I was chatting with someone on Twitter the other day, as one does, and I checked out her website. It had the lovely spareness that I had been hoping to use on my own website. Better yet, it was in HTML which meant I could copy, alter, and use it (after asking, of course). So I redesigned the entryway to jessamyn.com and I’m pleased with it.
I’ve also been recommitting to my VT 183 project, wanting to visit all of Vermont’s libraries. I got jazzed and re-energized by the Vermont Library Conference (which is exactly what it’s supposed to do!) and went to five new libraries this week.
I’ve done a lot of legal stuff, from my day in court with Equifax which you can read about, to visiting the Vermont Attorney General’s office to talk about suing the recent managers of the local drive-in for defrauding the people in the town via Kickstarter, to updating my will. People who know me may know that I almost went to law school instead of library school. The structure of legal theory and thought appeals to me.
I’ve been able to get a lot of this stuff done because my teaching, public speaking, and related travel are wrapping up. And, for the rest of 2018, I am planning to not do much more of it. Not for any bad reason but for a few good reasons:
- I’ve been overdoing it. I’ve been stressed out and for whatever reason (maybe grief, Jessamyn!) this same-old combination of things has not been allowing me to thrive.
- I don’t have to, right now. I’ve got a stable, if low, income and I’m going to make that work for now.
- I’ve had my head in the sand about global warming but the biggest thing I figured I could change in my life was not getting on any more airplanes. This isn’t a total overhaul, just a reminder to be more mindful about when I decide to travel and maybe doing it more for fun and less for work.
- I’m throwing myself in to my hobbies and my neighborhood. This includes visiting more libraries, stepping up my work with the Vermont Library Association, joining the town’s Conservation Commission, and (my new announcement) joining the board of the Vermont Humanities Council
More to the point, I think my definition of “thriving” is going to include more community work and less get-money-for-Jessamyn work. I’m really lucky to be able to make this choice for a few months (or longer) and gosh is it lovely outside.
Continuing the quest for offline hobbies and activities I’ve added a few things to my “stuff I know how to do” list. Last week I was in Westport and instead of getting the lawn guy to take down the sea grass that grows really tall in the backyard (you can see it in this image only now it’s taller and dead) I decided I’d try to do it myself. This involved learning to use a hedge trimmer which I’d never done before. Internet randos claim this isn’t a skill–“Is mopping a skill?” they’d ask–but it felt skillful to me. Especially since I did what every novice hedge trimmer user does and chopped the cord clean off. “Why is that part of the hedge on fire? Oh…” I presume this is something everyone does because 1. that is what everyone told me and 2. it has a replaceable cord. So that went mostly well. Jim helped a lot with the clean up. Always save some time and energy for the clean-up. Advice I used to ignore and now mostly do not.
This week I was back at home and had a week with multiple hours of (mostly good) online meetings and I needed a thing to do which was offline and nominally creative. At some point I need to go mossing but the outdoor weather hasn’t been quite there yet. I went by a thrift store to drop off some stuff and found a cool book about as old as I was, full of art photography. I decided to revisit an old hobby which was making envelopes out of nifty old paper. So I spent the time in-between my sub shifts at the library cutting and folding and gluing. I took a few photos and put them online and people asked for more detail so I supplied it in the form of a HOWTO set. And then for laffs I made an animated GIF of all 40+ of my envelopes. I think they look pretty good. Now I need to write some letters. Fortunately this is not difficult.
I was wrong about spring being here which is no surprise (there was one more snow) but this week has been nice. I even took my bike to the transfer station along with a tiny bag of trash and that was good for a few laughs from the pickup truck brigade. A few things have happened this month since I got back from Kansas. I did my last (3rd) talk for the season in Plymouth New Hampshire. Went well and I had a good time. I want to put together some “What’s what in copyright and fair use” talks for next season. I also took a few trips down to Massachusetts, see family, Jim, dad’s place. Counting the days til we can close the estate and move on in some actual way but everyone told me to be patient and I have been. A funny thing happened last week, along those lines.
As you may or may not know, Flickr did a big redesign recently. I’m on the fence about some of it, I sort of feel that being a person who lives on the web means I have to accept that things will sometimes change (as readers of my blog you have to accept that I redesign every half-decade or so). They also redesigned their account structure. Previously free accounts got space for 200 visible photos. If you uploaded one more, one would drop off (not deleted, just not visible) unless you upgraded to a paid account. Paid accounts got what basically seemed like unlimited storage. My dad had a paid account and had uploaded about 4000 photos that he’d had scanned from old slides, a lot of neat old family stuff some of it before my time entirely. I’ve been pretty good at paying bills that come due on the estate but that one escaped me. So suddenly instead of 4000 photos there were 200 and only the most recent ones. I wasn’t sure of the login for that account (I have most of the others) and the whole thing was just weighing on me along with all the other “When is this huge stack of paperwork going to be over?!” executrix concerns. “Man, I should really take care of that…” I’d think.
Anyhow. The redesign/reconfiguring meant that all of the sudden, nearly two years to the day after my dad died, all the free accounts had unlimited storage which means all the old photos came back. And the timing was good. And I spent a lot of time clicking around looking at photos of my family when they were younger, from before I was born, when my dad was just a kid. This is a photo I’d never seen before, it’s my grandmother’s stepmother who we always called Nana and my grandfather’s mother Agnes Wylie West who I never met who was from Vermont. Both from my dad’s side. It’s not quite “awesomepeoplehangingouttogether” but in jessamynworld it sort of is. There’s a photo on my mom’s Flickr page that might have my other two great-grandmothers at a photo of her parents’ wedding.
I was having a great talk with my friend Joe from college yesterday about how wonderful it is to be basically middle-aged. I like feeling I know who I am. I like having the health and the resources to do the things I want. My slightly fading memory is more helpful than harmful at this stage. I enjoy my nerdy hobbies. I have interesting friends. He pointed out a thing that I had somehow never noticed–and that probably everyone knows about me but me–which is that I’ve sort of always gravitated towards “things that older people do” for lack of a better term and then been really interested in those things and excitedly sharing them with other people. Blogging and Twitter nonwithstanding, I could list a handful of examples off the top of my head: The 251 Club; The Odd Fellows Hall; being a Justice of the Peace; my roommate/landlady situations; town parades; terrariums. I’m not really sure what it is about any of those things, and never noticed a trend at all until he had pointed it out, but I think it bodes well for future me.