Saturday, December 16, 2017

this is really just a rambling update so you all know I'm still alive


My first week of training is over and I am... exhausted.

I am also super psyched.  I have discovered there is a room full of puppets that I can check out and use for my storytime.  I have visited all the libraries in my library system, including two that are in the process of being built.  Two of the libraries I visited let us up on their roofs (the finished ones that is), and I learned a lot of fascinating history about each one.  One of the branches is even shaped like an open book.  Also during my training I went to one of our board meetings, which is something I've always been curious about but never made time for.

This weekend I am going to see The Nutcracker with Rachel and Robert, and Robert and I are making 80 mini loaves of banana bread for my coworkers... from all three branches (the two I just left and my new one).  The banana smell in our house this past week has grown increasingly stronger.  It's not too crazy if I stay in the house for awhile, but if I leave and come back, the smell almost knocks me out.  Our house may smell like bananas forever.

The Nutcracker is something I've wanted to see pretty much my whole life.  When Robert and Rachel said they'd go with me, I bought our tickets for my birthday present to myself (my birthday is early in December).  I've never seen a ballet, which is something I'm eager to see, and I've also been madly in love with the music from The Nutcracker for many years.  

I am exhausted yet humming with excitement.  I have a three day weekend next week and I am probably going to nap the whole way through it. But this is definitely one of the best holiday seasons I've had - new gig, surrounded by lots of people I love and am so grateful for, my first Nutcracker, and the promise of a very exciting new year. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

the best coworkers ever


Saturday was my last day at the library where I've worked for the past three years.  It was an eerily uneventful day.  Like most days, I was the first one in the building, and the softly humming stacks and darkness gave me the quiet to say goodbye. Though I said a handful of goodbyes to coworkers and patrons, they were more like see ya laters since I'm only moving down the road a few miles.  

Everyone wrote sweet and mostly true things on the white board (let's see if you can find the two inaccurate statements) and I received a handful of lovely cards and many well wishes.



In November, Caitlin (who is my favorite coworker), and I planned to wear the same dress on the same day.  Over the years, we wore our leopard print dresses, but never on the same day.  We made it happen just in time.  She gave birth to a beautiful baby just a few days after the day we wore our dresses.  



My new library adventures have already began.  I started training yesterday and will be in training for the next two weeks.  So I'm giving you fair warning - any blogging during the next couple weeks may be a bit wacky and/or unintelligible.   

Friday, December 1, 2017

November Favorites


November's reads were splendid and incredibly varied.  I spent the entire month reading Mary Oliver's latest collection, Devotions, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I also read the first two books of the Paris Time Capsule series and am going nuts patiently waiting for the final book to arrive via interlibrary loan.  I loved the first book, Paris Time Capsule, and enjoyed the second book, The House by the Lake.

And as always, I read a handful of delightful children's books, and even discovered something very exciting!  I was pulling holds one morning with one of my favorite librarians (send item!) and I scoffed at the title of one, Plankton is Pushy.  My coworker admonished me, took the book from me, and began reading it aloud (she is a children's librarian).  As she read the book to me, my shame consumed me.  I vowed never to make fun of a silly looking plankton again.  Later, I took the book home and I read it aloud. After reading it aloud a few times, I did something very exciting!  I created a Storytimes list on Goodreads.  Plankton is Pushy is the first book to go on the list.  It just goes to show that you really can't judge a book by a cover.  It also shows just how much impact a single plankton can have on one human being.  

Here are my favorite November books.  Enjoy!

That New Animal by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Pierre Pratt

I really think Jenkins may be part dog because of how accurately she portrays the dogs' confusion about the new baby. The dogs' reaction to grandpa is priceless and adorable. And I can't forget the moment where the dogs think about eating the baby. I thought it was pretty funny, and I definitely think kids will get a kick out of that.


Love, Santa by Martha Brockenbrough and illustrated by Lee White


The illustrations were decent and the ending very gooey sweet. But the overall message about the spirit of Santa Claus and the correspondence between Lucy and Santa, complete with adorable envelopes with letters that can be pulled out, made me so very happy. I loved pulling out the letter and putting it back in the envelope. I think any book that encourages a child to write letters and "mail them" is a gem to be treasured. My only wish is that the mom's letter at the end could have been condensed and accordion folded in an envelope for consistency and one more envelope to open. But overall, I loved this book, and currently it's my favorite holiday book of the year.

Plankton is Pushy by Jonathan Fenske



Whether you relate to Plankton or Mussel or both, you will find your voice in this book. Plankton is a little loud and unabashedly friendly. Mussel doesn't have anything to say (or perhaps doesn't speak English, which Plankton does). But I think it's pretty obvious that Mussel warms up to Plankton in the end.

Devotions by Mary Oliver



This is a superb collection of Mary Oliver's poetry. I believe there's a poem for every person in this volume. Interestingly enough, in the collections I like least (Thirst and Felicity for example) I thought the chosen poems were strong and really resonated with me. I plan on reading those collections again thanks to this book. But on the flip side, my favorite books by Mary Oliver (Owls and Other Fantasies and Blue Iris for example) were represented by my least favorite poems. I still found an abundance of magic and beauty in this collection, a staggering amount really, and I feel most pleasantly satiated and inspired after savoring each and every page.

My favorite moments:

From The World I Live In - "only if there are angels in your head will you ever, possibly, see one."

A note before the next line - Percy was one of Mary Oliver's dogs. This is one of my all-time favorite poems by her.

From Percy (Nine) - "and he runs to the door, his wide mouth in its laugh-shape, and waves, since he has one, his tail."

From How I Go to the Woods - "If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much."

From Mysteries, Yes - "How people come, from delight or the scars of damage, to the comfort of a poem."

A note before the next line - this is one of my favorite poems to hear Mary Oliver read aloud. Look it up!

From Mornings at Blackwater - "For years, every morning, I drank from Blackwater Pond. It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt, the feet of ducks."

From Praying - "this isn't a contest, but the doorway into thanks"

From At Blackwater Pond (once again, drinking its waters) - "It falls cold into my body, waking the bones. I hear them deep inside of me, whispering oh what is that beautiful thing that just happened?"

Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey



Who wouldn’t love the story of an abandoned Paris apartment and the mysterious women who lived in it before fleeing Paris the night before the Nazi invasion? I couldn’t put this book down. There were so many twists, turns, and surprises, not to mention many delicious details about the abandoned apartment. I do have gripes, or warnings for future readers, however. The protagonist, Cat, is a total wimpy female. You will root for her self-empowerment for much of the way through the book, but sadly, she ends up a total dud in the character development department. But I loved this book despite my inability to connect with Cat. I enjoyed other characters immensely, and thought the author did a better job fleshing out the deceased and mysterious inhabitants of the abandoned apartment than the living descendants. I also must admit I wasn’t thrilled with the conclusion of the book. The last sentence still makes me simultaneously gag, roll my eyes, and giggle hysterically. But do not despair – the mystery of Isabelle is resolved. In my opinion, the author can do whatever she wants with the wimpy female protagonist because she resolved the Isabelle mystery. But overall my gripes are small and do not outweigh the marvelous, edge-of-your-seat, cannot-put-down (not even for dessert) story. Possibly the most intriguing part of this book is that it’s the fictionalized portrayal of the real-life Marthe de Florian, whose apartment was abandoned for seventy years. 

Also, I started out listening to this, and it was an excellent audiobook, but I struggled with both the French and switched to the ebook version about halfway through. If you struggle with French and/or French accents I recommend the book version.

This is a picture from Marthe de Florian's actual apartment!



Thursday, November 30, 2017

So very proud!


It's been a busy busy week for Rachel.  Her IOP (independent oral presentation) was due yesterday. It was a big deal, and after much preparation and many run throughs I'm certain she nailed it. 

In addition to her studies and the IB program, Rachel squeezed in a fair amount of time managing the football team at her high school.  So we attended the football banquet this week, where she was recognized alongside the players.  Lastly, and probably most importantly, Rachel was inducted into the National Honor Society this week.  We are so very proud of her!

Here she is at the ceremony:



There was much celebrating with family. From left: Audrey (Robert's mom), me, Robert, Rachel and Carolyne (grandma)


Here's the certificate:


This next picture was taken at the football banquet. At last year's banquet there was a tree filled with pictures of the football players and managers. Because we knew about the tree, Robert and I made a beeline for it. So that tiny thing I'm holding? That's her football manager picture, which is now on our tree with her picture from last year.

Monday, November 27, 2017

flowers that began as little arrows


You know how you see something every day as a child, and it becomes a huge part of who you are?

I can think of a handful of such things.  My grandma had these strange plates with fish on them that hung in her kitchen.  I close my eyes and can see them perfectly.  I do not remember feeling one way or another about them, but there they are, just behind my closed eyes.

Another thing that stands out from my childhood are these stickers my dad had for his scrap business.  They were a black and white image of our last name, and no offense dad, but rather boring.  I put one on my pink lunchbox during fifth or sixth grade and treasured that ugly sticker.

But there were pieces of art from my childhood I adored and stared at for hours.  One such thing is a porcelain basket of flowers.  It sat in my grandma's hutch and was not for little fingers.  I now have that little basket and admit I touch it often and love it as much as my kid self did.  Another thing I cherished was an embroidery piece my mom made.  It hung just above the coffee pot in my grandma's kitchen for as long as I can remember.  Now it hangs in my office. When I look at it, the wall it hangs on disappears, and I am in my grandma's kitchen again.   

This is my mom's embroidery piece:


Today, as I was posting my next embroidery piece on Etsy, I happened to look up at my mom's embroidery and I couldn't help it. I shrieked.  

Somehow her piece has sprouted flowers, flowers that began as little arrows. 

This is my newest embroidery piece:  


Even the sayings feel like a conversation between two different eras.  I feel like my life is mass confusion quite often, and it helps some to tell myself that it's happy mass confusion.  Let go is the mantra I repeat most often, and that helps too. Miss a serve or crack my shin with my racquet while missing my serve and I tell myself Let go.  I cannot hold up or onto everything or make things fit in places that are the wrong shape.  Let go.  In a way, those two words are the answer to the mass confusion of life, the remedy or force to combat the arrows that are constantly flying at us.  And what a wonderful strength it takes to turn those arrows into growth!

But just like my embroidery piece illustrates, we don't have to let go of everything. And sometimes we are unable to.  


I love my progress pictures of this piece.  I spent as much time ripping out thread as I did sewing the piece.  Thankfully, denim is so forgiving.  


Sunday, November 26, 2017

dad, look at this!


My dad and Lisa visited us for Thanksgiving this year!  There was much conversation, food, and laughter.  

This was the first time my dad visited me at one of my homes.  Seriously!  He's always been such a homebody.  I felt like I was eight years old again showing him my home, stomping grounds, and neighborhood.  There was a lot of dad, look at this! going on.  Thankfully he demonstrated just as much interest and patience as he did when I was eight and showing off some impressive kid thing I accomplished (beanie baby theater most likely).  

We also decorated sugar cookies and put up the tree.  It was a wonderful visit.


Nobody wanted them to leave.  Including Ella!


Saturday, November 18, 2017

I cannot wait!


I have some really GIGANTIC, fantastic, exciting, life-changing news.

Are you ready to hear it?



Well, it's pretty big news, so maybe you should sit down for it.


No, really, take a seat.  This is HUGE news.  


Ok ok.  You have been very patient.  ARE YOU READY?

In December I will have a new gig at the library!  I will be a youth services specialist, which is a fancy way of saying I get to spend my days helping kids find books and reading them stories!




I will be blogging about all my exciting new adventures as a youth services specialist, so you will get to be a part of the journey too!!


Monday, November 13, 2017

birthday balloon ambassadors


Rachel celebrated her 17th birthday yesterday.  She picked an interesting place to eat, a place where they cooked an assortment of food (and one mountain of butter) in front of us.  It will not be the place I pick for my birthday dinner, but Rachel enjoyed it and the company was nice.  

From left: Robert's mom, Audrey, Robert, Robert and Rachel's grandma, Carolyne, Rachel, and me.



Naturally, Robert filled the house with balloons and made Rose and Ella official birthday balloon ambassadors.

Ella didn't mind her balloon duties until one got caught in the fan.  And even then, she was only mildly perturbed.  In the picture, Robert is decorating the box of one of Rachel's presents (a framed map of the United States that she can stick her pins in that she's been collecting from all of our trips).



Rose was happy to be a birthday balloon ambassador because she will do anything for Rachel's happiness.  Really!


Because I am a hillbilly and I know many of my blog readers are as well, I will share this wonderful picture of synchronized birthday balloon pottying with you.  Please excuse our yard (we do not have grass yet! So very hillbilly, yes!)


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Atlas Obscura by Joshua Foer, Ella Morton, and Dylan Thuras


When I started this book my intention was to skip around and read only about the places that jumped out at me. Turns out everything jumped out at me, and I was held captive by this giant book for several months. With pictures galore, an astonishing amount of research, and hours of happy reading, Atlas Obscura is a one-of-a-kind travel book that invites you to explore all the hidden wonders of the globe.

I must admit I'm quite fearful of South America after reading Atlas Obscura. With places like The North Yungas Death Road, The Island of the Dolls, and The Cave of Swallows (which really should be called The Cave of Scary Creepy Crawly Things), I had a few nightmares during the South America chapter. However, as scared as I am to visit South America again (I've been to Guatemala), I finished the South America chapter and found myself wanting more. That's the beauty of Atlas Obscura. Whether you're packing your bags and ready to drop everything to visit one of the world's many strange places, or you're mentally crossing off an entire continent on your travel list, there's just enough information to leave you wanting more, and you will definitely want more. I love books like this, books that send me on a wild goose chase through the stacks of libraries, searching for additional information.

Though South America was a bit frightening for my travel tastes, there were many places from Atlas Obscura I would love to visit. I wouldn't mind visiting most of the crypts and cemeteries mentioned, such as the dog cemetery in France or the Hanging Coffins in Sagada (though I'm banking on the invention of teleportation by the time I go so I can skip the long, perilous journey). There were also several places I thought only existed in fairytales, such as the Forestiere Underground Gardens in California and Paronella Park in Queensland, Australia. I had just as much fun reading Atlas Obscura as I did adding places to my existing bucket list, which is now many pages long thanks to this book. Intriguingly enough, there are many places listed in this book that are not open to visitors. What a tease! Many places also require several modes of travel, both conventional (planes) and not so conventional (zip lining).

Atlas Obscura will take a long time to read, so I recommend reading it slowly. I also recommend leaving it out on the coffee table, because the conversations it ignites are just as strange and delightful as the book. And when you finish reading it, don't forget to read the imaginative organization of its content just in case you're interested in say, Very Large Things or Self-Built Castles and you want to make sure you didn't miss anything.

Monday, November 6, 2017

paradise


The master bathroom has come a loooong way.



Believe it or not the picture above morphed into this: 


Paradise.  

The tub is a fancy schmancy air tub.  It's pretty darn relaxing.  In the master bath we still have a handful of things to do - some small cabinet flaws, light fixtures, and a vanity mirror.  We are also going to put in a magazine rack, because the tub is the best place to read them.  Today, while I was doing yoga upstairs, there was a terrible racket going on downstairs.  A terrible, wonderful racket because when I peeked in the downstairs bathrooms there were newly-installed towel racks and toilet paper holders.

I am a stress writer/reader.  I retreat into words whenever I am feeling overwhelmed.  When I am feeling ok with the world I take all the books off the shelves, clean everything, flip through my favorite books, make a stack of ones to reread, and then put everything back on the shelves in a new way.  It's fair to say I live in books and they live in me.   

Recently, Robert asked for his own shelf so that he doesn't have to dig too much to find his library books.  But he doesn't have a lot of library books checked out currently so I gave his shelf a little bit of love - one of his beloved stuffed animals (we're never too old for soft and squishy things), a few of his airplane books, and his propeller.  


I also gave the family bibles a new spot next to a bit of humor and some of my favorite books that give me peace.  If you look closely you will see our doggy camera.  It's a little camera that allows us to talk to them when we are away (and also tell them to get off the couch).    


I gave the gnome and his monster foes to my children's books.


And tonight, this tiny bat flew into my favorite teacup and made himself at home.   


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

War, Scary Places, & Pretty Data


October was an interesting and unusual month of reading.  I read Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's much anticipated sequel, The War I Finally Won, and LOVED it.  But I didn't love the first book, so there was much inner turmoil - you mean I have to get excited about the first book so I can talk about the second book?  Jeepers!  I also finished an excellent book I've been reading since July.  It really should be included in my July, August, September and October favorite books lists, but what book needs that kind of ego?  And then there was Dear Data, which I read months ago, gave an ok rating, and dismissed it, only to find out that it planted the seeds of a thousand wildflowers in my imagination. Sneaky sneaky, wonderful books.    

Atlas Obscura by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton

Probably the best travel book I've ever read, although there are many places too terrifying to visit! My full review will be posted soon.



The War that Saved My Life & The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley


The first book in this series was good, and I enjoyed it immensely until its hurried and unrealistic ending. But it's still a good read, and it's necessary to read it before reading The War I Finally Won, which is a fantastic sequel. Though there was a bit of disjointed writing, the relationships, characters, and lessons that Ada learns on her journey to "win her war" are beautiful and easily outweigh the disjointed writing. My favorite moment is during Christmas, when Ada reflects about how much she has gained, even during wartime. "I'd been a crippled, ignorant prisoner looking out the window of a dingy London flat. Now I walked on two feet and rode and read and shared a bedroom and bookshelves with the daughter of a baron."


After the Fall by Dan Santat


Oh Humpty Dumpty, I love this fractured nursery rhyme because it paints you in such an inspirational light. Readers will connect with Humpty Dumpty's struggle to conquer his fear of climbing back up on the wall again. And the ending is so incredibly imaginative and heartwarming. My favorite part is the moment when Humpty Dumpty tells the reader "there were some parts that couldn't be healed with bandages and glue." Though it was a bit inappropriate to laugh at that moment, I couldn't help myself and guffawed loudly.

This is my favorite page from the book:



Dear Data by by Stefanie Posavec and Giorgia Lupi


"Dear Data is a year-long, analog data drawing project by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, two award-winning information designers living on different sides of the Atlantic.  By collecting and hand drawing their personal data and sending it to each other in the form of postcards, they became friends." This is a description from the Dear Data website.

The first time I read this I thought, "yay for another take on visual data."  I gave it three stars and returned it to the library.  But since then I can't stop thinking about it.  This book has snuck into my thoughts, positively impacted my art, and has completely dominated the chunk of my brain labeled 'joy.'  I finally bought the book because I can't live without it.  I know there's a website, but I'm a book gal, and there's something particularly wonderful about holding and reading this book because it's soft and bulky and quite lovable.

Here is an example of their oh-so-pretty data.  This is titled "A Week of General Complaints and Grumpiness."  Seriously!!



Monday, October 23, 2017

Happy Mole Day!


We've been very busy with home stuff.  Both our master closet and mudroom are finished!  As soon as the master bath is done we will finally be able to move all of our clothes and toiletries downstairs. We're crossing our fingers that the master bath is finished this weekend.  And because we're hopeful, we moved quite a bit of stuff down today (after another backbreaking round of thorough cleaning).

This is the entryway to the mudroom!  


And here is my side of the closet!


Because Rachel joined the International Baccalaureate this year, she is spending way way way more time studying.  She's doing an amazing job, and we are so incredibly proud of her. We have noticed that she is easily distracted however, and really needs her own place to study. We were originally going to set up a desk in her room but there were two problems with that.  First, she needs a place to get away from it all and sleep. Also, her room is upstairs and her homework help hangs out downstairs.  So we talked with Rachel about the idea of setting up a desk area in the guest bedroom, which is on the first floor, and she loved the idea.  Robert and I flew through ikea last Monday, and Robert put all the furniture together at lightning fast speed.  Really.  He was a beast! Last night we revealed the space to her, and she seemed quite pleased!





Today is also Mole Day!!  So what the heck does that mean? The Mole is a unit of measurement and Mole Day commemorates Avogadro's Number, which is 6.02 x 10^23 (Avogadro is a famous, very dead scientist). Rachel has been preparing for this day for awhile.  Last year she participated in Mole day, and this year, as a Junior, she helped organize it. Because the party started at 6:02 AM, she was out of the house before I was even awake!  

Here's this year's Mole Day shirt:



So yes, there has been much excitement here as we nest a little more in our house that's so very close to being finished.  And I'm so hopeful Rachel loves her study space.  She is already doing awesome things in there. Like her self portrait.



Amazing, huh?

Friday, October 13, 2017

interesting solution to an everyday problem


Yesterday, a patron approached the desk and asked if I could look up her library card number.  After looking it up and writing it down for her, she shrugged her shoulders dejectedly and said she may never find her library card again.  I told her I'd be happy to make her a new card and it was free, and she politely said no thanks and asked if she could use one of our permanent markers.  I fanned out a selection of markers for her (she chose black), and I went back to discharging books at a different computer.

A few minutes later I noticed the patron was still standing at the help desk.  I began walking towards the desk to ask her if she needed anything else, and that's when I noticed what she was doing.  She was very carefully writing her library card number on every single card in her wallet - credit card, insurance card, punch cards, everything.  She was very intent on the task at hand and didn't notice me approaching or backing away from the desk.

After several minutes, she put the cap back on the permanent marker, flipped through her stack of cards, and satisfied that her library card number was on each card, put them back into her wallet.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Hebe



A friend/coworker of mine used her thinker and googled the mysterious statue and her animal friends.

Turns out the statue's name is Hebe, and it looks like she's been demoted from Goddess to Geocache.