Inspiration From The Distant Past

Inspiration From The Distant Past
Found note in an old book... warms the cockles of my bookish heart...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bloggy Connections and Silliness

Kathy The Literary Amnesiac posted about our adventurous real life momentous meeting and you can read her side of the story here. Kathy is a ton of fun and is not a serial killer so if you ever have the chance to meet up with her: Do It!

If you missed my post about meeting Kathy, click here to read A Tale Of Two Bloggers.

Two Bits Of Silliness

This one isn't remotely bookish but everytime I see myself in a photo I'm taken aback by my lack of stature. Really, no lie, in my day to day life, my height equals that of my friends (except when shopping for pants). So what is the deal: Do I shrink in photos or do I just have delusions of stature? Does anything about your appearance in photos not jive with your mental image of yourself?

This bit silliness is bookish in a roundabout way. Today, my little boy and I drove to the closest town to pick up a friend for a playdate. This was our first time to see the friend's house and what a shock! Never in my life have I seen such a pristine home. Even when my house is perfect it is a hundred times worse than this house. How the woman does it with three boys under age ten boggles the mind.

Lovely as it was, there was one problem I spotted immediately. Can you guess? There was nary a book in sight... or newspaper... or magazine. Hmm... now that I think about it, the kitchen/dining/living areas were devoid of any signs whatsoever of personality special interests (no toys even). Really, I don't feel so bad about my clutter now because that kind of home is not humanly possible. They are obviously...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The banjo, the side of my husband’s head, and the Kindle.

By way of introduction, I'm Tracy Cartmell and have been invited to contribute by the lovely ladies of Mrs. BG, two of whom happen to be my cousins: DeLynne by birth and Lesa, because my sister and I adopted her a while back and she hasn't had the good sense to block us. Being a book blog, you'd think I was going to talk about a book. Not so much.. I'm going to talk about 658,514 books. You might want to get comfortable.

Since my husband met a distant cousin who played banjo in a couple of local Irish bands, he’s been a groupie and I’ve tried to be supportive. The challenge has been that my idea of a good Friday night is a book, a glass of wine, and Ella Fitzgerald not watching him enjoy himself in a pub, with a pint, and Paddy Fitzgerald. A few weekends ago, I’d had enough and told him the only way I was going to be doing “this” any more was if I could bring a book. I love the man, but there’s only so much of the side of his head I want to see. Three days later I had a Kindle. He’d tried to “gadget” me earlier and I’d refused for the same reasons you’re resisting. You can find prices, pictures and operating instructions on Amazon’s website but they didn’t sell me. Using one did.



· Feel. It feels like a book. If you read, you’ll understand how unappealing the idea of curling up with a slim laptop is. In my experience, there’s no comparison. It has the same heft, and hand feel as a paper back book.
· Access. They take care of the wireless connection to the Kindle store, but if I lived in a remote corner of the world, I’d check on coverage before I invested. What this amounts to is a bookstore at your fingertips.
· Tasting. I’ve never once bought or checked out a book without reading some of it first. Kindle allows you to download a free sample of the book before you purchase it. The samples are around thirty pages or a chapter. That’s plenty for me to know if I want to spend my money and more importantly at this point in my life, my time.
· Ease of use. I read, just not instructions. This wasn’t a problem with the Kindle because it’s ergonomic and intuitive. There’s a page forward button on both sides of the device that righties can’t appreciate until they’re reading in bed and want to turn over. Lefties will experience a more immediate happy.
· Abundance. At last check there were 658,814 books available and that doesn’t include newspapers, blogs and magazines that are now available in electronic form.
· Ecology. That’s a lot of trees that will keep holding birds and other wild life rather than print.
· It’s less conspicuous to bring into a bar than a stack of books.


· Cost. The model he bought is the smaller one, no bells no whistles and it sells for $199.00 US. The books are on average about 10.00. Reference books are more, but a lot of the classics are free and there is a large selection of other books at no charge. The only down side is you have to go to Amazon’s website to find them, then go back to your Kindle and search by title, or pay some guy $1.99 for “Free Kindle Books and How to Find them.” The library still wins the debate of economy
· Availability. Older books are often not available in Kindle form. I see that changing if these devices do what mp3 players did to CD’s.
· Ecology. Batteries and the devices they power don’t break down as quickly as paper, and one day, my Kindle will join my walkman.
· No back light, meaning, you’ll still need a light to read at night. Not a big deal unless, like me, you don’t like to keep your partner awake while you read.
· In the words of Frank Lloyd Wright, if technology “keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger.” There’s something to be said for the smell of aging paper and a walking meditation through a row of books.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Swotting up on children’s books

I remember reading A Little Princess and loving the old-fashioned language and the quaint illustrations. I could just imagine I was Sara living oh so long ago. But recently I checked out a few possibilities for our bedtime book (one chapter or thereabouts each night) and the quaint language gave me some hard decisions to make.

My heart was set on Peter Pan, the 100th anniversary edition. I don't think I've actually read it myself, and was keen to share the experience with my two girls. The first night, however, we hit a snag. 'Rather delightful' is a quaint yet accessible phrase, and I loved how it set the tone in the first paragraph. The second, however, started 'Of course they lived at 14, and until Wendy came her mother was the chief one.' I really didn't get it myself, and there was a chorus of questions from the girls' beds. Soon we were reading about bookkeeping, Brussels sprout, cauliflowers and babies. It was all too much, and we abandoned the effort after two nights.

This dilemma made me sad. Are my kids never going to read Barrie's original work? Will they forever identify with the Disney version? How much effort am I willing to put in to our evening read? I really can't imagine how we will get through it at this age, and that makes me sad. I hold out hope for the future, when we can read it together or they pick up the books by themselves. Unlocking an old-fashioned text is like learning a foreign language. It helps with our everyday language and gives us a sense of accomplishment.

The girls and I are now reading The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett, and loving it. The tiny pictsies speak what seems to me Scottish accents with quaint words, 'Ach, yer fightin' yersels, ye eejits! Ah'm fed up wi' the paira yees!' Their swear word of choice is 'crivens' and they say, 'Wailly wailly' when they are distressed. We are having so much fun. Or at least I am. I bung on an accent which I think is pretty good, and have even used 'wailly wailly' on FaceBook, much to my brother's amusement. I do tend to get carried away!

In the book only the pictsies use such language, and the rest of the text is effortlessly understood. I find this mix an entertaining, pleasant challenge. Tiffany, the protagonist also has to seek translations from pictsie to English, and that helps us to identify with her.

So how timely that I read this article on the re-editing of Enid Blyton's works. The debate rages at household and global level. Do you think we should edit classics so that children can understand them more easily?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Universal Truth...

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any furniture in possession of a flat surface must be in want of clutter.

At least in my house... What about yours?

For years, hubby and I have been mystified by the phenomenon and are now very careful about any new furniture purchases. If one of us spots an interesting piece of furniture that would look fabulous in our home and the other one of us says 'flat surface'-- we know immediately what that means-- and we don't buy it.

This summer, I decluttered every flat surface in sight. Feeling quite pleased with my efforts, I searched in vain for a parking place for one last bag of vintage books I had discovered hidden under a load of desk funk.

Can you guess what now occupied all the newly decluttered flat surfaces? Yep, books! Vastly preferable to clutter but for a self-professed library girl, I sure have accumulated a passel of books since starting this blog.

Stack of library books and mags by the front door

one end of my desk...

The other end of my desk-- and no I'm not writing a children's book. Hubby checked it out from the library on my behalf... poor deluded man.

More of a curved surface but flat enough for hubby's stack of project books from the library.

More books and a few of my little boy's hats. The hats have since found a better home and there is now a stack of books in the middle.

From my thift store shopping sister-in-law-- do people give you books all the time? I love it but just need more shelves!!

A new set of books for my child and free mags from the library.

Even the little red wagon is not immune! These books came from the county library's spring sale and from a school library sale. Most are discards. I always feel the need to give discards a good home, don't you.

My little stack of vintage treasures were about to end up in the wagon as well until...

I walked into the office and had an epiphany while gazing in despair at our overcrowded bookcase. Can you believe there was a stack of phonebooks taking up precious space? Huge city phonebooks-- like from Dallas, Tulsa, Oklahoma City ect. All years out of date and we don't even use phonebooks anymore. So in a trash bag they went-- What a great feeling! (I'll be posting about these little books-- one is a Robert Louis Stevenson Reader and one is a beautiful edition of Little Princess.)

I've spotted even more potential real estate on the bookcase. All these gardening books can be stored in a bin in my 'outdoor closet' (outbuilding) since I rarely need them for reference. Can't wait to tackle reorganizing this bookcase!

So what is on every flat surface in your home: clutter or books? Do you have potential real estate that can be reclaimed on a bookcase?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Not-So-Gentle Reader: The Litvlog Sing Along: Frank, You're a Long Way F...

Lindsay from Not-So-Gentle Reader isn't just a clever witty book blogger. Oh no, she is also a musician. After reading Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt, Lindsay wrote a parody song titled 'Frank, you're a long way from Ireland' that you must listen too. It really tickled me-- I haven't read Angela's Ashes but I've read plenty of other dire books-- dire is as dire does, you know.

Lindsay posts on a wide variety of bookish topics and is very generous with her quirky and fun sense of humor so check out her parody and the rest of her blog too.
Not-So-Gentle Reader: The Litvlog Sing Along: Frank, You're a Long Way F...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Off the Beaten Page with Deleese

My Aunty Pat loves to give books, and asked me which book might be a good gift for my beautiful mother. In response to the question, 'What does she read?' I replied, 'She knows how to read, but…'

She is just not a novel reader. After work she is simply too tired to curl up with a book. I think it also has to do with her intelligence and personality. She is just very clever, and too impatient to plow through works of fiction.

My mother's taste runs to beautiful coffee table books, and she has a huge collection. She is an amazing amateur photographer and loves books with gorgeous photos, books about royalty, history, architecture, nature, travel and geography. Being an electrical design engineer, she reads the NEC (National Electric Code), and technical support publications for the software she uses at work.

She buys newspapers, (like The Australian in the photo) and magazines about home design and improvements as well as travel, antique and architecture publications. Novels, not so much.

Do you know any really clever people who don't read books?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

BOOKTRYST: Kittypalooza! The World's First Catalog Devoted To Old And Rare Books On Cats

Are you a cat lover? Are you a collector of rare books? Well, now you can combine both passions...

BOOKTRYST: Kittypalooza! The World's First Catalog Devoted To Old And Rare Books On Cats

I'll confess to liking cats well enough... and dogs too... but I love old books.

This probably isn't old or rare enough to be in The Cat: A Log but the title made me smile.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mrs. Baja Achieves Milestones!

This past weekend Baja Greenawalt's Cozy Book Nook achieved two notable milestones. First, DeLynne's recent post Deceptively Delicious was the 100th post published on Mrs. BG! Second, Mrs. BG now has seventy five followers and counting!

Congrats DeLynne on publishing the 100th post! Did bells and whistles go off when you posted? Sorry there isn't a prize except for my sincere appreciation and gratitude that you so graciously share your bookish perspective on this cozy little bookblog. You are the best co-blogger in the world!
Thank you so much Leslie (aka 'ChickWithAnAttitude) for becoming the 75th follower of Mrs. BG and many thanks to Brenna from Literary Musings for starting the countdown to 100 followers! DeLynne, Izzy and I thrive on all the cozy comments contributed by our lovely readers and we value each and every one of you. And isn't chatting with bookish kindred spirits fun?
These milestones are quite amazing (to us, anyway) especially considering our original goals for Mrs. BG. Last January when DeLynne became a co-blogger, we decided to aim for one post each per week. Ha-- should have known we would be more prolific than that-- we are chatterboxes from way back.

Also, I vividly remember sharing with DeLynne my dream of someday having between thirty and fifty followers-- so we might get a comment or two on most posts and not just end up talking to ourselves. Well, as a newbie with no idea the bookblog community was so friendly, I thought I was dreaming big-- isn't that funny.

Thanks again all for spending time with us here at Baja Greenawalt's Cozy Book Nook!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Deceptively Delicious

I am no flash cook, but I do have a family that needs feeding pretty much every night. Hubby and the kids can cook, in theory, but he usually gets home too late and kids can only contribute once every week or so. And that's a wildly optimistic time frame.

So, I have to cook the evening meal, and I do want my kids to eat well. For the older one, that's not an issue: she will try anything and is accommodating in her tastes. Little Miss 8, however, is another story. Hubby also likes to eat healthily, so I cannot put nuggets or mac and cheese on a plate and call that dinner.

Now, I know this book has had a ton of publicity and it is a year or three old, but I had to write about it here and now. Just in case someone would rather read Mrs B's book blog than tune into Oprah. And just in case Jerry Seinfeld's wife hasn't got enough publicity.

Anyway, back to the book. The idea is that you puree veggies and hide them in stuff most kids will eat. So, nuggets with spinach and mac and cheese with squash… Sound horrible? No, I tell you, it's not!

I've tried several of the recipes and they do work. Pizza with spinach was a big hit tonight, and the nuggets I made a while back were great. Little Miss 8 asked if the quesadillas had mashed potatoes in them, because she detected the texture of mashed veggies, but that didn't stop her wolfing them down.

I think seriously suspicious kids might have balked at tonight's pizza. Sorry about the messy plating up and the poor photography, but can you see how green it is? Over each mini pizza base I mixed a teaspoon each of spinach puree and pesto, which my kids love. They are quite used to pesto being smeared on their pizza bases, so she didn't inquire about the vibrant green 'pesto' under the tomato sauce.

Jessica also suggests we put crudités on the table with a healthy dip so kids and hubbies and mums can snack before dinner. I used Greek yogurt and a packet of salad dressing mix to make this quick dip. It's easy-as if you leave it in an unattractive container to pop back into the fridge.

It seems a bit excessive to contribute to the income of a woman whose husband earns ka-billions of dollars each time one of us sits in front of his TV show, but she deserves it. This is a great idea, and a solution to nutrition-minded parents of fussy kids.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Wrong Dog

I am a dog person, as I have written here, here, and, um….here. So it is no surprise that I would choose a doggy book as a gift for my dear mother in law. We always give her books, as anything you plug in confounds her and any toiletry item gathers dust, literally, in her bathroom.

A book, however, gets read, exclaimed over, handed back to you for perusal, then passed on to other family members. It might possibly be posted to the other side of the country to dear Aunty Pat. Not bad value, eh? Truly the gift that keeps on giving. So I always buy books that I would like to read, ones with general appeal for the whole family.

This Christmas we gave her, among other paperbacks, Carol Lea Benjamin's The Wrong Dog. It's about a murder, service dogs, cloning, and sleuthing, but mostly about dogs. It's only just come back to me, the long turn around due to other family members getting in first. I gobbled it up in one day, and really enjoyed it.

Biomedical ethics are, I find, interesting. Just because we know how to do something like cloning, does that mean we have the right to do it? Should rich people benefit from science while others can't? How do we investigate long term consequences quickly?

Ethics aside, I enjoyed the PI, Rachel, but didn't think she was as vividly drawn as other amateur sleuths I have read. Mind you, I am thinking of Stephanie Plum, and I have read LOTS of Stephanie Plum. She is almost more familiar to me than my husband! One slight disappointment I had in this book was that the murder victim was a really nice person, one I felt sorry for because he/she really hadn't met life's potential. I prefer a not-so-nice victim!

For that reason, and the sinister tone I felt with the some-one's-watching-me scenes, I am not sure if I would call this a cozy mystery. What is the definition, anyway?

The book was very sensitive to dogs, showing how to train them, how to treat them and how to feed them. It wasn't done in an instructional way, more as part of the plot, but my dogs, London and Paris, are sure to be even more pampered than before.

I recommend you read Carol Lea Benjamin. If you are a cat-, bird- or no-pet-person you will enjoy her books, too. After all, my mother in law did.

Monday, July 12, 2010

BOOKTRYST: 200 Rabbit Holes Await At Canadian Library

Are you mad as a hatter for all things Alice?

One of the points of our bloggy triangle here at Mrs. BG is absolutely insane for Alice. Can you guess which one of us it is? Oh, no fair, you already knew it was Miss Izzy Rose, bookblogger and fashion blogger extraordinaire, didn't you.

I aways keep an eye out for Alice information to share with Izzy and, boy, did I run across a goldmine at
BookTryst. If you aren't familiar with BookTryst, please visit. It is a bibliophile's dream... one fascinating book related post after another.

BOOKTRYST: 200 Rabbit Holes Await At Canadian Library
Izzy will be planning a trip to Canada after getting a gander at this collection!

BOOKTRYST: Take A Peake At The Twentieth Century's Optimum Alice
Not being an Alice addict, I only knew about Tenniel's illustrations. Did you know that Mervyn Peake who wrote Gormenghast also illustrated Alice in Wonderland?

It is a good thing I 'yearn for knowledge' because the things I don't know could fill the Mariana Trench!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Beleaguered Librarian

Librarians are some of my favorite people. In my experience, they love to talk books and are always so helpful.

Even with the prevalence of home computers, librarians are kept busy searching for requested books and information. Most requests are ordinary but some can be very wacky and amusing... and astounding... and maybe even a little horrifying. Get ready because the wacky request about to be revealed is a doozy! (at least to me, but I am a little wacky myself)

Today's wacky request is courtesy of the lovely Ms. A, the newest librarian at the county library. Such an interesting young woman--- and not just because we have similar opinions regarding a multitude of bookish issues. ;o) She has been accepted into the graduate program at the University of Oklahoma with a full scholarship and aspires to be an academic librarian someday. Obviously, Ms. A is one smart librarian!

Before I reveal the the wacky request, here is a fact about Ms. A that will explain why this made me hysterical. Ms. A is not a native of rural Oklahoma. Oh no, she is a recent transplant from Los Angeles, California and is suffering from a bad case of culture shock--- or 'lack of culture' shock as the case may be.

So Ms. A, aspiring to academic librarianhood and already bemused and dismayed by the Okie hoi polloi, tells me this one day (actually, she told it on FB but it was so absurd I had to go to the library and hear the tale in person).

As told by Ms. A: So, I get a phone call yesterday from this lady wanting books on how to identify communists in your community and how to fight communism??? I tried to (very politely) explain to her that the Cold War is over, the Soviet Union is long gone, and McCarthyism was, looking back, a bad thing. Nothing I said seemed to register... and she kept insisting that communism is an imminent threat!!! Weird!!!!

Very funny but also astounding and horrifying... poor beleaguered librarian. This one must have pushed her diplomacy skills to the limit.

Thank you, Ms. A, for allowing me to share this with all the readers of this blog.

Dear readers: If you are a librarian or are just friends with any librarians, what are some of the wacky requests you/they have received?

For Ms. A and all the other wonderful hardworking librarians in the world:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Celebrating Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird

Did you know that the novel To Kill A Mockingbird is fifty years old?

I didn't until I read the article Monroeville's Mockingbird in the July issue of Southern Living. Here is a link to a summarized version of the article on the magazine's website: Monroeville's Mockingbird .

If you are a fan of the book or interested in the author, please seek out the full article. It isn't a literary article but it has quirky anecdotes from townspeople who actually know the reclusive Nelle Harper Lee (they call her Nelle). I enjoyed reading about the locals tiptoeing around Lee; reading about her 99 year old sister still practicing law; and reading about her interactions with Dr. Butts and former Auburn Coach Pat Dye.
Your local library should have a copy to browse or just buy an issue. It is chock full of yummy summer recipes for garden veggies, salads, icecreams, and margaritas that will help make the purchase worthwhile... I am certainly planning to try out many of the recipes.

Monroeville, Harper Lees's Alabama hometown and the inspiration for the novel's fictional town of Maycomb, is hosting a shindig July 8-11 to celebrate the anniversary of To Kill A Mockingbird. Wouldn't it be fun to attend? The town will be auctioning off a signed copy of the novel. Wonder what it will go for? Probably more than I can afford!
Even if you miss the anniversary celebration, the townspeople of Monroeville put on an annual production of a play based on the book each spring.

It may be amateur and Harper Lee may not endorse the event, but if I am ever in Monroeville at the right time, I plan to see it. What about you?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Geronimo Stilton, The Kingdom of Fantasy

My friend Maria was sworn to secrecy as I brought a book with a mouse in a suit riding a rainbow dragon on the cover to the counter. She's the kind of friend you can trust. The reason that I bought a book aimed at ten-year-olds when I am thirteen remains a mystery.

I know adults or 'normal' teens, even, would not be very interested in this book, even if it does have pretty, full-page pictures. It was definitely a fun read, though, and I found myself smiling as Geronimo passed through the Emerald door to the land of the pixies. It has a classic fantasy plot, interesting characters, and pretty pictures. What else does a book need?

The poor writer of this book doesn't get any credit, the 'mouse' does. It doesn't have the most extensive vocabulary and it' s written to you like you're a child, but hey, that is the target audience. My eight-year-old sister is begging to read it next.

If you're a kid--definite must-read. If you're a teen, go ahead and try it: release your inner child. If you're an adult, you can read it...just not in public.

x Izzy

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Dinner Dictionary

Me to the kids, 'You can't play on Dave's pool table. We are afraid you would tear the green stuff. What's the green stuff called?'

Hubby, 'Felt.'

Me, 'Yeah, but there's another name for it. Anyway, you can play if you don't use a cue.'

A few seconds later, 'Baize! I think it's called baize, maybe?'

There was no dictionary at Dave's house, but later I was able to confirm that baize is the green stuff on a pool table.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Off the Beaten Page on the Tangalooma Whale Watching Boat

Elissa is the cousin on the left. She is fourteen.

What did you last read? The Immortals:Shadowland by Alyson Noel. It's about a girl whose family dies in a car accident. She moves in with her aunt and meets a guy who is immortal (400 years old).

What will you read next? The next book in the series is out in two months. They appeal to teens.

What's the worst thing about reading? It takes too long to get to the end.
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