Hello: Briefly

SONY DSC ~oh look: a picture of Motion Boy~
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We had Little League season: lots of games and lots of busy nights and strange, quick dinners. A great season for Sylvan: new team, coaches and teammates, all awesome. A recap of one of the championship games is here, but the best part was this quote: “Leading the charge for the Lynx on the offensive side, Sylvan Eichenbach (sic) smashed a triple…” For the non-hitter, scared ten year-old from last year to this! Wow. So proud of how far he has come and his solid effort. To see him on third base, hopping up and down, pounding his chest in triumph, well, let’s just say I was glad I was wearing my sunglasses so no one could be embarrassed by my leaky eyes.

Um, and then the next day after this stellar game he was at Fenway Park, seeing the Red Sox, and Dustin Pedroia came over and signed his homemade sign during warm-ups! Of all the people waving signs, Sylvan’s hero noticed the one he was holding and they were face to face. Sylvan’s roller coaster only goes up!
SONY DSCBesides for all that, we all finished our school years here. Some people received awards for “English Language Lover” and Latin Scholar. Sylvan sang beautifully at his assembly and came home with a gorgeous Main Lesson Book, filled with so many intricate drawings and compositions.

And, because we in this family like to say “Why not make several large life changes at once?” I have a new job for the fall: Technology Integrator at the same high school where Jonas attends! Here’s what it means: I will be doing half of the job I did at my previous job, the teaching technology part, the creative solutions part, working with teachers and students, presenting to parents, and the very librarian-ish part of finding resources/solutions to support the teaching and learning that people are doing. Except there are no books with this new job, which does make me a wee bit wistful. It was a hard decision to leave a job I loved, but this new job will be an exciting adventure! And thankfully, I will still have a carpool buddy.

SONY DSC ~this color is called Peaceful Night~

SONY DSC~oh my gosh, I exist digitally!~

So the big thing now is our house. Full time, full throttle, every day. The boys are shipped off, having fun adventures with their grandparents, and we have the house! It is thrilling! It comes with the option of lovely lunchtime swimming at a nearby pond, which I did yesterday. Painting was all day today and yesterday. This room is in Ben Moore’s Marscapone, which is a warmish white but not too yellow. It will be all over the upstairs because I wanted to see a neutral white while I get to know the light in the house.

SONY DSC~our bedroom~

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This is the tall side of the house, the first one to be sided. Peaceful Night down below and up top at the gable, plus bleach oiled shingles. More sides to come…

So I am going to bed by 8pm most nights and up early for more work. Reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt, which is horrifying and captivating at the same time.

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~a little bragging~

SONY DSCThe talent is really all around us in a whirling maelstrom: superstar math teachers, superstar athletes, superstar academics (who can tell you the line of succession in the event our prez and veep both are out of the game), superstar artists, superstar writers. It’s just a lot of talent. All the time.

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~all days should begin with cuddling in rosy light~

And now THIS: My mom is a published poet! A children’s author!! I am reading her reviews in the online and print review sources I consult for my library! We were recently with her for the launch of her book, Miss Emily, a middle grade reader and poetic narrative about Emily Dickinson. 
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Emily wasn’t the weirdo recluse we might imagine. (She actually hated that awful picture of herself, this one; wouldn’t you?) Emily Dickinson was the beloved adult and auntie to the children in her neighborhood, that special adult who listens and appreciates us as children and young adults, the one who really sees us as people. That’s what this book is about: a whimsical adventure with that special wordsmith who hears that the circus is coming to town…
SONY DSCSONY DSCMy mom gave a wonderful reading and a slideshow of what the circus would have looked like back then. She’s a kindergarten teacher, so she knows how to work a crowd (and it was a big crowd, 20 kids, 50 adults!) and she was sensitive to the pacing and timing that a mixed audience requires.

SONY DSCThen there was a surprise visit from a librarian and actress, Amy Anaya, who does a one-woman Emily Dickinson show! She fully embodied the playful spirit that shines through the Emily in the book, while using Emily’s own words and letters in an interactive and engaging performance that was punctuated with giggles from the audience (old and young).

SONY DSC SONY DSCSo proud of her! And a testament that dreams really do come true. You can find my mom’s author website here and her Facebook fan page here.
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~sneak peek~

SONY DSC ~last week’s storm blowing out~
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This is my latest project, the February Lady sweater from Ravelry, since I am both a February Lady and a “grown-ass woman,” as the pattern specifies. And because I am me, I underestimated the size of my (apparently) Larger-Than-Normal shoulders and had to rip out the whole yoke a couple of weekends ago and start again. Do you recognize the heather gray yarn? The very same exact yarn in which I knit Mr. Crafty’s EZ Seamless Hybrid sweater a few years ago, from Webs.

Who would believe I would return to boring old heather gray?! But I loved how, when I consulted the Ravelry Yarns tab (new favorite crowdsourcing feature!), the February Lady looks when knit up in a cozy gray. It sets off the gull lace pattern so nicely. And I know already that the yarn holds up after wearing it—no pills!

SONY DSCAnd the thing about knitting even a simple lace pattern like this one is that it’s necessary to learn the topography of the pattern, by observing the landmarks and paying careful attention. So that eventually I can look at the knitting in front of me and know what I am seeing, like reading a map, and know what to do. And I can tell when I have made a mistake, so that I can tink it out (TINK is KNIT backwards). Yet again.
SONY DSC Here are a few sneak peeks at our new land in Hope! We were out working on it for a few hours this weekend, clearing out some of the smaller little trees you see above, on the part that will soon have our house, driveway, and yard on it. It was a team effort, we were all out there. Today was very very cold and crisp.
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~this little stream runs below and behind where our house will be~

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC~I guess we can take down the snowy realtor’s sign!~

I’m reading Smilla’s Sense of Snow. Stieg Larsson fans (of which I am not), dust off this old book from the 90s! Clearly an inspiration to the current popularity of dark, Scandi-thriller-lit. I mean do you know anything about Greenland? Neither did I, but the it’s the usual story: a country with lots of natural resources gets overtaken by a European country (Denmark) which takes advantage of the native Inuit culture and takes all of their resources too. The writing is so unusual; the protagonist, Greenlandic-Danish Smilla, is totally unusual and unexpected. She wears seal-skin pants (!) and hops around on ice flows and can read the snow. Seriously. She READS the snow. So that’s what I’m reading and am surprised to be enjoying it.

In other Scandinavian news: Norway‘s National Library has figured out how to digitize currently in copyright books, pay the copyright-holders and authors, and you know, make culture available equitably. Sigh. Those darned Scandinavians, at it again, making the rest of us look like complete tools. All this AND gun control, universal healthcare, and access to higher education? The mind boggles.

~ugliest book cover 2014~


PicCollageWell, it’s weeding season in the library. And already I think I have found our finalists of Ugliest Book Covers 2014! What you see above are some of the strong contenders. (see past winners here and here.)
SONY DSC Cold Whisper by Rick Hautala was an early pick, I mean, really: HOLOGRAM COVER! And at lower right, the cover for Altered States was an easy pick for me because I was pretty much traumatized by seeing the terrible 80s film featuring Christopher Walken at the tender age of about 7.
SONY DSCThese covers are what passed for graphic design, once upon a time. A person designed and pitched these covers to their design team…AND THEY WERE PICKED.

{Imagine for a moment the ones that were *not*.}

On to happier things, did you check out that lovely little face, above, peeking sweetly from my teacup? My matryoshka tea bobber, a belated gift from one dear friend. On her underside, there is a little tea strainer and she floats! Also, she coincidentally matches my favorite tea/coffee mug.

And here’s how it looks when your tea has sufficiently steeped and you have a nice spot to rest your drippy tea leaves:

SONY DSCWe have some big, creative news around here: purchasing a really sweet plot of land and building a new home. I didn’t expect to fall in love with a piece of land, but this one just felt right as soon as we saw it. It feels familiar somehow and features a little stream, a spring, and three old oak trees. 
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And then the design process: we are building a custom modular home to our own specifications. What I’d like: well-insulated and space efficient. It turns out that I’m really spatially challenged when it comes to house-visioning and drawing in 2D. {I can envision 2D to 3D when it comes to knitting patterns and I excel at finding the exact right leftovers container for the amount of food that needs to find a home.} It’s almost like I have an alarming lack of language to describe how I feel about something on the page. I can’t see it easily, I have to work hard to picture myself in the space, doing the things I would do, and painting the space around me. I can’t solve the problems of space and am easily overwhelmed and defeated.

Thankfully, this is one of Mr. Crafty’s strengths (score on the husband front yet again). He seems to delight in it, the process, the modifications, the challenge. He says it’s helpful because I am really good at articulating what we actually use spaces for in our family. I think he’s just saying that to make me feel better for grunting and drooling, getting frustrated, discouraged, and irritable about not being able to do something. Our adventure is just beginning.
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~still life with zombie bud vase and gnome cookie cutter~

People ask me for book recommendations a lot and so I made this graphic  to visually represent some of my favorites; I’ll keep adding to it. In the center of the graphic are the ones that are truly superior, that have left their mark on me as a reader. The ones on the sides are also memorable, worthy of a recommendation, but not on the topmost shelf, so to speak.

And here, to terrify and shock and sear your retinas, dear readers, The Ugliest Book Cover of 2014:

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evolution of readers

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Recently I had a lovely cup of coffee with one of my librarian mentors and we were speaking about the evolution of readers and reading. In today’s world, when our customers experience one-click shopping and instant downloads, where is the library’s place? And how quickly can we catch up? Even the most dedicated library users are now reading electronically too, experiencing the thrill of the “itchy Kindle finger:” the moment when you finish the last chapter of a fantastic book in a series (say Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series) and can, with a mere touch of a finger, purchase and begin reading the next book within minutes.

{Please also understand that I will argue forever that libraries are more than just books, digital or physical, that they are about people making connections in community and represent some of the highest values of our society and culture.}
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~mr. handsome’s new Steve Maddens~

When the same reader visits our state’s download library and discovers that the book she wants has a long waiting list or isn’t available at the moment… Is she likely to put herself on the waiting list of 12?

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I’d also like to know why someone hasn’t invented a Netflix or Audible-inspired model for e-books. Unlimited access to e-books, loaned one at a time, or alternatively, a one credit per month model that would allow me to purchase an e-book with my credits. And while we are speaking of e-books: if I purchase an e-book, can someone explain to me WHY I CAN’T LEND IT TO WHOMEVER I PLEASE? It’s mine, yes? Purchased with  my very own dollars. Publishers and authors: how is this any different than lending my paper copy to a friend with whom I would like to share the book?
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So I’ll leave you with this: Our readers are evolving, whether we (librarians, publishers, authors) like it or not. Take three young people I know, Mr. Handsome and his two friends, teenagers who are our reading legacy. One of them snatched up a Kindle edition of Fangirl when it was on sale for $1.99, smart boy that he is, who listens to his personal librarian. So now we have one reader who has a Kindle copy of Fangirl, plus two readers who have already read it but who want to share in a re-reading of this excellent book with their friend. Using the one Kindle account (on three different devices), all three readers are able to co-read and leave comments and highlights in the text of their favorite passages. Social and asynchronous reading! I’m pretty sure this is not the business model Amazon would prefer, but these clever readers are meeting their own needs.

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Another picture for you of our reading legacy: two teenagers who stay up until 1 a.m. reading aloud from The Fault In Our Stars , via FaceTime.

The librarian’s heart goes pitterpat.

~Happy New Year~

catching the festive spirit

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The sunrises are happening after we leave for work now. But this was a few weeks ago.

And now, for a couple of action shots:
SONY DSC SONY DSCWe had Thanksgiving and the first night of Hannukah, and since it was the only night we were celebrating with some friends from afar, we went ahead and had a ceremonial lighting of all of the candles. In the picture below, you may notice a reference to the opening credits of Downton Abbey.
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And dear Joanie, so talented in so many ways, was working on another amazing gingerbread house, to be raffled in support of her local library! It has window boxes, friends, that will be filled with “snow” and cedar greens (dipped in beeswax to seal the color) and red hots.
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Of course it was designed to have a tiny candle inside it, to light up the candy-glass windows. And the gnomes would be in the sleigh, pulled by reindeer (including Rudolph).
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SONY DSCAs we set the holiday table for Thanksgiving, I caught this picture of Jonas looking 25.
SONY DSCWe are under mountains of snow now, two big northeastern storms within a week have left us with maybe 2-3″ of snow! It’s very festive. And we have a snow day today with a long list of work and play activities, cleaning and preparing for family’s arrival, wrapping presents, maybe some cribbage and knitting, and possibly reading. And a few extra teenagers around, just to keep things fun.

More posts to follow. Promise!

~in between~

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It’s a really nice place to rest.  We may not be settled into our next forever home, but this is pretty lovely. Seeing sunrises is an occupational hazard when you’re a high school teacher. Except now, until Daylight Savings, we’re leaving the house before sunrise.

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Really interesting variety of stones on this beach, leading us to believe this might be the dumping ground of a previous glacier..  Some bright white, some pink and green, some with funny zippity bits of vertical lines (almost like rice grains but longer), some with sparkles. So we get to take walks amidst all this beauty.

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We also do fun fall things like pick apples at our favorite local, almost-organic orchard. We have to import adorable small people, for the sake of the photographer. Here’s our friend A., whom I have known since she was born (literally!), with that difficult problem of how to simultaneously hold the apple you’re eating, the very heavy apple bag (that holds all four of the apples you already picked), and the apple you just pulled off the tree.
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And we still spend time drawing and doing homework. Sylvan has the most adorable way of pooching out his lower lip while he draws. You can just see it in the second picture. It makes my heart hurt to look at it.

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Someone took our picture. And we look adorable in our matching owl sweatshirts!

I just finished a book that made me immediately wistful when I finished it: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Some Facebook friends suggested we could call that phenomenon “booklorn” or “bookreft”—the moment when you come to the end of a book and feel like you were just dumped in the worst way, in that you were not at all over with the relationship you made with the characters, and suddenly the author has decided you are done.

In fact, I made Jonas read it immediately, as soon as I finished. I got to watch his face while he read it, a smile hovering on the edge of his mouth with just a hint of twinkle. And I felt so blessed. Blessed that my busy high school boy can still be persuaded to read a book recommended by his mom and personal librarian. Blessed to share a really great book with this smart and funny person (my own child!), and doubly blessed to watch him enjoy it as I had. He called me when he finished, bookreft as I had been.

{Wait. Can I repeat that? My 14 year-old son called me when he finished his book to talk about it. I feel like I’m bragging a little bit here.}

Jonas said it was “not as good as The Fault in Our Stars [his favorite book], but better than Looking for Alaska,” both by John Green, one of our all-time favorite authors. High praise indeed.