It happened again: one of my heroes died before I even knew about him. First it was Chris Whitley, a musician and amazing song writer I first became aware of in 1991 when his song “Big Sky Country” was the sexiest, most memorable and poetic thing I’d heard on the radio in years and I bought the album. He was in his 30s then I think, and I thought I had plenty of time to hear him live, even though I never go to live concerts and didn’t even really think about it until I bought two more of his albums, Dirt Floor and Soft Dangerous Shores, the latter released in 2005, the year he died of lung cancer at age 45. By the time I fell in love with Soft Dangerous Shores he was dead. Continue reading “Art of the San Francisco Bay Area (1945-1980), by Thomas Albright”
May you live in interesting times. The old unattributed Chinese curse has a stranglehold on the country and something interesting/disturbing/terrifying has been happening almost every day. The 2016 election, the hurricanes, the shooting in Las Vegas, more hurricanes, more Trump, the wildfires in California, the Russia investigation, the terrorist bike path attack in New York…
Continue reading “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Edmund Morris”
Theodore Roosevelt was a busy, busy man. As I lay in bed watching Episode 23 of Parks and Recreation Season Two as if it were my job, I reflected on TR’s strenuous life and constant contributions and guilted myself into getting up and getting a new post started. By following the biography of his early years, Mornings on Horseback, with a selection of his own writing I thought I would stay engaged with one of our most energetic historical figures, but these writings focus on how to kill as many animals as possible, mostly for food. Yes, I eat meat, wear leather goods and have more animal skins scattered around my house than the average person, but I find myself wondering, “so when does the conservation part begin?”
Continue reading “Hunting Trips of a Ranchman, Theodore Roosevelt”
Theodore Roosevelt is one of my all-time heroes. As a near-sighted asthmatic myself, I love the stories of how he developed the idea of “the strenuous life” to overcome his ailments and went on to become one of the most admired and beloved figures in United States history. His tirelessness physically and mentally and his unwavering morality never fail to inspire. It is shocking to be reminded that he died at 60–his brain, his mouth, his pen or his body was in motion the entire time; no wonder he wore himself out relatively early.
Continue reading “Mornings on Horseback, David McCullough”
I’m looking forward to getting into some history and biography from my library, but since summer is winding down and I’ve been in the garden more than usual this year, I’m choosing The One Block Feast for my next book. I learn from the introduction that Sunset Magazine’s campus is a “Lab of Western Living.” It is about 5 acres and on it the staff gardens, raises chickens and bees, erects garden structures, makes wine and cheese and beer–it sounds idyllic. The Sunset Magazine building is even designed by icon of the ranch-style, architect Cliff May, who designed the Mission-like Robert Mondavi Winery. Continue reading “The One Block Feast, Margo True & Sunset Magazine”
I was really looking forward to rereading the four Tom Robbins novels I’ve treasured since 1988 (Another Roadside Attraction, 1971; Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, 1976; Still Life with Woodpecker, 1980; Jitterbug Perfume, 1984). I was never a fan of his later books, which started to seem stale and formulaic to me and so took the magic out of his loopy, genius metaphors and fantastic mix of myth, science, philosophy and magic. So when I started reading my battered paperback copy of Another Roadside Attraction, I was afraid I might have outgrown Robbins, or maybe that the late 1960s-early 1970s hallucinatory hijinks may not have aged well, or that post reading Ulysses and present North Korea/Trump shenanigans might have swiped any patience I have left for linguistic, idealistic antics.
Continue reading “Another Roadside Attraction, Tom Robbins”
The first of three Billy Collins books in my library, Nine Horses was published in 2002. Born in 1941, Collins was Poet Laureate of the US from 2001 to 2003. He was called “the most popular poet in America” by The New York Times, due to his brilliant yet accessible observations of life.
Continue reading “Nine Horses, Billy Collins”
The Hoarder in You is by a woman who is a therapist specializing in Hoarding Disorder and who consults for one of the popular hoarding shows on TV. As a professional organizer, I have worked with quite a few hoarders and have found it a Sisyphean task.
Continue reading “The Hoarder in You, Dr. Robin Zasio”
Ay carumba! It’s time for Ulysses, a book I have held at arms length (which is exhausting since the book is heavy!) for YEARS. As I tuck into it again, I remember why I quit so early in college–Joyce takes special joy in describing things as “snotgreen” and the words “phlegm” and “bile” come up early too. Such a turn-off to a 20-something girl. 30 years later, it doesn’t bother me so much. Let’s go, Joyce: bring on your “knuckly cud”s and “urinous offal”s and “leprous nosehole”s! Continue reading “Ulysses, James Joyce”
Taking a break from The Mythic Image and Ulysses, I pulled this adorable book from the shelf thinking it might be an easy one to toss into the give away bag. Not so fast. It’s full of quirky drawings and great insider tips for shopping in Paris and dressing a la Parisienne. Ines’ beautiful, coltish daughter models some of the looks. Continue reading “Parisian Chic, Ines de la Fressange”