May 2007


My very favourite library, the New York Public Library: this splendid building is the home of the research library, “with the famous main reading room a majestic 78 feet (23.8 m) wide by 297 feet (90.5 m) long, with 52 feet (15.8 m) high ceilings – lined with thousands of reference books on open shelves along the floor level and along the balcony; lit by massive windows and grand chandeliers; furnished with sturdy wood tables, comfortable chairs, and brass lamps.” Now that’s a library. Go visit if you are ever in New York. They usually have some kind of special show on in their gallery which also adds to its visitor appeal.

I know that I promised I wouldn’t talk about books for a bit, but I guess I just can’t help it. Sorry! Today, I was at a branch of the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) that is not “my branch”. While there, I was talking to a librarian who used to work at “my branch” but now works at the other branch. We know each other really well and I was talking about what I am going to say here.

We came to Vancouver in 1961 and one of the first things we did was get a library card. Both A and I are insatiable readers and we came to Vancouver with just enough money to buy some cheap furniture for our apartment and a second hand car. No money for books, of course, hence the library cards.

In 1964, we bought our first house in the Dunbar area and with our 18 month old son we started the “B” family tradition of going to the Dunbar Branch of the VPL every Saturday. A few years later we had a daughter and then four of us made the weekly pilgrimage. I guess we chose Saturday because A wasn’t working that day and later on the children were not in school. Of course, when I was working and sometimes did weekend shift work, Saturday still suited the other three and I scrabbled in just before they closed. After all, the books were always due on a Saturday.

Luckily I was blessed with two children who are also readers and, even after they went away to graduate school at other universities, whoever was home for the summer visit still went on the library outing. We are both retired now for almost nine years but we still go on the Saturday library pilgrimage, just the two of us. In fact my son, who has his own house across the city does the Saturday library run to “his branch”.

When we have finished whatever book we are reading, we put it in the front hall by the front door. So we won’t forget to take it back. We moved house in 1977, but only a mile from our original house, so we didn’t have to change branches and this house too has a heap of books by the front door.

Of course I now own thousands of books but I still borrow many and for forty three years we have had this family tradition. The daughter who lives outside New York city, although not following the day exactly, still is a regular patron of her library and I think she owns even more books than I do.

Before I finish this post I just want to tell you about a book which I finished last night, now by the front door for return on Saturday. Not a full review but a little teaser. It’s called The Echo Maker, a novel, by Richard Power. I was fascinated by this book because it was full of case histories describing the infinitely bizarre world of brain injuries. The protagonist, after a car accident, has Capgras syndrome — the delusion that people in one’s life are doubles or imposters. Now don’t be put off, this was a very well written novel and it won the National Book Award in 2006.

Now definitely the next post will not be about books. The Saturday Photo Hunt –Art will show you a photo of a piece of art that I treasure and of course it has a little story to go with it. See you all here.

My very favourite library, the New York Public Library: this splendid building is the home of the research library, “with the famous main reading room a majestic 78 feet (23.8 m) wide by 297 feet (90.5 m) long, with 52 feet (15.8 m) high ceilings – lined with thousands of reference books on open shelves along the floor level and along the balcony; lit by massive windows and grand chandeliers; furnished with sturdy wood tables, comfortable chairs, and brass lamps.” Now that’s a library. Go visit if you are ever in New York. They usually have some kind of special show on in their gallery which also adds to its visitor appeal.

I know that I promised I wouldn’t talk about books for a bit, but I guess I just can’t help it. Sorry! Today, I was at a branch of the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) that is not “my branch”. While there, I was talking to a librarian who used to work at “my branch” but now works at the other branch. We know each other really well and I was talking about what I am going to say here.

We came to Vancouver in 1961 and one of the first things we did was get a library card. Both A and I are insatiable readers and we came to Vancouver with just enough money to buy some cheap furniture for our apartment and a second hand car. No money for books, of course, hence the library cards.

In 1964, we bought our first house in the Dunbar area and with our 18 month old son we started the “B” family tradition of going to the Dunbar Branch of the VPL every Saturday. A few years later we had a daughter and then four of us made the weekly pilgrimage. I guess we chose Saturday because A wasn’t working that day and later on the children were not in school. Of course, when I was working and sometimes did weekend shift work, Saturday still suited the other three and I scrabbled in just before they closed. After all, the books were always due on a Saturday.

Luckily I was blessed with two children who are also readers and, even after they went away to graduate school at other universities, whoever was home for the summer visit still went on the library outing. We are both retired now for almost nine years but we still go on the Saturday library pilgrimage, just the two of us. In fact my son, who has his own house across the city does the Saturday library run to “his branch”.

When we have finished whatever book we are reading, we put it in the front hall by the front door. So we won’t forget to take it back. We moved house in 1977, but only a mile from our original house, so we didn’t have to change branches and this house too has a heap of books by the front door.

Of course I now own thousands of books but I still borrow many and for forty three years we have had this family tradition. The daughter who lives outside New York city, although not following the day exactly, still is a regular patron of her library and I think she owns even more books than I do.

Before I finish this post I just want to tell you about a book which I finished last night, now by the front door for return on Saturday. Not a full review but a little teaser. It’s called The Echo Maker, a novel, by Richard Power. I was fascinated by this book because it was full of case histories describing the infinitely bizarre world of brain injuries. The protagonist, after a car accident, has Capgras syndrome — the delusion that people in one’s life are doubles or imposters. Now don’t be put off, this was a very well written novel and it won the National Book Award in 2006.

Now definitely the next post will not be about books. The Saturday Photo Hunt –Art will show you a photo of a piece of art that I treasure and of course it has a little story to go with it. See you all here.

A story about a 13 year old boy exploring the tidal pools in a bay off the Puget Sound? Well this book, The Highest Tide, a debut novel by Jim Lynch was chosen by the Short Book Club for this week’s meeting. I wasn’t so sure about this, as I generally dislike books with young boys as protagonists. They tend to have potty mouth dialogue which does not amuse me in the least.

So in trepidation I began to read. From the first word I was hooked. The protagonist never says this, but it is written as if he were an adult writing about one summer in his childhood and so my fears were allayed.

Miles O’Malley, an only child, 13 years old, small for his age and a loner, lives with his parents just above the tide line on Puget Sound near Olympia, Washington. Obsessed with Rachel Carson’s writings, he has become an expert on the marine life on the tidal flats and he spends his spare time and then his summer vacation collecting clams and geoduck for sale to restaurants and interesting specimens to aquaria, often accompanied by his friend Phelps, a more worldy wise thirteen year old than Miles is.

One night, as he explores the tidal area, he finds a giant squid, a deep water creature which is an extremely rare find. His friend and mentor, Professor Cramer, notifies the media and he becomes famous, giving interviews to TV reporters.

He continues to find other interesting specimens and his fame grows, with people of all descriptions beginning to follow him on the flats and demand things of him which disrupt his life. He tries to carry on normally while pursuing his friendship with an elderly semi-incapacitated psychic neighbour, Florence, whom he helps as best he can. While his parents’ marriage is disintegrating around him, he is also dealing with a huge crush that he has on his 18 year old neighbour Angie.

The denouement of the novel is the coming of the highest tide of the year which gives the novel its title and predicted by Florence to be the highest in 50 years. When this occurs it sets in motion other events which I do not wish to spoil for you.

The descriptions of the marine life in this book are mesmerizing. I was totally enthralled by the world that the author showed to us, the readers. One treasure after another is revealed. The interactions between Miles, the anxious brainy child and the more worldly wise Phelps are often hilarious and Phelps runs interference to protect Miles from the growing number of media people who seeks him out. I’m sure I haven’t done this book justice, but I think it is one of the most enjoyable books I have read this year.

We were ten at dinner for the Short Book Club meeting and afterwards, remarkably, at the discussion, we found that every single person loved the book. In fact, the discussion was so animated that we all seemed to be talking at once, with little side conversations breaking out at times. So the little book about the young boy, which some of us were very dubious about, was a great hit after all. My raspberry ricotta cheesecake was a delicious finale, along with tea and coffee, even if I do say so myself.

After two book posts in a row I’ll try to come up with something different for next time.

A story about a 13 year old boy exploring the tidal pools in a bay off the Puget Sound? Well this book, The Highest Tide, a debut novel by Jim Lynch was chosen by the Short Book Club for this week’s meeting. I wasn’t so sure about this, as I generally dislike books with young boys as protagonists. They tend to have potty mouth dialogue which does not amuse me in the least.

So in trepidation I began to read. From the first word I was hooked. The protagonist never says this, but it is written as if he were an adult writing about one summer in his childhood and so my fears were allayed.

Miles O’Malley, an only child, 13 years old, small for his age and a loner, lives with his parents just above the tide line on Puget Sound near Olympia, Washington. Obsessed with Rachel Carson’s writings, he has become an expert on the marine life on the tidal flats and he spends his spare time and then his summer vacation collecting clams and geoduck for sale to restaurants and interesting specimens to aquaria, often accompanied by his friend Phelps, a more worldy wise thirteen year old than Miles is.

One night, as he explores the tidal area, he finds a giant squid, a deep water creature which is an extremely rare find. His friend and mentor, Professor Cramer, notifies the media and he becomes famous, giving interviews to TV reporters.

He continues to find other interesting specimens and his fame grows, with people of all descriptions beginning to follow him on the flats and demand things of him which disrupt his life. He tries to carry on normally while pursuing his friendship with an elderly semi-incapacitated psychic neighbour, Florence, whom he helps as best he can. While his parents’ marriage is disintegrating around him, he is also dealing with a huge crush that he has on his 18 year old neighbour Angie.

The denouement of the novel is the coming of the highest tide of the year which gives the novel its title and predicted by Florence to be the highest in 50 years. When this occurs it sets in motion other events which I do not wish to spoil for you.

The descriptions of the marine life in this book are mesmerizing. I was totally enthralled by the world that the author showed to us, the readers. One treasure after another is revealed. The interactions between Miles, the anxious brainy child and the more worldly wise Phelps are often hilarious and Phelps runs interference to protect Miles from the growing number of media people who seeks him out. I’m sure I haven’t done this book justice, but I think it is one of the most enjoyable books I have read this year.

We were ten at dinner for the Short Book Club meeting and afterwards, remarkably, at the discussion, we found that every single person loved the book. In fact, the discussion was so animated that we all seemed to be talking at once, with little side conversations breaking out at times. So the little book about the young boy, which some of us were very dubious about, was a great hit after all. My raspberry ricotta cheesecake was a delicious finale, along with tea and coffee, even if I do say so myself.

After two book posts in a row I’ll try to come up with something different for next time.

If you are a regular reader of my blog you know that I define myself by books and reading, so you won’t be surprised. I picked up the book at the local library just after 2 pm and by 11pm I had finished it, with interruptions for several things like a meeting ( 1 1/2 hrs) and making dinner, etc. In fact, yesterday I was supposed to be planting the flowers in my front containers but they will have to wait another day. Maybe later today, but it is still chilly out, and windy, and I hate wind.

So, cut the suspense. What book was it, you say. Well a little more teasing first. I found the book on the site of one of my regular blog reads, Eurodogtraining. There’s a little story to why I read Eurodog. One day I received the following email:

Hello,
I found your address on your blog profile. I look at it because being “into dogs” I was attracted by the picture of your Westie.
I also noticed you mentioned blogrolling on one of Winchester Whisperer’s comments. I went onto blogrolling this morning ; I managed to register but could not understand what to do next.
Can you be of help?
Thank you; this is quite new to me and I am not very computer literate.
Enjoy reading your blog.
Very cold but beautiful spring day here in Brussels.
Regards
Eurodog

You see I had helped Winchester Whisperer establish a blogroll, using Blogrolling.com, so I helped Eurodog establish hers with instructions via email. Even after she succeeded I continued to read Eurodog’s blog, although, despite being a lifelong dog lover, I don’t currently have a dog, only a dog avatar.

Well Eurodog is more than “being into dogs”, a lot more in fact. She’s the Secretary and Head of Obedience at one of Brussel’s largest dog clubs and her posts are interesting and serious looks at different facets of dogs.

So a week ago she posted this interesting report, telling about a book written by a United States marine officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman, who had rescued a dog on his third tour in Iraq and in which he narrates the tale from this meeting of the Iraqi puppy to now living in California with Lava, the dog. From Bagdad, with Love is the title.

Intrigued, I immediately put the book on hold at the library and it arrived yesterday. From the first word I could not put it down, except for the above noted interruptions. This post is already too long so I’m not going to go into too many details, but only want to say that this is a very heartwarming tale. Despite the horrors of this ongoing war, and there are some things in the book that you’d rather not know about, this marine officer, with the help of many other people including an NPR reporter, a few Iraqis and some very determined dog people in the USA, managed to bring this dog out of it.

Asked by a reporter in the USA, when he is waiting for the arrival of his dog, “What would you tell people who might suggest your time would have been better spent saving people instead of a dog?” he doesn’t answer.

But in the last few lines of his book he says:

Why wasn’t my time spent helping people instead of a puppy? I don’t know, and I don’t care, but at least I saved something.

I think you can say that this marine in his three tours of duty in Iraq did help a lot of people and most importantly he helped the morale of his fellow marines as they all tried to keep this little puppy alive and send him to safety.

Thank you Eurodog. I’m very glad you wrote about this book and prompted me to read it.

PS. The Highest Tide is still to come, don’t despair.


If you are a regular reader of my blog you know that I define myself by books and reading, so you won’t be surprised. I picked up the book at the local library just after 2 pm and by 11pm I had finished it, with interruptions for several things like a meeting ( 1 1/2 hrs) and making dinner, etc. In fact, yesterday I was supposed to be planting the flowers in my front containers but they will have to wait another day. Maybe later today, but it is still chilly out, and windy, and I hate wind.

So, cut the suspense. What book was it, you say. Well a little more teasing first. I found the book on the site of one of my regular blog reads, Eurodogtraining. There’s a little story to why I read Eurodog. One day I received the following email:

Hello,
I found your address on your blog profile. I look at it because being “into dogs” I was attracted by the picture of your Westie.
I also noticed you mentioned blogrolling on one of Winchester Whisperer’s comments. I went onto blogrolling this morning ; I managed to register but could not understand what to do next.
Can you be of help?
Thank you; this is quite new to me and I am not very computer literate.
Enjoy reading your blog.
Very cold but beautiful spring day here in Brussels.
Regards
Eurodog

You see I had helped Winchester Whisperer establish a blogroll, using Blogrolling.com, so I helped Eurodog establish hers with instructions via email. Even after she succeeded I continued to read Eurodog’s blog, although, despite being a lifelong dog lover, I don’t currently have a dog, only a dog avatar.

Well Eurodog is more than “being into dogs”, a lot more in fact. She’s the Secretary and Head of Obedience at one of Brussel’s largest dog clubs and her posts are interesting and serious looks at different facets of dogs.

So a week ago she posted this interesting report, telling about a book written by a United States marine officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman, who had rescued a dog on his third tour in Iraq and in which he narrates the tale from this meeting of the Iraqi puppy to now living in California with Lava, the dog. From Bagdad, with Love is the title.

Intrigued, I immediately put the book on hold at the library and it arrived yesterday. From the first word I could not put it down, except for the above noted interruptions. This post is already too long so I’m not going to go into too many details, but only want to say that this is a very heartwarming tale. Despite the horrors of this ongoing war, and there are some things in the book that you’d rather not know about, this marine officer, with the help of many other people including an NPR reporter, a few Iraqis and some very determined dog people in the USA, managed to bring this dog out of it.

Asked by a reporter in the USA, when he is waiting for the arrival of his dog, “What would you tell people who might suggest your time would have been better spent saving people instead of a dog?” he doesn’t answer.

But in the last few lines of his book he says:

Why wasn’t my time spent helping people instead of a puppy? I don’t know, and I don’t care, but at least I saved something.

I think you can say that this marine in his three tours of duty in Iraq did help a lot of people and most importantly he helped the morale of his fellow marines as they all tried to keep this little puppy alive and send him to safety.

Thank you Eurodog. I’m very glad you wrote about this book and prompted me to read it.

PS. The Highest Tide is still to come, don’t despair.


COLOURFUL

I was really struggling to come up with something from my very limited library of digital photos and couldn’t really think of anything to take a photo of for this theme. This is a bit of a cop out and not at all original. Sorry folks, I will do better next week, perhaps.

This is a very small bed in my front garden by the road and also up against a huge cedar hedge which sucks all the nutrients and moisture from the surrounding area as well as shades these plants from the sun. But once a year, on cue, a brilliant cerise evergreen azalea and a colourful peachy deciduous azalea flower at the same time in this wonderful display of mismatched colour. What was I thinking when I planted this bed, almost thirty years ago? A tiny cutleaf japanese maple is struggling there too, along with some white alyssum.

If you want to join the Saturday Photo Hunt or check out the Blogroll for the participants, click on my sidebar.

Have a great weekend.

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