Archive for June, 2010

THE BUSH IS GONE!

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Yes, the scene-stealing, invasive euonymous is no more.  (Webcam alert!)  Okay, the newly viewable rocks are befogged, but, as Mainers note, just wait a minute.  And the telephone line no longer rubs the tree branches and moans. Or maybe the house ghosts are no longer behaving badly. Hannafords (supermarket) has Jujyfruits and the General Store’s pizza crust is still bready.  All’s right with the world.

The mudflats of low tide are sunny and beautiful again or still, though the kelp is not gold at the moment.  I know by the early morning shadows that the solstice is nigh. A million years ago when I was a lifeguard in North Dakota, we used to tell time and watch for storms by just looking west where we could see three weather systems at once in the big skies. I miss that knowing, but the trees nearly surrounding Roseledge are a comfort.  Settling in.

Figure #86.  Very low tide; maybe no longer bush-blocked.

Figure #86. Very low tide; maybe no longer bush-blocked.

The first-of-the-season RB Regulars came yesterday, just in time to be tempted by a new Cara Black series mystery set in a Paris neighborhood they knew and a multi-generational art family memoir (Blair Fuller’s Art in the Blood), always a good withdrawal read after visiting RB’s multi-generational art neighborhood.

We talked about being kids in libraries and having the joy of unrestrained book choices, how kids today are often channeled into tween or young adult rooms, and how we did not want to be herded into a senior room.  Talking about what we read that mattered led me to Thomas Wright’s Built of Books: How Reading Defined the Life of Oscar Wilde. How did the author know what Wilde actually read and how did he  measure the impact of those readings?  It’s easy to know what books a person has on is or her shelves, but what the person’s actually read, learned, and accommodated — these are the necessary and tricky parts of figuring out if  reading matters.  And why a reader chooses a book in the first place is another set of assumptions to explore.

My favorite reader who talks publicly about what he’s reading  is the London cabbie who occasionally talks with Scott Simon on Saturday morning during NPR’s Weekend Edition. All it takes is Scott’s “what are you reading?” and the cabbie takes over with what book he’s reading, where he found it, why he chose it, what he didn’t choose and what he thinks so far. I love it. A reader’s choices may not be the only measure of a person that counts, but it’s WAY up there.

My favorite book about a reader reading is Sara Nelson’s So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading. She chose a book a week for a year for many, varied, and changeable reasons. Her choices are timely, serendipitous, and sometimes really wrong; but she tells you why she chose each book and if it works out. Roseledge Books will have this book soon.

The sea breeze is up and about 2:30, the poplar tree will dapple the front porch — just in time for RB readers to enjoy their latest choices.

CATCHING UP

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Roseledge Books is officially OPEN, which means that the corner sign on the horse chestnut tree has been switched to open and the weathered porch signs are out and usually readable if it doesn’t rain and the rhubarb is pulled.

Two groups of customers have been by which is a good first half of June. One was happy to find buyable known and unknown authors. The other wanted only new American fiction in hard copy which, of course uninsulated RB does not have because mildew is a seasonal oceanside hazard. Also, a sailor pointed out that a heavy bag carried back to the boat by dinghy is more likely to be a six pack of beer or bottle of wine than a hard cover book. RB strives to please.

Fig. #85.  Early blossoms this year.  Hurry if you want to see the roses of Roseledge.

Fig. #85. Early blossoms this year. Hurry if you want to see the roses of Roseledge.

Webcam Alert! It is a bigger and better picture and features the ripening blueberry bush with an occasional wave from the cut-leaf maple. Sometime next week, the ever larger and invasive euonymous bush will be a thing of the past and your harbor view will be bigger and even better. Charlie also added a better weather site, always a good thing when changeable weather and appropriate layers of clothing are facts of life for happy Sea Street walkers.  (Click on Webcam Page for a good time.)

Roseledge Books’ big summer book order is in and will start arriving piecemeal next week. Such fun deciding what to read next and what to put where on the shelves. Does Martin Gruber’s A Forgery of Venus belong with the currently decimated art section or with other G’s in fiction? Should the one Ian Samson Mobile Library mystery title sit on the top shelf with Series or with other S’s? Should Paul Harding’s prize-winning Tinkers be shelved with Maine or with H’s? Does Barry Unsworth’s Land of Marvels belong with RB’s few, but very fine, Middle East books or with U’s? Some of these beg a favorite question: what separates documented fiction from speculative non-fiction?

The RB Master List will reflect this order and those of the past two years, but so far it is only sortable by author and title. I’m working on adding columns for the year(s) books were ordered and sold because I think that stuff is interesting. I can spend a lot of time on the St. George annual property tax lists, too. I can practically hear your yawns.

It is so good to be here. Charlie makes it even better, but he leaves next week. I am already bereft.

WHY READERS MATTER, REASON #4208

Monday, June 7th, 2010

I love facts.  They are malleable enough to be the stuff of never-ending arguments.  (How many changed ingredients make a new recipe?)  And circumstances change. ( Is the Aral Sea still one of the four largest bodies of water?)  I am one with Roseledge Book readers in a lifetime of learning ever more about these changeable facts and the decisions and their aftermaths that follow.  So it is with pleasure, but little surprise that I find these RB readers might also make good Supreme Court Justices.  Retired Justice David  Souter might agree.

Figure #85.  Big boats are a fact of TH life.  Are these big boats?

Figure #85. Big boats are a fact of TH life. Are these big boats?

Facts are arbitrary puppies. They can be used to support both this and that as any two people looking at an old class picture or the Freakonomics guys* demonstrate. Even deciding what is a fact is tricky. Remember the Swift Boat Veterans’ factless assertions** that too many believed? A professor chided me for over-documenting a paper by noting that July 4 did not need a citation to support it’s being a holiday if three people agreed to the “fact.” I was showing off my reference librarian skills at the time and thought he was being naïve. I still think so and loved reading former Justice Souter‘s comments about the changeable meaning of facts. “The meaning of facts arises [outside the law] and its judicial perception turns on the experience of judges and on their ability to think from a point of view other than their own.”

Readers know about points of view other than their own.  This makes them, and Supreme Court Justices,  better decision makers than non-readers.  And, from my Roseledge Books’ perspective, nothing leads to learning about facts, thoughts, and decisions of others  better than books. So Roseledge Books has a purpose and readers rule.

Now the joy is turning these varied points of view into book choices for Roseledge Books readers.  Biographies are easiest: just find two authors writing about the same person and then tie that person to RB. I have Edmund Morris’s The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, and, good news, Douglas Brinkley’s The Wilderness Warrior is out in paperback. The RB tie is through my late neighbor Harry‘s boyhood memory of talking to his aunt‘s neighbor who was or was not Theodore Roosevelt. And, of course, I am North Dakotan.  Fiction is trickier because a novel’s points of view may be several, but the underlying one is often subtle and important. I’m ordering Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall; I’ll be sure to have another view of Cromwell.  As I write this, the tie to RB is elusive.  Suggestions?

Figure #86.  Good reads ahead on Sea Street.

Figure #86. Good reads ahead on Sea Street.

It’s big order time.  Choosing multiple points of view is an interesting target.  How many Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, or Icelandic detective novels does RB need to fairly represent the Arctic world?  I know Finns are technically not Scandinavian. Are Icelanders?  How many and which books about WWII or whaling or privacy or Irish here before Vikings or (your topic here) does RB need to support good conversations on a rainy summer night?

RAIN big time today. Lights were out once already, but only for a morning half-hour when daylight sufficed. Coffee went cool, though. Fog at treetop level across the harbor. I don’t know what it means, but I like it. Check the webcam to check my fact! (With this weather, I might be wrong in minutes. How could that be?)

* Levitt, Steven and Stephen Dubner. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the `Hidden Side of Everything.
** Manjoo, Farhad. True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

Webcam is on

Friday, June 4th, 2010

The webcam is up and running again.

WE MADE IT. Whew!

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

And it is so-o-o good to be back. So far everything has been perfect, well except for the heater conking out in the middle of a low 50’s night on the water. But even that turned out to be part of the TH welcome when possibly the only person in the world who knows the innards of our 25 year old Monitor was ten minutes away on another call. He came over, took it apart, fixed it and gave us heat within the hour. I love the miracle that is Maine.

Memorial Day weekend with its parade and after-parade parties is just the best time to re-meet and greet other die-hard summer people when every summer thing is still possible. Old friends new to TH stopped by with wine and goodies — even as Charlie was in town stocking up — and with an amazing ability to fit in. This means they served their own wine in RB’s finest plastic wine glasses with nary a flinch. Charlie and Julie returned laden, other friends stopped by with goodies, and soon the perfect spontaneous summer party was upon us. Hello summer.

Fig.  #84.  The ribs of the wrecks are still there, at least at low tide.

Fig. #84. The ribs of the wrecks are still there, at least at low tide.

Charlie is sort of busy fixing things for my somewhat less mobile summer. I read and direct; he sometimes pays attention. I finished the latest Jack Reacher in paperback (Lee Child’s Gone Tomorrow, set in NYC with ties elsewhere) and now I am bereft. His next paperback, is next summer and though Janet Maslin loves the hardcover as usual, I have to admit that the setting, cold South Dakota, is not my idea of a good time. I grew up in cold North Dakota and loved it, of course, but I don’t need more. I’m about to start C.J. Box’s Below Zero. I hope the title is not weather-related. Between reads I am about to start my big summer book order. All I know for sure so far is that T. J.. Stiles’ The First Tycoon and Bernd Heinrich’s The Snoring Bird will be part of it.

I still have to do my lookover of last summer’s series to see which authors’ latest adventures I need to add. Cara Black, Nicholas Kilmer, Peter Spiegelman, and Phoebe Atwood Taylor for sure. Then there are the new ones I’ll add to try and lure you all back to RB.

Charlie has chosen this minute to move furniture right around me. The potatoes have been boiling too long. It is raining on the wonderful uninsulated roof which is fun if you have a roof but not so good if you are still taking pee pills, which I am. For those who know me: good news.  Everything wrong is treatable, and with some help, I’m here and waiting for you to be here, too.

Hello from Tenants Harbor.