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Ok, I’m back (I think, might be too soon to say).  The Boy and I have been setting up house, getting used to each other again and struggling with homework discipline.  He is coming around on the latter, slowly but surely.  His grades are good, but it’s early to say that and the hard projects are coming. I’m hoping we can get him into a healthy pattern before they start.  He seems to see the wisdom I’m preaching, when he isn’t rolling his eyes or telling me not to act like he’s stupid.  We’re working on it.

And “The Boy” just sticks for me.  I guess he will always be my boy, so not a big deal to call him such.  Especially here where he never bothers to tread.  I try to keep the embarrassing bits to myself anyhow.

So, libraryland is busy as always.  The new session of TAG is underway and while my group is smaller, it seems more solid.  I have a lot of kids back from last year and a few new people.  There are definitely a couple of dominating personalities, so I will be looking into learning about moderating meetings in that situation.

I took a beginning Excel class offered to city employees.  I expected to be bored for most of it, since I’ve been using Excel pretty often for the last 10 years, but I was pleasantly surprised that I learned something new through most of the training.  Part of it was learning where things are in the ribbon, which I admit has been making life difficult since the upgrade to Windows 2007.  I got my questions answered too, which will make me a better treasurer and would likely land me the temp job of my choice!

I also wrote my first “professional” blog post, over there–> It’s nothing revolutionary, but something I am interested in and not necessarily librariany.  I have some thoughts for a couple more, but need a few minutes at work to write them down.  Then I have some more reading and thought processing to do.

I had some fun with the pictures in the header.  They are all pictures I took, mostly around Seattle.  I like how they fit my mood and seem to fit my profession.

Ok, I’m off.  Lots to do this lovely Saturday that is likely to be the last sunny day in a while.  Ciao.

Parts of this year were difficult.  I would get lonely and down, then either become anti-social and keep to myself, or do a frenzy of booking things with people.  The Mister’s been gone for 10 months now and I haven’t seen him since February.  My son is with me every other weekend, and we talk and text a few times a week (my bright spots).  The winter months were the hardest time.  It was dark when I left for work (and I leave pretty late!) and it was dark when I got home.  My days off were filled with rain.  (This is an exaggeration, but often how I felt.)

It’s still a bit rainy out, off and on.  Even Cliff Mass agrees that it has been colder than usual for this time of year, and he’s pretty good at setting us straight when we start getting meloncoly around here.  However, this weekend was a turning point for me and the weather today reflected that.  It was fairly sunny and warm and I finally embraced being on my own–even if I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing.  It’s only looking back that I realize that I wasn’t lonely or tired or depressed all weekend.  I gardened, I biked, I ran, I went to the Farmer’s Market on my own and attended a p-patch volunteer meeting.

I’m not saying I’m cured, but I hope that the SADness stays away and that before next winter I find the right ways of coping with the darkness.  I hear there are lights and things that help.  I’m a librarian, I can do the research.  Sometimes it just takes being on the other side before you realize that you should have done something differently.

And I made the best collard green chips today.  My collards made it through the winter (just like me!) and there are so many, I had to find something creative to do with them.  Later tonight I am going to make them again with some sugar for a sweet and salty flavor.  They’re even pretty good for you.

What am I reading?  I finished Changeless by Gail Carriger on my trip as well as all those audio books.  I liked it as much as the first, a wonderful distraction.  No great literary work, but very enjoyable.  I seem to be on a trashy supernatural kick and I have also finished Dark Reunion by L. J. Smith, which was ok, but really disappointed me in the end–just too unbelievable.  Yes, I know.  Fantasy.  But there have to be some rules or the story just doesn’t work.

Now I am working on Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, which is an unimaginative book that follows the same basic theme as many other books I’ve read recently.  Girl goes to a new school, finds friends, has a crush, stops feeling sorry for herself and finally starts living.  However, this one is interesting, well written, catches the imagination and doesn’t require the main character to do anything illegal to get where she’s going.

Anna is sent to Paris by her father to attend the American School in Paris.  She didn’t really want to go and leave her friends and the possibility of a new relationship.  She’s petrified of leaving the school, not knowing any French and this fear seems to be the main thing she needs to overcome to begin her new life.  I haven’t gotten that far yet, and I’ll let you find out for yourself if you choose to read it.

I keep trying to figure out why I like Glee, when I hated High School Musical.  It frustrates me, with the shallow story lines and the patterns of idiotic behavior.  But then they go and point out the idiocy and own it.  And they sing songs I know instead of some craptastic ballad that just makes me want to rip my hair out.  So yeah, I like Glee.  High School Musical…not at all.  I am just starting Season 1 Part 2 and I spent the first half of the first episode feeling tired of the corny plot and the second half invigorated with they ways they used the Madonna theme move the story in new directions.  Oh, and I got it at the library.

Twitter seems ok.  It’s like Facebook, but with less stuff.  No imbedded pics, links, but no preview.  I’ve found a lot of cool things there; a video about why Twilight is popular (ha!), that my favorite authors have funny and witty things to say in less than 140 characters and that The Onion posts A LOT.

I biked to work today and ran around Green Lake with my brothers.  It kind of wore me out, but in a good way.  Hopefully I will add more running to my routine and keep it up.  I bottled some more ginger ale when I got home.  The last batch was super yummy, but tasted more like sparkling ginger lemonade than ginger ale.  I tweaked the recipe and split it in two, one with some ground ginger and the other only with fresh, but with a bit less lemon juice and sugar.

What am I reading? Like the Percy Jackson series, Iris, Messenger by Sarah Deming integrates greek mythology, but that is where the comparison ends.  Iris has a terrible time at school, and her parents just don’t understand her.  Then one birthday she gets a mysterious gift that leads her to find out that the Greek gods have moved to the burbs and have all kinds of problems of their own. The gods tell their stories (popular Greek myths) to Iris, building up to a final message that enlightens her in ways she never would have guessed.  This is a good story for younger readers (except for the ending…), and while it is a quick read, it lacks the frenzied pace of Percy.

The file for My Favorite Band Does Not Exist had a fatal flaw and would not go past page 18.  I am hoping to get a chance to read it later, as the beginning was pretty good.  I am currently reading Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood, which was recommended by my sister.  It is also based on a Greek myth–Penelope of the Odyssey.  I am constantly amazed by the breadth and depth of Ms. Atwood’s writing.  To think this is the same author that wrote Oryx and Crake.

No complaints, no changes to the appearance.  Perhaps everyone gets updates through a reader these days.

I realized that I hadn’t posted the link to the podcast my TAG members made back in October–although it wasn’t live until early December.  So here it is.  Some of the sound is a little low; there was a fan going in the room that I couldn’t shut off without turning off the lights. 

It is supposed to snow today, but I think that Wednesday is more likely.  We never got the snow last week I was hoping for.  The temp today is holding at around 37* but it’s supposed to get much colder by Friday.  Too bad for my garden, which has managed to survive so far.  I should probably go pick all the collard greens and the little cabbages that are trying to get bigger.  The only casualty to the freezing temps last week was the rosemary.  It was growing so well previous to that, I thought it would make it through.  There are a few other things that I will turn under when Spring returns that just don’t look that edible right now.

What am I reading?  I just finished Dreadnought, which was lovely if somewhat unbelievable.  The zombie element gives things an interesting twist, but I just can’t quite get behind it.  I still enjoy the story though and it gives the impression of a well written penny-dreadful.

Tonight I will start Reckless by Cornelia Funke.  I have heard good things and can’t wait to see if they are true.

It’s been a busy week.  I have been weeding again at work and decided to use a dusty shelf list for the first time ever.  Some people will find it amazing that I have never used one before, but my other branches were small enough that it made sense to go through every book in my teen collection.  In fact, it made sense for my first big weed here at my new branch, so that I could get to know my collection better.  However, I can now say that it is big and I need to save time.  So I ran a dusty shelf list–anything that hasn’t circ’d in a year–then went through and pulled anything that looked yucky (water damage, food stains, obvious wear and tear).  That did the trick and I am very happy with the results.  Because another thing about a large branch?  When all the kids going back to school bring back all their books at once, suddenly your shelves go from having some wiggle room to blowing off the book ends.  Shelver hell.

I am also on a short term committee to find a good scheduling software.  So, um, if you know of any, please email me.  We just scheduled February and March computer classes, but found out that our grant for job classes has run out.  That’s ok at my branch, as we had pretty low attendance for those, but I am sure it will hurt in other areas.

So how about that Amazon issue on free speech?  All I care about the issue is talked about over here, and since I don’t really want to fan the flames on that one, I will leave it there.

I also had some fun times the last week or so.  I saw Stars at the Showbox.  They are everything I love about music.  Amy’s voice is like an unannoying angel and Torquil counters her sound perfectly.  Like talking heads and…I don’t know.  Just perfect.

And the next day I played Kinect at my brother’s place.  That is a fun system–loved the dance game we played.  Part of the point was to look like an idiot, so I fit right in with everyone ;)  The Boy was with me and he had a good time with it too.  He says he will wait until it has better games before he upgrades, though.

Today I stayed home instead of going on a stellar bike ride with some coworkers (’cause nothing says Veteran’s Day like a long ride…) due to a mishap with a bus tunnel escalator in which the escalator won.  Just an FYI, wet shoes+metal escalator=fly through the air.  My arm took most of the damage when I grabbed the rail to stop my fall.  Should be better in a couple of days.  In the mean time, I felt compelled to up my caloric intake:

On the left are some orange caramels that I made after boiling sugar water for the candied orange peels on the right.  Behind them is the Harvest bread I made from the Macrina Bakery cookbook.  I so hope it is similar to the bread that I scarf every time I go to Top Pot lately.  I cheated a bit with the milk in these recipes.  I didn’t have heavy cream for the caramels, so when I heated my non-fat, I added a tablespoon of butter.  I also didn’t have buttermilk for the bread, so I added 1tbsp of lemon juice per 1 cup of milk.  The caramels are delicious and I can’t tell any difference from the time I made them with cream.

What am I reading? I just started getting galleys from netgalley, because I found out I could read them on my ipod using the Bluefire app.  I find I actually like reading on my iPod, although  I am not sure about buying digital books–mostly because I mostly only buy physical books to give away–but I hear that the library is talking to Bluefire to make an agreement so that ebooks loaned by the library from Overdrive would be able to be transfered the same way.  Crossing my fingers!

The galley I am reading now is The Lying Game by Sara Shepard–the same author as the series Pretty Little Liars.  This book is the story of Emma, a foster kid who is somehow still a sweetie, who just wants to graduate high school and go to college.  That becomes impossible when her foster family’s son decides to frame her for stealing and they inform her that she will be out on her 18th birthday, only 2 weeks into senior year.  Emma thinks things might get better when she finds out she had a twin sister and that she is living close by, adopted by a well off family in Arizona.  She goes to meet this sister, Sutton, only to find herself trapped in a situation where he sister has been murdered and she is forced to pretend to be Sutton, or be murdered herself.  This book is a bit like Lovely Bones, as Sutton is a character in the story, a ghost who is constantly looking over Emma’s shoulder, hoping to find out who is behind her murder.  I am enjoying it so far, although I don’t usually like books with the mean girl element.  Flash backs to middle school, you know.

Of course I loved Behemoth and decided to get both it and Leviathan on CD for our driving trip over the holiday.  My co-worker told me that the reader is amazing, so it seems like a good bet.  Then I can get The Boy hooked on them too.

This weekend has felt like a vacation.  I feel like I have been away from work for a week instead of 2 days.  I am going to go back to calling The Offspring The Boy instead.  It just rolls off the brain better.

So anyway, The Boy and I went and saw “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” today.  It was really well done–about a boy of 16 who is just not handling life well and has been contemplating jumping off a bridge to end all his stress.  He checks himself in to a mental ward of a hospital.  Cool Craig, as he becomes known, needs to find an outlet for his pent up thoughts.  3 North, the mental ward, helps him find that, with a little help from some of the other patients.  In particular is Bobby, who is both outgoing and deflective; he helps Craig and confuses him.  As the movie went along, I found myself moved to the edge of tears one moment and laughing in the next.  I wasn’t sure The Boy would like the seriousness of the film, but he looked at me sidelong on our way out and said “it was good, right?”  It was one of those that made you think, that made you realize that mental illness can happen to anyone, that the mentally ill are just as much people as the average person.

I cooked a lot this weekend.  Dinner on Saturday was meatloaf, spaghetti squash and salad, all the veggies came from my and a friend’s garden.  Tonight was ahi tuna pan fried with sesame seeds, collard greens with bacon, fresh basil leaves and tomatoes and red rice.  I also made yummy granola bars–apricot almond–and paneer that I will make into palak paneer when I get my csa tomorrow.

We walked the Step Out to Fight Diabetes walk with some good friends on Saturday too.  The rain held off for the whole walk, which was at Magnuson Park, and on our way back to the car we walked through the Wetland Nature Conservatory.  We heard a lot of interesting birds and frogs and the air smelled wonderful.  I don’t even know how to describe it.

Today we walked with my sister in the Arboretum and checked out part of their new Pacific Connection Garden where we saw plants with leaves as big as we are.  It was beautiful and wind-y and peaceful.  We got totally soaked on our way back when the sky opened up a few blocks from my sis’s place.  I had left my raincoat in the car.  How useful.

Tonight will be an early night.  The Boy has driver’s ed (!?!) early in the morning, which means we have to get up and leave even earlier, and then I work until 6.  Later this week I get to go see my good friend in Davis, which I am so looking forward to.

What am I reading? After picking up and putting down several things, I finally got into Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey.  I intend to go back to Born Confused, because I really like it, it just isn’t what I wanted right now.  I saw on my holds list that Monsters of Men has come in and I am so excited to read it.  I have to finish Skin Hunger tonight, or it might just languish with the others.

I got home on Monday night and could tell my furniture had been moved around.  I live with housemates, but I have my own floor, so things like this don’t usually happen.  Soon the handyman guy came down and told me that the new windows came in and they had replaced the one in my son’s room already, but couldn’t get the bed out of the way in the back room without moving a bunch of stuff.  New windows are awesome, so I didn’t bother telling them about the usual notice I should have gotten.  Now both windows are almost in, they just need some trim and stuff.  These should help keep out the drafts and maybe a few of the spiders…

It has also been raining since I got home, and I don’t mind one bit.  Vegas was very sunny and hot and even with a 50 spf sunscreen applied often I still got a sunburn.  It doesn’t hurt, but I am quite red in places.

Today I am cooking and cleaning.  Turkey chili!  Cleaning… :(  I need to organize this place bad.  Living here for 4 years has really made me accumulate a lot of stuff.  I have only been back at work for one day and mostly worked on the Banned Books display–which is rather grand thanks to the art of our LAIV, lettering by our children’s librarian and organization by me.  We do good work.

Before I left I had a wonderful morning with my friend Jess and her daughter.  We went to the park and out for Pho.  Jess gave me a really cool book,  just to say thank you for our friendship.  I love it!  I recommend that all my library friends read It’s a Book by Lane Smith.  It will make you chuckle.

What else have I read? Clementine by Cherie Priest, which I liked better than Boneshaker.  The story is only loosely related to that first book, in that it is set in the same Steampunk world during the Civil War era and there are mentions of those characters, but the story is uniquely its own.  Maria Boyd is a famous confederate spy, which makes her highly unemployable in her trade.  When she is offered a P.I. gig in Chicago, she weighs her options and goes for it.  Her first mission is to distract a fugitive slave/bank robber/all around bad guy from stopping a shipment of food and medicine getting to hospitals.  Things don’t turn out to be as they were explained, however and Boyd finds herself teaming up with the fugitive to stop a massacre.

I just finished The Red Thread by Ann Hood.  It was clichéd and predictable, and Hood tried to bring in too many characters on a personal level, each one fit some sort of type and only the women were described in any detail..  The main character felt unwieldy and shallow.  The story itself was interesting, but I kept trying to figure out when it was set.  There were cell phones and emails, but most of the fashion and name choices made me think of the 80’s.  It seems that goodreads users liked it, as it has a 3.66 rating.  I did feel compelled to read it to the end.  Sorry, what’s the story, right…  An emotionally wreaked woman runs an adoption agency for US parents adopting from China.  She herself lost her own child to a tragic accident, which she can’t get over.  The book tells us little bits of each adoptive family’s life and the story of the mother (or in one case Father) of the child left for adoption.  The second of those were actually good and I looked forward to those chapters even though they were typed entirely in italics.  The story takes the families through the adoption process and the main character through her self forgiveness ordeal.  Sigh.

Now I am reading The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault.  And first, let me say that I am surprised to see that the writer is a woman, because the first 3 characters we are introduced to are all men, including the main character and the voice is so strong that I would have assumed (I know…) that the writer was a man.  So far I like it.  It is very different than what I have been reading lately, so it is a bit of a breath of fresh air.  So far the writing reminds me of Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.

Just starting day 3 in Las Vegas and I am feeling refreshed and much less stressed out.  On Monday after I got in we just napped (The Mister was coming off an 18 hour shift that morning), got up and had Thai for dinner at a cute little place nearby, then went back to bed.  On Tuesday we went hiking on the most moderate temperature day we’ve seen.  It was only in the high 80’s, down from 108 the week before.  We went up into Red Rocks Canyon National Conservation Area, spent some time at their visitor’s center and went for a short 3.3 mile hike.  My camera batteries kaputted about 3/4 of the way up the trail, so I missed many photo opportunities.

Today the temp is back up in the high 90’s, probably into the hundreds by the end of the day.  Oh well.  I am not fond of heat, even this dry heat is making my life difficult.  I walked about half a mile to get to Starbucks to use the wifi (I was going to walk to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, but it is further and I gave up).

I have been reading a lot lately.  Looking back I see that I forgot to follow up on a couple of books.  Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie: My Rotten Life was great fun.  It is definitely a Juvenile book, probably around 3rd grade reading level and content.  As I mentioned, Nathan had a strange substance spilled on him that was supposed to get rid of bad feelings, but instead made him the walking dead.  He and his friends race against the clock to save his life as he knew it.  If he doesn’t have the cure before the deadness finished taking over, he will be un-dead forever.  The ending sets up a series very neatly and boys and girls will enjoy the school settings, popularity contests and unlikely adventures of the three friends.

I finished up Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a while ago, and if you don’t look to far into it, it is an amazing thriller from a masterful storyteller.  However, this book glorifies sadistic rape and murder of women.  The first couple of chapters were a real chore to get through, but the remainder of the book keeps you locked in.  There is a side story about the girl, Lisbeth, of the title that has nothing to do with the rest of the story, but probably will in a later book.  In fact, there are still a lot of questions surrounding Lisbeth at the end of the book.  All to keep us reading, I am sure.

Illyria by Elizabeth Hand is beautiful and haunting.  I love this author and have read almost everything she has written and this story contains all the things that draw me to her writing.  The characters are intriguing and bright, the setting is mysterious and alluring, the story is wandering, yet direct.  If you have read Winterlong, you should read this.  If you haven’t, then you should read both…

I finished The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall on Monday–I started it on the plane and finished while The Mister was napping.  This is a sweet story of a family of four sisters and a father who spend a summer holiday at a cottage that butts up against magnificent gardens owned by a rather stuffy woman.  The woman has a son, who embodies the characteristics we all wish our sons had, as do the girls, for all their eccentricities and mischievousness.  The girls tend to get in trouble, the boy is ruled by his pushy mother and the three weeks at the cottage become both heaven and hell for all the children.  Of course it all comes out all right in the end.  A great book for young readers, 2-5 grade, both boys and girls.

There was a big to do that I pulled off last Sunday.  I didn’t write about it because at the time I wasn’t sure how it would work out.

The Offspring and I, along with various friends, have done the Step Out Walk to Fight Diabetes every year for the last 3 years.  Asking for donations has always been hard for me.  I don’t like asking people for money in general, but this is a cause I believe in and that gives me hope.  Some of you know, The Offspring has type 1 diabetes.  He was diagnosed four years ago and while dealing with becoming a teenager, which is hard enough for most kids, he has also had to learn to deal with pricking and injecting himself 4 times a day.

So, last Sunday I had a dinner party where I charged people to come.  I have a party every summer anyhow, so I upped the quality, did more planning than usual, put some tables out in the yard with actual table cloths and raised about $600 for Step Out.  Out of the 90 people I invited about 25 came, which turned out to be the perfect number.  I donated the food, since I would have had a party anyway, people still brought wine and I put out a tip jar on the beverage table.  I also made a few things and put them out for a silent auction, and the biggest surprise was they all sold.

And we all had a great time.  It was a good mix of people, some from work, some friends and some family.  A few people I had never had over before.  I enjoyed every minute.

And I had a lot of help from The Mister’s mother, who came into town the day before.  She helped keep me on track and motivated and helped with all the preparations.  She came all the way from Spokane to be there.

What a great day!

I finally got enough sleep after going to bed around 9pm last night.  I am still tired, but this should be the turn around.  Next weekend is a big family camping trip and I am looking forward to relaxing and hanging out with everyone.

In Libraryland I am planning programming and computer classes for fall right now.  That’s right, TEEN programming!  I am super excited about it.  I am going to have an advisory board and I am going to invite all my past and future volunteers to come.  Thanks to Interactive Reader for giving me some advice.  She currently has weekly programs including an advisory board meeting once a month.  So jelus.  I think her system has a bit more money to spend than mine on teen programming.

In homelife, I am having a benefit dinner at the beginning of August for the Step Out to Fight Diabetes walk that the Offspring and I do every fall.  I made a sample menu up of slow cooked ribs, tabbouleh salad, roasted vegetables, corn and other yummies.  I am now thinking about slow cooked bbq pork loin and a fresh apple and nappa coleslaw (I don’t like mayonaisse so it will have a vinegar dressing instead).  Anyway, it will be good.  If you know me and haven’t gotten an invite for some reason, please email or call and I will give you the details.

What am I reading? Still The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I find problems with the ease at which the protagonist finds new clues after 40 years and the way women just fall all over him, but I am still enjoying the story and learning a bit about Sweden.  I am looking forward to finishing it, though, so I can start Mainspring by Jay Lake which was recommended by ahniwa in an earlier post.  I am on a real steampunk kick lately.