Monday, May 30, 2011

Book Acquisition Update 1

Following is a list of books I bought yesterday at the Friends of the Benicia Library bookshop. It's just a little alcove in the library, but I LOVE it and here's why: it's right up the street; it has a constantly-changing supply of books; they're (mostly) all $1.

The first book is what The Dot and I call a "Pink Book" - books that are just fun to read, like candy for the brain. While they don't have to be substantive, they still have to be well written or else, let's face it, that's just tedious and who needs tedium when all you're trying to do is read a book?

It's called Yummy Mummy and it's about moms in London - fascinating fun to be had. I also have to suggest that you don't google "yummy mummy" because some of the images are just inappropriate. What are people thinking? I really don't want to see a picture of a middle aged housewife in her underwear flexing her biceps no matter how toned she is. Come ON people. Have a little self respect.

Next up is a book I like to call "Nobody's Fool" mostly because Richard Russo called it that right about the time he had it published. This one is a little iffy. Not my favorite genre - family angst, old men, divorce - you know what I'm talking about. But it was well reviewed on Amazon and I take that as a good sign.

This next one is also a real departure for me. I probably won't ever read it, but what I liked about it is that it's an Advanced Reader's Copy of a book that has almost five stars on Amazon. It's about teenage immaculate conception which generally isn't my favorite topic. Additionally just LOOK at how much the author looks like the cover photo. That's taking self-promotion one step too far. But keep in mind - $1. At the very least I can trade it for something better.

She kind of looks like Laura Linney.

My last new acquisition was written by an 83 year old man. I will try not to have a hang up about that while I'm reading it. It's supposed to be good, dry and funny which are three of my favorites.

But first I'm going to finish reading Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons which I'm thoroughly enjoying. I haven't read Ship Breaker yet, which my readers will remember was supposed to be next in line, because I was intimidated by the due date. Nightingale Wood was written in the 1930s. If it were written today I would berate the author for not doing her research about the 1930s. But apparently I'd be wrong. Intriguing! This book belongs to The Dot and she insisted on me reading it - right again Dot!

I'm also reading Little Witch by Anna Elizabeth Bennet which I last read in 3rd grade and have never forgotten. I recently found it on (thanks reader Heidi) and now I OWN it. I'm savoring that one.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

San Francisco Edwardian

I was captivated by the feel of this art studio located on the lower level of an Edwardian for sale in the Pacific Heights area of San Francisco.

It was built in 1908 but has been completely renovated. If I had an extra four or five million dollars I would buy this place. Possibly. There are a lot of houses around the world you could buy for four million dollars, but I just love the flavor of this house. And to be in downtown San Francisco . . .

. . . with this kitchen . . .

. . . and this view from your bedroom. And the bookshelves! Don't forget the built-in bookshelves.

Of course the garden would be a bit of a compromise. But overall, I think I'll take it.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Book Swap Update

Some of my loyal readers may remember that I recently joined a book swapping "club" online. Here's a quick recap: list the books you don't mind trading; find books other people want to trade that you want; TRADE. It didn't start out so well. I posted and mailed like a good girl, but the other peeps weren't reciprocating and I ended up with nuthin. If you're confused, here's my original post.

But . . .

I used up all of my "credits" from all of the books I mailed and went on an ordering spree. I have since received five books that I really want. But the best part is the book I received yesterday. Keep in mind, the books I'm sending out are paperbacks I've decided I'll never read. I would have donated them to the library up the street (sorry Benicia Library). It costs me $2.41 in postage to mail each one.

Yesterday a little manila envelope showed up in my mailbox with my name on it. Inside was this:

a first edition Edith Wharton Twilight Sleep. Shhhh. I have a feeling the swapper didn't know what she was giving up and I'm halfway afraid that if I put the name of the swapping site on here someone will find out and come take this book away from me. Or maybe she just hates Edith Wharton.

I'm so excited about this book, which I'm sure you all realize is not a paperback, that I'm giving it to The Dot for her birthday which is Tuesday! Here's hoping she doesn't read The Blog before then.

By the way, my copy of Twilight Sleep is in even BETTER condition than this one that I stole from this site (because I'm too lazy to photograph my own copy plus it's already wrapped): First Editions and Antiquarian Books which sells it for $47. I'm not entirely sure my (Dot's) copy is a "fourth printing" so it might even be worth more!

So it's all good. I'm going back on and finding me some more first editions. Don't tell!

PS The Dot is taking four days off for her BIRTHDAY and the weather at Wellington is positively GORGEOUS. It's supposed to be nasty but it isn't. And there are nasturtiums absolutely everywhere. I'll count them and get back to you.

UPDATE The weather is intermittently non-gorgeous, but that's okay. It's still intermittently gorgeous and that's my second favorite.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Garden Update with New Window Box Inside 2

It's been positively gorgeous weather here in Benicia. Especially at Wellington, for some reason. Everything is blooming nicely. Particularly since I took the infested fox gloves out of the garden bed above. The little pink birdhouse was in my Easter Basket that The Dot gave me. The coreopsis has absolutely taken over and has had to be trimmed back a bit because there are other flowers in the garden, for crying out loud. This bed shows a bit of salvia in the back (one of my all time favorite types of flowers to grow in the garden), coreopsis, allysum, nasturtium, variegated catchfly (pics to follow - it's cute!), and lemon mint. Here's a little sun dial that has been in the family for years and has finally found a home on this metal plant stand/vine cage that was given to me for my birthday by some wonderful family members who recently came to dinner then went for a walk in Benicia and some how ended up in Romancing the Home where they let me pick out my present and I got this because I've been admiring it for MONTHS. I'm planning to shove a little wire vine underneath. The sun dial actually tells the correct time! (Looks like 9:30.)

This part's kind of fun. Out front I planted a calciolaria integrifolia (Kentish Hero). It is so cute! The little flowers look like puffy pockets of orange. But the best part is the pumpkin plant that The Dot planted on Halloween. I use the term "planted" loosely because I think what happened was when we were sitting out front greeting trick or treaters, she chucked a handful of pumpkin seeds over the side and these plants popped up. It will be interesting to see if we end up with pumpkins! They will match the calcolaria, anyway. In the bottom left corner of this photo is a different kind of coreopsis called "Big Bang". So far - nuthin. But we'll keep an eye on it.
Here's what that bed looks like a little father back with a cat in front of it (above) and only three months ago (below).And here's the newest window box. I'm hoping things will just spill over then droop right down this wall.

One of the many nasturtiums. I ran around the garden scattering seeds about two months ago and now they're starting to bloom. I've always loved nasturtiums. You can eat them! But not these. They're pets.

Speaking of pets, the house sparrows (not pets) are courting each other in the eaves of the house and Hugo is going nuts. She's mostly too old to be much of a threat, but she likes to dream. Actually, she did give us a little red finch for Christmas, but let's not talk about that right now.

Let's talk about the Arbor Walk. Because look at this angle. The little mini succulents are so proud of themselves! And they have a pretty good view.

There's the garden update for now. I'll keep an eye on things around here and let you know if something changes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What I'm Reading, What I Read, What I'm Going to Read

Much to The Dot's pleasure, What I'm Reading now is Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire.

She's a huge fan, and for good reason. He has a way with words, which is helpful when you're a writer. I did read Wicked long ago, after much prodding by Dot, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have this block when it comes to Young Adult books since I am not one anymore. But this book is a pleasure to read and a departure from what I recently read which was:
The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton. I really liked this book. So much so that I recently purchased The House at Riverton (for $1!). This book jumped back and forth and more forth and even more back. A lot. But it was a great story and very well written. That's all I'm saying about that. If you want to know what it was about, go to Amazon. That's what that's for.

As usual, I'm most excited about the book I'm Going to Read. Which is:

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. Much to my own surprise, I'm choosing to read this Young Adult novel. But with good reason. I recently read The Windup Girl, which The Dot had given me for Christmas and I loved. My favorite type of book is one in which the author creates a new world and brings you inside. Paolo Bacigalupi did a great job of that in the Windup Girl. The only problem was, it wasn't a place I very much wanted to be. But THIS one is for YA, so it has to be a little easier to take. Regardless, if it's as good as The Windup Girl, I'll go there and enjoy it.

BTW, the painting above is by a Dutch painter called Koekkoek. Which I'm thinking is pronounced Kek Kek, and that's just cute. The painting looks like the village in which Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is set. Now I'm going to go finish it up so I can start Ship Breaker before it's due at the library. I'm fairly certain I won't make the deadline, but by then I should know whether or not it's a keeper. I'll let you know.

Update:  It wasn't.

Monday, May 16, 2011

I Heart Books

Although my bookshelves are organized, it's always a work in progress. Unless I never buy another book which isn't happening. I'm going to try to be more disciplined about it, though. I really don't have much more room without coming up with some new ideas. Like that bookshelf lamp above (found here, but probably no longer available - rats) which might take care of 10 more books. But ten books is ten books. Or The Husband and I could get more creative about using space we already have, as in this apartment in New York City. Something about this loft just makes me feel good. (Thanks again, Apartment Therapy!)

One thing I've taken to doing lately is swapping books on PaperBack Swap. Theoretically it's a great idea. You post a bunch of books you're willing to trade with someone else. I posted a dozen books that I've never read and probably won't. Then you use their search engine to find books you've been wanting. Then that person just sends it to you! The trick is to only post lighter paperbacks so when someone orders one of your books, the cost is minimal. The site offers printing labels in the form of two 8x11 pages printed with the recipient's address. You tape the two papers onto your book, walk across the street, give the mailman $2.42 and you're done! The way I figure, I'm getting books I've been wanting for $2.42. I've spent more than that on books I don't want, so how can I lose?

Here's how. Apparently not everyone in the world (or at Paperback Swap) is nice. Since I joined just over a month ago I have mailed out four books, all of which have been received by various happy readers across the U.S. I have ordered four different books, none of which have been received by this bewildered reader in Benicia. Rather than give up on the whole thing, I have cancelled the books that were supposed to have been mailed, and painstakingly researched four books I would like to own (I found an Amazon reviewer with whom I felt an affinity and mooched her favorites. Check back later for updates on whether or not it was worth it.) and ordered them - hopefully from more trustworthy swappers. This will use up all of my "credits" I have with Paperback Swap, at which point I can reassess whether or not I'd like to continue sending random people my books at no cost to them. I'm thinking not.

There's my recommendation. Have at it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Before and After: Bookshelves

I hate dust jackets. Does that make me a bad person? If a dust jacket is removable, I always remove it "temporarily" while I read the book, stashing it somewhere special. Which I promptly forget. I'm convinced that niggling feeling of guilty shame I've been harboring throughout my lifetime is actually a result of all the dust jackets I've lost over the years. Well no more! My recycling bin is now full to the brim with unwanted dust jackets! Look how lovely books are with their embossed titles and color-coordinated spines! Why are we hiding them? How dusty does it get in this little room? I guess we'll find out, but meanwhile we'll be able to actually enjoy these wonderful books. I suppose if one is constantly eating pudding with one's fingers while reading one's books, dust jackets make sense. This one isn't, so YAY! No more dust jackets!Here are the bookshelves before. It always looked so messy. And it's practically the first room you see when you come into Wellington. I love my books, and I loved organizing them alphabetically by author, but let's face it, how often do I need to be able to find a book in 30 seconds flat? Three times in the last year, that's how often. Ah. That's better. For the most part, the fiction is grouped by color. The nonfiction is now towards the bottom. My accordion-file loose sheet music is in the other room near the piano and I think this looks much better!

It was somehow liberating to pull books off shelves and place them with their color-mates. It was aesthetically pleasing and trumped the pleasure I had gotten by keeping them organized alphabetically for so long. Of course the next day The Dot came in looking for a particular book. But it took three minutes to find it and I think I have three minutes to spare on the rare occasion someone wants to borrow one of my books.My plan is to gradually include the color of the book on their corresponding index cards, but that will come. Is my card catalog so cute? It is actually incorporated in my little antique desk that was my very first refinishing project. (Pics to come on a future blog.) So I can still be nerdy with my card filing system and enjoy my beautiful library! Hurrah!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Favorite Blog of the Week: Kolonidagar

Evocative blog from Sweden. Needs no translation.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Before and After: Arbor Walk Update 3

What an awful picture!I took this pic very quickly before we owned Wellington on a day the Broker allowed me in for a quick second peak. We already had our offer in place and hadn't heard back from the bank yet. The original owner was inside the house packing up before her move to a smaller condo up the street. a victim of the economy. But let's not talk about that now. . .
. . . because look! Here is our little Arbor Walk today! We squelched the temptation to put in larger plants and place them closer together. Next year this will have really grown in very nicely. But I think it looks great! In the foreground is the first little bench deck. To the right the second - one gets morning sun, the other afternoon. Farther back is the larger deck outside the kitchen window. This will soon have a small table and chairs for dining al fresco. Here's a view looking back from the dining deck. Lovely.

Here's a fun shot of the steps to the garage on that second day I saw Wellington. The weeds all around the place were this high!Here's a "during" pic. I loved it already.

I wasn't going to put the pics up until the Arbor Walk was completely finished. We still have our main tree to put in towards the fence. And a couple more finishing touches. But I absolutely love it and can't wait for the trees (most of which are dwarf) to grow in and make it seem like a little secret place. It's already a wonderful place to read a book. And no one can see you! You could sit out here naked, if you wanted. But please don't. That's just gross.