Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Greening of the land

Rain for two days and the world has transformed. The energy at this time of year is incredible. The rivers are foaming, spinning, pounding with a power beyond anything human, I can feel the air vibrate with this quivering pulse of LIFE, Life, life...

I can feel it surging in me in response. Glory.

The books feel old, dusty and heavy in comparison. In a way they too are life, but the energy is much more sedate. It makes me feel like getting out, out, out to dance and sing in the rain, twirl in the mud, stomp and shout.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Again Rumi:

"Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground."
"The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep."

The thing about Rumi for me is that he is so human. There is so much recognition of who I am in his words. We wake up "empty and frightened", there are so many kinds of awakening, but even in the literal one I often awake feeling this. I have to remind myself that I am good every morning, but at least I am AWAKE.

You must ask for what you really want. I must ask for what I really want. I must know what I really want. I must go after and work and fight and sweat for what I really want. It is clear that people are involved in what I really want. I must stay awake!

Wake up, kneel and kiss the ground!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Green Haze

The green haze of Spring is upon us. It is a lovely time of year, as the rains come the brown landscape fades and is replaced with soft greens and the pinky reds of the budding hard wood trees. The bugs have not yet arrived and it is still cool enough in the evenings that the smell of woodsmoke lingers in the air. The peepers sing in the stillness and all is peaceful.

The daffodilias bloomed today.

All is well.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Energy and emotion

My shoulder is a ball of fire.

My teacher (Tai Chi) says it is collected energy that is not moving. I did a little work on getting the energy to move last night and jokingly said that when it moved I would probably have a nervous breakdown from all of the emotions that will be released. I thought grief, maybe sorrow, sadness all hard stuff. It's not grief I've learned....it's anger. Of course for me anger is probably 10 times harder than grief. I suppose if it wasn't it wouldn't be collecting in my shoulder, it would be out in the world. The unfortunate and fortunate thing is that it needs to be released, no matter the consequences. I'm reclaiming my shoulder and my life and so I guess I've got some work to do.

Anger has always been hard for me. Protection of myself came in the form of being really, really nice. Shrugging my shoulders (ah ha!) and saying "Hey that's okay, don't worry about it." In many ways I'm afraid to let it out because now I feel like I won't if be able to stop the deluge once it begins. But begin it must, terror be damned.

The really fascinating thing for me here is my body's ability to store emotion. It is so tangible right now, the pain, the work, the angry reaction. I can clearly see the line and it makes me wonder what else is stored in this body of mine.

Physiology is a fascinating thing.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Capitalism at it's finest

I used to have a 1997 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck. The day after I bought it for all of my pittance of a savings, I took it to get the exhaust fixed (yes I bought a truck that already needed to be fixed). They put it up on the lift and the frame broke. Devastation. I got the frame welded and tried to move on.

Three weeks ago I heard about the Toyota buyback for Tacoma's between '95 and '00. Toyota bought my truck back from me and gave me three times plus what I bought it for!! Elation.

Today I had a brand new 2008Toyota Tacoma delivered to my shop! I have never owned a brand new car and never expect to again, but let me tell you it is a sweet feeling. I'm not much of a consumer and I really believe in recycling, but I have to admit...I feel giddy.

In addition I am very grateful. I'll admit it, I cried tears of thankfulness the first (and only so far) time I drove it.

I can really see how buying new stuff becomes an addiction for people. It is a great feeling to own something new, never been used and yours. It certainly does make you feel high, I think this is why credit card debt in America, and from what I hear other countries, is so out of control. People just buy to make themselves feel good. Damn the consequences.

It is interesting to me that reaching this point of the story, I really want to justify myself to anyone reading this. I'll just tell you that I thought long and hard and leave it at that.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Battle

I have to battle myself for myself all the time. What an interesting concept. I have so much going on in my brain that I have to fight to turn it off.

I am also noticing that sometimes I have to battle myself to be connected to other people. I really want that connection, as much as possible. It is terrifying. People are terrifying. They lie, steal, cheat, drain your energy...etc. But the truth is that I want them. Sometimes this "getting to know you" feels like a maze to be wound through, other times it is a battlefield a howling, clashing, screaming, bloody mess to be fought through and to survive. Perhaps this is not the most zen attitude, but it is my experience.

I have found too that after surviving that battle we are stronger.

I am thankful for the people in my life who have fought me for me and won. I am thankful for those I have fought for and won.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Sometimes owning and running a business is difficult stuff. I get tired of trying to do all the financial stuff on my own. Sometimes I feel very alone. One of the difficulties is that in this American culture talking about money is quite taboo. I talk about my finances with people often and sometimes I feel that they are looking at me askance, but I have nothing to hide and I don't really think it is important enough to keep private.

Why all this privacy about money matters, why can't we just be candid? We all use money, earn it, inherit it, spend it...but there is so much shame, grief, and envy linked to it. Mostly these feelings come up when we don't have it. When I look at reality, really look at my world and what is important in it, I find that money isn't one of those things, but I worry about it a lot.

It is said that money is the root of all evil, I am more inclined to think that it is human reaction to money that is at the root. If we have it we are afraid someone will take it away from us or we are ashamed that we have so much. If we don't have it we want it and feel angry and jealous when others have it. What yucky feelings.

I hope for a world in which everyone can have enough. I know it sounds naive, but I do have that hope. We could give up all of the ill will generated by money, imagine how much happier we would be.

Monday, April 21, 2008


So many poets and writers speak of spring. It is such a time of transformation. Rebirth in it's true mucky, sticky, often ugly self.
I spent the morning wading through the mud with my dogs and none too pleased cats, we walked, we smelled, we squished, for me it was delightful, for the dogs heavenly, for the cats just disgusting.

Then it was on to the perennial garden, finally for the first time free of snow! I found grape hyacinth and crocus' that I forgot were there, little gifts of purple glowing among the dead slimy last year leftovers. The daffodils are coming too. There is so much to look forward to.

This change is somewhat difficult for me. There is so much energy in the air, in people, in the earth. Sometimes it's a little overwhelming and leaves me feeling exhausted. It is like I'm just not up to speed yet, a part of me is still in hibernation. I am awakening though a little more every day.

I am thankful that I have an outdoor space available for Tai chi again. The best way to develop my energy.

Friday, April 18, 2008

"Be melting snow"

The poet Rumi says,
"Be melting snow.
Wash yourself of yourself.

A white flower grows in quietness.
Let your tongue become the flower."

Wash yourself of yourself. Be without ego, take the mind out of the equation...

I can watch my mind getting involved in things it just should stay out of. My tongue is like a freight train not a white flower growing in quiet. I am trying, perhaps trying too hard. Trying is a function of ego is it not?

I question, I thirst for answers, I have a drive to know. I often feel like if I can just learn enough I'll be good enough. Good enough for who? How do I just sit with what I know already?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I realized looking over my posts, that I haven't written much really about books or being a bookseller. Considering that this blog is called "The Book Queen" I thought I should say something. I should probably start by telling those of you who don't know that owning a bookstore has been a life-long dream of mine. I have an intimate relationship with books. They saved my life in my childhood and have added richness and depth to who I am. There is something so tactile about books too. I love the feel, especially of old books. The paper, the soft worn leather of an old binding. The smell, the collective smell of the bookstore is heaven to me. I like that everyday I am surrounded by resources and if I have any questions I can answer them. Yes I know that people with access to computers feel this way too, but I am sure it is different. Looking at a picture in an art book is a different experience than looking at in on the computer. Sometimes being surrounded by this wealth of knowledge is overwhelming. I don't know what to read next, or I think I should read something because it will be good for me, or add to my knowledge in general. I also have lots of people telling me that I should read different books and I do try to indulge my regulars.

I am lucky in that I am a very fast reader. I definitely comprehend differently when I put the speed on, but I can read fiction quickly. For example I read Harry Potter #7 in one 24 hour period. This is not tooting my own horn, I am grateful that this is the case. There is really so little time and so much to read.

I am currently reading/have just read:
Otherspace by David Stahler
The Teammates by David Halberstam
The Three Kingdoms
The Rule of Four

I am trying to focus my brain on reading about China so if anyone has any suggestions about interesting books on Chinese history, have at it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I love baseball. I love the game itself, the excitement, the skill of the players or depending on what level the lack of skill, the scoring, the batting, the fielding, everything. I enjoy watching baseball on every level; every level of the game and many levels within myself. From Little League at Fisher Field to the Boston Red Sox at Fenway I will be there, scoring the game, cap on my head, smile on my face.

Within...I feel so connected at a game, watching a game, listening to a game.
First, I know that there are thousands of other fans experiencing the same feelings I am. I love running into someone and just by the hat on their head being able to start a conversation.

Secondly there is the history. Generations of people have followed, lived and died by baseball. In my own family there is a love of baseball. My father was a Yankees fan at the end of his life, my maternal grandmother was a life-long Yankees fan, her father would not let anyone discuss any other team in his house, it was all Yankees all the time. They did live in Stamford CT. just outside of NY City, so I can't blame them for their affinity for the dark side. I am first and foremost a baseball fan, close on the heels of that I am a Red Sox fan.

Thirdly, I have met grown men who when discussing the baseball hall of fame begin to tear up, for me this defines baseball. We never really grow up and the game holds the joys of our youth within reach. I like to think of thousands of kids and adults playing together on baseball diamonds, in the streets, on back lots in North America, South America, Africa, China, Japan...playing a game with universal rules, playing a game.

There is something so special about this game and this love of a game that it defies words. We cannot name it, but we feel it and I for one treasure it. Who wins and who loses feels very important in the moment, but there is always another game, another season and a team to love.

Boy oh boy do I love baseball.
...and GO CUBBIES!! (Darn it, they deserve it!)

Monday, April 14, 2008


So I've been wondering why no one ever leaves me any comments. I think I made it difficult. It should be easier, so if you want to comment, comment away!

Antiquarian Books and E

E is my niece. (My only sister's only child, I do not have children) She is eleven years old, wonderful, charming, witty and dyslexic. The dyslexia has always been a challenge for me. I am not the only member of my family who is a book junkie, we have been reading to E since she was in the womb. For a long time I felt like I would not be able to connect with E on a book level, this was very hard as that is the level I most often function on. However, I have learned that I was wrong. E is a book junkie too. She just accesses books and stories in a different way, she listens. Don't get me wrong, she does read, but she more often listens and has learned to love stories and storytelling.

I am missing something in this telling. The feeling of hopelessness I had when we first realized that E would learn a different way was intense. But...it is countered by the more important feeling that I have now. Hopefulness for her and her future based on who she is and how she manages herself.

For example:

E asked me if I would take her to the Vermont Antiquarian Book Sale in Burlington this weekend. She was really excited to go declaring that she wanted to see a first edition "Little Women". A girl after my own heart. (We did see a first edition "Watership Down" that was very exciting for both of us.) While we were there E got into a conversation with another bookstore owner from my area. The woman was buying some poetry and asked E if she wrote poetry. E stated boldly, "No I don't, I'm dyslexic." The woman asked her if she liked to sing and E told her that she did and that she did ballet as well. The woman then talked to her about having a sense of rhythm and how if she had that then she could write poetry regardless of how she spelled. It was then that the man selling books from the stall got involved in the conversation he talked about how he read very slowly, but believed he read more thoroughly because of it. E responded with comments of her own and the three of them talked for 10 minutes. All this time I was browsing and eavesdropping, not playing a role in the conversation at all. E was so mature and confident discussing this issue with these adults.

This experience with her made me realize that she has nothing to overcome. I was the one faced with the challenge of accpeting her as she is.

I am a proud aunt.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Inner Quiet

The bookstore is often a place of quiet. It occasionally, too, is a place of bustle. Most often quiet these days. April is a slow month, the weather is getting warmer, sunnier, muddier; things we forgot about in December are melting out of the snow and need to be tended to. People aren't feeling the urge to snug down with a good book, they (we) are bursting out of our winter cocoons and living. The quiet here leads to things like rug-shaking and walks across the street for coffee or the occasional ice-cream. (What a life, what a blessed life!)

My struggle obviously isn't for outer quiet. I am in quest of inner quiet, not peace, but quiet (I think an important distinction). My ego so often gets in the way of just being. I think life would be easier if I could just be. I fight a battle against believing I know what others are thinking, judging others, and second-guessing myself. I often wonder if other people face this too. (If you read this and face these challenges let me know it would be helpful.) I want an inner life ruled by empathy and compassion for myself as well as others (although I do think there is a lot of ego involved in empathy and compassion.) Tai Chi does help...sometimes I am able to focus on my body and energy and let go...doing Tai Chi makes me believe the struggle will have a resolution and I will win.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Was last night a full moon? Was it the meatball sandwich? I don't know, but my dreams were intense. I dreamed that Jesse and I went to the "fair". The setting was Dorset Street in Burlington Vermont. A very busy street which apparently had been closed down for the "fair". We began by going to some kind of sale...rummage...something. The location was the Cheese Trader's building, Jesse bought a giant cigar, I mean really giant like 1foot around and 20 feet long it was some kind of cactus thing, then we left our jackets hanging in a tree because it was really hot and seemed like a sensible thing to do. Then we snuck into the fair grounds which as this point had transformed into a baseball field. Jesse immediately went to the concessions and started buying sticky buns, candy, fruit pies...I distinctly remember saying, "Slow down diabetic boy." And the woman selling the food got pissy with me. We had to walk through this ice tunnel thing and I was nervous because it was close to where you paid to get in and we didn't have wrist bands. End of dream one.

Dream two.

I am in a small room with a couple of other people, I'm not sure now who they were. The room is painted white, furniture is white everything white. We are trapped in this room inside of a weird house. When we smash out the window it is another white room filled with white mist. There is no panic, just resignation about being trapped and a feeling that I would like to get out.

Dream Three.
I am in a small sound room surrounded by musical instruments. Stevie Ray Vaughn comes in and asks me what I want to hear. I say "The Sky is Crying" and he picks up a guitar and starts to play. He is really skinny and his hair is really long and I think Jesse is going to be sooo jealous.

I think there were more dreams last night, but I cannot remember them. I am sure someone with a dream dictionary would make much of this night, but I don't really care about what they might mean. I am just glad that I have dreams like this, vivid and interesting.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

With enough coffee I could rule the world

I do love coffee, and how I wish this were true. Coffee doesn't always give me the will to do what must be done, sometimes I need more help than that. One of the downsides to running your own business is that you are ALONE much of the time. I am extremely grateful to those who stop in to just say hello or to let me get out for a walk now that Spring has arrived, but much of my time I am alone.

I let the recycling build up and build up for two months. Why you may ask? I couldn't, just could not get up the gusto to do it. I had the time, but not the will. This is an alone thing for me...sometimes I get overwhelmed and stuck.

I have a new goal. I am going to rule the world by getting things done in the moment and not getting stuck, if I feel overwhelmed I will find someone to ask for help. I think this will lead to efficiency in my life thus giving me more time to do fun and exciting things.

I am currently reading:
The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci
The Three Kingdoms and
The Rule of Four

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sacred Space

The street was sunny and bustling this morning as I made my daily rounds down the block to the bank and the post office. I opened the door to the store and felt the profound quiet of this space surrounded by a busy town. The sunlight streams in dustily, I'll admit, through big windows and I feel immersed in a sacred space. It is not always so, but today that's the way it is.

I think that part of this cathedral like sense comes from feeling connected to those who have come before me. I feel like one in a line of bookseller's, a gracious empathic family who began this store and ran it for the thirty years before my time. There is a sense of them here, prices marked in their hand, ancient books bought with their wisdom. It is something to appreciate and something to live up to...this heritage.

April is National Poetry Month.
A Poem for today:

Fable of the Ant and the Word
by Mary Barnard

Ink-black, but moving independently
across the black and white parquet of print,
the ant cancels the author out. The page,
translated to itself, bears hair-like legs
disturbing the fine hairs of its fiber.
These are the feet of summer, pillaging meaning,
destroying Alexandria. Sunlight is silence
laying waste all languages, until, thinly,
the fictional dialogue begins again:
the page goes on telling another story.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Monday Monday Monday

So...I love my job. Sometimes this is a problem as many people dear to me in my life do not love their jobs. Who do I talk to about this complete daily satisfaction? Today is Monday, one of my favorite days of the week. After taking the weekend off I come into my store and smell the lovely smells and settle in for another week. I get to re-acquaint myself with my books, sweep the floor, water the plants.

I hear you asking what is so special about running a bookstore? My store has survived warehouse bookstores and bad economies for 31 years. It is an institution in a small community and the people who frequent this store are amazing. They come from all walks of life, they are all ages, they live here and away and both. They are glorious every singe one of them. Each person has a story, sometimes simple, sometimes complex and I'm am very lucky in that I usually get to hear a piece of their tale. It is quite amazing.

The Store

The Store
in all it's glory