the list I almost made

two eggs in a nice looking pink bowl

As I was driving back from Kate’s house after a three-day Thanksgiving trip (as opposed to a nine-day one which is my usual MO) I was thinking of a list I’d put here. Whether I’m online or off, I’m usually thinking of lists. To do lists, reading lists, library lists, “crap to fix in my house” lists. Errand lists are a particular favorite because it’s pretty simple to cross all the things off and then, woohoo, you’ve done something! Today I got fed up with my back hallway which was where I had the “Cables to be filed” basket which was turning into a shamehole. So, I turned on a podcast I was listening to and just started untangling, filing, tossing and recycling. By the end of it, I’d learned more about cryptocurrency MLM scams and also gotten the back hall deshameified.

Oh, that was my list! I used to listen to one podcast: No Such Thing As A Fish. The episodes come out weekly. This is usually enough when I’m not traveling much but with holidaytime imminent, I could use some more. Some that I have liked are:

  • 99% Invisible – I mostly like this but Roman Mars is always bringing other people on to do their podcasts and I don’t like them as much. This is good if I pick and choose.
  • Bear Brook Podcast – sort of a complete set of how a weird crime was solved, right next door (in New Hampshire). Loved it but it’s now over.
  • Before Your Time – great little podcast about Vermont history but it doesn’t come out that often.
  • MetaFilter podcast – I am both on this and listen to it

A few I haven’t liked are the Emily Post podcast Awesome Etiquette, Marc Maron’s WTF (I did, but now I don’t) and pretty much anything by VPR/NPR (they are fine, I don’t like their podcasts). I don’t like anything with sketches, dramatizations, or people doing bits. I don’t mind interviews but I especially like to learn something. I like esoteric and hidden histories. I’m fussy about sound quality since I am often listening in the car. I like people who do their own research and prefer “deep dives” to people skimming other people’s blog posts. I don’t mind ads. I do not like TED talks. I do not want to listen to men talk about technology.

A few friends have suggested Outside Online and Heavy Weight and I will try those. Do you have other suggestions for me?

Florida fixit

image of an odd painting heere a hors eis standing in profile holding a tiffany colored box in its mouth

I went to Florida a few weeks back which will be the last time I get on a plane this year unless something wacky happens. Thinking more about carbon footprint stuff even though I am doing solidly well in that regard because I have no kids. It was a good time, pictures are here.

I was well-hosted by the library school at USF. I gave a talk that I really enjoyed which was well-received. I felt good enough to walk around some which was nice, wear shorts and smell smells (it’s 17° here now). I’ll get paid eventually which is also my feeling about the CNN article I wrote in August, and the smaller article I wrote for Online Searcher after that. Freelance cash flow is a bit of a crapshoot.

I also stayed in a funky AirBnB suggested by my host which was great in a lot of respects, but especially because parts of it were maybe a little broken. I’m always at loose ends when I travel alone, and so it was fun to have some simple little puzzles to keep me occupied (think a dog trying to get kibble out of a kong). So while I was there I…

– got the TV back online and attached to Netflix
– also got the TV out of accessibility mode so it would stop reading every Netflix title to me
– cleaned the filter of the hot tub which was full of leaves
– figured out which scented candle was setting off my allergies
– stopped the toilet from running at night
– figured out how to make Alexa stop listening to me

Things I did not figure out included…

– how to make the glowing orb in the hallway stop pulsing in various colors
– how to plug in my phone near the bed without moving a very large mirror
– where the extra towels were

All in all I was nervous about the trip because it’s my nature and because I’m still not really feeling optimal. It went well and now I’m just back on my normal bullshit, going to a ton of meetings, helping people with computer stuff and trying to stay warm.

Virgo Month of Leisure Success?

clouds hanging over a rural farming valley

So hey I think I managed to break a leisure record this Virgo Month of Leisure! The bad news is that’s because I’ve been feeling borderline punk for a few months now. I always thought of myself as someone in pretty good shape, but every so often I just come down with… sinus nonsense, or a weird pulled muscle, or this time some strange respiratory thing of indeterminate origin that also sort of overlapped with the Return of Shingles. So I’m back on the shingles medicine and I’ve been taking it easy which is somehow more fun when I’m at home and can do little things like head out for a chicken pie supper with friends and then go home and flop out and not do much. I’ve been getting an absurd amount of reading done.

In between all that, I’ve been working the problem and getting medical stuff slowly checked out. It’s breast cancer awareness week (you’re welcome for no pink outline to this post) and I got a mammogram (all good). If you’re someone with breasts, you should make sure you’re up to date on yours as well. October is really my favorite month because more things than usual are my favorite color. Even being crashed out on the day bed looking out the window is mostly a delight. Ronni turned the furnace on early this year (it was 32 the night before last) and there’s something peaceful and calming about not shivering while you type.

And my birthday, which was the day after my doctor’s appointment where my doctor said “You seem fine,” was actually nice, just a lovely day wandering around town saying hi to people while running errands, and then wrapping up with some drinks with friends up the road and wandering home through my dark neighborhood by myself. Since then I’ve performed two weddings (one more formal, one less formal), gone to a lot of meetings, played some board games, and spent a lot of time enjoying the lava lamp Jim gave me which has been an unexpectedly fun thing. Next up: applesauce and a quickie trip to Florida because I do still do some work around here.

service

comic with a bunch of hands reaching up towards an earth with the caption 'slowly we are reclaiming this world from the adults'

It was all I could do, when I was reading the Futel Party Line zine, to not just call up their operator and say “I want a free pay phone. In Randolph.” Because, hey, that would be cool. But realistically, someone would have to manage that project. And, if I am being honest, I am maybe full up with service work, as much as I enjoy it. This image is from the brochure I got with the zines. It amuses me that I can still think I am not “the adults.”

It’s a sort of thing about being underemployed (which I am, though not in a bad way) that you try to fill the days. But if you’re not going to a place and staying there for several hours a day, it’s hard to decide what “full” is. I spend a lot of time typing, and going back and forth between communication channels, solving problems. And I’m still feeling a little mystery-sick (have a doc appointment, things are proceeding apace) which limits me a little. Here are my little service projects.

  • I’m on the board and the Technology/Access committee for the Vermont Humanities Council. Was slow in the summer, picking up now.
  • I’m on the board for the 251 Club. There’s a banquet in October, I’m getting auction items for it (want to donate? talk to me.)
  • I’m continuing my work with the Vermont Mutual Aid Society as a qualifying Authority to help print-disabled people get access to online books via the Internet Archive (have a print disability? Talk to me!)
  • I help run MLTSHP, a cute little online photo-sharing community. We have a legal situation and an aggrieved user situation that are taking up some time.
  • I write an occasional newsletter, which I very much enjoy, along with this blog and librarian.net.
  • I’m on my town’s conservation commission and maintain our small part of the town’s website.
  • I maintain the website for the Vermont Library Association along with a few other people.
  • I’m on the rules committee for my nerdy trivia league. Not just that, but on the organizing committee of the rules committee. Sort of the job I was meant to do, honestly.

Otherwise I’m just doing my summer thing. Childnado VII went great; it’s so good to have regular times to see old friends. I feel the same way about Jimsmas (Jim and Other Jim and two other friends with 12/6 birthdays get together for food and cake) which isn’t until December. I’ve put off doing birthday stuff this year until I’m feeling better but Virgo Month of Leisure is in full effect and maybe I’ve got a shot at it this year.

“shoulda taken a before picture…”

I had a small dip in productivity this week. I think I mentioned that at the end of last summer I had shingles. It was a super mild case, but I wound up with something called “post-herpetic neuralgia” which is basically nerve pain. It’s super well-controlled with gabapentin, which also has some positive effects on my mood and anxiety level. But, it’s a lot of medicine and so I figured I’d try to taper off of it once I stopped feeling like maybe my nerve pain was a thing (for most people it stops eventually and many people only deal with it for a few months).

Everything was going fine. Over the past few months I moved from taking 1300mg to… 300 and eventually 200. And then BLAMMO all of the sudden not only did the nerve pain come back, but it was accompanied by a rush of free-ranging anxieties, so instead of saying “Hello nerve pain, my old friend” I got convinced that I was immediately dying of any number of really terrible diseases. It makes sense in retrospect, what was happening, but at the time it was just several days of pure panic. Now it’s handled, I’m back on my bullshit (drugs) and I’ll work on this taper some other time. Stupid brain.

But! Before that I’ve been doing a ton of stuff around here (#dadshouse) and then getting finished and saying “Gee, I should have taken a ‘before’ picture.” I wanted to keep track of those things, so here is a list.

  • Trimmed all the raspberries and volunteer other trees by the dumpster
  • Got rid of all the nonsense paper in the “attic” and all the manuals for things that are no longer in this house
  • Scraped the lichen off of the upper porch railing in preparation for re-staining it
  • Hacked down all the plant life growing in the berm in the backyard by the spruce trees
  • Emptied out the last boxes from Seattle. Prepared 10+ boxes to go to the local book sale, once I feel up to lifting/hauling them
  • With Jim’s help, took out all the vestigial cabling behind the television set (so many cables!).
  • Put away all the stuff that had been on the tables in the TV room since I sold my Subaru (!)
  • Got the two wingback chairs that no one likes out to the garage and hopefully will find someone to take them away (want some slightly clawed chairs? call me).
  • Emptied out drawers of nonsense in the kitchen.
  • Re-arranged coffee can shelf in the garage and got rid of old dead stuff.
  • Got the labelmaker working.
  • Replaced the grotty curtains in the living room.
  • Cleaned the whole area around the woodstove, took all the kindling OUTSIDE (why is it inside in the summertime!) and swept up all the bark
  • Told the wisteria “No, you grow up over this thing, you don’t creep along the ground.”

A lot of these were just dumb little things that had been back-burnered sort of indefinitely, not even difficult projects mostly. Now that they’re done it just frees up psychic space to just be in a room and not have to pretend to not-see the thing that really needs doing.

There’s always something else to be done in this house, but I’m really working to try to get the broken stuff unbroken and the unseen stuff seen. I did get one before/after photo, from today.

two trees in an overgrown berm

after most of the stuff was cut off of it!

perspectives

a few plastic tubs on a floor that looks like it used to have more of them. A small pile of books.

I lied to a government official today (a small lie) which practically seems patriotic nowadays.

This weekend was a blur of party planning, partying, and party recovery. MetaFilter turned twenty and I decided to open the doors down here in Westport and have a good time. Kate and Jim and Other Jim and Chris and GJ and Allison all helped out. At some point in the last decade maybe, my peer group switched from being a group where a potluck might net seven salads or seventeen bags of chips and a dozen hotdogs, to one where you and everyone else could eat good food for days. I had a good time and I put a small set of photos up. I’m sorry if you couldn’t make it. It was a good time and I have no complaints, which is unusual for nitpicker me.

I’ve used that extra shot in the arm of having successfully entertained to catch up on stuff like emptying the seven lingering boxes which I put into a friend’s basement in Seattle in the 90s and, over time, moved around until they were in #dadshouse here in Westport. It’s time to clean them out which, nowadays, involves getting rid of a lot of books, being ruthless about whether I will actually enjoy my stamp collecting books again in this lifetime (likely, no), and saying “Awww hey thing I loved, thanks for your service and goodbye.” It’s going well. I hit some new level of not giving a fuck about some things, somehow, without losing my general good nature. I wish I knew what I did to get here.

I got a driver’s license photo and a passport photo taken and they’re both… fine. We had a lot of leftover food at the party and I’ve been managing to give some away and eat some and get rid of some without worrying that I’m wasting food. Technically, I am wasting it in the most general sense, but being able to sincerely say “Thank you for bringing that!” without having some background concern of “Do we have too much of that?” seems like a better way to be a host.

Which is to say, if you’re in the area and would like some potato salad, you should look me up. I’ll be over here in cut-offs and a tank top looking at high school photo albums that I haven’t seen in 20 years. It’s been good to have some perspective.

stranger than we can imagine

a braided rug which has over 50 different kinds of wrapped cheeddar cheese from Cabot on it

“My life has always been like this.” is what I say to people when I have to explain how, through an amusing hashtag contest, I wound up winning a year’s supply of free cheese from the best cheddar makers on the planet. A year’s supply, in this case, is 100 lbs., delivered in 25 lb. installments. Here’s the first one. Hi, come over for some snacks.

This was a 251 Club contest and speaking of the 251 Club, there’s a great movie called One Town at a Time that documents filmmaker Mike Leonard’s trip through all of Vermont’s towns in 2006 (with a video camera) and then does some of it over more recently. It’s a loving look at our lovely state. I went to the premiere last night and not only is it fun, but I’m in it. I’m one of maybe 10-15 people interviewed for the film (you can see me in the trailer) and I have some of the funnier lines and you can hear me singing some of my 251 Towns song that Jim and I wrote.

Since the last post basically a month ago, I feel I’ve gotten my mojo back. I did a ton of mostly local talks, stayed in places that were not my home and did not hate it, and have been getting out and about more as the weather improves. We had our Vermont Library Association conference which is always a nice shot in the arm and the annual Brag Deck I put together is a high point of my year. We’re doing the Passport to Vermont Libraries program again, though I am not in charge. It’s hard to not be in charge, for me. It’s a good thing for me to learn how to do. Part of the mojo return is having more energy, I’ll see if I can channel it into something other than eating (and delivering) cheese.