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erica_ac
07 May 2013 @ 01:29 pm
So, after a March full of bad news, things are looking up. An article I wrote with a colleague (Now it's Necessary: Virtual Reference Services at Washington State University) was selected as a featured article in the Informed Librarian's May issue. And I seem to be making progress on my good old library anxiety article that has been many years in the writing. Also, my summer class has 25 students (which is an unexpectedly large enrollment for a 1-credit information literacy class - I hope I can keep up). And I'm doing some interesting projects at work but not any that should take up my whole summer.

Bea's school mixed up the classes and students for summer, and she seems to be really enjoying the new group. She misses some of her friends but seems much happier at drop off and pick up times so far. It helps, I'm sure, that summer classes are much smaller and so there isn't as much chaos in the room, but it's good to see her managing the change so well.

We had a riot of tulips at our place this spring. One of the joys of your first spring in a new house is seeing what grows and blooms. We're going to have a whole hedge of lemon mint, I think, and lots of succulents with itch-making sap, and hopefully (if they grow) some sunflowers along the fence. My clematis from our old place survived the move, as did my rose, and they seem content in their pots so far.

We need a new bathroom faucet, and I know this is something I should talk to our land lord about, but there's a part of me that knows I could put in a new one myself, and I really want to try. For some reason it seems like this would be fun and empowering. Please tell me that replacing a faucet isn't fun, and I will curtail my strangely overweening plumbing ambitions.
 
 
erica_ac
04 December 2012 @ 09:42 am
I know, I know. It's the very beginning of the holiday season, but I have already feverishly decked our home in colored lights (the new rental has an ideal porch for this. In the end, I didn't even need a ladder, which is good because we don't own one), dragged N and wee Dot to the tree lot last weekend, and am now spending bits of free time between work projects pulling up favorite Christmas songs on my work computer. For which I've gained tentative and vague permission from my supervisor, partly because one of our louder librarians has moved into the office next door and sometimes I have to either turn on the music, run grab a coffee, or just put my hands over my ears in order to avoid eavesdropping. And it's too hard to type with my hands over my ears.

I am still in a state of semi-anxiety over the tenure decision that I won't know about until February or March, but several colleagues have said reassuring things, so I think my chances are fair. Not certain, but fair. And since I can't do anything about it now, I am trying to relax and distract myself (another reason for all the Christmas music, I guess).

Every year I read Connie Willis's Miracle and Other Christmas Stories, and every year her story "Newsletter" makes me want to write a better, funnier, more interesting (if not precisely true) newsletter. This year, my cat has written one that I may send out, but I think I may also draft one involving a talking mountain ash tree and the cyber-pixies who hang out in my office.

I love the bustle and preparations for Christmas and New Year's. I love the lights and music and stories and movies (even the bad ones) and baking and craft projects. I love it even though I am aware that much of it is really a protective shell that I (and we) build around the places where people are missing, where hopes have been dashed, where things are harder than expected and harder than they should be. We comfort ourselves and each other. We whistle in the dark. We tell stories of light and hope and warmth and believe (or try to) that better days are ahead. And even when it isn't entirely successful, it is valiant. And it is human in the best sense.

Also, it gives me an excuse to make glogg.
 
 
erica_ac
13 April 2012 @ 11:33 am
It's Friday. I have finalized revision on my (accepted) article. There is sunshine. Bea let me put pants AND socks AND shoes on her this morning without screaming, crying, or running away.

And I stumbled onto this video:



Hope you have sunshine and a happy start to your weekend, too.
 
 
erica_ac
19 March 2012 @ 07:28 pm
I remember being in Betsy Hearne's children's literature class & hearing her talk about William Steig's The Amazing Bone. I found it, read it, and thought something along the lines of "Well, I guess it's okay."

But we checked it out from out public library this past weekend, and, oh, my.

Bea sits, rapt, as I read her this tale about Pearl and her friend the talking bone, about the sinister and debonair fox who wants Pearl for his dinner. She points out the tiny bone in each picture. She asks to read it again.

And, reading it to her, I'm struck by how much is in this book. How much beauty and joy and sadness and philosophical questioning are packed into a few select sentences and images. It's absolutely brilliant. And perfect for spring.
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erica_ac
08 March 2012 @ 01:00 pm
Whoever it was who directed the very nice, hopeful person with the large National Geographic collection to me, it's a bit outside my area. I will let the poor guy down gently, but you do know that this is the sort of gift query that automatically gets a "Thanks so much for thinking of us, but our collection is already complete!" response, right? Right?
 
 
 
erica_ac
17 December 2011 @ 03:06 pm
Holiday packages that I'm in charge of - 80% sent. And the ones to littles are all sent, so I don't have to worry about any wee folk not getting their presents.

Holiday baking - cue hysterical laughter. I didn't do any. And I won't, until 2012.

Pre-holiday writing - in progress. Please wish me lots of caffeine, energy, and a return to good health (this head cold is not my friend, nor the friend of higher brain functions).

Christmas carols - hurray! Bea began singing 12 days of Christmas all unprompted today. I am patting myself on the back.
 
 
erica_ac
30 September 2011 @ 01:40 pm
Bea ran around last night saying, "sad, tired, hungry."

She'd just had dinner and we'd been playing a rollicking game of "take all the clothes out of the drawers and throw them on the floor," so I wasn't so concerned about what she was saying as curious.

Then she added "wet." "Wet, tired, sad, hungry."

And I realized, she was repeating part of the book, Kitten's First Full Moon, that we'd read a lot of about a week ago.

The toddler brain is an amazing, mysterious, endlessly amusing thing.
 
 
erica_ac
29 July 2011 @ 03:38 pm
1. Cleaning toilets.

2. Finishing up my brief guide to online reference best practices for my colleagues.

3. Writing my damned, thrice-damned, misbegotten, incredibly stress-inducing article so I can get published and tenured and not lose this job I rather like. Because my workplace, while supportive, is getting tired of waiting for me.

Ironically, the article I'm attempting to write that is making me so anxious? It's on library anxiety. I do appreciate the sense of humor held by whoever the hell it is who is writing my life, but if I could make one request - could you use a lighter touch? Perhaps less drama and dark irony and a bit more romantic comedy? While you're at it, could I be an independently wealthy, foppish sort with a deviously smart valet?

Sigh. I didn't think so.
 
 
erica_ac
15 July 2011 @ 10:17 am
The neighbor kids came over into our back yard a couple of weeks ago and dragged the kittens (squirming and biting) over to their house. We haven't seen them since, and I worry. Not that a garage is the best place to be if you're a kitten, but at least they had a consistent source of food and water, their mama's protection, and reliable shelter (also, human allies who would rush out in the middle of the night to face off unexpected threats like a large family of growling raccoons).

Also, I don't believe their "owners" believe in things like spaying, neutering, and vaccines. I hope little Luna, Lilah, and Linus are okay. I hope the kids eventually learn something about the serious commitment involved in pet ownership.

I wish there was some sort of fairy who looked out for small animals, who could turn the entire neighboring family into cats for three months so they could see what it's like.
 
 
erica_ac
08 July 2011 @ 04:08 pm
Bea's first word to me this morning, spoken in a an very sweet, wistfully questioning voice, was "Broccoli?"

I find this both hilarious and reassuring. I so wanted to be one of those mothers who fed her baby homemade, organic baby food and only allowed sugar and processed foods on very special occasions, like birthdays and Christmas. I try to blame N for foiling me in these designs, but truthfully, it isn't like I don't slip her the occasional sliver of chocolate or shamelessly use goldfish crackers and fruit snacks to buy myself enough time to make dinner.

She discovered that broccoli was her favorite thing in the world a few weeks ago when we got together with my family. My sister-in-law convinced her that broccoli is a delicious, exotic, texturally pleasing green flower, and now it is one of the three foods she requests (the others are apples and berries).

I think she'll be all right, in spite of me, and chocolate, and her father's chips. At least until she turns two and decides she only wants to eat macaroni and cheese and jam with white bread for the rest of her life.

Until then, my veggie steamer is getting a workout, and I'm putting broccoli in just about everything.
 
 
 
erica_ac
28 June 2011 @ 11:31 am
Anyone in the Pacific Northwest want a kitten?

Ah, well. It doesn't hurt to ask.

Little mama cat from across the street, who is always too skinny to be a mama cat (they say they feed her, but I've seen her appetite in action, so I'm not sure they feed her much), is raising her third or fourth litter of kittens. In our back shed. They're ridiculously adorable - two black & white and very fluffy, and one all black little girl who is going to look a lot like her pretty, short-haired mama.

I've named them - Luna (the brave, outgoing one), Lilah (the all-black, shy but intensely pouncy one), and Linus (who has a little white spot on his nose that looks like a splash of milk). Bea loves them, and is surprisingly gentle with all of them. She's learned to dangle a string for them to pounce on, and I need to get pictures of it.

I'm getting a schedule of the vet school's spaying clinic because, while we enjoy the cuteness of the kittens, little mama cat needs a break and I can't spend another month worrying about whether they'll make it through the night/day/week. They're big enough now to be weaned and we're in the slightly sticky position of trying to find homes for kittens who've been (technically) abandoned but who aren't (technically) ours. Unless feeding them makes them ours, I guess. The little kids from across the street caught them all last week and took them over to their house again, but this week our cat family is back in residence and we have a feeling that when the kids aren't a) there and b) interested, the family isn't going to take care of them. Which is normally something that would make me really angry, but the family is really clearly in over their heads in lots of ways (young, young parents) and trying really hard to keep their heads above water.

I was very grateful for the kittens yesterday, though. After returning home from the ALA conference in New Orleans, I'd expected Bea to see me, get really excited, give me a big hug, and demand milk. What happened instead was that she saw me, became very angry and upset, said "No, no, nooooo!" every time I came near her, and clung to her father for the next 45 minutes or so. It probably took two hours before I could hold her, and it would have taken longer if I hadn't taken her out to see the kittens and helped her play with them. Then I fed her cookies.

New Orleans was great, though I spent a lot more time in my room than I have at previous conferences. I was tired, and leaking milk, and while it felt good to be back, I forgot how much work it was to run from meeting to meeting AND talk to sales reps, AND attempt to be engaging and create good impressions AND to take it all in. I soaked up some new leaders' training to help me better chair my newest committee (I'm a little worried about chairing something I've only just started learning about, but the training helped). I joined discussions about virtual reference, library technology, and learned about upcoming technology and how to better market library services. I snagged an autographed copy of Trickster, an amazing graphic novel of native trickster tales told by native storytellers, and, while wandering through the exhibits, was able to meet Catherynne Valente, who signed my copy of Deathless.

It was almost worth traveling away from the girl, which is saying a lot. I'm happy that I don't have to do this again for at least 6 months, though.
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erica_ac
28 December 2010 @ 12:26 pm
This past weekend I made ginger ice cream with crushed gingersnap cookie bits mixed into it, and it's pretty fabulous stuff - cool and decadently creamy, suffused with warm ginger, and the cookie bits are a mix of soft and crispy, so the texture is pretty fabulous. I think it may call for homemade caramel sauce, though. I'm especially proud of the ice cream as it was the one bit of holiday cooking I did, unless you count the carrot cake cupcakes I made for N's office party, and I don't.

I'd planned on all kinds of holiday baking and on sending care packages to friends and family (homemade lemon curd! peanut butter kisses! jam thumbprints! chocolate crinkles!) but we were all sick and also tired and in the end I let Amazon.com do most of my holiday wrapping and shipping. I feel guilty about relying on Amazon so much, but hopefully I can make it up to my favorite independent bookstores later in the year. I had plans for a fancy Christmas Eve dinner, but we ended up with spaghetti, and it was good and somehow just right for this year. Better than fancy.

I already have hopes and plans for the holidays next year, things I want to cook and bake and mail and watch and listen to, which is my way of coping with everything I didn't do this year, I guess. Even though this year was mostly fine. Quiet, but fine. Still, one hope for next year is to write a holiday newsletter in the style of Connie Willis's "Newsletter." It probably won't happen, and if it does, most of my family will read it and not get it. At all. But I think it would be fun, anyway.

Everyone keeps asking me about Baby's First Christmas. It was good. It was nice. The fact that she's here is amazing. But the fact that she's here is amazing every day. Bea had no clue what was going on and opening all those presents, while exciting, was also exhausting. And my current crisis in faith, along with the fact that we haven't been regular church-goers, meant that a lot of the holiday traditions I grew up with - the Christmas Eve service, the nativity story, the whole emphasis on babies at Christmas - were quietly but rather thoroughly avoided.

The best parts of the day were just having time for all three of us to hang out together, and Boxing Day was, somehow, even better because we were all more relaxed and less over-stimulated. I feel more connected to N than I have for months, which is probably the best Christmas present anyone could have given me.

Hoping your holidays were/are merry and bright, and that the new year brings many more bright and merry days to you, too.
 
 
erica_ac
13 August 2010 @ 04:28 pm
Since we aren't going to Portland after all, and since I needed to do something to keep myself from going crazy (crazier?) this weekend, here is my new plan - a few random acts of kindness. You're invited to join me, if you'd like. It doesn't have to be anything big or time-consuming or expensive. Just take a minute or two and intentionally brighten the day for someone.

I'm posting the following to my fac.ebook page later today, too. So apologies for the redundancy.

On August 15, two years ago, my son Teddy was born. He was an amazingly beautiful little baby. On August 16, his father and I held him in a hospital garden as he died. We miss him every day. Missing him doesn’t mean that our lives are bad, or that we are sad all of the time; we’re not. We love each other, our daughter, and our friends. We still laugh and love and go on with our lives, but we know that the world is the poorer for the absence of our son. Because he would have grown to be funny, kind, and loving, and he would have brightened the lives around him.

I want him back, every day. I can’t have that, but I can try to bring a little brightness to the world. Not as much as he would have done, but a little. So this weekend and next week I will be trying to be extra kind, to do occasional unexpected things to make people smile. And I’m asking you, if you can, if you'd like, to please do something small to make the world a little brighter for someone around you or for yourself.

If you’d like ideas, here are a few possibilities:

  • Buy someone you know a coffee or a treat.

  • Buy coffee or a treat for a complete stranger.

  • In the cool of the evening, take a walk by yourself or with someone you love.

  • Forgive someone.

  • Forgive yourself.

  • Give money or time to a cause you believe in. If you’d like a suggestion, March of Dimes and Ronald McDonald House Charities are two of many good causes that help babies and families.

  • Give someone flowers.

  • Give yourself flowers.

  • Take a minute to admire the small beauties around you - the clouds, or a sunrise, or the flowers you walk past on your way to work.

  • Call or visit someone lonely and talk with them for a while.

  • Tell someone you love that you love them.

  • Plant something.

  • Hug your family.

  • Share a favorite book, story, or poem.

  • Tell someone thank you.


Thank you.
 
 
erica_ac
07 July 2010 @ 03:41 pm
I caught a Black Crows song on the radio today and all of a sudden I found myself back in high school, riding the bus with the band, a little bit in love with three guys from my class all at the same time (all of them out of my league, as leagues were calculated back then). Hair was really important, I was living on plain yogurt and granny smith apples and biking a couple hours a day on the stationary bike so that I could lose weight (it was frighteningly effective, actually), and I wasn't sure who I was but I knew I was becoming...someone. I desperately wanted to be cool, and clever, and sexy, and wild, and lyrics about someone talking to angels sounded dark and moody and sadly rebellious, and I took that song straight to my teenage heart.

And now I don't care so much about being cool or clever or sexy or wild, which isn't to say that I don't wish I was cooler or smarter or that I don't wish that I was better at channeling my inner Varga girl. I've just come to a place where I'd rather be kind, and capable, and thoughtful, and secure. I'm very boring now, really, which is maybe why songs that bring back memories are such wonderful things.

Some songs lift my spirits just because of where I was when I heard them. Pearl Jam's "Black" reminds me of my high school graduation dance, "Laid" brings back memories of my year in England - my first kiss and first disastrous encounter with vodka. "Sexy MF" reminds me of the friends I hung out with my senior year in college, when we had "Men's Club" (sort of anti-frat parties - you had to wear a tie) in our dorm. Lyle Lovett and Talking Heads remind me of road trips to the medieval conference in Kalamazoo, U2 makes me feel young, Paul Simon makes me feel Bohemian, and Altan and Old Blind Dogs make me wish I could be in Scotland again. "Papa was a Rodeo" is the first song N and I danced to, in his apartment, on our second date when one thing led to another and we never did make it to that movie we'd planned on seeing.

Bea's song, of course, is Umbabarauma, which makes her grin and giggle and makes me wonder if I'll have to become a soccer fan some day.

The new resonant song in my brain is this one.



For some reason Alison Krauss's "The Lucky One," reminds me of Teddy, every time. I haven't decided if that's beautiful or so ironic it's pushing the boundaries of craziness, but I love that song and it makes me feel as though he's free and happy somewhere and as though, if I just wait it out I'll get to see him again. It makes me strangely happy, and I find myself listening to it more often as August approaches.