The week before Christmas, I had to take my little guy for an orthodontist appointment. So, of course I went to my personal library for book to read while I waited. I selected an anthology called Ten Great Mysteries published in 1959. Since the first book in the anthology was the Maltese falcon, I figured it would be a good collection. I wasn't disappointed. The first story, which was 20 pages long, was another Lord Peter Whimsy story (Remember The Nine Tailors?). This one involved Lord Peter taking his nephew to a bookstore, where his nephew what an old book. The bad guy, a good guy, a treasure map and a hidden treasure were all involved in this great little story. Next up was The Case of the Crying Swallow, a Perry Mason story 45 pages long. An Agatha Christie story that didn't follow her usual pattern was highly entertaining. And who knew that Nero Wolfe had a dog as a child in Montenegro, or that Labs have large skulls, and therefore are highly intelligent dogs? Die Like a Dog (44 pages) told me all of that. The last story I've read was an Ellery Queen story. My grandfather had "Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine" around his house when I was small, but I never read it, and, indeed, have no idea if it was even a current publication back then. But this story, The President's Half Disme, involving George Washington, a grove of trees and a buried coin, reminded me of those publications from so long ago.
Having a collection of short stories and a short novel to read during Christmas week was very good for me, because I could go sit in a corner for 15 to 30 minutes, decompress, and have the satisfaction of a story finished, and emerge from my corner much more cheerful.
So, imagine my shock when, a couple of days after Christmas, the UPS man brought me a present from a business associate:
Yep, it's a Kindle Fire. So I went online and downloaded a dozen or so free books, so I could try this new toy out. Here's the first one I read:
Letters of a Woman Homesteader
Elinore Pruitt Stewart
102 pages in print - free for Kindle
This is my kind of book. It's the story of a young widowed mother who moved from Oklahoma to Denver, and then, deciding that life "in service" was good for neither her nor her toddler daughter, moved to Wyoming in 1909 to claim her own homestead. This is the story, told via her letters to a friend in Denver, of how she claimed her homestead, the people she met, and how she was able to make the land work for her. There are funny lines, such as her being told that there are 3 seasons in Wyoming: winter, July and August. There are stories of weddings, births, reunions and deaths. It's a cheerful story about life in a hard time and place. At the end, Elinore proudly reports to her friend that she's proof that a woman can successfully claim her 160 acres and support herself, pointing to, among other things, her harvest of 2 tons of potatoes and a ton of carrots. It is a nice story, and one which should make us all grateful for our blessings in life, no matter how hard life is at any time (at least we don't have to heat up rocks and toss them in the bottom of our sleighs to keep us warm when we travel in the winter)!
Now, all of these stories would have been better with my reading companion, but the memory of our boy helping us read does still make me smile.
Happy Thorsday, everyone!