I love gadgets. I am hopelessly attracted to gizmos and what I term gizmonics (electronic gizmos). These gadgets don’t necessarily have to do anything productive; they just have to do something. I’m delighted with the strange noises that emanate from them when a button is pushed or with any kind of movement; the fact that there is a button to push or a knob to twirl is thrilling to me.
My husband cringes when I come near him while he is working on a project. It’s not that he doesn’t enjoy my company; he just wishes I didn’t suffer from the compulsion to fiddle around with things. His fear is justified considering how many times he’s been knocked on his butt when I’ve pushed a button when he’s had live wires in his hand, or been investigating a household issue while I, trying to be helpful, have flipped a switch, causing him to be zapped or narrowly missed losing a finger.
When I got my current car a few years ago, I was almost delirious with joy at discovering the host of buttons on my steering wheel. I was in button-pushing heaven. Most of them were for the radio, but it was fun to be driving while pushing buttons in a blind way, wanting to see what they would do until I got to the traffic lights when I could actually look. I am especially fond of the clock in my car, because not only do I have to push a button to change the time I have to turn a knob at the same time.
Even more than twirling knobs I like considering the mind or minds it took to invent some of this gadgetry. To imagine taking these things from concept to reality is even more mind-boggling.
Not surprisingly, I adore items that ostensibly make life easier or at least more interesting. One of the periods of time I find fascinating is the Middle Ages. Not much in the way of products made life easier, but amazing things were learned and created back then. The resourcefulness born of survival and need, the implements of war from those times were nothing short of brilliant. Because of my particular fascination with that era, I enjoy reading fellow columnist, Frank X. Roberts, whose specialty is medieval bookmarks. From his columns, I learn more history and more obscure facts than I usually get to explore.
His recent column on “bookmark” furniture—huge wheels and tables that turned so that one could mark the place he wished to return to without having to move the book—left me enthralled and agog. A piece of furniture solely for the purpose of not losing one’s place in a book sends my imagination reeling when I consider what it must have taken for a person to come up with it. Did it start with scraps and string and such, eventually ending up to the point where it needed a room of its own? If so, it is no wonder books were only for the wealthy back then. The bookmarks alone were monumental. Can you picture what it would be like to own one of those things? I could—and even considered where I would put it in my house should I ever come by one. I thought of asking my husband to build a modern version since at the moment I have seven books in the midst of being read, and think the book wheel would be a glorious addition to my life right now.
I love the concept of the huge wheel looking rather like a water wheel which, depending on my mood, I could merely turn to the appropriate book and settle in to read. It would be a BIG gadget to be sure and not be something I’d be able to take with me in the event of a hurricane evacuation unless I could figure a way to load it in my husband’s pickup. However, for everyday use, it would be a godsend, and I wouldn’t have to do all that mundane searching in piles of books and periodicals for the book I am reading or wonder where I left my glasses. I’ll bet, in this day and age, I could even have it motorized so that I would only have to push a button to bring the desired tome forward. Oh, the possibilities! I would even carve a notch in my medieval bookmark and leave my spectacles tucked into it.
Gadgetry—forwarded through time. Thanks, Frank.
At age 10, Anne realized she was never going to get to be Miss America since reading a book was not an acceptable talent. So she went on to get a job and raise a family. Along the way, she fixed meals, picked up toys, helped with homework, and collected a drawer full of rejection slips for her “great American novel.” It was not all bad, however, since she ended up wallpapering a closet with them. She currently designs and creates greeting cards for her tiny company, The Frog Prints, LLC, and also works full-time as a Training Specialist. Anne is currently tethered to reality by a loving spouse, two dogs, one cat and the occasional hurricane that blows through Florida, although falling headlong and happily into a book is still her favorite “talent.” She can be reached at