Thursday, May 16, 2013

Rainy Nights

A low rumble of thunder from the north made me thankful we were indoors on this night of restless weather.  Rain soon beat an uninterrupted  rhythm on the roof and windows.

I looked forward to finally having a small window of time this evening just to read. I tucked my Kindle under my arm as I snugged a blanket around me on the sofa while my husband flipped through channels looking for the basketball game. There was something about reading inside while rain pelted on the outside that resonated warmth and security to me.

My Kindle blinked a warning that the battery was critically low, and I sighed and pulled the blanket off to go get the charger. I was midstep down the hall when a searing bolt of lightning filled not only the outdoor sky but flooded every window. The lights died and the momentary silence was broken with a short squeal from Teenaged Daughter, in her bathroom. "My hair! How can I finish curling it now?"

My husband smiled as he made his way to the utility room to get portable lights and flashlights. "Why are you curling your hair? You aren't going anywhere," he laughed.

"I was practicing a new style, and it's only half done!" she lamented. She sighed and came out of her room to get one of the flashlights. "I guess I'm just going to text my friends."

"Stay off the phone," he warned. "Remember what happened to Grandma? (Lightning Strikes) We don't want any more lightning incidents when someone is on the phone."   She sighed again, flopped into a chair and grabbed a book and a flashlight.

"I think you girls have the right idea. Some reading will be a good thing to do while we wait for the power to come back on, " my husband remarked as he pulled out a big book from a shelf and a adjusted a portable lantern near his chair. I looked at my now useless charger and Kindle. "Here, Hon, here's another light so you can still read," he offered. 

I thought for a moment. "I think I'm going to try it the true old fashioned way," I told them as I stepped into the living room. I removed one of my grandmother's kerosene lamps from the top of the vintage piano where they serve as accent pieces. It still had lantern oil in it from a school project. The wick was trimmed. I lit it and moved to the bookcase that fully covered an entire wall of that large room. 

The lantern cast a warm and supple light on the shelves and shelves of books. I ran my fingers across the spines until I came to some of my oldest books. The House of the Seven Gables, this copy printed in 1868, caught my eye and I slid it out. I held it close to my face and inhaled as I moved to a small desk to set up my lamp. It smelled of long skirts and high button shoes, of stovepipe hats and carriages and horses and war and a divided nation.

I wondered about the first person who had bought this book, brought it home from a bookstore and perhaps read it by lamplight, as I was doing now. The pages, though softened with age and now a faint ecru instead of white, still proclaimed clearly in the dancing lamplight, "Halfway down a by-street of one of our New England towns stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables..."  

I pulled the blanket tightly around my shoulders and stuffed the Kindle and charger into a drawer even as the rain continued to tattoo the roof and the lantern cast intricate shadows on the wall. "...facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst..."

I love a rainy night.


98 comments:

  1. Sounds cozy - reading a good book by the light of a lantern!

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  2. I was always told as a kid to stay off the phone during storms..zap zap zap!
    I still cannot take a shower (during storms) for fear of the zap!

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    1. Christine: Even cell phones! My mom had a scary thing happen when lightening hit their house while she was on the phone-

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  3. Hi, Shelly! First of all I hope you and your loved ones were not anywhere near the deadly storms that swept across Texas last night. Prayers needed. Secondly, this story reminds us that some of life's best moments come when our normal pattern is interrupted. Blind people compensate by developing their other senses. When your lights went out you and your family were resourceful and turned it into a positive experience. Your senses came alive there in the dim lamp light, and you were able to see more, smell more, feel more and think more than you would have if lightning hadn't struck. Thank you for giving us all something to ponder, my dear friend. Have a great weekend, too!

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    1. Shady: Thank you for the well-wishes. We didn't have the tornadic activity that was such an awful thing, but we did get rain, several inches of it over the last few days, and we are most grateful.

      And you are right about the senses. So often, we rely so much on technology that we don't cultivate our senses as people used to. I think we are going to try this more often, even when it's not forced on us. Have a wonderful day!

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  4. Shelly, You write so beautifully. You impress me with every post. And you know exactly how I feel about books.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Janie: Your words bless me. Thank you, my friend~

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  5. I love this post! I think this would be fun to try for an "unplugged" night. I might just have to search for a lamp and have Elliot pick a really old story! The prose had me in the dark house with your family. Thank you for such an intimate snapshot of your warm, inviting home.

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    1. Jenny: If you ever make it to Texas, we will read by lantern light! And I think the unplugged nights are going to become a regular feature now because it turned out to be a terrific thing!

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  6. Whatever you write, I'm there! :-) (And I did sympathize with your daughter.)
    We had a rainy night here too and I enjoyed my "fully charged" Kindle under cover! ;-) I think the book and the lantern light sound very cozy. The lightning show here was marvelous, and I'm with your friend Shady del Knight - prayers for the areas hit hard.

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    1. Nonnie: We weren't hit with the tornadic activity like your area was, so I'm thankful you are all OK. What devastation that was- my prayers join yours. We did get wonderful rain over the last several days, and I'm loving how things have greened up almost overnight. Thank you for your kind words!

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  7. Hey, you paint vivid pictures, Shelly - could see it all and that was a perfect book choice. Had to chuckle at your typical teenager. I too, love rainy nights!

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    1. Linda: I hadn't read that book in decades, and I'm savoring it now. Nothing like being inside, warm and snug and with a great book, when it's storming outside.

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  8. I love a good storm! We recently had a power outage and the kids and I rounded up all the flashlights we could find. Several hours had gone by before it dawned on me to light some candles. It was so beautiful and cozy that I wished it would happen again the next night.

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    1. Felt Family: There is nothing that makes a room as beautiful as candlelight! I'm like you- I want to do it again soon-

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  9. When you described the book ... I was right there. Lovely writing. The loss of power is not always a bad thing, although I tend to associate it with winter storms and being cold! But sometimes in our July humidity we have a storm that will knock out our power, and that's a whole different experience - like you're describing.

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    1. jenny_o: I don't think I would be calm enough to read in a winter storm like what you all get! But with rain falling outside, warmth and flickering lamp light inside, it truly is lovely.

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  10. What a wonderful paean to reading. I think you've explained why real books will never fade away completely.

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    1. Stephen: It worries me that there's a generation coming who will never know the feeling of a book in their hands, of turning an actual page, of the satisfaction of reaching the end of the last page. I hope books will never disappear-

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  11. Ah, to be indoors, comfy, when it is so NOT comfy outdoors.

    I was there next to you.

    Pearl

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    1. Pearl: I wish you would have been there next to me- we could have read wonderful books together and talked of police informant cats!

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  12. What a lovely story Shelly, and, as always, beautifully written by you. I was right there with you. I did smile at your daughter trying out a new style with her curlers. I'm glad your little family were snug and safe, and I hope you enjoyed reading your book. There's nothing better than being warm and cosy indoors when the weather is so rough outside.

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    1. thisisme: To me, that is the ultimate in feeling safe and warm; being inside when it is ugly outside. I did so enjoy the read- one I probably wouldn't have read otherwise. I do hope your weather there is warming up, my friend, and that you get to enjoy many sun-soaked hours in your beautiful garden!

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  13. Love this story. I love Power outs, they rarely happen though. They give us pause in our busy life don't they, pause to think about so many things. What a beautiful night you had. And I love REAL books! For the reasons you wrote about.

    I wrote once about a power outage here:
    http://makemeasaint.blogspot.com/2008/03/power-outage.html

    This post made me look back, it was a few years ago, the kids were so much younger...

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    1. Jamie: Oh, I can't wait to go and read your post! I love these unplanned pauses in our lives. If we allow it to surface, there's nearly always beauty in them. Headed over to read your post~

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  14. Sounds like you had a lovely time reading by the lantern!

    Nas

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    1. Nas: I felt like I was back in the 1800's- what a lovely thought!

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  15. Oh I adore old books and always wonder who had bought it and read it before me. I love the smell of old books and I cannot imagine a better night of no power. Your words were like music to my ears. I loved every note. B

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    1. Buttons: There's such a history in each individual book. I would love to instantly know all about each person who ever held it, read it...I'm so glad I have a kindred spirit in you!

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  16. The electronic reading experience will never replace the faintly ecru pages, the shifting of the weight of the book from the right hand to the left as one passes its midpoint. I love that you took us with you into your rainy night. Very nice, indeed.

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    1. vanilla: It was such a lovely night- unplugged, all with books. *Contented sigh.*

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  17. Dearest Shelly,
    What a wonderful story of you and your family from the rainy night. I smiled and smiled what you wrote about your daughter; I had the same kind of experience when young and my father helped me(*^_^*) I loved your description about the the lantern light "The lantern cast a warm and supple light on the shelves and shelves of books." And the thoughts for the first reader of the book.
    To tell the truth, (although they are not reading book) I still keep about 40year old English version of Encyclopedias my mother bought for my brother and me. As you may guess, we didn't make use of them much then. But from time to time, I enjoy the faintly ecru pages (thanks for the word) thinking my mother.

    ps>I'm really grateful for your sweet comment for my post.

    Sending you lots of love and hugs from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

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    1. Miyako: It's sweet to me to think of you and your dad when you were younger, my dear friend! I also keep an old set of encyclopedias, which as you said, we didn't make much of at the time either, but I can't bear to get rid of them. Thank you for always taking the time to read and comment on my posts. I hope you will have a wonderful weekend!
      xo

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  18. I love rainy stormy nights! We open up our bedroom windows and snuggle in while we listen to the wind and rain outside! When our boys were young I used to bundle them up and we'd sit on the front porch watching the lightening and counting waiting for the boom of the thunder! I am a book fan, but lately I've converted to reading my Kindle.

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    1. Saimie: There is no show I enjoy more than a wonderful storm (of course viewed from the safety of the front room or porch!). I love my Kindle, but after this, I'm going to make it a point to read a real one every now and then.

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  19. Dear Shelly, I, too, love rainy nights . . . and days as well. Your reading Hawthorne's book brought back memories of when I was getting my masters at the University of Minnesota back in 1969-71. One of the courses I took was devoted entirely to the works of Hawthorne and Melville. I read book after book and short story after short story and novella after novella by these two authors. I became seeped in their words and just seeing a picture of Hawthorne brings back to me the spine tingling tension of his work. Melville became my favorite novelist from the 19th century. But Hawthorne is someone I haven't read since then. He just scared me too much because deep down so many of his characters seem etched in darkness. Peace.

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    1. Dee: Hawthorne is one author I would love to have had a chance to meet in person. He does always seem to have that underlay of darkness in his writing. I've read of the guilt he felt, generations later, at what his ancestors did at the Salem Witch trials, and have wondered if that had anything to do with his literary style.

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  20. Who doesn't love a rainy night the sound of the rain on the roof the smell of the rain in the air so special and so lovely.................

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  21. Jo-Anne: There's nothing like it, is there?

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  22. There is something romantic about reading while it is rainig outside. I read from my little iPod Touch, usually in bed. One downside is that even when the story is interesting, I get sleepy while reading all tucked away and warm in bed.

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    1. I LOVE the sound of the rain on the roof, and the feeling of being inside and cozy is unmatched. Ahhhh~

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  23. Oooo... I went back to read your post, "Lightening Strikes." Chilling! The next time my daughter tells me that she can't shower if there is a storm, I'll agree with her.

    When we lose electricity, initially, it is annoying; but once I settle into it, it forces my brain to slow down and often, a book is what I'll turn to.

    With your lantern, blanket, and book - you are a scene right out of Little House on the Prairie. :) It's nice that you had such a peaceful feeling from it.

    By the way, I just finished reading an actual book and enjoyed turning those real pages! :)

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    1. Anita: Lightening really has my respect now! We do need those very infrequent slow down times, don't we? It kind of helps us center ourselves again, I think. Nothing will ever replace real books for me!

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  24. Oh I love this post. It made me feel so warm and cosy. I can feel the rain and see the lightening. I too love reading with the rain outside dancing on our velux windows. I can picture that old book in your hands, what a wonderful item to have in your possession. I bet you have more...

    xx Jazzy

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    1. jazzygal: Yes, I adore old books and have to restrain myself from buying more! Thank you for your kind words. Rain outside, a good book inside...life is good.

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  25. I was sad that it had taken me so long to read this newest post, but I'm glad I waited. It's raining here today, and I have a book to read!

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    1. Amy: Oh, we are as sunshiny as can be. I'd love a little rain because I am in the middle of a wonderful book. Enjoy your rain and read!

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  26. Shelly:

    I used to read on my iPad--which includes a Kindle app--but then stopped because the backlight hurt my eyes. I now read actual, physical books instead, and I love it. Suits my sensitive eyes better, anyhow. :-)

    You're an enjoyable writer. A day of family reading sounds warm and relaxing!

    Be well,
    Janette

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    1. Janette Dolores: I agree- real books feel better on my eyes, too. I love to spend time reading, and when the whole family is around me, reading, too, it just doesn't get much better.

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  27. Shelly, this so is so beautiful!! I love to read when it's raining but to read an actual book---smell the old pages, and read by kerosine light is so cool! We get hurricanes here, and there were a few summers there where we were without power for a week--it was pretty neat doing everything by candle light, including reading books and playing board games. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post!

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    1. menopausal mama: Since this, I'm resolved to do at least half my reading with real books. I'd forgotten how nice that feel is, the heft of the book, and the turning of the page. Thank you for your kind words!

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  28. Sounds so homey and cosey! And it was just the right book for the moment. Yes, when I read books that were printed in the 1800s I do think of people back then who bought it and read it. I have a Cree Bible, printed in 1861 that I got at a garage sale. I wish I could know the story of that old Bible.

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    1. Belle: Oh, what a wonderful bible, and to have found it at a garage sale! That is a treasure for sure, and I, too, would love to hear what the story is behind it. Those old books, especially bibles, have a sweetness of character that new books haven't gotten to yet.

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  29. This could have been Me and Bud...albeit the teenaged daughter. But to snuggle up and read a good classic in the rainstorm with the soft warm glow of an oil lit lantern...peaceful and heavenly serene.

    OH and the RAIN!!! More please.

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    1. HOOTIN ANNI: Ahhh, there's nothing like it! Oh, and yes, more rain! When I saw dark clouds early this morning, I got very hopeful...

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  30. That sounded like a great night! So cozy and lovely.

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    1. Lydia: Any night curled up with a good book and my family around me is a great night, indeed!

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  31. There are few things on earth that I enjoy mroe than a good rainstorm. They are so romantic and peaceful.

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    1. Optimistic Existentialist: So true- and how ironic that when it's stormy outside, the coziness inside just increases!

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    2. I hope you have a great three-day weekend :-)

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    3. Optimistic: Thank you- you, too!

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  32. Oh, how yummy. I love a thunderstorm, too! Thanks for sharing,
    Jen

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    1. Jen: Aren't they wonderful? Nothing like them!

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  33. Ha, your daughter sounds just like me;) We had a nice rainy night last night. No storms though!

    Great post!

    ~Emily Rose

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    1. Emily Rose: Thank you for your kind comments and for stopping by. I'm headed over to yours-

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  34. I love that you still wanted to do your hair, that's hilarious :)

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    1. Julie: Hair will be done, no matter the weather~

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  35. oh I love my rainy nights and love a book in my hand too! as do my kids...they are resisting the kindle, but meet a lot more resistance than me! I just heard that info is not retained as well as in a book, and one reason is because there is no recall of where the person read it in the book...was it in the middle, the beginning the end? because on a kindle it is all the same. interesting, huh?!

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    1. Annmarie: I had not heard that before, but it makes great sense to me! Wow- I'm going to be looking into that (my master's thesis had to do with reading retention and comprehension), so thanks!

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  36. I love your story Shelly.
    A kerosene lantern, an old book and nothing electrical works. You might have been living more than a hundred years ago and doing the exact same things. Great writing!

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    1. Pat: Ans sometimes doing things like they did 100 years ago doesn't seem so bad. Thank you!

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  37. NOTHING SMELLS BETTER THAN BOOKS! I love going in bookstores and taking a deep breath of that musty, paper smell. It's so settling and comforting and enticing all at the same time. I hope we never lose printed books, I think I'd just quit reading...
    Hugs on a great post!

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    1. Sush: I feel sorry for the first generation who will never know what it's like to hold a book, to slowly turn pages... I'm with you. My Kindle has made it very convenient to read, but it will never replace the love I have for actual books. xo-

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  38. The scent of old books enamors me...I can get drunk on that, truth be told. :)

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    1. Chantel: And how intoxicating it is!

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  39. That was super, Shelly!

    I took my nook (fully charged) to the basement two nights ago along with flashlight, reading light and a paper book. :)

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    1. Sharon: Now that sounds like a wonderful night!

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  40. This is so absolutely beautiful. It's the reason why I love libraries so much :)

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    1. Elisa: I could spend days in libraries and second hand book stores and never get bored~

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  41. We don't have a Nook or a Kindle. I still read books the old fashioned way. My brain can take fact books but as far as fiction goes I have to read and re-read a book in order to follow chapter by chapter. This did not happen when I was younger. When and how this change in my brain happened I would not know as I had put away reading while raising kids thinking that I will read as much as possible when I get older, but now I regret not reading fiction earlier. Teen age years were the opposite. I would read the fattest book without a hitch. Oh well.

    How is Texas? Our prayers are with Oklahoma and the whole mid-west.

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    1. Munir: Thank you for your kind concern. In my part of Texas, we are fine- got some much needed rain. In Granbury, which is about 9 hours north of us, they had terrible damage, and then the poor people of OK are facing devastation.

      I am beginning to think I need to give up my Kindle and read books like you do, the old fashioned way!

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  42. Lovely post Shelly. I know that cosy feeling of sitting while the electricity is off. Our house dates from the 1880s so I guess they would have had gas lights but still it gives a nice old fashioned feeling to use candles and kerosene. We still have a couple of gas fires and our stove works by gas so we feel reasonably self sufficient when there is a power cut. Never had a lightning strike though. Yikes!!

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    1. Jenny: As much as I appreciate the conveniences of modern life, there are still times I long to go back to those times, for just a bit, anyway. Your home sounds lovely- and I'm glad you don't have to worry with lightning strikes! Thank you for your kind words

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    1. Just Be Real: What a wonderful start to the day! Thank you, Grace- (((Grace)))

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  44. Oh, I love reading on a rainy night too. What a mood you set. I felt like I was there with you all.

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    1. Theresa: There's just something special about those rainy nights and good books!

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  45. I love a rainy night! Power outage? Give me a book and a flashligt; I'm good!

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    1. Maria; It almost makes me thankful when the power goes out to have something as beautiful as a good book awaiting~

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  46. This might be my favorite of your posts. Just beautiful!

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  47. I too love those heavy rainy days when I'm not out in it. I can see it coming from miles away where I live and it looks like a misty fog in the horizons. I'm not a fan of thunder or lightning and I definitely make sure that all electrical appliances are off during those times. I must take the time to find out what happened to your gran! but I'm sure I can take a wild guess right now :(

    I have a friend who loves books, and it has always bothered me why he likes to take the first few minutes smelling it. It's like a ritual and his mother does the same thing. Then I read here ' I held it close to my face and inhaled..' Is this what book lovers do? Or have I missed something?

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    1. Rum-Punch Drunk: Oh, how lovely to see from such a distance those storms rolling in! Lightning is nothing to mess with at all- and I have a healthy respect for it now.

      :) I love to smell old books. I don't know why, but it's just something I've done since I was little. I guess I'm in for the whole sensory experience of the book~

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  48. Hello friend, I am finally on-line again.. xxx I love rainy night especially when yu can curl up nice and warm and listen to the rain. I could see the whole event in your household, and hubby was right about those lightening strikes. Stay away from showers and electricity .. I have also heard of people being electrocuted while their cell phone were charging and they talked on them.
    You are a great story teller.. And should write a book. I love reading what you write. xxx

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    1. Crystal Mary: So good to hear from you, my friend! I'm so glad you are back on line. Lightning is just not something to mess around with, and too many people don't know all the hidden dangers from it.

      Thank you so much for your kind words, my friend, and today is my first official day of being retired, so I am going to consider perhaps developing my writing. I hope you are staying warm!

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  49. What a lovely way to spend a rainy night and one of my favorite things to do too, also on a rainy Saturday morning. My world has always opened for adventure with the first page of a new book...:D

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  50. Cathy: There's just nothing to compare with the promise of a new book, a hot glass of tea at hand, nothing at all.

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