Thursday, August 27, 2009

Maybe you've been wondering....

...about the Books and Brews book club that used to be on the old website that's always "full".

Well, it's a book club that started as a store thing and turned into my personal book club. Diana, Jean, Albert, and Suzanne and I have cohesed (not sure that's a word) into a unit that makes my month every month.

There have been other members over the years, but we're the core.

I pick the books. I'm a little dictatorial that way, but it takes the pressure off everyone else. And we're on a journey together through books that is amazing.

This group refreshes me and renews me and tonight was no exception.

The Natural History of the Senses is a book that is particularly personal to me. It's a guide to life for me so bringing it into books club was very personal.

I'll share a passage with you:

"When you consider something like death, after which (there being no news flash to the contrary) we may well go out like a candle flame, then it probably doesn't matter if we try too hard, are awkward sometimes, care for one another too deeply, are excessively curious about nature, are too open to experience, enjoy a nonstop expense of the senses in an effort to know life intimately and lovingly. It probably doesn't matter if, while trying to be modest and eager watchers of life's many spectacles, we sometimes look clumsy or get dirty or ask stupid questions or reveal our ignorance or say the wrong thing or light up with wonder like the children we all are. It probably doesn't matter if a passerby sees us dipping a finger into the moist pouches of lady's slippers to find out what bugs tend to fall into them, and thinks us a bit eccentric. Or a neighbor fetching her mail, sees us standing in the cold with our own letters in one hand a seismically red autumn leaf in the other, its color hitting our senses like a blow from a stun gun, as we stand with a huge grin, too paralyzed by the veined gaudiness of the leaf to move."

So, here's the deal. Start your own book club if you don't have one already.

If you do and they only talk about their ex-husbands and get tipsy, call me. I'll come to your book club and get you on track. Free of charge. I love to do that and I bring lots of free books and tote bags and stuff.

Book Club isn't going to change your life, but it will make it more meaningful if you treat it right.

Next month we're reading The Annotated Mona Lisa and bringing in printed off copies of our favorite paintings. One month we read about the history of perfume and brought in our favorite scents...(much to the dismay of the chef and owner of the restaurant where we meet). Book club doesn't have to be about books about cranky people with problems...though we've done tons of those too. Loving Frank was an awesome discussion.

So call me at the shop and I'll get you started. 804-788-1594.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Do I dare to eat a peach?

Well, no. Not today.

Found something more adventurous!

Thank you, once again, to Tyler Florence.

Tyler was a guest at Fountain a couple of years ago for a signing and, to be honest, I was skeptical. How much could this pretty boy tv presenter know about food?

The Answer? Everything.

To this day, his cookbooks are my go to guides for meals that never disappoint.
I've even trusted his cookbooks for recipes that I've tried on first dates without testing them first. (I think the test I need to come up with is who I go out with on dates...)

None of these romantic efforts have worked out in the long run, but it wasn't the food (which actually made a couple of candidates difficult to ditch).

Tonight's dish was The Ultimate Ratatouille. Try it out.

Another favorite for when you're just feeling like gaining a little weight (and we all want that, don't we?) is Baked Rigatoni with Eggplant and Sausage. You can diet tomorrow. Really treat yourself and get your homemade sausage from Belmont Butchery if you live in Richmond.

If you missed it awhile ago, Tanya was featured in Bon Apetit as one of the premier maverick butchers in America. I think I bought my weight in cured meats there yesterday. Thankfully, there is red wine to combat the cholesterol.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Best Job In The World

Everybody's job looks better from the other side.

And I used to wish for the life of my friend Shelly. She's a marvelously talented and well-known painter. Having not one iota of artistic talent, the goal was unrealistic in the extreme.

Spent a bit of time with her tonight and talked about peaches.

Peaches. Peaches. Peaches.

She was recently doing a still life class on them. Her house was filled with peach pie, peach ice cream, peach tarts, peach sorbet, and yes...Bellinis.

And fruit flies.

You can have too much of a good thing.

So, yes. I do have The Best Job In The World.

And here is my favorite primer on art....this book will teach you how to tell the difference between the Impressionists and there's even a great architecture tutorial inside. It's a classic for a reason. Very happy it's still in print.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What the...?

Was looking up books for our sci fi book group for possible selections for the fall and the two classic works of Alfred Bester are out of print. That is not right.

Buy them here. And here. Meanwhile looking for suggestions to add to our list.

And don't even get me started on the lack of availability of Stanislaw Lem. Dang.

I'd love to hear about some newer authors that are comparable. Focusing on philosophical sci fi. Looking forward to your suggestions and there's still room in the group if you want to join us.

A Country Girl is Revived

In starting this blog, I wanted to say a little about how I feel about books. Because I am not a writer, I often find that someone else has expressed something much better than I ever could, and this day is no exception.

So I'm giving over the podium to one of my favorite writers who has managed to say in his blog what I've spent a couple of hours fighting to articulate.

Thank you Silas House.

From the blog "A Country Boy Can Surmise"

"I love books. I love reading them, but there is even more than that.

Touch. I love how cool the pages are when you first open them in the mornings. Or how warm the pages are if you’ve left it out in the car for awhile in the summer, like something baked the exact right length of time. The endpapers and the spine and the little letters that are sometimes imbedded in the cloth, a kind of Braille for book-lovers.

Smell. The new ones: people talk about a new-car scent all the time, but what I love even more is a new-book scent. They should make little deodorizers of that aroma to go under one’s car seats. And the old ones: they smell like history, and rain, and the skin of all the people who loved them before, and every room wherein they lived.

See. Yes, of course we see them when we read them, but I love seeing them on the bookshelves, too. Or lying about, covering every available surface, stacked on the stairs, on the nightstand, on the kitchen table, on the kitchen counter, on my desk, a haphazard pile beside my desk. I once had a guest room whose walls were completely lined with bookshelves full of my favorite books. My guests all said that they had the best sleep there, and inquired about the mattress. I told them it was the books. Now my dining room table is surrounded on three sides by bookshelves. They make any meal better by their very presence. They are the best d├ęcor, and multi-purpose at that.

Hear. Taste. I could go on with the other two senses, but that’s a whole different ballgame (because if you’re a true reader you can hear the stories even long after you’ve finished the book; and sometimes you can taste the tang of the ink, even if you don’t try), and besides, the touching, smelling, and seeing are enough. Books are enough to sustain us, period."

See Silas' books here.