One of my pseudo-resolutions was not really to update this any more than I generally do. Once a week, maybe more if something big is happening. And yet, I feel that I’m really trying to avoid BIG things to the extent that I can. Last night it snowed. This morning I was out on the porch getting birdseed and noticed the snowflakes were big, and all their little points were visible. Neat! Grab the camera!
I also haven’t done the booklist update yet, I’m still in a bit of denial about the precipitous decline of my book reading last year. The swim update got eaten by the hard drive crash, but I’m swimming more at a maintenance level than a “get across the lake” level and that’s okay by me. I went to a MetaFilter meetup in Barre last night and checked out a cool brewery only to learn that it was closing that evening. I haven’t been out to see a band that wasn’t Jim’s in a long time.
This coming weekend is the Mystery Hunt and my massive team is slated to win. I have complicated matters by signing up to teach an in-service day in Vermont on MLK Day which is not a good start to what I’m hoping will be a less-complicated 2009. Then I have a weekend off. Then I go to Toronto where my MeFi couch surf got disrupted by my friend’s landlord selling his place. Know anyone with a comfy guestroom in Toronto? This is a money-solveable problem, so I’m not in a jam, but it would be nice to stay with humans not with hospitality corporations.
The maxim of the week is “How come every time I want to just run away and hide out from everything, it’s at precisely the time I can’t actually DO that?” A question which helpfully, now that I’m an adult, answers itself. I feel incredibly fortunate that this year I’ve got most of my holidaytimes planned out in advance; everything else is details.
So, I go to the pool and walk in the deep wet snow and try to eat decently and wait for springtime (or enough snow to go decently snowshoeing in) and realize that everyone else in my local community is doing pretty much the same thing, and to go easy on them. Today was the first day I had really bad roads to drive on and I reminded myself, like I do every year, that I live here on purpose and if I don’t like it, I can leave. I’ve reupped for another year or a few. Bring it on, winter. Please be somewhat lovely. I’ll be here all year.
I got back from the super-techie (as opposed to super-tetchy which can sometimes describe library conferences) SXSWi conference in Austin Texas, drove home through the snow, went almost immediately to sleep and woke up today to a few things.
- The realization that the porch had not actually collapsed in my absence. Yay team!
- A toothache that I need to deal with soonish, one that I had successfully ignored with a steady application of Shiner Bock and distraction.
- The espresso machine that I had left on for six days which still made decent espresso.
- Three hours of work in rural Vermont teaching, among other things, the moderator of my town meeting how to open attachments and how to back up his memoirs to a USB drive, presuming he buys a USB drive that is.
- My Getting Started with Excel class complete with “oooh” noises when I showed people how to format a date and right-click to change tab colors.
- The fourth, I believe, request for the article about me to be deleted from Wikipedia.
- More snow.
I have been putting off writing this in the hopes that the whole Wikipedia debate would be closed and I could link to it without appearing to be shilling for people to vote against the article’s deletion. Believe it or not, I sort of trust in the Wikipedia process and figure it will be deleted if it’s supposed to be deleted.
I expect you’re all sick of my re-entry stories anyhow. They’re mostly the same. “Oh hey, I was someplace populated and then I came home and it was unpopulated and the night was dark and starry and I slept….”
My trip to Texas was a joy from start to finish. Flew out of Boston, so I got to have dinner with my sister on the way out. Arrived in Austin and was picked up by my puzzle hunt buddy who put me up (and put up with me?) for nearly a week. He then went to Houston for the weekend and left me to my own devices in his house with his girlfriend who I had not yet met, and an assortment of charming pets with amusing names. SXSW was a blur of friendly faces from the recent and distant past. The panel I was on went really well; my co-panelists — Gina, Annalee, Jeska — are amazing, hilarious women. I spent a day not in conferenceland visting libraries and got to see another Gutenberg Bible (my third!). I played kickball for the first time in I have no idea how long. I lost my camera. It was recovered. I went to a MetaFilter meetup. I went to a few parties. I attended several dinners involving more than fifty people and a few that were five or less. I ate lots of delicious foods including Mexican, TexMex, BBQ, and combinations of those. I went out for croissants at 2 am. I played with OLPCs. I took taxis. I listened to interesting speakers and met interesting people. I sat around with my laptop and people came and talked to me, or I walked around and talked to people sitting around with their laptops.
It was really the just-right conference for this time of year and my frame of mind. I’m really glad I went. You can see a few photos here.
The pool has still not fixed the broken phone and I’m not sure what to do about it except continue to ask “Have you fixed the phone yet?”
I’m pretty sure I got enough snow off the roof. When I went to swim at the pool I realized that I am all bruises up the arms and legs and I was a little sheepish in the shower about it. “It’s okay, I did this to myself!” Clearing off the roof without further ladder climbing — because I decided that was crazy — involved borrowing my friend’s half-broken roof rake (thank you Forrest!) and manipulating it through the two upstairs windows that I could open and open the storm windows for. So, the whole process was a bit like laproscopic surgery where the roof is large and the window is teeny and the rake is long and I am upstairs inside the house, standing five feet away from the open window trying to get a good angle so that I can push the last pile of snow off the far end. Also, did I mention all the electricity and telephone juice comes in the house through the same window, the one that opens? True. Did you know that if you hit that insulator with a rake at a certain angle that sparks fly off of it? It’s true.
So we’re supposed to get snow or rain this week. The pile of snow in the yard — created by the backhoe that my neighbor brought in to put the snow someplace besides the driveway — is now approaching ten feet tall and the neighbor kids are sledding down it. I am not joking. I have to say that the combination of my nifty AWD car and the new socks I got at the Cabot Hoisery have really minimized my annoyances with Wintertime this time around. I’ll have to take some photos before it all goes away, it’s really something.
Everything is fine here, nothing is really wrong. That doesn’t stop some things from seeming, in the short term, like emergencies. I have a problem accurately assessing urgency of situations. For example.
1. At the pool on Friday a girl cut her toe and bled all over the place. It was very dramatic and, from my perspective as the lifeguard on duty, scary. She hadn’t bled into the pool — which is a pretty obvious “everybody out!” scenario — but was cut and walking around etc. She was clearly okay, but also needed attention. I went to find the first aid kit and remember what I had been taught to do. I called upstairs to get someone to cover the pool while I dressed her wound and found that the phone didn’t work. Then I went looking for the first aid kit and I couldn’t find it [it was in the unmarked black toolbox, which maybe someone told me at one point] meanwhile there are thirty people in the pool who are sort of watching me do my thing. I put on gloves because that’s what you do with blood, but when I offered gloves to one of the moms who was helping me clean up she said “nah, I don’t need them…” and I wasn’t sure whether to insist or not. The kid wasn’t her kid, but she was the kid’s guardian. I didn’t insist. The kid got a good bandage put on her foot by the building manager who was working that day. I think I did okay, but it was startling to me to realize that the place is a little slipshod and, more to the point, when I reported all of this people said “oh yeah we’ll look into that” I hope to hell they’ve fixed the phone by the next time something happens at the pool.
2. It’s been snowing here a lot this year. This is great. I like snow. However this weekend there were a few warm melty days and the predictable ice damming happened and some water was leaking in to the back porch. I had friends over and they helped me get some of the snow off the porch roof but things really started moving when the fearless neighbor kid hopped up with me and attacked the ice/snow in earnest. We got the roof cleared, the leaking stopped and the neighbor kid’s dad, who is my age, did that thing that people around here do… He said “Yeah you really need work on the front porch too, you’ve got a lot of snow up there” When I lived in Topsham people, well men really, would regularly come through and tell me my barn was six months away from falling down or that my woodstove was a fire hazard or that they could smell propane in my house or whatever. I would get flipped out, try to rectify the situation, get another “What? Nothing is wrong with your ___________ ” comment from someone else and then be totally confused.
So Monday and yesterday I decided to deal with the snow on the front porch. I started with the stuff I could reach through the windows, which wasn’t much but it was a good start. Then, as the first flakes started to come down, I actually borrowed the neighbors’ ladder (had to call my friend up the road to help me lift it) and climbed up it and attacked the ice crust on the roof drifts with a rake. All the while I was wondering whether the snow on the roof was indeed at critical levels or whether I was just a ridiculous flatlander with a too-little-too-late approach to winter home maintenance. Like I know the true emergency steps, when someone breaks a leg or something, but the same way it can be hard to tell if an unfull moon is really full or not, I’m not good at the “is this an emergency?” assessment. Did I need to call roof shovellers? Did I need to climb on the roof at all costs at possible threat to life or limb? Did I even need to go outside yesterday at all? As it was, I got some good exercise and a tuff-looking scratch on my face from the roof rake and I felt like I made a good faith effort to clear snow off the roof. Ultimately though, the only thing that matters is the post-game wrap-up where we see if the roof collapses (so far it has not) and if it doesn’t, I still don’t know if what I did mattered at all.
That was a lot of lists. I always wonder if, in the absence of religion in my life, I find some sort of meaning in assiduous data collection. The good news is that if I decide I don’t care, no one smites me.
I have been having an okay 2008 all things considered. I spent the New Year’s Day after a really fun party hanging out in bed with coffee and later tea and later cocoa catching up on reading and email and setting the mp3 player to play every favorite song I have (about seven hours worth, totally worth the time). Then I vowed to try to not do that again in 2008. There is value to staying in bed, but I’m into working on the things I can accomplish after putting on pants, this year.
This week has been about snow and snowshoeing and shopping (spending holidaytime money — I got magnets and a swim towel and gloves and showshoes and a necklace and something else I can’t remember) and getting back into the world of work and schedules, at least in theory. Next week I get into work and schedules in earnest so this weekend I’m taking some time off to screw around in the political wonderland that is New Hampshire with a few friends and maybe get some bowling in.
Yesterday I went showshoeing for the first time in my life with my friend Kelly who is a great person to do these things with because she pushes but not so much that it’s unfun. My resolution, for today, is to do this again.
So, it’s early Monday morning. My apologies to those people who are Flickr friends of mine who now have to suffer through all the second-string photos that I am now uploading in fits and starts. Now that Flickr works reliably and I have an always-on connection, I have been filling in the gaps of the trip narrative. I’m a bit cheerier than in the last post. The facts haven’t changed, but my outlook on them has. I’ve had good conversations with friends and family and am looking at the back end of a long plane ride, not an impending 24 hour trek. The plane ride is funny. The sun set in Dubai around 6 pm. My flight was at 2 am. I was on the plane for 14 hours — not great, but not that bad either, I don’t mind planes terribly and Emirates is a decent airline with good food and movies — chasing the dark around the world. So, Thursday night was 20+ hours long. I got to NY, had a five hour layover, amused customs with my luggage full of candy, and got home just as the snow was starting to fall in Vermont.
As of this morning it looks like it’s pretty much stopped and there’s a foot or so of new powder on the ground. Nothing like a lot of shovelling and hollering hello to neighbors over the sounds of the snowblower to get you back to your home-based reality. You’d think getting up at four or five am would mean I’m more productive somehow, but it only means I stay in bed reading longer.
I’m sure I’ll have more updates and reflections on the trip when I’ve settled in more. I’m still getting used to the cold toes and uneven icy ground and the women, there are women everywhere here!