Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winding Down....

2009 was a difficult year and I certainly do not find myself alone in being thankfully ready to put it to bed. Many of us had a lot of emotional or financial challenges, often both, and it has felt as though we've been slogging through, only to realize that while we were trudging/plodding/lifting/shoving/wedging, somebody ran off with the next month or three.

A little reflection before I go onwards:

Goals for 2009:
1) Use things -- I ha
ve tea, yarn, books...so many things that are here waiting for me. When they start feeling like clutter rather than things I enjoy, it's time to use up or get rid of rather than hold on indefinitely.

I've gotten rid of a fair amount but of late I've noticed the weeding bug has kicked in again and I want to clean out more. This is healthy, I think. If I don't love it, what's the point really? I see another trunkload to Goodwill in the near future.

2) Knit for myself. I talk a lot about knitting but almost always it's for other people. Call it selfish but I want some warm woolly things for me.

I made myself a cowl and fingerless mitts, both of which I wear all the time. A warm hat got added to the collection and a pair of green socks. And there is a super-bulky weight afghan that's about half way. Now that holiday knitting is nearly done I can get back to that.

3) Write for more than just my blog audience. I need a better collection of rejection emails and letters and possibly some acceptances too.

I'm working on poster session suggestions that are due by....Thursday. Note to self--finish those on Wednesday.

4) Scrapbook old papers. Not the incredibly matted, decorated, and beribboned, just the "here's a paper, here's something from junior high" with some notes on the side about why I kept it.

I haven't scrapbooked but I DID do a massive clean out. I went through literally cases of papers, notebooks and things from college. It was reliving those 3.5 years at an incredibly fast rate. I'm not sure I'd fully recommend it, the emotional roller coaster was so insane that I didn't notice that my cell phone wasn't working for four days. My suggestion--invite people over who are going to need to sleep in that space where all those boxes are. Either that or call the Incredibly-Patient-Mother. She's quite good with the cleaning/organizing thing and she doesn't have the emotional connection to your stuff like you do.

5) Survive braces....until April 2011

Somehow we had some miscommunication. I was under the impression that the whole process would be 30 months, including the nearly six months of wearing a bite plate. They had me in bands for 30 months. We just took new molds and my ortho continues to be upbeat about it. I'm looking at another sixteen months rather ruefully.

6) Get my books into LibraryThing.

Hmm...maybe I'll do this over New Years Eve/Day. It'd be one way to start the new year besides the whole freelance work I need to get caught up on.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

From Gypsy and I

We're at the Incredibly Patient Mother's until next week.

Catch you then!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thanks for the Audios....

It's painfully clear we're a week out from Christmas at the library: all the books are in (except the Christmas books, we still have a fair number but they're starting to look picked over) and the audio books and videos are flying out the door.

People have already begun to travel and parents are valiantly trolling the books on cd, trying to find something that will a) not drive them crazy and b) keep the older children engaged while c) still be appropriate for the three year old. I'm trying to hover with intent a little more by those shelves than usual. There's the various differences in families: age of the youngest child, fantasy v. non-fantasy, series v. non-series...but those are the general parameters.

Audiobooks have greatly increased in popularity, which I think is fantastic. I listened to George Guidall every night in high school, to the point that it was an instant sleep-inducer for the Incredibly-Patient-Mother for a few years thereafter. And yes, I order the kids/teens audiobooks and it's nice to see my collections circulate. Keep in mind I'm trying not to whine about the fact that the fabulous new chapter books that are coming down from tech services are languishing....

With the acceptance that audiobooks are not just something for people with poor vision and the wonderful quality and variety we're seeing of performers and titles, it makes sense that there are some followings of narrators. Among the most recognizable of these is Jim Dale.

Two years ago, if I mentioned the name Jim Dale, someone usually swooned in my presence. No matter the subject previous, I would then be treated to a glowing review of how wonderful he was, how fabulous the HP books were on audio, and how their entire family had listened to those books together. Anything he'd read flew out the door as families coming to the end of book 7 sought something else to appease their ears.

Today I came past my display of new audio books and noticed, not for the first time, that our copy of The Return to the Hundred Acre Woods by David Benedictus is still sitting there. Despite the allure of the sequel to a popular classic and being brought to life by no less than the venerable Jim Dale and being displayed face out on the top shelf of the display area (where other things are going quite nicely)...it's there, wistfully waiting to be popped into someone's "car bag" and taken along.

Wonder if that will change in the next couple of full court press "we need something for the drive to Grandma's" days...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hedgehogs in the News: Another Pudgy Hog

Albino hedgehog put on weight-loss regime

Cute "fluffy" hedgehog...I can think of worse things than getting to go swimming every day

Thanks M!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Snowfall and Gypsy

Wisconsin has it in for me. I moved up here just over two years ago and we promptly had the worst winter the state had seen in twenty years. Last winter was one of the coldest ones--with an actual temperature one morning of -24F. I don't want to even fathom what the windchill was. All I know is that my valiant car refused to even try and start.

And, in case you've missed news for the past few days, we had a blizzard here on Tuesday night, promptly followed by bone chilling temperatures. I went from casual winter gear to the hard core duck fluff coat, chunky weight hat and mittens I got from a ski shop overnight.

Here's the view early Wednesday, following 11" of small ice crystals down and while it was still snowing.

The snow has been cleared from the roads, though yesterday morning's drive to work was quite exciting when I had the audacity to make a right turn. *insert grateful for the fact I got new tires a few weeks ago here* Friday's commute actually saw pavement and rumor has it we'll be up to nearly freezing this weekend!

In the midst of all of this cold, I brought home a new bundle of joy. I started considering adoption about five minutes after I moved up here and realized I'd be spending the winter having a conversation with a very healthy spider plant or two. The plants have thrived but they aren't much for talking back and they are really lousy at snuggling.

Meet Gypsy. She's between one and two years old. She's from the Coulee Region Humane Society. So far she likes to be draped over my shoulder, enjoys belly rubs, and is going to need a substantial clawing/climbing tower. She attempted to jump the height of a five shelf bookshelf last night. She didn't make it but that didn't slow her down. Who wants to come over and help me trim her claws?

We still have to go the vet and have all of the usual shots and things and spend a few days getting used to each other. She spent all of last night racing around the apartment, enjoying the fact that she wasn't in her kennel cage. Today she's in the bathroom as I realized I'm going to have to further cat proof the apartment. She doesn't seem especially interested in the yarn stash--yet.

I will make a strong attempt to not turn into a blogger whose only content is to post cute photos of my cat. If I limit myself to once a week, will I be forgiven?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Book Review: Bright-Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich

Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America
Barbara Ehrenreich

I stumbled across a review of this somewhere in the piles of journals I read and it caught my attention enough to place a hold on it. It's taken a while to get through it, but certainly it's an interesting read.

Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed, starts with her focus on how "positive attitudes" have been pressed on cancer patients like herself. Finding herself severely criticized when she wasn't relentlessly cheerful about getting and surviving breast cancer, she took a look around to see how else upbeat enthusiasm had become the norm in society.

She continues on, wading through motivational speakers, how "positive" has permeated the corporate world, become a multi-billion dollar business, taken over in mega-churches, and how a belief in ever positive, ever rising economy also saw us into a humongous recession.

It's a lot to go through in just over two hundred pages and a whole lot of end notes.

The book struck a serious chord, one that was almost slightly alarming as I read it: "be happy" is everywhere. I've mentioned before and I've run across many other bloggers who are absolutely afraid to mention sorrow, grief, frustration, anger, or irritation on their blogs--lest it be perceived as a weakness. We're downright fearful that being honest, realistic, and occasionally unhappy will ruin our careers, shame us in front of peers and readers, and make our site counts plummet. I was shaken out of the text a couple of times with how often I feel like I've had the idea of a positive outlook drummed into me. Not that Ehrenreich is promoting endless misery or perpetual cynicism, but instead not applying an overlay of perky cheerleader all the time.*

Ehrenreich ends with a short chapter on "post-positive thinking." I wish she'd spent a little more time there because her points, while not especially radical, are thoughtful. She points out that we look for students who are not "happy thinkers" but "critical thinkers" and physicians who hope and certainly strive for the best outcome but are realistic enough to help you plan for the worst.

I found the book incredibly refreshing. I spent years on the subway, staring at the ads for the various motivational speakers and internally wondering why it was that if all the attendees/readers were following their rules and guides why they weren't all rich and leaving me for dust. I saw the piles of "business motivation" books my then boyfriend was reading and recoiled from them, though personally at the time I just saw them as annoying fads more than anything. This is one of the first suggestions I've seen that perhaps being a giggly cheerleader isn't the only answer.

I probably don't have the best reputation for being cheerful, there's a bit too much sarcasm that sneaks in to allow me to make anyone's list of "perky" people. And I enjoy being cheerful and happy; but it was nice to read a book where one didn't feel horrible for acknowledging and possessing other emotions as well.

Highly recommended read.

*Eerily, as I was writing this, I remembered a guy I met while traveling in Greece. He worked on a cruise ship and I never once saw the guy look anything but "super-happy" (jazz hands) for three days. At the end of the cruise I asked how he managed to maintain it and got some vague answer about love of his job. I wandered off, wondering if he was heavily medicated.