So much was done.

These two: mostly brothers from way way back. They were two of the quietest small boys in their kindergarten, just sitting near each other, mostly in silence. They had some big plans recently, things to finish up in advance of Jonas’s departure. Such as the above world map, painted on Jonas’s wall. They had traced it out using  a projector earlier this year and then got down to brass tacks and painted it, over the course of 8 hours in one day.

The next day they walked from our house to his house, which are 31 miles apart. The result was a lot of blisters, but they were hardcore (being 16 and 18, respectively), and so they ran the last two miles in the dark (with flourescent shirts and headlamps). There is no limit to what these two can do, obviously, and they also made videos of both adventures which, annoyingly, are not on YouTube so I can’t share them.

~tiny whales on a bowtie! little Magrittes for a lover of apples!~

SONY DSCThen, there was the preparation to leave, which included the usual packing up and organizing, but also just for fun, finishing up an online AP class right down to the wire, and for extra extra fun, wisdom teeth extraction! I have a whole poem about the waiting room experience, vis a vis listening to classic rock and all the most important news (everything Tom Brady), all. morning.long.

These ties and bowties are from a few of his fans. I sent out a little invitation to participate in a tie/bowtie send-off and they came through! I presented them to him while he was recovering from the teeth surgery— little colorful packages and notes of encouragement. Think of all that love, living in his closet this year.
This love note was written on our steps on the morning of his departure, a little art from a friend who came in the night for a last goodbye. I got teary then.
I made his bed in his dorm room. No top sheet, his forever preference. His room overlooks one of the quads, so green and shady.

~science building~

Leaving him, I felt awestruck. And as the week has progressed, the adjustment is settling in with the just three of us. Mostly the part that is hard is that I can’t read him every moment, to know how he really is. But this is the new life! Moving forward and on his own, the same way it was strange when he went off to kindergarten and there were whole parts of his life that I was suddenly no longer part of. Letting go and trusting, just some of the biggest themes of parenting.

~a history classroom in the library~

Here’s a poem about our golden boy who still lives at home…


Last Summer Sleep

Your arm was extended in repose,

golden wrist and hand limned in that ray of early September sun.

The rumpled nest of quilts

were pooled around your sleeping form,

and I watched you

breathing in and out—

that beautiful line of your elbow and arm rising up to meet your wrist,

like Adam’s casual response to God’s outstretched forefinger.


God was making all the effort.

And Adam was like,


lounging back in the nude,

a bit laissez faire, if you ask me,

in the face of God’s intensity of *capital-C* Creation.

Like He was on some sort of cosmic merry-go-round

and if He didn’t put out his finger just right in that exact moment,

really quickly,

—and despite that terribly awkward position—

He might have missed the golden ring.

“Dammit, Adam, could you at least sit up? And put out your finger! Come on man, make an effort!”


There you were,

enjoying that last delicious sleep of the summer.

Your face was relaxed,

captured so perfectly between

teenage man-boy

and baby,

depending on how I shifted my gaze.


Your hair was perfect,

even in sleep.




~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.


~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. 
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.

~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. 
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.

~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:


evolution of readers

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.}
~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?

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?

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.

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~

other fall bits

SONY DSClooking up and down

And then there was the owl hoodie that I had been stalking over at Threadless. I would look it up and ogle it, then think $50? No way. But one special day they had a deal going on and it was half-off hoodies! I love wearing them on my back. And here is a tee-shirt to make a librarian’s heart go pitter-pat (thanks, Carrie).

The biggest creative endeavor this fall has been getting to know my new job and community of learners and teachers, my new library space, loving these 8th and 9th graders, teaching classes, and problem-solving a library with a very old collection and very few funds to reinvent it.
The average copyright year of this collection is 1986! Yes! Think what has happened in the publishing industry in the past 25+ years: Hello, YA literature, and Hello nonfiction that is meant to be interesting and enjoyable to read (thank you Malcolm Gladwell). What we have is a collection of books that are old with unappealing covers, books that are too long or obscure for this population. Oh, the other thing is that this school used to have 9th-12th graders. Can I interest you in a 500 page biography of Chekhov? Is anyone reading 500 page biographies of Chekhov anymore?! (Sorry Chekhov, we are getting more stupid because we have the internet now).

We’ve gotten a grant! (And I’m going for another one!) We’ve gotten donations to our manga collection (thanks to a student) and also  contemporary YA fiction books (thanks to a fellow librarian who is on a national reviewing committee but who teaches younger students). It’s coming right along. Every day brings some new adventures, and I’m having so much fun that I don’t even mind getting up at 5am every day. I have a library blog where I write about news and updates, tech tools I like, and some book reviews.

Just a little update on my creative work life!