What the BEEeeeeep ?

I live in a multi-lingual household. In addition to English, some Spanish is spoken, an occasional mispronounced French phrase, Latin (thankfully no one knows if it is pronounced correctly), and some cartoon swearing (Dirty-rack-a-fratz!) can be heard. Outside, in the backyard, bird, squirrel and cat are the more predominant languages.

Saturday night, a new, previously unheard language emerged inside my house. About 9:30 p.m., a mysterious, short, fairly soft “beep” sounded. Since I have several devices that speak “beep” and the direction from which the beep emerged was not clear, I proceeded to discover the source. Following the lead of my current mystery book heroine, Kinsey Milhone, I set about using the process of elimination to find the source. (By the way, Sue Grafton’s latest book featuring Kinsey Milhone, X is a very good read!)

One hour later, I had narrowed it down to one area of the house. The fact that the once soft beep had become much louder, longer and the beeps were closer together was a big factor in the success of the process.

I found it! It was emerging from a black box, about the size of a car battery, that was lurking under my desk. It was labeled “Battery Backup and Surge Protector ES 750 APC.” I was puzzled, since both the Wi Fi and the phone services were hooked up to this box, and yet they both worked. Just in case, I unplugged the computer, printer and phone, then closed the door for the night. The beep did not sound.

The next morning I plugged in the phone and Wi Fi. They were still in service and the box sat quietly, its one green eye brightly lit. I called the phone company. The technician confirmed that, “Yup, the battery was probably dying.” All I had to do was bring in the box to the store on Monday and they would replace the battery. “Thanks,” I said. The box sat their quietly. All was well.

Two hours later, the beep resumed – only much louder and non-stop. It verged on ear-splitting. I again carefully unplugged the phone, computer, Wi Fi and printer, then crawled behind the desk and unplugged the black box. Of course, the beep did not stop, since it was generated by the dying battery and didn’t need to be plugged in to continue its song.

I put the box, still beeping, in the garage and closed the door. For a moment I felt guilty about leaving the box alone as it beeped its last beep. But it was a very short moment. Ears ringing, I went into the house. I checked later and the box was quiet. I placed it in the car, ready for its Monday morning trip to the store.

You don’t expect most things to break – small things, yes, but not the really large things; e.g. front steps, water heaters, pipes, or car battery sized back up systems that have been with you forever. They do break, of course. Everything and everybody has a life span, but we are perpetually surprised when those life spans approach their end.


 The culprit

The culprit

Just a nice flower.

Just a nice flower.

Sometimes . . . .

Historic City Hall, Toronto

Sometimes you need to take a walk.


DSCF1908                                       Sometimes you need to stop and smell the flowers.



DSCF1890                                                                Sometimes you need to work.


P1000505                                                          Sometimes you just need a nap.



So Good, I Couldn’t Put it Down

The door flew open and a hulking figure lurched into the room. It stopped, glared at me, then lumbered to the bookshelf, grabbed a small volume, ripped out a page, wadded it up and swallowed it whole. “Good book,” it belched as it left the room.

What makes a “good book?” Unlike the figure described in the nightmare above, “devouring” a book does not have to be literal, but it should hold your attention long enough to finish the book. To me, the key requirement for a “good book” is that I care about at least one of the major characters. I have been known to read a book others might consider boring, looking in vain for that one character who deserves some degree of sympathy.

In junior high (now known as “middle school” where I live), our English teacher made a practice of reading to us each day. I still remember her reading Kon Tiki to us and I can still hear her voice when I say the title.

In high school, our daring and handsome young English teacher read Raise High the Roof Beam. I would not have read J.D. Salinger without that introduction.

When my son was two years old, he became fascinated with “funches”. We weren’t quite sure what a “funch” was until we visited a book store that had a wonderful display of children’s books featuring “funches.” (That’s right, Fire Engines.) Of course we bought the book.

Not too long ago, I read a YA (young adult) novel featuring the youngest son of a family of seven boys growing up in Eastern Washington State. It was set around the time of the War in Vietnam. I did read it in one day. The next morning, my first waking thoughts were of the main character. I found myself thinking about him, hoping that he had had a good life. It took me a minute to realize I was thinking about a fictional character, not  a live human being. That is powerful writing.






Just a nice sunset. Nothing to do with this post!                                                                                                                           Some of my books.