Hot spots in New Zealand

We are sitting in front of an air conditioner in New Zealand’s hottest town. We heard it was 29 at home yesterday. What a coincidence! It was also 29 degrees here, That is 84 point something Fahrenheit. It is much warmer than that here today.

The other hot spot that I refer to is wireless Internet, still quite new down here. While preparing to leave home on January 27th, I came across an article on google that was dated January 28th that said that just that day all the McDonalds in NZ ( over 100) “had” – note the past tense – switched on free wireless Internet access for all their customers. The news was so new it hadn’t even happened yet! Needless to say, that access, at least in the bigger towns, has made staying connected with the store and family much easier. As for being a customer, we surely didn’t come this far to eat under the golden arches, so we share a Diet Coke and surf while we sip and then slip off to our next town and next adventure.


We are reading Bill Bryson’s book on Australia. Very good and a lot of laughs.

Well talk soon.

Anyone seen Gnomeo and Juliet?

Published in: on February 12, 2011 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Auckland. Where we feel auckward.

It is all coming back to us. The hotel shuttle driver reminded us If you are sitting behind the wheel on the right side of the car and you can see the curb out your side window, there may be a reason that Kiwi is honking at you besides sending you a friendly greeting.

We have in landed in New Zealand after a wonderful 12 hour flight. We had two delicious meals en route, watched a couple of movies and even slept. We could stretch our long legs out because when we checked in at the Vancouver BC airport they gave us the emergency row seats and they were lovely. With about 15 gracious crew to serve us, we felt like we were riding first-class instead of last minute economy!

We just rented a phone, got a sim card for the iPad and checked in at work by email. We are in a hotel in Auckland researching rental cars, brushing teeth, regrouping and planning to drive north tomorrow to stay in Bob and Sue’s beach rental for the next week. Who are Bob and Sue, you ask? Friendly folk with a holiday “bach” who when we asked, “Do you have Wi-Fi? replied “what is a Wi-Fi?” So. It may be a few days until you next hear from us. We are unplugged. :).

Published in: on February 3, 2011 at 8:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thanksgiving vs The Elements

Thanksgiving.  My thankfulness is wrestling with my frustration as I write these words.  I am thankful for all we have been given, but my wrestling is with the elements.  Slippery roads and unsure travel arrangements can overwhelm me at times.  I was raised near the summit of Snoqualmie Pass, for pete’s sake, but I still get some anxiety when I think about my friends and family traveling.  As of this writing, my son has safely arrived, one daughter, son-in-law and 6 month old baby girl are stuck on I-84 near the Dalles while an accident is cleared.  Another car full will travel our way tomorrow, but only a few miles.  We will have our big meal together a day early in order to accommodate work schedules.

The weather already thwarted our attempt to go to Seattle last Sunday to see my brother who is very ill.  We will try it again later in the week.  My co-worker is having to change her travel plans, too.

Maybe it is because we all so long for home, family and friends at this time of year that the disappointments and worries seem to have more of an edge.  The questions I must ask myself are many.  Do I still have much for which to be thankful?  Is God’s arm suddenly shortened when the snow is falling?  Will I live with fear or joy?  Anyone else wrestle with these issues?

Published in: on November 24, 2010 at 12:49 am  Comments (2)  

Ok, folks, I’m going in.

Looks harmless, doesn’t it?  Well, don’t let it fool you.  This little catalog is a powerhouse in disguise.  So, I’m going in.  Into the bookstore.

Good sensible shoes, fortified with granola and yogurt, water bottle and a good night’s sleep.  I’m up for this.  I’ve done it before.  I’m ready for the concussion caused by 40,000 of these powerful little glossies hitting our daily paper today.  The shock waves will continue throughout the season.  Booklovers, coupon clippers, marching in by ones and twos to get the DEALS.  Holding marked-up and dog-eared catalogs, they, too are ready for serious business – good sensible shoes, fortifed with a good breakfast, water bottle and a good night’s sleep.  Serious, thoughtful shoppers.  My comrades.

I will be strong for them, provide refreshment, direction, books and red wrapping.  I am a bookseller.

Follow me.

Published in: on November 22, 2010 at 4:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Our neighbor’s tree is on fire

Glowing as brightly as any roaring fireplace, this tree draws me every morning and evening with its vivid red flame,

beckoning me to get closer.  Wow.One morning soon, after the frost puts out the fire, there will only be ashes on the ground,  so I’ll lean in close again

tomorrow and the next day, toasting my soul’s marshmallows.

Published in: on November 2, 2010 at 5:07 am  Comments (2)  

Today it is still Fall.


November is at the door.  October is sneaking out, leaving behind tracks of trick or treat candy that will taunt me in the days to come.  Not even one little costumed person at the door this year.  I do, however, have pictures of my two granddaughters.  One a redheaded sidekick of Scooby Doo and the other a good natured little sheep who went along with dressing up without having much input in the matter.  Both girls are adorable!


Scooby Doobie Sophie

First Halloween for Merit Claire

The house is looking like autumn.  The fire is burning.  The begonias have been brought in from the cold night air that keeps flirting with freezing.  We went to the last Farmer’s Market of the season after church and got some tender, sweet baby carrots with the tops on.  We also  went for a walk today and picked up some stunning leaves that I keep turning over and admiring.  The books are stacked near every chair for what some are saying will be a cold and snowy winter.  We had fresh Pink Lady apples and caramel dip FOR SUPPER!  Ha!  And we are having popcorn for dessert!  

No more sandals.  No more bare arms.  No more hummingbirds and goldfinches.  But in their places have come brilliant colors that leap through the windows at me.  Autumn oranges and yellows will turn to monochromatic hues soon enough.  Today it is still fall.

colors that fill my soul

last flowers from the garden

one of my favorite people

Published in: on November 1, 2010 at 4:04 am  Comments (2)  

What is it, you ask?

haven't seen this for awhile

It’s my desktop!  My non-electronic desktop.

I guess I’ve been busy. My home study had been reduced to about 4 square feet of uncovered floor and my desk, well, let’s just say I’ve forgotten how pretty the top of it is. For weeks, perhaps months, I’ve been carting stuff from the kitchen counter, car, living room and mailbox around the corner to the study. The piles grew, teetering with late bills, many books, appointment reminders and the other ephemera of life. Feeling claustrophobic this morning, I launched a full assault. I’m happy to report that I am now heading to bed with a book and my office is once again spacious and inviting. I wish I could keep it this way.   Sigh.

Published in: on October 24, 2010 at 5:40 am  Comments (4)  

Wrapped up in Words


Words can surely do this


Already this morning, words have wrapped themselves around me.  The nutrition info on the  Trader Joe’s Apricot Mango yogurt and the hilarious caption on my Argyle Sweater daily calendar have held me close in their cozy familiarity.  Words from Facebook friends have wound their way into my soul with news of illness, travel, pictures of children and observations on life, wrapping around my mind and heart, burrowing deep.  My day is and will be full of words.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (HarperPerenniel) my next book club read, sits and taunts me with its 491 pages of classic elegance.  I would like to slip into it right now,  free and spontaneous, but I find I must take it one button at a time,  about 24.5 pages or 2.7 chapters  per day in order to wear it proudly to the next meeting.

Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West (Algonquin) sits alone on the cold seat of my car waiting for the next road trip to finish being read aloud to my husband.  Simple Church by Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger (B&H Publishing Group)  recommended by a friend, is another layer I’m wearing  and The Good and Beautiful Community by James Bryan Smith (IVP) already gave me this quote from Augustine to wrap around me:  “In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty, in all things, charity”.  Mmmmm.  Cozy yet practical.

Then there is that other Word speaking truth to our world, unable to be contained within any leather cover.   He came to communicate – oh, how I love that!

When I get to work, there will be piles of words, stacks of words, a feast of words.  There will be words in books, words on bills, words on the computer screen and words that haven’t yet seen the light of day.   It sometimes feels like an overflowing closet!    As a bookseller, my whole life is warmly wrapped in words.  Winter is coming, but I’ll never be cold.

(Image above was borrowed from Barbara Vey’s blog, Beyond Her Book.  You can read her blog here )



Published in: on October 19, 2010 at 4:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

So Many Books, So Little Time

I just returned from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association tradeshow in Portland. I’ve spent four days listening to authors speak, standing in line to receive a signed copy of their latest book, figuring out what to pick up and what to leave on the publisher’s tables. I’m plumb tuckered, but full of anticipation. I’m most excited about reading Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West (Algonquin) a “tender story of love and courage and grit”, River House, a memoir by Sarahlee Lawrence (Tin House) which has been endorsed by William Kittredge, Crossing the Heart of Africa by Julian Smith (Harper Perennial) “an odyssey of love and adventure”. Then there is A Householder’s Guide to the Universe by Harriet Fasenfest (Tin House) which she calls a Monthly Guide on How to Get Back to Basics and Change the World! To the Woods, Sinking Roots, Living Lightly and finding True Home by Evelyn Searle Hess (OSU Press), a gracious woman who sat near me at mealtime. West of Here by Jonathan Evison (Algonquin). Jonathan is being called “a major new voice in American fiction”. Based in a fictional town called Port Bonita on Washington’s rugged coast and combining two eras, 1890 and 2006. Then there is Nancy Pearl’s newest, Book Lust To Go (Sasquatch) with the subtitle: Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds and Dreamers. No one does more to make me keep compiling by reading list than Nancy Pearl. One thing is sure – I’ll never run out of books! There are many new picture books, as well, including one stunning volume that will be on my coffee table this fall, Mr. M The Exploring Dreamer by Solzick Meister and Kallie George (Red Leaf).

My mind is full of great things I learned from other booksellers and in workshops. I always feel that if I can bring two ideas back that I can implement to make Inklings a better place, the trip was successful. And as for the books I listed, I first need to finish These is My Words for TUESDAY NIGHT’S BOOK GROUP! EEK! Then, I can decide what will be next. Most of these books will be out later this fall or early 2011 and then I can do that thing we booksellers do – tell my eager customers about my favorites.


Garth Stein, Naseem Rakha, Sarahlee Lawrence, Jamie Ford and Heidi Durrow at an evening reception by Terra Communications



Jonathan Evison, talking about his book, West of Here


David Shannon up close and crazy. Now you know where he gets his illustration ideas! By the way, he once saw a UFO in Yakima. His new book is It's Christmas, David.

Ivan Doig talking about the sequel to Whistling Season, Work Song.

If you could sit down this afternoon and read anything you wanted for several hours straight, which author would it be or what genre book would it be?

Published in: on October 11, 2010 at 12:26 am  Comments (3)  

These is My Words

Hold  on before you sic the grammar police on me.  The name of the book I’m reading is

These is my Words:

The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.)

by Nancy E. Turner (Harper Perennial).  I’m reading it for my book club next week and I’ve got a heap o’readin’ to do before then.  I wish I had thought of this title for my blog.  Wouldn’t it be great?

Heading to the Pacific Northwest Bookseller Association trade show this week.  Before that I need to do a month’s worth of work at the store, so reading is on the back burner for this behind bookseller.  I can’t wait to go and meet old friends, talk books for hours at a time and find out the booksy news.   We’ll hear authors talk about their newest books and we will bring home some signed copies.  And the stack grows taller.  I’m a happy woman.

Published in: on October 5, 2010 at 5:02 am  Leave a Comment