BOOKISH EXCITEMENT

March 14th, 2015

CHARLIE IS A SUPER-VILLAIN!!!

Yes, son Charlie, joy of my life, is a Marvel Comics super-villain named CHAZZ with the super power of hacking. Who knew? Who would even have guessed?

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Yet there he was, fifth among the Googled entries for Charles Amundson.  My son, Charles Amundson, was in the Marvel Comics database.  This is very exciting! Unfortunately he was featured in only one issue (Marvel Superheroes, Winter 1992), but he wasn’t killed off and he renounced his villainous ways and joined the good guys as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s hack attack preventer, under the watchful eye of Nick Fury himself.  This leaves open his resurrection as a super-hero or super-something-else in an issue still to come, a possibility that I, as his mother, do not rule out in this day of all things cyber-related, e.g. cyber-crime TV shows, cyber-security news stories, and cyber-using and -abusing.  Not to be outdone by the Bat Cave, I have offered CHAZZ the perpetual use of Roseledge as his Super Lair.  A mother’s work is never done.

UNEXPECTED FIREWORKS — OF THE GOOD KIND!

Fireworks danced through the air above Lake Calhoun last Friday night.  Only in winter with bare trees and snow on the ice can I see Lake Calhoun from my 12th floor perch. Others rushed to the windows to see what was below, and I sat in my chair and watched the pops glow.  Maybe it was a Chinese New Year’s celebration or maybe not, but it was a little exciting and a lot lovely.

The only bookish tie I could think of was E.L. Doctorow ‘s Ragtime, the first book I ever read aloud rhythmically.  The last was Peter Temple’s Truth.  An early hip-hopper?  I think so.

AUTODIDACTS FOREVER!

I love autodidacts, and I like a lot Jim Webb’s memoir, I Heard My Country Calling.  Somewhere in the first 40% of the book, he describes his reading history through his growing up years of many moves,  and someone  calls him an autodidact. I would love to cite key pages for you, but I am reading it on a Kindle and not only can I  not cite or find pages for you, I don’t know what page I’m on.  But I will figure things out and try to think of more autodidacts’ reading histories because these are the interesting people who keep libraries, bookstores, and unusual solutions afloat.

ROSELEDGE ROOF HELD!

Neighbors were nervous, but builder Bill figured the bearer beams would hold.  Scott pointed out that Roseledge is ninety years old and standing, and I worried that my new brick walk up the driveway might be damaged by a plow which would be bad because I have a new electric wheelchair to zoom up and down with next summer.  So I crossed my fingers as best I could, and Roseledge pulled through.

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 YEA, ROSELEDGE and thanks again, Ann, for pictures.

Postscript:  To Charlie’s chagrin, I missed the magic hour, 9:26, but I got this posted on Pi Day, 3/14/15.  Hence, the Piku.  Have I ever mentioned that Charlie is an applied math guy?

 

SNOWY DAYS, CONTINUING

March 5th, 2015

Snow here today; snow there tomorrow. Curses. And time for more bookish suggestions from and for snowy day frolickers.

BE A BOOK VOYEUR: LOOK AT WHAT OTHERS ARE READING

Checking out what others are reading is always fun, but it’s hard to be an enthusiastic book voyeur if you are housebound. Another look at Reiner Gerrittsen’s photographs of subway readers groups might offer a vicarious lift. Alexandra Alter had a subway book voyeur’s swoon-y experience watching Phil Klay, another reader/peeker, spot a rider reading a Colum McCann book and ask to take a picture for the author who is his friend and mentor. Living once-removed like this may only be okay on a snowed-in day, but on that day, hooray.

Roseledge Books tie: Thanks to a RBR’s suggestion, RB now usually has Colum McCann’s The Dancer for those who intend to see or have seen Tenants Harbor neighbor Jamie Wyeth’s portraits of Rudolf Nureyev (some of which are probably at the Wyeth Center in Rockland, but are currently being shown in St. Petersburg, FL, and otherwise viewable on the Internet). Not enough of a tie to RB? Then maybe it’s time to send the kayak paparazzi into the harbor to capture boat readers in the act.  As a marketing ploy, RB could be ready with their next good reads.

APPRECIATE SNOWED-IN ROSELEDGE 

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 Appreciating snowed-in Roseledge is good, but hard to do (Thank you, Ann.).  Curling up with a potential Roseledge Books read is just good. (Hint, hint, you all.) Nearly snowed-in Pat’s current stack of read-and-liked-a-lot books includes Nancy Horan’s Under the Wide and Starry Sky, a bio-novel about Fanny and Robert Louis Stevenson. When in paperback, this choice clearly shouts Roseledge Books. Add it to Bella Bathhurst’s The Lighthouse Stevensons, a family saga of sorts with [okay, Scottish] rocky coasts and lighthouses, and RLS classics, Treasure Island and Kidnapped, to be read and re-loved, to be watched as seaside vacation movies, and/or to be played out near boats and water. Thus begins a week- long “package” of relevant, related reads for which I wish Roseledge Books had more requests.

KEEP READING THE NEW YORK TIMES

And keep finding “connected” stories:

Just yesterday I was reminded that North Dakota, land of my roots and childhood, lives and dances and has a three dollar hamburger. This dredged up memories a) of the Pavilion, locally-frequented dance hall that bordered Wahpeton, Breckenridge and the head of the Red River, and b) of our plans for –no, not an inexpensive hamburger, but for — cinnamon rolls and a resulting survey of best ND places, which changed to an oatmeal survey as we aged and now includes ME, most recently the Brass Compass and the Home Kitchen Restaurants in Rockland.

Scanning further, I spotted a Louise Nevelson exhibit and was reminded that Louise, I hardly knew you. In fact, I knew you not at all until I found Tenants Harbor, near Rockland where you lived with your family and where you live on at the Farnsworth. The accompanying photograph of her work reminded me of Bill Cook’s “found objects,” small sculptures with intent and humor, whch I love and you can see if you visit Mars Hall Gallery on the way to Marshall Point Lighthouse, the Monhegan ferry, or other Port Clyde attractions.

Roseledge Books tie: So, because I have found joy in a second place-of-the-heart with connections sufficient to reach even Minnesota in winter, I try to find books about others who have found similar joy in second places so that first time visitors to Tenants Harbor understand what’s going on when they don’t want to leave and give into the tugging heart by making reservations for a second visit there and then. So far, I’ve thought about Bill Holm’s The Windows of Brimnes: An American in Iceland maybe, but this is more about finding his roots, whereas Jim Sterba’s Frankie’s Place and Nicholas Kilmer’s A Place in Normandy are about unexpected special places.

FIND FAMILY, IF YOU ARE SURE YOU CAN LIVE WITH THE RESULTS

Scott has burrowed in, joined Ancestry.com, and is finding more family. Friend of Roseledge from the time it was only maybe a possbility, Scott has long been, um, very imaginative at linking a given book to Tenants Harbor or environs in the least number of steps. Now he is concentrating on linking family members and has discovered that he is related — one way or another — to virtually all of Maine, working on NH, with stops in MA and PA. He is crazed with finding connections, which is made easier with a father from a big family that goes back to earliest northeastern incomers who were not Irish, Norse or Spanish — yes, it’s another reference to the very early Irish monks, who may have taught the marauding Norse how to sail the longer distances necessary to reach North America.

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 Scott found my dad’s maternal grandparents, Joe Couture and Annie Madden, who were born in Quebec and Pennsylvania respectively, then met and married somewhere and lived in northern Minnesota from whence in the 1880’s they migrated to North Dakota and settled on part of Maurice Coghlan’s homestead, near the still-standing and being-renovated Coghlan Castle. Nature took its course, and lovely Delia Couture met genial William Coghlan, who together did much good and gave me my father, Charles, for which I am eternally grateful. Scott believes we are all connected, so maybe his wandering forbears met my courting forbears somewhere between Pennsylvania and Quebec.

Clearly, early paths probably crossed, but where, when and why? The promise of time-consuming and involved speculation awaits. Hurry up, summer. Roseledge Books tie of possibly pertinent books: Jane Urquhart’s Away comes to mind (emigration. Irishness)and, for different reasons, so does Kem Luther’s Cottonwood Roots (tracking family through time.). More broadly, Scott is reading Christine Kenneally’s Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures and he likes it. This may be my “search” book — where HOW you find out matters more than what you found out –of the summer, but so far it is not out in paperback. Drat. I may have to use Charlie’s old Kindle.

Next roster of cabin fever relievers will include “big reads” others have found helpful for the long haul. Unless it stops snowing.  Suggestions appreciated.

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.