Tuesday, September 29, 2009


This book is one of the true classics of the modern age (well, early modern age) of fantasy fiction.  The cover illustration by Virgil Finlay is classic too. Finlay was one of the true artists who knew fantasy / science fiction as sort of an extra part of himself.

If you're not familiar with A. Merrit's work, here's a link for you about him: A. Merrit.  
One of the quotes I like best is this:

What sets Merritt apart from the typical pulp author, however, is his lush, florid prose style and his exhaustive, at times exhausting, penchant for adjective-laden detail. Merritt's fondness for micro-description nicely complements the pointillistic style of Bok's illustrations, and often serves to highlight and radicalize the inherent fetishistic tendencies of pulp sf.

Micro-description.  I hadn't thought of that word, but it does make sense. The Ship of Ishtar was one of his best efforts (along with The Moon Pool ).  Today his work doesn't hold up as well due to the verbosity of the language, but the concepts are strong and his work is still prized as pioneering in the fantasy genre.  The fact that he influenced H. P. Lovecraft helps too.

As for Virgil Finlay and his craft -- here's some info on him as well:  Virgil Finlay..

It's a cool book.

I wish I could say I've read it, but I haven't (yet).

Now I'm off to find more books!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Camp Out time again...

We actually got a shot of all of us -- of course it was on the SECOND day, so everyone was looking a bit dirty and unwashed -- but we had a great time.
This is our Cub Scout pack -- well, most of it (with complete families too). Yearly we go on a family camp out which generally lands somewhere in September. This year it was 100 degrees in the shade which (I hear) was better than the last two where it was frigid by nighttime.  Son number two was with me. He and his den of Webelos worked on two pins while we were there which was cool. 

Son number two really wanted to spend all his time fishing. Luckily, we had THREE (count them) THREE dads who not only brought fishing gear, but actually knew how to USE IT!!!!

AND -- they were patient. With the boys, with the fishing rods and reels, and with the fish.

This is the first batch of guys I've seen who actually put the line in the water, brace the fishing pole against something then -- WALK AWAY!  and it worked too.

While son number two didn't catch anything, one of my Webelos did. Twice.  The first was a large Carp (that's what the dad said -- who am I to know if he's right or not... though how a big old gold fish got in a lake in the middle of Merced County I wouldn't begin to guess.  The second was a rainbow trout. Or a trout of some sort.)  Dad and son gutted, cleaned and then cooked the fish with dinner -- and handed out tastes to all who wanted to try it.  What fun.

Now son number two can't stop talking about fixing his fishing pole (don't even ask) so he can go fishing by himself.

Here's the new webelo and his  dad with fish.

A good time was had by all. We came back home dirty, sweaty and tired, but happy.

Next month, it's family camp with the Boy Scouts and son number one. This time we head out to Monterey.

Today's fun book entered into my database is:

Dorothea Lange and the American Country Woman

great pictures of women during the depression. Or, just plain great documentary photographs period.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Darn. No post yesterday.

Man,  I was trying to make it a whole week with some sort of blog entry & I blew it again.

However, since I wasn't going to be able to blog tomorrow or Sunday anyway, I guess I'll just start fresh again on Monday.

I had high hopes of sitting down and getting work done today -- that's before I tried to get some of the things on my  "LIST OF THINGS TO DO" done.

My list is not TOO long, but it is long enough.

Today I was going to get the cub scout calendar out to my new (Yippee!) possible den member.

I told you, right, that last May I had 9 boys signed up to be in my den?

Well, cut to September and now I have six. It bums me out to see boys leave the group and go off for other things as I think scouts is important (and FUN too), but that's life.

The thing is, six (or maybe five) boys isn't that many for a group like this & we have a small pack as well, so any new members are pounced upon wildly.

We had our beginning of the year pack meeting this last Monday and got about 8 new boys come to take a lookie loo around.  One of which was a new Webelos possible.

I promised his mom on Monday that I would send a calendar for the year -- it's been on my to do list since then, but since I have to figure out how to send the copy I have (which I put in Microsoft Outlook for some strange reason) via email, it took me til today to work up the umph to want to figure it out.

End result -- CAN'T be done via Outlook, so someone suggested Google Calendar.  Which means I have to re-enter all the data, enter the scout emails, etc. and then invite the parents to google calendar as well.

It takes an unbelievable amount of time to do fiddly little tasks like this.

So basically, nothing of book business stuff (except for shipping off books that sold overnight) gets done -- for a lousy calendar.

I wish I could clone myself into about six clones -- two of which would be working full time on data entry and tax data entry alone.
Another clone would be the errand runner and food preparer and cat scratcher.

The others would be assigned tasks on a daily basis for whatever crops up that the real me just isn't up to doing that day.

And the real me?  Well the real me would probably be reading a book.

Oh, and just because it's cool, here's one of the books I entered yesterday:

It's written by Mabel Watts and illustrated by the wonderfully imaginative Mercer Mayer

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Decipherment help needed... anyone?

I've got a book with an inscription that seems as if it should BE something -- but I can't for the life of me figure out the name of the signer (signature).  So -- in honor of wanting to get something done today, I'm posting the picture I have of the inscription, hoping that someone else can figure it out.

If you come up with a possible name, please email me & I'll start poking around to see who this is.

  If you click on the picture, it should get larger.

The book itself is Hawaii by James Michener.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pawing through boxes...

I know that at some point in the past I mentioned how many boxes of unprocessed books I have sitting -- languishing -- waiting for me to get to and add to the database.

Well, today, I ended up going through about 20 of the boxes. Not ALL of the boxes I have, mind you.  Currently, I figure there are over 50 boxes of books waiting.

Let's see:  (math time)

50 boxes x 35 books per box average (don't even begin to ask how I came up with this number...but it's the number I use for IRS purposes).

50 x 35 = 1750 books (approximately) that are UNPROCESSED!!!!!

Add in the two shelves worth of paperbacks that are just SITTING for no particular reason. 

Ditto the 300 odd National Geographic Magazines (most dating to the 1930's 1940's)

plus odds and ends of things that either need to GO SOMEWHERE ELSE, or need repair...

 If only I'd get my sorry butt (and sore too but that's more my lower back) in gear and get these puppies processed....


And pigs will fly soon too.

So, as I was mentioning, I was going through these boxes for a reason.  First off, two people at the recent book fairs mentioned books that I know I have, but they are (here it comes) IN BOXES.

So I told them, give me a week or so, and I'll go through.

Today was the start of that process.

In fact, I did find eight books that I'll be quoting directly to people Hopefully with results.  AND it gets eight books out of boxes and AWAY from here (which should NOT mean that there's room for me to go find more, but generally does).

I still have the rest of the boxes to go through to find two more items I think might be there.

No, I don't have pictures of this today. Sorry.  My house is a complete box mess at the moment and I'd rather not have it that way, however I don't see much of a way around it at the moment. I have to unpack the boxes from the fairs, but to do so involves a series of fleet-footed maneuvers (and more data entry) so it will get done, but more slowly than I'd like.

What I did do today, besides a trip to the doctor for my yearly physical and my time pawing through boxes,  was get some pictures taken so I can start to do more data entry.

Again, it all comes down to the data entry, doesn't it.... sitting on my sorry butt with my fingers on the keyboard typing away.

I'll get there.


Probably not for the rest of today though.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Home from the Book Fair...

I got home from the Sacramento book fair on Sunday and I was BEAT.   The reclining on the sofa with my swelled feet propped up sort of beat.  And, I'm a bit bummed too.

The fair was fairly well attended as far as I could see. Lots of people walking through. Lots of people eyeballing things, picking up books, leafing through books, reading books -- but not a huge number of people BUYING books (at least for me. The dealer next to me was doing quite well, thank you, due to a customer who had requested a series of books to be brought to the fair for approval).

I did sell some books. I made back my expenses, with a tiny bit extra (very tiny).

BUT -- here's the thing ...  If I DON'T make a decent amount at a book fair, it's hard for me to keep operating a business. AND, if I back out of book fairs, I'm likely not the only one to do so. Others will too as their overhead costs soar.  This means that chances are, in just a few short years, book fairs will be a thing of the past.  The dealers won't be able to keep selling at them and will back out. The outfits that put on bookfairs rely on dealers' bodies in booths to make their money and will have to cancel fairs.

This leaves book lovers who want to SEE and FEEL and TALK to informed dealers without access to each other.

This is NOT a gripe, by the way, this is a look at a possible scenario for the future of antiquarian books.   Book fairs give both dealers and customers a way to communicate, and to learn new things from each other. It's a symbiotic relationship. But it can't continue (at least for those of us in the middling area -- neither small fry selling everything for cheap, cheap, nor for the heavy-hitters who have stock that ranges in the mid four figures on up) and that's really a sad thing to see.

I personally will continue to exhibit at book fairs until it is completely non-viable to do so, but I fear that time is coming soon for me.  I haven't the resources to continue to lose money or barely eek out a profit from book fair sales.

I don't think its a case of having unsaleable stock either.  Nor is it a case of having the WRONG stock with me for the fair.  I don't really know, in fact, WHAT the reason is for the book fairs lackluster sales, but as I said before. It bums me out.

I do have an option to exhibit at another fair in October in San Francisco -- I have to make a choice between it and the Family Camp out for Boy Scouts as they are on the same weekend  -- so it's going to take some long hard thinking about what is more important to me and my family.  (I'd love to hear some comments from blog readers on their take on book fairs).

If I do end up attending the book fair in San Francisco, I'll be sure to update the details on it here on the blog.  In the meantime, It's back to normal online book selling, cleaning up the PILES, and PILES of things that didn't get done for the last several weeks, repacking things, updating things, finding seasonal items that should have been listed by now and generally getting on with regular work.

I'm still bummed though.

Oh, here are some pictures I took of my booth -- I was trying for some close up shots of books on the shelves, but the lighting was wacky.  (PS: If you click on the photo, you do get a bigger picture. I just tried it.)

This is one of the Science Fiction Shelves

This shelf had a group of Astronautics, Atomic Energy / Atomic warfare  and some misc. fun books.

Here's some of the picture books. Sorry -- you can't really see each book clearly.

This group of books was brought specifically for Sacramento -- it's Western Americana, Cowboys, Californiana and Native Americans.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Today's the day

Up at 5:30AM.

Quick shower and get dressed then I'm out the door for the trip to Sacramento (about an hour up the road) for the actual day of the book fair.

I found some fun books on the way up. Found a few more last night at the fair after I finished unpacking.

Today, first thing I'm going to do is get some pictures of my booth (better pictures) to upload for you tomorrow.

Then it's sell, sell, sell! 

Wish me luck and lots of orders!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Just a quick hey I'm out the door note.

I'm on my way up the highway this morning so no real blog entry.

Hopefully I'll remember to take some nice pictures for you for later.

Here's hoping that the road is clear, the drive easy and without disasters and the packing in doesn't take forever.

Wish me luck!  (and lots of sales!)

Thursday, September 17, 2009


First off, here's a picture of the book I was describing yesterday. 

Now, today, I didn't get much time to sit and enter new books because as the day before I leave for a book fair, there's lots of errands to run, including a trip to Oakdale to pick up some Aram Sandwiches for the other book dealers.  (It's one of my weird but hopefully wonderful habits that I bring to the Sacramento Book Fair --  I always have M&M's at my booth for customers, but for the Sacramento Fair, the second year I ever exhibited there, I wanted to bring some food along to share as there's NO catering on the set up day and very few options for eating in the vicinity, close options, I mean. So every year I bring two big aram sandwiches for dealers.  Hopefully to put them in a mood for buying.... and because I get the munchies.)

I did take a few minutes to look up an item that I got in the same day as the Eric Carle book -- it's an ephemeral item.

Now I'm NOT an ephemera dealer.  I know very little about paper items / things that are by their nature supposed to be thrown out, but every once in a while I find something that calls to me.

here's one:

I  admit it looks a bit plain.  When I first picked it up, I wasn't too impressed either. However, you open it up and it turns out this is a concert brochure (for lack of a better word) for a gig that happened in Watts, CA in 1972.
The Watts connection is what caught my eye.  Watts -  LA - Riots...
First go-round, I can't really find anything on it.
I put it down for a while and tried to add a small bunch of books to the pile for the fair.
Then I thought I'd take another stab at it.   It's a good thing I did.
Wattstax'72 (that's the title on the front, just in case you can't see it.) was a huge concert in the Watts area of Los Angeles, CA  held on August 20, 1972 which featured all of the acts represented by the Stax Record company.  All the acts were African Americans and several of them were big name headliners.  With a bit of searching, I found out that this particular gig / festival is now considered the equivalent of the black Woodstock. The proceeds of the festival were to raise money for the Sickle Cell Disease Foundation, the Martin Luther King Hospital in Watts and for any future music festivals that might take place.
The festival was opened with an invocation by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and featured acts such as Isaac Hayes, the emotions, Rufus Thomas, Billy Eckstine, David Porter and the Rance Allen Group.  A young and upcoming Richard Pryor was the featured comedian.
I plan on taking this item with me to Sacramento, just in case there's some interest, but frankly, I'd like more time to put in doing some research on it.  
Fascinating stuff.  

So far I haven't found any real ephemeral items listed anywhere for this, though there are lots of copies of the sound track (if that's what you'd call it) and for the movie from 1973 which is a docu-drama about the festival itself.
And this was just another one of those things I picked up because it kept shouting Pick me!  Pick me!
I learn something new every day with this job. And that's one of the reasons I like it so much.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Time Well Spent

I don't have a picture / jpg of it yet  (but I will get one soon) -- of a book that I spent ... oh ... half an hour or so checking to find out exactly what it was and how many were out there.

I went book hunting the other day just to break the monotony of entering data and figuring out what needs packing for the Sacramento Book Fair and found a funky little picture book / toddler book with thick cardboard pages held together by a plastic comb binding.  It was a book in the Chubby Playskool Playbook series (of which I see others available, but could find no actual listing of how many titles were ever published). For some reason, the book called out to me (pick me! pick me!) and I plunked on top of my pile knowing that it was funky, but not thinking too much of it.

The thing is, it was in a grab-bag batch of books and I couldn't see more than the front cover as it was at the top of the group held together in a plastic bag which had been stapled shut.  I couldn't see the information on the back cover of the book so I really knew nothing about it except that it was funky and it was calling me.

So today, I decided to do a quick check on it. 

I turned it over to see if there was any info regarding publication date, etc. & found in small letters: designed by Eric Carle.

Well.  I don't know if you're familiar with Eric Carle, but he's the author / illustrator of a ton of books. Winner of loads of children's book awards -- author of A Very Hungry Caterpillar.  He works with lots of colors, shapes, ideas and generally has books that just don't fit into the regular scope of pat, rather drab picture books.

On the inside front cover of this book is some copyright information. Published 1964.

For Eric Carle, that's EARLY.

In fact, it was VERY EARLY.

Now, I've got a bit of work to do.  First thing I do is check all the regular databases to see how many are available for sale.

I find one.


I check the Library of Congress for info on it.

It's not listed.   I check under Eric Carle. Still not listed, though I find that he did publish two or possibly three titles that were 1963 or 1964.

Hmmm again.

Now I think I need to start looking more carefully and in other places. 

First place is the official Eric Carle Website of course.


Well - that happens. Some books fall through the cracks. Some, the author doesn't want to acknowledge. Some are just plain forgotten.

I have a feeling that this book is one of the later.

At any rate, I found out what I need to know -- and it really only took me a half an hour.

It was time well spent.   Even if it meant I have even less time to get my piles of work done for the fair.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back Home again... but not for long

I finally got a chance to get some pictures of my booth on Saturday morning. It's a bit hard to see clearly, what with the lights doing their googly best, but this crowded thing is my booth.

Overall, I think it came out well and was easy to find things -- but the five shelf shelves were too tall for most people and that meant the top two rows of books were not really looked at as much as I would like.

I did better overall than I had  thought I was doing -- I don't actually do a money count while I'm AT the fair for several reasons, chief of which is the disappointment factor.  I hate to actually KNOW if I'm not doing well.

This fair totals were down a bit from last year's fair totals -- and LAST year I thought it was a not great fair.  However, I did cover my expenses  plus possibly a bit more.

Now that I'm back home, I don't get to unpack much -- I leave again on Friday morning for Sacramento and the Antiquarian Book fair there.  This time it's a one day fair which has it's own ups and downs.  With a two day fair like Santa Monica (which is the fair pictured above) you have a bit more time to set up, though not so much time to take everything down.

With a one day fair, you have the day before (or in this case, part of the day before) to set up,  then Bam, you're there for the Saturday and THEN you get to pack everything away.  It's shorter, which is nice, but more work over less days so you're tireder when you get home.

And speaking of home...

the kitchen floor --  well, let's just say, it's NOT a pretty sight. But I can't really deal with it until after Sacramento on Saturday.

But the weekend after Sacramento is our Cub Scout Family Camp out and we'll be gone for most of Saturday and Sunday that weekend too.

Right now I'm frantically trying to find different but cool books to switch out so that the dealers who come to Sacramento might find something else of interest -- different from the books they saw in Santa Monica but didn't buy.

 I do have some things that are different.  Today, I was pulling some picture books to add to the pile, all the while thinking, I need to find $100.00 books to bring, not $15.00 books.  Sacramento is, however, a good place to sell lots of lower priced children's picture books for beginning book collectors.

Now, if I'm lucky, I'll have ten more minutes of book work before I have to go pick up the kids. Then it's grocery shopping (which didn't get done over the weekend), soccer practice, cleaning up and all the other little things that go with households.

See you in Sacramento!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Set -up finished,... tomorrow it's the real deal

By the time I got to the hotel and got on the computer last night, it was WAY too late and I was WAY too tired to make my brain work and get a blog entry done.
I'm actually happy with the number of books I brought and the selection I chose. Overall, I'm happy with the way the booth turned out (I do have pictures taken of the booth, but I can't get them into the computer yet. I'll do that when I get back home). There's a decent amount of space to move around, and I like the way it looks visually.


I'm sitting here staring at the TV, frantically trying to think of something to write and frankly totally brainless, so I'm going to end this now & hope I have more news tomorrow.

Wish me luck and lots of customers though.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Arrived and getting ready for a long day tomorrow.

The trip took neither as long as expected today, nor was it as painful as I thought it would be.

I was expecting the lower back to be a pain (ha - literally), but ... it's been feeling better over the last week, and while it did twinge some during the long drive (about five and a half hours from point A to close to B), I didn't fall over when I got out of the van.

Also, I don't know why, but I find that if I drink lots of fluids, I seem to do better physically on the long drives. I'll have to remember that for future reference.
The drawback to drinking more, of course, is that you have to go to the BATHROOM more. The dilemma is -- if you stop, which you HAVE to do, then most likely, you stop at a convenient rest stop like Mc something... and if you stop at McSomething to use the facilities, then, are you honor-bound to buy food? I always feel that I am. And since I'm trying to NOT eat everything in sight, that means I have to choose carefully. French fries are Verboten. And you can't eat most of the salads while driving (especially without a co-pilot in the front passenger seat). These restrictions don't leave much choice for good eating.

I met up with another book dealer (Chris L) just out of Bakersfield (which is considered the armpit of California ) and we carpooled down the last leg. Meeting her and spending time talking book (shop) talk was great. Tomorrow I hope to spend more time with her and other dealers doing the same.

However -- tomorrow is set up day, so before the fun, I have to do the hard grunt work. I'm going to try to take it easy lifting boxes and book cases. But, knowing me, that might not be possible. I have A LOT of work to do too. I'm hoping that I can get everything I need to do done in decent time.

Keep thinking good thoughts for the weekend. So far, it's looking great.

On the road again....

It's D-day!

Just a quick note -- I'm heading out momentarily. I thought I'd get an earlier start.... yeah, right.

I may not be able to update during the weekend, so be patient.

Wish me luck & lots of orders!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Almost there.... almost there.... just another...umph..!

SO tomorrow is D-Day. Driving Day.

I thought I would get the seats out of the van today before 3:00 PM, but that is not to be, alas. Blame son number two who is being OBSTINATE!!!

Ok, and for the record, son number two came up with a doozy last night, which he's going to have to think about for a while.

Don't know if I've mentioned that he's the demon child from .... when it comes to getting HOMEWORK done. He feels he is somehow above homework. That it's not necessary to do, and when done, should be done in haste and illegibly.

Well -- yesterday after school he gets in the car and says .... why are the other kids in class not turning in their homework? Some of them haven't turned in any homework since the beginning of school & they're getting F's in every subject.

I can't really give him ALL the reasons why other children don't do their homework. Mostly, I suppose because other children don't have RABID parents like me to BROWBEAT their children into doing assigned work. Whatever the cause, I did (after much time elapsed so he would have time to think) mention that getting his own homework done in a timely and stress-free atmosphere would be generally nice. He said -- I GET my homework done. I Said -- but NOT WITHOUT A BATTLE ROYALE!

At which point.... well, he walked away, but we'll see what happens.

Back to D-DAY.

today, I finally finished the updated and spiffed up descriptions (am printing them out as I write). After this, it's a quick hop out to find the rest of the jars needed for bug catching for scouts, other various errands, and then on to school pick ups.

After that, it's van part removal and box moving. Then soccer. Then transfer stuff to the laptop, pack, get the other things I haven't remembered onto a list, get gas, try to fall asleep and try not to PANIC.

Then tomorrow, it's road trip time.

Have a great day. I'm off on errand duty.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Two days to go and am I doing book work?

The answer is - well, sort of.

Today I needed to finish writing a review.... no, take that back, not FINISH, but DO the darned review which was technically due yesterday, but the noise level in the house was not conducive to writing, especially when I have to find adjectives and adverbs to fit the plot.

So that was first thing today.

Then it was pay bills. Have to do that before I leave or else.

After that, I did invoices and wrapped up packages to go.

Then I got to FINALLY drop off the cases of popcorn so they aren't in my car anymore (well, I kept one case to take to the fair... just in case some of those dealers get the munchies on set up day)

Then it was bank, a thrift store looking for jars for bug-catchers for my scouts (didn't find and will have to keep searching. That has to be done before I leave as well).

Then pick up kids. Stop at the hardware store. I still need to go to the post office as I'm out of stamps, but our mail-lady happened to be on our doorstep as we drove in, so SHE took the packages.

Now it's a quick moment to email customers about packages, get some food, and then off to soccer practice (times two today).

After that, take seats out of the van.

After that, collapse in a big heap.

Hopefully tomorrow will be about book work.


oooohhhh.... I just uploaded some pictures that we took this weekend during a visit from aunt J, Ruby, Uncle M and baby Nikki.

As USUAL, my camera wobbled (and Nikki has now got the hang of MOVING QUICKLY down to a science, so most of his pictures came out blurry).

This is Aunt J, Ruby and Nikki (who figured out STAIRS too!)

Sort of blurry, but Nikki found the electric cat water dish in less than five minutes from coming in the door. It's a WONDERFUL play toy!

Nikki loves to walk around in his Baby Bjorn -- so the boys decided they had to give it a try with him in it. Here's son number two.


Son number one.

And last but not least, I finally got some pictures of Isabel -- my demon cat who won't leave me alone...

She's a Siamese Ragdoll thingy -- who knows exactly but that's the closest we could figure. She's got a VERY Siamese personality and always wants me to pay attention to her.

She won't sit on anyone else's lap but mine -- and ONLY when I'm working at the computer. Or when it's time to get up in the morning.

She LICKS at me constantly (when I'm trying to type) and generally tries to be lovable.

I'm overwhelmed. The rest of the cats are quite mellow -- well, all deranged, but mellower and easier to deal with.

She's darned cute, but too intense.

Anyone want a cat? Cheap?

Monday, September 7, 2009

TOO Much to do.... wahhhh

I keep telling myself that everything I need to do for the book fair is all going to get done in a timely fashion. That I'm not going to get stressed out and that everything WILL Be finished and ready to go by Wednesday night.


today, I realized that the ten cases of Boy Scout Popcorn that are taking up the third row of seats in my van NEED TO GO NOW. I want to start getting things in the van for the trip. So, I need to get THEM OUT (ps: if you are interested in ordering popcorn for my son's Cub Scout Pack fundraiser let me know. It's for a very good cause. I haven't sent out a formal plea yet, but I might. I might even take a couple of tins of popcorn down to the fair with me).

So I get in touch with the person who needs to be in charge of the cases of popcorn -- long story there .... I can make the switch IF I hike the popcorn out to Patterson which is forty-five miles away. AND I promised that I'd let one of the boys friend come over today, but I have to do some carpooling to get him.... which means that a two hour drive to Patterson and back is going to be a problem.

And then, I still don't have the bookcases packed (their portable and they were up with books on them. The books are down, but the bookcases are still not packed).

And the description changes I want to make for this fair are turning out to take WAY MORE TIME than I thought -- partly because I keep finding things to change in my database at the same time. I HAVE to print them out before Wednesday. I don't have to have them tucked into the books till I get to the fair, but as I'm NOT taking my laptop and printer, whatever doesn't get done before I leave....

Not going to get done.

As to the computer -- I would LOVE to replace my poor six year old laptop for something that actually works, but this is not the time yet (unless the book fairs both turn out far better than I expect).

Besides, the hole in the living room ceiling where there is some elusive plumbing leak takes precedence by far and will probably cost more too. Sigh.

Now it's off to a quick lunch and a decision about driving.

Oh, and happy Labor Day for those Americans out there.

I'm laboring.

That means I'm celebrating.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Number Two Son started his own blog...

Scary thought, that.

Not because I'm worried about HIM, but I'm worried about what he'll inflict on other people.

Well, not really. Mostly I'm proud he's got the chops to give it a try.

Currently, (and this is a good thing) I seem to be the only person in the world following his blog (as a good mother should).

Son number two has always written things. Ever since he was two and half / three years old (if the creaky brain is remembering correctly and isn't indulging in overweening motherly pride).

His brother has always drawn things -- Blues Clues was the BEST show in the world for him as it helped him learn techniques for drawing.

Son number two draws with the same exuberance as cats yowling -- mucho enthusiasm -- not so much understanding from the viewer (and please don't think I'm being a rotten, mean nasty person. I DON'T tell him that I really can't figure out what one spikey stick thing is compared to another spikey stick thing -- I CAN'T DRAW EITHER. I'm lousy at it.) I admit it freely. And he knows that his art work isn't going to win him prizes.

However, he's been a story-teller / book writer from the moment he realized that it was possible. When he was little, his brother would try to draw comic books -- but with no words. Son number two would have to then OUT DO him and have me put together a booklet of clean paper (stapled, of course) and I would either write what he said, or spell the words out for him so he could write them down, and then he'd illustrate the whole thing.

His stories have always been about bombs, castles being blown up, death, destruction and mayhem (I may have mentioned this before). PLUS, anything that he recently read, or watched on TV came into play.

This being the case, he recently heard lots of talk about blogging. One day this week he says that he's thinking about a blog. The next day (and mind you this is without ANY intervention from adults or older brother) he's got one made and has five blog entries put up.

Man - he puts me to shame!

The thing is, I read the posts.

Then I told him (as nicely as I could) that if he used text speak, run-on sentences, and misspelled words, he'd probably not get too many followers. So he's working on it. Today he wanted me to freshen up one of the posts....

I hope he continues to write them.

It's a great peek at what a nine year old is actually thinking ...

sort of.

Still at work on the piles for the book fair

I didn't get a chance yesterday to write anything. Didn't have much time. When I did have time, I was feeling very saggy and baggy and like a puddle of sludge. Partly because of the weather -- don't get me wrong -- I'm one of the few people I know in the San Joaquin Valley that actually LIKE hot weather, but yesterday it was hot and HUMID (for most parts of the US humidity is something you endure regularly, for the longest time, our bit of California had relatively low humidity during the summer, making the heat hot, but not sweaty hot. Now it's hot AND sweaty) and sort of draggy weather. On top of that, either my allergies have kicked back in full force (which is really saying something as I'm medicated to the gills for allergies as it is) or I'm getting the cold that both boys came home with (man, if I used proper sentence structure on that sentence ... I'm getting the cold with which both boys came home.... it sounds stupid and rather too snooty for me).

Thus, no blog. Besides, after clothes talk and book stack / box talk, what's left before book fairs to cover except shoes....

Shoes. Not a topic I want to even get into.

Back to the weather. Yesterday was also one of younger son's soccer practice days. His coach had threatened to cancel practices if the temp got over 100, but yesterday, it was iffy as it was just barely 100 (as compared to say... 110 in the shade) at 5:00. We prepared to head out into the heat, just in case, but at the last minute (actually, this coach is very good about keeping people informed and called half an hour before practice started) he called it off. That's when all my get up and go got up and went. Once I sat down on the sofa, I was done for.
(and just to let you know, because we're thrifty / masochistic types, we don't normally turn the air condition on in the house until the upstairs reaches a solid 94 degrees or so. Yesterday, I relented and turned it on anyway.)

Dinner was make it yourself out of left-overs in the fridge -- as long as you didn't cook. Adding heat by using the stove or oven was something no one wanted. Microwaves are WONDERFUL inventions!

All of which, if you've read this far, is why I DIDN'T get a blog done yesterday.

To make up for it, I have to write two today.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Clothes make the man ...

Yesterday I mentioned that I was clothes-less.

Well, not exactly. I do HAVE clothes and wear them daily. However, when it comes to BOOK FAIR clothing, I come up way short.

The thing is, I spend most of my days lifting books, or boxes of books, or trawling around in places that HAVE books (thrift stores, someone's garage, other bookstores, etc.) and for the most part, it's dirty work. Wearing heels is NOT recommended. Besides, I tossed my heels years ago after my sons were born. They always hurt my feet anyway and it would have taken 6" + heels to make me tall enough to make a difference, so why bother at all.

And, when the boys were little, wearing good clothes was entirely wasteful and annoying. Cotton is king when it comes to spit up, poop, pee (remember, these are boys), sand, dirt, mud... you name it, I lived with smears of it on me on a daily, if not hourly basis. One gets inured to all sorts of smells and curious blotches on clothing and body parts.

I also gave up jewelry (except for the rings which are truly permanently attached (they shrank -- that's my line and I'm sticking to it -- the rings shrank. My fingers did NOT grow fatter around the knuckles!) because having one earring yanked forcefully and damagingly out of my ear (and having my favorite pair of Christmas earrings pulled apart by an eighteen month old) taught me right quick. Finally, about three years ago I started putting my earrings on again -- but I still forget somedays. And necklaces tend to weigh me down and drag uncomfortably at my neck so I wear them, but never easily.

Which all means, in as round-about fashion as you can get, that much of my clothing is easy wear stuff. NOT polyester, mind you. And I balk at sweatsuit outfits, even the really expensive combos that people use on their way to and from the gym if they have class.

Mostly I wear jeans and decent shirts. When I'm feeling well (as in not dead tired and dragging around) I try for clean, neat oxford style shirts with the jeans. If I'm doing scout stuff that could potentially be dirty I wear scout tee shirts. The same goes for soccer / baseball games or practice.

Besides, right now, by lunchtime most days, it's nearing 100 degrees (F) and wearing full battle gear is excessive unless you're expected to be somewhere inside with air conditioning.

All of which leaves me far short in the good clothing department for Book Fairs. Of course, there's a range of clothing necessities for different fairs. One wears different gear one in Grass Valley that is ALWAYS when it's 105 in the shade vs the cool, air conditioned, classy, high class environs of San Francisco. Santa Monica falls somewhere in between. Sacramento tends towards the Grass Valley casual.

Even so, I always feel as if what I'm wearing is just NOT RIGHT. Maybe it's because I look at the clothes others are wearing and compare them to my own. Maybe its because I know that people are actually looking at ME, not just the books. Maybe I'm PARANOID... or feeling extraordinarily self-conscious.

Who knows.

All I know is that this year, I really don't have time to spend hours dragging my sorry feet around the Malls looking for something, much less do I want to pay for something that I only use occasionally -- and EACH TIME I NEED SOMETHING DIFFERENT!

So this year, I ordered a couple of new oxford style shirts from Lands End, checked to see if I had a decent pair of jeans to wear (no holes, no sagging spots, etc) and that's what I'm going to wear.

AND I'm going to have on my sneakers. They are somewhat sparkly, but they sure need a cleaning after wearing them for the weeks of scout camp. The thing is, this year I have an excuse for the casual footwear -- my back would not TAKE wearing something complicated or without support.

So there.

As for the clothes. Well I've decided that this leopard (actually lion if you go by astrology) can't easily change it's spots -- so the real me will have to do.

I WILL, however, be wearing my earrings and they will be my best set.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The countdown continues...

Four work days left until I am supposed to wing my way airily down to Santa Monica.

First off -- My back is feeling better. Not completely, and strangely enough, it is worse at night, especially when I try to lay flat. But better is a good thing.

Second -- I've finally got some boxes of books packed for the fair. Eight boxes. Not what I NEED or what I'd like to have done by now, but better than the NONE I had three days ago.

Today was a non-starter for work. Sort of. Instead of doing data entry (which STILL needs to be done), I went and discussed a book for possible consignment. All I can say right now is that it went well.

It IS, however, the first time I've ever allowed myself to do a consignment type of arrangement and I'll have to see how things go. Normally I try to pay outright for stock as it makes life MUCH simpler. But...

Third -- I'm dreading taking the boxes (and right about now I'm estimating 25 or so boxes for this fair alone) from the house to the car. I'll do it, and I'll probably be sorry I did do it, but it has to be done. On the up side, when I get to the fair, there are wonderful helper guys who help unload for me.

And if you're wondering why my crew of menfolk here don't help -- My husband just recently RE-dislocated his shoulder and is forbidden from lifting heavy stuff (he lifted son number two, the feather weight and pulled it again), Son number one tried to lift a box -- picked it up -- and put it down two steps later. I'll have to start weight training on him (he can use partly filled boxes of books.... hey, there's an idea). As for son number two -- well, he weights about the same amount as some of the boxes and LESS than others.

For someone who's been noticing the bathroom scale inching up recently, having to hear him moan about the fact that he CAN'T even gain ONE pound (still stuck at 51 lbs and this is going on about a year now) makes me want to throw things (not at him).

So it's me and the boxes. And the dratted bookcases which weigh fifty pounds or so (wooden, four shelves), not to mention all the other sundry items that go along.

And then there's the drive down. Six+ hours sitting on my rump doesn't make my back feel much better. I do get out every two hours or so just to see if my legs will hold me up. That's fun to watch -- how many (mmph) year olds do you know who have to wildly grab for the door of the vehicle to hold themselves up when there legs decide NOT to work after a stint of driving?

Yeah, I'm going on a bit.

Yeah, I'll make it just fine.

But it's fun to complain about.

Maybe tomorrow I'll get more work done.

Maybe the boxes for the fair with magically fill themselves with priced, dust jacket covered, perfect books.

Maybe not -- FOUR MORE DAYS!

Tomorrow, the plight of the truly clothes-less person...

Exagerations are good for the blog...

This is a blog post about reality.

My reality.

My written reality.

I want you to know that this blogging thing is a good way for me to blow off a bit of steam (some would call it hot air) and get some things off my chest (metaphorically speaking). I can yammer on all evening long at my husband about the day and it's tragedies (if we're in the same place at the same time which isn't really all that often, especially during soccer season), but most times he's listening through only one ear and most times, even that one is pointed AWAY from the drama. (which in the end is a GOOD thing -- he keeps his sanity and I get to rail against the fates however I please. Also, just so we're clear on this, it works both ways. He can rail and shout at the day's stupidity just as easily as I can.)

So instead, I write it down in the blog.


there's always a but, right?

The thing is, on paper, it needs a bit of a punch to it.

Not just your daily grind mope to whomever happens to be standing close when the urge hits to regurgitate every last little petty phone call from the telemarketers, or the book sale that went bad or the cat tossing hairballs at your feet while you're trying hard to think and act like a professional person.

So the blog gets a big of a boost of TOTAL DRAMA ACTION (I'm sure the show is trademarked, so herewith is my nod to the powers that be in Canada that produce the program).

If you're not familiar with the animated cartoon (being that you don't HAVE boy children of middling elementary or middle school grades) , it's about a group of teen-agers who go on a reality show to win money -- a sort of cartoonish reality series. The thing is (in my round-about style of getting to things) their reality is ALWAYS hyped up way past normality.

So is this blog -- well, somewhat.

These things are going on in my life, but really -- it's NOT THAT BAD.

Or maybe, some days, to me it is, but then I get a grip and pull back down to something close to sane.

AND, because I happen to be a writer, every written thing I do has to look / sound good (to my inner ear) which means it has to have PUNCH. It has to have a visual, and aural spark. It has to have action. And realistically, it should move the story forward.

As son number two (who's going through a MAJOR fondness for explosives, explosions, guns, ammo, destruction, mayhem and anything else related therewith) keeps reminding me -- something MUST go BOOM.

Thus, the hyperbole.

So when you read these posts remember -- reality.... well, maybe.