Saturday, February 17, 2018

New York Trip: Part II

With gargoyles. Well, one gargoyle-like creature, if it had served a different architectural purpose. You'll see. :)

I wasn't there very long; I couldn't take very long off of work. So, I got there on a Wednesday afternoon, then walked with Mom down to the main branch of New York Public Library-- which I didn't get any good pictures of, but happily for YOU it's famous, so you can just look some up online. (The outside has marble lions; the inside looks a lot like the Library of Congress, having been built in approximately the same era.)

The next morning, I walked ALL over Central Park-- well, over half of it anyway. I walked from Times Square, where the hotel was, up through the south end of the park and then up to approximately the middle (North-South wise). I had wanted to go to the Metropolitan Museum of New York, but it turned out that it didn't open until ten, and since I wanted to make it to the temple by ten thirty or so for an eleven o'clock session, well, all I ended up seeing was the outside of the museum. *sigh*

But that was not the end of the world. As I walked across the narrow side of Central Park to see if I could catch any of the Natural History Museum (of Night at the Museum fame), I happened to come across Belvedere Castle. This structure was originally-- and, to quote Dave Barry, I am not making this up-- called a "folly," which is a structure built mostly to look good, without having any other real purpose. (This is where I got that info: Anyway, it's still serving the purpose of looking decorative, while also serving as a weather station, having a tourist shop inside, and being a nature observatory, from which you can actually check out stuff like binoculars. (This last part I didn't know until just now-- more to do for my planned return this summer!) But none of that was open yet as I hiked my way through.

I did, however, get a picture of this lovely metal creature over the door:

I just looked up the definition of a gargoyle. This one doesn't count, because it's not part of a gutter. But you can't tell me it isn't cool!

Next, I walked to the Natural History Museum-- which, you guessed it, was still closed when I got there, though it was opening as I arrived. I decided to step inside, which meant letting a guard give my purse a glance, which I certainly didn't have a problem with. The great hall did have a dinosaur-bone replica, but other than that was empty of objects. It did, however, have a lovely quotes from T. Roosevelt on the walls, one of which I liked so much that I took a picture:
The part I most like says: IT IS HARD TO FAIL BUT IT IS WORSE TO HAVE NEVER TRIED TO SUCCEED. It felt quite relevant to my life as I looked at it. It feels quite relevant to my life, even now.

Friday, January 26, 2018

New York Trip: Part I

Mom had to be in New York for work, which meant that her work paid for a hotel for her, which meant that I could stay for a night in New York for free! Except for the time off I took. But it was TOTALLY worth it, and it turns out I love New York, and I plan on going again.

Living there would be a different matter.

I took a cheapo bus up, and it was a gray, cloudy day-- which is a kind of day I love very much, so it was kind of perfect. I felt that the couple of shots I got of the Sesquehenna River as we passed over it were quite pretty:
And that's all I'll post for now. I will get to the other pictures of the LoC later, I suppose.

Floor at the Library of Congress

My oldest niece came out for a visit in October, and when I asked what she most wanted to see in the area, she said (after mentioning the temple) the Library of Congress.

Which I had seen before, but I had ABSOLUTELY NO objection to seeing again. So we went, and I took a lovely picture of the tile pattern on the floor:

We'll see if any of the others turned out well enough to post. My phone's camera isn't great, but it does have that one must-have feature: I almost always have it with me. :)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

from ancient times: #metoo

I was looking at this poem I wrote a while back, and it seemed relevant to our current state of affairs. My deepest apologies, though, for all the poetry. I like writing it, but not as much reading it, and if that isn't hypocritical, I don't know what is.

Sarah, to Pharoah

I used to pray
every day
(though I did not know it was a prayer)
that I would be beautiful.

Very beautiful.

I did not know

that beauty
makes others wish they owned it
enough to suppose they did

O Pharoah
Did you really think
you had but to wish me
and I was yours?

That you had but to take me from my brother
--as you supposed
--and I would be yours?

(But of course you did.
Any man who would
declare himself a god
is delusional enough
to suppose anything.)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Becoming a Writer (getting to know myself)

There were a couple of summers, once I realized I wanted to be a professional writer, when I spent a significant chunk of time each day for a matter of weeks or months, working on writing projects. And, in this way, I got through a couple of drafts that didn't work, but became a bit discouraged that I didn't get any closer than I did to anything publishable. (But at least now I know that I CAN blitz my focus like that, which is indeed useful to know.)

The problem was, I became so discouraged that I stopped writing regularly, which was a problem. Finally towards the end of 2016 I decided to address it, so for 2017 my writing goal was to write for ten minutes a week-- and I made it! And I often wrote a lot more than ten minutes. It felt really good to be able to set an achievable goal and to feel the sense of accomplishment from meeting it over and over and over.

In December of 2017, a friend found out that I was trying to become a writer, and that I was writing for ten minutes a week, and she said what I had been thinking all along: that's not enough! You have to write more than that! Which wouldn't have been helpful in 2016, but in 2017 it hit me just right. Thus, a couple of weeks ago, I set a new, too-small-but-still-not-happening-regularly goal: I work for an hour a week on my writing.

Before I did that, though, I had to sit down and decide what I wanted to work on. In the past, remembering that in college I had done better during spring and summer terms (block classes) than fall or winter term (regular-length, and more of them) I had cut down the number of writing projects I was working on to one fiction and one nonfiction. And I don't regret this. I made real progress on both of these. But in late December (as in, last month), as I considered expanding my writing time, I realized that I really wanted to start something fresh, while not abandoning the old projects. And I remembered that there was that one term when I took 19 credit hours and got straight As-- so, sometimes it's a good idea for me to try a lot of things at once.

So here's the plan. I'm still working on my dad's biography; I have no idea what I'm doing, and therefore no idea when I will finish, but at the moment I'm still getting new information from interviewing him, his brothers, and his sisters-in-law, among others, so I figure I'll work on what to do with it once I have it all down. I'm also working on the fantasy novel I've been working on FOR.EV.ER. I've seriously wondered if I should abandon it, but again, even though I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing or when I will be able to finish, I'm still making progress at making it a better story, so I'm just plugging away (but not very fast).

I'm also blogging again (obvs.) and also starting a new non-fiction project, which I'm afraid to write about here because I've talked it up to so many people already, and I'm a little afraid that I won't get it done and that I will disappoint all the people. But the weird thing about it is, all that advice about "turn off your internal editor"? Yeah, it's actually relevant for this one. (I tried it for the fantasy novel last time I blitzed it and wrote 40,000 words of which I hated about 30,000 words, so it isn't always good advice.) In this case, my internal editor is saying kind of stupid things like, "you'll never finish," or "You're just blathering on and on; no one wants to hear what you have to say about this." THAT's the kind of internal voice you need to ignore.

Which is not to say that I wouldn't be deeply embarrassed if my first draft were to see the light of day. It's just that I know from experience that listening to stupid voices like that will lead to never getting said first draft finished, which is the absolute requirement for being able to get to the later, better drafts.

And here's the last thing. I'm a little extra-weirded-out by this, but it looks like having more projects to work on is motivating me work more on each one, which means that so far I'm not working an hour a week on writing; I'm working, like, four hours minimum. (It has helped that the weeks thus far have included vacation and/or snow days). Notwithstanding how very weird I find this, I'll TAKE it.

I'll let you know how it goes. :)

Monday, January 1, 2018

The parable of the book tape

So, there had not been a library media assistant for two years before I came into the job (the school board had decided that they weren't necessary, for budgetary reasons, but then later reversed their decision). And that means, among other things, that book repair had been done only on a very irregular basis for the last two years, and sometimes when it was done, it was done inexpertly.

Being addicted not just to books, but to learning, I of course had to do some internet research on book repairs.

Just for the record, my very favorite is called "tipping in a page," wherein you glue along the very edge of a page which has fallen out of a book, stick it back in (carefully!) and then, once this special glue has dried it's like the page never fell out. WOW.

Also just for the record, my least favorite repair at the moment is called hinge repair, wherein you smear glue on a thin little piece of wood, and then try to get the glue into the narrow space where the endpaper and the cover of a book are coming apart from each other. It's messy, it's hard to see what I'm doing, and I'm always afraid that I'm going to get glue where it should not be. But I am firm in my belief that I will cease to hate this repair once I have more practice and feel more confident because I am in fact more competent. And, I make myself do this repair anyway, because I know both from reading about it and now from experience, that it prevents much worse damage (like the book and the cover coming apart completely).

Anyway. Book tape. Besides the cloth book tape I have pictured below, you can get some really thick, super-strong tape called (amazingly enough) book tape, which is thick-ish plastic film with adhesive on one side. And you would think-- or someone would think, because someone actually did this-- that it would be a good idea to use this somewhat expensive, extra-thick tape to tape pages back in if you didn't feel like messing with the glue, because then the pages would stay in place extra-well. But you would be wrong. True, the tape doesn't come undone, but the pages are so much thinner than the tape itself that on at least one of these repairs, I can see that the pages are starting to have crease marks where the edge of the tape is, and will eventually rip off entirely.

So what do I use? I use packing tape-- which is like book tape, but much thinner, so at least I'm not damaging the pages by using something that's way too heavy for them. There exist better products for this job, I'm 100% sure, but this is the best I've got available at the moment. Book tape I use for covers, both hard and soft, which need reinforcement.

(I've pasted a picture below of some cloth book tape. Most tape is sticky on one side these days, but the tape in the picture below needs to have glue put on it before it can be used.)
This is single-stitched book tape, of which a roll was supposed to be ordered with our other book repair supplies, but somehow it didn't get ordered. Which made me sad, but it isn't like I don't have plenty of other things to repair. *sigh*
And why is this the parable of the book tape? Well, every time I pull out either the book tape or the packing tape, I inevitably think about Jesus, saying that you can't mend old clothes with new cloth, which is true, because the new cloth will be so much stronger than the old that it will rip the old cloth. It's like using book tape on a paper page. And he also said that you can't take old cloth and mend something new with it, and this is also true: the old cloth will just rip out, and there is no point in making a mend like that. So I always feel a bit surreal, sitting at the table where I do my repairs, thinking about what would it be like if Jesus had been speaking to a bunch of book conservationists: "Neither do ye take book tape and put it on pages..."

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas and babies

You know how the angels sang for Jesus' birth, and how it was such an honor and privilege, and probably they were standing in line and/or employing some kind of extra-dimensional jiggery to fit everyone in who wanted to sing in the choir? How cool it would have been to be one of those angels?

That's how I feel about all babies. Seriously.

Hence the name of the blog...