Saturday, January 20, 2007


Books won out...

...over sleep. Was there ever any doubt? Besides, I couldn't sleep because a parking lot next to our apartment building was loudly snowplowed this morning at five. So at six I got up, got ready, and Ryan and I sallied forth in search of books. We arrived at the library sale an hour early, as we usually do, after seeing part of the sunrise over the ocean. What a life I lead. I say Thanks every day for it. The library sale was so-so, six cartons of books for $88, a good haul but nothing out of the ordinary. After the sale a friend of mine showed me a book he'd found (that I missed finding, obviously) - a signed Lynd Ward book, illustrated with some of his lovely woodcuts. Oh well! I did find one book with a terrific bookplate in it, designed by Rockwell Kent, and one tiny little Maine bookseller's ticket (1873) which I didn't own already. Ryan's two stellar finds were a huge book about antique wooden planes and an oversized Rackham-illustrated tales of Poe, speaking of Poe. One thing I was very happy to find, just to read: a softcover reprint of Slavomir Rawicz's The Long Walk. The author recounts his escape from a labor camp in Siberia and subsequent trek across the Himalayas and Gobi Desert. I've always heard it's incredible, now I can find out for myself. We stopped on the way home at two other libraries, each with little ongoing booksale shelving areas, but the only thing I came up with was a Letters of Proust. Made it back to the shop a little after eleven. I spent the afternoon sorting and cleaning and shelving books, after a brief touch-up to yesterday's painting (funny, after being away from it overnight I walked in and saw exactly what I needed to do - then quickly did it, and now it's truly done). And here I am squeaking in my blog post today, with some favorite Os from The Reader's Encyclopedia:

O.K. From Choctaw Indian okeh, "it is so"; from the initials of Obadiah Kelly, the railroad clerk, who initialed the packages he accepted; from orl korrect, a faulty spelling for "all correct"; from Middle English hoacky, "the last load of a harvest"; etc., etc. (p.792)

Old Contemptibles. The German Kaiser jeered at the small Expeditionary Force England sent to France in 1914 as a "contemptible little army." In typically British fashion the name was immediately adopted. (p.793)

olla-podrida (Span.). A hodgepodge or miscellaneous collection. In the Latin countries an olla is a water jar or cooking pot of baked clay and podrida means "rotten." (p.796) (Another possible blog name.)

O tempora! O mores! (Lat., from Cicero's Pro Rege Deiotaro, xi, 31). Alas! how times have changed for the worse! Alas! how the morals of the people have degenerated! (p.807) (There are editorial comments I could make here. I shall refrain.)

Over the Hill to the Poorhouse. Title of the best-known poem of Will Carleton. (p.808) (There are still more editorial comments I could make here. Again, I choose to remain silent.)

Ozymandias. A famous poem by Shelley, first published by Leigh Hunt in his Examiner (January, 1818). It is an ironic poem on the vanity and futility of a tyrant's power. (p.810) (But this I will proclaim loudly: more people need to read Leigh Hunt!)

Several more long entries of note, today: the Odyssey (which I skipped most of - the entry, that is - because I've started reading the epic and I don't want any more information than the hazy outline of events I already possess in my head), olive, oracle, ordeal (ordeals by fire, hot water, cold water, etc., most interesting stuff), and oriflamme (a beautiful word, the banner of the kings of France during the Middle Ages, Fr., "flame of gold"). That's it for today - thanks for sticking around, those of you who are still reading, as I work my way through this wonderfully pointless project. It's working, January is passing by, and besides, I'm having fun.

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