In Which I Do Not Mention Trump At All, But Still Manage To Say Some Bad Words.

The good news is that I have kidnapped my dear old Lickety and he no longer spends his days and nights sleeping in the driveway:

The even better news is that he has allowed me to put a heating pad under his blankie. . .

. . . so now we can all go about our business with happy hearts knowing that Lickety is warm and cozy in his favorite spot in the doorway of the dining room (near the kitchen, where he can keep tabs on all the action) and is not snoozing on the driveway asphalt. And we can put the car back where it belongs.

Speaking of good ideas, I was hunting through the inter webs a few weeks ago, looking at pictures of “scarey trees”. I found two that I liked, this one:

And this one:

What I liked even better was the idea of combining the two, making the bottom of the scarey tree into a scowling tree house, with the top having those cool towers with the illuminated windows.

So that’s what I did. I started with the fun bit, the scowling tree-face:

This (above) is just the scaffolding of the tree trunk and the roots and the front-door steps. I made a sturdy tube for the base of the tree and I cut out the eye-sockets. Within this tube, I inserted a smaller black tube, to give the eye-sockets their hollow and sinister emptiness.

Over this scaffolding (which I construct from old books that have nice study pages but are not attractive) I then glue strips of fine-print text from The Complete Plays of William Shakespeare (which has almost tissue-thin pages):

I made a front door from a book that had unusually large type, as a contrast to the fine print of the Shakespeare:

I made a roof for my scowling-eyed tree trunk and then I began to put up the scaffolding for the upper bits of the tree:

It seemed to me that the contrast of large type against the fine print was not enough to make the front door stand out, so I covered it with cross-hatching from an illustration I found in an very ugly children’s book from the ’70s:

Those towers with the illuminated windows were the most fun to make:

I collect children’s books for their illustrations, the drearier the better, so I can feel guilt-free about cutting them up. And once in a while one one of those old books will have just what I need; in this case, two large lattice windows and one small window:

This is a book that we got in as a donation to the used books store that I manage for the local library:

It’s a young adult novel called Friday’s Child by Jane Lambert. 1947. It was in execrable condition:

It’s far too scuzzy to put into the inventory of my book store, but it’s exactly right for my ghoulish bonsai:

I’ll be installing this bonsai at The Haunted Bookshop exhibit at the library on September 28. This, and several other ghoulish bonsai, will be displayed with the books that I have been culling from donations for the past year — the shabbiest and creepiest books that aren’t good for anything except for frightening little children with:

Last week I had finally achieved the impossible dream. I had cleared the used book store of all the crap, inside and out, and we had zero rubbish sitting in our Donations Corner. I had finally gotten ahead of the backlog of trash that this community dumps on our doorstep.

So I went back to my volunteer job of being a bookseller yesterday, and found, on my doorstep, seven boxes and three shopping bags of books, deposited during the past week, at night, in stealth. When I saw it, I uttered something much worse than the usual “Oh, shit.” I have to remember that the words Fuck fuck fuckitty fuck look about as good on a woman my age as a bikini.

Which reminds me, now is time for a short Florida digression.

I was on Florida’s Gulf coast last week to attend the First Annual Meeting of the North Fort Myers Judge Judy Fan Club. Meaning, I was visiting my mother and we both call it a day when Judge Judy comes on at 4, whereupon we mix a pitcher of martinis (we go old school: Beefeater’s gin) and watch Middle America go to hell, one hand basket/dog bite/eviction/unpaid loan small claims court case at a time.

Of course, Florida has been waaaaay ahead of the curve when it comes to the ever-lowering of the stupidity bar in America. Remember the hanging chads of 2000? In 2012 the comptroller for Miami-Dade got 30 months in prison for stealing more than $200,000 of the city’s mont after falling for an Nigerian internet scam. And last year, a 24-year old finished a job interview at Kohl’s department store in Central Florida and then walked into the shoe section and shoplifted two  pairs of sneakers. That’s almost as dumb as the guy from Ocala who, in 2013, submitted a job application at a gas station and then robbed it.

Last year, a Broward County woman in line at a Dollar General store pulled a knife on the customer in line behind her when that customer complained that she had farted too loudly. In Florida, you will be physically assaulted if you eat all of Kerry Knudsen’s Cheeze Its after he specifically told you not to, according to St. Augustine police.

And Florida is the land of the Capri pant.

I went to Florida expecting to rendez-vous with the 24-hour Walmart Superstore on Cleveland Avenue (Route 41). I’ve never been to a Walmart at 2AM and I’m having new experiences, and as there is not much to do in North Fort Myers ever, and as I knew I would be  sleeping poorly in a strange hotel room and would likely be wide awake at 2AM, I planned to capitalize on my insomnia by making an outing to the Walmart on Route 41.

But as 2AM rolled around, I thought about going out in the middle of the night in a town that I didn’t know all that well, alone, in Florida (where anything can go wrong and usually does); so I stayed in bed, reading a book called Reading the OED. Author Ammon Shea read every 21,730 pages of the Oxford English Dictionary and lived to tell the tale.

And that’s how I now know the word mataeotechny, (noun); an unprofitable or useless science or skill (see: making bonsai for ghouls as detailed earlier in this blog post).

So, I am sorry for not having photos of Walmart’s ungodly hours for you this week. But here’s some random People of Walmart pix:



Back to my woes as a used book store manager here on the North Shore of Long Island.

Much of the book donations that came in behind my back was the usual crap:

Including this, below, which made me think. . .

. . . Wait. Christian Ethics? There’s such a thing??

Because, you know. . .

If I had not seen it with my own eyes I would not have believed that there could be a book about such a thing as that, or this:

Yes: Christian Ethics and a catalogue of animal-headed covered dishes is what it takes to get me to compose a sentence fragment in the future conditional subjunctive tense, they are both that weird.

From now on, I will not say that I live on the shore of the Long Island Sound. Nope. From now on, I live on:

We got a bag full of these kinds of books, in pristine condition:

I’m keeping them. Our store has been lacking a Romance section and by gawd, now we have one.

And then there are the books that make working in the filth, sadness, and boredom of a used book store all worthwhile:

Published in 1953, this book seems to have once been the property of a boy with an unusual last name (from the 8th century German for Roger) who grew up to be a professor of music at MIT, just recently retired.

If I were a nice person, would I track this fella down and ask if he wants his book back? Am I being too Florida for wanting to keep it for myself?

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones.

Truth will out, and impeachments will happen.

All in good time, Dear Readers, all in good time.




9 Comments, RSS

  1. Kirra

    Good news about Lickety! Nice to see he’s inside and warm.

    I really like your spooky bonsai plant. I am in London at the moment on holiday and we went to visit the Chelsea Physic Garden from your book – it was great!

    We then went to see my favourite Irish band live in concert, where the female lead singer sang a song several hundred years old about a bad guy called Donald, and introduced it as ‘nothing has changed….’ (It sounded beater in an Irish accent)

    I agree the novelty of 24 hour supermarkets isn’t always as interesting when your there and it’s 2am. I was so impressed with your zero shitty book situation at the store, but then the next week there’s seven bags – it’s relentless! All the best for next week.

  2. Casey

    Catching up on my reading and WHAT??? Last week, did you say that you’re outlining a new book!?!? O fractious day, calloo callay!

    Dear Lickety. He knows he is loved. Cats know their place in the wheel of life and they are OK with it as long as there is love and a soft blankie and a heating pad when the wheel starts to spin slower and slower.

    Love the creepy bonsai. LOVE the creepy books. I can understand that the job of managing a used book shop on the north shore of Long Island must get boring, after, how many years? But I love the stories and the books, oh lord, the books. This is a world that I have not seen in my life and I enjoy peering into it with your guidance.

    I have not read a romance novel since I was in high school and I don’t think I’m in the mood to do so now even though I am intrigued by The Ugly Duchess. Animal Covered Dishes might be a pleasant read, also. Christian Ethics, not so much.

    To Kirra: Oh, to be in London! Glad that you went to The Physic Garden on Vivian’s recommendation. One day I hope to go there too.

  3. That science fiction book is an art project waiting to happen. Once the trees are done…?!

    Speaking of, the spooky tree is terrific. I hope you’ll share photos of the whole installation (of course you will; you have a blog!) and can’t wait to see them all. This one is pretty spectacular. Actually, the wal-mart pix are pretty spectacular too in kind of a really gross, does-this-really-happen way!

    And yay for Lickety’s warm and cozy bed in his favorite spot. What a darling he is — and I’m glad he’s safe inside with the people who love him. Big smiles from Lizzie and me!

  4. Mary Brickman

    Scary tree for the kids, Vivian. A hard thing to make, and you’ve made a few.
    Libraries have a hard time keeping ahead of the trash. Keep up the good work of clearing them out.
    Lickety looks comfy inside. It must be getting cool-ish on Long Island now.

    Stories about Florida are funny. Where can you read those tidbits about fighting in line?
    Crazy world.

    Take good care of the Library for us. Community needs a place to buy cheap reads. Otherwise, public would not read at all.
    Thanks for the Friday “getaway” pleasure.

  5. Bunny

    I really like the pics you took in FLorida, at the Walmart, but surely you had those staged, there’s no way, even in Florida, that people actually look like that, dress like that, or act like that. Or, maybe, just maybe, its all true, as in truth is stranger than fiction???

    Thanks for the update on Lickety, I was thinking about him this week.

  6. Marg-o

    I do like watching you create. I read this post forward and then i read it backwards. It’s a jolt to see what your ghoul bonsai looks like underneath, like the secret to a magic trick is revealed.

    I love the stories, and I’m so very happy for Lickety and for Walmart Nation; but I want that last meme on a T-shirt.

  7. Lolo

    Fascinating how you take inspiration as a thesis and come up with something totally your own. (The bonsai I mean.) I read your How To posts and I am mesmerized. thank you.

  8. Wow, you DO get some junk in your donations. I wonder if that Long Island Sound book would sell, though, given where you are? I love that ’50s sci-fi!

    I don’t blame you for not venturing out to Wal-Mart at 2 a.m. I find that when people get into trouble here in London, it’s often because they’re out at an unwise hour in an unwise place. The same applies to Florida, I suppose!

    Love your scary tree! By now your exhibit must be up and running — hope all is going well!

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