Sally Ann Shurmur: Gulp! The First Weekend With No Football...

Columnist Sally Ann Shurmur writes, "The first weekend with no football is always startling. It’s as if since August 27, the road map has been laid on the table, with how to get from point A to point B. Now the roadmap is put away and the table is empty."

Sally Ann Shurmur

February 01, 20245 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The first weekend with no football is always startling.

It’s as if since August 27, the road map has been laid on the table, with how to get from point A to point B.

Now the road map is neatly folded along those precise creases and put away, and the table is empty.

I will try mightily to be brave and carry on.

One look around this tiny homestead shows there is plenty to do.

Each drawer, every single one in every room, could use a good going through. And that’s something I can easily do sitting down. The helper (what would I do without him?) needs to take the drawers out and put them in again, but the sorting is all me. Until he walks by, grabs some orphan USB cord and proclaims that it would be handy to have.

The two freezers need gone through. I have not seen the back of one or the bottom of the other in forever.

Then there is the closet in the second bedroom, which has floor to ceiling boxes of photos waiting, some for their sixth decade, to be sorted.

So sure, there are lots of jobs to be completed, hot coffee at the ready.

In truth, my addiction is what has kept me from doing any of this.

I used to love to read. It was my favorite hobby. Now I fear I am addicted.

I read 91 books in 2023, carefully logging each in a small notebook.

In the month of January 2024, I read six.

I read for pleasure, and for me that’s almost exclusively fiction, women’s contemporary to pigeonhole it further.

Beyond “Dick and Jane,” and “Sally Ann the Cow,” I don’t remember the first book I read for pleasure.

But at the Albany County Library in that stately brick building on the corner of 4th and Grand, I found John Howard Griffin’s “Black like Me.”

I proclaimed it then as a life-changing moment and announced to my Detroit-born parents that I was going to be a social worker, live in Detroit and “help Black people.”

When I babysat in junior high, I would help myself to the book shelves after the kids were asleep. It was better than the pay or the snacks.

There I found “Valley of the Dolls,” and “Peyton Place.”

My dad never had time to read much for pleasure, but one Christmas Mom bought him “The Godfather.”

I took it from under the tree unwrapped and read the whole thing before he even knew it was missing.

So you might say I have had questionable, risqué taste for a long while.

Most of my books come from the quarterly used book sales hosted by the Friends of the Library in Casper.

So I don’t read a ton of brand-new stuff and I also don’t read complete series ever in order.

Within the last several months, I discovered Facebook groups of book readers. Who knew?

As with any other hobby group, those groups have become some kind of competition to collect the most books the fastest and spend the most money.

I need to disengage from those for my own sanity.

No, I do not listen to audiobooks.

Yes, I have a Kindle, which is great for travel instead of lugging four or five books around.

I only read one book at a time.

I need silence when I read books.

I rarely do not finish a book, but did that a couple of times in the last year, mostly because I am no longer 20-something and stuff can be way too racy, even for me.

Woe to be an author and peek at my private notebook.

In addition to title, author and dates read, I star each book 1 to 5.

And on a couple, instead of any star, I just wrote “No.”

I love certain authors and so they repeat again and again throughout my list.

And probably because I can predict whether or not I will love a book by who wrote it, I think I was generous with my 5 stars, 25 out of 91.

My addiction has helped my little tribe when it comes to giving gifts. They know gift certificates to book sellers will be greatly appreciated.

Recently, fancy bookmarks and reading lights have also been received with gratitude.

So there you are. The truth is out. My house might be in disarray, but there are love stories to learn and happy endings to discover.

And if there is an “oh my God!” exultation out loud in the dark of night, let the neighbors wonder.

Sally Ann Shurmur can be reached at:

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Sally Ann Shurmur