Category Archives: Writing Prompt Responses

Adrift in Books

007_edited-1Today’s writing prompt is the perfect excuse to revisit the post about my raft book collection.

I’m not big on collections. I used to be. I had all sorts of collections. If I saw something I liked, I would start a collection. Until I felt that I was surrounding myself with things just for the sake of surrounding myself with things, and I got rid of most of them.

One collection I still have is my book collection. It’s not a collection like a porcelain elephant collection. My books represent a large part of my life. I’d no less get rid of my books–the ones worth keeping–than I would get rid of baby photos.

And within my collection of books, I’ve allowed myself another collection: raft books.

It all started with this one:

001_edited-1

This 1968 street directory of Sydney and the surrounding area usually lay on our coffee table.

002_edited-1

When we emigrated to Australia in 1965, we lived in a tiny trailer or caravan for the first six months or so. After that we first lived in Dee Why, then in Collaroy, and then in Dee Why again, before moving back to the Netherlands.

But I digress. It all started with the photo on the back of the Gregory’s street directory:

004_edited-2

This photo fascinated me. I could stare at it forever. I still can. Despite the fact that these three kids were obviously very Australian, wholesome, happy, well-fed and well-taken care of, I imagined that they were building that raft so they could run away from home. Or float away from home. In which case they also lived on waterfront property.

Around the same time I was also introduced to survival stories like Robinson Crusoe, and my favorite: The Swiss Family Robinson. These stories also got my imagination going.

DSC_0001

Decades later, when my parents were going to get rid of Gregory’s Street Directory, I saved it. It was the beginning of my collection of raft books.

007_edited-1

My definition of a raft book is very loose. Any kind of book that has any kind of mention or picture of a raft is a raft book. Except for the thousands of books about rafting down the Colorado River, rafting down the Grand Canyon, etc. The travel guide type of raft books are too easy and too numerous to be much sport.

Other than that, raft books include both fiction and non-fiction in which a raft plays a major role, like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Raft Book, an instruction manual for building rafts.

006_edited-1

One of the most riveting survival raft books I’ve ever read is Adrift, by Stephen Callahan. And one of the worst is 65 Days Adrift, by William Butler. Well, it’s the worst in the sense that the author is incredibly unsympathetic. But that in itself is also interesting. It’s the only autobiographical story I’ve ever read by a complete jerk who has no idea that his own writing shows exactly what a jerk he is.

Books that only very briefly feature a raft count as well. An example is Sinister Island, by C. Bernard Rutley. And quality has nothing to do with it. Because Sinister Island is an example of a badly written book of the kind I would usually never even pick up. Part of the point of having a collection of raft books is that I find and read books I usually wouldn’t.

At first I didn’t look up raft books online, because I felt that was cheating. But once I had the most obvious ones, I did google raft books. I’ve got a list on my smartphone, and every now and then I find one of them at the Half Price Book Store. It’s great when that happens.

Ordering raft books that I’ve googled at a regular bookstore would still be cheating, but I do scan the shelves at both regular bookstores and Half Price Books for books that look like they might be raft books. Like the one below, from HPB. Doesn’t it look like there might be a raft in there somewhere? (If you’ve read it, don’t give it away.) And because it’s part two in a series, I had to buy part one as well.

012_edited-1

In the photo below, I’ve only read the last one, a very thin little picture book about words starting with an R. So I still have a couple of delicious raft books to read!

010_edited-1

If you know of any raft books that you don’t see in the photos above, let me know. Especially ones in which a raft doesn’t play a big part, because those don’t show up when I google raft books.

If you want to see most of my collection, visit my Pinterest board about my raft books.

 

Belated Note to Self

img981_edited-2 (2)

(It’s April, so it’s National Poetry Writing Month. One prompt I saw this morning was to find a picture of your younger self and write a poem describing the mood and telling your younger self something about the future. I had just the thing already on my mind.) Continue reading

Breastfeeding My Babies

img400_edited-3

Breakfast in Central Park, May 1998

Yesterday I was reading something that reminded me how much I loved breastfeeding. I’ve been meaning to write about it for years, and I keep forgetting. It’s one of the best things–if not the best thing–I’ve ever done. Talk about having a purpose! My very body was keeping this brand-new little human alive and thriving. Continue reading

America, Your Democracy Just Got Fired

Image: businessinsider.com

Image: businessinsider.com

The March for Women’s Rights was nice and all, and it’s encouraging to see so many people flock to airports around the country to protest the Muslim ban, but overall I’m extremely pessimistic right now. Today we saw how easy it is to replace a democracy with a dictatorship, checks and balances be damned. Continue reading

Women’s March Successful

20170121_130321The Women’s March in protest of the degenerate-in-chief was a yuge success. Shall I count the ways? I think I shall. Continue reading

Graceful I Am Not!

crocsToday’s writing prompt is Graceful.

Ha-ha-ha!

If there’s ever a word that describes what I am not most completely, it’s graceful. I’m the epitome of the proverbial bull in a china shop. More like a stumbling drunk bull in the British Museum’s Asia section. Watch out folks, here she comes. Hide your valuables! Continue reading

To Spork or Not to Spork: Hiking (Non)essentials

img837_edited-1Today’s prompt is conveniently Hike.

I’ve been on Pinterest a lot, lately, pinning stuff related to hiking, backpacking and lightweight camping, and Wow! There’s been some improvements these past twenty-five years! The best hack I’ve seen is using a walking stick as a tent pole. Especially since my tent has just one pole, this is perfect. Assuming you use walking sticks, of course.

There is also more stuff out there that looks cute, but that you probably don’t need. Continue reading