The Sadness of Disappearing Used Book Stores

starlight Starlight Books in Newmarket, Ontario, has closed. Not big news to a lot of people. I was sad to see it gone this week when I drove by on my way to visit my sister in Newmarket. I used to live in the area. Starlight books was one of my favourite places for about 20 years. Now its gone.  The Facebook page is missing, not even a note to say good bye. The website is just a dead link.

Technology killed the little community book store.

Where will all the secondhand books go when there are few (or none left at all) places to trade books? The best thing about Starlight and the other secondhand bookstores is being able to bring in books I’ve read and find more from the same author, or take the risk of a new author.

Used book stores are opportunities for readers. Not just finding old books no longer in the big retail stores, but books in stock catered to the reader rather than the shopper. Also, when I exchange books I can select a few for free then. This was the best time to try someone new, a book I would have passed up as too expensive to take a chance on otherwise.starlightbooks

How much is the literary world losing as the used bookstores fade away? Likely more than many people realize.

It’s not a co-incidence that Starlight thrived and grew for at least 20 years (that much time since I’ve been shopping there) and all at once has now closed. I’ve talked to the local used bookstore here too. She says there is more stock coming in and less being bought (or traded out again). The paranormal genre which was selling so quickly is now slumbering too. That doesn’t help as they come in and stay, taking up space now.

Less space consuming are the ebooks, of course. The approaching paperless swarm of electronic books many people buy but only a few actually seem to read. It’s the buying that counts though, not the reading.

I do feel sad for the future of the paperback especially. Will all those printed words end up in landfills? No longer able to find new readers at the community book shops.

What will happen to writers too? There may be book buyers but are there still book readers?

It’s Too Easy to Own a Tiger in America

I don’t think wild animals should be kept as exotic pets. If we can’t find the space to let them be then we can at least give them a suitable man-mad space where they can live on their own terms (more or less). Caging them and treating them like a pet is disrespectful. Let them live and die as part of some kind of natural world rather than trying to fit them into a cosmetic version of it.

Lions and tigers don’t belong in North America. Save a stray cat instead, get it spayed or neutered and let it live like an exotic pet instead. Or, save one of the North American wild cats: cougars, lynx, etc. Use your resources to benefit the animals still out there competing for habitat (and losing). Prevent the wild animals from ending up in zoos, nature reserves or… exotic pets.

The American Bar Association is urging the federal, local, and state governments to enact laws banning the possession of exotic animals.

Source: www.yahoo.com

Illustrating Population Versus Land Mass

overpopulation

But there’s an important caveat: it takes a lot of land to support all those people. As Per Square Mile goes on to note, if everyone in the world required as much land to support them as Americans do, we would need four earths.

via: 22 maps and charts that will surprise you – Vox.

The point about supporting the population is the reality people don’t seem to consider. Being able to live on the land isn’t about the space your physical body needs to just stand in place.

This is Me Today – Making Myself Crazy

twittercapture

Being a perfectionist is a vicious circle of events. Nothing is ever good enough. So we (or I) end up keeping endless stuff because I feel I have to finish it, get it right before I can let it go. I feel obligated to the stuff and myself. I’m letting myself down if I don’t do everything and do it right. I can’t just let things go so they pile up.

Ironically, the piles of actual stuff make me feel pressured and I can’t deal with all of it.

On top of that, no woman is an island. I get request from others who want me to do things for them. They even have deadlines and complain when stuff isn’t done, for them. Then I get annoyed because they expect me to just drop everything and put them first.

The joke is on me. I’m getting so little actually done that things are piling up (of course). In the end – I am the one on the bottom of the pile under all this stuff.

So, the plan is to wait until sometime in November when I will have the house (most of it) to myself and I can move things out of my work room and into other rooms. This will give me some space and maybe clear my mind a bit. If I feel I have some space to work in maybe I can actually get to work and get some of this stuff done.

Of course, we come back to the perfectionism issue.  Is making the space enough? Can I let things be imperfect? Can I decide to just get rid of some things, undone, not completed? Can I give up on some of the things which I thought mattered so much? That will be the hard part. It isn’t the stuff or the lack of space so much as feeling I am losing parts of myself and who I think I am and should be.

If I get rid of everything which makes me feel like I’m someone, what will be left of me? Once I am clutter free how will I know what to do with myself?

Duck Fat Dinner Rolls for Thanksgiving

Duck Fat Dinner Rolls
Adapted from Donald Link’s Real Cajun, by way of Amateur Gourmet

1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water

1/2 cup shortening or lard
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup boiling water

1 egg, lightly beaten
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted

In a small bowl, stir together the yeast and warm water. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, use a fork to combine the shortening, sugar, salt, and boiling water. Allow this mixture to cool for a few minutes. (Alternatively, you can combine the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat for 2 minutes using the paddle attachment until combined, then cool.)

Use a fork to stir the beaten egg and yeast into the shortening mixture, then add 3 cups of the flour (add the remaining 1/2 to 1 cup as you knead). When the mixture pulls together into a dough and you can no longer stir it with a fork, use your hands.
Lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough until it has a smooth sheen and doesn’t fall apart; 5 to 10 minutes. Try not too add too much flour here.

Cover the dough and let it rise for 30-40 minutes, until it has increased 25%. Punch it down, knead it briefly (up to 1 minute).
Roll the dough into 2-inch balls (there should be enough dough for about 16 rolls), and space evenly on a butter baking sheet.
Cover and let rise for 15 minutes. Heat the oven to 325F.

Bake the rolls for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.
Brush with copious amounts of melted butter. Eat hot.

via Duck fat dinner rolls | heartful mouthful.

Halfway through the recipe to make these for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Could have doubled it but I’m just too tired (and the kitchen is over warm for the bread making – too warm for me) and don’t have the energy for all that more kneading. Will see how they turn out. The duck fat was interesting to work with. Right now they are having the first rising time and I am starting the cheesecake recipe.

How to be a Better Hoarder

It starts out small. You don’t suspect at all. One day you just have a bit more stuff than space, more stuff than time or energy. So you make a pile of it. Maybe on the seat of a chair, a stack on a shelf, a junk drawer in the kitchen or a few things tossed on your bed while you tidy up the rest of the room.

Hoarding comes along easy.

That pile of stuff on the chair doesn’t get dealt with and next time you want to use the chair the stuff is in the way. A minor annoyance so you stash it somewhere else. A temporary fix, right?

Sometimes you may get caught up and avoid the start of a hoard. Usually you don’t. I don’t. I have a stash of unfinished work on nearly every surface available in my bedroom, most of the floor space is taken up with bags of stuff to do.

The rest of the house is tidy. Right now. I don’t live alone half the year. But, that’s part of the problem too. She is a clutter freak. Anything left out bothers her. I like having my coffee pot and the coffee grinder out on the kitchen counter. Why not, I use them every day at least once. I clean up any spilled coffee grounds or drips from the pot. There is no mess, just two pieces of kitchen gadgets out in open space. It took time but I’m now allowed to have them out.

Anything else I want to keep much be stashed away. This means adding it to the other stashes, stacks and piles of stuff in my bedroom. Stuff gets lost in there. It is a jungle or piles and stacks and stashes of assorted stuff I need or at least don’t want to have taken, thrown out or lost.

Ironic that I keep things here to avoid losing them when I’ve long gotten past the point of being able to keep track and find much any more.

Hoarding happens when you need to hold on to things and run out of better options, or space.

Don’t think this is taking the easy way out. Living this way is frustrating, for me more than anyone else. They may think whatever they like and they believe the problem is me. It is and yet it isn’t just me.

A lot of the stuff here are things other people want me to do for them. Tasks and jobs and demands I have not found time or energy to do. Do you know the old joke about a round tuit? Look that one up and if you ever do find that legendary round tuit please send it to me when you’re done tuiting.

I need to say no but that isn’t so simple. I won’t get into all of that. It’s an exercise in frustration to explain my need to be perfect and fix everything, do too much and prove myself to anyone who isn’t inside my own head. So, just know that it is very hard for me to say no to family and friends who ask for simple, small favours. I add their photos, their lists and assorted other things to my hoard of to-do.

I don’t think anyone outside of hoarders can understand the pressure of having too much stuff around them. It weighs on you, it pushes against you and it limits you mentally, emotionally and physically too. I hate having just a small path trough my bedroom from the door to the bed with the computer desk being along that same path. I can’t put my clean clothes away because I can’t reach the closet. I can’t start tidying up because I no longer know where to begin. It’s all a chain. One thing leads to another and another. To pull one string means pulling another and finding a place to put the first string before I can pull the next string. But, there is no more room to put anything.

In frustration I toss a pile of papers and old photos onto another stack of papers piled up on the floor. Another task demanded and no time or energy to do it. Another weight added to the pressure. Another layer added to the stuff I already can’t deal with! It lands atop the other stuff and I’m angry because this was demanded of me and I know I can’t do more and this is just more of more.

People think a hoarder is an awful thing: dirty, miserable, derelict. I’m not any of those things. Not ever miserable. I live my life around this hoard and I try to function in spite of it all. I can’t let go and give up the things in this hoard which I actually value. I can’t give up on the things I said I would do, even the things I never actually agreed to do. I feel pressure and guilt and anger.

A simple solution is to deal with some small part of it each day.

Seems simple enough. Until you start somewhere and get caught up in one thing for too long. One thing leads to another problem when you don’t have enough space to work in. Too many things are buried and it is frustrating to know they are there but out of reach. To begin finding what I need causes the moving of the hoard which means the things which were on top (the things I could locate) will now be moved and become the things I can’t find.

Hoarding is a trap.

During half the year when I live here alone I take a few days and then begin moving things out of my space and into another spare room. I get some clearance, some room to move and work. At first the release of having space and feeling hope again is just nice in itself. I haven’t thrown anything away but I have space again. Having space makes me feel I have some control, and can actually do something about all of it.

I make some progress. The hard part is choosing where and what to start on. Last time I began with clothes. I sorted out a lot of clothes I haven’t worn in years and those which I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing now that I’m no longer 20-something. I had them all ready to go to the Salvation Army thrift store. I felt good thinking some other woman would be able to wear those clothes. But, I got caught up in road blocks.

I was stopped from giving away the clothes because other people thought I shouldn’t just give them away. You can’t just give away something that still has value! Some day you may fit into that again. That dress used to look so great on you.

Isn’t that funny? I thought I was the hoarder.

I originally wrote this for Medium but no one is reading it there so I have moved it here.