the music of solitude

home stereo set up

Wintertime is for woodshedding. For me this is a combination of catching up on reading (current title is an ARC about the North Pond Hermit), catching up on housework and home care, and catching up on correspondence (email, postal mail, social communication). I spend a lot of time busy usually, enough so that it’s a little hard for me to figure out what to do when I’m not doing paid-for work. Helen and Scott Nearing, when they were talking about their version of “the good life,” spoke of splitting up their day into thirds; roughly a third for vocation/wage earning, a third for the community, a third for fun and hobbies. Mine seems to go in bigger chunks: a day for fun, a day for community, a day for work.

Today I woke up determined not to do job-work and applied myself to more of the house projects here. I’m sure from the outside it looked like work. It can be hard to explain to people that, to a librarian, or at least to THIS librarian, putting things back in place is a deeply pleasing activity. So, I rewired the stereo, dusted all the bookshelves, found out when I went to put the iron back that there was already an iron there, hung up a few pictures and listened to some records. Yesterday I was the house manager at the Chandler for a talk by Amy Goodman and Bill McKibben, two favorites of mine. I got to help people find parking, help them find their seats, help the volunteers find their coordinators, help lock and unlock doors and keep the place running. It reminded me a lot of the work I used to do at the Odd Fellows hall and made me wish there was a little room in there somewhere where I could live. Jim was up before that and we went to VINS and admired the birds and I got to cross three more libraries off of my VT 183 list (Woodstock! Northfield! Quechee!) a list which is sort of slow to get filled out.

Wintertime is also for Wikipedia. I have more free time, enough that that if I learn a new thing (particularly if I got it from a print source), I try to add it to an article if it’s not already there. The next few weeks are a project called #1lib1ref, a campaign to try to get every librarian (or anyone really) to add a citation to Wikipedia to help make it better. There is a tool called Citation Hunt where you can look for articles needing citations in categories you are interested in. I found the five articles about African American Librarians needing citations and went and tracked down some sources. A lot of this can be done with some determined Googling and some Wikipedia-wrassling to get the citations right.

It’s more challenging finding citations in categories like this because history is often racist and the historical achievements of people of color didn’t make the papers in the same way achievements of white people did. One of the things that helps with this is libraries and the (Googleable) finding aids that they create. Not everyone can become famous for single-handedly recording 40,000 VHS tapes worth of TV news footage, sometimes you have to dig harder to make the connections and verify the claims. And all the while I got to do this stuff while listening to all my old records. Woodshedding may look like work, but it sure doesn’t feel like it.

things I did and did not do

do-gooder alert

I’m still getting my summer on and oh look it’s July already. It’s not just me thinking this, June was sort of a wash and moreso than usual. Wet and cloudy. This bodes well for the growingness of everything, but that includes the moss on our bones. My brain is mostly coming back to me which is nice because I missed it. I’ve had so much free time that I’ve become one of those dull people with immaculate homes. I’ve also realized that some of those back-burner projects are really just no-burner projects and I should stop pretending that I will be doing them. So, here is me saying that

  • I do not think I will be re-covering that pillow made from an old carpet that was partially savaged by mice
  • I do not think that I will be roasting that chicken in the freezer, until it cools down some at least
  • I do not think I will be going through the steps necessary to reboot my purple bike at least until it stops raining for more than two days in a row (the bike requires resuscitation when it’s been idle for more than a few days)
  • I will not be getting my pants hemmed; they were too big anyhow and I should just get new pants
  • I will not be buying plastic racks for my postcards and I’m not even sure why but I’m watching myself not do it.
  • I will not be installing a reading light by my bed, I will be reading in the living room instead.

Something I did do however, and what this photo is about, is registered for the National Marrow Donor Program. You can read more about it on the Flickr page, but it was free (may have a small cost associated now, there was some sort of a marrow drive when I signed up) and might save someone’s life. I’ve always been one of those blood-giving types and this seemed like a logical progression. I did some cheek-swabbing and sent my cells in. If I match someone who needs a marrow or stem cell transplant, they’ll let me know. Easy, and I can check it off thenot-that-long “stuff I did” list for last month.


I’ve been away again and I did the usual get back super late at night (or early in the morning) thing so I could wake up in my own bed and start the day doing something other than driving or getting on public transportation. A little more about the Vermont Library Conference and the Berkman Center Tenth Anniversary maybe in a bit, but this is about today.

Being on the road is fun. I get to see people and talk to people and have meals with people and generally be social in a way that I’m not up here. Not that I don’t have friends up here or not that there aren’t people up here, but getting together for a beer with more than maybe two or three people if I’m not hosting a party myself is a bit of a challenge. I had food and drinks with twenty librarians one night. Big fun.

One of the things I don’t get to do when I travel is concentrate, on anything really. I give talks. I drive or fly or bus or subway places. I stay up late and get up early. I schmooze. However, I’ve gotten a little used to the big blocks of time I have up here for what I’ve always called (before the term was co-opted) getting things done. There’s always front burner and back burner projects and today the project was “Get all the music off the iMac and put it all on the Macbook and remove all the duplicate music and then back it all up.” Due to user error, I deleted an entire hard drive of MP3s at one point consisting of my entire music collection. I have basically an archival computer with my music collection from sometime before that (from Topsham), and my current laptop with everything I’ve gotten afterwards. They’ve needed merging for some time now and today was the day.

Over a few hours, during which I kept an eye on the progress and did a lot of small other things (bill paying, receipt organizing, spreadsheet filling out) I managed to import over 5000 songs of which about 18% were already duplicated in my collection. Thanks to iDupe without which this would have been agonizing. Yes, I paid my shareware fees. Yes, this is what I do for fun while I have a discretionary day. Yes, it’s good to be home.