Monday, May 18, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Books galore

I do have a problem. A garage in California full of books. A house in California full of books. All the brand new shelves I had in the house in Seattle--filling up with books.

How to manage what I know defines me in very real ways. But can get out of hand. Options I’ve discovered:
  • Libraries. Take too much planning. Never did these that successfully. At one point in time returned a car full of books to the library. And later found them all on the shelves. Do you know how hard it is to get books “deaccessioned” (is that how you spell it) from the University of Utah library.
  • Books. I’ve talked to you about that. Filling up my house(s). And I had a basement full of shelves built to help manage the problem.
  • Audiobooks. AAAAAAAAH. What a wonderful discovery (Audiobooks. . . . ) I love being read to. I can read while I drive, while I work, while I’m supposed to be reading, while I walk or run, while I hang out with Bev, while I go out to eat with Bev--you get the idea. No media. But not all books are available. And I still like to read (eyes on words).
  • And now my latest vice. I bought a Kindle. Here’s the sad story. I’m listening to Little Dorrit (a fine Dickens novel brought to my mind again by a very good Masterpiece Classics adaptation). I always have trouble with that first chapter. What is going on? What in the world does this chapter have to do with the book? So I went to the walls of books on my shelves. And who knew. I had no copy of Little Dorrit. Wanting to solve the problem that minute I went to Amazon and bought a copy of the book. And then I saw the Kindle version--I could have gotten Little Dorrit for free or near it. What a world. I remembered a recent discussion with someone at work about how good the experience with Kindle is getting. The book I want to read right now--Sarah Waters’ Little Stranger is not yet available on And it’s available--and cheaper--on Kindle’s site. A click away.
I have to say I like the Kindle. Now those books I buy and read once but don’t care about keeping. They come without media. One click away. And I can get Our Mutual Friend for free. A wonderful book I’ve been thinking about recently.

A pathetic story??

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Holy Basil

Last summer when I was in India, I was talking with my co-workers about cooking and recipes. I asked, “Do you use basil in your cooking?”

Preran, one of the writers I work with, answered. “No we don’t use it for cooking. We worship it.” He went on to tell me that women have basil shrines as part of the household. Basil is apparently very good.

Anyway, later in the week Preran came with my husband and I on a weekend trip to Jaipur. While there, we went to a “historical Indian village” that locals visit. I thought of it as the Indian version of an “authentic frontier village” in the states. For the entry fee, you get a free authentic historical meal. And waiting for the meal, you can enjoy authentic entertainment (puppet shows, beautiful girls dancing with towers of pots on their heads, snake charmers. . . . .). You can play on the playground or take an elephant, horse, or camel ride. Or you can stroll around the recreations of various authentic historical buildings styles and periods.

As we strolled along, Preran stopped and pointed. “There! See! A basil shrine. But that isn’t basil. If the basil shrine contained basil, we’d have to stop and worship it.”

I loved India!

Friday, May 01, 2009


In Teton City, Idaho, where I grew up, everyone had a garden. The sign at the outskirts of town when I was a girl said: Population 350. The congregation of our church was larger than the population of the town. The standard lot in Teton was an acre. That gave you room for a house, a large lawn with flowers, a very big vegetable garden, and a pasture with barn for cows, chicken coop, pig pen, and maybe a shed for sheep--or a horse. (We also had a baseball diamond adequate to the game of “workup” and a very big swing.)

By the time I was growing up (the second round of kids in the family), it was clear my dad wasn’t going to continue full time as a farmer and our pasture and buildings in the back had seen better days, but did we have a garden. Rows and rows and rows of glorious vegetables--and berries (raspberries, strawberries). In the vegetable garden, rows of: beans, peas, corn, beets, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbages, potatoes, onions. Nothing fancy to be sure--no argula or herbs in sight. But lots of rhubarb to go with the strawberries. And plum trees and apple trees in the back (the only fruit that would grow in southeastern Idaho). We grew up “foundering” on the bounty of the garden (that was the word of my Mom). Glorying in each vegetable as it became available. Lettuce with sugar wrapped inside. Corn on the cob. New potatoes and peas. Strawberry and rhubarb pie. . . . . And canning the bounties that exceed our abilities to consume. The memories of that summer bounty coming to our table all winter.

Recently I found a notebook that my grandmother had kept, starting in the middle of WW2. A few entries about babies, children, war, illness. But then the notebook found the rhythm which continued well toward the end of the fifties and beyond (when I knew and loved my grandma well): Grandma carefully noted how many bushels of tomatoes, apricots, peaches, apples, pears she had grown or purchased and canned--how many quarts, how many pints. I remember my grandma’s “fruit room” and my mom’s.

As a young married in the still “hippie” Seattle of the early seventies, I planted a huge garden myself. And then tripled the size of that garden when I moved to Utah. I grew bushels of fruit, berries, vegetables. Canned them (and by then froze them). I call this my earth mother phase.

That phase ended some 30 years ago. Since then I’ve gone on to serial lives: student, editor, and now information architect at a computer company (and what in the world could that mean). But there is still a gardener inside me hoping for one final act.

The gardener has had a lean decade or two--patios and pots. And two small “1-foot gardens.” But now I’m making a final stand. Over the past few weeks, I’ve worked with a landscaper to create a garden plan for my back yard. Get rid of that grass. Plant native plans that will stay green and need little attention through the year. And give me room for my vegetables and berries. Next Thursday, the work begins. I’ve decided not to remodel my kitchen. Rather I’m remodeling my yard.

And he promises to have it completed in time to plant my vegetables. I checked last night that my wireless for the computer will reach back to the corner where my little table nook will go. So I’m hoping to unite the best of two worlds.

Hoping this is more than a dream. . . . .