The Annual Trek To Book Heaven

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There’s nothing more a bibliophile loves more than a HUGE used book sale. Every year, I get to bask in the largest book sale in the state and it never gets old.

I arrived with empty bags and a lot of hope that I’d find something good. However, I had to somewhat behave this year given the fact that I just decluttered my bookshelves. I didn’t want to just fill them right back up again and undo all of my decluttering progress!

My first stop was the craft section. Over the last couple of years, I’ve come home with some amazing finds in knitting patterns – especially vintage. This year was no different. I found a great array of knitting magazines, but also a sweater pattern book and needlecraft how-to guide from 1945. The patterns in these books are pure gold as they are simple and timeless.

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The selection of knitting books was a little more sparse this year, but I still found a few good ones. My favorite is, Knit Your Own Dog. I’ve seen this book before and always wanted it.

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While I was combing through the rest of the craft section, my mom was in the collectibles section. She spotted this great visual reference guide for collectible Barbie and held onto it for me. It is beyond amazing!

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I hit the fiction section next. This is where I really had to control my inner urge to snap up any book that looks remotely interesting. That’s tough to do when most are only $3 or less! I decided to only pick up books that are on my to-read list or can pass the first page test (i.e. I can’t fight the urge to turn the page and keep reading). I ended up with small, yet intriguing group of books.

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Last, but not least, I hit the poetry section. My goal is always the same: haiku anthologies. They are tough to find! At the same time, I was looking to find anything inspiring or interesting in short verse poetry. Two of the books I found are pictured above with my fiction finds. Art and Wonder pairs poetry with famous works of art –  I can’t wait to read it!

In the haiku realm, I managed to find two anthologies and a couple of interesting takes on modern Japanese poetry. Flipping through them, I can see they are inspired by haiku, but other forms as well. I’m looking forward to exploring them.

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The grand total for my treasures? $24.25. All in all, it was a great day at the book sale!

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c.b.w. 2017

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The Essential Haiku Library

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Poetry books tend to occupy a small space in most bookshops unless your local bookshop is one of those awesome little nooks that carries everything. Haiku books occupy an even smaller space, if at all. This is quite the problem for an avid reader, writer, and all out fan of haiku.

Where do you find these?!

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When I first got into haiku as a daily practice a year ago, I was desperate for haiku reading material – especially contemporary haiku. Much to my dismay, my local bookshop carried only one anthology. I bought it and devoured it within a week. Now what? As a newbie, I didn’t know what to look for or what authors/editors to search.

I did the usual amazon search and found a couple things here and there, but they were ridiculously expensive as they were often self-published, single print or special editions of journals. So, I tried Half Price Books where I lucked out with two more anthologies. From there, I was able to put together some names of celebrated haiku poets and editors, which allowed me to do more advanced searches in online sources.

Needless to say, building my haiku library has been an arduous task! A trip to Powell’s in Portland, Oregon helped, but it has not been easy to find publications of an art form that has become one of my passions.

All that book stalking paid off with a nice little collection of haiku anthologies, histories, and philosophies.

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Now that I’ve done all the grunt work, I thought I’d share what I consider to be the quintessential books that should be part of any haiku library. Knowing the titles and authors/editors make finding them infinitely easier. I’ve linked them to sources to make it even easier!

The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches by Matsuo Basho

The Haiku Anthology – Ed. By Cor van den Huevel

Haiku in English: The First One Hundred Years – Ed. by Jim Kacian, Philip Rowland, and Allan Burns

The Essential Haiku – Ed. by Robert Hass

Haiku Moment – Ed. by Bruce Ross

Haiku 21 – Ed. By Lee Gurga and Scott Metz

Haiku Vol. 1-4 by R.H. Blyth – I do not own these volumes, but they are considered required reading by most haiku enthusiasts. They are difficult to track down and can be a bit pricey.

My collection includes more than this list and there are, of course, many more volumes out there. These are, however, the ones that left the most meaningful impression on my muse. I learned the most from them about the tradition and evolution of haiku, while also experiencing the powerful nature of haiku through some incredibly talented poets.

I am always looking for new anthologies, so if you know any good titles, please share them in the comments!

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c.b.w. 2015

Favorite Thing Friday: Powell’s Books

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As world traveler who has visited countless bookstores all over the world, I thought I had seen it all. Then, I realized how wrong I was when I walked up to Powell’s on Burnside Street in Portland, OR. I knew this place was the largest new/used bookstore in the world, but I had no idea just how big. They don’t call it a “city of books” for nothing!

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Powell’s City of Books, Burnside St., c.b.w. 2015

I literally froze in the middle of the lobby when I first walked in. My eyes didn’t know where to look first and my mouth was hanging open as if an alien mothership had just landed. Table after table of books followed by walls (floor to ceiling) of books, and then doorways that lead to shelf after shelf of more books. They should put a sign on the door that says, “Caution: Drooling May Occur.”

Realizing this was no ordinary bookshop, I went straight to the information desk and picked up a map. This was not a place where I could wander aimlessly and not get lost! To my shock, the map unfolded like a roadmap: Three floors cover a city block and contain color coded rooms that are further organized by genre specific stacks. There’s a coffee shop, too!

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It actually took two trips to wander through the entire store. The first time through, I went from room to room, floor to floor, just get a sense of the place and stand in awe of such a giant collection of books. The second time through, I went with a list of books I hoped to find.

First, I hoped to find some new haiku books. The well has run dry at my local bookstores and on amazon, so I hoped Powell’s would have something I haven’t read. Not only did I find haiku books, but I think I witnessed the largest poetry section I’ve ever seen in a bookstore. I ended up buying three haiku books out of the 20 or so they had available, (including original printings of R.H. Blyth’s four volume interpretation of haiku – Wow!).

Second, I dared myself to believe I could find the Fates series by Lanie Bross. My local bookstore no longer had it and amazon wanted too much for it. I wandered into the YA section and was again blown away by the sheer size of it. After scanning through two aisles, I actually found what I was looking for along with a bonus. Fates and it’s sequel Chaos, were sitting on the shelf together like they were waiting for me. I hugged them as I walked through the rest of the store.

As a writer of YA fiction, the scope of Powell’s YA section left me feeling so giddy – so many teens were wandering through the aisles with books in their hands! And look what was lingering near the YA entrance . . .

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Motivational Stairs, Powell’s, c.b.w. 2015

How’s that for some motivation!

Two trips and five books later, I am convinced that if Powell’s doesn’t have a book, it doesn’t exist. I’m still drooling over this place and still hugging the books that have become my Powell’s souvenirs.

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2015

The Expanding Pear

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I submitted this story to the Your Story competition in Writer’s Digest, but it didn’t make the final cut.  Instead of sulking, I’ve decided to celebrate my first submission of the year by sharing it with my readers. Meanwhile, I’m already working on two more pieces to submit in other competitions.

This piece was entered into contest #42, which gave the prompt of starting a story with the phrase “I’ve got to get out of these clothes . . . fast.”

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“I’ve got to get out of these clothes . . . fast,” I mutter.

My muffin top looks like the baker spooned too much dough into the paper cup.  A year ago this size would have fit just fine, but now it threatens to give me a blood clot. As if that isn’t depressing enough, I’m in this predicament because my favorite jeans split right up the rear seam when I bent over to pick up the cat last night.

The fluorescent lights of the dressing room drains my skin of all color and makes me think I should have worn at least a little make-up.  The jeans I’ve stuffed myself into bunch up under my hips and the back pockets refuse to lay flat or straight. Nothing ever fits right.  Half the time I don’t know why I even try.  Clothes are made for women too afraid to eat or fans of masochism.

I can hardly look at myself in the mirror, yet I stare and wonder why my curves are so ugly.  I bubble out like a pear with my bulging gut, back fat, and wide thighs.  Great.  I look like a fruit I don’t like to eat.  That’s right, skinny on top and global on the bottom.  And I just keep getting more juicy and plump! Of course, my sister looks like a runway model with her beanpole frame and bright blue eyes.  Where was the magic gene fairy when I was born?

The too tight jeans dig into my thighs and as I try to shimmy out of them. The waistband just won’t stretch another inch. Honestly, why does all the fat settle just above the knee?  Giving up on the pants, I try to wiggle out of the shirt, but the shoulder seams clamp down the moment I move my arms.

Pop! Pop! Pop!

Oh, no!  Was that the sleeve?

Now stuck with jeans wrapped around my legs and my arms cinched in a shirt that will not come off, my confidence deflates as though it’s just sprung a leak. Too bad my balloon butt can’t do the same thing. Tears burn my eyes and I slowly sink into the bench.

Why can’t I be beautiful?

A sick feeling of disappointment churns in my stomach.  It doesn’t matter what I do. I’ll never be a Size 2 or the blonde who flaunts it because she has the right to feel pretty.  So, why not give me extra fries with that large chocolate shake, please.

A little tap sounds on the dressing room door.

“Ma’am, are you okay?”

I wipe my tears and suck in a deep breath. No.

“Yes, I’m fine.”

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c.b.w. 2012

Strolling Through Colorful Street Markets

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One of my favorite things to do when I travel is visit local open-air markets.  Whether I’m looking for a little trinket gift to give someone back home or a juicy piece of fruit for lunch, I’ll always dash towards a table display on the street rather than a shop.

On reason to love markets is that they are usually filled with incredibly unique items.  Sure, there are the mass market souvenirs, but there are also handcrafted one-of-a-kind items that really capture the personality of a place.  I always look for local artists or photographers as they can offer a wholly original perspective on the region.  I’ll usually buy something small and then ask for them to tell me about the inspiration for the image.  Even a small photograph becomes infinitely more valuable when there’s a story attached!

After more than a decade of traveling, I’ve learned to aim my camera at the markets I visit as they are bustling with vibrant color and glowing moments of humanity.   From busy flea markets to fruit stands in small neighborhoods, markets are filled with family, friends, and strangers all coming together in one place.  Different ethnicities, languages, and cultures all converge, making markets a lovely reminder that we are more the same than different.

In London, markets sell everything from books from antiques.  Several street markets set up shop at Covent Garden including one of my favorite, The Jubilee Market.  To get there, ride a train on the Piccadilly Line to the Covent Garden station.  When standing in front of the main pavilion, (you’ll see The Apple Market), head to the right and keep going.  A bright blue sign and a reference to Henrietta Street will help pinpoint the correct spot.

Souvenirs, crafts, and delicious snacks fill The Jubilee Market in London. Photo by: c.b.w.

Of course, London’s most famous stretch of marketplace fare runs down Portobello Road.  While the antique stalls are fun, I love the food kiosks above anything else.  Fruit, crepes, and pastries make for a delicious stroll!  To get there, the best way is to hop on the Tube and take a train to Notting Hill Gate, (Central, Circle, or District Lines).  This stop is my favorite because there are big signs that point towards Portobello Road, which makes it super easy to find. Follow your nose for the food!

Porotbello Road, London. Photo by: c.b.w.

In Ireland, Dublin’s cobblestone streets wouldn’t be complete without flower markets peddling everything from daisies to roses.  Amid the the gray clouds and brown brick, blooming bright colors sure liven up the place!  Some of the more colorful kiosks can be found on Grafton Street in the heart of Dublin.

Dublin, Ireland. Photo by: c.b.w.

Prague, however, takes the prize for having some of the most lively markets I’ve ever seen!  Tables are filled with colorful fruit, amazing handcrafted items, and spectacular artwork. A small market with a big personality is but a quick walk from the Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square.  Head down a street called Zelezna and hang a right on Havelská.

Handcrafted wooden toys on display in a Prague marketplace. Photo by: c.b.w.

Wooden critters line market shelves in Prague, Czech Republic. Photo by: c.b.w.

It almost looks too good to eat! Fruit Market in Prague, Czech Republic. Photo by: c.b.w.

On a day when museums are closed or the weather is too good to stay inside, a few dollars and a leisurely stroll are all you need for a beautiful memory.

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c.b. 2012