Thursday, December 16, 2010

Books (Is this thing on?)

I’d like some credit for being among the trendsetters in this blogbandonment trend.  But I can’t even blame Facebook.  I just faded all on my own.

And now I don’t really have a new post, but since I imagine there’s some kind of 5-year statute of limitations (in my mind) about re-posting, I’m recycling this little gem I found in in the directory I sometimes tuck things I felt were important at the time.  [Edit: this was originally a guest post over at Bakerina’s.  Go poke around her archives around May 2005.  Wow, now that was blogging (and guest blogging) at its peak!] Without further ado:
Okay, since Bakerina asked real nice.  (Or maybe she ordered me to participate, I have a selective memory about such things).

‘Mouse responds:
Total number of books I’ve owned.
Not too many.  Probably under 1000.  Certainly under 2000.  From second grade, when I learned to sign my name in cursive in order to get my own library card I’ve loved libraries.  I check out at least 150 books a year—far more than I could afford or store if I was buying ‘em.

Last book I bought.
Probably The Fan Man, William Kotzwinkle.  I bought it and sent it to Orionoir and tried to get him to send it along to Bakerina.  Alas, the second part of the plan fell through.  I may have to buy another copy for our lovely hostess.  I cannot generally recommend this book to everyone.  Many won’t like it or understand it.  But those who do will quote it for the rest of their life.

Five Books that Mean A Lot to Me.
Illusions, Richard Bach.  If I recall correctly there’s a saccharine Christian message not-exactly hidden in this little gem by the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  Normally I’d rebel against that, but for some reason this book follows me around and it’s one of the few books I’ve read more than three times in my life.  Comfortable like an old pair of slippers.

The Monkey Wrench Gang, Edward Abbey.  This, along with the ubiquitous Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and a whole lot of Kurt Vonnegut and Hunter S. Thompson defines my “question authority” period.  The Monkey Wrench Gang, with its eco-terrorism before the term was invented, and its sidekick who measures distances in beers, not miles represents the late-Sixties, early-Seventies, makes me cry for our country today.  It very nearly motivates me to buy a few hundred pounds of sugar to add to the gas tanks of every fuck-head who “needs” a 5000+ lb. vehicle to drive their precious kiddies to school. Alas, times have changed.

Speaking of changed times and past era’s,

How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot
by John Muir.  This is THE ORIGINAL idiot’s guide.  Never drive an old VW without a copy in the trunk.  With this book you can literally re-build a VW engine on the side of a highway in the middle of nowhere.  I know.  I’ve done it.  There are few experiences in life better than fixing and tuning your own aircooled engine, unless it’s helping birth a baby goat (see below).

Country Woman (not the magazine, but the big book which is apparently out of print and which I cannot track down anywhere) was my mother’s bible for the back-to-the earth movement when she packed up the family, bought a farm and we raised goats, chickens, pigs and went years without refined sugar, white flour or television.  (Easy to sigh wistfully about it now. Huge parts of the experience completely sucked.)  As I recall it, this book was the complete idiot’s guide to country living.  It included instructions on, among other things, shearing sheep, spinning wool, making butter and cheese, castrating pigs, and, my personal favorite, reaching into your goat to turn a breech-position kid.  At the age of 11, as the one with the smallest hand and arm, I had the honor of getting nearly shoulder-deep in a goat to help her give birth.  Try that sometime for a thrilling connection to the natural world.  (Update:  I called my mother to verify the title and she said she’d recently stumbled across her copy while cleaning the garage – She spent many minutes in reverie.  This book’s going to be a family heirloom – bet I know what I get for Xmas this year.)

And a tie for the fifth entry:
The Joy of Cooking and The Joy of Sex.  In my opinion the former should be issued to every 10-year-old and the latter to every 12-year-old without fail.  Sure there are better, more updated cookbooks and sex books, but these are solid and stand the test of time.  Both are left lying around the house for my children to borrow whenever they feel the urge.

Nah.  Everyone I know has been tagged already.  Oh, wait.  Keith, have you?

What I do think this meme really needs is something like “List five books all my friends should read before they die, arranged from light to heavy” or perhaps, “The five most recent books I’ve read that I’d heartily recommend (or didn’t hate).”  As I thought about this I found very little overlap.

Five Semi-Random Books My Friends Should Consider Reading Before They Die
- Time Enough for Love, Robert Heinlein
- The Fan Man, William Kotzwinkle
- Close Range, Wyoming Stories, Annie Proulx
- Lolita, Vladimir Nabakov
- 100 Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Five Books I Read Recently that I’d Recommend (or Just Liked Well Enough to Pass Along)
- Daughter of Fortune, Isabel Allende
- Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christopher Moore
- The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
- The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences and Observations of Peter Leroy (“Little Follies”), Eric Kraft.
- About a Boy, Nick Hornby

Ouch.  Hard to stop here, but I must, before I think of several dozen others.

Posted by 'mouse on 12/16 at 02:11 PM
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Friday, May 30, 2008

Not love in a jar, but close

A while back I wrote of homemade apricot jam that it really is love in a jar.

Fresh, homemade strawberry jam made with the best, freshest strawberries of the spring qualifies as, if not love in a jar, at least joy in a jar.

strawberry jammin'

I’d write more, but this is really just an initial test to see if I can make a flickr image link work.

Posted by 'mouse on 05/30 at 01:55 PM
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Instead of posting here, my lastest blog-entry is over at scrineblog so if you want to see what I have to say and hear my rant (and others’) continued in the comments, well, click over there.

Posted by 'mouse on 05/30 at 09:29 AM
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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Slowing Down:  Everything I Need to Know I Learned From A Truck - Part I

Walter is old enough to be my father.  62. Born in 1946.  To my knowledge he’s spent his whole life in California, originally working mine inspections up in the Sierras and more recently working for a contractor who does restorations on old Craftsman homes down in Santa Barbara.  Next he’s going to help me with my Bay Area remodel, making dump runs and carrying building materials and tools.

Walter is a truck.  A 3/4-ton Chevy long-bed pickup.  Original straight-six 216 engine.  Four on the floor with a granny gear.  Crash-box transmission from the days before syncromesh.

Top speed 50mph.

Interesting things happen when your truck is over 60 years old and your top speed is 50mph. When you have to think about every shift.  When you feel and hear the engine and the road.  You see more.  You hear more.  You listen to the engine and transmission to know when to shift.  You smell oil drips burning off the old block and you can gauge the truck’s temperature and its health.  You crank down the window (or even crank out the front windshield—the original air conditioning) and feel and smell the breeze. 

People smile at you and your slow old truck. 

You can feel the appreciation of the old timers as memories flood back.

You can see younger people’s eyes light up as they discover the visceral appeal of art deco curves and shiney chrome. 

All of a sudden there’s no destination—only a journey.

Posted by 'mouse on 04/12 at 12:42 PM
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Friday, March 07, 2008

Advice to my 13yo Daughter

I took my 13yo aside a couple weeks ago and gave her the following lecture (copied from the one my father gave me back in the day):

There are three rules in this household plus a few simple words of advice:
1) Don’t ride with anyone who’s drunk (or drive drunk).  Ever.  Call home and you get a free pass on the punishment you think you deserve for getting in the situation in the first place.
2) No heroin.  Ever.  (Expanded for 2008 to include no meth.  Ever.)
3) Do anything else and I’ll pretty much let it slide so long as you never get less than a B+ mid-term and an A- in any class.  Your grades go down and your ass is grass so do drugs, sneak out and party accordingly.

The advice is: drugs and/or alcohol lead to real stupid decisions about sex - don’t mix ‘em until you’re old enough to fully appreciate the importance of this advice.

Posted by 'mouse on 03/07 at 06:04 PM
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Sunday, February 03, 2008

The best aphrodisiac

This from Isabel Allende’s Aphrodite

That men are still closer to the monkey than women, I haven’t a doubt.  Men’s sexual impulse is triggered by the eyes, an inheritance from those simian ancestors whom the female summons when she is in heat by means of a noticeable change in her intimate parts, which turn red and take on the morbid appearanc of a ripe pomegranate.  For some reason, this works like waving a red flag at the males, should they not be paying attention.

  Among humans, visual stimulus is equally irresistible, which explains the success of magazines filled with half-naked women.  Attempts have been made to exploit the same publishing market among female readers, but images of well-endowed youths unfurling their charms on full-color pages have been a fiasco; they are more often bought by homosexuals than by women.  We women have a better developed sense of the ridiculous, and besides, our sensuality is tied to our imagination and our auditory nerves.  It may be that the only way we will listen is if someone whispers in our ear.  The G spot is in the ears, and anyone who goofs around looking for it any farther down is wasting his time and ours.  Professional lovers, and I am referring not just to lotharios like Cassanova, Valentino, and Julio Iglesias, but to the quantities of men who collect amorous conuests to prove their virility with quantity—since quality is a question of luck—know that with women the best aphrodisiac is words.

Sounds like a good reason to try to hone my skills en-blog this year. 

Posted by 'mouse on 02/03 at 09:23 AM
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