Wednesday, October 1, 2014

September 25: 3 Books

86. Your Older Cat: A Complete Guide to Nutrition, Natural Health Remedies, and Veterinary Care by Susan Easterly

Naysayers will go on about how convenient it is that I am typing the last 14 entries in this reading challenge over a week and a half after the end of the challenge period. Thankfully, though I don't really care what negative people think about me for the most part, all of my close friends and family know that I did indeed finish this reading challenge in almost the timeframe I had set to read everything -- or, if you want to be flexible with your interpretation of "one month" and discount days when I didn't have time to read at all, or when I only had time to read maybe 30 pages before something else came up that needed my immediate attention, then I actually DID accomplish and even EXCEED the stated goal of reading 100 full-length books (or their equivalent) in 1 month (31 total days of reading). In fact, due to a counting error on my part, I read 6 complete books on my last reading day and accidentally thus completed 104 books in 34 total days, or 30 days of reading.

Now, to this particular book.

I have 3 cats: Stinkie, Squeaky and Munchkin. All 3 qualify as "older cats," or "senior cats" as my vet refers to them when they have their checkups, but Stinkie in particular is almost 16 in human years and has been suffering from kitty kitty IBD -- Inflammatory Bowel Disease -- for about 3 years. He has slowly lost almost half of his body weight, and I am about to take him to a holistic specialist vet to see if there might be other treatments we can try involving diet, vitamins, enzymes and probiotics before it is too late. This is a sad time for Stinkie as he continues to waste away, but his spirits remain high and he occasionally has bursts of playfulness, like when he sneaked into the basement early this morning and I couldn't find him at feeding time. I picked up this book at The Strand earlier this year and finally got around to reading it for this challenge. It is a good overview of the changes to expect with an older cat, but because I have been taking all 3 of my cats to the vet for regular checkups since I moved to my neighborhood 8 years ago, there was no new info in this book for me.

87. Whittling and Woodcarving by E. J. Tangerman

This book represents a visit for me down memory lane.

When I was a kid growing up in Owings Mills, Maryland, they had just built a then state of the art shopping mall in my area called Owings Mills Mall. In recent years, after several murders and much gang violence as the neighborhood "turned over," stores moved out and I believe that the mall is currently slated for demolition or extensive remodeling in an effort to attract a less violent sort of clientele.

When I was a kid, though, before the mall's downward spiral, I used to go there all the time with my parents and friends. One of my favorite stores at the mall was the B. Dalton Bookstore, where my parents used to let me buy maybe a book a week or so, if you average out over time. As I mentioned at the very beginning of this blog, I started off as a VERY remedial reader, and my folks were so happy that I actually wanted to read that they allowed me somewhat free reign when it came to my purchases.

As a kid, I was very into the outdoors -- hiking, fishing, trees, fossil hunting, and whittling. Sitting for hours at a time with a pocket knife or X-acto set and creating little figures and other carvings from sticks and scrap wood. At a certain point in my life, maybe from age 11 to age 14 or so, this was one of my favorite books. I think that my original copy is still at my parents' house, where I grew up. When I recently saw this book at a neighborhood thriftstore, I had to get it. Rereading this book literally allowed me to visualize and relive in glorious detail an entire portion of my very happy childhood. Many thanks to this book for that!

88. Yoga for Men Only by Frank Rudolph Young

I have had varying degrees of success over the years with home workout routines -- whether they have been weightlifting, calisthenics, pushups and pullups, sports-style stretching, martial arts, or yoga. This book isn't REALLY yoga -- at least not in the classic Indian sense of what yoga really is. It should be called "Isometric Muscle Flexing and Stretching Exercises That You Can Do At Home To Firm Your Body and Stop Being A Fat Bastard." However, as that title probably would not have sold the book in 1969 when it was first published, we are stuck with the current misnomer of a title.

This is a GREAT book. Ok, sure, the text that goes along with the exercises is hokey and just plain ridiculous at times. Maybe this was inspiring stuff in 1969; now it is just plain laughable. However, the exercises themselves, complete with their at times outrageous names (witness Dynamic Diaphraghm Piston Powering -- either while seated or standing), are really quite excellent, and most importantly FEEL GREAT!

I have several times considered selling my copy of this book, near mint and a first edition commanding almost $50 on Amazon (seriously), but every time I have gotten ready to list it in my store, something has reminded me how powerful these exercises are, how great I feel when I do several "reps" of each exercise in sequence, and when I complete all 25 separate movements. I have taken this book with my on several vacations -- to Israel in 2012, to China twice in 2013 and 2014, and I believe to Mexico earlier this summer if I remember correctly -- and I have to say, these exercises, while having absolutely NOTHING to do with traditional yoga as we understand the term today, constitute an amazing workout when you don't have access to a gym, or even on a rainy or snowy day when, like me, you work from home and you really don't feel like going out.

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