Monday, January 28, 2008


Holy c-c-c-crap, it’s c-c-c-cold!! Yesterday was -28C (around -20F), but with the wind chill, it was -43 (roughly the same, whichever way you look at it!). It didn’t warm up much, either. This morning, there is no wind, but the temperature has plummeted to -42! This is the kind of weather that makes the Bag Lady question her sanity. Why does she live here?

She didn’t do much of anything yesterday. Chopped some firewood and brought it into the house. Then spent most of the day curled up close to the woodstove with her nose in a book.

Books have always been an important part of the Bag Lady’s life. She remembers in junior high school when she discovered one of her favourite authors. The librarian at the school was a rather crotchety woman who seemed to be extremely old. She was very strict about maintaining silence in her library, and managed to control all those young teenagers with a look.

One day, the shy young Bag Lady was wandering around in the library, reveling in the smell of the books, trying to choose something to read. There were no other children in the library, and Mrs. W. was in a reasonably good mood. She finally asked the youngster what type of book she liked to read. Uncertain of how to answer, the Bag lady mumbled something about mysteries. Mrs. W. pointed her in the direction of the fiction section, and told her to try one of the books by Mary Stewart. Mrs. W. confided that Mary Stewart was one of her own personal favourite authors, and she was sure that the Bag Lady would enjoy her books. Thus began a life-long love affair with Mary Stewart’s eloquent prose. The Bag Lady became a devoted fan, and eventually purchased every one of Mary Stewart’s books that she could find. This also set the pattern for the Bag Lady’s desire to collect all the books written by certain authors. She has almost all of the books Agatha Christie ever wrote, and collects everything she can find by authors like Jonathan Kellerman, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly, Sharyn McCrumb, Robert Crais, Dick Francis….the list goes on and on.

The Bag Lady keeps all her books, too. At the rate that she devours them, she can’t afford hardcovers, but has paperbacks in almost every room in her house. In fact, the only rooms without bookshelves are the bathrooms. And she may have to start putting them there, too! She reads her favourites again and again, and always has at least one book on the go.

So thanks, Mrs. W., for introducing the Bag Lady to the wonderful world of fiction.

The Bag Lady finished the latest Linda Fairstein yesterday. She will have to root around in the bookshelves for something for the continuing cold snap. What else is there to do when it’s cold enough outside to freeze exposed flesh in under 2 minutes? Stoke up the fire and settle in with a good book!


Leah J. Utas said...

Yes!!!! The smell of the books. Love that, too.

It's -42C down here too so you are not alone.

I'll probably nap and write today, but reading cannot be beat.

JavaChick said...

Sounds sorta like my house. My sister was visiting over New Year's and before she left she wanted to borrow some books. I was wandering all over the house picking out books I thought she might like. She thought it was funny that I have books everywhere...and I know where most of them are too! Love Agatha Christie and Dick Francis. :)

Anonymous said...

I need another room just for my books! One of my earliest, best memories is going to the library with my dad on a Saturday morning. I couldn't understand why everyone didn't love to read!

the Bag Lady said...

dfLeah - sorry to hear you are in the same boat...really hoped we were going to get away with a mild winter this year! Oh, well. This is normal - it sucks, but it's normal!
Javachick - Agatha Christie wrote something like 88 books, and the Bag Lady is pretty sure she has all of them! Love those books. Love Dick Francis, too!
The Bag Lady has become a bit of a dog in a manger type though, and refuses to lend her books anymore. She's lost too many favourites over the years! (Well, she MIGHT lend them to relatives...maybe!)

the Bag Lady said...

Oh, missicat (sorry, we were commenting at the same time) - my oldest brother used to take me to the public library when I was very young! It was a huge, old brick building, and I loved it! I loved the smell, the look, ALL those BOOKS! - everything about it! And I loved the fact that I got to go with my big brother!
Dumbass city fathers tore that building down - I've never forgiven them for that!

Crabby McSlacker said...

I can not f*cking believe that 40 below even exists as a temperature. Makes me shiver just to imagine it.

Hilary said...

I can't resist lending a book that I love, and have deliberately picked up copies at 25 or 50 cents at yard sales just so I can hand them out and not expect them back.

Crabby's comment made me laugh out loud. :)

the Bag Lady said...

Crabby - want to experience it? Put on long-underwear, jeans, heavy boots, a parka, gloves, scarf and toque, then go to your nearest restaurant or grocery store and ask them if you can stand in their walk-in freezer for an hour!! Hehehehe. It still won't be the same as trying to actually function when it's this f*cking cold.
Poor cows. They don't move much when it's this cold.
Hilary - the Bag Lady would like to share her favourites with other people, too, but really enjoys reading them over and over. Good idea about buying them at yard sales and such, though!

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

What I find amazing is that people lived in your climate before we had all the modern amenities. How DID people manage?

We humans are a much tougher lot than we give ourselves credit for.

the Bag Lady said...

BG: Woodstoves. And log or square-timber houses. Thick walls, small windows and either woodstoves or oil-burning stoves. They melted snow on the stoves for water.

People were a lot tougher back then. They didn't worry nearly as much about their appearance - everybody looks the same when they're wearing eighteen layers of clothing! And they were too damned busy trying to stay warm and stay alive to think about whether they were getting a good cardio work-out!
They ate butter, and drank whole milk, ate beef, and sometimes lard sandwiches! They were tougher, and probably healthier, and worked harder. Especially the women! :)
Oh, my goodness. The Bag Lady may have to post a little rant about this subject...

Reb said...

It is that cold here too. Uh, Crabby, you would actually have to go to a warehouse that stores frozen foods and then that isn't even -40. You pee before going outside when it's that cold too by the way.

I remember that library and helping move the books out when they went to the next location.

Emily said...

ohhhh...a book worm just like myself!! I like most of the ones you listed (I got tired of Sue Grafton- she became too predictable for me.) Is Dick Francis the author that writes about horse racing? My parents suggested him to me and I never tried any of this books yet. I need to try Agatha Cristie because I was like 10 when I tried to read her for the first time and I couldn't get into it. Do you like Mary or Carol Higgins Clark? I really liked both of them!

the Bag Lady said...

Reb - sometimes the Bag Lady has to pee twice before she goes out in the cold!!

Emily - yes, Dick Francis is the former champion jockey who now writes mysteries. Most of them are set in the racing world. His books are wonderful.
I used to read Mary Higgins Clark, but got tired of her books, much as you say you tired of Sue Grafton. Clark became too predictable. I also used to love Robert K. Tanenbaum, but his books got just too darn weird! His early stuff is still fabulous, though.

You may find Agatha Christie a little difficult to relate to - her books are a little old-fashioned. But classics. I still love them.