Closure of Wessex Bookstore

I have always been fond of used bookstores. They are a little like animal shelters. Lovely creatures waiting for their next home and their next owner. When you opened a new book, you smell the “newest”, the innocence, and the cleanness. When you open a used book, you smell the “dust”, the past, the sunset it might had been bathed in, the small or old hands that had held it close and read till early morning. I had always loved finding writings or notes in a used book, as if I was suddenly allowed to peep into someone else’s life for a brief moment. It was a kind of mild thrill of a minor adventure or mystery.

While in school, I liked Shakespeare Co. on Telegraph Ave. Now living in San Francisco, The Green Apple on Clement has become my favorite hangout.

autumnleaf had recommended Wessex in Menlo Park to me as early as last May. I didn’t make it there till dotann took us there earlier this year. I fell in love with its lovely courtyard in between the two sections, with its shady bamboo bush and wooden swing chairs. The books were well organized and the store felt clean and intimate. I didn’t even get to take a picture. Thinking to myself then, I would come back for sure, there would be plenty opportunities for photo.

Today when I tried to forward Wessex’ information to a new friend, I came across this article, which claimed that Wessex would be closed on or before May 15th, 2005!!!!

No more Wessex.

For so long, I had gotten used to the idea that bookstores, especially good used bookstores never seemed to disappear. They seemed to have merged into the landscape, as ancient as some of its collections, as uninterested to change as those quiet cats sleeping on stack of books.

How wrong I have been.

Gui’s New Paintings

They are gorgeous! 🙂
Her painting skill has definitely matured. My favorite is Emily. That look on her face was so vivid. I love the style of her brush stroke as well. Still lives are lyrical, and ocean scapes are voluptuous. What’s more, there is a definite individual style that has started emerge. That particular style stringed these paintings together, made the whole look even more stunning than each painting on its own.

I do hope that she would continue to paint more on her own. Especially Portraits! 🙂

You may also want to go and read her own words regarding how she painted this series.
Painting Again

Who’s eating those leaves of my rose?

Earlier this year, mom dug out one of her many mini-roses from the front garden and potted for me. Shortly after I took it home, it was attacked by aphids. Horrified, I drenched the plant with pesticide. Soon, all leaves fell off. I was left with a pot of bare branches.

I kept a regular watering schedule, and the weather stayed sunny. Slowly the plant came back to life and started growing new leaves like mad. On top of the dense foliage, it was soon dotted with flower buds. Following mom’s advice, I started spraying a milder version of anti-aphids liquid on a monthly basis. It was a mixture of water, cooking oil, and dish detergent. The aphids were kept at bay and the min-rose thrived.

Recently it started bloom its lovely pink flowers. But I noticed something else. The leaves on the top and a few on the side were “eaten” away in circular sections. The circle was really round and smooth. If someone used a compass to do the cutting, he wouldn’t have done a better job.

I looked up and down the plant, trying to find the trouble maker, without any luck.

Today I did a little googling and found out these cuttings were very likely the work of a “leafcutter bee”! The bee wasn’t eating leaves for food. Instead, it is cutting out the circular section to make a nest.

Bees are always so into geometry. 🙂 I’ve decided that, for now, my mini-rose has plenty of leaves to spare for a bee nest. 🙂

The Perfect Day by Alice N. Persons

You wake with
no aches
in the arms
of your beloved
to the smell of fresh coffee
you eat a giant breakfast
with no thought
of carbs
there is time to read
with a purring cat on your lap
later you walk by the ocean
with your dog
on this cut crystal day
your favorite music and the sun
fill the house
a short delicious nap
under a fleece throw
comes later
and the phone doesn’t ring
at dusk you roast a chicken,
bake bread, make an exquisite
chocolate cake
for some friends
you’ve been missing
someone brings you an
unexpected present
and the wine is just right with the food
after a wonderful party
you sink into sleep
in a clean nightgown
in fresh sheets
your sweetheart doesn’t snore
and in your dreams
an old piece of sadness
lifts away

-from Never Say Never © Moon Pie Press.

Can’t recall from which movie, I heard this conversation:
Woman: Should I forgive him?
Man: Are you happy now?
Woman: Very.
Man: Then it is the time to be generous…

For me, it also implys that when you are happy, you could forgive yourself more generously, and you could accept imperfection more easily. After all, everything balanced out at the end.

I know I have been slacking lately. But there are really too many things going on at work and home. I’m exhausted. TGIF!!!

Have a nice weekend, everyone! I hope next week will be a better one for all of us!

Red-Black Tree

After all these years since i escaped from the stuffiness of college life, I couldn’t believe myself tonight when i read up, entirely voluntarily, red-black tree! What is wrong with me?! More importantly, who in his right mind would think up such a bizarre and academic creature: red-black tree?!

As I read through the five convoluted looking rules that govern the very existence of an authentic red-black tree, I became ever more stunned.

1. A node is either red or black.
2. The root is black.
3. All leaves are black.
4. Both children of each red node are black.
5. The paths from each leaf up to the root contain the same number of black nodes.

I thought I had been invovled in solving real-life problems for the last ten years. And not once had the need arose for me to lookup red-black tree. Bubble sort, yes; quicksort, yes; heapsort, occasionaly; but never red-black search trees. Then what good is it, other than for some pure amusement reasons those academic types could ponder over it during their cocktail hours, if they actually have cocktail hours?

I know I��m sounding cynical and judgmental. But I can’t help it. Red-black tree!

The Best of Youth

It was a six hours long Italian movie. It was shown in a small theatre in SF’s Richmond district, very close to Pacific Ocean. I knew nothing about the movie, besides its length, before went in the theatre. I went because Gui thought it was worthy. I always trust Gui’s taste in movies. We were well-prepared, carried a small shopping bag full of various healthy soft drinks: chocolate soy milk, mango juice, and water, cookies, and chocolate, plus a small pillow for Gui’s back.

It felt like a school field trip.

Since the movie was shown in two parts with half an hour intermission in between. We only bought tickets to see the first half first. Left our option open in case we wanted to give up on the 2nd half. We ended up watching the movie in full. Before the second half started, we walked up and down the quiet street bathed in brilliant afternoon sunshine. The ocean is visible not far off, at the end of the street. Accidentally discovered a lovely coffee shop, too. (The coffee shop was named ‘Simple Pleasure Cafe’, with loads of old sofa in all shapes and sizes, plus a piano!)

I liked the movie. Couldn’t get my mind clear of the story well into the evening.

A few words from the ever so eloquent Anthony Lane:

This is how people find love in “The Best of Youth.” They meet in a small kitchen, where one of them calls the other a klutz for not being able to work the coffee machine. They talk about college, and exchange a look. That’s it. And this is how people make out: they fumble warmly in a car, beside a phone booth, with no music surging to their aid; unless you count the Roman rain outside, with its soft percussive beat.

All of which confirms that we are in the midst of verifiable human conduct. “The Best of Youth” runs, though never dawdles, for an easy six hours, with barely a false note. Directed by Marco Tullio Giordana, it was commissioned by Italian television; here it has already shown at Film Forum, in two three-hour chunks, and will play at Cinema Village before heading elsewhere across the country. There is absolutely no reason not to sacrifice a couple of your evenings for the sake of the Caratis, the lightly bound clan at the heart of Giordana’s epic; not, I should add, because they will offer you a pulsing escape from your own family life but precisely because the rhythm of their pleasures and scarrings will, over time, come to seem like a consoling echo of your own. When a movie starts, as this one does, with a dad interrupting his son’s homework and asking if he can help move a TV set, you know you are on home ground.

Warning, if you plan to watch the movie. Stop reading now. Don’t want to spoil your experiences.

The story confirmed my conclusion about suicides once again, which was that suicide was never a premeditate decision. It was triggered by a spur of the moment weakness, loneliness. Maybe it was piled up by all kinds of depression and bottled up feelings left unexpressed. But that moment was never pre-determined. So there were many “what-ifs”. And all the “whatifs” might have would have prevented the tragedy. If someone they love would call at that moment, if someone they cared about happened to be with them, happened to show up, even if some stranger suddenly interfered at that moment, all would have turned out okay.

That led to what the character in the movie, Nicola, concluded for himself, that he shouldn’t have left people he love alone. He always thought “people has the right to live however they pleased.” But sometimes the ones we love are not as strong as we perceived. They needed our voice of reason to nag them. They needed reassurance of love and the feeling that they were needed. The modern world, especially the western modern world’s politeness, and the respect for privacy sometimes led to deadly consequences.

Because we are all so alone. We needed to know we are loved and we are needed. Constantly.

That’s why I think gun is such an evil weapon. It helped that moment of weakness plunge into the abyss, with no return, no second chance. It was so final, so quick and so deadly.

– Anthony Lane’s Review from the New Yorker, Issue of 2005-04-25IN TRANSLATION