Those are books…you’re supposed to read them.

I need to get rid of some of my books. I have hundreds, yes hundreds. And, no, I have not read them all. Some, I had no intention of reading when I got them, I just wanted to HAVE them. Now, I’m trying to lighten the load. I am going to get rid of almost all the paperbacks, many of the hard covers that I can still get or get in eBook format, all the old textbooks. You get the idea.

So, what does that leave? Plenty.

I will keep everything published before 1955. I am genetically incapable of passing by a book that was published pre-1955 and is only a couple of bucks. I won’t pay collector’s prices for anything. None of my old books are worth more than 10 or 20 bucks. That’s because I want to READ them, not put them in a glass case and look at them.

I have a pretty good Joseph C. Lincoln collection (, although I don’t think there are any first editions in there. Almost none of them have book jackets, and the ones that do are pretty messed up. That’s all good, though, because there’s no guilt or shame in taking them to the beach and reading them.

All (or most anyway) of Joseph C. Lincoln’s 50+ books have a sea captain at their center. They were also mostly loose love stories. One, Rugged Water, became a movie that the US Coast Guard still has listed on its website ( It’s about the US Lifesaving Service, the precursor to the USCG. Lincoln had a great respect for the men who would charge out in the worst weather in little boats propelled by their own strength or wind to save people in boats, mostly hung up on Horseshoe Shoals. I wonder what he would say about a huge wind farm being built there now.

I love his books, although I admit that I probably would not have read any of them if I had started with his first. The first one I picked up was Fair Harbor, written in 1922. By then, I gather, it was less acceptable to use the “N” word the way he does in his earlier books. It’s unbelievably jarring, to say the least, when that word just pops up as if it’s okay to describe people that way. Had I come across it in his earlier books first, I probably wouldn’t have continued to buy his books. I picked up Fair Harbor at a library book sale in the mid-80s and fell in love with this author. Unfortunately, a few of my books got lost when I lent them to people. Alas…

One winter, though, the late Hope Winchoba, who lived just a block away from me, came by and borrowed every single one of those books. It was a particularly snowy winter and was pretty tough getting on and off the island. She would walk over with her own bags, take seven or eight books, and then carefully walk back. She was in her 80s at the time, just a few years before she died.

Then she showed me a scrapbook of her family from Martha’s Vineyard (I think), with some of the same names that Lincoln used. She swore he was writing about them, but I think he just borrowed the names.

In any case, we had many a conversation about the books.

I bought Fair Harbor because, as I quickly scanned the old books for sale at the entrance of the Parlin Library in Everett, Mass. in the mid 1980’s (, I thought it said “Fairhaven.” I’m glad I bought it anyway. It’s about a man, a former sea captain of some sort, who breaks his legs in a train crash. He is able to walk again, but won’t ever work on a boat. He ends up being the caretaker of a home for mariners’ wives, a job no other man would take. He finds love there and a happy ending.

Lincoln’s books are full of the daily stuff of life on Cape Cod in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It was where I first learned of “clam pie,” made with quahogs. It was also where I learned that they were dealing with the rich people coming in, knocking down the old houses, and pricing out the locals, 100 years ago. Some things never change. Which reminds me why I started this post.

It wasn’t supposed to be about Joseph C. Lincoln, although if you ever come across his books that aren’t asking collectors’ prices for them, let me know. I need to buy about 20 to fill in my collection. He wrote more than 50 and I only have about 30. (I know, I know, I’m supposed to be lightening the load.)

This post was prompted by my grabbing a book from a box in my living room. Most of my books are still in boxes from the big renovation. I wanted to find something to take to the beach. I grabbed a book by Frank Yerby (, Pride’s Castle, and read from the Prologue.

“The middle years—the eighteen-seventies, ‘eighties, ‘nineties—were a time of moral bankruptcy when men stole millions by a stroke of the pen or by the simple expedient of printing tons of worthless paper.”

Sound familiar? Some things never change. That was published in 1949.

I don’t think I had ever heard of Frank Yerby when I started buying his books. I suspect it was just that genetic deficiency I mentioned above. Turns out he was the most popular African American writer of his time. The first to become a millionaire from his writing. According to the above link, “it is estimated that Yerby sold more books than all other African American writers combined.”

Cool, huh? Do I love the internet, or do I love the internet?

The prologue continues about the horrors of sweatshops at the time and other unrest.

“A time of change and discontent, a time of order and stability, too, these days were—and a time of progress, with the coming of the electric light, the telephone, and later still the horseless carriage. A time of ferment…

“No wonder then that big Pride Dawson, crossing from Jersey on the ferry and seeing New York for the first time, could turn to Tim McCarthy and say: ‘It’s mine, Tim! The whole kit and caboodle! I’m going to be top dog here—I’m going up. Just you watch!’

“And Tim, seeing the city low and dirty beyond the spars and masts of the shipping, could believe him. The time was ripe.”

I think it’s going to be a good read.


It’s only July, or, I hate organized people

The Back-To-School press releases are starting to arrive. I went to Staples the other day and they were offering a discount card (that you had to pay for, no thank-you) to give you a percentage off office supplies through the rest of the summer. I’m sure it’s a back-to-school thing.


Ugh…I haven’t even gotten the Little Water Buggy on the water yet, not even once. The disaster with the floor project coupled with the rainy (and cold) start to the season meant that I just haven’t had the time. Started the motor once for about five seconds. Still haven’t painted the seat frames. I did clean it up, though. Then it rained. It needs to be cleaned again. The plan was to paint the deck again, but I think that can wait until next year.

My Little Water Buggy calls out to me every time I walk by. Thank heavens I can’t see it from my office window.

I used to be organized, somewhat. I remember getting up in the morning at about the same time every day, eating breakfast, reading the newspapers (TWO of them…oh the delight!). Then I would amble across the living room to my little office and do some work. I was very good about getting to bed at a decent hour, eating right, waking up at a decent hour, working as much as I needed to. I took time to play, ride the bicycle, hike locally and in the mountains of my precious New Hampshire…oh, the days of yore.

Then I started this ridiculous newspaper (, and all that disappeared in a flash of frenzied activity. Eight years later and I’m still trying to get my feet under me. It’s like when you trip and the top of your body is careening forward and you try like crazy to get your feet back where they belong before your head hits the ground.

For the first few years I almost did okay. I kept my kitchen table free of piles of paper (no more, alas), and the bedroom was office-stuff-free. No more. The only place that doesn’t have a file, or an office gadget, or some other thing I need in the course of a work week is the bathroom, and that’s only because it’s too small.

Twenty pounds later (on me, not the house), the house has printers, file drawers, paper, gadgets and old newspapers in every room and piled on every horizontal surface.

My sister (the therapist) says it borders on mental illness, but not quite there yet. She says the fact that it bothers me is good.

I should be thinking about a back-to-school issue for the paper, but I’m no organized enough. Hell, I never even did a 10-year-anniversary of the Bouchard oil spill or one of my special hurricane issues.

Holy moly! I’m getting worse at this, not better.

I hate organized people.





Of floors and hoodies, motorcycles and beaches

So many people are opining on the George Zimmerman verdict. So many have so much wisdom on the subject. And as divergent as those opinions are, people seem to agree that they were not surprised.

Guess I’m not too bright. I was surprised. I admit that I did not watch much of the trial while it was on live. Most of it happened during my renovation nightmare (still ongoing), so I barely watched the news at all (any news, alas). I barely cracked a newspaper or read much online, either. But how, how on earth, is it okay for a grown man with a gun to chase down a teenager who is just walking by?

All I can say is that I am terribly uneasy with this outcome. The demonization of teenagers, and especially black male teenagers, is complete, I guess.

I have tried to play catch-up with the news to decipher this verdict. Zimmerman feared for his life, apparently. And Trayvon Martin turned out to be more than Mr. Zimmerman could handle, so he shot the teenager. I guess if Zimmerman had won the fist fight it would’ve been okay? I don’t know.   It just seems that something is terribly wrong here.

The calls for a “discussion” are coming from all corners. Maybe we should be discussing why Mr. Zimmerman was afraid of a teenager walking down the street carrying a bag of Skittles. That is, after all, where it all started.

I hope I never get like that.

Floors: Not done, but the house is functional with boxes strewn about. U-Haul returned in the rain. So much for my bright idea of taking my bicycle and riding it back. It’s at my brother’s…maybe never to return.

Motorcycle: Getting old in the shed. Determined to use it before the gas gets old.

Beach: You mean I can actually sit there in the sun instead of just driving by it?

Garden: Got my first Lebanese cucumbers. Yummy! The plants are very small, but are all trying to bear fruit. Very weird garden year. This is the very first one that I picked the other day.



Until next time, then…stay cool.

You get what you pay for

File this under: some people (like me) never learn.

I know why I don’t do this very often. I have friends who are always renovating something in their houses. I don’t know how they do it.

The nightmare intensified big time yesterday. So, first off, my contractor started the day by going under the house. Never a fun thing: 18″ crawl space and pretty yucky. Shored up a couple of spots and then started inside.

Spent all day on the threshold between the two rooms. I always knew the living room was the original camp, 11.5×11, but it never occurred to me that under the floor was a big hole for a doorway. So, of course, that meant they had to fill it in with something to build the addition. Well, “have to” is not really accurate. They could’ve just left it open and let it sag every time you walk on it. But, they didn’t. They actually filled it in with something. Surprise on West Island.

I always joked that my house was thrown up one weekend in May with a bunch of beer and a pile of wood found around the neighborhood.

Who knew it wasn’t a joke? Mr. Mazzolini told me, 18 years ago when I first got here, that he remembered when the owners of the lot decided to build. He said the Mr. walked over (beer in hand no doubt) and said he’d like to build a house for the Mrs. So they did. And I’m still dealing with it about 55 years later.

This is a piece of wood used for covering up the hole where the door used to be. That, my Dear Readers, is buckshot. Yup…your guess is as good as mine as to where it came from or how it got there. If it could only talk, huh?


So, after my contractor rebuilt the “transition” space, we opened boxes and started to lay the stuff out on the floor. The first box of my $1.99-per-square-foot engineered wood had cracked piece after cracked piece and knots with big holes and a lot of really small pieces….a lot of them.

Uh oh.

Open another box, start sorting through. Make three piles: the flawless stuff, the stuff with “character,” and the stuff we’re not using.

Guess which pile was biggest.

[heavy sigh]

But, we’re troopers. We don’t give up easily. Hell, he went under the house, 18″ crawl space. We can do this. We can, I know we can, I know we can.

Snap together. Cool. Looks good. It works.

Snap another piece, oh yeah, good choice on the color. We’re good. It’s engineered wood, not that laminate-plastic stuff. Engineered wood can be sanded, this one up to three times. We’re putting it near the wood stove so if coals fly out it won’t smell like I’m burning the Tupperware.




Not exactly.

Snap in place and….all the others unsnap. Say what?

Damn. No way were those pieces staying together. At that point, I had three of the five boxes opened, so, even if it wasn’t a clearance item, I can’t take those back. No way can I pack them up the way they were, either.

[heavy sigh]

My contractor just sat on the floor getting angrier and angrier.

Now, bear in mind that at that point I’m about as tired as it gets, was up until 2 a.m. painting (I used to be a good painter) and then up at 7. Five hours sleep and a hot July day make Aunty Bethy a grouch!

So I just said let’s call it a wash, a lesson learned. Let’s just go to Home Cheapo and buy something else, right now. A big apology to my advertisers ( for not using one of them, but sometimes you’ve just gotta do what you’ve got to do. It was 7:30 p.m. and we could not wait. Not…another…minute.

So, off to Home Cheapo, a detailed conversation with the young man in flooring and bought the Pergo brand; not the top of the line, but pretty good at $3.49 per square foot. Literally five times what I had planned on spending for the floor when I started. But I had decided I didn’t want that really cheap, thin stuff that was just printed on. So, I ended up with the thicker, better stuff that’s still plastic and still printed on.

Live and learn, maybe.

In any case, it looks good. In just one morning he’s got the first room just about done.


Anyone want to buy some nice Hickory Spice engineered wood floor? It looks great in the box. It’s only $1.99 a square foot, and I won’t even charge you the sales tax!

Until next time, then…

The nightmare continues

The good news is I have my landline back. The bad news is, there’s static on the line. Geesh. Ya think there’s a reason people are leaving Verizon to go with Comcast and Vonage and just about anyone else?

The also-bad news is, this renovating job is a nightmare. How many times can I say, “Welcome to West Island”? My little hovel is really going overboard to show off how hard it can be to do anything around here.

My contractor decided to come a day early, just so he could find all kinds of stuff going on that will, undoubtedly, put us at least a day behind. So, the painting will have to wait. We spent too much time yesterday ripping up carpet and pulling out a million staples. The rug guy must’ve had a complex or something.

And then there’s the wallpaper. I remember that my father used to paint over wallpaper all the time. This stuff does not want to come off. So, I looked up online how to paint over wallpaper. All the advice says the key is to use an oil-based primer and paint because the water-based latex might loosen the wallpaper. Well….THEY DON’T MAKE OIL-BASED PAINTS ANYMORE!!! Figures.

I’m hoping to get the other room painted today, but probably not the wallpapered room. I still have stuff to take off the walls anyway and I ran out of boxes…again. So, I have a room with half the wallpaper pulled off and it looks like it’s going to stay that way.

In any case, it means I won’t be getting to the parade today, alas. But my photographer Heidi will be there. I will be ripping up carpets, packing up books, and, hopefully, painting walls.

At least the stores are open. I ran out of boxes, again…it’s only two rooms for heaven’s sake, how much junk can get stuffed in here? No wonder the floor sags (don’t ask).

So I bought this kind of cool engineered wood for the floor in the wood stove room. Then I went back for some odds and ends and saw a different floor I liked better. It’s a lighter color, and these rooms can be dark enough already. So, I’m thinking two different floors. It’s two rooms, but kind of open, so, I’m not sure how that will work. I know this, though: we ain’t doing it over.

Meanwhile, ML Baron ( came over and pretty much told me it doesn’t matter because we’re going to get the big one this year and my house is going to get blown away anyway.

Welcome to West Island.

Happy Fourth of July to everyone.

Until next time, then…