SNOWY DAY JOY FOR READERLY FOLKS

February 28th, 2015

Feeling sorry for yourself in the snow and ice and cold? You think you’re cooped-up and alone, with no one to talk to? Think again, readers.  Talk to the newspaper, reader to reader.  Then, bring in old friends.  This could result in an email, online comment, telephone call, or ever-interesting musings.  Okay, sometimes I talk to myself.  Or write to you all.  Busy days, snow or no. Start with Aldus, the people’s (first) printer, a rare find in a daily newspaper. IMG_2509.jpg

 Gutenberg can have his novena forms for the Vatican; give me Aldus instead who understood the importance of “cheap-er” paperbacks, maybe in a language you could read, if not that they be pocket-book size. Listen up, former neighbor, Steve who, in the very early ’70’s, was still not reading paperbacks. “Trash!” he said. I pointed out they had been around since the 1500’s and how much he was missing in books that were never printed in hard-cover. “Only trash,” he said. But, I continued relentlessly, modern paperbacks were now sized for the pockets of suit-wearing men, like him, who could then read anytime, all-the-time and appear to be hugely sophisticated anywhere, anytime, whereas rarely seen but ever awkward clunky hard-cover books signaled occasional reader at best. “Trash is trash,” he said. What do you do with a dodo who happens to be a neighbor whose evening walks coincided with my raking or shoveling times? Mostly I remember him occasionally, as now almost fondly, but without regret.

What I do remember with regret are the old mass market paperbacks that were indeed pocket-sized, even if they were a bit thick. My days of paperback devotion may be waning both because they are losing out to the more frequently pocket-sized kindle and because they are getting so big — maybe to accommodate aging eyes — that holding them and turning pages with one hand — as I must — becomes trickier and trickier. But I bought stronger light bulbs and had my eyes checked (“You have the eyes of a 50-year-old,” the doctor said, and I gloated, lovingly of course, as nearly-50 Charlie, who reads at arm’s length, sat nearby.), so I should have no more blurred bottoms of pages. IMG_2499.jpg

 More happily, the Aldus article brought to mind wonderful and learned Sister Margery who in her retirement was a memorable archivist and in the hospital for a bit, so I sent her the (at that time) recent novel, The Rule of Four, which centered about Aldus’ most famous book, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. I should have known she would have already read the novel and secured a page from the Hypnerotomachia for the St. Kate’s folks. The big question, of course, is which page. I had better luck recommending Madeline Stern and Leona Rostenberg’s Old Books, Rare Friends to Sister Margery because, though a bit younger, she grew up in the Cleveland of Ms. Stern and shared the 16th and 17th Century interests and extensive schooling of Ms. Rostenberg. And yes, Sister Margery is the same person who assigned Kristin Lavransdatter to her undergraduates and questioned whether or not I was really Irish because I did not bear grudges. She then offered to teach me how, should I ever recognize the need.  By the by, Kristin Lavransdatter is also a good read for the cooped up, as Millie discovered when recovering from knee replacement surgery.

More happily, too, in my Aldus-provoked meanderings, was reading a quote from Paul Butler (in today’s NYT column I love and have mentioned before, “Reading the Times with...”

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Q. What section do you save for last? Why?

A. I read The Times online, and I click on the “articles recommended for you” link last because it always contains stuff that I want to read but haven’t come across while surfing. But then I get creeped out because I’m like, “How did they know I would be interested in that story?” Sometimes I click on an article that I would rather eat dirt than read – like today’s “The Roots of the Paperback” – just to throw those nosy geeks off!

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Now THAT is my kind of reader! Making a point and maybe learning something, too. Maybe even having a good time — or a better time than you expected. Okay, that may be stretching it, but I love it. Aldus can take it, and Paul Butler’s future lists of recommended reads should be more..uh,..interesting, if the geeks can handle the unexpected. Such is also the bookseller’s dilemma when recommending a book based on a reader’s past choices.

So far, such a good day.  Three books to be sure Roseledge Books has:  Rare Books ans old Friends by Madeline Stern and Leona Rostenberg; Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset; and The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason and, to honor this winter, Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg.

To be continued, but until then, enjoy with me seeing St. George in all of it’s very unusual winter glory, but if you, like me, are from away, enjoy, too, knowing that the work of the snow will be done when next we are there.

ROSELEDGE BOOKS AND SNOW: PROS AND CON

February 15th, 2015

Roseledge before this weekend’s coming snow, forecast to be TWO MORE FEET before blizzard-strength wind rearranges it. FullSizeRender.jpg

Roseledge as the summer place of the heart and good books, as it has been and will be again next summer — with, wind willing, its new red maple tree,  re-positioned river birch, and four new blueberry bushes intact.. Hope for the best for the roof.

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 Now is the time to find best books to add to Roseledge Books’ shelves, avoid cabin fever and terminal grumpiness and think about ways to save the world. And because God is good, I’ve happened upon two “lists” of possibles.

The first list comes from a study by psychologists that links empathy with literary fiction. I would have more confidence in the list or the outcomes if I knew the psychologists were readers or if librarians whose life work is with readers were among their colleagues, if I knew how they had chosen the titles or what authors thought of their “analyses” that led to the choices, and if they had done empathy tests both before and after the reading.  But for what it’s worth, here is the list of books they used:

LITERARY FICTION:

The Runner, by Don DeLillo…..Blind Date, by Lydia Davis….Chameleon, by Anton Chekhov…..The Round House, by Louise Erdrich…..The Tiger’s Wife, by Téa Obreht….. Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward…..Corrie, by Alice Munro…..Leak, by Sam Ruddick…..Nothing Living Lives Alone, by Wendell Berry…..Uncle Rock, by Dagoberto Gilb…..The Vandercook, by Alice Mattinson

The empathy outcomes from LITERARY FICTION readers were compared with — and found superior to — the empathy outcomes of readers who read the following:

POPULAR FICTION:

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn…..The Sins of the Mother, by Danielle Steel…..Cross Roads, by W. Paul Young…..Space Jockey, by Robert Heinlein…..                                             Too Many Have Lived, by Dashiell Hammett…..Lalla, by Rosamunde Pilcher……Jane, by Mary Jane Rinehart

NONFICTION:

How the Potato Changed the World, by Charles C. Mann…..Bamboo Steps Up, by Cathie Gandel…..The Story of the Most Common Bird in the World, by Rob Dunn

I’d love your reactions to the choices. Good to add, given RB’s limited space ?

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The second list is much more fun to think about.  For three years, Reinier Gerritsen took thousands of wonderful pictures of subway readers who were identified only by the name of the author of the paper book they were reading. Based on the particular books people were reading, he thought the L train to Brooklyn the most intellectual.  Only a few authors were being read by more than one or two people. Which titles by that author they are reading is food for speculation.

3 people are reading books by Paulo Coehlo, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gillian Flynn, Jonathan Frantzen, Robert Heinlein, Cormac McCarthy, Haruki Mirakami, J.K. Rowling, and Gore Vidal;

4 people are reading books by Junot Diaz, E.L. James, George R.R. Martin, and William Shakespeare;

5 people are reading books by Steig Larsson, and Michael Lewis; and

7 people are reading books by Suzanne Collins.

The lesser read — or lesser known titles — are the better ponderables for Roseledge Books.

Enjoy a book with fellow readers in Reinier Gerritsen’s The Last Book. He believes he was documenting the death of the paper book. I believe he was documenting learning in action. Either way, readers matter. They know things others don’t. They keep their minds nimble and adaptable. They are the hope of the world. Therefore, Roseledge Books exists.

Happy  (day after) Valentine’s Day.

WINTER CONVERSATIONS

February 9th, 2015

And winter it is — especially in Tenants Harbor!  Sixteen MORE more inches are falling as I write this, and Scott (who called) stands ready to dial 9-1-1 as Brian clears his dormered roof.  Dormered Roseledge is sturdy, I think, but this is more winter testing than I recall from afar these past thirty years.  Harry used to send pictures when the snow covered — but JUST covered — everything.  I miss Harry, though Roseledge has good neighbors who let me know if trouble looms.  Thirty above, almost Spring-like here in MN, with almost NO SNOW but some ice and a cold wind.  Hunkering down with a good book or the morning paper and coffee is still the order of the day with thinking about readers and perfect books for RB always the topic of the day.  I have to wait for summer for you to tell me how right or wrong I was. So far, Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg provoked the strongest “ALL WRONG” reaction from a sailor looking for a mystery with boats.  Always good to know there’s room for improvement.

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 SO IN MY WINTERS OF YOUR ABSENCE, I visit with non-present minds and usually have quite a good, if ultimately unsatisying, time. Recent encounters of note were with:

Phil Klay as he read the NY Times and commented on the worth of a book’s detail for authors writing of that period.  [“There’s a review of David Kynaston’s “Modernity Britain,” which, were I intending to write a book set from 1957 to 1962 in the U.K., sounds like the sort of thing I would run out and buy.”]  This brings back good memories of “Elmore’s Legs,” a NYer article about Elmore Leonard’s researcher finding a useful book of pictures of Havana in the 1930’s for the book Elmore Leonard was writing then, Cuba Libre.   Roseledge Books usually has this, as Cuba is a popular topic, maybe moreso now. “Reading the paper with..” is an ongoing Insider column of the NY Times and Phil Klay was good, but Delia Ephron is still my favorite.  (Phil Klay is the author of Redeployment, award-winning short stories of his time in Iraq, not yet out in paperback.)

Chris Offutt as he forensically got to know his dad, the pornographer, who wrote 400 books and kept lots of attendant papers and other stuff.   In cleaaring out his dad’s study, he uncovered layers of materials and linked them to stages of his dad’s life. I wish more libraries of the dead were explored and discussed in terms of the arrangement of the materials. Knowing what was stored next to each other could add context to the contents and provide, maybe, part of an intellectual biography.  (Chris Offutt wrote No Heroes: A Memoir of Coming Home which Roseledge Books will have next summer.)

And thinking of dead people brings to mind Colleen McCullough’s snotty Australian obituary which I never would have known of were it not for a letter writer in the Mpls Star Tribune who called an earlier letter writer a hyper-feminist (as I recall) for complaining about it. I love obituaries and remember a book by the NY Times obit writer, (maybe Marvin Siegel’s The Last Word) telling of the awkwardness of contacting living people of note, and then, if they had not died, contacting them again in five years for an update.

Harper Lee, through news of To Set A Watchman, her recently-found (after 50 years), soon to be published, pre-written sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird. Is it good or bad to add another work to her one published work which, though questioned, is, by almost any definition, a classic?

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Are you a passive reader — or watcher?  Hard to have a conversation with the non-present, if you are.  And what a lot you miss.  My mother, whom I frequently drove nuts, said that as long as I laughed as I read, she did not worry about me. Laughter is a good measure; it suggests perspective. Save me from the literal-minded, please. I still shout at the tv, comment aloud to the newspaper, and do my best to scrawl at least an exclamation point in the book’s margin which is one reason II am having trouble adjusting to the Kindle.  Jim Webb’s memoir, I Heard My Country Calling, is my test book.  I like him and memoirs, and someone suggested he might be a dark hose candidate for president.   So far, I have not adjusted to percentages of text instead of pages, I don’t like looking at only one page at a time, and, with only one hand, I still need something to rest the book on as I change the screen.  But I’m reading it — and enjoying it — before it is out in paperback.

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Warning: THIS NEXT TIDBIT MAY LEAD TO A JEALOUS SNIT. IF you, like me, are hungry for a Diana Gabaldon fix, but too cheap to subscribe to the Starz TV Outlander Series or to buy Written In My Own Heart’s Blood, her latest Outlander series novel in hardcover, then get ready for learning about a surprise treat you missed.  A whole-season roster of the Outlander series appeared FREE on Xfinity. Charlie, who fiddles with the remote in ways I don’t, found it and mentioned it. Only the latter is a surprise. Fortunately, neither golf by the ocean nor the Super Bowl was on ( Go Hawks!), so I spent seven hours in beguiling Scotland, reliving the early exploits of Jamie and Claire and comparing my book-bound visions with the television adaptation. I loved it, especially the lines or details I recalled from the books. (And can you even imagine, let alone remember, the worst ever, last play call by the Seahawks? Go next season Hawks!)

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HOW CAN I BE SO WRONG? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS…..Regarding my last post:  I’m not dead. I got that right. Whew! But it was Irish Dana with the short “a”, who is named for her father Daniel who asked, not not-Irish Dana with the long “a”, whose dad’s name is Paul.  Sorry about that, good frriends who accosted wronged, very surprised Dana.

But the errors of my ways do not end there. Remember the unposted picture with the unidentified person?  Once I knew it could be enlarged (Thank you, Charlie.), I saw that Mr. Clean in the neon-yellow shirt was not even the person in question as he was not standing in the boat at all. Upon very much better inspection, the answer to the question is: No, Steve Bailey (the man in the stern who blends in with its wood and who also probably has never been seen in a neon-yellow shirt) is not Jamie Wyeth (the man not in the stern or outside the boat or swimming in the harbor, as far as I could tell from the enlarged picture.). But, then, who is Mr. Clean? Is his a General Store t-shirt? And what is he looking at?  Questions remain. Hurry up summer. Come again, kayak paparazzi.  The world needs to know.

NOT DEAD, EVEN IN WINTER

January 17th, 2015

Dana called yesterday and asked if I was dead. I know a hint when I hear one. Time to answer emails.

M: Regarding the harbor photo, I don’t think it is Jamie Wyeth, though the boat is his Dreadnaught. The Mr. Clean posture looks wrong, and I’ve never seen him wearing neon yellow, though Scott recalled that the Tenants Harbor General Store had some neon yellow beauties in it’s t-shirt close-out sale a couple of years ago, so maybe. And other kayak paparazzi have noted his genial wave as they paddled by the open-ocean side of Southern Island, which I trust after last year’s tip-over, you will think twice about before checking . Clearly, the harbor needs kayak-high investigating when the winds are still and most boats are out, though boaters are rarely a worry now that the rum-running days and druggies are long gone and the jet-skis are still few.

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 Traci: The best way to get a feel for a Tenants Harbor past and your Bickmore ancestor is to visit the area and spend quality time checking whatever they have at the Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum, followed by sitting on the Lighthouse lawn overlooking the ocean and thinking about it. You might want to check the Jackson Memorial Library and the [St. George] Town Offices, too, as they both probably have useful information and practically border Bickmore Creek, the only Tenants Harbor Bickmore that I know.

Before you come, you might want to look at Albert Smalley’s History of St. George, Maine (currently out-of-print), Roy Meservey’s Coaster Days (self-published, only available locally) and James Balano’s Log of the Skipper’s Wife (currently out of print). Materials this local are hard to get from away, but you might try interlibbrary loan from your ever useful local public library. For a quick, more accessible look, you might enjoy “The Seafarers,” part of Maine’s Masonic History;but nothing beats a visit. Road Trip?

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 Jim: What I know about the Hart/Meservey murder in Tenants Harbor (1878) is little, always questionable, and more than thirty years old, but none of that stops me from opining. Three things I recall:

A) A summer-people couple said they had tried to buy one of the few copies of a self-published book which argued that the real murderer was wealthy, from Camden, and maybe a politician. I have never again heard of this book. They were sure the ABCD Bookstore in Camden had a copy, but the then-owner Lilian Berliawski, wife of Nathan Berliawski who was a key part of Rockland’s Main Street and who was the brother of sculptor, Louise Nevelson, all of whom are now dead but always important in a world of connections) saved the copy in the store’s “inner sanctum” for a “better-dressed” buyer.

B) Probably in either an old Down East Magazine or Rockland Courier Gazette (newspaper), I read that the handwriting expert witness changed his testimony which had been important evidence in Captain Hart’s conviction and which would support a wrongfully-convicted rumor. I used the Rockland Public Library and the Maine State Library and Archives in Augusta, but I never used the Maine Historical Society in Portland.

C) The old-timers I knew to ask about alternative villains have all died, and I don’t recall a summer meeting of the St. George Historical Society devoted to the murder, though maybe one ought to be. (I am only there in the summer.) Friend, Scott (Scotharbor@aol.com) says there were lots of theories, but I don’t think he favors any particular culprit. He is young, but born in St. George and a trustworthy collector and curator of local lore. I didn’t know (or remember?) that Albion Meservey was a possibility, but I’ll bet he was Roy Meservey’s uncle and Roy Meservey built Roseledge, cottage of my perfect summers, therefore the opportunities for front porch speculation are going to be legend. Thanks for the tidbit.

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 M., M., and D.: Nothing beats back winter woes better than an IDEA BOOK, a book that provokes conversation, checking further, dreams if you are abed, speculation if you are between necessity and invention, quirkiness if platitudes hover, good nature when Debby Downer calls, or quiet in the face of heartlessly loving more the new, replacement appliances the scary storm has wrought. Maira Kalman’s My Favorite Things is just such a treasure. I also loved her Principles of Uncertainty, a memoir of “an inner psyche with an idiosyncratic world view.”

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 That I am at war with my legs should not affect my typing, but apparently it does. The exciting news is that I am learning to use voice-activating Dragon because, though my knees buckle and my body strains, there is nothing wrong with my tongue. Get ready for stream-of-consciousness diatribes (see above) and weirder, but probably more regular posts. And just hear my diction improve next summer! No longer will “Roy Meservey” sound like “wind the survey.” The other very good news is that Charlie is here, I’m better by the day, though pivoting’s a trial, and my 12th floor cloud array is especially fine when murders of crows fly by.

ONTO WHATEVER IS NEXT

November 6th, 2014

I have been remiss.

Sometimes transitions are hard, necessary maybe, but hard.

Fortunately, cooler days, more agreeable legs, and shame have all set in.

Onto whatever is next.

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Maybe it is leaving Maine or living two places or changing neighborhoods or old friends dying or a lifetime of working many places and doing many things , but for whatever reasons, I have been thinking a lot about outsider/insider perspectives.  Who is in and who is out or maybe out and looking in?     Telling about a train trip across Siberia and his resulting book ,Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia, author David Greene of NPR’s Morning Edition  (10-20-14) noted that as an outsider, he does not understand Russians who not only use, but embrace, the hardships of life — and there are many — to become really Russian, even as they accept the resulting limited opportunities.   But as an outsider, why should he?

As a 30+ year summer person, I am an outsider in Maine with summer friends I enjoy re-meeting each year, and though I’m not sure who the insiders are any more, I  would not presume to understand the why’s  of any of these others with whom I have shared too little.  Like Jim Sterba in Frankie’s Place and Nicholas Kilmer writing about A Place in Normandy, I am somewhere between being a stranger and being a somewhat-familiar, happy with the summers that then happen.

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 Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books are being made into a television series on Starz, and though only the first episode was free to non-subscribers, I liked it for its adherence to the books’ overall perspective of an outsider from the 20th C. (Claire) coming to grips  with an insider (Jamie Fraser) and living in the 18th C. (The first book in the series that backs up the first season is titled Outlander; the latest book in the series and still only available in hardcover is Written in My Own Heart’s Blood.)  John Grisham’s novel, The Broker, makes much the same point, as do Ryszard  Kapuscinkski’s essays, Travels With Herodotus.  Clearly, or maybe ominously, one could get carried away with insider/outsider/happy-on-the-threshold issues  and then re-classify a bookstore’s shelves or, worse, one’s life.  So it’s on to apples.

Yes, it’s honey crisp apple time, when I make my annual decision to forego a secure retirement to buy just one more bag of medium-sized treasures at the Farmer’s Market.  Expensive, yes, but, oh my, they are good. Timothy Egan described biting into a honey crisp as having a bit of sunshine in your mouth.  Perfect.  So maybe it is not surprising that I loved the NYT article about the guy who spent 30+ years of his spare time searching out , recording, and now publishing in seven volumes, anything he could find out about the history of apples in North America!  Only the taste is missing; but not to worry, offered John Bunker, an apple grower in Maine, who noted he has the taste, but always wondered where his apples came from (See: Dan Bussey’s Illustrated History of Apples in North America.)  Now I wish someone (preferably the author) would write a book about his thirty-year search for the soul of the apple, so Roseledge Books could put it right next to other search classics like Nicholas Clapp’s The Road to Ubar: Finding the Atlantis of the Sands, Roy Moxham’s The Great Hedge of India: The Search for the Living Barrier that Divided a People, or Roger Mitchell’s Clear Pond: The Reconstruction of a Life.  How someone comes to know something is much more interesting than what that someone decides he or she knows, said the arguer evermore.

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 I am reading, and liking a lot,  Lewis May’s The Blackhouse, set in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides and volume one of his Lewis Trilogy..  I have loved the Hebrides since reading Lilian Beckwith’s memoirs/novels of her 20 years as a crofter after World War II, none of which is currently available in paperback.  Sigh.  When they are RB will have them.  But I digress.  Lewis May, though a Scot,  has also written trilogies set in China and France with different detectives, and I like him well enough  to redefine series to include multiple lead characters in the books of one author. Hard to blame authors for wanting a break from writing forever about one lead character, but rest assured that  RB remains committed to finding authors of series by some definition who will bring you back year after year.

Roseledge Books has planted three more blueberry bushes which, if as lavishly filled with berries as the two now flourishing, would provide gnoshing oppotunities for those of you so inclined to pick and eat.  And with thanks to North Carolina Regulars, RB can report that the new rock wall comfortably accommodates bottoms of many heights.

The ever lovely, but over-spreading, rosa rugosa hedge has been cut back to try and gain some control over it, only to discover that the rocks and mixed flora now visible are a new, but fleeting, joy. Pehaps you should plan two trips, the first to see the rocks through the cut back, but handsome, mix of  errant ferns, barbary, goldenrod, and even a rogue maple tree or two, and the second to see, as the landscaper assures me will happen, the rogsa rugsa takeover and reign virtually — or visually — alone.  I heard that Maine wants to declare the rosa rugosa an invasive species.  Oh, no!

And summer person, Ellen, just sent a picture from her neighbor across 131 of Sunday’s snow falling heavily on Tenants Harbor to add to Scott’s mother’s report of 4″-8″ of bush flattening wet snow and power outrages which may last the week.  Here’s to hardy, if short, new blueberry bushes and supple, newly-planted trees designed to entertain the 50 mph wind gusts threatened for today.

Sometimes transitions get easier.

TENANTS HARBOR SUMMER: A TALLY

September 2nd, 2014

We’ve had the annual “Tenants Harbor Porch Event” with whatever tasties the Produce Lady has on hand, which this year were cherry tomatoes, pickling-cucumber slices with cracked pepper, skunk (white cheddar) cheese, tuna salad, herb popcorn, and brownies.  Charlie found excellent crackers which were expensive at the Good Tern coop but cheaper and virtually the same at Hannaford’s, and we featured the RB house wine which is usually white, dry, and crowd-sourced (think of last year’s “chicken wine”), but this year was beta tested with the NC crowd and, based on quantity consumed, was apparently acceptable, but not outstanding. I liked it, but I mostly like wine so dry, it is almost tasteless.  (When I remember what kind it was, I’ll let you know.  The label had a shade tree.) The kayak swampings and subsequent drinks of diet ginger ale may have distorted the quantity-drunk indicator, but such are the ways of lab-less research.

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We’ve had a potluck wine event — “We’ve got a bottle of wine and can be there at six.”  “I have excellent crackers and a new brick driveway path and will meet you on the porch.”   We’ve distributed the end-of-season perishable leftovers, and had the until-next-summer visits with friends who walk by.  Family and Minneapolis friends and fellow summer-people and  have come and gone, and Charlie is here to winterfit the house and me.   In theory, we’ve closed Roseledge Books — that is, we took down the OPEN signs —  but those Regulars who know we’re still here, come in anyhow, which is good.  And the webcam will be  on until morning.

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I’m trying to look at everything one last time, but today that means fog, big-time, thick fog.  It rolls in and out and always blocks the boats, but it can’t hide the smell of the sea. (A quick webcam check will confirm the fog.)  It’s not cold and so, far no bugs, so tonight we’ll have Tenants Harbor General Store pizza on the porch with the rest of the open wine and diet ginger ale.  The summer has been cool, but mostly sunny and dry.  Roseledge Books saw more Regulars and sold more books than last summer, which is GREAT!  Thank you very much.  Now I can start to curate my collection of choice books (or book choices) for you all to critique — yes, and sometimes buy — next year.  It makes cold winter in Minnesota pass more quickly.

Tomorrow night I will sleep in Minneapolis, choose my withdrawal reads with care, and let you know if they rate coveted RB shelf space next. summer.  Sigh.

THE WAY THINGS ARE IN TENANTS HARBOR

August 24th, 2014

Yesterday,the brother 0f a big wind survivor told of how frightened she was, though the tornado left her untouched as it tore through her woods.  Good grief! This is the third person I know who has weathered natural turbulence this year, never without after effects.  What to do to re-establish equilibrium?  Some turn to Yoga; others do not.

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Firmly believing that a good book makes any problem more tolerable, if not solvable, RB suggests the following:

 

RECOVERING  OR PREPARING:

A Month in the Country by J. L. Carr

Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

I’m currently checking out Wilderness: A Journal of Quiet Adventures in Alaska by Rockwell Kent, as  noted by Jamie Wyeth.  (See last blog post.

 

NATURE’S LENS:

The Meadow by Thomas Galvin

Native Trees of Canada by Leanne  Shapton

The Tree by John Fowles

The Outermost House by Henry Beston

Maybe Rockwell Kent’s Wilderness goes here.

The Good Rain by Timothy Egan is a possible.

 

GREAT GOOD NATURE:

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison

The Innocent Anthropologist:Notes from a Mud Hut by Nigel Barley

Maybe Kate Braestrup’s Here If You Need Me should be here.

 

LEARNING:  Topics may vary, but learning more to understand the topic and to mellow unreasonableness does not.

From a keyword-in-title search of NEW BOOKS in the public library 43 years ago, I found Kinds of Love by May Sarton and Ways of Loving by Brendan Gill to be useful.

From a no-nonsense browse of a giant B. Dalton bookstore in snowy January 37 years ago, I found Selected Essays of Teilhard de Jardin, especially “Zest for Living.”

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TO BE CONTINUED, probably forever.  Other suggestions, anyone?

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Lots of sun, little breeze, and RB’s most regular Regulars are here.  All’s right with the world.

 

 

 

‘h

 

 

BROWSERS RULE!

August 15th, 2014

She came to RB to get another Maggie Hope by Susan MacNeal, RB’s new series success of the summer, and stayed to talk about other books she might like.   When the yacht club was in the harbor several weeks ago, we had established that we both liked Daniel Silva (spy, with adventures “practically taken from the newspapers’ front pages”) “Foyle’s War” and “Bletchley Girls” (hence, Susan MacNeal’s series), WW II, women spies or adventurers, and, she added, “the  Downtown Abbey sort of thing.”  So she found the next Maggie Hope adventure,  I started thinking aloud and she began looking.  She ruled out Phoebe Atwood Taylor’s Asey Mayo mysteries set on Cape Cod during WWII.  Talk of Germans near our eastern coast and the explosion at Halifax with Oppenheimer’s consequent visit suggested, but she ruled out, Samuel Eliot Morison‘s multi-volume, multi-editioned U.S. Naval History, Robert MacNeil’s Burden of Desire, and Denise Kiernan’s The Women of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win WWII.

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RB was out of Alan Furst, but his spies are rarely — if ever — women, and Charles Cummings’ Trinity Six was also male spies.  I forgot Robert Galbraith, but “his” (J.K. Rowling by another name) spy is also a man.  I suggested Gertrude Bell in the Middle East  (Desert Queen by Janet Wallach), though she was there during during and after WWI.  I forgot Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs (Thank you, Kathy), but Chris Pavone’s Ex-Pats proved a subtle winner.  If I had remembered and had it in stock, I would have suggested  the Jack Reacher book in which he learns that his mother was a fighter in the French Resistance, then throws his silver star (maybe?) atop her coffin, as shovels-full of dirt fell.

The upstairs-downstairs books didn’t come to mind immediately, but when they did, bells rang.  She had already read and liked Daisy Goodwin’s American Heiress which was good because RB has to wait for next year’s paperback.  Edmund deWaal’s Hare with Amber Eyes was a winner with its  five generations of his family (the Ephrussis, “as rich and respected as Rothschilds”) , as long as there were no dreadful war atrocities detailed.  Rhys Bowen and his Royal Spyness series has since come to light, and RB will have it next summer.  But the big bell-ringer was Thornton Wilder’s Theophilus North (Thank you, Dana), 40years later, still the best place-based (Newport, RI) novel I know.       (Too any “I’s”; I hate that.)

This RBRegular left with four great reads, one more day of sailing before the weather goes amok, and a promise to be back next year to browse, perchance to dream, but always to continue life’s search for the next best read.

To the rest of you:  Note how useful suggestions were.  Hint.  HINT.

Mentioned :                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Chris Pavone’s Ex Pats
Thornton Wilder’s Theophilus North
Daisy Goodwin’s American Heiress
Alan Furst                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs)
Phoebe Atwood Taylor (Asey Mayo)
Rhys Bowen (Royal Spyness)
Edmund DeWaal’s Hare With Amber Eyes
Janet Wallach’s Desert Queen (Gertrude Bell)
Charles Cummings’ Trinity Six
Robert MacNeil’s Burden of Desire
Daniel Silva (Gabriel Allon)
Susan MacNeal (Maggie Hope)

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Fourth tent event of the season on the East Wind Inn lawn.  No tent floor, so probably not a dance, but maybe music.  Maybe cars looking for parking will break the old record of 12 cars in a row driving into the RB driveway and raising hopes, only to  turn around and go back down Sea Street to find a parking place nearer the corner.  But a giant four-tent event is set to happen on the Cod End dock.  Has there been a sale?  A big crane on a barge did the heavy lifting, and that was a little exciting.  Commercial Street friends are readying a blocking effort to keep their driveway useable.  I have not been asked to be part of a human shield, but I’m ready.

Scott reports that only taller people (5’10” +?) can even pretend to sit casually on the rock wall near the bush that is eating Sea Street, and once seated, your feet may dangle.  Clearly RB has an all-bum wall.

THE GOOD LIFE IN TENANTS HARBOR

August 8th, 2014

Sea Street is mostly shady until ten o’clock in the morning.  After that, not so much.  The hill gets longer and surely steeper, and the post office and General Store no longer call as loudly.  Locals know this and walk early; visiting runners and bikers learn quickly and walk when winded.  But what of those who walk to enjoy and maybe live longer and who just need to rest a bit?  Clearly Tenants Harbor needs a bench, but it has always needed a bench and it hasn’t happened these past thirty years.  Well guess what? Walkers are starting to use RB’s new rock wall as a place to sit a bit in the midst of their Sea Street hill climb and to watch the comings and goings of the boats of Tenants Harbor.  However unintentionally, Roseledge Books is saving the day!

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So RB asked RBFriends to sit upon the wall, see and be seen, and report. And it is very good news.  You will all be excited to know that the wall is bum-high, flat, and comfy, well, rock-comfy, if you are from 5’3″ to 5’6″ and choose to sit on different spots on the slope. For those of you who are taller, you can be “the thinker” with your chin on your knees and show how flexible you are or you can stretch out your legs. So far the wild roses have not taken over the verge, so ankle-prickles are unlikely. Then, when stiffness threatens, you can stretch your legs up the walk to RB and consider book treasures.  Full disclosure: Taller people were leaning against the higher rock wall next door, but that wall, though beautiful (See picture below.), does not have a sit-able top.

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And today’s harbor was so worth watching.  Four double-canoes were  following the shoreline,  a very well-balanced person was straddling and paddling a water board, the five littlest sailboats were zig-zagging through a lesson, and the harbor master’s boat was apparently making it’s rounds.  The lobster boats were all out and the sailboats had not started to come in yet.  I watched complacently under the shelter of RB’s new blue umbrella, replacement for the jazzier striped model which was blown in half by Arthur.

READING LOG

I thoroughly enjoyed the “old friends” in Elly Griffiths’ latest Ruth Galloway mystery, A Dying Fall.  Cathbad, godfather to 18-month-old Kate and the baby-sitter every child should have, has taught her to answer the phone and say “Peace,” which she transforms into “Piss.”  Another old-bone mystery and campus murder bring Nelson and Ruth and all their baggage together again, which is good, but it takes her away from her front yard that is “not quite land, not quite sea” which is not.  Revisiting old friends may be the best reason to find a series to love.

On the strength of liking old friends Claire and Jamie Fraser in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, I tried her recommendation of one in Phil Rickman’s Merrily Watkins series, The Fabric of Sin.  Merrily Watkins is  a  Church of England  deliverance consultant, that is, an exorcist, for the Diocese of Hereford which borders Wales.  Knights Templar, Welsh nationalism, Prince (Charles) of Wales all come into play because the Prince’s property purchase stirs worries.  Very contemporary, well-researched, lots of politics, great dialogue and likeable characters.  I like Julia Spencer-Fleming better, probably because I am not an Anglophile (“Of course not; you’re Irish,” a friend snarked.), but I’ll read another of his.  I hope Diana Gabaldon’s latest, Written In My Own Heart’s Blood, is out in paperback by next summer and Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Through the Evil Days, too.

My favorite of the summer is author Peter Temple, but I’ve already read the four Jack Irish mysteries that he’s going to write.  Fortunately, his equally Australian,  edgy, dialogue-rich out-of-series, Truth, was maybe even better.  And I have The Distant Shore, Shooting Star, and Iron Rose waiting.

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Tonight I’ll start Dara Horn’s Guide For the Perplexed.  The blurb began:  “Software prodigy Josie Ashkenazi has invented an application that records everything its users do. When an Egyptian library invites her to visit as a consultant…”  and I was sold.  I’ll keep you posted.  Book Report: It’s a day and 52 pages later and I’m not going to read more.  Too little philosophy, especially about technology and memory, which was very interesting and recalled fears of story tellers when written records emerged, and too much dysfunctional family.  I do not understand the attraction of dysfunctional families ever, but especially during summer vacation.  And I know a bit about the Cairo Genizah, so the book held too little anticipation.

So tonight I’ll start Graeme Simison’s The  Rosie Project, which is about a socially inept genetics professor’s plan to find a wife and  by all accounts “a rom-com with heart and humor.”  I am so ready to  laugh-out- loud.

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Lots of walkers-by enjoying the newly painted front of the garage.  After ten years, I finally recognized that the shingles with peeling red paint and no primer were never going to become part of a handsome, dappled look.  So Scott scraped, which took five minutes, and painted the part of the front that is not the door and then freshened the lemon-haze edge of the roof (the outer eave?).  “It’s becoming a Tenants Harbor attraction,” he gloats.  It DOES look good.

Good grief!  Another bird just dive-bombed the blueberry bush, immediately outside the window.  (See webcam.)  Fortunately, this one did not hit the window and knock itself out.  But no time to say good-bye; I need to pick the lot.  Wish you were on your way.

 

 

 

 

 

JULY: THE BLUEST BLUES, THE BEST BOOK EVER AND MORE PERFECT DAYS

July 27th, 2014

Aarrghhh! Plagiarism makes me crazy and again, it is in the news.  Now it’s a Montana senator whose major contribution to his War College Master’s paper apparently was to re-arrange whole ideas from a few worthy papers written by others, mostly available  on the Internet. He didn’t even defend his choice of people to steal from or explain why he chose those particular papers.  He just copied from them, word-for-word with no or inadequate citations.   What is wrong with these people? At least crediting someone else makes you look as if you are one of the band. Not crediting people, especially with ubiquitous Internet access, is just dumb, really dumb, and dishonorable.  Maybe he bought the paper and didn’t know.  Still dumb.

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The much more important and very good news is that Roseledge Books’ first two bestsellers have arrived: Food Rules by Michael Pollan, with illustrations by wonderful Maira Kalman and Coaster Days by Roy Meservey.  Each is a great gift book.  Roy Meservey’s journal with pictures of Tenants Harbor during its coaster-building heyday is great for orienting people to the village from the harbor.  Hark! A reason to row the dinghy.   AND Roy Meservey built Roseledge.  Michael Pollan’s three principles in seven words — Eat food; / Not too much; / Mostly plants. — are expanded through useful rules and complimented by Maira Kalman’s colorful pictures of the unexpected.

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When does a breeze turn into wind?  For  the answer, visit Tenants Harbor this summer.  Whew!  As far as umbrellas staying upright and unbroken, the score is wind 1; umbrella 0.  New, VERY blue umbrella goes up tomorrow, if a storm is not blowing through.  With the bats away and dying of white fungus the wind keeps the bugs away and porch wine events much more pleasant.  I tried to push “Tenants Harbor tapas” with artisan crackers topped by whatever the Produce Lady has, including the just-available native blueberries with RediWhip to hold them on the cracker.  Only the skunk (white cheddar) cheese was a go.  Big wusses.  And wind or no, we had lunch and a very good time on  Miller’s Lobster Wharf which is off 73 and OPEN DAILY.   This Miller’s wharf which is on Wheeler’s Bay  is not to be confused with Cod End which is on a wharf in Tenants Harbor and CLOSED, and currently for sale by a different Miller family.

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I am reading and loving  Errol Morris’ Believing Is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography and it is absolutely the best book ever, well at least until the next best book.  I am only half way through the first essay which addresses Susan Sontag’s mention of two pictures Roger Fenton took  during the Crimean War of 1855.   They are both of a stretch of road called The Valley of the Shadow of Death; one has cannonballs in the road, the other does not.  Filmmaker Morris’ question is which came first and then, why do you think so? The book blurb calls it part detective story and part philosophical meditation; with the what and the why, I call it a search book.  This would be a great gift book for the  curious, for those who want to keep the conversation going, especially those who think they know the truth of a picture.  The tactics, the sources, the dialogue, the observations are all part of it, and what you do with all of it makes the whole.  It is so much fun to like a book this much.

This post has run the gamut from least to most interesting of minds.  Always good to end on a high note.

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