18.1.17

Not Guilty, Your Honor

Terry recently posted a flashback to a post he wrote about guilty pleasures.  Thing Two once confessed that Gilmore Girls was a guilty pleasure.  Here's my problem: the word "guilty".

Perhaps when I was younger, I had guilty pleasures.  But now, as a mid-century adult?  Nope.  If it's a pleasure, I'm not going to feel guilt.



There are definite times when guilt invades my life.  For example, when I recognize I could have been kinder to someone in pain.  Or when I don't take action (through laziness, usually, or being too rushed to do it now and then forgetting) that would help someone.  There are fleeting flashes when I get one of those pleading letters or emails (or, now FB posts) asking for help that I could give, when I know it's a worthy cause but not my cause.  That's it.

I don't feel guilty if I break my diet.  I don't feel guilty when I fail to live up to my standards.  I don't feel guilty when I watch pure trash (ok, what I think of as trash) on tv rather than actually getting things done.  I don't feel guilty when I take a mental health day at work.  Rather, I might feel pleasure with a tinge or embarrassed or defensive or ashamed or sad.  But not guilty. Because I'm in my mid 50s.  And part of being an adult is admitting that something gives you pleasure and enjoying that.

4.1.17

Digital Detritus

I'm starting the new year right: decluttering and organizing while watching the Hoarders marathon.  So inspiring!  Here's some digital detritus (my new name for the Links Galore posts) for your pleasure:
(more to follow - my goal is Feedbin Zero and Twitter Saves Zero by MLK Weekend)

1.1.17

New Year's Meme 2016

Totally stolen from Philosophy Mom!  And what better way to recap / get ready for a better blogging 2017?

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
Opening prompt... let's focus on something good (the bad will come later!).  In 2016 I went to several tasting dinners, which I have done before but this time one of those was a whiskey dinner and the other saki.  Whiskey hasn't been something I've ever enjoyed before, but the combination of people at the table and the different tastes made for quite the nice evening (and by "nice" I don't mean "drunken" I mean genuinely nice).

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I did manage to lose some weight, and tried to be more organized.  I usually don't do resolutions, but my intention is to be more composed, more deliberate in the new year.  That includes my food intake (no more eating what I know only looks good but doesn't taste the way I want it to), activity (get back into shape - time's a-ticking!) and professionally.

3. Did anyone close to you get married?
Not this year.  There were two engagements announced, one wedding will be in April and the other next January.

4. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Depends on how you define "close".  Thing One's family has great-aunted me twice in the past month with a third on the way.  For those keeping track, that's 10 greats.  Probably many more on the way.

5. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes.  If by "anyone" you mean "any living being":


Mallory Le Chat
1999 - 2016

We knew he was getting old, and quite possibly blind.  But I had hoped he'd somehow make it a few more years (yes, 17 1/2 is old for a cat, but still...).  On Thanksgiving, we said goodbye and snuggled for the last time.  The remaining three members of The Herd are still, one month later, figuring out the new normal.  And since they're 8 and 6 years old, with luck we'll have many years for them to figure it out.

6. What countries did you visit?
Only one trip to Montreal this year.  Because work.  But next year... We'll see.

7. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Honestly, I don't think I lacked much in 2016, but getting together with friends more than I did would be nice.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
It's got to be a tie between the overhaul of the library collection (25,000 books weeded and another 25,000 moved, mostly over the summer) and hiring three great members of the library team.  Both took a lot of work, physical in the case of the former and mental in the case of the latter, but Academic Year 2017 has been going really well as a result!

9. What was your biggest failure?
I'm on the introvert side of the spectrum and not breaking out of that more, even via email or snail mail, was a definite failure.  Part of the composed intention is to literally compose more (blog posts, letters, emails).

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Oh yes.  Almost a month ago I woke up with something a little off in my eye.  Turns out I have optic neuritis, aka an inflamed optic nerve.  Major steroid infusions helped, and now it's just a question of time (as in possibly months to a year) before we're back to what the doctor calls "baseline".  The good news is that it's only affected one eye, so my reading hasn't suffered.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My new scarf (no photo available now, but perhaps later...).  It was my reward for spending all summer working 7-11:30 in a non-airconditioned, unventilated library doing incredibly physical labor.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Thing One, duh.  He's been a rock throughout the optic nerve adventure.  Plus giving in to my whims.  What's not to celebrate?

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Several of Thing One's family who truly support the awful (racist, misogynist, xenophobic) side of our incoming President.  If I had any luck I wouldn't have to see them until 2018, but with three newborns and a major Birthday/Anniversary Celebration this year, that's doubtful.

14. Where did most of your money go?
The Herd.  We were at the vets pretty much every week over the summer, and at least once a month after.  One had a growth on her chin, another a tummy infection (the spaying scar - don't ask, but she looks like she has a human belly button, which is not normal!), Mallory's illness, and one really, really doesn't like vet visits.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Really, nothing.  This seems to have been a stress-filled, work-filled year.  So perhaps "starting 2017" is the correct answer?

16. Compared to this time last year, are you:
  • happier or sadder? Calmer.  Which could be a way of saying "happier".   
  • thinner or fatter?  Thinner.  But not by much.  Next year...  
  • richer or poorer? Richer.  I've been much more careful with spending.  If I could only sell my house, saving would be a lot easier! 

17. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Taken advantage of living in my Birthtown.  There's so much going on, and great day trips to be taken.  Again, next year...

18. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Spent time at the vet. Stress eating.  Played backgammon and cribbage on my phone, rather than getting caught up with professional stuff and/or reading magazines while watching tv.  I may have read 345 books, but I have nearly a year's worth of The Economist and Atlantic Monthly in an accusatory pile.

19. How did you spend Christmas?
Almost the same way as usual: opening presents at breakfast, then having the Traditional Chinese Dinner.  No movie this year (nothing at the times we wanted, plus my eye problem).

20. How did you bring in the New Year?
Reading.  Sleeping.  There will be a nice NYD brunch today, though.

21. Did you fall in love?
No.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Hmmm... there were several I really liked: 19-2.  People of Earth.  Happy Valley. Winter. Those are new ones I've discovered.

23. What was the best book you read?
Because of the Book Award, I can't really talk about my real favorites.  I'd really have to think about YA books I loved; sadly, none stood out.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I was going to say "none" but then I remembered (as if I could forget!): Bruno Mars.  I got to see him play Mohegan Sun, in the most amazing seats, as part of a weekend with some HS friends.

25. What was your favorite film of this year?
Didn't really see many movies this year.  In part because I don't see the point in spending all that money for something ultimately "meh" (if I could do that with food I know won't taste as good as it looks like it wants to taste, I'd be so much thinner by now!).  And in part because so few really benefit from the Big Screen so I'm willing to wait for Netflix.

26. What was your favorite live performance?
PNB's performance at Jacob's Pillow.

27. What did you want and get?
My "reward" scarf.  A great team to work with.  

28. What did you want and not get?
Good health. A summer travel experience.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
For the third year in a row, my birthday (number 53) was also a snow day at MPOW.  This year that won't happen because its on a Sunday.  But maybe either Friday or Monday will be one!  Hope, as they say...

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Selling my house.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Not quite "capsule wardrobe" but I've settled on green/grey as my colors and am paring down my wardrobe to the pieces I really like and look good in.

32. What kept you sane?
How presumptuous: am I sane?  Seriously, though... until Thanksgiving, I'd say it was my early morning and bedtime cuddle with Mallory.  There really is something about the purr that lowers blood pressure, eases stress and makes you feel loved.  After Thanksgiving, Thing One (who doesn't purr, or fit in my arms as comfortably).

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
None.  Is that elitist of me?

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Not the election (although that did!) as much as watching otherwise intelligent people embrace the really awful things that were bring promoted by the winning candidate.  And watching serious fault lines develop among colleagues and students who weren't on the same side of that issue (I really do understand not wanting to vote for Hillary - I didn't! - but The Donald?  His ideas are so vile.  And those who think he's ok are just beyond my comprehension).

35. Whom did you miss?
No one.  I spent more time with people I like this year.  I missed not spending more time with them.  Does that count?

36. Who was the best new person you met?
One of my new team members.  A professional colleague who I finally met in person.  The other members of the Book Award Committee.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
I'm getting older.  Watching my health is important.

38. What was your favorite moment of the year?
Two: attending one of the best professional development sessions I've ever attended, back at my alma mater (which just made it all the sweeter). And the weekend spent with some HS friends.

39. What was your least favorite moment of the year?
3:45pm, Thanksgiving Day. Saying goodbye to my Mallory.

40. If you could go back in time to any moment of 2016 and change something, what would it be?
Nothing.  I mean, there are things I didn't love, that I would love to change, but ultimately I couldn't change my eye issue or keep Mallory alive.  So... nothing.

41. What are your plans for 2017?

  • Lose weight / get in shape (well, better shape than I am now)
  • Continue to enjoy my work on the Book Award Committee
  • Get better organized (declutter plus time management)
  • Take a fun trip somewhere 
  • Be better about being connected to family and friends

31.12.16

Year End Reading Wrap-Up

345 books read - GOAL MET (goal was 300, so met and surpassed)!  Now, if you go over to the reading blog, you'll see far fewer books listed and I've only done one quarterly list, so click here to see the 2016 reads.  Here's the thing: among the unlisted are the picture books I "read" for MPOW's Mock Caldecott, while many more fell into the "you can't talk about this" category for the Book Award Committee.  Which is also, in its way, one of the reasons why I haven't blogged as much this year as in previous years.

So... here's the 2016 reading analysis (2015 numbers in parens):
  • number of books read in 2016:  345 (309) 
  • best month: December/52 (last year was also December with 49)
  • worst month: tie between June and August/22 (April/13)
  • average read per month: 28.75 (25.75) 
  • adult fiction as percentage of total: 21 (17) 
  • children's/YA fiction as percentage of total: 35 (55)
  • Advance Readers Copies: 90 (191) 
  • e-books: 0 (5)
  • books read that were published this year: 300 (249)
  • books that will be published in the coming year: 6 (22) 
  • five star reviews (aka "Must Read"): 5 (30) 
  • one star reviews (aka "DNF"): 11 (15) 
Thanks to Book Committee Books unread, Mt. Bookpile is at 287! And with another year of committee work ahead, it doesn't look like that will go down terribly far, but I'm going to try to keep it below 300.  As with 2016, my public reading goal will be 125 and 300 as my personal goal.  We'll see how that goes.

23.12.16

Times have changed

Goodness, it's been a while since I last blogged - sorry about that.  My excuses include too much reading (book award committee; stay tuned), getting a new team settled at work and some health issues.  And I'll strive to do better in the new year.

I'm watching a tv show and they're talking egg nog.  It's one of those seasonal drinks that people feel strongly about, usually in the "I hate it but..." category.  I blame the godawful storebought crap that arrives on shelves sometime after the pumpkin spice crap arrives (sidequestion: WTF is pumpkin spice and why is it suddenly a thing?  just use nutmeg and cinnamon and get on with your lives).

Honestly, it store bought eggnog was my introduction to the drink, I'd stay far, far away, too.  But mine wasn't.  And it's why I know that there's good eggnog out there, especially if you're daring and willing to risk your health (kinda like eating raw cookie dough is a risk).

You see, years ago - decades ago - my parents used to entertain (note; my mother called it "retaliating" and I don't think she was kidding!).  They'd serve that dip that's Lipton's Onion Soup Mix and sour cream.  They'd have Bugles.  And in late December, my father would make the Joy of Cooking's eggnog (recipe here).  Guess who got to be his "little taster"?  Yep.

Remember: things were different back then.  An adult (Dad) giving a >10 year-old (me) alcohol wasn't considered weird or bad.  Nor was uncooked eggs in a recipe.  Such things fill my generation with horror, but my parents' generation?  Not so much.  The routine was, Dad would start the process.  Add some rum.  Give me a taste.  Add more rum.  Another taste.  Etc.  And by the end, I'd probably had at least one or two full drinks of eggnog.  No idea how much rum, or how many raw eggs. (Reader, I lived.)

For some reason this made me tired and kept me out of their hair during the party. Go figure.

Even better, however, was the appreciation it gave me for the real thing: eggnog with alcohol, delicately spiced.  The supermarket stuff has no alcohol and is overly spiced.  Ugh.  I can understand why no one wants to drink it - I avoid at all costs.  But if someone offers me the real thing?  Yes, please.  More, please.


6.9.16

Notable quotes

Ruth believed in precycling. An evolution on recycling. She make use of things before people threw them out.
A Great Reckoning, Louise Penny 

PDQ Bach didn't plagiarize, he recycled.
Peter Schickele

10.4.16

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

A few days late, but there's been a lot (and I mean A LOT) going on at home. And you're just going to have to trust me on this, but I've read about 40 more books than are listed! Thing is, I'm on a book award committee and we're not allowed to publicly talk about our reading, even if it's just to say "hey, I read this" with no real comments or ratings. In other words, this year you're going to see a whole lot of older books or children's/young adult books mentioned and take it on faith that my adult book reading is keeping me very busy.   As always, reviews on the other blog.

Children's/Young Adult

Mystery

Non-Fiction

16.2.16

Lazy Thoughts

Reading... nothing that really excites me just now.  It's a good mix of YA and adult books, but with the exception of known quantities (aka murder mystery series I've been catching up on) everything has felt a bit "meh"

Listening... to more classical music than usual.  I can play my iPod in my office, and classical just feels right.

Watching... the last of Downton Abbey and The Good Wife, two series that have definitely reached their last.

Following... nothing and no one in particular.  I'm looking for new and exciting, so anyone with suggestions should chime in now.

Uncorking... or, as is more pertinent this month, Steeping... a mint green tea.

Looking... at the melting snow outside and wondering what's going on with winter.

28.1.16

First #NaNoWriMo and now #InCoWriMo

Are you ready for InCoWriMo?

What, you don't know what InCoWriMo is?  Silly you.  It's International Correspondence Writing Month.  You know, when you actually pick up paper and pen, write someone a note, fold it and insert in an envelope, get a stamp and then put it into a mailbox to be delivered to someone.  I do it even when it's not InCoWriMo!

[photos]

So if you want to reminisce and re-encounter that glorious feeling when you see mail, actual mail, in your mailbox, leave me a comment.  Or, maybe, send someone you love a note... card... letter... drawing.  Whatever.

February's a short month.  Don't delay!

21.1.16

It's a sign!

When I made my recent Big Life Change, my new home was on a strange little road.  It was the building I live in and two other buildings that have mostly elderly people (elderly = qualifying for senior housing).  The road sort of dead ends after it passes between those buildings... ironically, I hope, there's a graveyard "next door".  It's a great memento mori to have a literal dead end right there.

There is a cut-through to another two-building complex so we do have access to the next street but that's driving through their parking lot, not on an actual road.

Even better, we live where the street has no name.  Or, apparently, is findable on most GPS.

Then, yesterday, I drove home and... wait!  what?  It's a street sign.  With the name of my road on it.  Underneath is "PVT WAY"  (of course, now I'm curious what counts as private way, vs regular or semi-private or incredibly public; and why  are we a 'way' not a 'road'?  not that I'd be opposed to changing my address to C---- Way).

Yay!