Author's Posts

If you thought that I was in a bad mood before Daylight Savings time. . .

Steve, last week, at dawn, or dawn-ish, right before breakfast.

. . .  you should see me now.

I like waking up at dawn — I get to live another day in this wondrous world! I love the clarity and kindness of the early morning light. I like the way we get a spiritual Do-Over with the first cup of tea. I like the hope that comes with toast, a fresh start every 24 hours illuminated by the miracle of daybreak, courtesy of our very own star a mere 98 million miles away.

None of that happens when you have to get out of bed in the dark, shiver into two layers of fleece in the dark, put the tea kettle on in the dark, and back the car out of the driveway in the dark.

Why, o why did the Democrats not get rid of Daylight Savings Time when they had control over both houses of Congress and the Presidency? And, while they were at it, they could have ditched the Electoral College as well but noooooo. . .

A lot happened last week at the used book store that I manage here on the north shore of Long Island and I’m here to tell you all about it. Let’s start with Mike Massimino, a guy who absolutely did not cheat his way into college:

I liked Mike Massimino when he guest-starred on The Big Bang Theory and No, I did not know he was a real astronaut when he first showed up in Season 5, episode 15. His book is fun to read because he’s humble, he’s funny, and he’s smart. He’s also very hard working — he wanted to be an astronaut so badly that he did extensive physical exercises on (with?) his eyeballs so he could pass the vision test. You can’t “money” your way into NASA and to become an astronaut, and you have to be very, very good at science and a whole lot more. Who knew that being fluent in French is a + on your astronaut application?

This first edition copy of Spaceman is not the only astronaut book we have:

We have a second edition copy of Sally Ride’s book about Mars and GUESS WHAT!

Both these books are signed:

I am selling these books as a set for $25.00.

This is my favorite part of Spaceman, on page 121 of Mike Massimino’s life story:

——-

Other than flying in the T-38, one of my favorite parts of astronaut training was the enrichment lectures. Former astronauts and older NASA guys would come by and give talks about the space program. … My favorite lecturer was Alan Bean, who flew on Apollo 12 and is one of the twelve guys who walked on the moon. After retiring from NASA, he became a painter. Alan’s letter was called “the Art of Space Exploration.” He talked about the mistakes he’d made and how he learned to fix them. … the last thing Alan said to us was “What most people want in life is to do something great. That doesn’t happen often. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t be blasé about it. And don’t blow it. A lot of times, believe it or not, people blow it.”

——-

I want to send this to every teenager I know because I wish I had had Alan Bean around when I was in my 20s warning me to not blow it because Oh, yes, I know very well how people blow it.

Haven’t we all? This people typing this right now, for example, has blown it. More than once. And maybe as recently as yesterday. That’s another thing that I love about the early morning: it’s too soon in the day to have blown it yet.

Last week at the used book store we got this in a donation:

It’s a Book of the Month Club edition (basically not even worth its weight in scrap paper) but I’m interested in it because of this:

Ah, those were the days (in this case, 1981) when author photos took up the entire back cover, when writers were important people and the books they wrote mattered (even fiction). And you know why this particular author photo is special to me (hint: cat). But, I wonder, did people not know how to crop photos back in 1981? I know that photographers like to get people’s hands in the picture. . . was John Irving’s left hand doing something weird and they had to crop it out, even though that left a lot of dead space at the top of the frame? Or did the art department have a thing for the tippy top of that background tree?

Working in a used book store gives you a lot of time to think about stuff. These fell out of a coffee table book about Rembrandt:

I was thinking, Oh yuk, a Rembrandt book; but then the New York Times Sunday magazine did a cover story about the discovery of a “lost” Rembrandt and now I’m thinking maybe Rembrandt is coming back in style and I put a $1.00 price tag on it.

And then there is this:

Have you ever heard of Patrick White? I had no idea that an Australian had ever won the Nobel for literature but there you go. You always learn something in a day’s work at the used book store.

There are always people who think the used book store is in desperate need of their ancient beat-up college paperbacks:

This one had a cigarette burn in it, and such useful notes as: Nothing is ever it.

I have a story about Ulysses that I have been saving to tell until just the right moment and that moment has come!

When Vladimir Nabokov was teaching literature at Cornell (1948 – 1959), he made a note of this in his diary  dated March 21, 1951, about a meeting he had with a student who was “explaining to me (after getting a 55 [on a test] that when reading a novel (Ulysses, in this case), that he likes to skip passages and pages so as to get his own idea ‘you know, about the book and not be influenced by the author.’ ”

I can only imagine the look on Vladimir’s face during this exchange. I wonder what that student went on to do with his life.

This is the book that I nominate as this week’s Most Boring Book Ever Published:

It came in with Ulysses. A note on the inside cover says, P. 261 – READ OVER.

So let’s look at page 261:

Almost every page of this little paperback is filled with underlines and yellow hi-lights. This guy really loved Oliver Cromwell. Go figure.

And, next; this is just sad:

The book was printed in 1921, so it was already quite old when it was given away.

Dated Riga, 1 April 1939:

My dear friend Fanni, to remember a time I will not forget.

This is from Wikipedia, translated from the German, about the book’s author, Artur Landsberger (1876 – 1933):

As a sharp-tongued social critic Landsberger was persecuted by the National Socialists.  Finally, he took an overdose of Veronal  at his desk and died by suicide . In the “Third Reich” his books were no longer allowed to be printed.

This book would have been banned by the Nazis in 1939, and I can only guess what it meant to Isi to give it away, or to Fanni to receive it, in the year before Riga was invaded by the Soviets, before the mass deportations by the Germans. This book has survived the worst of the 20th century. I’m not going to throw it out.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, how about this three men on an island self-published fable-with-a-message from 1992:

No more birds, fish, trees, or flowers.

What have we done to this island of ours?

Vantage Press was founded in 1949 and ceased operations in late 2012.

Vantage was the largest vanity press in the United States. In 1990, the State Supreme Court in New York ordered Vantage to pay $3.5 million in damages to 2,200 authors it had defrauded.  According to the plaintiffs, Vantage charged money upfront, but never promoted the books as the authors had expected. (I can relate. My books never got the promotion I expected. . . but that’s how all writers feel.)

But wait, I  saved the best for last!

Published by Octopus Books in London in 1972, this books hits my sweet spot of vintage cook books. It’s got the ’70s color scheme (burnt orange, brown, and more burnt orange) and harkens from a day when life was simple, when there was no such thing as a food stylist. You cooked the food, slapped it on a plate, garnished it with red cherries, and snapped a photo.

If you were fancy, you’d put a copper pot in the background.

But under no circumstance would you go out of your way to make the food look edible.

And so goes another week in the exciting world of used book selling.

This week I got some mail from my publisher. Out of the blue, they forwarded two letters that had been sent to me in care of Bloomsbury in New York City. Both letters were about my first book, When Wanderers Cease to Roam, which on November 15th this year will be eleven  years old.

One letter came from a reader who told me that my book helped her endure the chemotherapy treatments that have made her cancer-free since 2016, and she still re-reads it every month as she gives thanks for her recovery. I can’t tell you how profoundly, and humbly, I am honored to be part of this Dear Reader’s life.

The other letter was a ten-page illustrated booklet about cats and hearts, good soup and wildflowers, stars and talking mice in homage to When Wanderers Cease to Roam. What a treasure, and what a privilege to be a catalyst for such creativity.

Thank you Dear Readers, here today and long distance mind-melding, for bringing me into your kindest, sweetest considerations about the most beautiful and important parts of living and loving on this planet.  (Cats, tea, stars, good books, etc.) I am not worthy.

Have a great weekend, you marvelous creatures. Stay warm, or cool in the shade; whatever is best for your greatness.

XXOO

 

Read more

There were no robo-calls from the governor warning us to stay off the roads, the local TV news station did not break into my Judge Judy viewing time with dire forecasts of dangerous weather, and the cats did  not haul in extra firewood or stock up on macaroni and cheese in case our power was knocked out. So when I woke up on Saturday morning and discovered that had been blanketed with five inches of snow on the ground, I was totally unprepared. This had snuck up on me.

The huge holly bush in front of Steve’s cubby took the brunt of the storm. Steve stayed dry and cozy.

We called a Snow Day at the used book store because we didn’t feel like shoveling our cars out in 20-degree weather and I spent the day drinking tea and toasting a loaf of ciabatta. Not the whole loaf all at once. Every two hours I cut a ladylike slice and slathered various toppings onto it, from plain salty butter to spicy hummus, with peanut butter and melted cheese and butter-and-marmalade in between. I could eat nothing but toast for the rest of my life.

Saturday turned out to be a warm and sunny day so most of the snow had melted by Sunday afternoon, and that’s when came dire robo-warnings from the governor, the TV news casters losing their minds in panic forecasts, and the cats hauling in extra firewood and looking up Top Cat’s best recipe for macaroni and cheese. We were going to get it again, and this time it was going to be BIG, the BIG blizzard such as we, so far, have not suffered through here on the north shore of Long Island.

I went to the grocery store to stock up on essentials, and the Food Emporium was packed with lots of other people similarly preparing for disaster. This is when I thought to myself, “At times like this, I must remember to wear my wedding rings.” This thought came to me as I was standing on line at the checkout counter and the lady in front of me, no Spring Chicken herself, with a cart full of milk, bread, meat, green vegetables, fruit, etc., turned to look at me and said, “Ma’am, you can go before me.”

WTF?? She called me Ma’am! And she had to be, at least, within shouting range of 60!  WHO DOES THAT?? As if  I were some object of pity. . .

. . . And as far as I could reckon, the only difference between she and I was that she had a cart full of “family” food while  I was standing there holding 10 cans of cat food and a bag of Cheetos, and no wedding ring. As if I were a single cat lady who was going to die alone and whose body would not be found until the neighbors realized it had been weeks since anyone had seen me out in my front yard yelling at the kids to stay off my grass. I was slightly mortified, but I took her up on her offer. I hate waiting in line at the grocery store on a good day, and this was not a good day.

Ad, by the way, I actually was “single” for a few days last week when Top Cat went to San Fransisco. I only eat Cheetos when he’s not around and I am missing him like crazy. He bought me some cute socks while he was on the Left Coast.

So, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday March 3, the cats and I set the Champagne-O-Meter out in the back yard and settled in for a snowy Sunday night:

First, it rained:

At dusk the flakes began to fall:

By dawn, the world was transformed and I was seriously considering putting left-over Cheetos on my toast for breakfast:

Call me a Romantic, but seeing a bottle of Champagne that looks like this (below) makes me fall in love (with alcohol):

For those of you who are not dipsomaniacs, there is a less boozy way to gauge the snow fall, something I call the Hutch-O-Meter.

Here’s the old rabbit hutch in my backyard on Sunday afternoon:

Here’s the old rabbit hutch in my backyard on Monday morning:

That’s enough about the weather and how easy it is to get on my Shit List (see: DO NOT EVER CALL ME MA’AM).

Not to blow my own horn, but I have been very busy, and very effective, raising money this past year for my local library. Between the stellar earnings from the book store that I co-manage, and the money I have coaxed out of various corporate and private sponsors for this miniature golf event I cooked up, I have raised $17,800 for the library through my volunteer time and effort.

To publicize the mini golf event to be held on April 6, I  get the display case in the library lobby (the same one that showed off my book art/paper castles in December) for the month of March. I am going to hang a big banner that lists all our corporate sponsors, and I’m going to put in my new Book Art (I call it,  Miniature Miniature Golf) to drum up excitement for the event.

You have not seen the new Book Art in its finished form, so here is the installation (they go together in pairs). NO. 1:

All the bears: Corduroy, Paddington, Pooh, and Baloo.

NO. 2 . All the bunnies — Velveteen Rabbit, Thumper, Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, and The White Rabbit — with the crew from The Wind in the Willows:

The next pair I call Here Be Dragons:

That’s the big green dragon from the Inheritance series of YA novels; that’s the kid and his dog from Dragons Love Tacos; there’s Arthur the Aardvark, and the two girls from the cover of Where The Sidewalk Ends (looking forlornly at their golf ball, which has fallen into the cave below).

And beasts and ogres:

I’m so happy that there is a new How To Tame Your Dragon movie out this year!

The final twosome begins with Bilbo Baggins sitting outside his hobbit hole:

And this is the grand finale to the Miniature Miniature Golf saga, a scene of anarchy with cats:

You can’t see The Giving Tree very clearly, so here’s what is going down on that side of the scene:

It’s a golf club. The Giving Tree is giving a golf club.

And there’s Alice, holding a flag with the time and date of the library’s mini golf event:

I hope that these little scenes would encourage people to linger at the display case, burn the play date into their minds, and entice them to come back to the library and pay $5.00 per person to play golf.

Miniature Miniature Golf will be on view at the Bryant Library from March 10 to April 7.

I’m publishing this blog post on Thursday afternoon and it’s been so frigid this week that all the snow has now frozen into a solid land iceberg. On Sunday the weather will be in the 50s and it will be rainy — San Fransisco weather — and I hope all the snow and ice will be washed away.

I have found some interesting things in the donation bags at the used book store this week, and I plan to do a whole blog post about them next week, but here’s one little tidbit to tide you over:

Before there was an Air Force, there was an Army Air Forces, and this is a diploma from the huge facility on Miami Beach, Florida at the beginning of the war. Clark Gable trained here. The Army was in desperate need of administrative officers and they took men as old as 45. During the way, 30,000 men were graduated from Miami Beach. The graduates performed ground duties that would free up the guys who flew the planes from any responsibilities that might keep them from flying bombing missions.

Lucky for us, one of our volunteers knows the guy who dropped off the donation that contained this diploma, so we have notified him to come get this  artifact.  I found the diploma between the pages of a big heavy coffee table book called The Age of Suleyman The Magnificent, 416 pages published by Harry Abrams.

I have been wondering about the filing system in use, in which a WWII Army Air Force diploma from 1942 is filed into a book about the longest-reigning sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1987.

I dislike Ottoman art, so at first I put this book in the “Kill” file; but then I had a second thought and retrieved it. I put a $2 price on it and maybe it will find it’s perfect reader, some day, out there.

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. It can’t stay mean and cold forever, so let’s just grit our teeth and get through the next three weeks.

XXOO

 

Read more

Sweet Dennis was gathered to the ancestors on Monday, Feb. 25, on an unseasonably mild day. He was buried in a corner of my neighbor’s garden where, in Summer, there will be a rose bush in bloom. Here are some of my remembrances of him during the 11 seasons that we were lucky to have him in our lives:

Yes, there is a kitty in this photo.

The old rabbit hutch in our backyard was Dennis’s first favorite place.

Summer was when Dennis was his most scenic:

 

Dennis with Taffy, his mortal frenemy.

And this is how Dennis coped with the heat waves of Summer ’17 and ’18:

We will miss his sweet face and bright smile.

Thank you, Dear Readers, for all your dear wishes for Dennis and the people he leaves behind. It will take a long while before I stop looking out for him at every breakfast, or looking twice at Taffy trying to figure out if it’s him or that other handsome darling ginger cat from next door.

In times of sorrow, thank goodness for books and tea. A friend sent me a link to a video of Amy Sedaris’s book collection, for obvious reasons:

Screen shot.

You might recall that I have a very small collection of color-coded book covers, mostly just for “decoration” in the two  small built-in bookshelves I have in our living room , but Amy Sedaris goes over the top with hers. When it’s done on a big scale like this, it’s very fetching, don’t you think?

Amy Sedaris says that when she wants to find a book, she has to look it up on line to see what color the jacket is so she’ll know where to find it on her bookshelf. That sounds easier than the system that I currently have in place, which is ad hoc hit-or-miss, Where Did I Put That Book I Just Had In My Hands?

In Used Book Store news, we got this the other day:

This was a new way for someone to do a drive-by used book donation — they dumped it by the library’s book return.  It was a plastic carrier bag full of paperback books in Arabic and, no judgment here, there is no way that we could sell Arabic-language books at our little charity used book store, so I asked the librarian if they needed this load for their foreign language collection — and the librarian said Yes. That’s the first time the library has taken unwanted books off my hands. So, yay for the Arabic language readers in Roslyn, Long Island!

We also got this in another donation last week:

We do not normally accept dictionaries because they do not sell, but this month a collage artist let me know that she would take any and all dictionaries that we get (the older the better). This Funk & Wagnall’s was from 1973 — not exactly “old” because that’s the year that I graduated from high school — but I put a $3 price tag on it and the artist loved it.

The collage artist is not interested in children’s dictionaries, so I knew that I would have to scrap this one that came in last week, too, because nobody buys children’s dictionaries:

But first, I checked out the end papers because that’s what I do before I get rid of books these days, and wow — this dictionary had lovely vermillion-colored end papers, plus a dazzling little something extra:

I love that tiny four-leaf clover. Then I flipped to the back cover and got this:

The clover flowers are still knotted, still in tact as a sweet little necklace and now I don’t know what to do. I can’t rip out the end papers, I can’t throw out some child’s gathered miracles…so the book is sitting in Top Cat’s den, on top of a pile of other rescued books that are not worth selling at the used book store, but also aren’t deserving of being thrown out.

That pile of books includes a battered 1922 copy of The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morely. If it were a 1919 copy, it might be worth $300, but it’s just a 1922 edition and Christopher Morley, a Long Island writer whose house used to be about half a block from mine (until 2010, when it was torn down and a really nice mansion was put in its place) is unreadable. I find his prose to be extremely annoying, and this 1922 book isn’t worth a dollar, but still. . . it’s survived this long, I hate to toss it. So Top Cat’s den is the new Limbo for old books and Top Cat is thrilled.

If you remember from last week, I had made a tree for the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland:

I introduced you all to this original sketch from Sir Tenniel, which mashed up the Cat with a certain Tea Party:

So, in celebration of March being the Tea Time Month. . .

. . . I am going to make a paper tea cup to go with my paper Cheshire Cat tree!

And the crowd goes wild!

Page 39, When Wanderers Cease to Roam.

While the tea cup seems as if it is one of those designs that seems so natural and so very handily form-fitting-function that is must have appeared plena canite, the tea cup as we know it is actually a culturally-specific adaptation to 19th-century Western tea drinking.

The handle to the tea cup is the most recent aperture to have evolved in the five thousand year-old history of tea. It’s a very hi-tech addition to the classic design that originated in China about 2,500 years before Jesus (who preferred wine over tea) was making with the loaves and fishes.

I made the tea cup’s bowl and saucer in one afternoon, and it was so mundane that I didn’t even bother to photograph the process (sorry). But then it came time to add the handle to the tea bowl and I knew I was in for it BIG TIME. I pondered the engineering and came up with an audacious plan.

This is the tea cup that I used as my model:

Wedgwood, style “Derwent” scalloped, 1964 – 68, now discontinued.

I am left handed so I never use a tea cup in this orientation (as shown above), but when I had to draw it I could only do it in its right-handed mode. I drew the handle, then I flipped it and traced its reverse image there on the paper beneath the cup so I wold have two exact copies of the handle I wanted to make:

Let’s call this handle shape, the “Q”.

I am going to try to re-make the handle as a form (in other words, I am not going to wrap it, as I would the trunk of a tree; or roll it and bend it as I would a tree branch). That strip of paper with the notches cut out of it, called the strap, is what I am going to glue between the two mirror-image “Q”s. I have to be very precise when I fold up the notched edges, so I use a small ruler like so:

This is the strap ready to be glued into place:

I lay down a line of elmer’s glue and let it set for a minute or two, to be less runny and more “tacky”:

Then I lay down the strap onto the glue, using the fat end of my scalpel to tap it in place (because my big fat fingers won’t fit in this teeny space):

I let the glue dry, and then I trimmed the “Q”(mostly) and now I’m ready for the other “Q” to be glued on top:

So now I have a hollow handle, and to my great relief, if fits against the Alice in Wonderland tea bowl I made earlier:

Then I take text from my $1 copy of Alice in Wonderland and glue it onto one of the”Q”s, and I insert an inner strap to make the handle not hollow:

That’s the tea bowl and saucer in the background.

Of course I’m using the name of the chapter as decoration on the outer strap:

I pay attention to detail.

And this is the wonder of engineering that is the paper handle for my paper tea cup:

It fits!

The bowl was almost perfectly circular until the glue dried, then it got wonky.

Because of how I want to use this tea cup and saucer, I am not adding the foot that is in the Wedgwood prototype but some day, I would like to make a footed paper tea cup, yes I would.

I am very proud of this tea cup. You can actually pick it up by its handle — it works, and it’s sturdy.

I can’t show you, yet, how I’m going to use this tea cup with the Cheshire Cat tree, because I am photographing all my book art pieces for posterity and I can only do that in my dining room when it’s overcast ousted. It’s been sunny the past few days — cold, with random snow flurries that don’t stick around, but sunny — but I can show you some of the book art that I’ve succeeded getting pictures of so far:

Top Cat got me some large sheets of beautiful dark black suede-like paper, and I made little set with several sheets of this paper taped into the recesses of the window seat that is built into the north wall of our dining room.

Here’s Farmer McGregor’s vegetable garden and the Wind in the Willows scene that you read about back in January:

When I was in Florida two weeks ago I raided some thrift shops and found The Velveteen Rabbit, and Thumper to add to Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny. The White Hare came with Alice:

I used Inga Moore’s illustrations for Mole, Rat, Frog, and Badger from Wind in the Willows:

Dear Reader Francesca sent me a wonderful copy of WITW with the the wonderful illustrations by Ernest Shepard, but I could not make them work for this project, in which all the characters have to be playing golf. The nest time you’re looking through a children’s picture book, see if you can find characters that are striking poses into which you can insert a golf club.

It’s not easy.

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. It’s Michael Cohen Testimony Before the House Oversight Committee Day + 2, a great day to be alive in America (for the first time since Nov. 9, 2011).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more

If you haven’t read about our dear sweet half-cat Dennis (Top Cat and I shared him with our neighbors) you can catch up with the him in the post that follows today’s usual blather about terribly important things such as weather, other cats, champagne, books, and stuff you can make out of books. We love Dennis to infinity and beyond.

Let’s start today’s drivel with Taffy on Wednesday morning, when that little brain of his, which is attuned to all the vibrations of this wondrous cosmos, detected an exciting snow storm barreling towards us here on the north shore of Long Island and celebrated with a roll in his favorite patch of dirt:

That’s Taffy’s mortal enemy, Bibs, watching him, thinking, How is it possible that this idiot is the boss of me?

A few hours later, here’s Taffy surveying the same spot:

And then his little brain sparks joy and he dances upon the flakes. It’s SNOWING!!

Meanwhile, on the front stoop, here’s Steve emerging from his super-cozy heated cubby to let me know that he’d like something along the lines of a nice turkey pâté, please:

And now, Dear Readers, due to a severe lack of snow here on the north shore of Long Island in the months of December and January, here is your very first Winter of 2019 Champagne-O-Meter!!

12:30 PM:

1:30-ish PM:

A little after 2:30 PM:

3:31 PM:

4:40PM:

Just before 5:30 PM:

6:45 PM:

It was an underwhelming blizzard, but the next morning, the Champagne-O-Meter was perfection:

There is nothing better than a bottle of bubbly that has been cooling deep in Nature’s ice bucket for ten hours. I wish I drank champagne for breakfast but I’m not that much of a degenerate, yet, so the Champagne-O-Meter been moved to the fridge, counting the hours until 5 o’clock.

So let us move on, from cats and champagne, to cats and books and stuff that you can make out of books.

I know you know what’s happening here:

And I know you know that I’m going to be making this tree and this cat out of paper and the books that I slaughter in the name of art.

To begin, I chopped a derder that I got when I used up the last of my paper towels:

Yes!! Did you know that that cardboard tube inside a roll or TP or paper towels is called a derder?

Now you know.

Then I inserted a taller, slimmer roll of bond paper inside:

This tree is going to be tall and top-heavy, so I need the double-stegnth of the two rolls, one inside the other, to make the tapered trunk. But I had to figure out how to make the inside roll stay in place and I have to confess, this is the part of making stuff out of paper that I LOVE.

I LOVE McGuyvering solutions to really stupid problems. So I came up with this:

BTW, that’s my diamond-grading tweezers. You need the needle-like tips to grasp a loose diamond and, it turns out, it’s also really good for grasping tiny bits of paper.

You see how the O-Ring slips over the inside roll, down to meet the top of the derder?

Now I have to stabilize the two rolls:

This is how I make the tree trunk into a taper:

DONE:

(With the taper. We have a long, long ways to go until we done with the tree.)

While you wait for the taper to dry (it’s loaded with Elmer’s glue), you can make some various size rolls and flat sticks that you will use for tree branches:

When the taper is dry, you take your scalpel and hack a hole into the side of the tree trunk:

Insert one of your small paper rolls:

This is OK if you want your tree branch to shoot straight out of the tree trunk. But if you want to make a bendy tree branch, you have to cut a little nick into the side of the paper roll like this:

Now you can fold the roll to make a bendy tree branch. You have to slather it with Elmer’s glue and sit holding it while it dries. and this is boring, but you can pass the time rehearsing in your head the scathing comments or bitchslaps you would give to any of the bullshit Kardashians if you would meet them in a dark alley or on a talk show:

Or you can use the time to compose sonnets. It’s up to you:

I don’t have any use for this page that I ripped out of little book that I cut up, except for the green bits in this illustration:

I am cutting out leaves (what a diamond grader would call a “Marquise cut”: ):

The Marquise Cut is a low-class cut in that it is shallow (a bad thing for a diamond to be) and is for people who want a lot of bling for the buck. It’s a showy cut, and is reserved for getting the most out of an inferior stone. I see a Marquise Cut (you pronounce the “S”) and I think, Tacky. It’s the diamond equivalent of riding a motorized scooter around a Walmart parking lot drinking wine out of a Pringle’s can, except that I definitely want to be best friends with that lady.

A good round cut is a very fine cut, but an Emerald Cut is divine.

I glue these leaves on one at a time, using my diamond-grading tweezers to place them onto the branches:

It is a very delicate and thoughtful and time-consuming operation that might drive some people crazy, but I find it extremely calming and mentally absorbing. I LOVE doing this.

This is what the tree looks like from behind:

Then I had to leave town and go . . .

. . . to FLORIDA! I had to visit my favorite Florida kitties, Sammy. . .

. . . and Mabel, wo had never seen a Winter coat before so she had to test drive it for kitty compatibility:

I left sunny warm FLORIDA on a Delta flight that for some reason tracked us as if we were flying out of West Africa to JFK:

Sorry for the red herring. But if I ever go back to Africa, which I probably never will, it would not be back to my old stomping grounds of the west; it would be to South or East Africa to see gorillas and to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

My theory is that the same computer glitch that had us flying out of the Gulf of Guinea also booked the plane with only 18 passengers:

There were 106 empty seats on this plane! It was the single greatest plane ride I have ever taken! No fights for the overhead luggage racks, no shoving for arm rests, and everybody got double free bevvies and snacks, and de-planing was a joy. A joy, I tell you.

And then I came home and finished the tree. . .

. . . except for the cat:

I did, I did vandalize a hard copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to get this cat, and then I put him in the tree whence he grins, and I saw that I ad made the tree too damn big. Bummer. Buuuuuuuummer.

P.S., I don’t mind that the tree looks very lumpy and home-made — that’s my esthetic — but in future I do want to concentrate on making more tree-like trees.

Well wouldn’t you know it — the used book store comes to the rescue!!

We got a donation that included this catalogue of all the best art and object sales in Christie’s showrooms for the year 1987 (and this is a shot of my work space because making book art is very messy). . .

. . . and I’m sure that we don’t have buyers for this book so perchance I opened it to check out the end papers to see if I should salvage them and OH MY GOD:

The universe must love me. I must be, like, one of its darlings. Don’t you always feel that way, when you take the time to count your blessings (and then use them as proof that you are indeed one way above-average and anointed being, or is that just me?).

Thank you, Great Spirit, for this 1987 record-breaking sale of original illustrations by Sir John Tenniel:

This Cheshire Cat is the right size, and it’s printed on nice heavy-card stock:

Here’s my new cat in the tree:

And that brings us to the end of this week’s installment of VivianWorld.

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. Count your blessings, Dear Readers, however small, because we are all beloved equally by a benevolent and beguiling universe.

XXOO

 

 

 

Read more

I took this picture of Dennis (below) and Taffy (above) on January 4:

Dennis looked like his usual self, tubby and content, but little did we know that he was, in fact, getting very sick.

When he took a nap on one of our dining room chairs later that month, on January 22, I had no reason to believe that he was not the healthy, dreamy kitty he’s always been in the three years that I have known him. Look at his body language! Everything about him says I’m happy and relaxed and do you have any turkey-flavored treats you want to give me?:

On February 1, he was napping in his favorite sunbeam in the hutch in our backyard and I called him, over and over, Dennis, Come inside, Dennis, It’s too cold for kittens, Dennis!

And he calmly blinked back at me,giving me that look that said Why is she yelling, and who is this Dennis?

He could always make me laugh.

I came home from my travels late on February 14 and I picked up Dennis to give him a hug and I was shocked. He had suddenly become very thin! This is always worrying. Then I remembered that his appetite had seemed to drop off in the past two weeks, but I assumed it was because his parents next door were feeding him something he liked better (and that’s what they thought, too, when he became a picky eater over at their house).

Dennis’ parents were away on a week-long trip to Florida, so I took him to the vet the next day, a Friday. The vet felt his tummy and could tell that his kidneys were enlarged and she also felt “a mass”. She took blood and gave me the results the next day.

Dennis is in kidney failure. He needs a sonogram to confirm our worst fears about that “mass”, so I got him the first available appointment with a specialist at the animal hospital, on Monday.

Late Sunday night, his parents came home from their own travels. I saw them Monday morning to tell them about our sick kitty, and this news stunned them for the same reasons it gob-smacked Top Cat and me — Dennis seemed so normal and healthy, all the way up until the time that his situation became catastrophic overnight.

We all went to the specialist together.

The specialist confirmed the worst. Dennis has lymphoma, a cancer that begins in the lymph nodes and spreads to other organs. In this case, Dennis’ kidneys are affected. The specialist told us that further  treatment (chemotherapy) is not recommended due to the severity of Dennis’ cancer and the damage done to his kidneys. Dennis’ prognosis is very poor. It’s a matter of days.

I have kissed him a hundred times, and told him how much I love him, and he is home now with his parents and his favorite blankets and toys. Although he is not in pain, he probably feels queasy due to the toxins that are building up in his body  due to his malfunctioning kidneys. He is being kept comfortable. We’ll know when it’s time to bundle him up and take him back to the vet, for the last time.

Dennis is seven years old. We had to chose a birthday for his hospital records, so I picked February 14, 2012. He’ll always be my Valentine.

May 12, 2016. The first photo of the new kitty in my backyard.

 

May 21, 2016. I think this new kitty is sizing us up.

 

June 23, 2016. Sure. Make yourself at home. My garden shed is your garden shed, stranger.

 

July 21, 2016. I think this one is a keeper. I better get my TNR ready.

 

Read more

This is the actual flight tracker on Delta Airlines (seat 20C) from my flight home yesterday:

There is more to the story, but I’ll have to tell you all about it next Friday.

I am jet-lagged today and Dennis is doing poorly so first things first: a trip to the vet and then, a nice long nap.

See you here on the 22nd.

In the meantime, have a great weekend. Hakuna matata y’all.

 

 

Read more

I didn’t watch der Dumpster give the State of the Union address but I’ve been reading all about it:

Here are some other possible captions:

Rush this into movie production. I don’t even need to know the plot; I just know it stars Julianne Moore and I will see it five times in the theaters.

Sung to the tune of She’s Always a Woman To Me by Billy Joel:

She can kill with a clap, she can wound with her eyes
And she’s far from impressed with your Soviet ties
And she’d quite like to stab you and laugh as you bleed
She’s Madame Speaker and she’s Nancy the Great One to me

If this isn’t sign language for Fuck you, Asshole, it should be.

From Nancy Pelosi’s daughter: oh yes that clap took me back to the teen years. She knows. And she knows that you know. And frankly she’s disappointed that you thought this would work. But here’s a clap.

Remember how, right after the November elections, everyone thought Nancy Pelosi was too centrist and too Old Party Democrat to be an effective anti-Dumpster Speaker of the House? And now, ever since she manhandled der Dumpster into re-opening the federal government, suddenly everyone loves Nancy Pelosi.

Rock on. When I’m 78-years old, I want to be like her: The Head Bitch in Charge.

Back to the real news: I was sorting through old books at the used book store that I co-manage here on the north shore of Long Island and I realized that I have been a real dope all this past year.

I could kick myself for not having thought of this sooner. . .  all the books that I have to throw out (because they are cookbooks, which no one wants to buy anymore; or they are in terrible condition; or they are religious books, which don’t sell; or they are rejected for any number of reasons) all those books often have very nice free-end papers (see above) that are heavy stock and come in colors that are more subtle and interesting than what you can buy in any art supply store.

Jeeze. I could have been collecting some great free-end papers all this time.

This is what I got from one day of hauling out the trash:

Can you imagine how this will impact (yes, I use “impact” as a verb, so sue me) my book art? Because this is a legit way to get color into the stuff I build out of old crap books that no one wants.

Consider this Vivian’s Tip Of The Day For Making Your Life Better: Get the free-end papers before you throw.

Are you familiar with the J R R Tolkien fantasy novel called The Hobbit? All you have to know is that it’s set in a world where little people live in luxury hobbit-holes dug into the sides of hills and mountains, like this:

This is Bag End, the home of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit from the upper classes of hobbits in The Shire, from the Peter Jackson movie trilogy Lord of the Rings (above and below).

Please note that winding uphill walkway that leads to the round front door. I will be cursing it shortly.

Because of course, this is what I decided to build out of books: Bag End.

I started out making a supporting structure in 2 pieces:

The top is just a dome that I made by criss-crossing strips that I cut out of a book that had nice medium-heavy pages. The bottom bit is a platform, of sorts, that I made out of a Triscuit (the delicious baked-wheat cracker snack) box. . . but after pondering how I was going to insert a winding uphill walkway into a box-like platform, I saw that there was no way I could achieve that in this set-up. So I ripped it apart and built another one out of one of those heavier free-end papers (white):

It was NOT EASY to make this supporting platform, because it had to be circular and curve around the dome, and leave me a recess into which I could insert that damn winding uphill walkway.

This (below) is how I stabilized the platform so it cold be free-standing, and also how I cut it down by half an inch because I made it too high:

I started to glue in strips of bond paper to make the platform slope into the dome . . .

. . . but I realized that I would have to complete the facade of the hobbit hole before I could add to the structure to make the slopes. I did not take photos of my construction of the facade because I am a dope and I was rather absorbed in seeing if this would work out — it was iffy — so here’s a photo of how I inserted that damn winding uphill walkway into the platform structure after I had finished making the facade:

Oh yes. This was as persnickety as it looks. This stairway of the winding uphill walkway took what seemed like hours to do, but was probably only 50 minutes. I had to fiddle with it because none of my first ideas worked — but combined with my second and third ideas with a last-minute fourth idea, I got a reasonable facsimile of a staircase.

Then I covered the treads and the risers of the staircase of the winding uphill walkway with text and other bits:

This is when Top Cat wandered in to my work room and looked over my shoulder and said, “Jeeze, honey, I don’t know…”

I understand that it looks terrible, but I’m not looking at this as a work-in-progress. I’m seeing it finished. That’s the only way I can carry on: Hope Against Hope.

I should tell you that I am using the BEST book for cutting out good green bits for grassy hills and such:

It’s the same paperback children’ book that I used for Farmer MacGregor’s vegetable garden. The only problem with this book is that the pages are thick (Top Cat knows paper and he could tell you how many microns thick it is, but he’s not here right now) and it takes a lot of finesse to drape this somewhat stiff paper over a dome. Be warned. But oh! The illustrations are so delicious!

It all came down to this, the last gap in the back of my hobbit hole:

The paper was too stiff to simply lay a strip over that gap to connect those two sloping ends. So I cut out this:

The notches in the form make the paper more bendy, and it also camouflages the “seams” on each side:

For the record, I am always this careful with the backsides of my builds. For instance, remember this?

This is what it looks like on the side that no one will see:

To finish off Bag End, I cut out some neat little details from my source book:

They covered up little gaps in the coverage and add interest, if you know what I mean. Visual interest to those who are examining this hobbit hole with a magnifying glass, which no one will, but I’m a double Capricorn with Virgo tendencies so I’m a little obsessive:

DONE:

Top Cat saw this and he said, Wow. I’m not sure it’s a WOW wow, but certainly it’s wowier than when he last time he saw it.

The original plan was for this hobbit hole to go in the foreground of this story, with the Wild Things:

But I forgot that Bag End has a tree that grows atop it, so that nixes that. I’m going to have to make a new story, and a new tree, for a stand-alone Bag End:

Did you hear that the East Coast, including us here on the north shore of Long Island, got a fine heat wave this week and temperatures soared to almost 70 degrees? It was life-affirming, and sun, and I couldn’t resist taking this photo —

The light in the forest. Nice.

Speaking of forests. . . it’s cloudy again, but still mild for Winter, and Taffy has often been missing in action. He has started to do day-long Walk Abouts, and you know how you always fret when your indoor/outdoor cats don’t show up for breakfast. So I had to go find Taffy the other day, and I had to trek through the small woods that separates my backyard from the neighbor’s. In Summer, this woods is so thick that I never even see their house, but in Winter it’s shockingly bare and Taffy doesn’t come when called so I had to venture out where the Wild Things are. Can you see Taffy in this photo (below)?:

He let me pick him up and carry him home. He’s a sweet cat. He’s a terrible brat, yes, but he’s sweet.

On warm days, Steve comes out of his heating-padded nest by the front stoop and sits on his favorite place on our front porch wall:

Dare I say it? We can’t wait for Spring. Which hits here in mid-May.

But wait, there’s more.

We got this in with a nice donation last week:

It was published in 1998. Remember how cute William was when he had all that blond hair? I don’t understand how he’s bald already, since his father has decent hair, and 97-year-old father’s father has respectable hair, and his mother’s father had plenty of hair, and his mother’s brother and nephew have loads of hair. How did he got the bald gene??

I have section in the used book store for British History, and a subsection of Royal Bios. I am surprised that we don’t sell out of our royal bios, because we have some good ones from Alfred the Great to, now, William. This People Magazine bio is available for $1.00.

And here’s the best picture from Prince William’s bio:

Even cat-people can love this. (That looks like his cousin, Lady Gabriella Windsor, behind him.)

Hounds, princes, hobbits, tips for better living. . . now you see why I only blog once a week. (Top Cat still says my posts are too long. Excuuuuse me for being so fascinating.)

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. Truth is marching on.

 

 

 

Read more

I like to make things. And I like books. Last Summer, I combined these two interests and I started to make stuff out of books:

I made castles, and then they were put on display at our local library:

Now I’m on a Tree kick. . .

. . . so that’s why I chose to do this scene even though I am not, at all, a big fan of the book Where The Wild Things Are:

Here was a chance to do a little forest of trees, with branches intertwined, and with all different kinds of foliage. Cool!

As usual, I began by rolling a short length of plain white bond paper and gluing it to make something that resembles a big fat straw:

I thought it was a stroke of genius to use one of these large clips as a holder.

I wish I had good corrugated cardboard, but I only had crappy corrugated cardboard, so I had to glue several pieces together to make a nice fat branch. I then cut holes into the “straw” into which I inserted the “branches”:

I also cut the “straw” so I could make one end of it tapered — the “branches” are all firmly glued into place:

Then I wrap it all up:

I have a book that contains half the plays of Shakespeare. The pages are very thin, and the print is rather small, which makes it the ideal wrapping material.  I cut each page into strips, and then I wrap the strip around whatever “start” or “branch” I am working on. I load the strip up with glue, so it’s like hanging wallpaper: it’s really messy. The print will come off while you’re handling it, and the glue will leak, and your hands will get crusty and grimy. I have to rinse off my hands between every other strip that I wrap.

But in the end, with all that glue and those layers of text, your “tree” will be very, very sturdy.

Now, remember the image that I’m using from Where The Wild Things Are?

If you look closely at the top of the illustration, yo’ll see that the trees all have different leaves:

The tree at the end is a broad-leaf, so bread leaves is what I made:

The tree next to it has strange little curlicue leaves, so I rolled up some more “straws”, in two different sizes. . .

. . . which I then cut, in 1/4 – inch intervals, so that a I reduced the “straw” into a little pile of “rings”. I glued the little rings into groups like this:

The middle tree, the one on which the little kid is swinging, is a palm! Oh, those palm fronds were a lot of fun to make!

Unfortunately, I did to take any photos of making the palm fronds, but here are the three trees, plus the next-to-last one, with all their various leaves glued into place:

See those black and white photocopy of the characters from Where The Wild Things Are?  I only used them as a guide to how the trees would fit together, and how the characters would “land” on their branches. The illustration in the book is very large, too large for my purposes, so I made color copies of them at 50% their original size (I’m a miniaturist at heart).

If you remember the original illustration:

You can see that the characters are swinging from rather short trees, so now I know how much I have to cut off my paper trees. And, so, now I can make the thingy that will let the trees stand up on their own:

See those strips of text? That’s what I will use to wrap the foot of this tree.

DONE:

And yes, I did glue all the trees together (branches) and here they are, in place:

There were a few miscalculations about the heights of trees. I’m never doing this again but if I did, it would be more uniform. Although I do like the syncopation of the swingers from hi to lo, if you know what I mean.

In the original illustration, there is a lot of vegetation on the ground — vines and leaves and tall grass. That’s good for me, because I need to use ground vegetation to cover up the fact that my middle tree, the one siting across the inside spine of the open book, is not flush with the surface upon which the trees are standing.

I like to use pages from several different books when I do Book Art. Since there is no color to these things, I use the differences in the size and character of the fonts and typesets of the texts, and the differences in weight and tone of the paper, to give variety and interest.

For first two ground covers, I’m using some very cool pages from a book about music, for obvious reasons:

One tree had a small, bushy-type of thing growing around its base:

Another tree had more of a vine-type thing growing around its base:

Maybe the differences between the two is not terribly important to anyone but me, but yes, one of these is a bush, and one is a vine:

And for the other three trees, I made a different kind of bush, and some tall grass (as it is in the original illustration — you know that I’m a stickler for accuracy):

And here’s the whole shebang:

I have made this piece, let’s call it Wild Thing, as a companion to a previous piece I’ve showed you, let’s call it Dragon Cliff:

I still have a dragon or two that I want to include in this story (“story” is what I call the things I’m making; each book that I cut up or use as a platform for the forms I’m making tell a “story”). So there will be dragons playing miniature miniature golf with the wild wings in the background.

About the Dragon Cliff:

The fellow in the yellow cardigan is Arthur the Aardvark:

I was lucky to find him in a pose that is uncharacteristically wary. (Congratulations to Fresca and Steve for guessing it correctly!)

The kid with the taco, and his dog, are the kid and the dog from the book Dragons Love Tacos:

Getting that kid into shape so he could stand up on those incredibly spindly legs was murder, but I am a freaking genius at cutting and gluing hair-width pieces of paper together. (Kudos to Casey!)

The two girls peering over the edge of the end paper are from:

(Honorable Mention to Fresca and Casey!)

And the dragon is from the dust jacket of:

Cool dragon. I know the dragon has a name, but I haven’t so much as glanced into the book (third in a series of four, all about dragons) so I can’t tell you what her name is. (Steve stands alone on this one! )

And, lastly, the polar vortex slammed onto the north shore of Long Island yesterday and I’ve been pre-occupied with insulating my feral outdoor cat, Steve, against zero-degree weather . On Monday I went to the thrift store and found a nice warm puffy vest that I took home and washed, and then I wrapped it around Steve’s heating pad to give him an extra layer of coziness in his nest by the front stoop:

Steve seemed to like the new accoutrement very much, but the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your outdoor kitty is warm and safe only lasted two days. Then the snow squall came in — a furious blast of fine snow that only lasted half an hour, but did damage:

A little snow blew into Steve’s nest, and I was hoping that wouldn’t happen. Snow in there would melt because of the heating pad under the puffy vest, and it would soak the material of the vest, and be a cold, damp resting place, which would not be good for Steve. So I took the vest out and layered a nice big pile of  straw all around and on top of his heating pad; straw wicks moisture better than any other insulating material.

Steve nestled right down in the straw, and when I checked on him the morning after our dangerously cold night, he moseyed out and stretched as if it were any lazy Summer morn.

Today it is cold — 5 degrees this morning, to a high of 15 degrees — but sunny, and this is Steve on his stoop:

One more day of this bone-chilling weather and then it will warm up to the 40s and I can go back to my normal worrying about Steve’s comfort and happiness like I usually do.

And here’s Taffy, risking frostbite to do his thing in his favorite patch of dirt:

Have a great weekend, everyone. This Saturday is Groundhog Day, and Winter is calendrically half over!!

XXOO

 

 

Read more

You all know Dennis, the cat from next door who, most mornings and afternoons, hunkers down in my house because he thinks that we are his Kitty Day Care providers?

This is Dennis in my dining room this past Tuesday morning:

Dennis is a cool cat, but he is not cool with me hovering near him with a camera. If I get too close, he skedaddles, makes himself scarce, vanishes like he’s from Cheshire. I was starting to think that getting the photo I want would be impossible because I have long been stalking him to get a good photo of him in lounging mode (above) but finally, this past Tuesday morning, I got what we lunatic cat stalkers call The Money Shot:

This (above) is Dennis’s back right foot, which I have long wanted to show you all because Dennis has the most adorable tootsies, as you can now see. Dennis’s toes make me happy.

This past Tuesday morning must have been my lucky day because I also got another photo that I thought would be impossible:

These are the Blue Jays who love the dry cat food that I put out on the den patio with the birdseed every morning. Blue Jays are bossy and brave in addition to being beautiful, but getting them to pose together is like herding cats because as soon as they can see me at the picture window in the den they tend to bugger off like they were Cardinals (Cardinals being the chickens of the song birds).  But last Tuesday morning I bagged 5 of them!

Blue Jays make me very happy. I must have Blue Jays in my life.

You might have heard that this past Tuesday morning it was bitter cold here on the north shore of Long Island. Temperatures were in the single digits and, with wind chill and all, conditions were arctic and the governor warned all New Yorkers to stay inside or else your eyeballs would freeze instantly it you ventured outside for a split second.

So this is Taffy, doing his thing in his favorite patch of dirt on the coldest day:

His eyeballs are just fine, thank you. And Thank You, Dear Readers and Commenters, for your concern over Taffy’s limp last week. The vet did not find any wound or any broken bones in his front leg, but she did feel some muscle damage which, taken into account with two small, healing head wounds, made her conclude that Our Boy had been in a battle and had over-extended himself. Did you know the a cat has 6 muscles in his foreleg? Taffy has blown out one, or all six, of them. They will heal, but in the meantime they are going to be tender and he should stay out of fights.

But the reason we all love Taffy so much is because he is so much more than a fighter. You all remember that last week his mama cat, Candy, came home from the vet, having been knocked out so the doctor could pull an in-grown claw from the pad of one of her front toes? It was the first time that I have ever handled her in the ten years we have known each other, the first time she’d been put in a carrier, the first time she’s seen a vet. It was a very stressful day for the poor kitty.

Well, as you can imagine, Candy was pretty wrung out and shaken from the experience, so she curled up on her bed in the living room to recuperate.

So this is what her dear boy did:

Taffy is impossibly sweet.

Last week I showed you the plan for my latest Book Art:

Illustration from Where The Wild Things Are, written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1963.

I do not know how I failed to correctly assess the impossibility of doing this scene. You have to make five trees, each one with different leaves, with all those limbs, and all those limbs intertwining, with all those limbs coming out at the correct angles so you can hang the critters correctly.

Nope. I did not see any of that coming. No wonder it’s taken me almost two weeks and it’s still not done. But I’ll show you the Work-in-Progress:

And this is where I made fake arms so I could glue the paws of the critters onto the tree limbs:

And here are the different ways I made tree leaves:

The Palm Tree was, by far, the most fun tree to make.

Next week I will show you the finished forest, with all the ground vegetation that is shown (or hinted at) in the original illustration. Does anyone want to see a short step-by-step photo essay of The Making Of The Impossible Thing?

But wait, there’s more, because my life is just too exciting to stop here.

We got in a strange donation at the used book store that I co-manage, and this is just one of the strange books that was part of this strange donation:

Can you guess what this book is? No? Then let me show you:

Printed in 1932 by Simon and Schuster.

This book, much like Where The Wild Thigsxare, is also illustrated by the author.

But Mr. Van Loos is a strange guy:

I do not know why Mr. Van Loos needed to express the Ile de France (the part of France that contains Paris) in the form of saucers, but he did, and now you’ve seen it, too.

And then there’s this:

I don’t know how well this shows up if you are reading this blog on a phone, but this is a portrait of Ireland (?) and the text above it is a very patronizing take on the Irish people, and their love of fairies.

For a geographer, Mr. Van Loos was an extraordinarily lousy cartographer. Here’s his map of Europe:

And this, this (below), is just weird:

The North Pole. Of Asteroid B-612, that is.

Why would someone write such a book? Why would anyone publish such a book? And why on Earth would anyone buy such a book??

I don’t know if I love this book, or if it gives me the creeps.

I can’t think straight because this has been another exhausting week in America and I can’t tell if this is the beginning of the end for our union, or if it’s the end of the beginning of the end of our republic. There is no where to go from here but dissolution of the United States, so the Blue States can unify in liberal democracy and the Red States can unite in their racist, misogynist, and evangelical delusions.

I just hope that ,when the time comes, no shots will be fired.

But let’s not dwell on this unpleasantness.

Because no matter what goes on in Washington, no matter how many MAGA hats the jerk-face future Kavanaughs from Covington wear, no matter how long the government stays shut down, this is what I come home to:

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones.

 

Read more

To become a Book Person, you need to like being around books.

It helps if you have read a book or two, so you know how they work (front to back, one page at a time).

A love for oriental carpets, a partiality for rainy days, and a high regard for a good cup of tea doesn’t hurt.

You have to know that there is no such thing as a non-fiction novel, no matter how many people come into the used book store and ask for such a thing.

Finally, a strong back is a must.

It seems as if there are a lot of people on the north shore of Long Island who made the same New Year’s Resolution to de-clutter their lives:

Last week, in one swell foop, I  got ten boxes of books dropped off at the used books store that I co-manage, to add to the overflow of donations that I already had. Worse than that, there was hardly anything worth keeping in the ten boxes, the donor being a person who bought a lot of paperback books in the 1960s and ’70s on the role of Islamic art and religion on the culture of medieval Europe. Who knew that there could be so many books on the the role of Islamic art and religion on the culture of medieval Europe??

There were also some very dated, but interesting (to me and, thus, to the store’s inventory) books about European travel — but I love reading guide books from the Olden Days. I love reading that a blow-out meal at the Ritz in  London in 1965 cost $9.00.

And then there’s this, my favorite book from the whole shebang:

Published in 1980, this book is dedicated:

To the many correspondents near and far — the ardently devoted squirrel people and the equally ardent anti-squirrel people — whose numerous and sometimes multiple communications, written and oral, made this volume possible.

One.  Who knew that there was such a thing as squirrel people?

Two.  Whose teeth marks are those on the corners?

Three. A book this quaint makes me feel that 1980 was a very, very, very long time ago. But wait. Wasn’t I 24 years old  just a minute or two ago?

Being a Book Person means that you never run out of things to think about.

And then, just this morning (Thursday, Jan. 17), I was back at the used book store and found this on the front porch of the historic Valentine House where you can find my used book store in the front parlor:

I had to lug it all indoors myself:

But I can’t really complain, since this is how we get inventory for the used book store, and these tomato boxes are fabulous!

I’m pretty sure these tomato boxes are vintage. So Cool.

After a couple of hours of sorting, I had this:

All the books that are in piles on the floor are keepers.

Now all I have to do is price them and shelve them in the bookcases that are already full.

So, in the next few days of this Book Person’s life, I will have to cull the bookshelves and discard the ones that have been there as long as I have been co-managing the store. That is, since last February. A Book Person must not be afraid of Letting Books Go.

In addition to doing the filthy work of hauling and sorting and stacking, I also went through all our hardback and paperback novels and sorted them into five categories:

Mysteries (Who Dunnits, Page Turners)

Historical Fiction

Classics

Guilty Pleasures (Daniel Steele, Nora Roberts, The Notebook)

Fiction (best sellers from the past 10 years)

Breaking up our fiction section, from being one big slew of 1,000 books, into more beguiling sections will make our inventory easier  and more fun to browse. I’m also raising our price from 50 cents to $1.00 per book. Because, you know, the collection is now curated.

So today, after three hours of carting all these books to and fro, I was very tired.

The store is closed this whole month so I can re-stock the inventory and make these changes but just as I was about to close up and go home, a couple of nice ladies from a neighboring town stopped by. They were at our library to hear a lecture about UFOs and wanted to check out the book store, which they had never seen before. So we chatted and I let them look through the children’ books and I made $2.00 for the Friends of Bryant Library.

Not that anybody’s going to give me a $100 gift certificate to Amazon, or anything, for all my troubles.

Thank you, all you Dear Readers, and especially all you Fabulous Commenters, for weighing-in on last week’s controversy. This little blog has the best comments I’ve ever read anywhere on the internets, and I am mightily thought-provoked by each of your messages.

And yes, it was my birthday this past Wednesday, January 16. and my own Top Cat knows exactly what to get me to make my B-day purrfect:
I would never buy a gallon of Elmer’s glue, but Top Cat was raised by rich parents and he knows how to splurge. He also knows that making Book Art (which is something that us Book People do) takes a lot of Elmer’s glue. I used almost an entire third of my small bottle of Elmer’s just making this last week:

The top photo is at eye level.

This one below is taken from 5 feet, six inches up:

I used three children’ books and one YA fantasy novel. Can you guess which ones?

I am wrist-deep in glue for my new Book art thing, which is a 3D Book Art re-interpretation of this scene:

I am using a crazy amount of glue and I hope it will be finished soon so I can show it to you all next Friday.

In the meantime, I must explain last week’s Taffy citing, where I showed you all this photo and called Taffy “kind of a jerk”:

That’s Taffy, on top, and that’s Dennis, on the bottom. See Taffy’s tail? He’s doing that thing that your little brother used to do, when you had to sit with him in the back seat of your parent’s car, and he’d sit too close to the diving line between your part of the back seat and his part of the back seat, plus he’d breathe on you, and repeat everything you said, and act all innocent when you lean over and threaten to punch his teeth out and shove them one by one up his nose if he didn’t cut it out right now.

This week, we noticed that Taffy has been limping. I’m sure it’s his front right paw that hurts, the one he holds up to take the weight of it when he sits in front of the refrigerator reminding you that this is where you keep the cream cheese and he’s a guy who loves cream cheese and now would be a good time to give cream cheese to a Taffy who loves cream cheese.

I’m publishing this on Thursday afternoon (4:30-ish) so I hope that the time lag isn’t too bad between now and when this post finally turns up in your browser (or whatever) so you’ll know that Taffy is going to see the vet on Friday at 2:00.

If all his paw needs is a little bit of Elmer’s glue, he’ll be fine.

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones.

 

 

Read more