2014 Year-end Reading Round-up

A slightly updated post from the one I posted in the Semicolon Year-end Lists,

304 books read - 4 over goal! Not as good as last year, and no real reason except work stress. And now I'm down to 2113 books left to read, but at this pace I might go over (I do plan on living more than another 7-8 years!). So maybe I should stop tracking that? For lists and review links, go here, here, here and here (the totals on the review blog won't match these because I don't add the books I read for professional review).

And here's the 2014 reading analysis (2013 numbers in parens):
  • number of books read in 2013: 304 (325) 
  • best month: tie between March and August/38 (April/29) 
  • worst month: April/9 (October/8) 
  • average read per month: 25.33 (27.08) 
  • adult fiction as percentage of total: 18 (24.92) 
  • children's/YA fiction as percentage of total: 58 (40.6) 
  • Advance Readers Copies:202 (209) 
  • e-books: 0  (2) 
  • books read that were published this year: 233 (226) 
  • books that will be published in the coming year: 25 (20) 
  • five star reviews (aka "Must Read"):  20 (25) 
  • one star reviews (aka "DNF"): 17 (20) 
 In addition, I met the Reading Challenge I set myself, repeating the one from 2012, regarding "oldies" and Mt. Bookpile is at 252 (down from 2013! At this rate, I'll demolish it in another 15 or so years.). Since life seems to be holding steady just now, my goal for 2015 is to read another 300 books and get the mountain below 225. Let's see how that goes, shall we?

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

With a lot of hard work, I made it to my goal - thank you to the Thanksgiving and Winter Break gods!  Lots of YA this quarter, most of which was picked up at the ALAN conference in late November.  As always, you can see what else I've read over on the review blog

Children's/Young Adult

Science Fiction/Fantasy


Culture Vulturing in 2014

(a post sitting in draft format for quite some time - yes, I am a Lazygal!)

Over a year ago, having moved to NewJob, NewTown and NewState, there was some question of how much culture vulturing could be done - it's plausible that Thing One was more worried than I, but neither of us should have been.  Here's what the past year(ish) has looked like:

Freud's Last Session, produced by a local professional theatre company, was a play highly recommended by Thing Four (yes, folks, there is a Thing Four).  He'd seen it several times in NYC and was thrilled that I'd get a chance to see it.  Being a huge C.S. Lewis fan, it was interesting to see how this imagined conversation unfolds, a meeting of science versus faith.  To be honest, the Lewis character didn't impress me, but watching Ken Tigar as Freud more than made up for it.  Overall, a good way to start our culture vulturing for the year.

Next up was the Jay Geils Jazz & Blues Review in a smallish hall.  I've previously blogged about Bad Behavior during a concert - this was that concert.  The music was good, although having the bandleader constantly reminding us who was whom and the name of the group was a little... disconcerting?  annoying?  unnecessary?  There was no J. Geils Band music played, no Peter Wolf making a surprise appearance, and that was ok.  This was clubland, with a few standards and more original music that sounded familiar and was fun to listen to.

School ending is my cue to start prepping for ALA, this time in unspeakably hot Las Vegas. My Cruise Director, the wonderful Wendy, is a Cirque du Soleil fanatic and suggested Zarkana. I've seen Cirque three times before, all at Battery City Park in a round tent, so seeing them in a traditional theatre was a different experience.  I missed the ribbon dancers, but OMG the sand artist!

Then came summer and our trek to Montreal, in part to see the opening weekend of the International Fireworks Festival - this time, we didn't pay the big loonies to sit in the special seats but found a riverside perch and watched from afar - and in part to see/hear a little of the International Jazz Festival.  We'd missed seeing Rachid Taha and Michel Rivard (still on my To Be Seen List) but got tickets for Coeur de Pirate.  The songs were mostly in English from the Paroles album, the patter in rapid Quebecois with a few exceptions (like Place de la Republique).

What's fascinating is how Monteral handles this festival: an area of downtown, a relatively significant space akin to Lincoln Center and environs, is shut down to vehicular traffic for a few weeks.  Outdoor acts, outdoor dining and outdoor strolling are encouraged; dinner one night was a melange of scotch (sold from a booth, just like any other beverage or food), Belgian waffles, hot dogs and bubble tea.  All purchased from a booth, all eaten al fresco while listening to various jazz and jazz-related groups doing their thing for free in the plaza.  Heaven!

Shortly before school started Thing One, Thing Four and I went to This Is Our Youth, which I'd suggested because 1. it was Steppenwolf (my first job was at Circle Rep, which was transferring a co-production of Balm in Gilead from CRC's theatre to the Minetta Lane) and 2. it was Kieran Culkin, the best actor in the clan (and a former student).  Kieran didn't disappoint, Michael Cera was a bit of a surprise, but the female?  Meh.  And since she's pivotal, it detracted from the production for me.  Thing Four had seen, and loved, the original, and was similarly "meh" about it.

My senior year of high school brought J. Giels' Centerfold and Tom Petty's Refugee into my life... and having seen Jay Giels perform, it was only fitting that my "school's starting" treat was seeing Tom Petty!  The opening act, Steve Winwood, was good, playing only a few songs that others knew, despite a long, distinguished career.  Then Tom and the Pretenders showed up and played a great selection of hits and new music, Refugee among them.  There was even an extended sing-along portion (Thing One did wonder why we'd paid so much to have Petty act as our backup band... but I think he was kidding!). 

That was supposed to be the ending to my Culture Vulturing year but the gods were smiling! On Facebook I noticed that Camille O'Sullivan was doing a three-week residency at Irish Arts (and I know the tech director there) so on a Friday night, with a fever, Thing One and I headed to NYC to see her after seven years.  It was a small theatre, and she needs a slightly larger supper club atmosphere, but she's truly wonderful fun.  Why she never plays the US is completely beyond me!  This year alone I've introduced her song stylings to a few special colleagues and students - and here's a video for you:

So there you have it.  Several months of theatre, music, fireworks and fun.  Who knows what 2015 will bring?


One of life's little moments...

Those of us who have followed Terry over the years know about his art gallery (I've even seen in, albeit years ago before several pieces were added to the Teachout Museum).  What an interesting tweet to read. And then came the follow up, when I sensibly asked what he was before - he responded that he was "The Great Pretender."

There's a lot of literature out there about the Imposter Syndrome, about how people don't feel as though they deserve their position, or the kudos, or whatever it is that makes them feel somehow unworthy of a title or fame.  Don't most of us feel that at one time or another? 

Come on... it's just us here... you can admit it. 

It's a feeling I often have, possibly coupled with those failed fantasies I have.  Somewhere, the "real" Lazygal is living that life, and it's always a shock when I have to remember I am the real Lazygal, that it's the only life going out there.  For me, at least.

But I take his larger point, which is that there is sometimes a moment, or an action, that somehow transcends what you've been doing and makes it more real, or more adult, or more authentic.  For him, it's hanging a painting by an artist.  It could just as easily have been when his first column was published... or his first book... or his first opera was performed. For others it could be the first time they present to a professional organization... or own their own house... or get an assistant.  Obviously it differs for each of us.

Recently I gave up my beloved Stuart, a manual car, to lease StuTwo (or StuToo?), an automatic.  There's Bluetooth and a rearview camera to assist with backing up.  You'd think I've been feeling like an adult for a while now, but for some reason these two features confirmed for me that I really was, in fact, an adult. 

We all have those moment, disconcerting as they may be.  Let's be thankful for them and pause to reflect on how they've created a turning point in our lives.


Failed fantasies

As the end of the calendar year approaches, and as the end of my age year approaches, I've been thinking about my fantasies and how sadly failed they are... maybe I can come up with better ones?

I have this fantasy friend. We get together every few weeks, drinking wine or tea, nibbling on something delicious, sitting in amazingly comfy chairs and we talk. About life, love - all those Big Things like our hopes, our fears. I'm pretty sure those friends exist, because I've seen them on tv and in the movies. But I don't have one of those friends.

I have this fantasy job, where I'm paid what I'm worth to do work that makes me feel great and sends me home at night feeling energized, not ennervated. My superiors appreciate what I'm doing and support my efforts, my colleagues are collaborative and eager to hear about new books and ideas. My job isn't bad, but it's not one of those jobs.

I have this fantasy body, one that's a few inches taller than my current height (current for the past 38 years! I was promised at least 3 more inches, and not the 3 inches the ads say will make my wife happier!) and slender and flexible and not starting to get old. Guess what? I don't have that body.

It's not that I hate my friends, my job or my body. It's that I have these fantasies... unfulfilled fantasies. Maybe I need to stop fantasizing?


Notes from Mt. Bookpile

A month late with this list... barely keeping pace with this year's reading goal. We'll see how things go over the last quarter (pretty sure I can catch up). In the mean time, you know where to find reviews.

Children's/Young Adult

Science Fiction/Fantasy


Slowly coming to...

For some reason, the start of the school year hit me hard. I was in a comfortable groove then BANG! And life stopped. It was all I could do to get from work to home and back. Now things are looking a little better... a little more normal. So stay tuned: blog posts and updates coming soon! In the mean time, how are you doing?


Monday Memories

Regular blogging has been disrupted by a two-week bout of... flu? plague? Some illness. Fever, sinuses, coughing - you name it, I did it. Except vomiting. Yay?

So while I catch up a little, here's a Monday Memory:

My senior year in high school I took a three-course sequence in Asian History.  Each trimester had a required read, and Mishima's Spring Snow was the read for the Modern Asia course.  

The Sea of Fertility tetrology (Spring Snow is the first book) traces the lives of three friends over a period of years, each taking very different journeys.  One (Kiyoaki) is reincarnated anew each book, the other two (Shigekuni and Satoko) continue through (well, sort of... read the books and see).  The thing is, it wasn't just that one of my favorite teachers inspired me to read the other three books - it's that the journey the three take has resonated differently with me at different times.  I remember reading the books and writing to this teacher, back when writing was the done thing, before e-mail was invented, and giving him my response. He wrote back and we "chatted" about it for a while.  A few years later, I wrote telling him how the book had affected me on a second read - and his response made me feel as though I was, in some small way, his intellectual equal (clearly not possible, right?!).  

That was one of the proudest moments of my life, feeling that someone - a man who I admired greatly and who had inspired me - thought I was his equal.  

It's doubtful that any of the students I've worked with have admired me or been inspired by me to the extent that this teacher did me (and not just me - many, many others).  But if I can make one feel as proud to be my friend as I felt to be his... And it's all due to this one book.


Links Galore


New Year, New Resolutions

Yes, yes, I know: it's not January.  But it is the start of a new school year, right?  So why not make some resolutions?  Usually, I ponder guidelines but at this time, resolutions are more appropriate.  (list and idea via)

Bad habit I’m going to break:
Letting my clutter overwhelm me and the house.  Everything has a place, right? So every night it should all be there.

A new skill I'd like to learn:
Hmmm... difficult.  It's not really a "skill" in the same way knitting or skiing are, but I need to be better about letting things go.

A person I hope to be more like:
My uncle and a high school friend, who lived good lives and showed everyone how to die well. Their example of grace and living each day preciously is so inspiring.

A good deed I'm going to do:
No idea yet.  But I'll know it when I see it.

A place I'd like to visit:
It won't happen this year, but we can start planning our next European trip (Prague/Budapest/Vienna is the dream).

A book I'd like to read:
Uh, well, how about we just settle with "getting Mt. Bookpile to below 200" as a goal?  And to start reading some of the older books, patiently sitting there for (in some cases) years waiting to be read.

A letter I'm going to write:
Make that letters.  My penpals need more in their mailboxes!

A new food I'd like to try:
Not sure, to be honest.  There's very little that I know that I haven't tried.  It'll have to be "when I see it..."

I’m going to be better at:
Budgeting my time, so that I can spend more of it doing things I like with people I like, rather than things I have to do "because".


Felines 1, Humans 1

Boy, was I overly optimistic...

The calm before the storm...

Success! They're caged...

Distracting the neighborhood patrol...

Oh, yeah. This happened. 
Yes, I'm a righty.  
Yes, that's my right paw.
No, I can't really move it well.
I guess it could have been worse...

At least it's over with for the year.

Please pray for us...

In about 90 minutes (aka 9:30am ET on Thursday, August 21) Thing One and I are going to try to capture and cage our two six year-olds for their trip to the vet.

One will be easy to deal with (she's a bit of a lump anyway).  The other?  Earlier this year we thought we  had an emergency situation and tried to get him to the vet... he spent 12 hours hiding underneath our dishwasher.  Who knew there was an opening he could slither in to?  Clearly not us!

Today's plan is to herd him into Thing One's bedroom, because mine has an armoire he might be able to get behind/under and the rest of the house is pretty open plan.  We expect scratching and loss of bodily functions (from him), plus lots of swearing (on both sides).

Once they're in the cage, we'll head to the vet even if we're early.  Of course I'll bring something to read... Thing One will probably mutter under his breath and prevent me from reading.  Sigh.

Pray for us.  I'll keep you updated on our progress!



Yesterday it finally happened: a friend "tagged" me on Facebook, challenging me to do the #ALSicebucketchallenge. I untagged myself. He retagged me. I responded, "thanks... but I'm not doing it, nor am I paying the 'penalty' and donating $100."

Yeah, I'm a horrible person. I clearly don't care about those suffering from ALS (aka "Lou Gherig's Disease"). I'm selfish. And now, all his friends on Facebook know that.

Except... I don't wear pink. I do donate, just to other causes. A one-shot, one-year donation might help, but it does penalize those other causes. The Globe & Mail has an op-ed on why you shouldn't do the challenge, and it's definitely worth a read. That's part of my reason.

And, as stated earlier, there are other places I donate to, and while this is a worthy cause, what makes it worthier than those? And how dare anyone weigh one charity's worth against another?

Here's the other thing: it's so very, very public. Which means that if I wanted to tag any number of my friends or relatives, I couldn't because - gasp! *faint* - they're not on social media. No Facebook, no Twitter, no Vine, no Pinterest. Nothing. Virtually no digital footprint because, unlike librarians, their jobs don't "require" them to be Visible and Out There. How could they possibly participate if it's not public, if they can't be seen to participate? (think tree falling in forest...)

I come from a family that feels giving back is important (my great-grandfather started the tradition, and I think all of us have kept it up to one degree or another). Even when I was young, it was expected that we give every week (from our allowance - which really did mean we weighed the value of the donation vs. what else we wanted to do with the money). As I've grown older, I've found several causes that are near and dear to me and I've continued the tradition. Beyond a mention (sometimes) in the annual report, I don't expect any fuss - I've even stopped one large, family-driven donation from being a "named" gift - because that's not why I give.

So on two levels, I just can't. And please, think twice (or more!) about tagging your friends. Don't shame them into doing this.


Broken News

The following might be insensitive, and I don't mean for it to be: I really do feel for Robin Williams' family and friends, and that he had depression? The whole thing is tragic.

But... Last night, during Jeopardy, ABC News inserted a Breaking News Bulletin.  Robin Williams had died, possibly a suicide, at age 63.  More details to follow.

Was I shocked? Yes, but not because of the death.  I'm sorry, this wasn't "Breaking News".  It's news, but worthy of interrupting another program?  No.

Because ISIS.

Because Ukraine.

Because Gaza.

Because Ferguson.

Because Robin Williams, while a wonderful actor (his work on Homicide was amazingly understated and real throughout, unlike virtually any other role you saw him in) and genius-level comedian, was not any of those.  Or a presidential assassination, or another September 11, or a plane being shot down, or any number of other events I could name.

The news is broken.


Happy Belated!

Whoops!  I've been a little distracted and my ten year blog anniversary passed me by.  Ten years.  Ten.

This blog has changed and morphed, and I'm still unsure about the direction it will (or should) take.  Long-time readers have read about my political rants, culture vulturing, books, cats (and loss of two, Lulu and Bogie), the Things in my life, job stuff and, well, just about everything including my blood pressure.

Just compare July 2004 to July 2014.

So here's your opportunity to weigh in: what do you want to read about?  DO you want to continue reading?


My home library - the meme (part three)

Per Philosophy MomFound this on thremma 's journal; she evidently swiped it from wendelah1 , who found it on this Tumbler (where it seems to have originated). It has 30 questions and appears, from the original instructions, to be intended for use over the course of a month. [Said instructions:"You can do all of them, but feel free to skip a number if you don’t own any books relevant to the day’s prompt (just replace it with an idea of your own). Take a picture, write down the stories attached to the book(s) in question, go nuts!"]

Part one... part two...

13. Best bargain: As a librarian who gets many, many ARCs, I'll have to go with "getting my MLS/becoming a school librarian"

14. Most recent purchase: That's easy, especially since I don't purchase too many books (thank you publishers for the ARCs!): Vader's Little Princess.  Cute and very worth it.

15. Favorite lay-out design: What a difficult question to answer!  I can tell you that certain designs drive me BSC: take those old paperback "classics" of the 70s/80s, with the thin paper and too-small type, or books with endnotes that are difficult to find.  And trim size on YA non-fiction books!  But "favorite" eludes me, perhaps because I'm an omnivore reader, so what works well in fiction may not work as well in non-fiction, or what works in a good "how-to" book doesn't work in a cookbook, etc.

16. Book you bought because of the title: See the answer to #14 above - there are probably a few others, but again, because I get so many books from publishers (some with cool names, some without) actually buying books is not something I tend to do.

17. Book you bought because of the cover design: Can't say I've ever done that, but I do know that I recoil from designs that are too derivative (like those Jane Austen books that got "Twilight Saga" covers).  And blurbs.  If there are too many, or the buzzword du jour is there ("luminous" is one of those) I'm likely to actively avoid the book.

18. Multiple translations of the same work: None. The stuff I read in French I don't own in English, and I don't really know any other languages.  As for "works translated into English", I'm not enough of a scholar to own different versions of, say, The Iliad, for comparison purposes.

19. Multiple copies of the same work: The only one that springs to mind is the Lord of the Rings series (and The Hobbit).  There's the 1970 paperbacks, now falling apart, and a newer edition bought by Thing One because he was too nervous to read the older ones.  In the Great Book Purge of 2012-3 all other duplicates were donated.

20. The funniest book you own: Seriously?  I've got comic strip collections like Doonesbury and Bloom County, essays by Dave Barry and Art Buchwald, authors like Terry Pratchett and Wodehouse in my collection.  You choose.  I dare ya.

21. The most expensive book you own: I have no idea.  Possibly one of the Chalet School books I bought used?  Or the American Heritage Dictionary? But with inflation, and scarcity, to also factor in, I have no idea.

23. A book you read so many times that it fell apart: The only one I can think of is Martha Gripe's Hugo and Josephine.  Here's the problem: some are falling apart not because I read them so frequently but because they're 40+ year old paperbacks.

24. A book you think everyone should read:  I just can't do that without doing more of a Reader's Advisory interview.  Professional ethics, dontchaknow.

25. A book that made you cry: Any book were animals are mistreated or the like.  Most recently? Mort(e).

26. A book you would prescribe for an aspiring author: To me it would very much depend on what genre they want to write.

27. A cover design you hate: See answer to #17 above.

29. Favorite book from your childhood: Depends on how young you want me to be: Richard Scarry's books were faves when I was really young, ditto Good Night, Moon.  A little older? Up A Road Slowly and Hugo and Josephine and Journey from Peppermint Street and... and...

30. The book with the most pages in your collection: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.  Probably.


Notable Quotes

The books themselves, whether at home or at large, are only part of the tale.  Libraries, ancient and modern, have something organic about them.  They are as difficult to define as the people who use them, and more so, because a book can both be in and out of the library at the same time.  A library is at once an accumulation of books, maintained and managed to some end, and the place or places where they are or ought to be found.


Links Galore

It feels good to declutter my saved links - enjoy!
And speaking of decluttering, one word to live by: less.

Finally, some fun.  Listen to Shriekback as you read this article about the Abbey Road crossing.


My home library - the meme (part two)

Per Philosophy MomFound this on thremma 's journal; she evidently swiped it from wendelah1 , who found it on this Tumbler (where it seems to have originated). It has 30 questions and appears, from the original instructions, to be intended for use over the course of a month. [Said instructions:"You can do all of them, but feel free to skip a number if you don’t own any books relevant to the day’s prompt (just replace it with an idea of your own). Take a picture, write down the stories attached to the book(s) in question, go nuts!"]

Part one here.

7. Favorite poetry collection: Confession: I don't really have any poetry collection.  Goblin Market by Christina Rosetti is the closest I come.

8. Favorite biography: Judith Skelton Grant's biography of Robertson Davies.  It's a good biography, but also it's a book that Thing One bought me twice.  Don't ask.

9. Favorite cookbook: Currently?  I love Home Made Summer. But all time, Susan Branch's cookbooks are so much fun.

10. Favorite graphic novel: Ooooh.  Sorry.  I just don't have the kind of brain that fully appreciates graphic novels.  I had problems with comic books, too.  Again, sorry. ETA: I did like the Tintin books (en francais, bien sur)

11. A book you didn’t understand at all: Most of my calculus text.  Beyond that, I don't tend to keep books I don't understand.  To be honest, I tend not to finish them, either.

12. “One of these things is not like the others” (inconsistent editions within a series):  My Chronicles of Narnia set (bought The Silver Chair at a different store than the others). One of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, I believe The Nine Tailors (but with the books in the basement, can't check) is different because for some reason, it was published by a different publisher than the other books.


My home library - the meme (part one)

Per Philosophy Mom: Found this on thremma 's journal; she evidently swiped it from wendelah1 , who found it on this Tumbler (where it seems to have originated). It has 30 questions and appears, from the original instructions, to be intended for use over the course of a month. [Said instructions: "You can do all of them, but feel free to skip a number if you don’t own any books relevant to the day’s prompt (just replace it with an idea of your own). Take a picture, write down the stories attached to the book(s) in question, go nuts!"]

I'm going to do this in a few installments, just to create some content (lucky you).

1. “The System: Currently, there are a ton of boxes in the basement; those are marked MYS (mystery books), CYA (children's/young adult), BIO (biography), NF (non-fiction), FIC (fiction), LIT (literature - don't ask me what the difference between this and FIC is, I know it when I read it), REF (reference), SFF (science-fiction/fantasy).  My professional books, Mt. Bookpile, religion/philosophy books and "gentle reads" are upstairs.  One day I'll have a library again...

2. Favorite female writer:  A.S. Byatt?  Joanna Trollope? Louise Penny? Elinore M. Brent-Dyer? See, it really depends on the mood and genre.

3. Favorite male writer:  As with the female authors, depends: Robertson Davies and Julian Barnes, though, are two faves.

4. Bought on location (where the writer lived, the book takes place, the movie adaptation was shot):  A biography of John Ruskin purchased at his home (back in 1982) is the one the leaps to mind; I've read and bought many "local" mysteries and novels while living abroad - which probably doesn't count.

5. The largest and the smallest book you own: Largest? Probably the Complete Shakespeare.  Smallest?  I'm not sure if that's the equivalent of "thinnest" (no idea) or "least height", which is probably Julian Barnes' Flaubert's Parrot (Bloomsbury Classic edition)

6. Complete works of one author: I'm only going to talk about fiction authors here; I have complete sets of many mystery and children's/young adult writers (for example, Carol O'Connell, Louise Penny, Elizabeth George, David Williams, Marie Lu, J.K. Rowling, etc.). So, as far as I know:

  • C.S. Lewis (including a copy of his contribution to OHEL)
  • Robertson Davies
  • A.S. Byatt (excluding her introductions/prefaces)
  • Julian Barnes
  • Terry Pratchett


Let's change the terminology

The other day, my friend Chuck posted on his blog and I asked if a word was a typo or new slang (hey: I'm old, I'm not up on what the hip kids are saying these days).  He responded something about my being a grammar nazi, and I suggested he was looking for the word "pedant."  There's a whole dictionary out there, with words like pedant and stickler and dogmatic and persnickety.  Why not use them?

Here's my rant (you knew one was coming, right?): using the word nazi to describe someone who is a stickler for rules or protocol or well, whatever, is beyond wrong.  If you end a sentence with a preposition, I'm not going to cart you off to some concentration camp where Work Will Make You Free.  I'm not going to send you to a gas shower because you don't know how to use a semicolon.

Real Nazis?  They didn't care about grammar (or soup, or dress codes, two name two other "nazi" types). They cared about racial purity and the Fatherland.  They cared about killing and doing it as efficiently as possible.  They cared about establishing the 1,000 Year Reich.

So the next time you're tempted to call someone a nazi, think about it.  Even in jest, it's a horrible thing to call another person.  To diminish the real horror of what Hitler and his Nazis did by adding "grammar" or "soup" or "weeding" before "nazi"  is to dishonor those who died fighting them, those who died because of them.

Aren't you better than that?


Got outta Dodge for a while...

Montreal is one of my favorite cities, even in the dead of winter. It's everything a great city should be: it's walkable, good bookstores and restaurants, there's a sense that you're not in Anyplace America, it has a sense of history, and then there's the culture. This time there was the International Jazz Festival and the start of the International Fireworks Festival!

(yeah, I'm kind of obsessed with the glowing light balls that show up on "our" street at night).


Links Galore

It's been far too long since I did one of these...


Notes from Mt. Bookpile

ACK!  I'm so far behind in my "300 in 2014" goal, mostly thanks to work taking over my life for this quarter.  Things picked up once summer vacation started, and I'm pretty sure I can catch up and get ahead next quarter.  Reviews in the usual place.

Children's/Young Adult
Science Fiction/Fantasy



Yesterday Thing One's aunt and uncle celebrated their 66th Wedding Anniversary.

Wow.  66 years.  Huge.

Where'd they spend it? His aunt is in hospice - she was somewhat aware, but who knows how much sinks in with the morphine drip and all.  His uncle was sitting there, all alone, when we walked in.

Watching someone go through hospice is never easy, even less easy is what the family goes through.  No one should be alone during that time, and if there's a significant day (like an anniversary or a birthday) it's even more important that someone else is there to share it.  Celebrating 66 years together when one partner is in hospice? I can't even begin to imagine what that feels like.

Heck, I can't imagine being that committed to someone for that long.  They've been married longer than any couple I've known (my parents will hit 55 in August), and in this day and age of easy divorce it'll get rarer and rarer for couple to reach that many years together.

There's a saying that no one knows what's going on in a relationship except for the two people in that relationship.  So who knows how many sorrows and problems they've had over the past 66 years.  And who knows how many joys they've had.  I can imagine that one of those was not having children; I hear that they took in many of the neighborhood kids, giving them a place to hang out and share their lives when home perhaps go to be too much.  They have (between them) eight nieces and nephews, and through Thing One's family 16 greats, and 7 great-greats (with one on the way).  At least 10 (including partners) of those have visited over the past 24 hours.

It takes a lot to last 66 years together.  It takes even more to imagine life beyond that, with one partner gone.  I'm holding both in the Light, hoping that their commitment to each other lasts just a little longer, and that the end is as painless as possible for both.


Concertgoing 101

The other night Thing One and I went to a concert. It was a jazz/blues evening, not a rock concert, held in a smallish performance space.

Looking at the others in the audience, it became clear: some people simply don't know how to act at, or dress for, these events. As a public service I'm providing some tips.

It's not a rock concert. Dress up a little. That means "business casual" or "good jeans and nice top" not "ratty t-shirt, cargo shorts and Birkenstocks".  Do you have a "tramp stamp"?  Cover it up.  The people in the row behind you shouldn't be able to tell what color your thong is.  And as proud as you may be of your concert T from 198? for a famous rock band, leave it at home.  This isn't to suggest coat and tie, or cocktail dress and heels, but, you know, look nice.  Show some respect for the players and the other members of the audience.

It's not your living room.  In other words, keep your comments to yourself.  There were two couples ahead of our row who talked and talked and talked.  The gentleman immediately ahead of us actually did quiet down when I mentioned that I, too, was enjoying the vibraphonist and would enjoy it even more if I didn't have his commentary.  The second couple, on the other hand, couldn't manage to stop making out and chatting throughout the entire evening, despite two other people asking them to please - for the love of jazz, please - be quiet.  I even suggested that I could teach them how to whisper (because, as a librarian, I kinda know how to do that).  No luck.

Everyone got that?  Dress nice, and be quiet.  Simple really.


Meeting Musings

There's a moment when I'm travelling up to the boarding school I attended when, through the trees, the Tower appears. For years (since I was 14) that sight has brought about a feeling of "home" for me: there, within those gates, is where I "live".

In all the years since, I've never felt that anywhere else.

 Until this morning. Because of the Big Life Change, I haven't been able to attend Meeting. This week was the first time I could get there since last August and I have missed it. Something was definitely missing from my life. And as I made the turn to go up the driveway, I felt "home". Same feeling I've gotten on that other drive, different place.

Sadly, that home may not be there this time next year. We are a small Meeting, with only a few members, and of those few, one is definitely leaving. I can't get there frequently. Another has health issues. In Quaker-speak, we're starting the conversation about laying the Meeting down.

Words can't express my feelings right now, except to ask that you hold us all in the Light.


Why I won't wear red (or pink, or any other color)

Recently students at MPOW were encouraged to wear red to support the rights of girls to have an education. I chose not to participate.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge supporter of girl's education. I'm just not a supporter of wearing a color to prove that support. Or signing petitions to the White House, the U.N. or some other passive form of support.

Here's the problem with those "protests": they accomplish nothing. When you're dealing with completely unreasonable people, or a dreaded disease (like pink for breast cancer) or some social cause, t-shirts or ribbons don't make a difference. Action makes a difference and quite honestly, a school in the US won't have any impact on the situation in Nigeria, or Pakistan, or where ever else girls are denied the opportunity to get an education. Signing the White House petition feels good, but the promise on the website is to bring the matter to some appropriate person's attention. It doesn't mean that the White House will actually act on the petition's request.

Years (ok, decades) ago, my mother stopped buying grapes in support of the Cesar Chavez-led strike. Later she convinced me to Boycott Nestle. Those actually accomplished something (in a perfect world, Nestle would have completely mended its ways but progress has been made!). Shortly after I left college, friends built shanties on the college quad and forced the trustees to divest their South African-connected investments. Again, there was a definite result stemming from that action. Wearing a pink t-shirt to "combat breast cancer"? Unless the money directly goes to a research facility or to help people battling the cancer, it doesn't do much (and many people wear their own pink clothes). The same with wearing red. Etc..

Before encouraging our students, or children, to participate in one of these protests, maybe we adults should think more carefully about the message it sends. Is there money going to help with the cause? Does it put pressure on someone/some company/some country to change? Or is it a feel-good, with a message that by wearing a color, or stating you support a cause without getting directly involved, will actually help?

Give me the former, every time. And leave my wardrobe out of it.


Notes from Mt. Bookpile (belated version)

74 books read during an amazingly work-filled first quarter (thank you Spring Break!).  I read as much in March as I did in January and February, combined. Not a lot of stand-out reading, sadly, but a whole lot of "ok, others might really enjoy it" - reviews, as usual, on the other blog

Children's/Young Adult

Science Fiction/Fantasy