Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring Cleaning

books (1 of 1)

Every spring, my mother would spend a weekend performing the ritual known as spring cleaning. Since she cleaned the house from top to bottom on a weekly basis, it’s not like the place actually needed additional cleaning. During the annual ritual, she would remove the blankets from the beds and launder them, wash and wax the bedroom floors, and wash all of the curtains throughout the house. Needless to say, as a kid, the best place to be during this ritual was anywhere but home less you get pressed into service!

Traditions and rituals are frequently passed down from parent to offspring, so today I began my own version of spring cleaning. With great trepidation, I decided to deal with the accumulation of text books from college and numerous reference manuals I saved upon retirement. As you likely know, used text books are like a broken anchor, suitable only for taking up space in one’s garage. Though they are not quite old enough to qualify as antique, the majority are at least thirty of age and have zero resale value.

I checked with our local recycling company and they would not accept them with the scrap paper. Apparently it’s nearly impossible to separate the binding from the pages during the pulping process. Dumping them in the landfill did not seem appropriate either. So that left me with one option, manually remove the bindings and recycle the pages. With razor knife in hand, I spent of the morning “de-binding” the books and collecting the pages for recycling. What fun!!

There is however one book to which I still have an emotional attachment despite last opening it in 1974. The book is titled Rehder’s Manual of Cultivated Trees and Shrubs and was once considered the Bible of dichotomous keys for plant identification. First published in 1927, it was the standard to which all other identification books were compared. The book is also extremely difficult to use without basic training in classic botany; not a picture in the book.

If you have ever wanted to own a classic, now is the time to act. Email me and for the cost of shipping, I will make it yours. Who knows, it might be of value on those nights when you are having difficulty falling asleep.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Hand Writing Is On The Wall



wall (1 of 2)


While visiting an interpretive center dedicated to the local cannery workers, I was fascinated by how they recorded the events of the day onto the building’s walls.  The writing was reminiscent of the Native American petroglyphs I saw while visiting Utah many years ago.  I suppose that man has always had a need to express himself and the walls of an old cannery are as good of place as any.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Not A Good Thing!

For nearly two yeas, I have had the pleasure leading educational programs for kids as volunteer docent at the maritime museum.  Without a doubt, these opportunities have been among my greatest joys since retiring.  Working with  the kids has sharpened my skills as a docent and also provided many moments of comic relief.

I will not soon forget a recent program with a group of fourth grade students; I was leading them in an activity to identify the major causes of ship wrecks.  Just in case you are wondering, they are as follows:  weather, human error, and mechanical failure. 

On this particular afternoon, the group was struggling to identify mechanical failure so I decided a suggestion might help.  I told them the following scenario:  pretend that you are the captain of a big ship and while steering it, the ship’s steering wheel falls off and breaks – what would you call this?  Without cracking a smile, a boy proudly proclaimed “not a good thing!”

As I stood there wondering what to say next, I realized he was right.  Maybe we need to rewrite the program.