Ostomy Memories of Libraries

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Any library is a splendid place. I would be at least mildly enthralled even in the poor little Kanab, Utah city library, where half a dozen aisles of book stacks could hold my interest for a couple of hours, and simple browsing would become exploration of the highest order. As a young boy in Miami, Florida, I loved going to the main public library downtown, a monstrous treasury of bound knowledge where I would wander like an untethered dog in a forest, glancing at books that randomly attracted my unschooled eye, flipping through, reading here or there, then moving on to another beckoning volume whose title or binding caught my attention, sniffing them in the dog’s style, caressing them, feeling certain that I was enhancing my paltry store of knowledge by osmosis and desire alone. “I have always imagined,” wrote Jorge Luis Borges, “that Paradise will be a kind of library.” In order to feel this way, one must regard books as sacred things, precious jewels almost, not quite sentient but certainly alive in their own special way, and the more gifted the author, the more singular the book that brings his or her words to the world. I have suspected for a long time that if I abandoned my bedroom and slept in that room of my house where all my books are shelved, I would sleep more profoundly and somehow, in some inexplicable way, wake up smarter than when I went to sleep.

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Hello HenryM.

Thank you so much for yet another foray into pleasant memories. I loved the bit about feeling certain that you were enhancing your store of knowledge by osmosis and desire alone.

This concept threw me back in time to my quite unhappy schooldays, and the ocasion when I had to sit an exam, in which I came across a question that I hadn't a clue how to answer. All my life I have been able to control my dreams . So, I simply put myself into that half-conscious state of mind and proceeded to walk to the library - scanned the books, until I came to the title which seemed most promising to hold the answers to the question; I then flicked through the pages and alighted on a chapter that was exactly what was needed to answer the question. Then, I shamelessly copied it word for word onto my exam paper. The result was top-marks for that particular question and nobody ever knew that I had (as I thought) 'cheated'. I have many happy memories of 'dreaming' in this way and it has saved me a great deal of money in air fares that I might have otherwise spent to travel across the world. 

I do occasionally smile/smirk when recalling the time that my English teacher  tried to embarrass me by stating to the whole class that I was the only person she had met that appeared to have no imagination. 

'Never judge a book by its cover' also springs to mind.

Best wishes


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As usual, I love to hear what both of you (Bill and Henry) have to say via prose and poetry. nbsp; I will refer to you as our resident wordsmiths. You bring such necessary wisdom to this site. Bill - your words about "contolling your deams," made me instantly think of the Netflix original, nbsp; "The Queen's Gambit." nbsp

Just, K.


I have just had my brief morning-mindfulness read, thanks Henry (and Bill).

I start off every day, sitting in my favorite chair, enjoying the sunshine or whatever the weather brings, while slowly sipping on a big cup of java. Today, it is actually 16C or 60F in Canada's most northern capital city. This is my time to reflect on what has happened and is happening but mostly positively imagining how I will spend the day.

It is a wonderful life if you want it to be. I am grateful for so much. Just savoring simple things.

Just, K.


This was an excellent read this morning as well – makes me think about math education in schools- especially understanding the law of probability during Covid-19. The knowledge or lack thereof could explain current understanding of covid statistics and why science rightly-so cautions us. This is really not difficult. Baseball and horse-racing are full of these statistics like this ... Just, K.

"Statistical illiteracy isn't a niche problem. During a pandemic, it can be fatal"
Society would gain significant advantages if children were taught the fundamental ideas of probability theory and statistics: in simple form in primary school, and in greater depth in secondary school. Reasoning of a probabilistic or statistical kind is a potent tool of evaluation and analysis. Not to have it at our disposal leaves us defenseless. To be unclear about notions such as mean, variance, fluctuations and correlations is like not knowing how to do multiplication or division.https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/26/statistical-illiteracy-pandemic-numbers-interpret ;


Yes, but there remains the question of what to do with that segment of the electorate that believes Pres. Obama had the Seal Team killed to hide the fact that it wasn't really Osama bin Laden that was shot, or that Hillary Clinton was behind the child trafficking in the pizza parlor, or that Donald Trump was sent by God to deal with (fill in the blank)?  Statistical probability may not be capable of penetrating the dull, conspiratorial mind. 


Hi Bill, nbsp; What a terrible thing for a teacher to say to one of her students! nbsp; That kind of thing can have profound negative affects. nbsp; Many things you have revealed about your childhood make it clear to me that you have nbsp; incredible strength of character to have not given in and become bitter and resentful. nbsp; Instead you rose above it all and became a compassionate and kindhearted person with a very strong sense of justice and a commitment to fighting for the underdog. nbsp; You are a gem.


<>Hi Henry, I have always thought of libraries as near hallowed places. It scares me that our electronic age is attempting to make libraries unnecessary. Did they have 'bookmobiles' when you were growing up? We had one that came once a week and parked a couple of blocks from our house, only for a few hours in the evening. I looked forward to it all week and never missed a night. It was the coolest bus I had ever seen! I have friends in my age group who read "books" on tablets. I hope I am long gone by the time that becomes the only option.



One of my daughters gifted me with a Kindle a few years ago.  I gave it a try, but it was consigned to failure.  I need to have a real book in my hands.   Nor can I listen to a book being read by someone that I access by sticking a disc into a disc player.  I might, as an invalid, welcome a friend reading to me from a real book, but then I could see the book and know that it was a genuine participant in the prorcess. 


Hello Terry.
Thank you so much for your response to this (and other posts). Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending upon one's perspective, in those childhood days, I was indeed unhappy, bitter, twisted and resentful about those who would try to bully and control me (and others). It was obviously these sorts of experiences which led me to rebel against this type of tyranny, but to do this effectively I felt the need to study and understand the phenomenon more deeply. To this end, I have been doing this for the rest of my life.
Many bullies are attracted to a range of professions and occupations, where they can easily and effectively disguise their bullying behind the ‘aims’ of the ‘vocations’. Teachers, preachers, managers, police, parents and politicians are just a few of these.
Interestingly, there were some teachers who were kind and insightful into the tactics of the bullies. I recall one temporary supply-teacher from Europe explaining to me that she did not view herself as a ‘teacher’ in the sense of ‘telling’ students what they should or should not know. But she considered herself to be an ‘enabler’ and ‘facilitator’ for her students to learn things for themselves.
This concept has remained with me and provided a ‘benchmark’ by which I can assess whether someone is potentially an unkind bully or a benevolent befriender.
I often wonder what my life might have been like if I had not been so abused as a child. But on reflection, the hardships endured in those early years provided some very useful life-lessons, which set me on the path that I subsequently took to try to be a ‘bettermaker’ (The title of my recently published memoirs).
I leave you with yet another of my rhyming attempts to encapsulate this concept of things I am reluctant to tolerate.
Best wishes


Save me from those who would TEACH me.
Save me from those who would PREACH t’ me.

Save me from those who would TELL me.
Save me from those who would SELL me.

Save me from those who would JUDGE me.
Save me from those who would BEGRUDGE me.

Save me from those who would ORGANISE me.
Save me from those who would SUPERVISE me.

Save me from those who would CONTROL me.
Save me from those who would PIDGEON HOLE me.

Save me from those who would MANAGE me.
Save me from those who would SALVAGE me.

Save me from those who would FLEECE me.
Save me from those who would POLICE me.

Save me from those who would HUSTLE me.
Save me from those who would HASSLE me.

Save me from those who would ENSLAVE me.
Save me from those who would SAVE me.

Take these things from my nose and set me free!


                                                     B. WITHERS 1995


I'm right there with you Henry, got to have that physical piece of cardboard and paper in my hands, be able to leaf back to refer to a passage I already read and to see that bookmark in place to tell me how much I have left to savour. nbsp; Reading a "book" on a tablet or phone would be like drinking a fine wine out of a plastic cup. nbsp; It might be the same product you are consuming but the experience of consuming it would not be as satisfying. nbsp

You must be on pins and needles. nbsp; Sending positive vibes...



It is 4:30 PM here in Fla.  I'm not turning on the coverage.  I get in bed around 6:30 PM, read for half an hour, turn out the light, I'm asleep in minutes.  I'll get up b/t 3-4 AM, check out the election status online.  It's out of my hands, so all I can do is treat it like the late NCAA college football scores.  It's only the nation's future that's at stake...  


Hi Bill, Another great poem, thanks. I'm glad you had some good teachers to make up for the others! I think the reason that so much of what you say resonates with me is because it makes me think of my Dad. He was a good man and a very kind soul, but he had been badly mistreated by his father. As a result he carried a lot of anger around in him and could come across as bad tempered and grouchy. As a child and adolescent I never understood why he was like this and we constantly butted heads. It wasn't until I was well into my adult years that he told me some of the horror stories of his upbringing. His gruff exterior was just that, a hard shell to protect the child he still carried around in him who had been so badly abused. I never met my paternal grandfather, he passed before I was born, and my Dad always said that it was no loss to me. I understood later why that was. As gruff as he was, he was no bully and I never heard him mistreat or disrespect another person. He did not want to be like his Dad and he wasn't, but I guess he was never able to completely dispel the anger he carried at the injustice he had endured as a young boy. Once I understood the source, I was much more able to empathise with my Dad and we had a really close relationship until he passed at the age of 98.

All the best,



There is now a perfume that smells like old books it is called "Dead Writers"


Hello Terry. 

Thanks for sharing you father's story, as it is an account very similar to my own. 

I think it is good for children to know and understand the reasons for their parents being as they are, and to this end I have documented 'my own perspective' on my history in my memoirs.  I say 'my own perspective' because, in discussions with my sister, it seems that there were some gender issues going on with our parents.  Inasmuch as my father was a bully and abusive towards the male children and kindly and loving towards the females, whereas my mother had been the opposite. Thus, the different genders of children had very different family experiences in those early years. I have always (worked towards and) hoped that I would never be like my father, but I am aware that we can sometimes try too hard to be different and that can also have an undesired effect on others. 

I guess we do what we can and hope that our children grow up as decent independent people. Mine seemed to have been able to achieve that, and have made me so proud of them. 

Best wishes


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