Help! Looking for Good Listening

I’m sure you’ll all be thrilled to know I’ve finally decided to drive my carcass to Bouchercon next week, if only because the footnote mutterings about seven-hour midnight Amtrak layovers and my sincere disgust of airline policies and prices will stop for a while.

Rocinante has been pronounced drivable by my mechanic,* windshield replacement has been scheduled for this Friday, and I’ve collected nearly enough change from the couch cushions to pay for gas.**

So now, all I have to do is figure out how to keep myself awake during the nine-hour drive without risking caffeine poisoning or an extra hour of potty breaks by ramping up my already borderline diet Pepsi habit.

Music works for shorter trips but there’s only so long I can tolerate my own singing, so I’m thinking audio books.

I don’t often get to listen to books in the car, as three-fourths of the mileage on my odometer was achieved in the presence of my children who don’t care to listen to stories without pictures or video and will not tolerate being ignored*** for five minutes until Mommy finds out why the vicar hid the antimacassar in the old tree stump by the abandoned manse,^ thus neatly framing himself for the murder of the choir director.

While I know what I like to read—pretty much everything except the sports page—good print doesn’t always translate into good listening.

I’m looking for stories likely to keep me interested enough to stay awake but not so engrossed I blow through the toll booths or ignore exits in favor of plot twists.   Falling in love with the reader’s voice is totally optional, though I certainly wouldn’t mind.

I’m not sure if I’ll have a working MP3 transmitter by then—Rocinante predates standard vehicle USB connectors—so I’ll need CDs  instead of downloads and I’m hoping to get them at the library, which is the point of mentioning all this now instead of next week when I’ll be too busy trying to pack for forty years in the desert instead of four days in a major city that most likely has a store or two that sells stuff for forgetful travelers.

Having said all this, anyone have any suggestions?

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*Both ways, if I can find an eBay buyer for the stunning amount of Barbie accessories I also collected.

*At least to Cleveland and back, after which I need to think seriously about sparks and struts replacement costs  versus the trade-in value on a 2005 Honda Civic with less than 52,000 miles (pre-Cleveland) but several cosmetic eccentricities—plus the current financial advisability of a car payment.  Being a responsible adult really bites sometimes . . . And you can expect many more footnote mutterings on that topic well into the foreseeable future.

**They don’t mind ignoring me, especially when I ask them about homework or e-mails sent to my work account from their teachers during the school day, but that’s a completely different post.

***Because of the purple-spotted badgers told him to—the head of the altar guild found out he’d been at the sacramental wine and put in an herbal emetic that didn’t work the way she thought it would.

No, not really.  But that’s the kind of thing I’d ignore my kids to hear.

Not so Random Thursday — the MIL Birthday Conundrum

Tuesday was random enough for the weekly requirement, so I’m breaking with ‘tradition’ to ask you all for help—even those of you who reached this site by googling cider recipes and newborn panda photos.*

Here goes:

What are my husband and I going to get my mother-in-law for her eighty-fourth birthday?

We’re already taking her out to dinner so I don’t have to figure out how to make chicken Marsala and we’re picking up pumpkin and/or cinnamon ice cream on the way home.  But we want to give her something to unwrap, too.  The kids are probably going to get her a mug with a version of Grandma is the Best on it, but the adults are fresh out of ideas.

She crochets, but isn’t interested in fancy yarn and has four spares of her favorite crochet hooks.

She loves the Cadfael mystery books and owns the entire set in paperback—maybe a set of the DVDs with Derek Jacobi?**

She loves to bake.

She’s a Cubs fan, but has a cap already.

She isn’t big on spa days.

She doesn’t drink.

She doesn’t wear t-shirts with pithy sayings.

She has “all the jewelry I need,” doesn’t have an inch a space for more artwork or family photos, and doesn’t listen to music much—nor does she go within three feet of any electronics more advanced than her cell phone, of which she is not fond.

She likes crossword puzzles, but we gave her a set of books and a dictionary last Christmas.

We have one week to figure it out.

HELP!!

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*The one time I went for cute over content and it’s the third most popular post since I started.

**By which I mean starring Sir Derek Jacobi.  I doubt I could afford to have him hand-deliver the set, as marvelous a present as that might be . . .