I love it! I still love Nancy Drew…and the Boxcar Children series and the Babysitter Club series from when I was Sophia’s age. Such wholesome, good reading. Makes me think I need to keep all my books too… 😉

  10. I just love that a post which started out with such heavy subject matter ended on such a light, peaceful and fun note. I guess your serendipitous win of new reading material may parlay into someone else’s serendipity when you clear another bookshelf and donate more books!

    1. Thanks, Nancy. I wanted to acknowledge the shootings because several bloggers very kindly contacted me to ask if we lived nearby. It really does shake me up if I let myself think about it too much, but that’s what was so really fun about the book windfall. I got the email that I’d won on the same day as the shootings, and it just stood as an immediate reminder that as frightening as world events are we live day by day and have to find the things each day that delight us. I need to remind myself that quite frequently! 🙂 And I hadn’t really thought about how my book culling provides serendipity to others. That’s so true, and I hadn’t really thought about it. I was mostly focused on prying them from my hands. LOL! Thank you!

  11. I think many of us have unspoken thoughts that our hometowns might be next. They’ve not stopped — now will they prevent — me from living my life. I’m just more aware of my surroundings, like when I’m out of town and not sure of the area.
    I’ve placed a moratorium on cookbook buying — and then I decided that Kindle books don’t count. If it’s not going onto a bookshelf, it’s not a real book. Words to live by. 🙂

    1. Kindles not being “real books” fits nicely this time of year, John. I don’t think Christmas cookie calories count either! 🙂 My family only knows about the proliferation of physical books. I’m glad they can’t see the volumes on my Kindle. These are very stressful times, so perhaps we all need to indulge in whatever collections help us with a little healthy escape! Therapy! 🙂

    1. I hope you’re doing well, Deb. It seems to me that reading can be so relaxing and in busy times, it’s a great escape! You’ve moved a few times so that probably helps you and Don clean up the bookshelves once in a while. I’d be in real trouble if we moved don’t you think? 🙂

  12. You’re the perfect person to win a gaggle of books in a raffle. I recall (about a year ago) I gave you a list of books to read about the intersection of science and religion … and now knowing your goal of having more books that Amazon, I now wonder if I did the right thing!

    1. I bought all the books you recommended, Frank, read them, and I have held onto them. They are the kind of books I often read a second time. Yes, you are an enabler, but I’ve decided I don’t have a problem–until we move. I have plenty of room right now, but if we ever downsize I may need a support group! 🙂

  13. I agree with you Debra staying aware and alert is a good idea, however, some of us unfortunately are not so lucky. My heart aches for such sorrow. May we all have courage and strength. It seems like you cleared some space and energy and instantly it made room for a few more books to hopefully help you breathe lighter. I hope they are a wonderful welcome into your nest.

    1. Isn’t the book “collecting” such a nice unexpected gift, Cristina? It makes me smile every time I see the new ones staring back at me. 🙂 I’ve really tried to limit the amount of local news connected to San Bernardino, but it’s almost unavoidable. I’ve been so concerned with what young, and even not so young children are hearing and the degree to which exposure could cause them stress. We are definitely in complicated times and I think your call for courage and strength is exactly right. We have to have it for ourselves, but even more because of the young ones. I hope that you and your sweet family have really wonderful holidays, my friend, and a really blessed new year.

  14. I think everyone was surprised by the California attack…not by it taking place in California but that it happened in San Bernardino. Another tragedy. I guess the stars are aligned that you were meant to be a reader.

    1. It sure was an “up and down” week when in the middle of so much sadness and alarm here I was getting a phone call from the book store telling me I was a “winner.” It definitely made me giggle just a little bit at the irony of clearing out books only to make room for more. These days I’m more of a book collector than a reader, but as I begin to think about retirement, I can see those books staring back at me. 🙂 Happy Holidays, Karen.

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