Thursday, February 26, 2009


Tired old February

Sorry I've been quiet here for a while. I'm busy at home painting, reading (of course), and feeling a bit mournful about my bookshop, at the same time that I'm so grateful to no longer be sitting there, mostly customerless, during a tough time of year in any economy, not least the current one. The good news: we finished our taxes, and I actually made money last year in the book business. This was largely due to the fact that I had a few tremendous individual sales, on top of paying much less overhead for the year. I wish I had more bookish news to report, but sadly, it's slow around here and I'd rather be silent if I have nothing of note to say.

I will mention that I read Three Cups of Tea a few weeks ago, during my month-long literary sojourn in Persia and Afghanistan. And then I found out that the co-author/subject of the book, Greg Mortenson, is giving the commencement address this spring at nearby Colby College. I think I'll go, just to hear him speak. This book, his life story, is such that after reading it, you think to yourself, This is living greatness. This is a person who starts with next to nothing and an idea and ends up creating new worlds for other people. Now, geniuses do this all the time, in all kinds of fields. But Mortenson does so selflessly, with no self-aggrandizing agenda, in a dangerous area, to help children, and specifically to help female children. During this contemplative slow time (winter in rural Maine - beautiful but getting old), this book about taking action in life was just what I needed. Apparently a lot of other people need it too, since I see it's been on the New York Times bestseller list for 107 weeks to date.

Another bit of good news - I sold my first few paintings thanks to my website. Just out of curiosity, if anyone is still reading this, I'd like to ask who among you has art on display in your home? Caveat - art not created and given to you by a close relative. Paintings, sculpture, illuminated manuscript pages (sigh...), objects for no other reasons than beauty and love. What do you have and why?

Sunday, February 01, 2009


another January in the books, as it were

I'm not one to wish time away - life is altogether too fleeting - but I do admit to feeling happiness, at least in a stolid yankee manner of being, that this long cold snowy January has finally passed by. I celebrated by ordering some seeds from Fedco today. Though looking out the dining room window toward the garden, or more accurately the area where I suspect the garden to be, when it is actually just a view of half an acre of pure white, is slightly disheartening. Well, all the more reason to plan for a wall of sweet peas for beauty, corn and potatoes and carrots and onions for winter storage, a huge basil patch for immediate greedy consumption, and nasturtiums by the kitchen door for cheer. I turned over a new leaf in my gardening journal, literally, by writing the first entry for 2009 today. I can hardly say what it means to me to tend a garden after twenty years of apartment living. After one full growing season, I'm nowhere near used to it. But we can settle on deeply satisfying.

In my book room, a tangled and sustaining garden of a different kind, I've been reassessing and sorting this month. Trying to hold on to some order. What with moving here, then moving the remnants of the bookshop here, some ossified layers seem to have mysteriously formed. It's a mess. And I can't stand untidy books. I'm firmly in the camp of good care and order. Anything less than that upsets them. (The books.) But the trouble is, as I'm working, I inevitably stop to browse and read among my old friends, and awaken an hour later wondering what I thought I was trying to accomplish in the first place. Yesterday I quickly gave up and took a short stack of books into the other room so I could comfortably sit and look at all the pictures again - at the top of the pile were three by Fitzroy Maclean: Back to Bokhara, To Caucasus, and The Back of Beyond (about Mongolia). I've heard that some people actually take vacations this time of year, to, you know, make more Vitamin D or something. But right now I can only travel in my books. So I'll toss another log on the fire, look out again at the snowy garden, and report that Samarkand is lovely this time of year.

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