Saturday, April 11, 2020

Stay-at-home shelfie #14

And now we transition from things that go bump in the night to the great outdoors...

I wrote in June 2018 about the Appalachian Trail and how I once had Big Plans™ for embarking on such a trek. An excerpt:
"When my friend Mike McCombs and I were copy editors at the Spartanburg Herald-Journal in the late 1990s, we shared the dream of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. While editing and designing the pages for the sports section, we would discuss taking six months off from work, acquiring backpacks and gear, mailing supplies ahead and enjoying life on the Trail."
I think the only way I'm better-suited today for the Appalachian Trail than I was two decades ago is that I have a better photographic eye. So I'd be able to expertly document the six or seven miles I'd traverse before collapsing into a middle-aged heap. But I still have some of the books. The Rodale books are gems of first-person accounts of life on the trail before it was truly packed with over-equipped adventurers. Here's an excerpt from P.J. Wetzel's 2013 Goodreads review:
"At just under 2000 pages (almost five inches thick), this is a real undertaking to read, yet I found nearly every page worth my while. This is a compendium of forty six through-hike trail memoirs written by the hikers themselves. The list of authors is a veritable Who's Who of AT pioneers, including Grandma Gatewood who hiked the entire trail three times starting at age 66 wearing ordinary sneakers and carrying a denim sack slung over her shoulder. ... Writing styles are as varied as the characters who populate the trail itself. ... If you want a compendium that truly gets you in on the ground floor and fully immerses you in the history and flavor of the priceless institution that the Appalachian Trail has become, then this work is the definitive one, and worth the time to read cover-to-cover."
This section of shelf is definitely themed on the idea of wandering outdoors, with authors ranging from Arthur Machen to W.G. Sebald to Robert Macfarlane. The skinny staplebound booklets are by Dr A and Dr H of And the buttons are from Oak Crest Lane, collected over the decades by Greta Miriam Chandler Adams. They were in an old tin and I transferred them to a more visually interesting container for display.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Mystery Polaroid of two dogs

We've been taking a lot of neighborhood walks during this stay-at-home chapter of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, yes, I realize that preceding sentence is a bit contradictory. But trust me that neighborhood walks are way better than driving to a state park to hike or joining such a large group of bikers and joggers on a rail trail that the idea of social distancing becomes a charade.

Anyway, Joan and Kaitlyn do a better job of getting out to walk during the daytime than I do. Most of my walks lately have come after 9 p.m. and been solo laps through silent streets. But the joke was on me yesterday, because they discovered quite the bounty on their daytime walk — a curbside box full of books and ephemera and labeled "Free." You'd think that by now I'd have a specially attuned radar for such instances; but my only radar seems to be sniffing out Mr. Angelino's litter box misses, a tale nobody wants to hear.

Joan was, of course, nice enough to share some of her ephemera haul with me. The first piece, shown today, is an undated, unlabeled Polaroid featuring a pair of Very Good Dogs. I'm not good with dog breeds, so I'll let you tell me in the comments section what these are. It makes me sad that a snapshot of once-loved pets would end up in a roadside box, with us never being able to know their names. Remember how much we knew about Devil the German Shepherd? And of course Sugar the Welsh corgi. On the other hand, we had Marion's unnamed dog.

Stay-at-home shelfie #13

It's another Sneak Preview shelf. Is somebody out there scoring at home and keeping track of all these posts I owe you? Zoinks. You can't expect me manage my own blog, can you? Also, who am I talking to?

Anyway, I can definitely say that the acquisition of these volumes was inspired by Amanda Jones of Wales, who has only about 1,200 followers on Twitter (@AmandAJ37Amanda) but should have ten times that, given her rock-star posts about vintage books. It was Jones who brought to my attention Geoffrey Palmer, Noel Lloyd and illustrator Rowel Friers, who collaborated on numerous books with supernatural and folklore themes in the 1960s. They were publishing books alongside the early heyday of the Ruth Manning-Sanders/Robin Jacques combo; what a time that was for children's literature! So, thanks to Amanda Jones of Wales, I have discovered some of these books. More to come, but if you want to dive in before me, or fear I'll never get around to this, a nice place to start might be this delightfully penned 1998 obituary of Noel Lloyd.

Also on this shelf are the well-reviewed 2019 book Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country by Edward Parnell and an Arkham House volume that I picked up because it includes "Sticks," a Karl Edward Wagner short story recommended by Mary SanGiovanni.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Stay-at-home shelfie #12

Call this shelf a bit of a Sneak Preview. It includes eight books of juvenile/young adult fiction by Scottish author Ruth M. Arthur (1905-1979), who I intend to do a full and proper post on one of these days. Her books, including The Saracen Lamp, have a very passionate niche following. Many of them blend historical settings or characters with a touch of the supernatural. Here's a little more about The Saracen Lamp from Twitter to perhaps pique your interest.

Also on this shelf, pretty much by coincidence, is another Arthur: Arthur's Christmas Cookies, which I just wrote about in December.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Stay-at-home shelfie #11

I'm putting up an extra shelfie post tonight, because this one is too depressing right now, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, to receive its own 24 hours in the spotlight. So what say I just post it and we move along? There are books about catastrophic climate change, different types of apocalypses (I meant to write about Bryan Walsh's End Times after finishing it last year, but never got around to it), and cataclysmic earthquakes. And there's a thematic little collection of non-fiction books about how culture and society have been shaped by the dark (or lack thereof) over the centuries.

Stay-at-home shelfie #10

Oh my, there's much to note here on this special shelf. First off, there are many books that I've written about on Papergreat: From the Earth to the Moon, Doctor Dolittle in the Moon, The Vanishing Shadow, The Ghost Parade, The Iceberg Express, Mystery at High Hedges, But Once a Year, and The Angry Planet.

Dangerous Island was one of Mom's favorite books when she was a kid. Then I read it in the early 1980s and loved it, too, which gave us a nice added bond through juvenile literature. She also passed down her love of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books, and those are still treasured volumes on my shelf. I acquired The Donkey Rustlers and Snowed Up because, like The Angry Planet, they are illustrated by Robin Jacques; I hope to write about them some day. The Gormenghast novels have long fallen into the category of "I really think I might want to read them some day, but never have." Interplanetary Avenger was written by Caroline Luzzatto, one of my former colleagues at The York Dispatch. She writes for The Virginian-Pilot now. And the 1928 classic Millions of Cats is a book that Ashar and I loved reading together when he was young.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Stay-at-home shelfie #9

This shelf is a hodgepodge. I love the look of the mid-century Modern Library hardcovers, so I sometimes pick them up when I find nice ones, mostly at the York Emporium. But I don't want to fall too far down the road of collecting them because, as we are seeing now and for many weeks ahead, it's possible that I already have too many books. I have mentioned the Thurber and Nostradamus books in previous posts.

Then there are some science books, including two of Richard Feynman's autobiographies. When I was a junior in high school, I did a very poor job of applying myself in my physics class. The poor attitude was all on my end, and it's among my biggest high school regrets. My teacher, though he certainly didn't have to, gave me an opportunity to earn some extra credit by reading and writing a report on "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character. I absolutely loved it, and I'm very appreciative that Nino DeProphetis introduced me to Feynman. His life is endlessly fascinating. Four years ago — has it been that long already! — I read the graphic novel Feynman by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick. I had mixed thoughts about it, but it's an interesting way to tell Feynman's life story. The autobiographies are probably the best route, though.

Finally, there are some gorgeous 1930s non-fiction children's books by Maud and Miska Petersham that deserve their own post one of these days.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Stay-at-home shelfie #8

Here's a dandy shelf. Non-fiction books detailing what life and customs were like during different eras of American history, which always makes for enjoyable reading. I mentioned Home Life in Colonials Days in this 2012 post. Huckleberry Hill was also discussed in 2012. And then the books veer to essays and descriptions of modern times, with volumes by Verlyn Klinkenborg, Wendell Berry and James Rebanks. The Caitlin Doughty book should probably be paired with Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death, from an earlier shelf. And the Michael Pollan book is kind of an outlier here. It truly belongs elsewhere, thematically. Finally, there is indeed a book titled Cattle of the World.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Postcrossing, postcards and the pandemic

I haven't sent many postcards during the past month, partly because I don't want to add too much non-essential mail to the heavy workload being dealt with by our incredible U.S. postal workers. In a Thursday news release, USPS noted: "The United States Postal Service is proud of the work our more than 600,000 employees play in processing, transporting, and delivering mail and packages for the American public. We provide a vital public service that is a part of this nation’s critical infrastructure. The Postal Service has a dedicated Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Command Response leadership team that is focusing on employee and customer safety in conjunction with operational and business continuity during this unprecedented epidemic." We owe them a great deal of thanks for all they've done, delivering to our mailboxes and doors.

I do, however, have some Postcrossing odds and ends to note. The postcard pictured above is from an attendee of a Postcrossing meetup that happened in Norway from March 6-8, which was unfortunately about a week before it truly started to dawn on most of us that we had to shut everything down and keep our social distance. I hope gatherings such as that have ceased in Norway.

In other notes:

  • Romy in Germany received one of my postcards on March 15 and replied: "Thank you for your postcard with the cool stamps! I can only agree reading your words 'to build a world of peace, freedom, conpassion and equality for all on Earth.' Wish you all best — specially good health in times of Corona-madness."
  • A pen pal in Czechia sent me this email on March 20: "I don't know if you received my letter. I can't even give you a look. With children we must not out or just with a protective mask. How is it with you? I have 7 coronavirus infected in town. We got protective masks in hospitals too. We sew them at home on sewing machines and distribute them to hospitals, firefighters, police, retirement homes ... We try to be calm and take everything easy. I don't have the machine, we're going to be humorous now to make us feel calmer, I hope you and your family are all right."
  • Another pen pal, a journalist in the Netherlands, emailed on March 31: "In The Netherlands, we have been in a lock-down for over two weeks now. As far as I can tell, almost everybody sticks to the social distancing rules etc. Nonetheless, over a 1000 people have died here of COVID. (We have 17 million inhabitants.) And I'm sure the worst is still to come. Fortunately, I live in the province with the least contaminations ... Anyway, I'll keep my fingers crossed that everything will turn out okay for you and your family!"

Meanwhile, Picture Postcard Monthly, a UK magazine I subscribe to, has gone under because of COVID-19. This is an excerpt from the note on its website:
"We regret to announce that PPM will cease publication in May, 2020 – after 40 years of continuous production, making it the longest-running postcard magazine in the world. The threat posed by Covid-19 – the coronavirus – has caused the cancellation of nearly every fair planned in the foreseeable future, from the world’s biggest event at Shepton Mallet next week (March 27/28) to much smaller events including Portchester, near Portsmouth, also on March 28. The Postcard Traders Association has already cancelled its two-day fair at Woking in May. Any readers considering travelling with a previously publicised show, should check with the organiser if the event is still on. The cancellation of fairs has obviously heavily impacted on our advertising for the weeks and probably months ahead, which means it is no longer viable for us to produce the magazine. A recent fall in subscription levels also reflects current reader confidence. We are incredibly sad to have to make this call, especially so close to the 500th edition of PPM, which was due to be this December; and appreciate the news will come as a big disappointment to many of our valued readers. We can only apologise for this. ... For four decades, PPM has been THE top magazine for postcard collectors across the land – with buyers from around Britain, and subscribers in 24 countries outside of the UK, including Europe, Scandinavia, Thailand and English-speaking countries overseas such as South Africa, Australia, Canada and the USA. We have aimed to help champion and provide a voice for our great hobby."

Stay-at-home shelfie #7

And here are the books that were behind Shelfie #5, as we complete photo documentation of this slightly hidden bookshelf. There are more family history books, as with the previous shelfie. I can't imagine I'll go through the entirety of A Record of the Descendants of George and Jane Chandler (Who Emigrated to Pennsylvania from Wiltshire, England, in 1687) with a Pedigree of the Chandlers of Oare, Wiltshire1. But the two-volume The Swedish Settlements on the Delaware 1638-1664 by Amandus Johnson and Description of the Province of New Sweden, Now Called, by the English, Pennsylvania, in America by Thomas Campanius Holm are fairly interesting. Good historical reading for a dark winter's night.

1. Just searching for the halibut, I came across this news item in the Warren County Neighbors section of the December 13, 2001, edition of the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News:
"Karen Campbell, a Waynesville librarian, keeps busy with literary and historical projects. A member of the Waynesville Area Heritage & Cultural Center at The Friends Home, Campbell's most recent project has been transcribing and editing two autobiographical essays of sisters Elizabeth and Ruth Chandler. The monographs will be included in a book Campbell is writing about the Chandlers. ... Campbell, who has worked through decades of articles, is excited about material she received from a friend of Elizabeth, including a geneaology titled George and Jane Chandler and their Descendants 1687-1937."
Karen Campbell has four blogs, none of which have been posted in since February 2007: