Friday, May 20, 2011

Odd and Ends: Deer Ears, Book Ends, Book Beginnings

A number of weeks ago, I had a post about the deer with the shrinking ears and I promised that I would give an update if I learned anything. Well, my inquiries bore some fruit and the consensus is that it was probably frostbite, although there is a possibility that it could be nematode larvae Elaeophora (arterial worm). The nematode larvae are a big, often lethal, problem with sheep, elk, moose, and goats to the west of us. But infected white-tailed deer usually do not have symptoms. I do hope that it is frostbite, because there shouldn’t be any lasting problems. Since our weather has gotten warmer, the deer are finding natural food instead of raiding the bird feeders; I haven’t seen them for a while.  She may show up again with her latest fawn in a month or so.

Speaking of getting odds and ends out of the way – I am ecstatic that I have gotten rid of 300 books! Tracey, who does my hair (yes, it is true that hairdressers know everything!) , gave me the name and email address of a person in town who has a business selling books on eBay. I sent her an email and 4 days latter she (actually her husband and father-in-law) came and picked up all the books. A weight off my mind. ;-) I had roughly 350 books of fiction. Originally I had packed up about 150 of them to take to Belize. But I had second thoughts about the expense of shipping them and the practicality of keeping them in such a humid climate when we will not have air conditioning. So I tried a little experiment – I bought my self a Kindle to try out. I got it about 2 months ago and love it! I had to make a deal with myself, though, so that I don’t spend too much money buying eBooks – for each book I purchase and read, I have to find at least one free eBook that I download and read. This makes me explore lots of options rather than solely relying on Amazon. And Amazon also has tons for free eBooks.  So far I am reading far more free books than books I have to pay for.   So, I unpacked 3 boxes of books and selected only 50 to take with me.

The reject pile:  300 hardback, paperback, mysteries, historical fiction, chick lit, science fiction, oldies, post-modern - a little bit of everything.
Most books I read just once and then try to pass along to another reader.  But somohow they keep finding their way back to me!  I hope that through the eBay site they can find their way to new readers. 
50 keepers: they all have special meaning to me.
If you look at the titles in the photo above, you can see that my reading taste is fairly ecclectic.  One of my favorite new finds is the author Neal Stephenson.  He wrote a series of 3 novels (almost 1000 pages each) plus a related novel that I keep trying to get my friends to read.  So far, none of them have been as taken with these books as I have been.  Please let me know if you like them!  Another author whose works mean a lot to me is the enigmatic James Tiptree Jr, the nom de plume of Alice B. Sheldon.  She took a masculine pen name to get her science fiction published in the 1970s.  Most of her writing is incredibly thought provoking with a somewhat sad yet optimistic undercurrent.  As a young woman coming of age at that time, her writing struck, and still strikes, a deep chord in me.  One other book that resonates with my up-bringing in the deep south of the United States is "Praying for Sheetrock".  Anyone who has a desire to understand the people of the southern US in middle to late1900s would benefit from reading this book; I know because I am one of those people.  "Last Chance to See" is the only book of Douglas Adams, who also wrote "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy", that I have.  He is one of the most remarkable authors, with a fresh perspective on life and being human.  He was also quoted as saying that he loves deadlines, especially the whooshing sound they make as they zoom past him.  I can sure identify with that!  The world is a sadder, poorer place for his early death.  Armistead Maupin is another author represented in my pile of "keepers".  His series "Tales of the City" was made into a public TV series.  It loosely revolves around misfits who find their place in a very bohemian San Francisco and is funny, endearing, uplifiting, and sad.  But mostly, it, too, is thought provoking.  Gregory Maguire wrote a series of books that are alternative takes on "The Wizard of Oz" and other books written by Frank Baum.  The most well-know of his books is "Wicked"; it was a long-running play on Broadway.  He explores different ways of thinking about things and how context differentiates between wickedness and goodness, uglyness and beauty, bravery and cowardice.  And how could I get rid of Monty Python's "All the Words"?  If there ever was an alternative way of looking at things, the Monty Python crew showed us how to do it.  Rounding out my keepers are books of historical significance in science fiction and mystery.  As I looked over my collection of keepers, my first thought was how diverse they are, but after reflection I can see that they all illustrate alternative points of view that bring us out of ourselves and into a bigger, more versatile, less constrained, and richer world.  Even if I never actually read these books again, for now I will be a more contented person if I know that I have them.  There may be some point in the future that I will be able to let them go, but for now having them in my possesion is symbolic and fills a need that I cannot deny.

Wow - that was a boatload, wasn't it.  ;-)  On to more typical things, I was happy to read Midmarsh John’s blog the other day because he had an entire post about a site  with free eBooks; what a find that site is! I found 34 old texts on Belize and Central America; the three I have looked at so far are down-loadable to my Kindle. This is great.  I can see lots of rainy days happily filled with exploring this online library.


  1. Luckily you didn't give away my Feynman Lectures in Physics!!!

  2. Dear Anonymous - I know who you are, Dennis! I was just covering fiction here. We still have a hundred or more reference books. But for entertainment and alternative perspective, Feynman ranks right up there with Douglas Adams ...


  3. Ah! books: It does take some courage to part with them when you've read and enjoyed them, loved them and kept them safe on the shelf rubbing shoulders with all of their (and your own) book friends.

    I recently had a good sort through mine and sold a number on Amazon, seemingly to very happy purchasers, and today I have a box to go to a church sale (friends says "You: parting with books; I don't believe it").

    And, in the last couple of years I have bought new, up-to-date field guides covering almost all of my natural history interests, even more obscure ones covering subjects such as lichens or mosses. Naturally, this makes some of the older guides defunct but I believe these will keep me going, if I'm spared another 20 years or so into my mid/late-80's, and should serve me well enough.

    Then, with the internet, there is so much information on tap.

    Like you, I keep, and return again and again, to favourites in literature, history et al. If I were to conduct an audit, I would probably only need one small bookcase but, as I said at the start, it takes some courage to part with them. As for the Kindle, I keep looking at them on Amazon and wonder if I should buy one - perhaps I will.

    Any way, your latest piece made me think and I thank you for that.

  4. I've slowly been getting rid of my surplus of books too Wilma. I've taken a few bags to the local hospital, where they lend them out to patients; some bags have gone to a few local charity shops, and some to a few friends at work.
    I can't part with my field guides though lol

  5. Ereaders are a real boon when it comes to storing loads of books in a small space. I have 100s of paper books and keep meaning to have a sort out as many will never get another glance. I can imagine shipping costs for things like books would be very steep.

  6. Emma -- I actually enjoyed going through all the books to sort them out; like visiting old friends and re-discovering lost little treasures.

    Keith -- a few years ago I tried to give some books to the public library and they wouldn't take them! And like you, the field guides are staying with me!

    John -- I do love my kindle. It doesn't do color, though. I also put about 300 CDs onto my iPod. I still have a dozen or so vinyl LPs for oldtimes' sake. ;-)



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