January 2019

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.

 

 

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Look at this poor pathetic lonesome kitty (Dennis, from next door) huddling in the hutch in the backyard in the pouring rain:

Have no fear, five minutes later he was hanging with his frenemy, Taffy:

If you can read Cat Body language, you’ll know that Taffy is kind of being a jerk.

I also have bird action going on in my backyard. Every morning before dawn (sun rise today was 7:19 AM) I fill the bird feeder that hangs at the picture window in our den. Then, because only tiny birds can perch on the bird feeder, I pour a pile of bird seed onto the small cafe table that is on our den patio for the bigger birds. I also pour some dry cat food out because the Blue Jays and the squirrels love it:

Shortly after I do my pour, here comes Taffy, kind of being a jerk again:

I couldn’t get a picture of the Cardinals and Blue Jays that swoop in for the buffet, but here’s the next shift of big birds, the doves:

By noon, this is what the table looks like:

Today I’m going to answer Dear Reader Casey’s request for close up info about the garden I made last week:

This is Farmer MacGregor’s garden, famous for being the garden that Peter Rabbit raided , when he was being naughty, in the Beatrix Potter classic, The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

To make the particulars of this garden, I am cutting up another, lesser, children’ classic:

The used book store that I manage for charity had TWO copies of this book, a 50-page paperback picture book. One is in good condition and we priced it at $1.00; the other was a bit beat-up, so we priced it at 50 cents.

As a professional fake garden artist, I can tell you that this is the BEST BOOK EVER for making paper gardens. It has illustrations such as this:

Which, if you look carefully, you will see how I cut up the leaves to make the first two rows of cabbage for Farmer MacGregor’s garden:

See those next tow rows? I think of them as lettuces in the Romaine family, and I cut up an illustration of raging water to make them:

I am not tempted to read this book, so I’m guessing that it’s about little tiny people who live in trees, and then there’s raging water. I don’t know why. But there’s a lot of delightfully useful woodland illustrations, and I cut out a line of trees in the background of one illustration to make the hedge that surrounds Farmer MacGregor’s garden:

I used up both books to make this side of the hedge, so for the front of the hedge I had to cut up this illustration:

And that’s the part that borders Farmer MacGregor’s gate. . .

. . . the gate that Peter scurries under to give mean old Farmer MacGregor the slip:

And here’s Peter Rabbit and his cousin, Benjamin Bunny, playing miniature miniature golf:

I haven’t found the right size bead, yet, to make the ball but I had to show you these two golfing buddies as a work-in-progress because OH MY GOD are they not insanely cute????

But what, there’s more: I also went back to my original Pooh Bear tree and added some golfing details to my favorite bear, plus some other golfers that I think Pooh would like to tee off with:

If you can think of another bear from Storyland, I would love the make this a foursome.

So, when I’m not concocting golf clubs for classic characters in childrens’ literature I’m still pounding the pavement, knocking on doors, barging into offices, begging for money for our local library. I really hate it. It’s cold, I have to wear real clothes, and nobody is thrilled to see me.

Now, we have a nice list of wonderful sponsors so far — they are heroes and I love them. But still…I wish I was selling Girl Scout Cookies, not expensive miniature golf sponsorships. I’m also going through a slew of donations this month at the used book store that I co-manage for the benefit of the library is closed for re-stocking.

I am guessing that a lot of people make a New Year’s resolution to de-clutter and good for them. they are sticking to their guns and clearing out the bookshelves and we have been lucky to get a TON of nice books, plus the usual percentage of filthy crap stuff that I have to box up and have carted out to the landfill and get grubby over.

And I do all this for FREE.

So when I found out at the last board meeting of the Friends of the local library that the president of the Friends had OK’d rather large holiday  GIFTS to some of the library administrators, I hit the roof.

These administrators are getting paid thanks to local tax payers like me. They also get, thanks to the local tax payers, full pensions. They and all their dependents, thanks to local tax payers, get very nice medical and DENTAL benefits. And, honestly, being a librarian in a small village is one of the easiest damn jobs in the world. And yet, they get GIFTS to “thank them” for going “above and beyond” for the Friends??? As it was explained to me, this means that the staff spends a few hours a year making photo copies and filling in tax forms for the Freieds and lets us take a room in their annex to sell used books.

Right: For letting me work like a stevedore FOR FREE so I can turn over all the money I get from working at the used book store and begging for donations from the business community, I should be grateful for the minuscule amount of work the staff does during their working day??

I was shouting at the president that I’m sure that when someone gives a charitable donation to the Friends of the Library that they do not want that donation spent on Amazon gift Certificates for the damn library staff. In fact, the IRS doesn’t like that either and I was PISSED off enough to go read all about what a 501 (c) (3) can and cannot spend its tax-free charitable donation on and I’m ready to go to the mattresses for to make sure we do not spend any more damn money for damn GIFTs for the damn library staff.

So I ask you, Dear Readers, am I being righteous or am I just being kind of a jerk?

I wonder what our resident kind-of-a-jerk Taffy would do:

Well, that’s not helpful.

About der Drumpf’s argument for having the taxpayers pony up $5 billion for a southern wall, all I want is for the Democrats to roll the tape where the TrumpDumpster promises, over and over, that he’ll build a wall and Mexico will pay for it. And then, I want the Democrats to look into the camera and yell:

SHOW ME THE PESOS DONNY!

Have a great weekend, Dear Readers.

 

XXOO

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Who does it better?

Dennis, the cat from next door:

Or my own Taffy?

In other cat news, Candy is feeling like her old self. Top Cat and I are convinced that she has forgiven us for hauling her to the vet, and is so happy that her paw doesn’t hurt anymore that she and she’s even being nice to us.

In Vivian news, I’m starting my third series heading up the writer’s workshops at the Willam Cullen Bryant Library next week, which is where the creme de la creme of the North Shore of Long Island hang out every other Thursday evening.  I have to tell you about a very surprising thing I learned from a tri-lingual workshop member, about my second book, Le Road Trip, originally published in English:

One of the workshop participants reads and speaks both Taiwan Chinese. . .

. . . and mainland Chinese. . .

. . .  this dear person was reading my book in all three versions, side by side, as a way to check her own mastery of the three languages. Turns out that she spotted a discrepancy between my original text and the mainland Chinese edition.

On the first page of Le Road Trip, my way of saying Hello to the reader and offering my bone fides as a tour guide through Paris and wine country in France for the next 200 pages, I wrote:

I wouldn’t call myself a travel expert, but that’s just me being modest. OF COURSE I’m a travel expert. I’ve been traveling for 30 years without ONCE going on a cruise. Yes, I’m bragging. I’ve stayed in over 50 youth hostels without ever getting thrown up on. I’ve eaten local delicacies, from brains to fried grasshoppers to goat (with my bare hands) to Amazonian BBQ (God knows what was on that grill. “Is that an ear?” I asked the cook. “Yeah, sure,” he said, so shiftily that I began to worry that ear could be a euphemism for something even more unthinkable. That’s when I learned that there can never be a good answer to the question, Is that an ear?). I’ve been bitten by malarial mosquitos, threatened by wild baboons, stalked by loose moose, and proposed to by a drunken African soldier who broke into my bedroom in the middle of the night. I’ve traipsed in elephant dung and human turds and squished myself in rattle-trap taxis-brousses with snotty babies and leprous beggars. I’ve dodged the leering bachelors of Rome, side-stepped camel spit in Ouagadougou, and stared down the judgmental gaze of Parisians. And through it all I’ve never been hospitalized, jailed, stranded, pierced, tattooed, or ransomed. That’s how good I am. 

Etc.

You know what they say about humor being very hard to translate?

By my count, my third “joke” was mis-interpreted.

Where I wrote I’ve stayed in over 50 youth hostels without ever getting thrown up on, the mainland Chinese translator put: I’ve been thrown out of over 50 youth hostels.

So there you go. My reputation as a hell-raiser is secure in Beijing.

I am typing this just hours after the 116th Congress was sworn in and I feel better already. Much, much, much better about life in this der Drumpf shit storm. Dear Readers, the outlook has just gotten a whole lot sweeter for freedom-loving Americans, like you and me, of above-average intelligence and good looks.

Yay.

Until the indictments start flying, let’s do some gardening!

My inspiration this week was Farmer MacGregor’s garden:

This, of course, is from Beatrix Potter’s wonderful tale about Peter Rabbit and his love of Farmer MacGregor’s lettuce:

Right. We need to make a vegetable garden with a gate, surrounded by a hedge, and we need to build it in this open book next to the Pooh Bear tree:

So I built a raised platform, as you can see, so that the rows of vegetables can be visible:

I re-inforced the raised platform with heavy stock paper, so I could cut small slits into it to insert little colored bits that represent cabbages and lettuces:

Like magic, the bits stand up by themselves, although I put a dollop of glue behind each bit to hold it in place forever:

And this is the complete garden:

If you remember your Beatrix Potter, Peter Rabbit loses his little blue jacket and his tiny little shoes in Farmer MacGregor’s vegetable garden and Farmer MacG, being a thrifty Scot, uses the jacket and shoes to make a positively frightful  scarecrow:

You bet that I made a little blue jacket and some tiny shoes!

So here you are at eye-level (below), and now an you see the benefit of having a raised platform for the vegetable garden?

We now turn our attention to The Wind in the Willows. Since 1962, when yours truly was but a snot-nosed second grader, I have owned a large format picture book that include the first chapter of the beloved children’s classic, which I have never read:

So I had a very good reference of the brilliant  E. Shepherd illustration for this beloved children’s classic:

I cut short lengths of heavy French embroidery floss, which I then coated with Elmer’s glue and touched to small leaves that I cut out of another book, not the beloved children’s classic because I DO NOT want to cut up  my 56-year old book, which was a Christmas present from my mother:

So I made a willow tree, and if I do say so myself, it’s not bad:

And then, for the first time in my life, I sat down ad read the first chapter of The Wind in the Willows. It’s called The River Bank. And I made a horrifying discovery:

I learned that, in the book, the wind does not waft through the branches of a riverside willow tree. Nope.

The wind rustles through the tall stands of riparian vegetation that grace the English countryside. That is, reeds. Mostly likely, the Norfolk reed.

And, is you re-examine the E. Shepherd illustration, the tree is not a willow. It’s some kind of pollarded shade tree. Most likely an oak, ash, or lime.

And, I hate to say, willow. I just found out that you can pollard a willow. Because I cut off the willow fronds and made it into an oak:

And I put in some Norfolk reeds, through which the wind can waft:

And this is where I am as of Thursday, Jan. 3. I have to source Peter Rabbit, his cousin Benjamin Bunny; and Ratty, Mole, Badger, and Toad. And they have to be in poses that are conducive to a 7-iron. And they have to be in books that I don’t mind cutting up. And they have to be in compatible band-width. [Size.]

As our favorite bear would say,

Have a great weekend, my Wonder Ones. We are living in Happy Times, in the shadow of the 116th Congress.

It’s about time.

XXOO

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