Category Archives: Spare time – Culture

Happy Valentine’s Day

We’re socked in by a snow storm here; the library is closed today, and I’m home.  Jim took a personal day rather than drive the fishtail-happy, seventeen-year-old Honda in these slippery conditions.  So we’ve both been reading by the wood stove.  Jim’s working on a book Jean gave him for Christmas, Frank Conroy’s Time and Tide, and I’ve just finished reading Carol Gorman’s book Games.  I’m working through my thoughts on Games, trying to figure out how it ranks on the literary scale.  It’s one of those books that will need to sit at the back of my head for a few hours, or a day, before I can coherently and concisely say what I need to say about it.

In other news, since the library is closed today, the Create a Valentine workshop has been cancelled.  I spent the morning calling all the parents of the kids who had signed up to let them know that the program wouldn’t run.  One disappointed mom asked me whether it would be rescheduled.  “Hmmm,” I said, “Since today is Valentine’s Day, and it’s a Valentine card making workshop, I’m not sure that it would have any real relevancy after today.”  Not to mention, though I didn’t tell the mom this, there’s no room in the library calendar to reschedule this until February 28th, by which time a Valentine project would seem REALLY silly.

On the bright side, I’m all set for next year’s Create a Valentine program!

hearts hearts hearts hearts hearts hearts hearts

Man, am I tired of cutting out felt hearts for Wednesday’s Create A Valentine workshop.  Why oh why did I think it was a good idea to include them again this year?  Is my memory so bad that I forgot the blisters and pain of last year??????  No felt hearts next year: you read it here first.

Now if I can only remember to NOT do the cookie baking for the Annual Doll’s Tea Party in May…

The Pats

What a bummer…seeing the Pats lose to the COLTS just now.  And it seemed like we might be able to have a fun Superbowl party this year.  Guess not.  Sigh.
But congrats to Tom and Bill and all the Pats for a great season.  Thanks, guys!

Sand Dollar Summer

I’ve had to put Larklight aside in favor of the teen book club book, Sand Dollar Summer by Kimberly K. Jones.  There are two sessions of the teen book group that will be meeting simultaneously on Tuesday, one for ninth through twelth graders (facilitated by Lisa), and the other for sixth through eighth graders (facilitated by me).  I chose this book, a bit quickly, and based mostly on its cover, which is really cute.  After this meeting, the group will be choosing their own books (with guidance, of course, so that all books chosen are age-appropriate), which is the way it should be.

So what about Sand Dollar Summer?  Initially, it didn’t impress me.  Rather self-consciously written at the start, with the twelve-year-old protagonist frequently commenting on how she hates when adults do _________ (fill in the blank, she uses that phrase a lot, too much).  But it gets better, and by the half-way point the book has grown on me.  The voice of Lise, the protagonist, grows more authentic as the plot progresses, and her mother is beautifully flawed, as many mothers are.  Suffering, introspective, yet loving, Lise’s mom experiences a life-changing automobile accident that is, in turn, changing Lise’s life and outlook on life.

Had I read this book as a middle school student, I would have loved it.  Especially if I had read this summery, ocean-based tale in the middle of winter: Jones’s descriptions of sand ingrained in your hair and sand crunching in your toothpaste are vivid and evocative.  Hopefully the girls in the book group will also like this book…I’ll post an update on their reactions to the book later in the week.

And what about all those books?

Ok, I confess, last weekend I wrote about a lot of books that I was going to read over the holiday.  I didn’t read them last week.  Between the Christmas Eve-Eve party, the Christmas Eve church service, some last minute shopping, and our extended Christmas Day travels, we just weren’t home very much last weekend.

So the plan was to do lots of reading this weekend.  It’s Sunday; how am I doing so far?  Not so good!  One of Jim’s childhood friends came by yesterday with his wife (he and Jim had a fabulous jam session together), we had dinner with Jim’s mom and Bob yesterday evening, and, of course, I snuck in a little shopping at the Warehouse Store in Maynard, which is sadly going out of business.  No reading yesterday.  Today, a sleepy start by the fire with coffee cake and tea with honey, then food shopping, a walk, and soon a second walk.  It’s a beautiful day, and I can only get outside on the weekends (we’re not allowed to leave the library building during our working hours, and it’s dark and cold when I leave work in the winter).  Got to take advantage of my outdoor time.

Trying to fit a social life and outdoor time and chores into my limited out-of-work hours leaves very little time for reading, though of course reading is at the heart of my career.  I don’t have a solution to this problem; I only know that, as much as I love my job, I need to nurture the other aspects of my life, too.

Quabbin

Saturday was gorgeous here, and Jim and I decided to take a drive out to central Massachusetts.  (We have a dream of moving out to a quiet, rural town in central MA, where we could afford a decent sized house and have a bit of a yard to garden in; but being eastern MA born and bred, we’ll probably never act upon that dream.)

Jim drove us through Petersham, Hardwick, and Ware, and since we had packed a lunch we ended up driving into the Quabbin reservoir.  We found a lone picnic table in a perfect spot, above a stand of birch trees, looking down into a small bay where two men were peacefully fishing.

After lunch, we drove as close as you can get to the Winsor Dam, parked, and took a walk over the dam and into the rather decrepit visitor’s center.  It was sunny, balmy, and the perfect day for that walk.  We marvelled at the mowing job of the grass on the back slope of the dam; they must own a special machine to cut the grass on that angle.  I took a lot of photos, including a couple of pictures of the building that juts out of the dam itself.  The windows are dirty, and the blinds inside are drawn, so I suspect no one goes in there much these days, but I’d love to know what that building’s purpose is or was.

And then we got to the visitor center.  Jim braved the men’s room that lurks down a flight of creaky steps (if stones can be creaky) in front of the visitor’s center, but I found the equivalent women’s room to be the single most creepy public bathroom ever.  It’s located a fair distance away from the men’s room, so I knew Jim wouldn’t hear me if I screamed; there was no functioning light, it was really dark inside, it was ungodly hot and humid, and only one of the stalls appeared to be useable.  Quick turnaround; no need to tempt fate.  The visitor’s center bathroom wasn’t much better, and it convinced me that I will never, ever attend a function there that serves food.  They store their coffee urns, serving platters, and other function dishes in the bathroom, and the bathroom ain’t too clean, either.  But at least it wasn’t creepy.

After leaving Quabbin, we drove back through the towns we had seen before, commenting here and there on fabulous old houses that we’d love to live in.  One last stop took us the the Sears in Leominster, where the customers and staff alike are so much friendlier and more pleasant than their counterparts further east.  It’s really like another world just west of us; you don’t have to travel far to enjoy the visit, either.

And for that whole day, I almost didn’t think about children’s literature or work at all.

That’s a good thing.  We all need a break from the daily grind, even when we love that daily grind.