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Book Again features a large selection of current
as well as many hard-to-find & out-of-print titles!
Book Again is
located in Torrance, California, at 5039
just west of Anza (between Shakey's Pizza and McDonald's
Again is open 11am to 4pm (CLOSED MONDAYS)
I'd like to start off this month by welcoming our newest Book Again helper, Helen. Helen is a voracious reader and is helping me out on Wednesdays and Thursdays. She loves helping people with finding books, and is always interested in hearing about which books you enjoy. I'm sure you will agree that Helen is a great addition to our Book Again family.
You may have noticed some changes in the store of late. Firstly, our "Recent Book Section" now combines both the General Fiction and Romance paperback titles.
Secondly, on the shelf which used to hold the "Recent Romances," you will find a new section called "Spotlight on Romance." This new section will feature collections of certain Romance authors and will change from time to time. Just another feature with our romance novel fans in mind.
Our last change is the addition of our "Very Discounted Hardcovers" section, featuring many great hardcover titles, all priced at only $2.50 each. You'll find them located directly underneath our "Large Print Books" section. Be sure to check them out during your next visit! See you soon!
Attention Mystery Lovers by Cathy
I sure do love a good mystery. But I insist that it be well-written with the characters being well-developed. Louise Penny fills that bill in both categories. Her Inspector Gamache series has won numerous awards and critical acclaim.
Set in Quebec, most of the titles in this series take place in a quaint imaginary village of Three Pines. The stories have a warm, cozy feel to them, but the psychological suspense and terror bring things to a whole other level. This series will also appeal to those who like police procedurals.
The 11th book of this series is due to be published in August. Each title can be read as a stand-alone book, but the continuing development of the quirky characters is best understood if they are read in sequence.
The first is called Still Life, and as I write this, I see that we do have this title in-stock here at Book Again.
Personally, I started by reading How the Light Gets In, which is still my favorite in the series.
Penny's books explore the nature of good and evil, emphasizing one's personal choice, and her sophisticated plotlines are not easily deduced before the end of the story.
Look for her titles in the oversized mystery section as well as the back room of the bookstore.
Sheryl Brags About Her Family by Sheryl
I'm sure that many of you have heard the big news about the Daily Breeze winning a Pulitzer. Such a very rare honor for a local newspaper and almost unbelievable in this age of reduced staffing and restricted resources. But despite all that, two reporters and an editor at our local Daily Breeze newspaper did it with very effective coverage on the Centinela Valley School District financial scandal.
My "brag" is that my cousin, Frank Suraci, was the editor of the three who have been honored with the Pulitzer.
Congratulations, Frank! We are all so proud that you have been given this extraordinary honor!
1 C chicken broth or canned low-sodium broth, heated to boiling
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°.
Lightly oil an 11 1/2 x 8-inch (2-qt) baking dish.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat.
Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds (a mandolin or food processor does the quickest work).
Add to the boiling water and cook until barely tender, about 8 minutes.
Drain and toss with the pesto to coat evenly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Layer half of the potatoes in the dish, sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese, and sprinkle with basil. Continue until you have 3 layers, finishing with cheese.
Pour in the hot broth. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Uncover and continue to bake until the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown,
about 15 minutes.
Serve hot, sprinkled with parsley. Serves 8.
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
Keep a container of this brick-red pesto in the refrigerator to toss with pasta, to stir into soups or salad dressings, or even to make a dish of scalloped potatoes into an event.
2 C sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
1 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 C (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/4 C (packed) fresh parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves, crushed under a knife and peeled; freshly ground pepper, to taste
Process all the ingredients in a food processor fitted with the metal blade until the mixture forms a coarse paste. (The pesto can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 1 month). Makes about 2 cups.
As Joe continues his break, I continue with my "cat rescue story" from the January newsletter. And since that very long recipe booted our column from the previous printed edition of our last newsletter, I have now returned the favor with a very long "CatLore" column. This "web-version" of the column is a slightly-expanded and rewritten version of what appears in our current printed version of the Book Again newsletter...
To sum up where we left off (from January's newsletter -- available here), I befriended a local alley cat in 2010, who, in turn, brought me her kitten a year later. Thinking at first that the tiny creature in her mouth was a rat, I eventually named the kitten "Ratty" (hey, if it's good enough for Kenneth Grahame, it's good enough for me), much to the chagrin of my mom's friend (who felt such a negative name would cause Ratty to need a kitty shrink a few years down the road).
So let's go back to that cold October night in 2011. After dropping her kitten onto my living room carpet, Shadow dropped to the floor, herself, seemingly exhausted. A sure sign that kids can exhaust parents of all species.
Shadow took a well-deserved nap as Ratty-the-kitten crawled around slowly on his own. It was all too cute. I really wanted to adopt Ratty, but at the same time I didn't want a pet. I didn't want the hassle of cleaning up after a cat, and I didn't want to be saddled with the cost of food and vet bills. Especially at that time -- the economic collapse had really hurt my graphic design business, and my poor bank account was at its lowest point ever.
And yet, I felt responsible. My neighbor had been feeding Shadow for a while now, but had neglected to get her fixed (he even had a few of Shadow's previous kittens living inside with him). And now here I was, also feeding Shadow, and also neglecting to get her spayed. So I really felt that this kitten was partly my responsibility. Ugh.
As both cats were making themselves at home (in MY home), I started to think about the situation. I started to find excuses that might let me off the hook. Yes, these cats were cute, but they were still very much wild animals. At least partially (with the exception of them being fed by humans).
I thought about it for an hour or so, and eventually felt that the best thing to do was to put them back outside before they started getting used to being indoors (and before they had the chance to poop on my floor). Giving him one last kiss and hug, I picked Ratty up and brought him back outside. Shadow followed, and she picked Ratty up in her mouth after I placed him on the outdoor walkway. I stood there and waited to see where they would go next. Shadow looked around, hesitated, looked around some more, and then ran back up the stairs, returning Ratty inside my apartment. She probably would have slammed the door behind her and locked me out if she was able.
I laughed to myself, went back upstairs and did the procedure all over again -- only this time I ran upstairs before Shadow had the chance. Looking out the peephole, I saw Shadow take Ratty away. And that was that. Problem solved.
Only it really wasn't solved. I felt sad. That night, I couldn't sleep. I kept tossing and turning, thinking about Ratty. Did I do the right thing? Why did Shadow only have one kitten with her? Did something bad happen to the rest of her litter, making Ratty the sole survivor? Did they come to my place looking for sanctuary, and did I just send them back to face a certain death out in the cold, cruel world?
I saw Shadow nightly after that as she ate her food in front of the neighbor's door, but she was always alone. No sign of Ratty. Of course, with my overactive imagination, I felt that something bad must have happened to the poor kitten. Then, a week or so later, I noticed Shadow was being unusually vocal outside my neighbor's door. I peered out and saw Ratty down on the walkway, trying as hard as he could to jump up onto the first stair (which led up to my front door). I was so happy to see him! Ratty was safe! I ran down the stairs and carried him inside, with Shadow following happily behind. The photo above (of Ratty nursing) is from October 17th -- the night after they returned to me.
I was so happy that Ratty was safe, but my dilemma persisted. I still didn't want a pet, and I was still unsure if it was best to let them live in the wild or to "capture" them and force them to live inside with me.
I decided on a compromise. I would let them remain wild, but at the same time I would make them a "safe haven" out on my balcony. As seen in the video below, Shadow was able to jump up and down from my 2nd floor balcony from the outside, so this arrangement let her keep her freedom, while at the same time theoretically protecting Ratty (who was too small to jump over the railing) from anything bad (predators, cars, paparazzi). The following video shows Shadow jumping up onto my balcony. It was filmed on November 11th -- almost a month after they came back to me.
Don't be alarmed. The white splotches on the ground in this video are only drops of paint from some careless painters.
This all seemed to work well for a month or so. They seemed to sleep well in their little "kitty cave" shelter on my balcony at night. But during the day, it was still cold outside, and, feeling bad for them, I would open up the balcony door and allow them to come indoors where it was warm.
Though it seemed a bit weird to put them outside only during the coldest part of the day -- and that got me thinking more about the situation. Was I really doing the right thing? Yes, I may have saved Ratty's life (if there really was a predator out there), but at the same time, he was being sheltered by living on my balcony. Yes, he was sheltered from danger, but he was also being kept from learning the lessons of survival in the outside world. He wasn't learning the important lessons on how to survive on his own.
Well, after some thought, there seemed to be no way around it -- Ratty would just have to stay with me forever. He was now my pet, no matter how I tried to justify him not being my responsibility. As for Shadow, I was fine with her living with me as well. I knew she could survive in the wild, but if she wanted to, she could stay with Ratty and I. I just didn't want to force her. Having lived outdoors for so long, I didn't want her to feel stressed out with feelings of imprisonment. I got rid of the outdoor kitty cave, installed a pet door to my balcony (keeping Shadow's in/out access) and allowed both cats to live inside 24/7. But I knew I wouldn't be able to keep the pet door past the point of when Ratty would be able to jump up to the balcony railing.
Around that same time, I also decided to (finally) get Shadow spayed; and since she was a feral cat, the vet also clipped the tip of her right ear. This "ear tipping" would help protect Shadow if she decided to remain living outdoors (it is a sign to animal control officers to leave this cat alone, as it was fixed and was being cared for).
After the operation, the vet recommended that Shadow be kept indoors for a couple of days as she healed, so when I brought her home, I temporarily took down the pet door (which was her gateway to the outside world).
Surprisingly, Shadow didn't seem to mind losing her outdoor access. She didn't freak out or claw at the doors or mope about or anything. She actually seemed perfectly content staying inside. Fantastic! This meant I could keep her inside all the time. Not only would she be safer living indoors, but this would also keep her from getting infested with fleas and such (which was a concern I had)! So we said goodbye forever to the recently-acquired pet door (which, fortunately, I bought used for only $80), and both cats were now officially my indoor-only pets.
Shadow and Ratty have been with me for well over 3 years now. Ratty has grown, and is now bigger than his mother, and he earns his keep by warning me when people are walking up my front steps (he's a big scaredy-cat who runs and hides at the first sound of approaching outdoor footsteps).
Since he came to live indoors with me at such a young age, Ratty is a pretty normal cat; but Shadow had some adjustments to make. Nevertheless, her level of trust in me continues to grow almost daily. Just when I think she trusts me completely, she'll cross another trust barrier that I never knew existed.
For instance, in those early days, if I were to raise my foot (to cross over some household item or tie my shoe), Shadow would hiss at me (possibly thinking I was about to kick her?). But these days, when I lift my foot to take my shoes off, she will happily run underneath me and rub her head against my other foot (which is cute, but also slightly irritating, as I am trying to balance on one foot while taking off the other shoe, and I don't want to accidentally lose my balance and step on her tail).
Also in those early days, she used to visibly flinch when being touched, but now she absolutely loves being petted, and actively seeks it out. This once wild, potentially aggressive alley cat is now a cuddly, purring furball who loves to sleep in my lap as I watch the ball game on TV. And I love catching her in a deep sleep. It makes me feel good, knowing that such a deep sleep was probably impossible to get when she was living outside.
But it wasn't just Shadow who had transformed. I went from feeling largely indifferent towards cats to now being the male equivalent of a "cat lady" (a "cat daddy," I'm guessing?) Heck, I even gave my cats their own facebook page!
Looking back on it, I can't imagine how I ever turned them away at first. They are so much a part of my life now. All I need now is to teach Ratty how to cook me breakfast, and I am set for life...
Well, it's been fun hijacking the folklore column and burying the Book Again website under a layer of cat hair, but my big brother Joe will be returning in July to once again continue with his tales of myths and legends.