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Friday, November 30, 2012

There’s Energy, and Then There’s “Energy”! Ideas, Peeps?

Wind howling around the old farmhouse as cold morning light slowly banishes outdoor darkness. Much has happened since Aaron Stander’s visit to Dog Ears Books. There was a trip to Traverse City on Sunday to see old friends; a long, cold Monday in the bookstore while the crew worked to dismantle and remove the old furnace and install a new one; another trip to town Tuesday for an appointment, with lunch at Oryana afterward; power going out again at home on Wednesday and new furnace at the shop not working up to capacity; parade of furnace crew on Thursday, bringing in parts to finish up the job. Ups and downs. Pleasures and setbacks.

Wednesday was a discouraging day for me, despite Bruce’s help at the bookstore. I’d had in mind all kinds of housework projects at home, with washing my hair on the agenda, too, but after the housework. And then—? No power! No hot water! Cap pulled down tight on my head as we took refuge with a pizza in a brightly lighted public place!

I still say we are lucky. A friend out East tells me her sister was without heat and electricity for a week, got it back for a day, then lost it again. Some people who lost it with Sandy still don’t have power back. What are they doing? How are they managing at all? Many must have homes in cities, even apartments many flights above the ground. No, we are very fortunate. I knew that on Wednesday but still felt tired and discouraged, because we have other issues we’re dealing with these days besides power outages and a balky furnace.

But Thursday morning, for some unaccountable reason, I felt better almost as soon as I was on my feet. It was a sunny morning, and the temperature was warm, but that isn’t always be enough to bring my chin off the floor when life gets me down. What did it, I think, was a magazine David found in the free stack at the library, the place where patrons put their personal subscription magazines when they’re finished with them so that other people can take them home to read. Actually, David picked up several magazines, but among them three issues of one in particular that he thought I would like and that I love, love, love! It’s called “Acres USA,” and it’s been around for over 40 years, and I can’t understand how I didn’t know about it before now. I devoured it along with pizza on Wednesday evening and started feeling better and more energized with every page.

The articles are long and go into important matters in depth. That’s so satisfying and encouraging that it gets my brain pumping and thinking again of the future in two positive, proactive ways, and I am very excited. First, what I’m reading affirms my sense of stewardship for the little piece of Michigan land that is my home, and all kinds of ideas sprout up as I consider the future of our land. That will take shape slowly over the long term. More immediately, I really want to take the small percentage of my store inventory that is new books in a more focused direction, expanding offerings on organic food production and ecological self-sufficient living.

With that in mind, I welcome suggestions. Gardening, greenhouses, seed starting, small orchard production, poultry and livestock, woodlot management, wind and solar energy, appropriate technology—what would you like to read about or make accessible to more people in northern Michigan? I’ll be making a list and unveiling the new collection in early summer, so please send me your ideas. Better yet, if possible, stop by and talk to me about them. Our summer farm market in Northport has grown into a beautiful thing, and I would like the books in my bookstore to complement the food at the market and the lives of the people who grow it. Taking that direction with books will also complement my own plans for future plans at home.

I have a third idea brewing that I’ll reveal after the first of the year if I decide to go ahead with it, but all in all, while bookstore viability becomes more and more problematic in today’s virtual world, I am not ready to hand in the towel yet. And though country living and outdoor work take more of a toll on a body no longer 20-something, I’m not ready to give that up, either. That’s my “bottom line” determination. Stubborn? Yes. But also full of happy anticipation!


Kathy said...

Glad you're not ready to "hand in the towel" and also glad that you found a publication that inspired you again. Being without power can be a very challenging experience. Gray skies can be challenging. Our world up here is gray, gray, gray. I am also afraid that the package you mailed may be lost. :(

P. J. Grath said...

Kathy, I send the package Media Mail. If you don't get it eventually, it will be the first book--okay, it's a book!--I've sent UPSPS in 19-1/2 years that failed to reach its destination. Keep the faith, baby! It was a bleak, colorless day here, too. Much nicer now that it's dark outside and fire is blazing away inside.

Kathy said...

I'll keep the faith. It's strange how impatient I've been for your giftie. (Why did I suspect it was a book...?)

Gerry said...

Books about food preservation - cookbooks that focus on seasonal food, with ideas for using a lot of it when it's there (and substituting for it when it's not . . . ) - an ABC book with Apples and Beets and Carrots and Dandelions and Eggs. A book about gardening in Very Small Spaces.

Books that help us figure out how to fix stuff with something besides duct tape. (Although duct tape is excellent.) These books should lie flat when opened so that a person can consult the useful illustrations while trying to replace the thingamajig in the whatsit.

Books about home brewing (Fischer Jex at Wagbo recommends Stephen Harrod Buhner's Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation.)

P. J. Grath said...

Gerry, trust you to come up with a list of excellent ideas. Thank you so much! Only one problem that I see: books that lie flat usually have spiral binding, and while that’s great great for using, it makes for difficult display. Put them on a bookshelf spine out, and there’s nothing to see. But I’ll keep it in mind, along with your suggestions for helpful content areas, and I guess it will depend what format a good book comes in. Don't want to miss good content because the package isn't perfect!

dmarks said...

I've seen plenty of books that have a spiral binding as well as s square binding that shows up great in the shelf.

By the way, skip my Sleestak entry and check the poetry instead.

Dawn said...

I'm glad to hear you have found inspiration to get you through these weeks of problems. I'd think any organic small farm books would be welcome, but I don't have any titles to offer. Living small might also be a side topic, living with less consumption of everything.

P. J. Grath said...

Thank you both. I think on the matter of binding, I'll go for whatever has great information and ideas on the pages between the covers. And dmarks, I'll follow the poetry link. Thanks. About to post more myself, too.