Saturday, 1 August 2015

Very Busy Culling Everything I Own

I said in an earlier post I had thought about what I would do when I returned from holiday.  My book collection was out of control.  After reading Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way to Banish Clutter Forever, I really got carried away. In fact I am still working my way through it but I have managed to get through the first two items of the checklist:    Clothes and Books.

My good friend Frances put me onto this book. I really thought it would just be another tidying up, move things around and create more storage type of book. But it is a change in attitude I hadn't thought of before. And it works!  Enough of the sales pitch.

Most of the book is extremely helpful. For example beginning with clothes, you are to get every piece of clothing in your entire house and put it in the middle of the floor. Yes, I did this. However she does allow you to categorise things and I started with tops.  I put every top I own in the middle of the floor. Then you hold up each piece and ask yourself if you really love it.  Most of the old shirts I had hanging around I didn't love at all. If the answer is "no" you toss it. If it is "yes" then you keep it.
Then the process continues with the rest of your clothes category by category.  It was kind of hard to hold up my old knickers and say "Do I love you?"  "Nope, I don't feel anything for you."  However I did quite like the newer ones so I  kept those.

I finished with the clothes and took several garbage bags of clothes to Vinnies.  Then I had to do the books.  The only thing I found really hard with this whole process is her advice to thank the items that had served their purpose and move them on.  I just couldn't bear to say "Thank you jacket, you served me well when I was working but your time has come."  I just stuffed it in the bag.

The whole idea  is you end up living in a house with only the things you really love. That evidently is supposed to cause untold happiness.

Only a few of the books I got rid of.
The books were hard. I had over 3000 books easily.  Mind you 2000 of them are vintage Penguin books.  Once Karyn of apenguinaweek organised her books into bookshelves I decided it was time to get serious with the storage of mine. Her shelves were an inspiration.

I have a front room full of books. The right wall was shelves and shelves of Penguins crowded together everywhere. The left wall was shelves and shelves of non-Penguins.  My goal was to get rid of the non-Penguins.  Taking a big breath I dumped all the non-Penguins onto the floor.  I started to cull.  One book for the bag, three books for me. Okay, it didn't go so well. But I continued.  Once all the bags of books were full I put them aside to move them on.

The next day was much better. I went through the pile of books left for me and ended up getting rid of a lot of them.

I sold some to a bookseller in Hobart.  I donated many to Vinnies and the Red Cross book store. I have three boxes of duplicate Penguins that are going to the auction house on Monday.

All in all I culled over 1000 books.  Yes, that is One Thousand.  Then I sorted all of the Penguins into the various series categories. Then I reshelved them.  When I walk into the front room now I have one wall of Penguin and the other wall is also full of Penguins except one book case that has the non- Penguins I chose to keep.  I put some of my paperbacks under the bed. I have two large drawers under the bed. None of those books are in any order.  My rule is to pick a book out of the drawer and read it. If I don't want to or I am not in the mood then it leaves the house. Otherwise I read it and then it leaves the house.

The hallway bookcase has my valuable books of Jack London, William Horwood and John Steinbeck plus my old Dog books collection.  They will stay there until we all leave the house together. The same with the Penguin collection.  The front room is well and truly my Penguin library and once it is cleaned up and the table cleared and dusted I will post up photos of the whole thing.

I have listed the entire inventory of each series on my main blog page in the categories. It is easy to refer to the list and see what I have and what I still need. It transfers easily to my smart phone and comes in handy when I find a new Penguin and I am not sure I have it. I can look it up on my phone at the time. This should prevent anymore duplicates coming into the house. From now on I will only collect first published Penguins. Reprints stay behind.
Only another few books I got rid of.

I am still working my way through the Marie Kondo book checklist but the rest will be easy. I have yet to do the kitchen cupboards, the papers, the momentos.  It will be entirely completed by the end of August. That is the time frame I gave myself.  The house will be clear. If I get hit by the bus next week no one will have to struggle with the clutter. Just box up those Penguins and send them to auction.

I am looking forward to finishing because in September I begin on the Garden Project. Now that will be a big job. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

K is for a short story that begins with this letter.

I have always loved stories that take place in New York. I especially love those stories that took place in the first half of the 20th century.  It seemed like a person could go to New York City and do anything they wanted, be anything they wanted.  It seems like a city like no other in the world.

When I saw this lovely copy of the Vintage book, with the grey tones of the cover and the red spine I had to look at it more closely.  Up In The Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell.  I had never heard of Joseph Mitchell. He was born in North Carolina in 1908. He moved to New York city in 1929, the day after the big stock market crash.  He loved architecture and spent a lot of time studying it. He liked to people watch also and that is what this book is about.  He worked as a crime writer and reporter. He spent 31 years working at the New Yorker but by then was finished publishing his own work. He died in 1996.

The blurb on the back of this book will really pull you into what it is about:

"Mitchell is the laureate of old New York; the hidden corners of the city and the people who lived there are his subject. He captured the waterfront rooming houses, nickel-a-drink saloons, all night restaurants, the visionaries, obsessives, impostors, fanatics, lost souls, the end-is-near street preachers, old Gypsy Kings and Old Gypsy Queens, the out-and-out freak-show freaks.
Mitchell's trademark curiosity , courtesy and graveyard humour fuel these magical works of reportage."

I don't know about you but when I read that I wanted to read it all, all 707 pages of this book published in 1938.

I have only just begun. They are a series of short stories, vignettes.

I was looking for a short story title that began with the letter K. for my alphabet challenge. That was harder than I thought. I have several large books of short stories but none of the stories began with K.  It was in this book that I found it.
The Kind Old Blonde.  Mitchell is sitting in an Irish restaurant near Pennsylvania station. A couple walked in and sat down:

"They had just come in from the Belmont track. The man was bald and red-faced and substantial. He looked like a contractor or maybe he had something to do with the horses. The woman was a big sound, well-dressed blonde. She might have been the co-leader of a Tammany* club or an old vaudeville actress who had saved her money or perhaps married well. "

The man looked at the menu and the woman ordered an Old Fashioned. The man frowned at her as it turns out his doctor had told him he should quit drinking for health reasons. He was prepared to do this. But the woman relayed a story of a man who had done that and he died within a year. She gives all the reasons why your body "needs oil" and it wasn't such a good idea.  The discussion is quite entertaining as she begins to convince the man he needs a drink to stay in good health and not to die young. She orders a second Old Fashioned and finally at the end of the meal and discussion the man orders a Rye. Not mixed with anything like soda or ginger ale. Just a rye with a little water. For health reasons.

The readers has just visited this restaurant in old New York. I could see the characters. I could smell her perfume. I thought I was sitting in the restaurant observing the scene. It felt real. I was probably at a table by the window facing into the room. I saw it all.  I was with Joseph Mitchell. The day was probable cloudy, not many people in the restaurant. It was a day out, a quick meal in the city I love. New York City.

*Tammany club =A  community/political club of middle class ethnic origin.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Winter Days and Hot Tea

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny winter day. The high temperature hit 13C ( 56 F).  Mr. Penguin had a dentist appointment so I decided to be dropped off into town as I had errands to run. On the way through South Hobart I saw a good friend walking into the local cafe. So I hopped out of the car and joined her for a drink while she ate lunch and we had a good ole catch up.

I then walked the 20 minutes into the city centre to do some errands.  One of those was to find some good espresso coffee for the new coffee maker we bought after our trip overseas.  The first place I thought of was one of the best tea and coffee shops in town,  Jefferson's Teas.  

This establishment has been in business for as long as I can remember in Hobart City Centre.  They have coffees but their main focus I would say would have to be tea.All the teas are housed in wonderful big Chinese containers lined up on the shelf.  A pot of Vanilla Chai was available for tasting. As I found the coffee I wanted to try I was offered a small cup of this tea and it was delicious.  I immediately added that to my good fortune.

The two ladies who run the shop were great conversationalists and we had a chat about coffee, tea and books. We were talking about getting rid of the clutter in houses as they told me I could buy a small canister that matched the bigger Chinese canisters on the shelf.  I told them I was reading a book written about a Japanese de-clutterer who believed you should ask  yourself "Do you love each item in your house?" If not get rid of it. Eventually  you should only have things in your house, on the bookshelves and in your wardrobe that you absolutely love.

We all agreed that books are the hardest to part with. The more I talk to people I am realising this is a universal law.

As the afternoon was drawing to a close and the sun was sinking behind the mountain I decided I should head for the bus with my goodies and catch the bus home.

 A lovely afternoon of exercise, beautiful winter light and sunshine as well as fresh tea and coffee toe home.

Something else I learned from these ladies.  I told them tea with caffeine keeps me awake at night. They told me a little trick to get rid of the caffeine and at the risk of having a sleepless night I might try it.  Boil your water. Pour the hot water over the tea in the infuser through the tea. As soon as the hot water hits the tea the caffeine is released. Then IMMEDIATELY dump out the water and refill the infuser. Then drink the tea and although all of the caffeine is gone most of it is. They have had customers that have told them this works a treat.  Has anyone else tried this?

Now to finish the rest of the alphabet challenge on cold winter nights with decaffeinated Vanilla Chai.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

G is for GOING To A Second Hand Bookshop..........

............ I have not been to for awhile to look for a Penguin.
No 1499

The Red Cross charity book shop is one of the best bookshops in Tasmania for a good selection of second hand books.  I was in the habit of going every week after my play reading class.  My friend Brian used to live in that shop.  After he died I didn't go in much and then I was away on holiday and all the preparation that entailed.

Yesterday I took them 4 big garbage bags of books that I rescued from Brian's house after he died. His family were interested in selling the house fast and all of his books, several hundred were thrown into a large skiff headed for the landfill.

No 2319
I went over there on a Sunday when no one was around and dug through the grass clippings in the skiff and lots of other junk from the house. I brought home about 500 books. Many of them old Penguins. Not to mention old books from the World Wars I and II, great sporting biographies, good literature. Brian had a keen eye for what to collect.  I have since been distributing them to several different charity shops. 

Yesterday I took the bags into the Red Cross book shop.  They used to sell Penguins for a dollar a book but that has now gone up to 1.50 and 2.00. Still a good buy.  I found 5 vintage Penguins that I don't currently have.   I have not deliberately gone shopping for Penguin books in several months so this kind of got the blood boiling. I saw these setting on the shelf and I could feel the old adrenaline rush. Not to mention they were all in a good shape.  While I was there a couple brought in several boxes of books and said they were from one of their mother's from 60 years of collecting.  The supervised of the shop prices books on Friday so I might have to get in there before all the local booksellers come in on Monday morning to see what is there. 
No 1950

I was not familiar with all the authors of the books I found but the books look quite interesting. (all Penguins are interesting aren't they?)  I hope you enjoy the loot and if you have anything to contribute about these books I would love to hear it. 
No D3

I love these designed poetry books.
No D35

Monday, 6 July 2015

R is for something from Gutenberg

When you go to the Gutenberg web page and start exploring the huge inventory of their books, short stories, prints, poetry and more you can be there for days without surfacing. I really love their site.  I use the UB Reader on my Samsung tablet and Gutenberg easily downloads things to it. I can see the illustrations and it reads like a book. I find the combination of the two overwhelmingly amazing.

When I made up my A to Z post (last one) one of the items was to read something from Gutenberg beginning with the letter R.  When I visited the Gutenberg web site I found there is a title index for each letter of the alphabet as well as the author one.  I immediately went to the letter R and found a short story entitled The Radiant Shell. I thought it might be a fantasy story about a seashell.  Maybe it was magic or something,  The author is Paul Ernst. I soon discovered it is a science fiction story.  It was initially published in a book called Astounding Stories from 1932.

Paul Ernst was an American writer born around 1899 and died around 1985. According to web pages I reviewed about this writer the jury seems to still be out. There is little information about him online.

He was best known for his 24 Avenger novels written between 1939 and 1942 using the name Kenneth Robeson. He was known as a Pulp and Science Fiction writer and the Penguin and I had fun with this short story.

I don't usually read Science fiction but the gods threw it up at me on Gutenberg so who was I to argue.

It opens with high faluting politicians and military officials sitting around a conference table discussing how the small country of Arvania had stolen the plans for the deadly Ziegler heat ray weapon. It is the deadliest weapon known to mankind and with it they have the ability to completely destroy the USA in 3 months beginning with Washington DC.

Enter their secret scientist. Thorn Winter. He has developed a paint like substance that can cover his body and make him invisible for a limited time. The "Radiant Shell".  He has a plan. He will enter the  Arvanian Embassy as an invisible man and steal the plans back.  Then the world, or more likely the USA will be safe from destruction.

"The man who presently appeared in the doorway was an arresting figure. A man of thirty-odd with the body of an athlete, belied somewhat by the pallor of an indoor worker, with acid stained, delicate hands offset by forearms that might have belonged to a blacksmith, with coal black hair and gray eyes so light as to look like ice-gray holes in the deep caverns of his eye-sockets. This was Thorn Winter."

Of course he makes it inside the embassy and nothing goes to plan. When he walks on the carpet, the nap moves. If he stands in front of furniture with vertical lines the lines look interrupted. He also needs to work fast as his pores are covered and he will die if he doesn't wash the covering off before too long.

There is suspense when an Irish Wolfhound enters the scene and goes crazy over the smell. The Arvanians get suspicious and can feel there is someone in the room. When they lock down the room and start swinging long swords around and finally use a machine gun our hero is truly threatened.

The story is concisely written and we don't need to wait long for the action.  The stereotypes of the enemy are quite predictable even for 1932.  Of course they are dark swarthy men with black beards. Bad people never seem to be blonde or blue eyed.

"Dark of hair and complexion were these men, with the arrogant hawk noses and ruthless small eyes of the typical Arvanian. Several of them were garbed in military uniforms and armed with swords. They were talking in tones too low for Thorn to distinguish words through the film over his ears. He would have to get in there to hear them.
For the third time the wind pushed at the door."

The Penguin got a bit carried away.
I do need to get after him at times.

It was a fun read and I never would have known about this fun Sci Fi writer if it hadn't of been for my Alphabet Challenge and sitting here this morning between 6:00 and 7:00 with frost on the grass, dogs asleep and a hot cup of coffee.  This getting up early in the morning has been good fun. I think I am becoming a morning person after only 60 some years.

If you would like to read this story you can access it here.