Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"once you are real you can't become unreal again; it lasts for always"

teddy roosevelt and his dog skip reading together
i have never talked about my love of books on this blog.  weird because they are about my favorite things in the world after nature. the idea came to me today saddened by reports that barnes and noble and borders are on the brink of bankruptcy and that the advent of kindle, and fierce competition from amazon and other online book warehouses threaten the bookshelves of that one place i can always turn too when boredom dares to tempt me. not only have we had to endure the doing away of the art of letter writing, now the perhaps most important source of culture and thought will disappear.  what danger as people are besought by unwanted propaganda and ads. how will we know what is out there?  word of mouth? blogs? or will serendipity mutate into an  intutive browsing through the labrynth of the worldwideweb?

books came to me thanks to my stepfather claudio.  i was a very sickly child having spent most of my childhood bedridden with every ears, nose and throat disease in the annals of medicine.  i even had to have a blood transfusion once (my grandfather  was the blood donor) on the verge of death from  "foot and mouth disease" a very painful blistering of the tongue and throat.  so my father (i have never considered him a stepfather) thought of books as a way to keep me entertained as i lay convalescing.  i still remember my first enid blyton adventures and all the ladybug books that taught me basic history and my first crafts. then came meatier books about the cuban revolution (my father was a radical thinker back then).  i took in what i wanted, discarded the rest never allowing myself to be totally brain washed.  i only craved for knowledge which would later give form to my own views and understandings. i relished in adventure when i read reasure Island for the first time and dreamt of building my own house around a tree.

i have moved countless times in my life, even across continents and beleive it or not, my books, being the heaviest to pack and pay for transport, were the top priority on my list of things to take with me o si o si as they say in chile. parting with them is out o the question even if i never read them again.  they are like people in the room with me, they have life and whn i feel a bit lost and confused, my bookshelf is where i turn to for a surprise uplifting boost in morale. it's that books always hold an answer for me, a perspective, another way of assessing life as a whole, the umbilical chord to a collective consciousness. from poet to strategist, depending n my mood, i can always find my way back to my center with a book. awareness, enlightenment, messages, answers to questions, new questions, inner turmoil, a soliloquious debate, a never ending quest for truth which is never absolute or all encompassing are the priceless gifts in books.

from an early age i could never compartmentalize thinking. i could never adhere to one line of thought philosophically which reveals to me that from the get go i was holistic in my viewpoint. nothing can be separated from anythting, everything is tied together in one big map of existence, subcultures within subcultures, all legitimate in our search and will to survive and co-exist. therefore my ample mindedness, my understanding of every imaginable "sin" Jesus gave his life for, every stream of thought.

my love of books was instant.  instant! i emphasize. i owe my vocabulary to them, my knowledge of art to them, my love of poetry to them, my understaning of presidents to them, my dexterity in cooking to them, my love of culture to them, my faith in the common man to them. 

funny thing, when i walk into bookstores, books call me, shout at me, over here, over here, read me, read me.  such was the case when i discovered bukowski or a tiny book in the travel section called "the moonlight chronicles" (by dan price, hobo artist as he describes himself) and i  never go to the travel section but that book called me, i swear.

i love children's books, art books, poetry books, decorating books, the classics, architecture and cookbooks, biographies, auto-biographies and history books, big books, little books, old books  (even with missing covers and pages) picture books and books written in foreign languages.  i think the only books i don't like are computer books or "get rich quick books".

 i still hold on to all the books i read my children, they are as important in my library as adult books, maybe even more so. i read "alexander and the no good, terrible, very bad day", many times and always close it with gratefulness. my children love for me to show them their old "old bear", "franklin the turtle" or "there's an alligator under my bed" or read them a nordic poem from a huge volume of children's classics i bought at their school.  there, again, i noticed books just speaking to me, this one, this one, this one. and i think i was never wrong.  who could ever forget the message in "the velveteen rabbit"? I cry every time when i read the part .....

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand." ......once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."

i think children's books are more for adults than for children sometimes.  i didn't get the message of this book until i had actually become real myself.  i had to go through those motions described in the conversation.

i kept falling for them more and more in school too as the BBC lectured us on British history over the loudspeakers.  i was fascinated by history, the bayeauz tapestry being my first recollection of my love for creativity.  culture summoned me, implored me to make use of my insatiable curiosity to know all.  over the years my insatiability remains the same,so much so that i tend to always be a step ahead of myself. everything is interesting to me from sociology to genetics to quantum physics although i have to admit i am lego at certain mathematical theories no matter how appealing they may be. hawkins and einstein are out of my league but that doesn't mean i'd give anything to understand at their level.  i sit in awe when steven hawkins speaks at one of his lectures.  i am drawn to such disparate personalities as john adams and wayne dyer, deeprak chopra and noam chomsky, agatha christie and pearl s. buck as well as professor claudio veliz and arnold toynbee.

and then there's the art of book making, binding, paper selection, font selection, cover design and prologues.  i hold books in my hands and ponder on every aspect that went into their realization.

and the endless quotes, lines from poems, seeds and food for thought on every level.

"don't cry for anything that can't cry for you" (sofia loren) is one of my favorites as she refers to not cryting over material things although in the case of books i must make an exception. nothing compares to the physical feeling of a book in my hands.  i fall asleep with one on my pillow every day! i would probably begin to go mad without them and my life would literally become an unbearable lightness of being.

and bookstores- mundo de papel, the small neighborhood bookstore in camarillo called bookworm always moving in search of cheaper rental space,ambushed by more and more telecomunications depots. i also love  the used bookstore in ventura abednego, the used book section in thrift stores, flea market books with old covers and obscure languages, barnes and noble, borders and its un-matched apple tarts and coffee corner in spite of coffee badly brewed by the amateur newly-hired employee, the magazine section a heaven in itself, the gift section, always with its perfect last minute gift picking solution. 

i could speak for hours on the subject of books.  i have observed enough bookstores, used bookstores and online bookstores to form many an impression, but the one that stands out the most is the amount of religious books and self help books being written which proves how alienated we still remain and how people search desperately for love and affirmation in a world filled with cliques which paradoxically never quite fill the void. so there again are books to make the road a bit more interesting, a lot less matter-of-fact.  they are always inspiration, always a trigger to magical thinking.

books cannot disappear, children's books cannot disappear, i forbid it, bookstores must live on. 
mom and pop stores will be my next defense oratory.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

this was an unusual christmas for me since i was, to begin with, in the southern hemisphere, wearing shorts and flip flips in sweltering heat.  away from home, i could not set up my tree nor decorate nor cook a christmas meal for family and friends.  that i shared at a friend's house who welcomed me with the local cola de mono (a coffee, milk and aguardiente brew) and oyters on the half shell. as you all may know i have been here on business which has lingered far beyond my patience at times.  bureaucratically speaking, chile remains a third world country although its lifestyle is almost ahead of the US, very much influenced by europe. 

i have had the luck to stay in a charming neighborhood called bellavista which translated means good view or beautiful view.  i have the san cristobal hill to my left as i lean out of the balcony and the bohemian streets to my right, streets i have wondered through, to and from.  my lunches i usually take at patio bellavista where cuisine meets handmade traditional items.  for xmas i gave myself the most gorgeous pair of handmade copper and threaded earrings
and ate peruvian skewers for lunch before heading up to spend christmas eve with friends.
altered art on wall of patio bellavista
when i returned on sunday having been invited to spend the night and share the leftovers, i remembered that one of pablo neruda's houses (LA CHASCONA) is situated right around the corner from here.  i took the tour with much emotion since i grew up with him.  each of his houses is a collector's dream, filled with colored bottles and ships mastheads and glasses from mexico and seashells and books and paintings by diego rivera, nemesio antunez and siqueiros and mario carreno among others.

 the man from brazil in his bowler hat seeking culture at the same time as i

words, still very prevalent, for which pablo neruda was reknown
"the ire persists"
so, as you can see, my days have been those of survival, of making the best of it away from my children and home, graspig the moment alone, very much alone yet in tune i hope with what could leave a mark on me

Thursday, December 16, 2010


 flea markets in chile are the best.  you can still find real antiques at bargain prices and for every taste in the decorating spectrum.  ofcourse i have made it a habit to go every friday with my friend chichi.  tomorrow we go again.  the fun thing about flea markets is that you never know what treasures you are going to find.  like this relic i found of san benito that just speaks beauty in spite of its imperfection. 

 antique tin bread box (the anticuarian had four of these in diorerent so have to go back to buy at least one more

 sewing notions

handmade hat ornament

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

more of chile as we took off for lake rapel over the weekend to paty and jorge's boat.  in spite of the weather (it rained and the winds were chillingly cold) we had a great time under cover inside the boat and then taking the little boat ashore to pedro pablo and francisca's house where we made ceviche and read poetry, sat around the fireplace and then danced into the night.  i would have stayed another week but i have to pick up so many certificates and deeds and continue with the duty i came to achieve here.  maybe next week i will venture down to puerto varas to my brother's summer house.  i want so much to make this a vacation as well as a business trip.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

@casa dulce hogar

 si, aqui mi privilegio.  pase un dia entero de sol a luna en casa de mi querida amiga maria cecilia de casa dulce hogar.  fuimos de cahureos para luego terminar en su casa cocinando french toast y jardineando.  las palabras faltan para describir la belleza de su casa y su jardin, las palabras faltan tambien para describir su hospitalidad y carino.  y es que sigue siendo mi soul sister. me la llevaria conmigo a california, asi de triste sera dejarla atras.

sus famosas rosas pierre ronsard

el muzguito en la piedra
 fresas salvajes

cocinando en su cocina 

Saturday, December 4, 2010


just a quick note to let you in on a good secret.  Maria from Canada's The Growers Daughter is having a fabulous blog giveaway.  just follow the link highlighted above to sign up and also enjoy Maria's entertaining

view of the world and life. 

p.s.:  arrived happily in santiago and enjoying my first couple of days here throughly thanks to friends who have catered to my every need.