Bears, Raccoons, and Elephants

One by-product of semi-retirement is I don’t have as much structure to my days. I don’t have to get up at 5:25 to make sure I get on the road to Sumter to teach a class. Or as in my earlier years, to feed children, make sure their books and essentials were together and their socks matched before heading out to take them to school and preschool.  After dinner (we called it supper then) each evening, there were dishes to wash, homework to supervise, baths to give, and studying to do.

In case anyone thinks I’m complaining about the crazy busyness of those years, I’m not. I’m merely emphasizing the structure and tight schedule.

I still study. Or rather, I read. I read whatever I want to. It doesn’t have to be strictly related to my work (teaching psychology). I refreshed my knowledge about narcissistic personality disorder the other day, but that’s because I wanted to and not because I had too. And since I ‘m teaching Human Growth and Development this semester, I’ve been reading updates, and wow, there’s new information on a daily basis, especially in genetics.


Now that I have more time to read for pleasure and information, I learn new and fascinating things every day. I just finished Jessamyn West’s The Friendly Persuasion and learned about life in a Quaker community of Indiana around the time of the Civil War. It was a simpler time when we didn’t know so much about the crazies of the world …or the evil either.

I picked up a book entitled Rules of Thumb by and learned these interesting tidbits:

  • If you like your Granny Smith apples extra tart, choose the ones with speckles and red patches. James Turner
  •  Effortless prose generally takes three or four drafts. Dr. Paul Trotman
  •  Bears can outrun, outclimb, and outswim a human. Your only chance is to run downhill; the bear’s center of gravity makes it difficult for it to follow.
  •  Raccoons feed heavily 48 hours before the approach of a large winter storm.
  •  The African elephant has ears shaped like Africa. The Indian elephant has ears shaped like India.

I learned that John wrote Revelation while in exile on the Isle of Patmos about 96 A.D. He wrote 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John sometime between 100 to 110 A.D. while still on the Isle of Patmos. Even though Revelation was written first, it was placed after the Johns. I bring this up because since Revelation comes last in the Bible, many people assume that it was written last. These same people delight in letting LDS people know that Revelation states that no one should add to its words.

I skimmed a travel book that I wish I’d read before going to New England last fall and learned that Maine has more obese people than any other NE state. It has more cat owners than any state in the nation!


From Ellis Nelson’s Into The Land of Snows, I learned at least a dozen new words, my favorite being Bardo, a  temporary state of the soul between death and rebirth. It could last up to 49 days, and the eventual reincarnation is governed by the person’s karma in his or her the past life.

I know many of the above findings might seem weird to some people, but it’s a great big world out there, and if we only know and learn about the little spheres we’ve been plopped into, we can become pretty narrow-minded.

But that’s not my main point. What I’m getting at is that I learned all of the above because of  my ability to read. It’s a privilege that many (especially females) in the world don’t have.


What’s something you’ve learned from reading just this last week…or month? 

About jayne bowers

*married with children, stepchildren, grandchildren, in-laws, ex-laws, and a host of other family members and fabulous friends *semi-retired psychology instructor at two community colleges *writer
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