Author Archives: Mahatma Cote

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.  Credit: Sulfur, 2005

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Credit: Sulfur, 2005

Today, I witnessed a truly beautiful site. Walking along the driveway, subconsciously performing the standard inventory check (keys? check. wallet? check. etc.), something large and colourful zig-zagged across my line of site very close to my face, causing me to duck and weave like a lightweight sparring partner. It wasn’t until I swung round and regained my regular posture that I noticed a remarkable male Tiger Swallowtail butterfly preparing to land on the adjacent bushes. I watched for a while then ran back in to get the camera as the sunlight was ideal for a good picture, only to find on returning, camera in hand, that the (not so) little fellow had moved on. Hopefully, better luck next time.

Five Perennial Library Book Sale Characters

We attend library book sales frequently and have recognized several essential characters. Initially, it seemed that these characters were unique, but after attending so many sales and finding these characters repeatedly, we have concluded that they are quite ubiquitous.  We have now affectionately given them nicknames: The Stinker, The Chatterer, The Hoarder, Bar Code Man, and Grannies.

The Stinker

The Stinker does not shower or bathe for three weeks prior to a booksale.  Often appearing alone in a crowded room, shrouded by a warm mist of sweat and urine, the Stinker has full access to the choicest selections within his personal space (and, usually, more than a little way  beyond!)  Whether or not this is a strategic move by the Stinker, we have yet to fathom; however, it appears it is quite an effective tactic.

The Chatterer

Next, we have the Chatterer.  There are usually several types of chatterers. One wants to strike up a conversation with you, a stranger, about books and gives unwanted advice about what you should read or impromptu book reviews of what they recently read.  Another, unexpectedly finds a friend at the sale, and commences to catch-up on all the vicissitudes of life in the most animated way, as if they have not seen each other in twelve years.  They are impervious to what is going around them yet manage to successfully block the way for book browsers.  Unfortunately, they are usually standing right in front of the book you may want.

The Hoarder

The Hoarder is one of the most annoying characters.  This person sometimes involves their offspring in their quest to obtain the most number of items, whether it is CDs, videos, audiobooks, DVDs or, less commonly, books. You will see this one with his arms wrapped around a pile as he gathers them all into a bag.  Or, he will ask his snarling, gluttonous lard-like child to stand guard with his arms around a pile while he waits for a bag, preventing anyone else from rummaging through the lot.  A less annoying variant will take everything indiscriminately, but will later scurry off to a corner and winnow through his pile, leaving behind what he does not want.

Bar Code Man

Bar Code Man is only there to collect books for resale.  He has no inherent passion or even interest in books, except in their value as a commodity.  He is extremely industrious, beavering away with his scanner.  Be careful not to wear any new item of clothing still retaining a bar code, or you may be scanned and told how much you are worth on Amazon. Fortunately for the regular booksale attendees, this irksome specimen is becoming an endangered species as booksale organizers are starting to ban the use of scanners.


Our Grannies are the most lovable characters. Often sporting a mackintosh to protect from the elements, they move prodigiously slowly through the aisles, carefully inspecting each and every item. Sometimes, they have to hold it to their nose to read the titles.  But they always manage to unearth a gem.