The Evening Meal

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It is time for dinner and the babies must take the high chairs and be contained. There is good food, spaghetti, and bread and cheese and jugs of cold water and noise and the evening heat dusting though the front windows and over the swing and ding of the evening meal.
Nobody listens much to anybody else. Everybody eats, everyone has had a hard day, worse than anybody else’s, that’s for sure.
Noah and Max, lords of cheese, glance about, sighting opportunity, examining small pieces of carrot, spilling anything possible, shout on urgent notes that end before they can think of the exact meaning, kick and become abruptly silent and then swing again at the escaping idea.

Sometimes they unexpectedly notice each other as though from a vast distance even though it is about five cm. Then they join hands, share evidence of their existence which consists tonight of mirth and carrot mostly and also spilled and other edible things. Then they can shriek with triumph, kingly because they still rule the experience, their thistly hair seems to stand on end in amazement.
Later, tidying up, I find a small plastic tractor and a lego block amongst the mess on the floor and I put them in the sink with the rest of the dishes.

The Couple Who Came in Together

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This couple came in, came in very together and walked around the shop together and nodded over the books together. They hardly said anything.

Sometimes I heard them murmuring and laughing about something but only briefly. They were in the shop for ages, spending time in all the sections, reading even the children’s books silently and smiling over them. They spent a long time with a book by Jorge Borges called The Book of Sand. They talked and talked about that one. When they got to the science fiction they did not handle any of the books. They stood and looked up and down the titles, sometimes they said something to each other but they did not pull out a single book from there.

They did not buy any books at all but when they left they thanked me for having a bookshop.

Sculpture ‘The Couple’ by Kieta Nuij

The Lamps of Joy

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Miguel arrived this afternoon tangled in the weather and a certain amount of anxiety which was extinguished when he learned that his book, The Pea Pickers had arrived. He showed me where, in his library copy of the same book, the bookmark was seated.

Outside, the weather would not be extinguished, Miguel looked through it and said: it’s coming in.

Then he told me about his grandson. He leaned forwards and backwards to tell me about this grandson. He could not stop telling me about his grandson, a curious and fabulous young man who read books and listened to music and lived interstate and was hilarious and divine. And when Miguel visited Sydney they will all eat Korean food and then Italian and then Lebanese and then Indian and then Greek and then Spanish and then African, such is the richness of the hours with the grandson.

When Miguel swung round to tell me of his grandson, his glasses were lamps of joy. When he leaned back to make room in front of the counter for the words that described only his grandson, his glasses were lamps of hilarity. And when he left, out into the rain and the rest of the day, he swung round to say goodbye and his glasses were lamps of everything.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

The Staff Meeting

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In all businesses there must be staff meetings.

I do not have staff meetings because the only staff member is myself. But eventually I can agree that any discussion of brilliant books could be a staff meeting of sorts.
This staff meeting was attended by four of us. We discussed Jared Diamond, anthropology, possibly Terry Pratchett, possibly Asterix, definitely Australian history, and probably fiction as it is important.
The babies shouldered in, sticky, warm, breathing too loudly, ignoring the social rules of public meetings: they did not dress to impress and they did not prepare a list of books they have Just Read. Noah threw a board book into the midst of the speakers without introducing it appropriately. Max brought a rattle which was not relevant.

They are scornful of the meeting guidelines.

Max stands too close to other members and eats loudly, forgetting previous eating out loud advice. He also prefers to stand with one sticky starfish hand holding on to a neighbour’s shoulder, an infringement at best.
Sometimes they allow a baby shout of fervour, a hoot or a loud laugh at something which nobody else can see. They make each other laugh. So obviously next time they will not be permitted to be near each other.
Once when offered a volume, Noah hurled it to the floor. Both babies looked down at it confounded by the solid pitch of its landing. They breathe hard, exhaling a world of information concerning the physics of the crash. Then they abruptly turned and left, walking on  fat and rolling feet with no ankles yet or crawling rapidly, aiming for distance, stopping to think, continuing without explanation.

Then they are suddenly back again, my grandsons, sure of their welcome, turning toward the ribbons of talk, rotating amongst the enthusiasm and eyeing unblinking the volumes that are held aloft. They gaze at faces, hold out hands toward the books, stir richly through enthusiasm, walk across books, warming themselves on a bedrock of unlimited and imperishable treasure.

 

 

 

Friends

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Robert came to the shop today to pick up his book The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga. He is still having trouble focussing on his work but believes that everything is significant, including his not being able to concentrate. He is always cheerful, except when he has to go to Centrelink and argue about his age pension.
He said that the gift vouchers look good and he might get one for his friend in Clayton.
He said he is getting old now and is only just realizing what friends really are in your life.
I said that I understood what he meant.

 

Friendship
Small fellowship of daily commonplace
We hold together, dear, constrained to go
Diverging ways. Yet day by day I know
My life is sweeter for thy life’s sweet grace;
And if we meet but for a moment’s space,
Thy touch, thy word, sets all the world aglow.
Faith soars serener, haunting doubts shrink low,
Abashed before the sunshine of thy face.
Nor press of crowd, nor waste of distance serves
To part us. Every hush of evening brings
Some hint of thee, true-hearted friend of mine;
And as the farther planet thrills and swerves
When towards it through the darkness Saturn swings,
Even so my spirit feels the spell of thine.

Sophie Jewett

 

 

Claudia

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Claudia is interested in A Series of Unfortunate Events, although disappointed that volume two is missing. She has a feeling about these books that is different from how she feels about other books. These books give her an entirely different feeling. She has read a lot of books in her eight years.

Today she knows that something will be different about these books. She is drawing from the vast and complex knowledge of her own reading, and she is confident. And although there is not sufficient vocabulary available for her to clarify her predictions, she remains at the counter, attempting several times to gently illuminate, for me, the singular knowing that happens when you look at the cover of a book.

As she leaves, she is pointing, pointing through the door, up at the warm day, indicating life itself; she says: I have been looking for these books for all of my life.

 

It is Christmas…

Denise Johnson

There are two teenagers here, two girls and they are scared of vampires. They say that it is not a good state to be in, the fear of vampires, they talk urgently. They hold one hand  over their hearts and one hand around their bicycle helmets, holding each safely.
One has given the other a book as a gift, it is wrapped in a page torn from a magazine and they huddle over it, delighted.
They read the list of recommended fantasy series. They check the poetry shelf and wonder about the books, they say the books on the poetry shelf are really old. One girl reads something out loud and they say they don’t get it. They keep reading it.

They never stop talking:
I need to buy all the Harry Potters.
I need to buy the rest of Bitterblue
I need to buy actually all of these
I wish my room looked like this.
I might get these Minecrafts.
I have to get this Pippi Longstocking, I think I need to buy glasses.
These fairy lights are adorable.
I need to get these Inkhearts.
Oh my God I need to get these.
I need to stack mine like this.
I’m kind of like, literally, I would read all of these all the time.

They step around other customers, they can only think of the books.

People say, like, Zac Powers and I’m like: I read these all the time.
My mum would kill me if I had this many books.
I’m like, literally, why are there so many books I need to read. I’m like, waiting to get all of these. I’m going to come back and like get all of these, it’s not personal but I like these dragons.
On the back of these it’s like, listed all the other Cat Warriors and, oh my God, don’t kill me.
I saw The Hobbit and I could have died over that.
I know.
It’s going to take ages to get all of these.
I know.
I might get these. I didn’t even know about these. I hate the way that happens. It’s literally like, I don’t get it.
I know, right?
Shall I get these….this is such an achievement….I might of gotten them already though…my mum hates my room right…
Oh my God, I know, my books go literally out the door, at home, in my room.

They are discussing nightmares and drink bottles. They are checking phones. Soon they are going to the beach. They look for a book to take to the beach, swaying between choices and possibilities and it is summer and it is Christmas.

Photography by Denise Johnson

 

Sally reads to Max

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I saw this photograph, of Sally reading to Max today. And although I am not there I can imagine the reading very well.

Max will be delighted to do anything with Sally. Sally will be delighted to do anything with Max.

Max will hold on to the book with all his small strength. Sally will be unable to turn the pages, she will encourage him to let go, she is unfailingly kind. Max will work hard to let go. He will shake both sides of the book at once. He will turn the pages too fast or turn the same page over and back and over and back, trapping Sally’s hand inside the book. Sally will laugh, she is unfailingly gentle.

Max will scratch delicately with one fingertip the pictures on the pages. He might be able to get one off the page and eat it.  Sally will be amazed, she is unfailingly encouraging. Max will close the book on his own nose. Sally will help him over and over to open it again. She is unfailingly patient. Max will chirp and bubble and this is how he reads. Sally will consider his efforts and be proud. She will say: Max is reading.  And thanks to Sally, he is.

 

 

 

 

Max travels down a dirt road in his pram.

 

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This evening we took the pram down the dirt road, way out the back, away from all the houses.

Running down the dirt road, Max and his family and the dog, running through the ribbons of late sunlight, running away from the winter.

Masie, the brown kelpie runs alongside the pram on her small truthful feet. She never swerves, never stumbles. She avoids neatly every pothole and rock in her path.

Max’s nose is streaming in the cold wind. Still he sits up straight, hanging onto each side of the pram, facing the cold, riding the evening. He sways with the pram, rides over the rocks and his eyes are fixed on the front, watching the things that only babies see. He turns to watch Masie still running quietly alongside, he holds out his hand toward her trotting ears. She acknowledges him kindly, noses his hand, continues to run. He calls out a baby tune which is tuneless but important. The pram vibrates his voice box, plays in his throat, he allows a stream of sound that goes on and on, pebbly and bouncing, he sings more loudly, delighted with his jogging voice, the humming sounds, both hands in the air, swaying and singing and the cold wind blowing and Masie running patiently, gently alongside the pram and the family.