Here is a picture I took yesterday morning of my end of the table. Compare it to the one you find here.
As you can see, the giant, towering mass of papers are gone, the old Thinkpad is gone (banished to the office upstairs where MD is now using it thanks to a crash of her desktop PC yesterday), the stack of books is gone, and all the other ratty mess is cleared away. Nothing left but my day planner atop a few medical papers that are my blog fodder for the next couple of days.
You can see one small stack of books behind the Mac. Those were buried in the rubble of the enormous stack of newspapers that I went through. During the excavation these books turned up at various levels in the stack. It was much like an archaeological dig as I could determine when I had last seen the particular book by the dates of the papers it was stuck in between. I had been looking for all three of these books and had no idea where they were until they were unearthed one at a time.
Here they are in close up.
The bottom one, The Quest for Corvo, is an absolutely spellbinding biography – sort of – written in the late 1920s by an Englishman who had become immersed in a quest to learn more about a shadowy author whose book had mesmerized him. He couldn’t understand how someone who could write such a book could be so unknown, so he set out to track down the author and find out. His book is about the making of a biography in the long pre-online days when letters and meetings with sources were the norm. Along the way you find out much about the ellusive priest Fr. Rolfe, aka the Baron Corvo. A splendid read.
The next one up is Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair, which I bought used from Amazon. I’ve read a ton of Greene, but never this book, arguably his most famous. I received it, somehow stuck it in the growing stack of papers, and could never find it.
Finally, on top, is the Library of America’s Collected Works of Flannery O’Connor. Flannery O’Connor is one of my all time favorite writers, and when I read that her collected works were being published by the Library of America in one of their well-bound, small-sized volumes, I ordered it immediately. And lost it to the growing pile soon thereafter. I searched the house top to bottom looking for it, finally giving up when I thought I remembered leaving it in Tahoe. So much for my memory. When I dug the book out, I found a place mark at the page of one of my favorite O’Connor short stories where one of my favorite lines in all of literature resides.
The story is The Life You Save May Be Your Own, and like all of her stories, it is set in the deep South. At the start of the story and old woman and her severely mentally disabled daughter watch a sort of hobo with one arm missing walking toward their house. His name, it turns out, is Mr. Shiftlet, and he is seeking work. The old woman could use a hand around the house, but she can’t really afford to pay for one, so she’s trying to get him by giving him a place to sleep and feeding him. Here is an excerpt of part of her interrogation:

A fat yellow moon appeared in the branches of the fig tree as if it were going to roost there with the chickens. He said that a man had to escape to the country to see the world whole and that he wished he lived in a desolate place like this where he could see the sun go down every evening like God made it to do.
“Are you married or are you single?” the old woman asked.
There was a long silence. “Lady,” he asked finally, “where would you find you an innocent woman today’? I wouldn’t have any of this trash I could just pick up.”
The daughter was leaning very far down, hanging her head almost between her knees, watching him through a triangular door she had made in her overturned hair; and she suddenly fell in a heap on the floor and began to whimper. Mr. Shiftlet straightened her out and helped her get back in the chair.
“Is she your baby girl?” he asked.
“My only,” the old woman said, “and she’s the sweetest girl in the world. I wouldn’t give her up for nothing on earth. She’s smart too. She can sweep the floor, cook, wash, feed the chickens, and hoe. I wouldn’t give her up for a casket of jewels.”
“No,” he said kindly, “don’t ever let any man take her away from you.”
“Any man come after her,” the old woman said, ” ‘ll have to stay around the place.”
Mr. Shiftlet’s eye in the darkness was focused on a part of the automobile bumper that glittered in the distance. “Lady,” he said, jerking his short arm up as if he could point with it to her house and yard and pump, “there ain’t a broken thing on this plantation that I couldn’t fix for you, one‑arm jackleg or not. I’m a man,” he said with a sullen dignity, “even if I ain’t a whole one. I got,” he said, tapping his knuckles on the floor to emphasize the immensity of what he was going to say, “a moral intelligence!” and his face pierced out of the darkness into a shaft of doorlight and he stared at her as if he were astonished himself at this impossible truth.
The old woman was not impressed with the phrase. “I told you you could hang around and work for food,” she said, “if you don’t mind sleeping in that car yonder.”
“Why listen, Lady,” he said with a grin of delight, “the monks of old slept in their coffins!”
“They wasn’t as advanced as we are,” the old woman said.

That last line – “They wasn’t as advanced as we are.” – somehow strikes me as hilarious. It’s become part of the Eades family lexicon, used whenever one of us talks about someone doing or saying something stupid. We always say: They wasn’t as advanced as we are. Which has no relation to the O’Connor story, but the line is applicable nevertheless. In fact, the line has been used quite often in reference to Dean Ornish, PETA, and the rest of the militant vegetarians.
(You can read the entire short story here)
It’s back to blogging with a clean workspace and a post-nagging wife.


  1. Just curious. How’s the Mac workin’ for you?
    Best regards
    Hi Ned–
    The Mac itself is working great.  It’s nice to have a computer that doesn’t crash at the drop of a hat.  Actually, it doesn’t crash at all.
    My problem is in learning how to wring all the capability I can from it, and that’s been kind of a slow go.  I can use it pretty well for all the typical tasks, i.e., word processing, spreadsheets, etc., but I’m having difficulty figuring out where to put all the stuff that shows up on my Desktop.  Knowing what of the stuff that shows up there that I can safely delete, that kind of thing.  I hate it that everytime I open a pdf file it ends up on my desktop.   After a couple hours of searching the medical literature, I have 30 pdfs on my desktop that I’ve got to drag to the trash.  On Windows on the PC I opened these in Adobe, read them or saved them where I wanted, and there was an end on it.  In the Mac, I’ve got to keep on dealing with them.  And I’m having a little trouble feeling my way through iPhoto.  The Windows Picture Fax Viewer is – to me, at least – much more intuitive and easier to work with.  Whenever I have to put up a picture on this blog, I end up emailing it to myself, going upstairs, pulling it (and the blog) down on my desktop PC, and dealing with the picture in the Windows program.
    But I’m learning.  And I think I’m really going to love the Mac once I become more experienced with it.

  2. What a beautiful sight, I’m happy tonight, livin’ in a neater, cleaner land! –Your grateful spouse!
    Hmmm…you just never know who’s gonna be reading your blog when you throw it out for the world to see. 

  3. I had my husband (whose office area looks like the Brooklyn land fill) to look at the two pictures, and his comment was, “Big show off”
    Hi Virginia–
    You’re probably just not as harsh a taskmaster as MD is.  I should hire her out.  Are you interested?

  4. We’ve been married 47 years, so I think he is beyond help. What he needs is a back hoe and dumpster.

  5. Doc,
    Here’s some tips to try when (or if) you have some time. If you are using Safari as your web browser you can designate a folder to corral all of your downloads to one place. Do this by clicking on Safari->Preferences->General. For the drop down menu that reads “Save Downloaded files to:” select “Other” and then choose the Desktop icon in the left-hand pane. Now click the “New Folder” button at the bottom of the dialog box and name it Downloads or whatever you’d like. Now all of the downloaded files will be in one place for trashing later.
    If you are frequently looking at graphics files (or pdfs), the program Preview may be a more convenient application. It’s closer in function to the Windows Picture viewer program than iPhoto and works better than Acrobat. You can make any file open with your program of choice (e.g. force all jpegs to open with Preview) by finding any .jpg file and clikcing once on its icon to highlight it. The from the menu choose File->Get Info. Click the flippy triangle next to the text that says “Open with:” From the drop down menu choose the application you’d like to launch when OS X encounters this type of file (for jpegs and pdfs choose Preview). Click the “Change All..” button to apply this setting for all files of this type. You can perform this function for files of all different types (pdf, tiff, .doc, etc.)
    Hope this helps!! If you have any more Mac questions let me konw. It’s the least I can give back to all that you have given me in terms of nutritional information and support.
    Best regards,
    Thanks, Ned.
    I use Firefox, not Safari, so the Safari stuff won’t work for me.  I will try to fool around with Preview and see how it works.
    I appreciate the support.

  6. Perhaps with the iPhoto you are overlooking the “export” function. To be found under the “file” menu. Then you would not have to email the photos to yourself.
    Hi Maureen–
    I just figured this very thing out earlier today.
    Thanks for the tip, though.

  7. Dr Eades, your table end looks fabulous.
    HaHa… we need a backhoe and dumpster as well. And we’ve only been married 14 years!
    MD, I enjoy your blog and hope you will post more.
    BTW, I loaned out all your PP/PPL/LCCF and all LC recipe books to a gal recently diagnosed with MS. Seems her Doc put her on Atkins and she’s having trouble following it. She has two young kids being bombarded with sugar, so the fact that she is having trouble does not surprise me.
    What I can’t remember is the name of the gentleman who hybridized/cultivated (so many) fruits & veggies to be sweeter. I think you mentioned his name in the original PP or PPLP… but I don’t have the copies right now. This topic comes up frequently in casual conversation. Do you remember his name?
    I apologize for asking for a response… but I know you can’t help it anyway!
    Thank you,
    Hi Karen–
    I think you’re thinking of Luther Burbank.

    P.S. I’ll try to get MD off the stage and in front of the computer a little more often. 

  8. Dr. Mike:
    Great job on the cleanup, even though it required a gentle nudge from your spouse. In case you may not have seen this list of 9 things women say to their husbands that we all need to look out for, you might get a chuckle since it seems relevant to your recent efforts to clean up your act, as it were (see esp. item #9):
    9 words women use..
    1.) Fine: This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.
    2.) Five Minutes: If she is getting dressed, this means a half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes, if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.
    3.) Nothing: This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with nothing usually end in fine.
    4.) Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don’t Do It!
    5.) Loud Sigh: This is actually not a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to #3 for the meaning of nothing.)
    6.) That’s Okay: This is one of the most dangerous statements a woman can make to a man. That’s okay means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.
    7.) Thanks: A woman is thanking you, do not question, or faint. Just say you’re welcome.
    8.) Whatever: Is a women’s way of saying %#$* YOU!
    9) Don’t worry about it, I got it: Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking “What’s wrong?”. For the woman’s response refer to #3.
    Best regards,
    Hmmm…  I’ve heard many of these words and phrases, but didn’t understand the meaning.  Thanks for the translation.

  9. I just now read the O’Connor excerpt. I’m afraid I’m going to be a copy cat, because, “They wasn’t as advanced as we are”, is a fitting commentary on so many of the talking heads out there. It really is hilarious, and funny, too!
    Glad you enjoyed it.

  10. Laughing at Wil’s list! I don’t think I’ve ever sighed much until I got married and now I catch myself doing it regularly. And I’m married to a great guy, too. Lord knows what kind of noises I’d be making if I’d married the guy I went out with before Eric came along. I wouldn’t mind your hiring out MD if she could get him to clean out his catch-all drawers. Before I caught on to it, he’d fill up one drawer with stuff and then when that one was full, he’d move on to another one. The straw that broke the back for me is when I discovered that he was moving in on the drawers in the guest bedroom which I actually keep empty for guests to use. He’s gotten much better but I still have to keep a vigilant eye out for “drawer creep.”
    Drawer creep?  With me it’s more like room creep or floor creep. 

  11. Ok, MD outed you on the other piles, but I’m in your cluttered corner. I can’t imagine what you did to deserve *that* (except perhaps play too much golf). I don’t know what I would do if my mostly wonderful husband (but like MD, also born organized) posted photos of my stashes and piles on the Internet. But I do know posting photos sure wouldn’t smooth any friction about the clutter. Isn’t one annoyed person enough? And why do they feel so morally superior about achieving so much blank space?
    But if it is any consolation, my husband reacts the same way to my small clutter pile victories; it’s never enough and just seems to fuel the fire in him to clear everything in short order. Good luck … I suspect you’ll be busy for a while and we may not hear much from you.
    Hi Anna–
    I didn’t realize that she had outed me until just now.  I guess that’s what I get for letting my new little camera fall into the wrong hands.
    I can live with all the clutter just fine and so can she as long as it doesn’t encroach into her space.  She considers the kitchen table as being her space, so I’ve got to keep it clean, but the rest of it, I can keep how I like.

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