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As I’ve no doubt mentioned several times, I have a tradition of reading the same book each spring. Since spring has been curiously delayed this year, no doubt having remembered some sudden and unavoidable appointment elsewhere, it has taken me a long time to finish my book this year. We have a week of rain, flood watches, and yes, even some potential snowflakes in the forecast, and I still have not reached the point in the book that makes me cry my eyes out in a sort of cleansing purge. The book is Anne of Green Gables,(go ahead, call me juvenile), originally published by L.M. (Lucy Maude) Montgomery in 1908. My copy is a little yellow paperback that I got some 40 years ago in a bookstore in Northgate Mall, a few blocks from my house. It was between a “This End Up” store and a store that sold fireplace implements and other impracticalities – from which I bought my brother a lovely Spanish sword for Christmas one year. (Thankfully, he never used it on me, though I’m sure he was mightily tempted.)

While I have read the other “Anne books”, this is the one that touches my spirit. The author has a way of weaving magic and beauty out of common images and words, even tweaking them to her own words when actually OED words just don’t suffice. I know I have a tendency to do that too, and that the way Anne sees the world is the way I see it: looking in nature and treasuring moments of beauty that are transitory yet everlasting in memory. L.M. Montgomery seems to capture all the hopes and dreams and sorrows and quiet joys of a young person’s future in her portrayal of Anne, and while I am not a “young person” chronologically, I have those same hopes and dreams and joys and sorrows, some now bittersweet memories and others anticipated with all the optimism of a teenager. And ll the enthusiasm of spring, when it finally throws off its cloak of gray and shows its true colors.

Anne of Green Gables

My version of the book is slightly shabby from numerous readings, has no copyright date, and isn’t even visible on Google images, and has a photo of a girl who someone at Tempo Books thought looked like Anne, but I disagree. I have my own vision, painted by L.M. Montgomery’s words, which is far more lovely and moontouched. And I highly recommend it if you need to bring a touch of spring and hope into your life.

Quote of the day:“Dear old world’, she murmured, ‘you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.” — L.M. Montgomery (of course)

Daily gratitudes:

I am pleased to be contributing a letter to a book! One of my favorite bloggers, miss c at http://thekitchensgarden.com/ is starting her second book, a collection of letters that we would want our children to read after we are gone – or something along those lines. Miss c is an amazing woman who works hard to operate a small self-sustaining farm in the wilds of Illinois, along with being an author, a fabulous photographer, and an all-around lovely human being. I’m excited about this opportunity, and have been giving it a lot of thought. I wrote a letter to my daughter recently following the suicide of her friend, which I think might be appropriate, although it’s something I would share with her before I move onto the next place. So, should it be something about her grandparents? A favorite memory? Something about what I have learned about love, or about being a mother in the course of my life? I’m just not sure. Any ideas from you, my dear readers, would be welcome.

If I could have possibly climbed to this spot in Arches without falling to my certain death, I would have. It looks like a perfect spot for contemplation. And excellent balance.

IMG_2309

Arches National Monument, Moab, Utah.

Quote of the day:“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” — Rachel Carson

Daily gratitudes:
A drive with MKL on a beautiful day
Thoughts of the future
Classic cars
Sherlock Holmes
Cloudless days

Bookstores.

Some of the most magical places in the world for people (like me) who love books and treasure hunting.

While the big box bookstores (few and far between as they are now) are okay, they just can’t hold a candle to the little used bookstores. And really, it’s not a good idea to hold a candle IN a little used bookstore. Especially not the one I found last weekend.

Abbs Volume I in Littleton ( 6905 S. Broadway) is just the kind of bookstore that you dream of finding. It’s very unprepossessing on the outside – two rocking chairs by the front door in a strip mall. But on the inside, it looks like this:

Fabulous used bookshop

And this:

Used bookshop Apps Volume I

And this:

Apps Volume I bookstore

And this:

Used bookstore - Apps Volume I

It took up two buildings, and I totally got lost in it. When MKL came in to meet me, he had to look for five minutes to find me, and finally had to ask the woman at the desk if there was a woman in there somewhere. He found me buried in the stacks, with ten books in my arms and a blissful  smile of joy in my eyes. I was so excited!

Finding a great used bookstore is like finding a treasure chest. A treasure chest that is so deep you could spend a whole day digging through it and only have scratched the surface.

Insert sigh of pleasure here.

As you can see from the images above, it was a little hard to see all the titles because things were stacked so high from the floor up. But it was very well organized by category, and that was nice. While paperbacks were only $2 each, and that is the bulk of their inventory, they also had a large selection of older books, some rare, some not so rare, but all somewhat overpriced. Still, when you find an old copy of a book you’ve wanted to read for years, you sometimes splurge a bit.

Old edition of Life With Father

We tried to hit one other bookshop that I spent ten minutes in about 14 years ago and have always remembered and yearned for but had no clue where it was. We found it next to the Gothic Theater a few months ago, and I was super excited! But unfortunately, it wasn’t open when we stopped by. It strikes me as the sort of place that is only open when the quirky proprietor gentleman is in the mood to tolerate other people.

So, I still have that weird garden of delights awaiting me. Yea!

Kelsea and I always like finding cool bookstores on our travels. We adored Powell’s in Portland. We were passionate about Hay-on-Wye in Wales, which I know I’ve mentioned before. And we found ourselves in some waaaay seedy neighborhoods in San Francisco where bookstores were supposed to be, but weren’t. Next time we travel and make a cool bookshop find, we’ll share it with you.

I used to follow a blog by someone who was going to visit and blog about all the bookshops in London. I think she let it fall by the wayside, because I can’t find it anymore (TBM, are you up for a new challenge?). Perhaps I’ll try to do a similar thing in Denver. I like that idea!

Happiness is burying yourself in a book in a big cozy chair on a chilly winter night.

Today’s guest poet: Mary Oliver

An Afternoon In The Stacks

Closing the book, I find I have left my head
inside. It is dark in here, but the chapters open
their beautiful spaces and give a rustling sound,
words adjusting themselves to their meaning.
Long passages open at successive pages. An echo,
continuous from the title onward, hums
behind me. From in here, the world looms,
a jungle redeemed by these linked sentences
carved out when an author traveled and a reader
kept the way open. When this book ends
I will pull it inside-out like a sock
and throw it back in the library. But the rumor
of it will haunt all that follows in my life.
A candleflame in Tibet leans when I move.

Hay-on-Wye is one of the towns of my dreams, as it is has 1900 residents, at least 30 used bookstores, and a self-proclaimed king.  Spending a summer there would be heavenly.

Hay-on-Wye, Powys, Wales.

Qu0te of the day: “The truth is that there are a lot of people like you, us, with strange thoughts or dispositions or a past and we try to hide it because we’re afraid that it makes us seem different. We think people won’t accept us or it will turn people off, but that’s a mistake.  I found what makes us unique has brought every person I love into my life and the one’s who walk away just don’t belong and we’re better off without them anyway. Be yourself and stick with the people who love what you’re all about and your life will thank you in many ways.”
~Brigitte Nicole

Daily gratitudes:
Hazelnut coffee creamer
My co-worker Jen’s enthusiasm and attitude
Plaques that tell the history of old buildings
I now know that I do not like purple frosting
Plums from a tree instead of the store

I was restless today. Antsy. Like one feels before a thunderstorm, sometimes.  That disturbance in the Force again.  I texted a friend about it, who suggested I check in with my spirit guides to see why.  That’s hard for me to do at work, so I wombled off to the Tattered Cover.

A less comfy chair at The Tattered Cover

Bookstores always soothe my soul.  Bookstores with cats are particularly satisfying.  The Tattered Cover doesn’t have cats, but it does have squishy, cushy, comfy couches where you can sit and read or write or meditate.  I did a bit of all three, and I talked to my Little Sister. I wound up the proud owner of four new books from the bargain shelf:

Books are simply irresistible.

Within the forty minutes I was inside, the blue skies had turned threatening and fat raindrops were coloring the pavement.  Back at my desk, I received an email that threw me into a tailspin.  And then the restlessness faded.  It had – as it so often does – predicted both a natural and emotional storm.

Tonight though, things are quieter. I took a bath in the clawfoot tub.  I read my current book. I am looking forward to a first date tomorrow.

Life goes on.  It just does.

It’s Teaser Tuesday (at least still in some time zones) – thanks to  http://shouldbereading.wordpress.com.

The point of Teaser Tuesday is as follows:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their Deisderata Lists if they like your teasers!

Here’s my contribution for the week:

“We are experiencing these mysterious coincidences. and even though we don’t understand them yet, we know they are real. We are sensing again, as in childhood, that there is another side of life that we have yet to discover.”

— From The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

Thanks to TBM for tuning me in to Teaser Tuesdays, a weekly meme run by http://shouldbereading.wordpress.com.

Devoted readers might enjoy adding some books to their “Desiderata” lists (as my folks used to call theirs).

The point of Teaser Tuesday is as follows:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their Deisderata Lists if they like your teasers!

Here’s my contribution for the week:

“Once upon a time, astronauts tooled around the moon in an open two-seat electric buggy. It was the sort of thing one might see on a golf course or at one of those big Miami delis whose elderly patrons appreciate a lift to and from the parking lot.”

p175, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach.

I’m not a grammar Nazi, like one of my colleagues.  I don’t have Strunk and White memorized, but I do know what someone is talking about when they refer to Strunk and White.  (Do you?  If not, go look it up.  Go on…I’ll wait.) I do not subscribe to the Chicago Manual of Style or the AP Stylebook online.  Although for the current job, I do have to be familiar with all these tomes, and so I find myself referencing them from time to time.

No, my grammar bibles are more along the lines of those authored by the fabulous Karen Elizabeth Gordon, who brings us such reference guides as The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager and the Doomed, and Torn Wings and Faux Pas: A Flashbook of Style, A Beastly Guide Through the Writer’s Labyrinth.  She’s educational and entertaining, just as any good teacher should be.

No….I can take or leave grammar.  Even if I sound dumb saying something, you’ll probably still get my point.

What I love, however, is a good thesaurus.  And what I find myself running up against time and again, are not good thesauruses.  Not good at all. 

It seems as if the powers that be expect us to be getting dumb and dumber.  The new and “improved” updated Roget’s Thesaurus for the 21st century has pitiful few synonyms for the words it contains, and contains only the core words that one might need if one wished to write something at a 6th grade level.  Severely dumbed down.  And I won’t stand for it.  I get annoyed every time I try to use the hardcopy thesaurus in the office.  It’s just so frustratingly lame.  I think I’ve explored every online version available and find all of them almost equally useless.

And so, when I am at home, and struggling for just that word, I turn to my own thesaurus … and I breathe a sigh of satisfied relief. 

Yes, it’s old.  Yes, it’s dust jacket is tattered due to use and moves and general hard-living.  Yes, I bought it at a second hand bookstore about 30 years ago.  And yes, it’s still the best thesaurus since sliced bread.  It’s still packed, or else I’m sure I could use it to find a synonym for “sliced bread”.  It’s that yummy.

This image is essentially what mine looks like.  As I have been working on proposals, blogs, articles and the book, I have found this dusty old gem almost as valuable as a grande unsweetened iced green tea.  Not as tasty, to be sure, but when I’m sucking down tea and swirling word choices around in my head, its tender pages have provided much needed mental refreshment, along with moments of calm clarity and sparks of rollicking brilliance.

Its original author, Peter Mark Roget, was also a medical man, and also invented the log-log scale, which is essentially a slide rule.  Smart guy.  But he had an overwhelming fascination with making lists, which was well manifested even in his early childhood.  He used list-making as a tool to cope with tragedy and depression.  From the modern psychological standpoint, I would say he had a pretty severe obsessive disorder.  But his psychological flaw is the rest of the world’s gain.  I doubt I would ever have had the patience to put into creating a book like the thesaurus, so I am surely glad that someone else did.

I think the man (who died at age 90 in 1869, a remarkably old age for those days) would be turning over in his grave if he knew how his book of lists has been tampered with over the past century.  Dumbed down indeed.  So if you have even the slightest inclination to write, I strongly recommend that you trot off to your local used book purveyor and purchase a hardcover copy of the afore-imaged thesaurus, not one of the new-fangled ones they sell at Barnes & Noble.

Get one just like mine.  It’s like dipping your brain into a grande unsweetened iced green tea.  Trust me.

I have talked a lot about my love of books.  I’ve grown up with them.  I keep them.  I treasure them.  They’re like my favorite food.  Bookstores are the refuge of my soul, my best escape short of an island.  The cottage has shelves and shelves of books, mostly unread.  They sit there, patient little souls, waiting for their own moment in the sun.

A corner of the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver, Colorado

I choose my books carefully.  There are so very many that I would love to read.  If only I could find a job that paid me wagonloads of money to read the books of my choice.  As it is, I suppose I will have to wait for heaven, which, I am sure, is filled with books and puppies and beaches and horses and ….well, a few other wonderful things.

Dutch, Puglet and Dice: this image is from one of my favorite blogs The Daily Puglet. Its author is a fantastic pet photographer whose work can be seen (and whose services can be requested) at http://frolicphoto.com.

The book I’m reading now is the second in a series of historical mystery/adventures by William Dietrich.  I adored the first one.  It was one of those books you stay up too late reading, and fall asleep with the lights on, the book still poised in your hand.  The kind you can’t wait to finish, but hate for it to end.  Needless to say, I couldn’t wait for the next book.  I can still remember when I found it in the grocery store when it came out – I practically shrieked with delight.  I shook Kelsea.  I hugged it to my bosom.  I had to finish the book I was reading before I could start it. 

Epilogue Book Company in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

And that last statement hints at The Reading Dilemma.

Sign in the Epilogue Book Company

I did finish the book I was reading at the time.  And I was delighted to start my new prize.  I got about 20 pages into it…and I was bored. Bored, bored, bored.  I couldn’t believe it, after all that anticipation.  It just wasn’t grabbing me.  I set it aside with the thought that I would take it on vacation  —  maybe I just wasn’t in the proper headspace to enjoy it.  But vacation time came and went and I took along slightly skinnier, lighter fare.

Black Cat Book Shop, Manitou Springs, Colorado

Well, I finally picked it up again a couple of weeks ago.  I started it.  And it still isn’t holding me.  But now, I’m determined.  I’m going to finish it if it kills me.  And that’s the Dilemma.  I absolutely WILL NOT give up on a book once I’ve started it.  No matter how bad it is, how boring it is, how confusing it is.  So here I am, not really enjoying the book, just trying to get through it.  It’s become work, not passion. 

The Bookworm, Boulder, Colorado

I don’t know why I don’t give myself permission not to finish a book I don’t like.  Who do I think I am failing, betraying or otherwise letting down by doing so?  I mean, no one would know about it but me.  Perhaps it’s a tint of my stubborn streak.  Or perhaps it’s a shadow of my feeling that everyone and everything has something good, worthwhile and valuable within it.  Which is why I don’t give up on jobs or relationships even when they might not be the best things for me.

Interesting to think that my attitude towards books is just a reflection of my attitude towards life – and love.

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