Dad

My dad passed away last week, after a long illness.  Below is what I wrote for his memorial service, which was on Wednesday:

It’s hard to know where to begin when writing about my dad – it feels as though anything I write won’t do justice to him. So here are some memories of him that, to me, embody what a great dad and awesome guy he was.

Dad loved to grow lettuce. He also loved to grow crookneck squash, sugar snap peas, and Kentucky wonder beans (and he’d always let the beans grow really big, so that the seeds were kind of mealy, which was just the way he liked them best). But he was most proud of his lettuce, and rightfully so. He’d come in to the kitchen with a big proud grin on his face, a dripping head of fresh lettuce in hand, wet from being hosed off outside. Unfortunately, Dad wasn’t so great at hosing off the lettuce, and it was usually still pretty dirty and gritty, and Mom would kind of roll her eyes in the face of the filthy lettuce and his happy smile and send him back out to wash it better.

One of my favorite memories of Dad, which I think really shows what a great dad he was, is a day when he and I were out in his garden in the far back yard. I loved to tag along and watch him while he gardened, and I was probably only about 7 or 8 years old in this memory. Somehow, this day we managed to stir up an in-ground nest of yellow jackets, and the yellow jackets came swarming out en masse. Dad very calmly told me to run to the house as fast as I could, and I did, thinking that he would be running right behind me. But when I got to the house I saw that Dad had stayed out back with the yellow jackets, taking a ton of nasty stings so that I could get back to the house unscathed.

After Jim and I got married, I would have weekly pancake lunches with Dad. I’d make the pancakes, and we’d sit and talk for a couple of hours about everything under the sun: politics, religion, good books, classes he was taking, and, of course, technology (I always told Dad that he was a techno-junkie, since he was always reading up on and often buying some great new technology item). I really, really miss those pancake lunches with Dad, and it’s going to be hard for me to make pancakes without feeling kinda sad. I was so happy that the staff at Robbins Brook made him pancakes on a regular basis.

Dad was an absolute inspiration to me in how he always pursued learning – he was always taking classes and developing new interests and reading deeply about those interests. His intellectual curiosity was contagious. He was also amazing in his dedication to physical fitness, doggedly working out on his exercise bike twice a day and taking walks through his 90th birthday. Only his heart bypass surgery slowed him down, and even then he got back into his walks around Westvale Meadow as soon as he was able. His last real walk was with me on November 11, 2014, when we walked down the dike at Great Meadows. Though his body was starting to fail him, and though his mind was starting to be a bit foggy, he was determined to walk as far as possible down the dike. We only got half-way, but it was a beautiful day and one of my last best memories of Dad. I’m thankful that Jim, with great prescience, instructed me to take lots of photos that day.

My memories of Dad over the last several months aren’t quite so happy; his last months were tough for me to watch and experience. But up until the end he sustained a deep passion for life, an intense will to live. And, perhaps even more importantly, Dad was an incredibly genial, sweet, appreciative, and wonderful guy up until the end of his life. I was so touched to see how many members of the Robbins Brook staff came to see him in his last few days, tenderly brushing his hair from his forehead and telling him how much they cared about him.

I will always miss my dad: his wisdom, his caring, his passion for learning, his sense of humor. But as I sat on a rock by the Brant Point Lighthouse Monday morning watching the Nantucket ferry arrive with Dad on board, I felt very sad but also comforted. Dad’s last ferry ride was to a place that he loved, and I know that Dad is at peace now, after having lived a long and very good life.

Much love, Dad.
Abby

It’s been a while…

Yes, I have been very neglectful of my blog for the last year and a couple of months – life has simply been too busy, and I have been wrapped up in doing very important things.  But I wanted to post a quick update to say that I’m still here, still a children’s librarian (ten year anniversary at my job was in November!), and that I will write a more substantive post when life circumstances allow.  And meanwhile I am working hard at bringing some new things to my library, things that I’ll be enthusiastic to write about in the future!

Nine years!

And the nine year anniversary of my arrival at the library has come (and gone) – happy anniversary to me!

A great way to celebrate this anniversary: the addition of a fantastic new program to the library calendar.   Book Buddies began last Wednesday, and is my most favorite library program ever.  Teen volunteers in grades 7 and up are paired with a younger buddy in grades 1 to 4 for shared reading and word games.  Last week, the inaugural week, everyone was having such a good time that I had to gently remind them that the one hour session had ended…five minutes ago.  The looks of complete surprise at a whole hour having passed already were testament to the fun that both big and little buddies had reading and playing together.

My greatest thanks to Jennifer for finding this awesome program.  In September, I said to her that we needed something new, could she see what she could find…and she came back with documentation and guidelines from other libraries that had already run successful Book Buddies programs.  Jennifer pointed out that this is exactly the kind of program that we need to be running, and she was so very right.

And one other new thing that we have added: a library Tumblr page.  I really like Tumblr for the library’s purposes – it’s much cleaner than Facebook, and you have more control over how your posts look (including fonts and such).  I won’t be replacing my personal blog page with Tumblr, but it has the right combo of hipness and accessibility for the purposes of the children’s room.  Here’s the link, if you’d like to take a look.

Vacation

Ah, yes, vacation.

Jim and I are enjoying some much needed R & R, including plenty of cuddle time with the three varmints.  (Below are my two new favorite photos of dear sweet wild little Moxie.)  We don’t have much excitement planned for this vacation, but hopefully in a day or two I will be renenergized and reinspired to post something of substance here, especially since Jennifer and I have come up with some cool new programs for the fall at the library.  Until then, enjoy the Moxie photos!

Moxie Sweet Moxie paws

Nine years, almost

As summer winds down and fall approaches, I am reminded that my anniversary date of starting at the library is in November.  As of early November, I will have been at the library for nine years – wow.

When he learned of my library job nine years ago, one of Jim’s friends made a prediction: “She’ll be at that job for the rest of her career.”  I think Jim’s friend is right – it’s a great place to work, with great coworkers, great patrons, and an awesome building, and I’ve finally gotten all the systems (storytimes, collection, etc.) to the level of excellence that I’ve desired.  Time to enjoy all that excellence, while I work on new cool things to bring to my job.  I won’t rest on my laurels, that’s not my style, but I certainly plan on enjoying those laurels while I add programming and increase the excellence of the collection.  Happy almost nine years to me, and here’s to many, many more!

Ten days!

Ten days to go in this year’s summer reading program!  It’s been a whirlwind – never a slow moment – and Jim and I are planning a fair amount of down time in our upcoming vacation (a stay-cation).

And the program I most looked forward to this summer is coming tomorrow:  Wolf Talk!  Yay!  If I get any good photos of the wolf, I will post them here.

One last thought: I really, really wish that the spammers and hackers would leave my silly little blog alone.  I’m really getting tired of people trying to hack into my blog, and I do wonder why in the world they bother with me and my domain.  How hard is it to get your own website, spammers?  Please leave this lowly little librarian alone.  🙂

Summer update

This has been the CRAZIEST summer reading program I have ever seen at the library – constantly busy, every day, with almost no down time – and considering that this is my ninth summer at the library, that’s saying something.  Mind you, a crazy busy summer at the library is a very good problem to have!

So this is just a very quick update on my summer, all aspects (with, of course, some cat photos!):

Great programs so far this summer at the library, including the annual Ice Cream Social, a concert with the Toe Jam Puppet Band, stories with Mark Binder, hula hooping with Pinto Bella Hoops, a Historical Sword Demonstration with Jeff Goodhind and Jeff Lord, four book group meetings, and storytimes.  And lots and lots and lots of kids doing huge amounts of reading (and collecting prizes and working towards their summer reading bookplates).

Home improvement projects are continuing as we can find time to do them.  We priced out buying new kitchen cabinets from Home Depot, and realized that it would be cheaper for Jim to build our new cabinets – so that is Jim’s current project.  The quote from the electrician for the necessary work in the kitchen should be coming in soon, hopefully low enough that we can afford it, and then we need to figure out our timeline and finally finish off that kitchen.

Needless to say, this summer’s vacation week will be a staycation yet again, both because we need to fund the home improvement projects, and also because we need some time to do them!  And Jim is picking up quite a few gigs this summer, including one during our summer vacation.  (Acton Boxborough Farmer’s Market, Sunday, August 24.)

And the cats are doing very well.  No longer kittens, they are still not adults, and exhibit some rather annoying behaviors still (such as chewing power cords), but they are wonderful little buggers and we love them very much.  Moses is absolutely huge now, probably well over fifteen pounds, and the girls, Millie and Moxie, are adorably normal-sized.  (See photos below.)  We still feed Mommy Cat every day, and I’m trying to see if I can make friends with her, though her continued skittishness makes me think that she truly is feral.

And that’s it!  The quick summer update!

 

Currently reading

There’s a large stack of books next to my favorite chair, waiting to be read.  Most are for upcoming book groups, but I’m also starting to accumulate some “fun reading” books in anticipation of the June break from book groups (and then the August and September break from book groups, which allows me a lot of time to read other things!).

Here are the books that are piled next to me:

  • The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (5th grade book group)
  • Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell (6th grade book group)
  • The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan (Teen book group)
  • The Great American Dust Bowl by Don Brown (Teen book group)
  • Years of Dust by Albert Marrin (Teen book group)
  • The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
  • The Outcasts by John Flanagan
  • Marmee & Louisa by Eve LaPlante
  • My Heart is Boundless edited by Eve LaPlante
  • The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie
  • Curtain by Agatha Christie
  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
  • And assorted magazines, long neglected by me:  The Atlantic, many New Yorkers, and Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country.

Any other must-read suggestions for me for my upcoming season of fun reading?

Pippa

Pippa 1997? - 2014
Pippa
1997? – 2014

Four weeks ago today, we had to put our beloved, but elderly and infirm, Pippa to sleep.  My life has been a bit crazy lately, and so I feel like I haven’t really mourned her yet.

But this morning I got up after having slept a bit late, and thought to myself how lovely it would be on this day off to make a pot of tea and snuggle on the sofa with Pippa and our favorite “magic blanket.”  And it hit me like a ton of bricks that Pippa isn’t here anymore.

She was a wonderful girl: smart, affectionate, kind, tolerant, dignified, and an incredible (if reluctant) role model to Moses, Millie, and Moxie.  I miss you, Pippa.

 

Some changes here

I have recently upgraded to a new theme for this blog, and there are two changes to be noted:

I consciously changed the comment settings so that readers can only comment on posts that have been published in the last fourteen days.

And, I have noticed that this new theme has a habit of splitting words at odd points to justify text.  For instance, in one past post, the word August was split this way:  Au  gust, with no hyphen after the Au.  When I have more free time on my hands, I will try to figure out how to fix this (if it can be fixed), but for now please know that it is the software and not I who is splitting words oddly.

I hope you enjoy this new theme as much as I do, though!  I especially like the random rotation of header photos when you click on one of the pages.  The photos are:  Moses as a wee little sprite of 6 weeks; crocus in our yard; and the odd duck that we saw a summer or two ago when kayaking on the Concord River.

Reflections on children, literature, libraries, and life…and cats.