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medium, and power

candles in a dark room

I had a dream that it was before Thanksgiving again and there was some issue and I was displeased. Something about the drive back from Massachusetts always makes my next night of sleep go weird. Woke up happy that Thanksgiving had already happened, and actually had gone really well. Jim and I mostly hunkered down in Westport and ate food and watched movies and played video pinball and went for long walks. I also managed to pull some mystery muscle in my back so I’ve been laying low since then with Advil and a hot water bottle and a lot of stretching. I am mostly fine but I’ve been happy I don’t have a lot to do these days besides showing up places. Places I am showing up this week include

- a meeting today to see if I can take over the local music hall’s emailing function
- picking up the rest of the ground lamb from my CSA
- ukulele class
- speaking of the CSA, doing something with all this squash I’ve gotten from them
- making cookies for a cookie swap
- two scan-a-thons at local libraries, helping people get their pictures scanned and online or into email, on a thumb drive, whatever
- regular old drop-in time
- maybe a trip or two to the gym?

I’ve also got some writing to do, besides this. For the first time I can remember I’m making the bulk of my job income doing writing: my Computers in Libraries column and a bi-monthly thing for Medium. Medium is sort of odd because it’s both a platform, a place where people can put their essays for free, and a place that some people (like me) get paid to write. I wrote one essay there about Buy Nothing Day. You might like it. There’s a bit of stats-viewing involved in writing there. You’re encouraged to “amplify signal” on your posts and other people’s posts. I write for a section called The Message which has a lot of good writing in it so this is not difficult. Great stuff there. One of the curious things about my article was that it got a lot of traffic from being linked from Digg. Digg is sometimes seen as the Reddit also-ran but it apparently it still around and doing well. It’s always interesting to check in on internet culture. Anyhow, this is the long way of saying that I am a writer for a job now, as some people define job.

Update: I started writing this on Monday but now it’s Wednesday morning and we had one of those snowstorms yesterday that went all day including an exciting power outage at 9 pm that allowed me to realize just how many of my battery-powered devices have ancient batteries in them. I lit some candles, pictured, and read a lot and texted with some people on my phone and went to bed early in a cold house. My drop-in time and uke practice were cancelled. I spent a lot of time worrying about whether the pounds of frozen lamb I had would last night night (they did) and woke up to a hot house because I’d left the thermostat up (To 65°! So decadent.) and wore two pairs of pajamas to bed. Today we’re all back to normal and I didn’t even have an excuse to eat all the lamb.

novelty

ready to be transplanted

There’s often a fine line between the positive value of trying something you’ve never done before versus being a persistent novelty-seeker who is never satisfied with just doing the same stuff. Which is my way of saying I tried doing karaoke in a bar full of strangers and did not die. This is an expression Jim and I have. We’re both sort of self-directed folks who dislike doing things that we don’t want to do. I mean who doesn’t, at some level? But this is challenging when you start avoiding things that you should do (going to the gym, paying bills, sweeping, to name a few of mine) just because you don’t feel like it. So we have little “Rah rah!” sessions where we try to encourage each other to do things that are good for us and will not kill us. Presto! So when my friend Kevin invited me to the Halloween-in-November party at the bar I’d never been to in Bethel, I went. And then it turned out we didn’t know anyone else there. And while I was in my full-on bee costume (and got a ton of good suggestions for songs to sing) he had put on devil’s horns and called it a day.

This would have caused more-agitated Past-Me to lose it. Present-Me saw it as a good opportunity to try singing karaoke where no one would see me (except Kevin, who belted out a lot of classics in very good form). It was fun. I’ll try it again. I’m trying to remember why I never did karaoke every before. I’m sure I had a good reason.

Other highlights of the week included getting elected to another Justice of the Peace term, getting paid by everyone I’d invoiced (Massachusetts Library Commission, you are impressive in your promptness!) and taking a half day off to refill some of my poozly-looking mossariums. Jim was up last weekend and we hit ten more towns for my “photograph all the 251 Vermont towns” project. I’ve got 75 towns to go. This upcoming weekend includes maybe a Jonathan Richman concert, a possible sock sale and Cabaret at the Chandler Film Society on Sunday night. Before then I have a few articles to write and maybe some sweeping to do.

the rest of the year

So now that the Virgo Month of Leisure is over, I’m back into it. Back into it can mean a lot of things but to me it mostly means working and some traveling. It also means a little shopping, which is weird.

The work news is the same and a little different. I’ve continued my writing for Computers in Libraries magazine and I’ve picked up another writing job with Mozilla’s Open Standard project. You can read my first article here: After Some Victories, the Time Has Come to Legally Define ‘Fair Use’. I’m pretty happy with it. And I also like having paying work doing something I like. My other job has started teaching a class to the teachers at RTCC (the local school where I do drop-in time and adult tech classes) learning how to use their new Gmail and Google Docs environment. This is via Castleton College, but takes place in Randolph. The teachers will get a credit for successfully completing this which means I am now a college teacher! Sort of! So between teaching and writing and public speaking and working at Open Library, it’s sort of like a whole job. Which doesn’t mean I’m not open to interesting opportunities but it does mean I’m not worried about where my income is coming from.

Other highlights of the last few weeks

  • Went to Mississippi to give a talk in Vicksburg at the MLA conference. Talk is here, some photos are here.
  • Hosted some friends down in MA and had a great time doing that lazy sit on the porch and talk thing that I like so much (also went to the beach,look at these cute birds and their little legs!)
  • Got a new mattress and a new fridge which is the first time I can remember getting either of those things. The fridge is a marvel of quiet chillness. The mattress feels like a sack of wet cement but in a GOOD way which may only make sense if you know me.
  • I’m the ladyops person at tilde. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, that’s just fine. You can read this link for more.
  • Going to ComicCon on Sunday. In Vermont, yes. The Vermont Library Association is sponsoring David Newall AKA Mr. McFeely from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, so we’ll have a table! Say hi if you are there.
  • Giving a talk in Sturbridge MA on Wednesday at the Massachusetts Library System’s Small Libraries Conference.
  • Bee-costumed candy handing out on Halloween

And that’s it for talks and marriages in 2014. I’m running for Justice of the Peace again. I’m also staffing the polls on election day. I was also on the front page of the newspaper talking about the Wikimania conference which should help with name recognition since my name is low on the list of candidates. I have a pile of magnets and a pile of things formerly on my old fridge and a pile of mail and a pile of pieces of cardboard (from my library-card-that-turns-into-a-refdesk costume) and I’m waiting for the days and my todo list to get shorter. What have you been up to?

Virgo Month of Leisure 2014 – nailed it.

Eden, VT

Hey! It only took me 15 years but I think I have the hang of this. The month of leisure was mostly leisurely. I performed one wedding, played in a ukulele concert, had a pre-birthday get together and a smaller birthday get together, came back to town from MA, visted some more towns on my 251 Quest, started work, and have been getting back to my same old routine. I know for some people the routine sounds dull but for me it’s like when all your gears just mesh smoothly and everything is going whirr whirr whirr.

I’ve been cooking up squash again this week and tried one called kuri. Very good with garam masala and butter and some syrup but honestly, what isn’t? The leaves are coming off the trees and I’m wearing socks indoors more often than not. Next week is a trip to Mississippi (via MA) for a library conference, hang out with some friends, and then back to VT for our little ComicCon and then off to Sturbridge MA for a one-day conference. I’m even teaching a one-credit class for the local teachers on how to use their new Google dos environment.

So yeah things mostly worked this year. More than usual. Here’s a recap of the last fifteen years’ worth of attempts.

greetings from hibernia

[Note: In real life Hibernia is the Latin name for the island of Ireland and has nothing to actually do with hibernating. A hibernophile is someone who is fond of Ireland, not fond of sleeping.]

So the annual joke here is that my landlady doesn’t like to turn the furnace on (not the thermostat, the actual machine that makes the heat) before October 1st. As anyone who has been in New England this week knows, it’s been cold. It used to be a situation that brought me a fair amount of anxiety. My landlady wouldn’t want to turn the heat on. I’d ask her, she’d say no. I’d grow colder and grumpier. She’d stoke her wood stove. My apartment comes with heat included, this no-furnace business is technically illegal but I don’t know how to tell a scrappy 89 year old woman that she is breaking the law and I suspect she wouldn’t care anyhow. I have an electric mattress pad warmer and have been pretend-miserable but not actually miserable as a result of this. Plus everyone likes to brag about how long they can go without turning the furnace on and I am not at all hardcore in this regard compared to some neighbors.

Over the past few years, the routine has shifted a little. Two years ago she asked me “Are you freezing up there?” and I said I was okay maybe a little cold, I’d just put on a hat. The implication that I got was that she was maybe also a little cold but her Yankee morality wouldn’t let her relent and turn the furnace on just for her. The furnace went on when I had guests coming and I said it might be a little cold… for guests. Last year I did give her a running account of what the temperature was in my place and when it got down to 58 she decided that was too cold for me and the furnace kicked in. Today I woke up and it was about that temperature in here, but I put on a few layers and it was mostly fine. I stayed active, determined not to give in. I heard the furnace rumble and the baseboards start to make their little jingling sound this evening and opened my email to a note saying “Just turned on the furnace!!!!!!” I see this as some sort of victory.

I’ve been reading a lot about hibernating since I don’t think it’s just the mattress pad warmer that makes me want to take to my bed in this weather. I learned that fresh water turtles can stay underwater for months at a time. Months. Underwater. Their heart rate drops to once every ten minutes. It’s nuts. And true, not just internet-true, I read it in a book. Then there are the internet fables about human hibernation (some heresay, some sort of true, some about hypothermia, some about who knows what) that would benefit from a bit more research.

My favorite of all the stories is this short story, fully fictional, called The Sleep by Caitlin Horrocks (you can read it on Google books or feel free to find/purchase it elsewhere or maybe get it from your library) about an entire town and a hibernation experiment of sorts. Every time the days get shorter I re-read it. I think you should read it too. Happy resting.

still resting

BIRTHDAY

It’s somewhat embarrassing that I am so bad at this relaxing stuff, but this year it’s really going okay. I am now back in Vermont where me and my landlady try to out-yankee each other by seeing how long we can go without putting the furnace on. I have electric sheets and I think I may win. But she has a woodstove. We each had a recent birthday. Some recent events have included

- Having a lousy cold – taking care of sick Jim gave me a small bout of the low-level crud. I am better now.
- Labor Day hangout in Westport – good times, good food and a lot of friends from various parts of my life. I am lucky.
- Birthday weekend – which included a nice long visit with Kate, a lot of short visits with Jim, a lot of random food and beachwalking, and many amusing photo ops because my friend GJ wants people to send him photos of people flipping him off. You know me and Kate… hilarity ensues.
- Shopping – as most of you know, I hate to shop but it was time to get rid of my 20+ year old mattress, a mattress so old I don’t even know where I got it. Second-hand something. So I went mattress-shopping, for the first time ever, with Kate there to run interference if things got dicey. The mattress guys just dropped off my new-to-me mattress and as I was making the bed, thinking about consumer choices I have made and not made, I was thinking that may have been a good Virgo Month of Leisure move. There’s a longer discursive ramble about my bizarre (to me) habit of usually immediately disliking any new item I have purchased, including haircuts but I’ll save it for a less leisurely month. This mattress looks nice.

summer

mother ocean

I don’t have much to say right now. Things are good. I am participating in the Virgo Month of Leisure and here is a nice photo of the ocean. People who are interested in some of the things I am doing and finding at Open Library may enjoy following Open Library’s twitter account. It’s one of those neat fact-a-day things.