Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Spoonful of Humor by Henry L. Lefevre and a load of the usual babble

A Spoonful of Humor
BookSurge Publishing
83 pages

"Never venture outside in your skivvies, and never go anywhere without a good book." That's what my mother told me and mother knew best.
--From "Waiting"

"People have bosses," said Gramps. "Chickens have a 'pecking order'. Bosses and pecking orders are the same thing."
--From "Who's Boss?"

Before I launch into the review, I've got to share a little bit of background. A few years ago, I sporadically attended two writing groups that met about an hour's drive from us - only occasionally, because my car was aging and it had become unreliable enough that I didn't feel comfortable leaving town if my husband was traveling. And, he traveled constantly. Even if I did make it to Jackson, as soon as the meeting was over I'd have to turn around and drive the 55 miles back home immediately in order to ensure that I was back in plenty of time to sit in line and wait for my child to exit his school. It was such a nuisance that I didn't attend very often.

When a wonderful old raconteur by the name of Tex asked me if I'd be willing to read over his memoirs at one of those meetings, I said I would love to. But, thanks to the car problems and mothering obligations, I didn't return to the writers' group for several months. By the time I returned, Tex had had a heart attack and died. I will never see his memoirs.

Henry Lefevre is an octogenarian, just like Tex. He's the friend of a friend and asked if I'd be willing to read his book. The story of Tex is the real reason I immediately said, "Yes! I'd love to!" Henry couldn't possibly know that, nor the fact that I have a fondness for older men. They've seen a lot and they tend to have a fantastic way of looking at life, with humor and levity. I love that. I just love that.

A Spoonful of Humor definitely has that laid-back point of view I adore. It's a slightly hodge-podge collection, sometimes tongue-in-cheek and other times reflective. The first essay, for example, tells about one of the author's experiences during the early months of World War II, when the biggest problem faced by GIs stationed in Florida was black panthers roaming the swamps. "Black Panther Crisis" describes his experience on guard duty, as he and the other guards frightened off the local critters, endangering their own hides every bit as much as they threatened the wildlife, possibly more. Anyone who reads my blog regularly probably already can guess why that one was a favorite. (Hint: love of memoirs, WWII, wildlife).

In other essays, Henry talks about the hazards of traveling with a bad back, the trouble with Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), the generation gap, and life as a latch-key kid in the 1930s (among other topics). My absolute, hands-down favorite is "Dumb Ants", the story of how Henry and his brother John got into even bigger trouble at home after being grounded for exploring a nearby canyon their father had declared off-limits. It is absolutely hilarious. Having raised two boys, I was certainly counting my blessings when I reached the end of "Dumb Ants".

Bibliophiles will find themselves nodding along to Henry's thoughts as they read "Waiting", an essay about the joy of reading books to fill time spent waiting in line or sitting in doctors' or lawyers' offices.

At 83 pages, I should have whipped through A Spoonful of Humor in no time. Anyone want to hazard a guess why it took me closer to 10 days to read? You'll love this. I couldn't find the Post-it notes or the book darts. There were so many cute one-liners that I wanted to mark, I just couldn't bear to go on reading until I'd located one or the other.

4/5 - Sarcastic, witty, and fun

Coming up next: A review of Foreign Fruit by Jojo Moyes, another book that required a decent supply of sticky, removable pieces of paper.

Currently reading: Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo by Capt. Ted Lawson (love those war memoirs!) and The Next Century by David Halberstam (very interesting). I've also just begun Pressed Pennies by Steven Manchester. Hopefully, I'll find the time to put those books in my sidebar soon, but I've been away from the computer because . . .

Oh, no! We decided to replace some of the ugly old particle-board shelves we've had for an eternity. You know, the kind you get when you're young and broke? We bought a narrow cabinet and moved the shelves, only to discover that a portion of the wall the spouse patched up after fixing a broken pipe apparently still had a minor water leak. The wallboard was heavily molded. Come to think of it, maybe that explains the frequency of my migraines; according to my allergist, I'm allergic to "every kind of mold God makes." That wall just happened to be perpendicular to my computer table, so I had to dodge chunks of plaster to get to the computer until I finally got everything swept up, about an hour ago. And, now I have a big hole in the wall. But, that's better than a big splodge of moldy wall-board.

You don't need to know this, but my legs keep going numb when I sit at the computer for any length of time (usually about 30 minutes is enough). I think I need to ditch the dining-room chair and get something a wee bit softer.

Recent screw-up: I dropped by the library sale corner.

Cool find: Inside one of the books I told myself I was definitely not going to buy (even at a quarter each) because I wasn't going to even go near that library sale corner . . . riiiight . . . a recipe for PB & J Muffins. You just never know what you'll find in a used book.

And, another cool thing: Sorry Andi. I'm supposed to contact author Simon Van Booy to interview him for Estella's Revenge, but I had a migraine for several days and put it off. I'm a blithering idiot when my head hurts. Since I found that recipe card, I've been occasionally flipping through other used books as I moved them, this afternoon. Inside one was a card with exactly one word on it, in handwriting that looked very much like my dearly departed grandmother's: "Simon". That's all. Just "Simon". What a bizarre and spooky little reminder. By the way, you should definitely look at Simon's website to see if he'll be touring in your area. And, if you do get a chance to see him, please take your camera. I'm hoping he'll wear that totally hoopty suit.

The hazards of being married to an engineer: While taking a break from cleaning up the mold disaster, hubby and I sat on the couch and chatted. He stood up, I screamed. The reason? The spouse had a mechanical pencil in the pocket of his shorts and as he rose, the tip dragged across my kneecap. After a minute of watching my knee bleed, I sent the husband off to fetch my first aid kit and he promised to try real hard not to keep pencils in his pockets. We both know that's not going to happen, but it's really sweet of him to try.

And, another thing . . . It's apparently not Mother's Day. But, my husband thought it was, so I got a nice little box of chocolates and the movie Music and Lyrics (wahoo!) a week early. At first, I was somewhat horrified because if today was Mother's Day, that meant I messed up. All right! One more week to get that gift into Mom's mailbox. Thank you to God and husbands who don't bother to read the calendar.

The legs are numb, now, so I've got to go.

Smiles from Bookfool


  1. LOL, that is an odd, slightly spooky reminder! Eeek!

    Glad the mold issue is under control. I hope it helps clear up those migraines for ya.

    And I kept going into convulsions all week thinking I was forgetting Mother's Day. You would think I could remember this weekend wasn't it, since Mother's Day and B's birthday are the same this year.


  2. Andi,

    Doesn't it kind of figure that I'd get a reminder of that bizarre nature, though? I thought it was so funny.

    I think my entire house is a breeding ground for mold but I'm hoping it will help. We don't usually have anything that major and the proximity to the computer was probably very, very bad for me.

    So, have you got something ready for Mother's Day? I've been a bad, bad daughter in recent years. I get the gifts and then forget the holiday. Fortunately, last year's Mother's Day gift is really cute. I'm sure she'll still love it. ;)

  3. Smiles right back atcha!

    Peanut Butter and Jelly muffins...sounds yummy.

    I'm almost glad to hear about the mold on the wall. Maybe that's what's been causing some of your migraines and you can get rid of them now! Wouldn't that be great!

    Mother's Day, right! Gotta get Mom something. I always have the hardest time trying to find gifts for my mom. She's not a big reader, not a big movie person, I can't pick out clothes for her, and she has enough perfume. She loves gardening, so I'm thinking of a nice plant and something else....just gotta find out what that something else is.

  4. :) Chris,

    I'm still tossing on the muffins - delicious or disgusting? I might have to post the recipe so someone else can cook them and decide.

    I'm hoping that mold has been part of my problem. Now, if I can just find a good preventive med.

    My mother's hard to buy for, also. Add the fact that she's 500 miles away and it makes buying a little tricky. I don't want to get her anything breakable but she likes pretty things. She doesn't want books or movies (gosh, easy to ship and she doesn't want them). I've done okay in recent years, but if she doesn't like something she tells me rather emphatically. Luck to both of us finding something the mother loves! :)

  5. Always love reading your posts. You have such interesting things to say and you write well. About the numb legs - are you taking potassium? May want to consider it, if you're not.

  6. I have read books like this one. They are not very long but take a while to read because you just want to soak them all in. I love those kind.

    I hope you feel better soon!

    Thanks for the Mother's Day reminder. I knew it was soon, but I didn't realize it was THAT soon.

  7. Hi Bookfool,

    Found your site through Lotus Reads. I thought Iw as a booklover, but I pale in comparison to you and otheres! hehehehehe! I saw your chunkster challenge, too bad it is too late to join, but I will definitely come back for more visits!

    If you have time, come visit my site
    I dabble in some writing too, and have bought so many wriing books... with ideas of a book in my head and maybe 25 pages written!


  8. Booklogged,

    Thanks! You always say the nicest things. :)

    It's the chair - just too stiff for me, as I tend to lean forward and it cuts into my legs. But, actually, I do take potassium. Thanks for asking! Low potassium seems to be a pretty common problem that doctors don't think of; I talked a friend into badgering her doctor into submission, a year after it nearly killed me (I got low potassium from running in the heat - she got it from diuretics, but her doctor didn't want to do a blood test).


    Yep, I love that, too. :)

    Thanks. I'll still have migraines but it's good to know one potential trigger has been removed. I keep looking at that hole and wondering if I should mix up some tea-tree oil spray to kill off any mold inside the wall, just to make sure we've got it all!

    Mother's Day just sneaks up on you, doesn't it?


    Nice to meet you!!

    A few people have asked me if I'm going to do the Chunkster Challenge, again, next year and I'm considering. If I do, you can always join in on the next round. :)

    I'll peek at your site in a bit. Thanks!

  9. That Simon Van Booy is cute!

    Sorry your husband stabbed you.

    Getting your Mother's Day present early is a whole lot better than getting it late. I'm not getting mine until June (that's when Season 3 of Deadwood comes out on's worth the wait).

  10. Kookie,

    Simon is going to be stopping in Omaha. Did you notice? You've got to go!!! Take a picture, get a book, tell him he's terrific. LOL

    Poor husband. He felt really bad, just stood there watching me bleed until I said, "Uh, first aid kit? Please?" Bit of a klutz, that man, but I guess I'll keep him. :)

    As long as the mother knows a gift is coming, the date probably doesn't matter. Forgetting, though, is very bad. Makes the mom unhappy. I've got to go box up her gift - thanks for the reminder!!

  11. Huh, I didn't even notice he was coming to Omaha, (I just wanted to get a look at his 'hoopty suit'). Normally, that would be a bad time for me, but I might re-arrange things just to see if he's as cute in person. Thanks for pointing it out.

  12. You're welcome, Kookie. I live to keep you informed and able to see cute men in hoopty suits. :)

  13. Anonymous3:39 PM

    Better early than late (Mother's Day. And whew. I've got a week.)

    Those memoirs sound like fun! ITA on your fondness for older men.

    Joy on the mouldy plaster! But hopefully fixing it will help your migraines.

  14. Unfortunately I have no earth shattering Mother's Day ideas this year. I'm sure I'll take her to a nice dinner and stuff, but she doesn't even know of anything she wants. I sure don't! LOL Maybe I'll hit up Bath & Body Works for some random smellies. She likes the smellies.

  15. Carrie,

    That week will go too fast, I promise. I keep saying, "I've got to go pack up that gift," and then I stop to do something else, instead. Eeks. I'm an airhead!

    So you appreciate older men, too, eh? :)

    I doubt anything will completely eradicate the migraines as they're hereditary (so far, none of the preventive meds I've tried have helped), but it can't hurt to get rid of a nasty mold problem! We've just launched into high-humidity weather, so it's a good thing we found the problem when we did. Whew!


    Moms can be very difficult to buy for because they tend to be, shall we say, settled? I know I've been getting harder to buy for because I have too many possessions, as is. Smellies are good. Fizzies and bubbles are always great, especially if you know what scents float your mom's boat.

  16. Phew! At least you didn't have to go to the ER on Mother's Day! Hope your knee is better. And, there's nothing I like better than a good touch of sarcasm, so I would like your Spoonful of Humour book.

  17. Bellezza,

    My knee is much better, thank you. :) I tend to avoid emergency rooms, so I probably would have tried to patch it together, even if it was a gaping wound - it wasn't that bad, just really ouchie!

    Oh, I hope you do get a copy of A Spoonful of Humor! I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.


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