Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What is wonderful?

I love these bottles, 2010

I just spent $3.99 on a fancy Icelandic style grapefruit yogurt with a pretty label. I'm rationalizing my purchase. I'm focusing on the fact that I've never tasted a grapefruit yogurt and better yet, this one tiny container houses 16g of protein. And I walked home instead of taking the bus. You might wonder how my cardiovascular output compensates for the $3.99. I'm not sure I can explain, but it somehow works for me. Okay...I just had my first taste. I don't love it. Hmmm. This texture is not for me. Damn.

The milk bottles above are from the milk I started buying when I lived right beside the town of Marshall, CA, home of Straus Family Creamery. It felt good to support a neighbor, but I must admit that I adore these beautiful glass bottles. How much did the glass bottles factor in to my buying decision? I'll never know for sure. But I don't live beside Marshall any longer and I still love this milk, and the bottles.

These thoughts about why we buy lead me to some other feelings I've been having lately. I always seem to fly into a frivolous buying frenzy when I'm nearing an upcoming trip. I begin to think of all of the things I need for the trip and wonder how I've lived this long without owning such things. It's typically a list of odd little things. Nothing major, but all seemingly very important.

An eye mask is on my list. I've always thought an eye mask and ear plugs would be wise for travel, but have not yet traveled with either item. My ears are very small. Not circus act small, but the smallest side of normal. My Apple earbuds are set on the smallest cap. Any ear plugs I've tried have been too large. How will I find some that fit? Are ear plugs made for children? There's an idea to explore...

When it comes to travel, there are always books to consider. Although I am a huge fan of our public library system, I just purchased 3 books from the used bookstore by the bay. Chris had a great idea. We purchase reasonably priced used books and leave them in a cafe or on the bookshelf in our vacation apartment. I love this idea. Come to think of it, this is how I found Chronicle of a Death Foretold when I was on the island of Salina. It had been left in our hotel lobby by a fellow traveler. It was not a book I would have purchased on my own and it was nice to stretch my boundaries a bit. Hopefully I'll be doing the same for someone else.

But why did I buy these three books? The first book follows a fascinating woman whose fevered quest for fulfillment drives her from lover to lover. The second shows the author's ability to conjure up very quickly the dark side of our emotions. And the third looks deeply and fearlessly into matters of profound human concern.

One problem. I'm looking over my selections and having second thoughts. What exactly will I be passing on? The books do look good. I know that many wonderful novels, films, songs, visual art, and poems are soul searching and sad, but are my selections too depressing? Should I give them all back to the used book shop or just add something not so wonderful, but a little lighter? And what is wonderful anyway?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

first book: A Spy in the House of Love by Anaïs Nin
second book: A Sentimental Education by Joyce Carol Oates
third book: Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida


  1. I have been known to buy that very yogurt. Sweetened by agave with the cute little label easy to peel off and recycle. Yes, I know that yogurt well. And I always overbuy and pack for trips. I don't think I'll ever.

  2. Tracy, So...you like it. I thought I'd like just about everything you like. I guess this is one exception. Do you have access to Bellwether Farms Sheep Milk Yogurt? Their blackberry is my new favorite. It's nice to know I'm not alone with my pre-travel habits.

  3. Read what intrigues you. I am sure whatever books you leave as gifts will delight the next reader or the next. Enjoy your trip.

  4. 1) I have always wanted to try the Strauss creamery products. Haven't done it yet, but did enjoy Bellwether Farms Sheep Milk yogurt. Also an indulgence, but loved that it didn't upset my stomach.
    2) Your book choices sound intriguing. I feel wonder when a book allows me to see the world in a new light, or causes me to feel something. If you love the books you chose, I think it's a great idea to give another person a chance to feel the sense of wonder you did when you discovered them!

  5. anais nin is usually super spicy; joyce carol oates always intrigues me but i always get bogged down; and let the northern lights erase your name was wonderful. i'd read that one, save nin for when you're in the mood for some spice, and pass oates along to someone else. but that's just me! :)

  6. I wish that your grapefruit yogurt had been wonderful; that's happened to me too--the look of the package, sound of the name, all allude to the idea of wonderful---then don't deliver. sigh. marketing!

    books seem to find their way into the right hands; you've chosen 3 strong writers. enjoy them, and then let them go.

  7. Strauss heavy cream is the best!!! (makes me feel like I'm in Europe...and I know I pay a lot for it here in AZ)

    I'm an earplug girl--every night. Hearos are my brand--can't live without them... Once I let my ears adjust to them for a night or two I was much more comfortable. So, if you're not familiar with them, you roll them between your fingers til they are squished very narrow and then just lift from the top of your ear and slide it in. It will expand to fit your ear. If you can live with being a little sore for a night or two, you may find that they are lifesavers. If you don't think that will work, try cutting one down with a razor. (maybe shave off a few mm from the long sides)

    Leave the books you chose. Don't over think it. The folks who read them are supposed to read them.

  8. That yogurt sounds delish.

    I wish I could help with book selection...but no, I am useless here.
    I think you should read what is interesting to you Denise, only you know what is wonderful...no?
    I wouldn't think about it twice..go with your gut...which should be pretty darn good right now, with 16g of protein.

  9. That's a bummer about your yogurt, however, I like that you were trying something new. I am hooked on the Honey Greek Yogurt lately.

    I believe you've chosen some lovely reads. Give them a go and if they don't work out that's okay and they will be for another.

  10. Anais Nin, Did I not have a huge crush on her back in the day. Oates, sure why not. And i haven't read the other author yet, though I checked out The Lovers in the bookstore yesterday

    But can't you get more books where you're going? And maybe someone has left something fabulous behind for you to read...

    I have decided to begin making my own yogurt using a Greek yogurt as a starter. I eat it every morning for breakfast and if I go to the bother to make my own granola, why not yogurt too?

    have a relaxing holiday.

    xo jane

  11. I think spending 3.99 for a yogurt is not out of line occasionally. Why do we spend it? Just think of the great story you could tell of how it was the most perfect pot of yogurt ever. And if you hadn't, you might always have wondered.

    Ear plugs - I use the ones shaped like a funnel that you can squish into a teeny tiny bud for teeny tiny ears. (me too)

    Books - haven't read any of them, but I'd make it a visceral choice - does it feel good, smell good, have a satisfying binding crack?

    Bon voyage.

  12. never used earplugs (i have the same ear problem as you - the apple earpglugs jump right out again because there´s really no space for them) but my sister doesn´t travel without them (she likes to stay in youth hostels ...).
    my favorite yogurt is organic and here in germany packaging of organic produkts is still very ugly - you have to be more intrigued by what´s in it.
    why don´t you try one of the maigret novels by simenon? they´re not as light as you might think at first... i read all 75 of them in the last two years and i´m really sad that thats all now...

  13. i am always
    into purchasing
    things because
    of packaging.
    i am not as bad
    as my architect
    partner though.
    i have heard good things
    the northern lights
    erase your name...

  14. My husband obssesses with the protein content of yogurt and that is often the number one factor in his yogurt-purchase.

    I have tiny ears too, and buy the smallest buds I can find. But for ear plugs I use those foam ones that you squeeze into your ears and they conform to the size.

    I love the idea of leaving books, like Nancy, I believe books will find their way into the right hands. I have found a couple books left through a book-drop kind of program thing where you leave books with a note and the finder enters the info online, reads it and then leaves it somewhere else. I don't know if it is still going on... but I love the idea

  15. oh
    sorry to hear the yogurt disappointed

    I have been known to purchase things based on appearance - I like the idea of milk in a glass bottle - occasionally buy avalon dairy choc milk as a treat - but the recycling of their bottles requires a lot of effort.

  16. Why is wonderful often seemingly wonderful before you have/own/eat it? And then upon communion with said wonderful object something is tarnished. The ideal is oxidized by reality...

    That's what I always wonder.

    Also, sometimes wonderful just comes and sits in your lap for no reason but the wind was warm and smelled like sweet flowers or new rain, and the light glistened just so, and the leaves spoke your language. The packaging is always right during those moments.

  17. I love to read Anais Nin's books..so I would say if you can part with them leave them for someone else to enjoy.

  18. First: I've been known to buy items because of their labels and packaging - usually because they awaken in me some sleepy memory that seems to hark to a simpler time. And I want it because I am running after that sliver of a memory and I want to relive it. Or perhaps recreate it. Or perhaps even (and more truthfully) create it.

    Second: I don't think you should worry about passing on these books - for they have already been passed on.

    Third: You know this, but I'll say it again: I love visiting here. Your writing? Your writing is wonderful.

    much love,


  19. Michele, Good advice. Thank you.

    Stacy, The Bellwether yogurt is so good. I just don't know if I love these books yet, but I'll find out soon.

    lucy, I'll find out if I feel the same, soon.

    nancy, Well, it seems I'm the only one who does not love this yogurt. Cheers to everyone else enjoying it.

    Christine, Thanks for the earplug advice and for suggesting I don't over think the books. You are right. Sometimes I look back at my own words and think blah blah blah...

    Camilla, So true. Only I know what is wonderful, for me.

    alexandria, I love Greek yogurt. It is protein-packed too. I will give the books a go. I can always say no thanks, close the book, and move on to the next. No biggie.

    flwrjane, Yes, I will probably find books while we are away. Good to keep in mind. Homemade is almost always the best way to go. What a great way to start your days.

    mosey, Thanks for the ear advice. I love your visceral choice descriptions.

    wsake, You are so right. Being intrigued by what´s inside the packaging is always the best way to make a decision. 75 novels by one author in two years? Wow. You must love to read too. If you like this author this much, I must try reading at least one of these books.

    bugheart, After reading The Lovers I am pretty excited to read more of her work.

    Annje, I like that book-drop idea too. It's nice to know such things exist in the world.

    RW, I know what you mean. I have a few bottles to return right now. I've never bought chocolate milk in a bottle, but it seems like it would be a nice treat.

    Julia, Yes, it's like wonderful often exists in the realm of fantasy. I prefer when it sits on my lap.

    Kim, I honestly don't know how I've waited this long to read her work. So many books and so little time.

    Maria, I do that too. It's kind of like we are attracted to packaging of the past, which is a funny thing. Or maybe it isn't. I think this desire has become more popular lately. When I was growing up I always wanted the progressive, new, improved, etc. Could we be at a turn-around point? Are we all tiring of new and moving more quickly. There does seem to be much more talk of the good old days and moving slowly, etc. Let's all garden. Let's all make homemade jam and bake bread. I for one do not mind, not at all. Well, with most things. I don't want to go back too far. I'd prefer women continue to vote : )

  20. As I'm so late in catching up, I'm guessing the decision to pass on the books has been made. But my two cents...I think the concept of leaving a book in a cafe to be picked up by a stranger is a fabulous idea. It's a simple concept that should remain as such. Don't over-think what books are left or not...the person who picks it up will be right for that book.

  21. Rachel, I really didn't articulate my thoughts well in this post. I think I confused everyone. Oh well, it happens. The selfish truth is that I'd always planned on passing on the books, I just wasn't sure I wanted to read so many sad books during one vacation. I added Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome and it promises to be a hugely funny book, so I'm all set.

  22. Ohhh, new book inspiration that will surely widen my bounderies. Thank you!

  23. life in yonder, Update: Chris read A Spy in the House of Love and A Sentimental Education and suggested I opt out. I never read them. I did read Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name and it was excellent.