In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways. -- Edith Wharton --
Above is a picture of the house I mostly grew up in. We had other houses before this, but this one, that little green house was where I spent what I think of as my most formative time, from about age 8 or 9 onwards. Until pseudo-maturity. That's where I morphed into the bag of tricks I am today. Actually, they [whoever "they" are] say that long before age 8 we sort of "are" who we end up being, and so I guess I was already who I am prior to The Green House on Argyle Street. I got the picture from Google Maps. Someone else lives there now -- both of my parents are long since deceased, and today I live almost on the other side of the country. But I sooooooo remember that house! High up on the inside of the main hallway closet I once wrote, in pencil, "I was here, Nov. ?, 1972." I forget the exact day. Almost 40 years ago. I know it is still there because when my mother finally moved out, my siblings looked up there and saw it, and sent me the picture. It's written on the INSIDE wall because I used to climb up there and hide from the world. [I had issues -- still have some!] In other words, it will never be painted over, it's so hidden. See that roof there? I used to LIVE on that roof, scrambling about. I still am not sure why I loved that roof so much -- I would get to it by climbing up the clothesline pole out back. I would look like such a crazy oaf if I climbed up there today, even if I had a special repair task to do, much less for recreational purposes. I remember when I was taller than that one big tree out front, on the lawn. I remember how amazed I was when we moved there from the small town we had come from. This was the Big City! Back then my simplified criteria of what constituted a "city" was "Does it have billboards?" And this one did! My younger sister and I would go just across the street [at the big high school]… on weekends in the summer and they would play Disney movies in the auditorium. Maybe I am just too high on coffee here [and I do have quite the buzz going] but I miss being that young, sometimes. ******
The first duty of the novelist is to entertain. It is a moral duty. People who read your books are sick, sad, traveling, in the hospital waiting room while someone is dying. Books are written by the alone for the alone. -- Donna Tartt --
Those of you who have followed me through the years know that I am not below rescuing something lovely from the garbage. On my way from the underground parking to the elevator I pass right by the area where people toss out their junk.
And I can't help but notice, from time to time, that I LIKE their refuse. You may recall that I once rescued a lovely Modigliani specimen from the realms of utter oblivion. Well, last night I had to move that treasure to another wall to make way for my new orphaned art. Picassos's The Dream. Come on! There's a half-exposed breast there, which is a rare sighting in this apartment [unless it's my own, which doesn't even count.] Someone threw her out. I had to take her home. So. Rejoice with me, friends. As the great artist himself once said: “If I paint a wild horse, you might not see the horse... but surely you will see the wildness!” ******
McDonald's, which had already upgraded its brewed coffee and bolstered it with free promotions, launched a national media campaign for its McCafe espresso brand. "This is no longer fast food. " McDonald's Canada president John Betts told the Star this week. "This is great food served fast."
Have a great Friday! And be sure to visit a McDonald's near you. I probably will! ******
I'm afraid my blogging glut is still in effect. I've been doing some terrific reading, having "discovered" the missing link in my reading life. John Updike. His novel In The Beauty of the Lilies is seared into my brain as one of the most wonderful things I have read in a long time. And now I am halfway through Gertrude and Claudius -- totally different genre, but same author. Here he is giving us sort of a prelude to the events of Shakespeare's Hamlet. It is AMAZING! It helps that Hamlet is one of my favourite stories ever! And speaking of favourite things, I want to share with you perhaps my favourite piece of music of all time. The Largo section of Dvorak's New World Symphony. I always imagine this being played at my own funeral. I actually want to write this into my will or whatever. To me, it is for sure the most moving way that I would be able, in my final act before being actually interred, to express to everyone how sad it is that I am now totally dead. My love of Dvorak is not just something I am coming up with here tonight out of the blue. Several years ago I even wrote a poem about how much I love his stuff.
Men are so amusing. Show them a pack of wolves, dominated by the males, and they will say, See? It is natural for men to rule. Fine. But produce a beehive, controlled by the queen, with males used for menial labor, and they protest, Human beings are not insects. Yes, well. -- David Maine, The Preservationist --
Brigitte has been cutting my hair for quite a while now. We have both watched each other age -- that's how long I have known her. She is doing it more gracefully than I am. Tonight while I sat at Starbucks and read my book I realized I am due for a shearing. So, without an appointment, I floored it to the Mall where she works and she was busy when I arrived. She seemed flustered when I hesitated at her suggestion that I return tomorrow evening, finally saying, "Can you give me half an hour, though?" "Sure," I said. "No problem at all." I got a cranberry-lemon muffin from the place next door and sat at a table in the main aisle of the Mall, outside the barber shop. [It's actually called The Barber Shop]. Continuing on with my book, I kept glancing up where I could see her in the reflections of the hundred mirrors of the place. She did not have another client after the one that had just left. Instead, Brigitte just sat there in the chair that I would soon occupy, sipping on a coffee, running her hands through her incredible mane of hair and ponderously thinking. At exactly half an hour, she popped out into the bustle of the Mall, saw me, and said, "Are you ready now?" The reason I am relating this story is because as I sat and had my ears lowered, she mentioned at least five times how appreciative she was that I had afforded her that half hour. For me, it was not an imposition or a chore at all -- but to her, it was extremely necessary to sit there for that space of time and "collect her thoughts" as she put it. It made me think of times when people have been patient with me when I have been down and out. Sometimes you need a break. A break that does not have to be earned or explained -- just a break. I myself have needed a break lately, and I am so appreciative of the friends that have left comments on my blog. Things like "have a nice re-think" and "come back soon" and "I cannot live without you" etc. [OK, admittedly, I made that last one up!] The past few days, my life-long friend has been giving me some terrific over-the-phone counselling -- and during one of our sessions he said something so profound, I want to tell you of it. He said, "The distance between your expectations and what is, is called frustration." It really helped me. I think there is great wisdom in that statement and it can be applied in so many ways. On the face of it, there is a tendency to equate it with the idea of simply lowering one's expectations. As though that would cure all ills. But I tend to interpret it as meaning one should strive to have more realistic expectations. It's not advocating pessimism as much as it is endorsing a truer sense of things, of what is. Being true to yourself. At this point you may be wondering what any of this has to do with an image of a box of beer, above. Well -- see, it's part of my ongoing therapy. On the way home, in honour of being more and more "true to myself" I knew that my expectations of even this evening here would be heightened…. yea, accentuated, if you will -- if I just had a couple of brewskis. So far it is working. Re-thinking my inks while I be-drinking my drinks! Therapy. Therapy, my friends. Sometimes we just need to do what we need to do to be what we need to be. Happy. ******
This Bookpuddle page will be temporarily not-relevant. [It's been not-relevant for a while now, Cip]. Point taken. Please be patient with me as I, [as Chris Farley said in Beverly Hills Ninja], "re-think my inks."
Teddy knew a door had been shut that would not open again. He was old enough now to see that life is a bent path among branching possibilities -- after you move past a fork in the road you cannot get back. -- John Updike, In The Beauty of the Lilies --
I want someone to click on the shirt and order it for me. I'm just kidding, but in all seriousness -- I would look so good in this thing! You know it, and I do, too. So, the right thing to do is just get out the ol' credit card and click... click... click! Happiness [mine] is just a mere click away! It's one of my fave stories of all time. Do I need a better sales pitch than my own happiness, friends? ******
If enough money is involved and enough people believe that two plus two equals five the media will report the story with a straight face always adding a qualifying paragraph noting that mathematicians however say that two plus two still equals four. -- Susan Jacoby --
Recently I have made two very important discoveries. John Updike, and tri-packaged bacon. All evening I've been wrestling with the problem of which discovery to blog about first. Since I've only really just started this excellent Updike novel... I'm going with the pork. The other day in the supermarket I was astounded to find that someone [in this case, an outfit called Olymel Foods] has finally addressed themselves to the age-old problem of what to do with the unused portion of an opened package of bacon. The answer? -->THERE IS NO UNUSED PORTION ANYMORE! Open only one vacuum-sealed meal-size packet at a time! Why hasn't anyone else thought of this until now? I've been waiting years for this.
<-- See the second picture there? It's the perfect thing for a non-Jewish non-Muslim pig-eating bachelor like myself. You just tear off one of the three sections and fry up your four slabs of fine hog. The rest stays fresh. Perfection. And speaking of perfection -- 60 pages in this may be a bit of a premature summation on my part -- but I can't believe I have lived this long, always reading books, and only now have discovered this wonderful writer, John Updike. Truly superb. Engaging. I am just so enthralled by this depiction of a minister in the midst of losing his faith. Updike's read my diary. So that's a bit of what's going on around here -- Good books. Good breakfasts. Feeding my mind and clogging my arteries. *******