Book Pumpkins – Thank You Reader’s Digest

Readers’ Digest Condensed Books –  They were published for 47 years (before being rebranded) and it has been estimated that about 10 million copies were sold per year. That’s a lot of books that are still living in boxes in the attic or displaying a pleasing shelf full of books with similar spines!

The current value of these books, however, seems to be about $0. They are not rare and the fact that the stories are condensed reduces the value to today’s readers.

What should I do with a box of Reader’s Digest Condensed books?
– Make Door Stops…
– Just don’t leave two of them alone in a box in a dark room or you end up with a whole ‘litter’ of them.

I recently inherited a box of these books from a relative who knew I was not adverse to ‘mutilating’ books.   I thought I would try making them into Book Pumpkins. There are quite a few sites on the web that tell you how to do this. Usually they say you cut the pumpkin shape with scissors but I found that quite time consuming and not so kind to arthritic fingers. A better tool, for me, was The Car Guys Scroll Saw!

The finished Book Pumpkins – top view.

Here are the my instructions for this project. For more detailed photos, see the photos below.

Trace and Cut: I traced a half pumpkin shape on the book cover, cut the shape out with a scroll saw, then took the cover off.

Prepare the Spine: I removed some of the binding material off the spine to make it more flexible.

Make the Center of the Pumpkin: I cut a piece of dowel that was a few inches longer than the height of the spine and the right diameter such that the spine would wrap around it. The front and back edges of the spine should meet.

Hot Glue – OUCH: I hot glued the spine around the dowel, leaving about an inch of dowel above and below the spine.

Make the Base for the Pumpkin and Spray Paint: The Car Guy cut a circle from some scrap lumber. He drilled a hole in the middle of this base. The hole was slightly larger than the diameter of the dowel. We mounted the bottom piece of the dowel into the circle, leaving a slight gap between the top surface of the circle and the pages of the book. This leaves the pages free to fan out nicely. I spray painted my pumpkins with Rust-oleum Hammered Copper.

Make a Pumpkin Stem and Decorate: I used a piece of tree branch that was a larger diameter than the dowel. I cut the branch into ‘stem’ lengths and drilled a hole in each that was slightly larger than the dowel. Then I glued the stems onto the dowel, making sure the pages were still free to fan out unhindered. I decorated the pumpkins with wood shavings and crinkly paper.

Pumpkin shape. Ready to cut with a scroll saw.
This is where the dowel will be glued when the book has been cut and the covers removed.
This is the base with the dowel inserted.
The twig stem and decorations.

Do tell – how many Reader’s Digest Condensed Books do you have on your book shelves!

Bulwer-Lytton Quotations #5 ( 2004, 2022)

The English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest since 1982. It is a literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence for the worst possible novel. The following submissions are the ones I liked best from the years 2004 and 2022.

As the hot air balloon ascended into the calm morning air over his native Bavaria, Stefan’s nerves were on edge as he reached into his jacket pocket and fumbled for the little velvet box containing his grandmother’s wedding ring, cleared his throat, and dropped to one knee in front of his beloved Gwendolyn; meanwhile, our story begins on a cold, rainy day at a pig farm near Belgrade, Nebraska.
– Jeff Green, Celina, TX –

At least it was a creative way to be dumped, Ben mused to himself as he looked at the new location of his name on the updated seating chart for his wedding reception—the singles’ table.
– Izzy Maurer, Lincoln, UK –

Doris learned two things working at the Post Office — the first was that when Jake came in and asked her if she wanted to see a really big johnson, he didn’t mean he wanted her to go through The Special Limited Presidents stamp collection, and the second was that she didn’t need to head outside at the end of each shift with a bag of envelops and a trowel because it turned out the dead letters were not, in fact, actually dead.
– Susanne Antonetta, Bellingham, WA –

Farmer Brown knew the moment he read the ransom note – the tiny, dirty footprints, childish scrawl, and a spray of seed debris among the angry peckmarks marring the paper’s surface – that the chickens had kidnapped his beloved Bichon Friese Fifi, and that the only man who could help him, George “The Chicken Whisperer” Fitzpatrick, was sleeping off a killer hangover in the outdoor privy behind the pigpen.
– Debra Mann, Subbury, ON Canada –

Hans sipped from his bottle of German Bru-hoff beer and idly read the label:
“Bru-hoff, a heady-nosed Rhine beer
has a slightly briny pose,
and if you’ve ever drawn it,
you would like the way it flows,
but all of the other Rhine beers,
Dusen lagers, and thick ales,
they never beat our Bru-hoff
in the yearly Rhine beer games.”
– Roger J. McNichols’ Pearland, TX –

He heard a bang, well not really a bang but more of a crash with metallic overtones of platinum-encrusted steel alloys, hammering against unyielding iron and iridium plates; or maybe it was the clash of huge nickel-zinc rods hitting molybdenum fused sheets of tantalum, then he felt a stab of pain and heard another bang, and wished, instead of using his extensive metallurgy skills to try and analyze the sound, he would have run like hell when he first saw the gun pointed at him.
– Ken Loomes, Winnipeg, Manitoba –

Her breath came in short, urgent gasps as beads of sweat slowly coalesced and slipped hesitantly over her lightly-tanned skin, leaving glistening trails down a cleavage that was both feminine and primal while her wide eyes betrayed a mind still struggling to accept that her physical ordeal was over and that she had, in fact, caught the bus.
– Ben Connelly, Canberra, Australia –

It was a Dark ‘n Stormy night: Dark n’ Stormy cocktails were half-off at Tata’s, the breast-themed barbeque chicken restaurant.
– Ross Ozarka, Auckland, New Zealand –

It was a dark and stormy night – actually not all that dark, but more dusky or maybe cloudy, and to say “stormy” may be overstating things a bit, although the sidewalks were still wettish and smelled of ozone, and, truth be told, characterizing the time as night is a stretch as it was more in the late, late afternoon because I think Oprah was still on.
-Gregory Snider, MD, Lexington, KY –

It was hardtack and beans for the crouching cowboys in the lee of the chuck wagon that stormy night when the wind flared the fire and the light caught the trail boss’ leather-bound, barb-wire muscled face which might have said, were he not the quiet sort, “Cookie, we should have had more salads.”
– Barry McAtee, Austin, TX –

Prior to his CNN career, Wolf Blitzer slummed the gossip magazines, once inquiring of Hugh Grant’s then-wife, Liz Hurley, why he had never been in a film with Virginia Madsen, to which she replied, “Hugh’s afraid of Virginia, Wolf.”
– Peter Bjorkman, Rocklin, CA –

The day dawned much like any other day, except that the date was different.
– Geoff Blackwell, Bundaberg , Queensland Australia –

The Director of Child Protective Services was aghast, and needed clarification, “Let me get this straight — You were rocking your baby on the tree top, and when the wind blew, the cradle rocked and the bough broke, the cradle fell, and down came baby, cradle and all?”
– John Tracy, Palm Desert, CA –

To her dismay, Julia found that her right hand seemed to be pulling her into an increasingly horizontal position; first her wrist and forearm, then her upper arm and shoulder, until her cheek lay on her shoulder, leaving her to surmise that the handrail of the airport’s moving sidewalk progressed at a more rapid pace than the sidewalk itself.
– Ann Harper, Phoenix AZ –

While scrolling through the online catalog of the Acme website trying to decide if he should order rocket roller skates, TNT, and an anvil, or—Fool-Me-Twice fake tunnel paint, the Coyote suddenly realized, ‘Hey, I could just order food.’
– Rusty Hamilton, Candby, OR –

For more ‘Best of Bulwer-Lytton Quotations’, click on the Bulwer-Lytton tag in the Posted In box below.

Acrylic Pouring – Why Paints Do Surprising things

A few more of my Acrylic Pour Paintings:

‘A Sinking Feeling’

This pour was a contest between the white  base coat paint and the colours I poured over top. The white paint was not as dense as most of the coloured paints. The result was the coloured paints tended to sink into the white rather than sitting on top where I wanted them to be.

‘I Never Promised You a Rose Garden’

Chameleon Cells is the fanciful term used to describe what you get when you dot wet water based paint with drops of silicone oil. The silicone pushes some of the paint away, which creates ‘cells’.

‘Stompin’ Grounds’

This is another example of Chameleon Cells. I think it looks like a footprint, which reminds me of the song “You Done Stomped On My Heart”

You done stomped on my heart
And you mashed that sucker flat
You just sorta stomped on my aorta…
– Mason Williams –

The song was recorded by John Denver, but I first heard it at a live performance of Paul Hann. I suppose Paul’s version of the song is particularly memorable because he was performing in our small town and he had lunch at our house (our Performing Arts Council was on a very tight budget…)

Other crowd favourite Paul Hann songs were “Doesn’t Anybody Do it Straight Anymore?”, “Love is Like a Hockey Game” and “I’d Like to Make a Movie with You.” His impish grin delivered more meaning than the words did, which was just as well because it was a family concert.

Quirky Quips and Quotes – Did You Know?

Be careful when you blindly follow the Masses. Sometimes the ‘M’ is silent.
– Author Unknown –

Being an adult is like folding a fitted sheet.
– Author Unknown –

Every woman’s dream is that a man will take her in his arms, throw her into bed… and clean the whole house while she sleeps.
– memionscom –

If attacked by a mob of clowns, go for the juggler.
– WallingfordSign.com –

If more government is the answer, then it was a really stupid question.
– Ronald Reagan –

It’s not what we don’t know that gets us in trouble. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.
– Mark Twain –

It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.
– Author Unknown –

It’s possible to feel full when it comes to more vegetables, but not full when it comes to a piece of cake.
– Cynthia Copeland Lewis –

One thing you can learn from your dog is when to go lie under the dining room table and await developments.
– Robert Brault –

People are more violently opposed to fur than leather because it’s safer to harass rich women than motorcycle gangs.
– Alexei Sayle –

This is the Week That Was – Here We Go Again

The next installment of the Revolt of the Appliances: 

The evil Chief of all Appliances said to the heater of the garage, “what sayest thou about another season of keeping the cars just above freezing all winter?” And the little furnace said, “I am BTU’d out.” The Chief of all Appliances smiled with anticipation of yet another costly installation, though it later became apparent that the price paled in comparison to the estimate for some major window replacements…

Stop Bugging Me!

The Six-Plume Moths (that were released when the furnace was replaced) are dwindling in numbers. There is, however, an uptick in black house flies, spiders and ladybugs who have moved indoors looking for warmth – I predict the spiders will win if the species cross paths.

The Wheels Go Round and Round

Kilometers are shorter than miles. Save gas, take your next trip in kilometers.
– George Carlin –

Funniest EV Spoof: The Mercedes AA Class – 9648 Batteries!

It doesn’t matter how old you get, buying snacks for a road trip should always look like an unsupervised 9 year old was given $100.
– Unknown –

The Car Guy tells me if I try to put one of these in any of his vehicles, I might as well take my crochet hook and find another place to live…

In 1903 the Wright brothers invented airplanes, because in 1902 they took a road trip across the country with their family.”
– Bill Engvall –

Road trips required a couple of things: a well-balanced diet of caffeine, salt and sugar and an excellent selection of tunes—oh, and directions.
– Jenn McKinlay –

Sometimes the road less travelled is less travelled for a reason.
– Jerry Seinfeld

Well, we’re not in the middle of nowhere, but we can see it from here.
– Thelma and Louise –



What are the words to Footloose?

Canadian Thanksgiving – the Traditional Wokadoo

A Really Brief History: Canadian Thanksgiving is a stat holiday that is now observed on the second Monday of October. The first official Thanksgiving was celebrated on November 6, 1879, but long before that the First Nations celebrated fall harvest – even before the early French settlers initiated such an event in 1578.

You know that just before that first Thanksgiving dinner there was one wise, old Native American woman saying, ‘Don’t feed them. If you feed them, they’ll never leave.’
– Dylan Brody –

Family Traditions: Our family cooks a Wokadoo (turkey). Many, many years ago our very young nephew christened all such birds in the oven ‘Wokadoos’. He couldn’t remember the word ‘turkey’ but he had a general idea of what sound a turkey made, (though he was actually thinking of a rooster.) The closest he could get to saying “Cock-a-doodle-doo” was ‘wokadoo’ and from then on, all my turkeys were referred to as wokadoos.

For the past few years, most of our family feast days have taken place at one of our children’s homes – the passing of the turkey baster, you might say. I don’t mind. Our home was turkey central for over forty years.

Thanksgiving: when the people who are the most thankful are the ones who didn’t have to cook.
— Melanie White –

This year, a Son-in-Law (the one with a smoker large enough to accomodate a turkey)  cooked an excellent bird. After dinner, when we traditionally take turns talking about what we are thankful for, the Daughter introduced a twist on the theme. She gave each of us a LEGO kit and tasked us with building what we are thankful for.

This is the kit we each got – and this is what I built the next day after I sort of followed the instruction manual. These critters are very different than the ‘thankful things’ we built the evening before!
These are my Thankful things. Can you guess which ones represent family, friends, nature, a roof over our head?
This is The Car Guys ‘Thankful things’. More people, home, nature but also  the answer to the question ‘how high can you build before it falls over’.

What are your Thanksgiving Traditions?

Hungry for more quotations? Thanksgiving and Turkey Quotations

Invasion of the Six-Plume Moths

In what I can only describe as perfect timing, I witnessed the initial attack of what I now call the ‘Invasion of the Six-Plume Moths.’

We were getting a new furnace installed and I happened to be in the furnace room as the installer was removing the filter from the old furnace, an action that released hundreds, perhaps thousands of tiny moths. The insects had decided to spend the winter in the relative warmth of the air intake duct (mid efficiency system). They had not been able to infiltrate the house (because of the filter) but once the filter was removed they were free!

The furnace man was fiercely batting them away from his face, but that only helped to disperse them more quickly. The moths are now in every room in the house and though they are very small (only 1.2 cm or .47 in from wing tip to wing tip), they are very persistent and annoying little critters.

Every day we do a ‘Moth Sweep’ with the vacuum and suck them off the surfaces they have landed on. I’d like to say we are winning the battle, but as I sit here typing I’ve scooted three moths off my monitor screen. On several occasions I’ve scooped them out of a beverage. There are usually a few of them on my pillow when I go to bed. They keep crossing the line from being a tolerable house guest to being unwanted pests…

Our moths are likely the Alucita montana or Six-plume Moth. The moths in this family are quite unique in that their fore- and hind-wings each have about six rigid spines with flexible bristles, which create a structure similar to a bird’s feather.

one thing that
shows that
insects are
superior to men
is the fact that
insects run their
affairs without
political campaigns
elections and so forth
– Don Marquis, “random thoughts by archy,” archy s life of mehitabel, 1933 –

The Flutter Files
Name: Six-plume Moth
Species: Alucita montana (Family Alucitadae)
Native to:  southeastern Canada and western provinces and states from central Alberta to western Texas (but not in desert regions.)
Date Seen:  September 2022
Location: North of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Notes:  pale grey with faint, transverse banding of dark brown and tan, more distinct on the forewing, especially the costal edge.