The Smell of Books

I went to the library today – it was the first time that I’d been there in a few months, and when I walked in, I was immediately struck by the smell.

Now, I don’t mean that the library smelled bad. Quite the opposite.

It was the smell of books, and it was heavenly – almost heady.

There’s just something about the smell of books – it’s the smell of literature, the smell of information – it’s the smell of knowledge.

Walking down the stacks is a sensory experience to which nothing else compares. The smell of the books – the rows and rows and rows – the feel of their heft in your hands.

When I was at university, I did a research project for which I got to use original source materials. Where I went to university they had an amazing collection of old books, and when I tread – oh so lightly and in an almost euphoric state – among the stacks of the old book collection, it was like being in the presence of history itself. Books that I picked up and opened were from other centuries, and had leather bindings, gold leaf letters, and unslit pages.

I was humbled.

And they smelled divine.

Now don’t get me wrong – I really like my Kindle too.

But nothing – ever – will take the place of books.

My Favourite Charles Dickens Christmas Passage – And It’s Not from Dickens a Christmas Carol!

Most people, when they think of Charles Dickens and Christmas, think of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. But many of Charles Dickens novels feature Christmas passages, and while Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol is of course a classic, one of my favourite Dickens Christmas passages is the one from the Pickwick Papers.

Here it is – isn’t it lovely?

And numerous indeed are the hearts to which Christmas
brings a brief season of happiness and enjoyment. How many
families, whose members have been dispersed and scattered far
and wide, in the restless struggles of life, are then reunited, and
meet once again in that happy state of companionship and mutual
goodwill, which is a source of such pure and unalloyed delight;
and one so incompatible with the cares and sorrows of the world,
that the religious belief of the most civilised nations, and the rude
traditions of the roughest savages, alike number it among the
first joys of a future condition of existence, provided for the
blessed and happy! How many old recollections, and how many
dormant sympathies, does Christmas time awaken!

We write these words now, many miles distant from the spot
at which, year after year, we met on that day, a merry and joyous
circle. Many of the hearts that throbbed so gaily then, have
ceased to beat; many of the looks that shone so brightly then,
have ceased to glow; the hands we grasped, have grown cold; the
eyes we sought, have hid their lustre in the grave; and yet the old
house, the room, the merry voices and smiling faces, the jest,
the laugh, the most minute and trivial circumstances connected
with those happy meetings, crowd upon our mind at each
recurrence of the season, as if the last assemblage had been but
yesterday! Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the
delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the
pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the
traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fireside and
his quiet home!

And so, Happy Christmas to All!

I Did It! Introducing.. The Site for the Cure!

It’s an idea I’ve been noodling around on for months..and I finally did it!

I am so very excited and pleased to announce…

The Site for the Cure!

The Site for the Cure is a site which allows anyone participating in any charity event such as a walk, race, run or ride for charity to talk about what they are doing and why they are doing it, to talk about the event, and to link to their own sponsor page in order to raise sponsorship funds.

The Site for the Cure is a community of people who all have one thing in common: they are participating in events to raise money for charity. Usually their participation requires sponsorship of the “I’ll give you $10.00 if you walk/run/bike X miles” nature. We hope that you’ll help them out.

You can search for people participating in charity events by location, by cause, or by event. You can also participate in our forums!

And, of course, if you are someone who is participating on a charity event, this is the place for you! Pull up a spot, put your information up, along with a link to your sponsorship page, and let everyone know where to find you!


Someone just asked me why I did this – what was my motivation, and this is what I told them:

“My friend Rachel is participating in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, and I just really wanted to do something to help her get the word out a bit I blogged it..but..I dunno..this idea just kept coming back to me..then I saw a fellow at a local coffee shop and he was training for another similar event – I could tell that because he was wearing a t-shirt that said “In Training” for the event..and I told him that he should put his sponsorship url on the shirt… and then I kept thinking about how *long* and *complicated* Rachel’s sponsorship url was – you couldn’t even *fit* it on a shirt, let alone *remember* it to tell someone (like, “Hey, I’m walking for breast cancer – if you’d like to sponsor me, here’s the link……”..and this, truly, is the link for Rachel’s sponsorship:

Can you *imagine* having to hand out *that* link? (I’m sorry, Rachel! Don’t take it personally!) )

So I thought “There ought to be a site to act as a clearinghouse and community, with an easy to remember url”..and that’s how the idea got born.”

So please please, tell everyone – help me make The Site for the Cure a success!

Start here: The Site for the Cure.

In Praise of Older, Less Perky Breasts

If you are easily offended, you should probably skip this post. Of course, if you are easily offended, you probably aren’t reading a blog called “Mange Merde” anyways. Unless, of course, you don’t have access to a French-English dictionary.

I like to think that I still look reasonably good, and in relatively good shape, for a woman of my age. (Of course, I also like to think that Tinkerbell and the Good Humour man are my next door neighbors, and that the owls really are what they seem, so clearly what I like to think has no bearing on reality.)

Anyways, yesterday, as I was looking at myself in the mirror, I contemplated whether I might want to get my breasts lifted at some future point in my life. Because, you know, clearly they have not gotten with the “looking reasonably good for their age” program.

I didn’t give that thought a second thought until today, when I was again looking at myself in the mirror (hey, I was brushing my teeth, alright?) when I suddenly thought “why on earth would I ever have thought of having them nipped and tucked?” (Mind you, I was never seriously considering it, it was just a passing thought, but the ludicriousness of that passing thought struck me nonetheless.)

These breasts have nursed two children through a combined total of seven and a half years!

They have eased babies and toddlers through bumps and scrapes. They have comforted our son through a badly broken arm. They have kept an infant quiet through entire movies.

They have lulled my children to sleep for more than 2,500 nights (top that, Scheherazade!)

They have given both of my children the absolute best start in life.

Fix them?

Hell, no. They’re not broken! And I’m darned proud of them.

I Looked at My Mac and Felt Revulsion

I never before have had such an immediate and visceral response to a computer – except maybe to swear at one of Mr. Gates’ unholy offspring. But there I was, looking at my poor Macbook, and feeling repulsed.

My wonderful husband gave me a Macbook for Christmas. He’d known that I needed – seriously, had a business case for – a Macbook, so that I could dual boot and view how my various business websites looked in Windows browsers as well as the Mac. So at some point when I could justify the expense, he knew I was going to need to get one.

So instead he put one under the tree for me. What a guy! (Thank you, honey!)

Well, a dear friend of mine advised me that a gift of Windows XP Professional was on its way to me, and so I purchased and downloaded Parallels, one of the two options for
running Windows on the new dual-core Macs, and awaited its arrival.

About 10 minutes ago, I started the Windows installation process.

And then I looked at my screen.

And I saw that familiar death-screen blue, the familiar Windows setup font, advising me that “Windows XP Professional Setup is copying files”.

And I felt physically ill.

Windows… there on my beautiful Mac.

I mentioned – no, whined – this to my husband.

And he put his finger on it.

“You feel as if you’ve violated your Mac.”

And you know what? He’s right.



I’d Like to Buy the World a Clue

Warning: do not watch this with children around.

I compiled the “Be the Change� montage after happening to hear a version of I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (done by the Veggie Tales, of all things).

It was the same day that I was already feeling that the whole world was headed towards falling apart again, what with Iraq, Israel and Lebanon, Korea, Iran, and where-the-heck-do-we-fit-in-with-all-of-this?

Please go here for more information about my Be the Change montage, and information about downloading, emailing, and otherwise sharing it.

My New Girl!

Did you all see yesterday’s picture of the day? I am so excited! I have finally got the old Volvo 240 wagon that I have been wanting for years!

Oh sure, being part of the Silicon Valley SUV driving club has been fun – especially as we are so not that type – I don’t wear velour sweatsuits and drive one-handed while talking on my blinged-out cell phone held in a hand tipped by 1-inch nails which are only slighly less fake than the unnaturally firm and ample chest which is bulging out of a spandex sport shirt cut at once both too low and too high.

But I’d been longing for an old Volvo wagon for years. They are much more to my scale (I being rather petite), and to my general gestalt. I’m a hippy from way back. I’d rather wear tie-dye than a tie, I’d rather be in jeans or a flowing gauzy skirt than a suit (although I used to cut quite the figure in court in a mini-skirt suit ..and then there was the black leather mini with The Boots ™.. but I digress).

And practically speaking I’d been wanting an old Volvo wagon because they are sturdy as tanks, go forever, and you can haul a lot of stuff in ’em.

Anyways, when we realized that driving the Explorer was contributing to the length of time it was taking my back to heal, as the size and seat were all wrong for me, I moved this dream from the back to the front burner, and started looking in earnest for my “old Volvo wagon”.

I knew just what I wanted – a late 80s (but a ’90 would be ok) Volvo 240 DL wagon. And so that is on what I focused my search. I’d actually been looking on and off for about 2 years, just not quite so seriously. In fact, I’d gone to see two Volvos during that time, and test driven one. But in all the ads I’d seen, the look-sees I’d done, none of them were “it”.

I hadn’t really looked in a few months when I turned up the heat last week and added the Craigslist “volvo 240 wagon” search to my RSS feed (geek!)

And then, there she was. I knew from the moment that I read the Craigslist posting that she was the one.

1990 240 DL wagon
5 speed manual transmission
roof rack
single owner, lovingly maintained

Reluctantly being sold because she had been made extraneous by children growing up and moving away, and the inheritance of a smaller, but equally nostalgic car.

She was everything I’d wanted and hoped for in an old Volvo wagon.

I was sure that she must already be gone – surely someone would have staked a claim in the day or so that the post was up before I saw it. And indeed, someone had staked a claim.

But as luck would have it, that someone’s teenaged daughter, for whom he intended to buy her, refused to learn to drive a stick.

Stupid girl.

My teenaged daughter learned to drive on a stick.

And has in later years thanked me for it.

Any right-thinking person knows that sticks are much better for any number of reasons.

And much more fun to drive.

And so, thanks to kismet, fate, luck, the alignment of the planets, and teenage stubborness, she’s mine, mine, all mine. Muwahahahaah.

We took her out for our first family drive yesterday.

And it was good.

Oh sure, the SUV has a lot of fond memories. Many many.

My husband proposed to me from the backseat of that SUV.

We spent a great deal of our courtship driving in that SUV, with our Brady Bunch family of 3 dogs in the back, driving to Big Sur, Pismo, Carmel and the likes.

We spent the first night on our new land in that SUV. (It was also the last night we spent on that land, but that’s another story.)

My husband sped me to the hospital while I was in very hard painful labour in that SUV. Hitting every single goddamned bump at 80 mph along the way.

Our son has known no other car. In fact, until yesterday he had ridden in a car other than that SUV exactly three times in his entire life, and that’s including a cab ride.

But still, it was time. If only for the sake of my back.

And I adore my new old Volvo.

Now she needs a name.

Actually a nickname, because I promised the original owner that we would keep her given name – “Eschrichtius robustus” – which is the scientific name for the California grey whale. They called her “Scritchy”.

I’m not so sure about the “Scritchy” part, so we are casting about for a new nickname for our “Eschrichtius robustus”. Grey whales are baleen whales, also known as “Mysticeti”.

So we’re accepting suggestions for nicknames for her. Something female, something related – maybe something slightly Swedish.

I’m sure that something will suggest itself.

In the meantime, we’re having fun driving her.

In case you missed it, here she is:

I Ordered My New Sidekick 3 Today!

I am SO excited! I ordered my new Sidekick 3 today!

As anybody who has followed any of my writings for more than, oh, a day, knows, I extoll the virtues of the Sidekick whenever I get a chance. It is only the most versatile, under-rated of all of the all-in-one devices out there. In short, it kick’s the Blackberry’s battery door all over town.

In fact, I wrote about how by using a Sidekick you can keeep all of your data, on every single computer you own (PC and Mac) synced – all with each other.

You can read that article here:

And now the Sidekick just got even better! With the release of the Sidekick 3 they have added EDGE (finally) and bluetooth (FINALLY!), and even an MP3 player.

I have a friend who works for T-Mobile, and they let me play with theirs (the Sidekick!.. get your mind out of the gutter!), and let me tell you, it is one sweet device.

If it works as I hope that it will, I will finally give up carrying a separate phone, and be down to one single device that truly does it all.

I’ll keep you posted; it’s due to arrive early next week.

This is a contraband picture: