Category Archives: books

Ethics

We returned on Sunday night from Santa Fe having purchased 1.5 pounds of ground Chimayo chili, woven place mats that came from Guatemala, a Green Chili cook book, a New Mexico history book, and two Pendleton baby blankets for some new arrivals of our acquaintance.

A person could sure spend a lot of money in Santa Fe on all sorts of Native American  jewelry and clothes with Indian motifs, but there is something about them that make me very hesitant to wear such things. I don’t normally like to draw attention to myself, and I would feel so fake and pretentious wearing silver and turquoise jewelry.  I think one of my problems with all this is that we have so many Indian friends.  I would feel so odd and out of place if I showed up wearing their sacred cultural symbols on my clothes and jewelry.  If we had more time and luggage space I would have bought pottery.  I love the rugs and textiles. I know that many native Americans depend on the tourist trade for a living and want us to buy their wares. This makes me conflicted. I think I would rather donate to the American Indian College Fund.

We purchased a kachina corn god figure many years ago at the Mesa Verde National Park gift shop. I find the kachinas fascinating, but now that I know more about their meaning and significance, I would be hesitant to buy one, and I now know that I have to care for the one we purchased and not treat it as a decorative object.  Sometimes knowledge can ruin all a person’s fun.

How do your ethics influence what you purchase?

 

Libraries – A Love Fest

Yesterday was the anniversary of the opening of the first free public library, the Peterborough Town Library in 1833. The decision to purchase books and open a tax-funded library happened at the Town meeting and for the first sixty years, the books were housed in the general store.  In 1893 they were moved to the current location and there have been two expansions since then.

Here are a few fun library quotes:

“Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay.”  Zadie Smith

“The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” Albert Einstein

“Libraries: The medicine chest of the soul.” Library at Thebes, inscription over the door

“My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library.” Peter Golkin

“I have always imaged that Paradise will be a kind of library.” Jorge Luis Borges

I’m a complete library junkie. One of the biggest selling points when I bought my house was that it was a block and a half from the Washburn Library.  On the average week I am there twice.  I know the hours by heart, am friendly with the librarians.  I even have my library card number memorized.  Twice I’ve had the opportunity to spend an afternoon in the Central downtown library in the upstairs reading rooms – times when I wanted to read resource material that they don’t allow you to check-out.  It was warm and wonderful; so relaxing that I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave at the end of the day.

Tell me about your favorite library memory?

 

All in a Row

Photo Credit: Sadiq Nafee on Unsplash

I just finished the latest installment of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series. I adore this series, so much so that I am often frustrated while I wait for Louise Penny to write the next one.  In fact, I didn’t rush out to read The Kingdom of the Blind when it was published because I knew I would have a wait for the next one.

At the library over my lunch hour, I found books on CDs by Preston and Douglas; they have four separate character series, but none of the ones that are next on my list were on the library shelf. I’ve read online that you can probably read Preston and Douglas out of order, but I can’t bring myself to do that. Gotta do them in order!

So now I have the next P&D on request from the library and came away from the CD shelves with some other items – a comedy memoir and a young adult fiction that has magic and dragons. Hopefully those will keep be going in the car until my next series arrives!

What’s your favorite series? Do you like to read them in order?

The New Pot

Photo Credit: Krystal Kwok on Unsplash

I succumbed. You all probably knew it was inevitable.  I started seeing the new electric pressure cookers about 18 months back and have talked myself into and out of getting one repeatedly in that time.

Last week I got my monthly notice of how many award points I’ve earned at work. Award points can be used for the various merchandise that my company uses as incentives and rewards (we have a massive warehouse).  Except for State Fair tickets and Renaissance Fair passes, I haven’t spent award points on anything else for a couple of years so I have a big build up.  Any resolve I’ve had about not getting more kitchen toys dissolved pretty quickly.  The will-call ticket came to me on Thursday and I went over to the warehouse at noon to pick it up.

I spent an evening looking up cookbooks on the library website but to tide me over, I printed off a bunch of recipes off the internet. Six cookbooks now in transit.  And despite the fact that we didn’t really need a bunch of food prepared, I spent Saturday afternoon in the kitchen.

I did macaroni and cheese , a big pot of Spanish rice (and I mean a BIG pot) and then a really spicy black bean soup. It was easy and fun.  I figure I can probably get rid of my old pressure cooker that has sat unused in the basement for at least 10 years.

What was the last really unnecessary toy/gadget you’ve added to your world?

Virtual Wanderlust

One of the interesting parts of being a writer, advertising my books, and having an active website is tracking from where my website visitors come. Thanks to Google Analytics, I can see (approximately) each visitor’s log-in location. I initially expected most visitors to come from the Owatonna area and Minnesota in general. To a large part, they do live in those areas. But over the last three years, my biggest number of “fans” hailed from someplace called Samara, Samara Oblast in Russia. And this is #1 by a huge margin out of more than 840 locations that have been detected on my website in the last three years.

Samara is a large city (3 million +) southeast of Moscow on the Volga River. Lest you think my books have been translated into Russian and become wildly popular in a town not too far from the NW border of Kazakhstan, the real reason for my seeming popularity is probably something else.

I probably was the target of an intense robo-campaign to hack into my website by a company or an individual who mistakenly thought I had anything of value on my author website like credit card numbers. Fat chance. I don’t handle ANY transactions on my website and don’t intend to! The “Samarians” haven’t checked in with me in the past year or more, which further points to a hacking campaign that was eventually discontinued.

Nevertheless, it got me to haul out my world atlas and start looking up all the strange places where people come from who have checked out chrisnorbury.com for one reason or another. Because I’ve been in love with map reading since I was about four years old, this is a fun diversion for me. I can page through an atlas for hours, noticing towns, states, bodies of water, islands, and mountains that stir my imagination and get me wondering what a trip to that exotic (or not-so-exotic) place would be like.

So I’ve wasted lots of time wondering about other locations that show up on my Google Analytics dashboard: St. Petersburg, Russia; Vienna, Austria; Naples, Italy; Kailua, Hawaii; and Hull, England. All are places in the top 70 locations that have landed on my website over the past three years.

That leads to my question: With what places do you have a strange or unique connection that is not physical OR personal (as in having relatives or friends who live there)?

Sparking Joy?

Marie Kondo and her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” has come up in conversation several times the last month for me; her method of de-cluttering your life is all the rage right now.  So it wasn’t a complete surprise to see an email from my “Word of the Day” website, mentioning the phrase “sparking joy” and leading to a fairly long online article about what “joy” translated into in Japanese and why the phrase “sparking joy” was chosen when the initial translation of her book was done.

Although I’m not completely onboard the Kondo train, I do recognize that her de-cluttering method comes from a place of finding gratitude. While a corkscrew may not give me a physical thrill of joy, the memory of good times with friends around a good bottle of wine, or the hope that there will be more of those good times does.  I’m grateful, not so much for the corkscrew itself, but for what it represents in my life.

Some of you know that I have been on a mini-Kondo mission the last year or so. It’s a slow process and I’m actually trying to think of my departing items (to Goodwill or trash bin) with gratitude, instead of just the items I’m keeping.  Even if I don’t need them any longer, I’d like to think those items had a good place in my life at some point.  Doesn’t mean I need to keep them, just to recognize that my stuff was my stuff for a reason.

Anything bringing you joy/gratitude this weekend?

 

Straight River

The sun was thinking about poking out of the clouds as tim and I drove down to the Central Park Coffee Shop in Owatonna for the launch of Straight River by our own Chris in Owatonna.  There was a nice crowd to welcome Chris’ new book, which is a “prequel” (is that truly a real word?) to his first book Castle Danger. Chris read a chapter from the book and also introduced the head of his local Big Brother/Big Sister organization.  A portion of Chris’ proceeds goes to support BB/BS, a group he has volunteered with for years.

It’s been three years of hard work for Chris, re-working, editing, sending the book to beta readers, re-working some more and editing some more. It was a nice launch for the book (cookies and lemonade too) and I’m looking forward to reading it.  Maybe this summer it can be one of our Blevin’s Book Club titles.  (It’s available already on Amazon in kindle format and Chris has links on his website to other ways to purchase it.)

Congratulations Chris – hope the third book in the trilogy comes a little easier!

You’ve just written a book.  Describe your main character!