Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Library

In the past year I've been going to the local library a lot, at least once a week to check out books and dvds. I sort of re-discovered my love of reading...I've always had at least one book going since I was a kid, but lately I've been devouring them, maybe one a week or every two weeks. I've gone through all my favorite authors like Dean Koontz, who writes riveting horror novels, and Arthur C. Clarke the renowned science fiction author, who wrote 'hard science'...and a few others I've discovered, like Ken Follett and John Grisham.
Recently as I was checking out the latest books, I noticed a sign-up sheet at the front desk,
We need library volunteers! We're moving to our new location and need help with:
Help in the Computer Lab
Help moving
So almost as an impulse, I signed up. A couple weeks later, I got a call to come in, and before I knew it I was pushing a cart of library books up and down the aisles re-shelving books! And the funny thing is, I enjoyed it...what seemed to be an otherwise tedious task, I found myself relishing the experience. Then I realized it was the books.
Each and every one of them, no matter what the subject or who the author was a labor of love. Someone poured part of their soul into each one of those books, whether it was an obscure writer who had only one book published their entire life, or a literary 'megastar' whose name is larger than the book title. And there's a certain energy that emanates from each one. I got that...I can even feel it sometimes.
As I go from row to row, I see titles that I recognize. I spotted Jules Verne, who wrote "Journey to the Center of the Earth" back in 1885, the first book I ever read when I was a kid, which got me started on my love of books and stories. I also spotted "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand, and thought of the band Rush, their '2112' album, Neil Peart wrote the lyrics and thanked her for the inspiration on the liner notes. I was so impressed at the time that I read the book! How many hard rock albums inspire teenage guys to read classic literature? And there's the biographies, an entire wall of them, everyone from Mother Teresa to Michael Jackson.
The library is also a great place to people watch. I see many 'regulars' guy comes in every day and sits at the same table and reads, for hours...another comes in and reads every single newspaper from all over California...every day. Many elderly folks come in, who are well aquainted with the library staff, and there's book clubs and movie nights, and Bingo nights! I even helped out with one of those. It's quite a social magnet that I never really gave much thought to. And they all have one thing in common, their love of books. Even when scanning the books in the back room, I notice the other scanners pausing to look at one, then opening it and reading some of it, and I do the same thing... One day while shelving I came across a girl seated on the floor, engrossed in a book she'd found, I gingerly stepped around her as I didn't want to disturb her reading, that's when I realized there's a reverence to the place, not so much like in a church, but a place having a certain peace. I like being in there...
One time I saw this dude who was an obvious gangbanger type, wandering around in that apeish way, "What's he doing here?" I thought, "can this guy even read?" Then he called over two young kids, either his younger siblings, or even his kids! He sat down with them in the Children's Area and began to read to them...he was an excellent reader and the kids were riveted. He even had different voices for the characters and he would pause to show them the pictures, the guy was awesome!
Just goes to show you can't judge a book by its cover.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Illustration Friday - Satellite

Originally uploaded by danguerra444
Arthur C. Clarke wrote a short story about a tower that was so high it reached into space. It eliminated the need for satellites.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Illustration Friday - Paisley

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Originally uploaded by danguerra444
Back in 1968, a band called Yes hit the London club scene, decked out in paisley. They went on to become one of the biggest prog-rock bands of all time. I wore out alot of red and yellow felt pens on this one.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Illustration Friday - Ripple

dannyspics 133
Originally uploaded by danguerra444
The Korean War era USS Seaverling leaves a giant ripple in its wake as it hunts for subs. This was my dad's ship.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Illustration Friday - Trail

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Originally uploaded by danguerra444
The Mt. Whitney Trail is 11 miles of switchbacks as it extends around the southern ridge and leads to the summit at 14,496 feet. We hiked it when I was 11, is was quite an experience!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Moth

One thing that I've discovered is the pure joy of growing vegetables, from start to finish. From the earliest seedlings, when they first poke out of the ground and point their fragile leaves towards the sun, to full maturity when they thrive and sprout fresh good things every day. I have really enjoyed the process of watering and nurturing their growth. And part of that process are always the bugs...pests who want to eat them too. Oh, they're not mean about it, or malevolent, they're just doing what comes naturally...but nevertheless they are in fact pests...invaders, plunderers.
Tomato plants often become infested with hornworms, those green caterpillars that blend in with the plant so they're hard to see, and they eat and eat, and can grow up to five inches long. One of them can eat an entire tomato plant in a couple of days! So each day I carefully inspect the leaves and when I spot one, I snip off the leaf or branch and toss it over the fence. I don't want to kill them, because a) it would be cruel, and b) it would be extremely gross and messy to smash one of those things, and c) there's no ducks around to feed them to.
It's still early in the season so I was out there yesterday and sure enough, I spotted the tell-tale holes in the leaves and small droppings the worms leave. After close inspection I caught five of them! still small at less than an inch. So I dispatched them all over the fence, to the back alley. And then I glanced at a dark object at the base of the tomato plant. At first I thought it was a piece of wood or tree bark. It was about the size of a small bird, and I thought it might be a bird, dead or sick...and then it MOVED. Small claws and antenna started flicking around, and I knew at once what it was...a Goliath Moth.
It was laying its eggs on the tomato plant, that's where the worms come from. As I lifted a branch to get a closer look, it turned its head and looked at me with two huge black eyes, as if to say, "yeah whadda YOU lookin' at?"
I was taken aback...I'm usually not too squeamish about bugs, sometimes I even find them cute, like ants or ladybugs...but this!...they say humans are hard wired to be repulsed by insects, and in this case, it was true...maybe because of its size. This was an abomination, a foul thing that needed to be destroyed, eradicated. At first I thought of reaching in and grabbing it, but it was so big it would be a problem holding on, especially if it squirmed around and flapped its big furry wings. Or if I poked it with a stick, it wouldn't go anywhere...then I thought...the hose!
Yes, I decided to blast it with the hose, I went and got it and turned the water on. It had a pressure nozzle that went from wide spray to concentrated stream, depending on the trigger, it was like a gun, and I was fully armed. So I came around the corner and aimed and fired, the moth was blasted right off the tomato plant. It tumbled against the fence amid a torrent of mud. Then it flapped its wings and shook itself like a dog, and started crawing right back to the plant!
"Why you little..." I blasted it again, and it tumbled back. There was a gap under the fence, so I aimed to push it through that gap, away from the plants, into the other part of the yard. After sustained water pressure, the moth was pushed through. I went around to the other side, where it was shaking itself off again...then it stared at me...It flapped its wings again and took off, straight at me! I still had the hose so I gave it a blast in a wide spray, it veered off and landed by the fence again. I seethed, I hated the thing...
"Okay, you die." I decided that the hose wasn't enough, it was time for poison. I don't like doing that, but this was war...or so it seemed at the time...I went to the garage to look for various insecticides, I found a can of Raid ant/spider spray, hmm that would do.
When I returned to the fence, the moth was almost back to the gap, making its way back to the tomato plants! "Ohhh no you don't!" I sprayed it with the Raid. It twitched around but kept going, obviously its size was too robust for an insect spray designed to kill smaller, this guy was bigger, tougher...I returned to the garage and found a bottle of Malathion, the concentrate that you mix a few ounces with a gallon of water for an effective insect repellant. I didn't have time to mix it, I took the bottle out there. It was nearly back to the gap in the fence. Unscrewing the cap, I was almost aprehensive at what I was about to do..."Sorry buddy, nothing personal..." I poured the concentrate right on writhed and squirmed in obvious agony, I poured some more on it, if only to put it out of its misery...finally it flipped over and with a final twitch of its legs it stopped moving and died.
And suddendly, almost instantly I felt remorse...I genuinely felt sorry for the thing, a hideous insect at one moment, then a glorious creature that was destroyed...I thought of Native Americans who honored the spirit of every deer they killed...I thought of the tenacity of this poor dumb big moth, it was only doing what comes natural, just trying to carry on as we all do...I stared...there it was, lying belly up, dead...
It was a war of sorts..."I'm sorry, but those are my tomatoes, and you can't have them."