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Books, the bodies of reading, were fascinating for me early in life, and I’m fortunate enough to have had parents who, after I left for college, saved many that I had as a kid. The oversized Dinosaur picture book, the scholastic book service biographies I ordered in school, the heroic war stories, the Vonnegut novels. The whole collection fit neatly on shelves built in over my bed.

The book shelves of my first apartments were also easily ordered. After a decade and a half in San Francisco, I moved, following a job across the bay that kept me busy for months. But one Saturday morning I woke with the usual to-do-list, which was interrupted by the realization I’d never properly sorted my books. Many simply came out of the boxes, which I’d filled by size and shape, not subject.

It was a nice weekend—my recollection is it was blustery outside, but inside I stacked piles of books, moving between bookcases in my living room, kitchen, and bedroom. American fiction, travel guides, a stack for Anne Tyler, movie references, et cetera.

I respect the decimal system of Dewey, but my categories are more organic. A History of Eating in America next to a Chinese cookbook; the collected Grantas shared space next to Graham Greene because they fit well.

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You, small male child: build things!

I got these Tinker toys as a Christmas gift, perhaps in the hope of encouraging my engineering skills. And there I was, with my nose stuck in a book.

Looking to pare down possessions, I look at this stuff now and wonder if anyone might want it, before I toss it out.

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Geranium Resurrection

When we bought this house one of the things we loved was the mature landscaping, including a large geranium which climbed a trellis, forming a wall next to the stairs of our deck. It bloomed nearly year round, blossoms periwinkle and a pale pink.

Looking for pictures of it now, I realize how much we took it for granted. In the first decade we lived here I can find pictures of our trees, the natal lilies, the roses, and both butterfly bushes (which tended to grow crazy fast, blossom profusely, then die off just as suddenly). But hardly anything of that wall of geraniums. Continue Reading »

Good luck to … Pinky?

We had a stray dog in our house for a day. She was a sweetheart … rambunctious, but a good girl.

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Did the reclusive J.D. Salinger keep writing about the Glass family even after he last published? Perhaps it sustained him, at times was even a purgative. I knew people who criticized him for cashing in then going all Greta Garbo—I vant to be alone—but it never bothered me.  Sometimes you gotta do what you can to maintain the internal peace. Continue Reading »

I encountered an old friend recently. Our re-acquaintance came about through this blog. Ms. Maria del Mar found my post on Salinger’s  Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters (Roof Beam, to us) which I had ended with a note on the odd wedding gift at the end of the story, wondering why anyone might send cigar ash.  She commented that it is explained in the next novella of that collection, Seymour — an Introduction.

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The difference is that on this still, wintry day I’m not caught unaware and I suspect the enemy planes are enroute.

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