September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009—I’ve been thinking for a long time about getting a laptop. My clunky old workstation (which was new and shiny not that long ago it seems) has been crashing a lot lately, forcing me to go beyond just toying with the idea to start reviewing new PC specs and conduct actual research at the Mac store (vs. my usual goof-around mall Mac visits). New computer arriving soon. A very helpful person we know has been providing guidance on a reconditioned laptop, which is the way I’ve decided to go. (I picture an old laptop covered in new upholstery.) In looking into all of this, I also realized that my cell plan has been officially up for a while, so maybe it’s a good time to revisit all that phone business and think about some kind of computer-slash-phone strategy? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to be doing these days? Integrated strategy and apps? Although, I think my phone itself is just fine—the back is sort of not exactly on right since the phone has been dropped a few, well, several times, and I can’t receive email on the thing, or maybe I can if I pay extra, which I won’t. But hey, I can take pictures and, yeah, I can call you and send texts just fine. I mean, I’m slow on the texting, but the technology is there. So, keep the phone, but get a new phone plan. Gack! More research. I need a cup of coffee. Which brings me to our coffee maker, which makes really yummy lattes, but has a digital display that says that the machine needs cleaning, even though we’ve run the clean cycle with the enzyme tablets and all that about ten times. Either the display is stuck, or there is some oily coffee slime somewhere up in the machine beyond the reach of the interior scrubbers that are part of this intricately designed Swiss machine. And the machine just won’t let go of it—the incessant blinking of “clean the machine.” Luckily, you can override it and still make a cup. I love this machine despite its obsession with cleanliness because it saves on having to go out for coffee. Although if I get a new laptop, am I beholden to set up shop in Starbucks or Panera?
Image by fotolia.
September 18, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009—Yesterday, my friend Ted emailed with a quick hey to let me know that former U.S. poet laureate Ted Kooser was on WBUR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook. Would that I could have clicked on the radio at that moment, but morning work didn’t allow. Fortunately, through the wonders of the Web, I can listen to the program today. Kooser is speaking about his book Lights on a Ground of Darkness, a tribute to his family and life growing up in America’s heartland. I’m scheduled to switch over to some freelance work in a few minutes, but I will give a listen as the morning/afternoon allows. Here’s the link for anyone interested.
Update: Shortly after I posted this morning, my computer crashed. I will never type “wonders of the Web” or other such technology-related hexes again. But I will try listening to the program later today.
September 15, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009—My friends Sharon and Jon are involved in a great project: Window Arts Malden, through which artists and local businesses have teamed up to bring art to downtown Malden, MA.
Sharon is an artist, and her son, Jon, is a designer and carpenter. For their display, they created a model out of recycled materials depicting what downtown Malden could look like if it were more walkable. Their piece is at Two Paisan’s, 390 Main St., Malden.
Read more about the Malden Square project in the Malden Observer. If you’re in the area, head over to the opening reception tomorrow night–which is free and open to the public. The program, organized by Malden Arts, runs through September 27.
Big cheers, Sharon and Jon!
September 11, 2009
Here’s an afternoon update to this morning’s post—fourth grader’s self-portrait inspired by manga:
Friday, September 11, 2009—Would have liked to have made it farther into the school calendar before the first sick day (today), but other than that, my daughter is off to a great start in fourth grade. She reports that her teacher is sooo nice, and she has a good crew of kids, so all’s well with that. Today, a bathrobe kind of morning, she decided to kick things off with some sketching and cartooning, and asked me to share this one on my blog:
September 8, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009—I haven’t received much fun mail in a while. That is, letters in actual envelopes, packages, that sort of thing, in the black metal box on the side of our house.
So it was a well-timed arrival this past weekend, a package from children’s writer Deborah Diesen, who sent along a signed copy of her wonderful rhyming picture book The Pout-Pout Fish for inclusion in my daughter’s elementary-school library. I knew the book was coming (I won it through Debbie’s blog). Still, it was a joy to receive it! And—as an extra-nice surprise—Debbie very kindly included another signed copy of the book for my personal libary. Thank you, Debbie! (And, no, this is not an endorsement of asking Debbie for extra copies of her books, though I do highly recommend purchasing extra copies from a bookstore near you!)
The Pout-Pout Fish (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; illustrations by Dan Hanna) spent two weeks on The New York Times Book Review Children’s Picture Books Best Sellers list and was named One of the Ten Best Children’s Books of 2008 by Time Magazine. It was also selected as a 2009 Michigan Reads title. Read more about The Pout-Pout Fish, and Debbie’s forthcoming books, at her website.
Debbie’s blog, Jumping the Candlestick, is also a great read and includes some very humorous musings, a regular interview with a creative Michiganer of note (you need not be from Michigan to appreciate; I’m in New England), and other good stuff. Go check it out! One recent item is in regard to supporting the recovery efforts of the Rosenberg Library in Galveston, Texas, which was devasted by Hurrican Ike. More here on that.
Thanks again, Debbie!
September 3, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009—School started on Wednesday in our town, so our group decided on Tuesday to have a celebratory end-of-summer breakfast together, followed by a One-Card library visit. Just be way of brief recap, a small group of friends from Natick, including two moms and three kids, plus the occasional extra friend, have decided to pay a visit to every library in our Minuteman Library Network. One single library card gets you book privileges and access to resources and information at more than 42 libraries with 64 locations (factoring library branches). We’re not trying to flaunt how lucky we are in our corner of the world (though we do recognize our good fortune). Rather, we want to offer a kind of thank-you to the library network by taking the time to explore the various brick-and-mortar sites. And, other than gas (and in this case, breakfast), it’s an inexpensive adventure—it doesn’t cost us a cent to check out books, there’s no admission fee, and bathrooms are included. (And books from one library can be returned to any other in the network. And, if you don’t want to travel, books can be requested from anywhere in the network, including from home via computer, then delivered to your own branch. It’s virtually room service.)
But I mentioned something about brick and mortar, which brings me back to this week’s stop, the Randall Library in Stow, a red-brick building technically located on Crescent Street, but right along Library Hill Road. Love that name. Every town should have a Library Hill Road. And a library located on it.
As for the name of this week’s pick, it only points to the need for me to start interviewing some of the librarians and patrons as we continue this tour in order to get answers to basic questions like, who is the Randall that the Stow library is named for?, not to mention insiders’ views on what makes these libraries to special. Now that we have a half-dozen visits under our belts, I think it’s time to step it up a little. (p.s. computer search tells me it’s John Witt Randall, who was a poet, naturalist, and benefactor to the town of Stow. Will find out more.)
But back to the library visit. As soon as I walked into this library, I had the same feeling I used to get when my family would go on summer vacation and rent a cottage, and my sisters and I would run around trying to figure out where all the rooms were and which windows looked out onto what. There’s a kind of tree-house feeling to this library, a well-worn comfort, and the day we visited, lots of hub-bub and activity.
21 quickly found a comfortable chair in the YA section in which to digest Seventeen magazine. Bubbles and Seaweed 7 browsed and selected books then settled with paper and pencils to work on illustrations using some instructional art books they found. Virginia and I talked books and other stuff, including her upcoming show at Medicine Wheel Productions in Boston (area residents, go see the show this month).
Oh, and we noticed that the wooden chairs at the table we were gathered around had arms — which launched a discussion of what kind of chairs they are, and did other libraries have armed chairs? It’s a whole other sub-tour in the making …
For some reason, I always think of fall when I think of Stow. Maybe it’s because of apple picking, which we’ve done there in the past. One other highlight of the library visit was the well-timed flock of Canada geese that flew in formation overhead, honking away, marking the shift in seasons. 21, Bubbles, and Seaweed 7 also enjoyed cavorting with dragonflies in the memorial park out front—kids, insects and birds, on wings.