Monday, December 13, 2010
Mellow In the Madness
If you thought I got buried in a snow drift you wouldn’t be far from wrong. The last three days felt like a whirlwind trip on an express train and now here I am – dumped out at the station in a white and silent world again. Schools are closed, the deer are in hiding, and the howling wind keeps kicking up bleached dust storms that fly past my office window like scenes in a Viewfinder. Eric went to the store – what an optimist! – and I am left here to write this blog, finish the NOBS article ( not as easy as I thought), and maybe list some books, wrap some presents, find a cure for cancer, and establish world peace.
But never mind all that right now. I had a few fun adventures this weekend worth reporting. On Friday, of course, we played hooky and went to the Coventry area of Cleveland Heights to shop. This place is like a little time warp. Take a deep breath, inhale the patchouli, and it’s the 60’s again. Buy a tie-dyed shoulder bag and a pair of Birkenstocks and pretty soon you’re kickin’ down the cobblestones and feelin’ groovy. Fortunately, I already felt groovy after a spicy Thai lunch, a look at the antiquarian books blooming like jewel-toned flowers in the antiques store, buying free trade jewelry and great stocking stuffer toys, and finally hunkering down at Books on Coventry where I found a Wally Lamb novel I’d missed. I love Wally Lamb. All it took was his novel She’s Come Undone and Wally had me heart and soul.
It’s a good thing I was blissed out on Friday though because Saturday morning found us at the weirdest estate sale ever. The narrow lane to the house had iced over, a van was stuck in the middle of it, and the distance back to the house would take the better part of a week by camel. When we finally got there we learned that the books had been appraised, a fact which cranked up the only other (already cranky) book dealer present. By the time the estate sale guy made his usual very weird speech she was loaded for bear. To add insult to injury the house was incredibly small, so the “better” books got sequestered behind tables making it impossible for more than one person at a time to view them. THEN a loud argument broke out between the estate sale company’s owner and a customer, both of whom were a little bit right, a little bit wrong, and a LOT full of themselves. Mercury was rising and Aquarius descending big-time, but it was okay because once I got back to see the sacred stash I was so damn tickled I nearly laughed out loud.
The thing is, there are appraisers and then there are appraisers. This, fortunately, was an appraiser, the kind who draws the line firmly in the sand and then lines up the wrong books on each side of it. Now, lest you think these books were actually worthy of all the fuss they engendered, scratch that notion immediately. Instead think okay books, workhorse books, antiques mall books and you’ll see why in the midst of the storm I retained the calm of the Buddha. While everyone fussed and fumed I scooped up a Japanese art book, a wonderful biography of Yeats, another on Wordsworth and his wife, a very cool New York Graphic Society book on the history behind Stevenson’s Treasure Island, the two volume Alice from the 40’s with the original illustrations by Tenniel, only hand colored, and several other pleasing items all for two bucks a pop.
So life was good at the estate sale, and later got even better when my friend Cheryl came over bearing a big box of goodies – pristine, turn of the century YA novels in fine condition with strong graphic cover art. (see photo of my favorite below) They’re not wildly valuable, of course, but who cares? Sometimes the value of a book lies in the book itself.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. This is all too Zenlike to be me talking, right? But it IS me and even though my revived sales at the antiques mall will be zapped again for sure with all this snow, and the weather people are already bleating about the same thing for tomorrow, I’m okay. I’m good even, though I can’t say why. Must be the patchouli.