Sally and Jane read The Very Hungry Caterpillar

kids

Sally and Jane read a book to me last night when I was the visitor. It was The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Sally reads beautifully. Jane helps beautifully. Sally is 5 and Jane is 7.

They are both strong, creative and resourceful ladies!

Sally holds the book and Jane sits opposite and helps upside down. Sally traces each word with her finger, translating the shapes and lines as she goes; she has read this book before and has a rich store of information and experience to keep the ride through the text fluent and meaningful.

They, both of them bend over the page pulling sound from symbols, making sense of sound, interpreting story from sense, a triple rendering.

They both of them bend over the page importing colour, texture, animation, sound, story, humour, pathos and life from the words and the illustrations and now they have made the story into a physical structure of caterpillar, food and cocoon, of hunger, greed and regret, of life and renewal.

Sally jumps from letter to word and across sentences and back again, she refers briefly to illustration and back again to symbols. She follows instinct and memory in a complex play of eyes, speech and satisfaction.

Sometimes Jane prompts too quickly. She is asked gently to hush.

Shhhh, Jane shhhh….

Sometimes Jane prompts too slowly. Then Sally allows her a generous and obvious space in which to insert a sound or a word or a clue.

Quick, Jane…..

They look over the page and over the book as they look over all of life, solicitous, curious and appreciative.

 

 

I can remember

childhood

A little boy asked me this morning if I remembered him coming in before with his mum and dad and getting a book called Dr Zeus and also getting a book about a cat. He reminded me with a certain joy that I took a photo of them standing there with their books, him and his brother. He reminded me that his brother does not read that many books now as he plays cricket. He is pretty good at cricket. He is a fast man.
I did remember. It was a long time ago. Those small boys lined up next to each other at the counter, their eyes were lamps, their books certain tiles of gold spread carefully in front of me so that I was aware of the incoming joy.
This time they chose different books, after all they were older now, grown up almost, they were reading about dinosaurs and cricket and Star Wars. They brought the books to the counter and their eyes were like lamps and I was aware of the incoming joy.

I’m just looking…

 

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A little girl wandered into the shop here one morning with a bucket of chalk and she was all by herself. She said: I’m just looking at the books.
Then she looked at me and said: sometimes I see words that are really small and I’m like…
There was a long silence while she waited politely for me to understand what it was like to see words that are really small.
Then she said: yeah.

She continued walking gently around, noting out loud what she liked.
I like Olivia.
I like this. I like this, maybe.

The door swung open suddenly and her father was there, looking at me in amazement. He looked at his daughter and said: God, what are you doing, we couldn’t find you.
He checked his phone. She said: just looking.
He checked his phone.
She kept on looking and he checked his phone.
He said: ok, come on. The weather’s coming in.
She walked past and bid me goodbye, serene and glowing. She said: I like mice.
And her father ushered her out, hurrying onwards and outwards into the weather and into the future.

Photography  by John Wilhelm

 

 

Reading

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When things are difficult, reading is such consolation. It is thought that life is for living, not for merely reading about, and this is true.
But as with all art, what we are gazing at and the quality of our watching, makes a difference. Some books console, and other distract and others entertain. Many stories reaffirm and add to what we already like. Some writing keeps us liking what we already know.
But reading, like any set of complicated muscles, can move us further. And reading, if given permission, will transfer gently along the contours of our fearful selves, as all great art can, if allowed. This, in turn, can allow us permission to consider what we, all of us, hold in our ghostly hearts.
The greatest literature is by nature provoking rather than judgemental – to provoke without verdict is complex and risky and so the greatest artists rarely present answers.
They, all of them, seem to have halted everything in order to dive.

Fiction, if allowed, can breach defences with undimming compassion.

 

 

Artwork by Leng Jun

 

 

 

 

A Thousand Mornings

Reading

“The sea can do craziness, it can do smooth, it can lie down like silk breathing or toss havoc shoreward; it can give gifts or withhold all; it can rise, ebb, froth like an incoming frenzy of fountains, or it can sweet-talk entirely. As I can too, and so, no doubt, can you, and you.”
Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings

Outside, in it

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Outside in the street it is hard and cold and silver, people come through the door, outlined in rain, they apologise for the rain and try to shut the door quickly, which is impossible.
A visitor said: beautiful weather. We’ve just come from Ireland.
There is a small group of ladies in here, all come off the train. One of them raps sharply on the window to her friends going past outside and their heads swing around rapidly, looking through glass at the sound but they walk faster and don’t stop. The lady looks at them going past and tells her friend next to her that Maureen is deaf.
Another man, who has been looking for train books shoulders back out into the freeze, he calls back: we’re working on the crossing so can’t stay but I’ve a grandson, three years old, need some books, as many as possible. Then he is gone.

There is the sound of falling books in the back room, cascading for ages, and voices raised, softly alarmed. A man says – well done dear. This man tells me later that he has re-written Shakespeare, in better English so that now the young people will read it, for once.
A lady demonstrated her fold up bag for me. She has bought Olivia for her granddaughter and she folds it up in the fold up bag along with the kale and the eggs and her friend said: that’s a good bag, Brenda!
A lady said that she and her husband used to be English teachers and that it is tragic the way that young people no longer read. I said that around here, they do. She said that she doubts it.
A young woman told me about Rumi and Tagore, told me softly how they are everything in the world.
Outside it continues gray and cold, the tradesmen jog past the window, they balance pies and coffees and a hunched posture because it is so cold. One young man says into his phone: well it’s fuckin’ windy, so no. Then he throws his phone on the back seat of his car.

People hold the door open to look in and tell me that is cold. One lady said bless this weather my dear!
I am asked for Elizabeth Jolly’s Cosmo Cosmolino.

A young man buys a copy of The Complete Stories of O’Henry with microscopic print.
The old ladies in the back room with the good fold up bag are nodding over Stephen King, they are doubtful of the content, still, they might get one for a granddaughter.
A young man passes the windows rapidly, he is pushing a wheelchair. He says: I love books, I could read them all the time. The person in the wheelchair, an older man with a beret says: for God’s sake, not in there and they continue past and do not look in.
An old lady enters rapidly, she is from the train and has lost all her friends, thank God for that. Now she’ll just have a look around if that’s ok with me.

A young girl tells me that at Woodchester there was a rainbow and that she was outside in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Blogger Award

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So What is Mystery Blogger Award?

“This is an award for amazing bloggers with indigenous posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with so much love and passion.” – Okoto Enigma

Thank you to Bitchin’ in the Kitchen for nominating me.  She writes an extraordinary blog from the point of view of a cat lover, voracious reader, cook and lover of life and all things travel and with a fabulous sense of humour.

Rules:
• Thank whoever nominated you and include a link to their blog
• Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
• Answer the questions from the person who nominated you
• Nominate 10-20 bloggers you feel deserve the award – I’m nominating less because I want you to check them out!
• Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice with one weird or funny one
• Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog

Three things about me:

  1. I love coloured glass.
  2. I have my own bookshop and it is the most risky, most creative, most wonderful and least successful thing that I have ever done.
  3. I will never give up the bookshop.

Questions I had to answer:

•Do you pronounce it data or data?      Darta ( I think )
•Does toilet roll go over or under?      I don’t mind so long as somebody actually puts on a new one

•If you could create a spell what would it do?    Put more hours in the day ( for reading )

•Do you like talent shows such as X Factor, Pop Idol etc? If yes, which is your favourite? No, I don’t watch any of them…

•Complete the sentence “When planning a trip to the zoo you should always…..”   take champagne and several books in case there is a spare moment between monkeys.

Questions for my nominees:

” The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. ” (Dorothy Parker)  TRUE or FALSE?

Where are my reading glasses?

Is it ok for me to have a kindle seeing as I also have a bookshop?

If you are reading something you are not enjoying, how long will you persevere?

My nominated blogs are:

Cathy’s Real Country Garden

amusicalifeonplanetearth

Suave Trans

Waking up on the Wrong Side of 50

Bella G. Bear Art

Travellin’ Penguin

wanderingglynn

 

 

 

 

 

Luckily, Robert came by

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Robert came by this morning to see if his book Creation Myths had arrived. It hadn’t. As usual he is not perturbed. There is a copy of Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism here, he is completely pleased, it turns out to be a book that is important to him and its poor condition does not deter him. He says that everybody should read it.

Robert, at the moment, is reading heavily. He is reading Jung, Freud, Marie Louise Von Franz, Arthur Avalon and he is reading art, history, mysticism and the ancient plays. He says that his wallet is empty because Centrelink have done something with his aged pension. And he says his gaze is overcrowded at the moment but that these things are of no matter because they are conducive to good work.
I have had no other customers today and I am glum. Robert says: not to worry.
I am reading In the Company of Rilke and there is time so I use it all to tell Robert why. He is always impressed by any book that has been chosen, no matter the reason. He is in complete agreeance on its importance, we concur on conclusions: Rilke the Visionary, Rilke the Mystic, Rilke the Consolation…. we look at the book and both of us are blinded by its sun.

Artwork by Blenda Tyvoll

Rain in Strathalbyn

Yelena Sidorova

On Thursday it rained, laying the summer and the dust to rest.
Somebody passing outside said: what brought this on?
Their friend answered: I don’t what brought it on but we’re not ready for it.

The postman said: we’re in for it. The letter he gave me is wet.
A family shouldered through the door and told me it is raining. They are looking for Mr Men books for the baby.
The baby says: hello hello hello hello hello hello puppy, hello puppy, hello, hi, hi…
The baby threw all the Mr Men books on the floor. This is because he didn’t want them. His father tells him that he would like to know who ordered this rain!

Simon is picking up a book he had ordered and told me that it was him that ordered the rain, haha. He said that now he will go and read at the bakery, waiting for the wife, I have a lovely spot, it’s reading weather again, I hope she takes her time. He salutes the sad baby as he leaves.
Another man browses in silence, along the shelves, along the rows, along the spines, slowly, reading out loud but silently, caressing each title in his mind. He reads his way downwards, later he will tell me that books are endless.
A lady outside said: shit. Shit this bloody rain, it’s supposed to be summer. Her friend told her that summer ended ages ago. The veranda is dripping.

I am asked for Cider with Rosie,  The Land of Painted Caves and A Brief History of Time.

There is a young woman, balancing on one foot, considering Francois Sagan, she is bending her head over that beautiful little paperback, thinking what things…? Francois Sagan herself would not require an answer. An old lady was pleased with Mulga Bill’s Bicycle and The Complete Lewis Carroll. She said that she once knew Morse code and every night she reads until 10.45pm and when she left she said: thank you for all of this.

A couple languish against the shelves whispering about everything they have read so far. The looked very happy and very urgent, urgent to continue adding and adding. They take with them Hilary Mantel and Chinua Achebe’s There was a Country. Outside a man is leaning against his car and smoking and staring hard at the Lee Child books in the front window. He gestures toward one of them and says something about Tom Cruise to his friend. The other person laughs.
An old couple leave with nearly all of the Agatha Christies. They tell me it is cup of tea weather.
The young woman who had been balancing on one foot has chosen a copy of A Certain Smile by Francois Sagan and she leaves, balancing on this radiant accumulation to her life.
Then it is quiet again, and just the rain.

Artwork by Yelena Sidorova

 

 

 

 

 

Jane and Sally teach Max to build with blocks using impressive strategies

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Sally and Jane came over to play. They tip out the basket of wooden blocks, made by a devoted great great uncle who cut and sanded each one by hand. They are silky and woody and click side by side in a pleasing way. Sally and Jane are emperors of the creative. They kneel and get to work, frowning, concentrated and direct. Max stands back, awed by the energy, drawn in, breathing hard, unable to join in with this much information confounding his eyes.
He wants to build, but so far in his toddler life, he has only participated in knocking things down, a powerful and passionate game that fills his mind and hands with cloudy and lovely detail.

But Sally and Jane have progressed beyond deconstructing to creating. Sally is making a wall and Jane, a robot. They talk to me at the same time. They tell me the local street gossip ( once when Jane  fell from her bike, this other person just went past and did not help) and all the things happening at school. There is a boy who teases Jane and she must tell him that she does not like this. The sisters exchange significant looks. Apparently, the boy does not listen very well. To be in grade three and grade one is exhausting, there are always complex difficulties. Max sits on his heels and gazes at the faces of these little girls, he watches their eyes and their words and their lives.
He wants to knock down the wooden blocks.
Jane can see his baby desire coming true but she outranks it with a better idea. She offers him a treasure, a block from her stack, for him, to build. She says: here you go Maxy. Build it up, build it up.
Sally says, without looking up: give him more than that!
Jane says: don’t you worry about me Sally!
Sally says: well I know that my bike has a sore tyre.
Jane says: here you go, Maxy
And then Max is building. Building by himself, mouth open, breathing in the strength, dribbling ideas, stacking three bricks by himself, staring at this balance, at this outrage, at his new and accumulating evening.