Butter Bib the miracle cat.

About a month ago, we had yet another health worry with Butter Bib (a/k/a Zen). Since then she has bounced back and is in fine form, still going up and down the stairs, and also going up and down the little plastic steps we have by our bed. Now that the weather is colder, I often wake up in the wee hours with her cold nose pressed against the inside of my elbow, like a tiny ice cube melting on me. It is one of Zen’s most endearingly annoying habits … and she has accumulated quite a few of those over her twenty-one years.

Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: pages turning as FunkyPlaid reads in the other room.

The grand old Holidailies catch-up.

I’m quite behind with Holidailies this year, so I’m going to catch up with one long post of pieces parts instead of trying to make, uh, eleven separate things. OK with you? Good, let’s go!

Every December starts out snail-slogging through the first week and then all of a sudden Christmas is next week wait what? Oops.

I won my Goodreads reading challenge of 25 books a bit ahead of schedule, but so many of those were short or re-reads that it didn’t feel like a real win. I’m about to re-read another book, too; I finally saw the trailer for the “Good Omens” series and I am beyond excited.

It is difficult to be annoyed by evening commute traffic while laughing at the latest episode of Paul F. Tompkins’ podcast, “Spontaneanation”.

The song “Level Up” by Vienna Teng has been running through my head lately. The song is excellent, but the video … well, it levels it up.

And then my uncle sent me a link to her exquisite “Ain’t No Sunshine / Lose Yourself” cover/mashup and though I thought I could not love her any more I became one giant goosebump when I listened to this.

It’s the season of giving, so here is one of the cutest kitten photos I have ever seen.

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An exceptionally modest lil lady. 😉

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Have you heard of “binge boxes”? They’re boxes of 3-6 DVDs grouped around a theme or actor that you can check out from your local library! My favorite that I’ve seen: “A Box of Rocks” — all films starring The Rock.

Speaking of libraries, I love seeing positive tweets and posts about them on social media … but the best way to support your local library is to show up and use it. If you don’t know how to get started with your local library, or even where it is, leave a comment on this post and I will help you. I mean it!

Thus concludes the grand old Holidailies catch-up. I’ll try for another post tomorrow.

Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: rain and wind and rain.

Learning the meaning of public service.

This morning, I attended a meeting of a coalition of local organizations who provide services for people who are unstably housed. I was glad for the opportunity to listen to how the members of these organizations are supporting our community, and I was especially touched by how a couple of these members reached out to me to thank the public library for our part.

Way back when, in my first library job, I had no idea what librarianship was really about. (I cringe when I consider my very first library job interview; I probably said something lame like, “I love to read!”) I was barely cognizant of what customer service was, let alone public service. After a little over two decades, I am definitely still learning, especially as our field collaborates with social work, as in Whole Person Librarianship.

To date, the training that has helped me the most has been Ryan Dowd’s Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness. Ryan also has a weekly newsletter for tips on compassionate work with patrons experiencing homelessness. But better than any training is the affirmation like the kind I received this morning: there are people working hard to serve our community, and they appreciate all the help that we can give them.

If you want to get involved, here are a few organizations in eastern Washington County:

Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: a small tortoiseshell cat snoring.

Podcasts into books.

I am currently reading “Alice Isn’t Dead” by Joseph Fink and “Limetown” by Cote Smith, two novels which are based on dramatic fiction podcasts I like. And recently I saw a trailer for “Homecoming” which is a TV show based on a dramatic fiction podcast I like.

I listen to a lot of podcasts due to the length of my commute, and now I’m struggling to keep up with the add-on media to my favorite podcasts.

Truly, it’s a great problem to have.

Listen to the fiction podcasts mentioned above, plus some others I like:

Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: “Slow Down” by Ural Thomas and the Pain.

Analog or digital planning for 2019?

In a few weeks, I will need to stop dithering and make a decision: will I use an analog or digital planner for 2019?

When I started my current job at the library, I had a Bullet Journal system in place, which satisfied my two primary drives: recording notes and ideas by hand, because I learn and retain them better that way, and using my fabulous fountain pens and ink, because they’re so much fun.

Within a few weeks, my to-do list inflated at an alarming rate, and to keep up I switched to Todoist to track my tasks, especially relying on reminders to nudge me to do stuff on particular days at particular times. So handy!

While I think Todoist is a great app, I’ve been yearning to go back to simpler methods for months now, even as I assume more responsibilities at work. When Ryder Carroll’s book “The Bullet Journal Method” came out, I convinced myself I could do this again. Back to basics! Get rid of the bells and whistles of an app and hand-write my way to happiness.

Then one night I woke up in a cold sweat from a nightmare in which I have forgotten some important due-date because my phone didn’t yell at me anymore.

How are you planning your next year, with notebooks and pens or with apps? Help me decide in the comments.

The dream and the skeptic.

Last night, sleeping on the floor of my study with my hand resting under the chin of my aging cat, I had a visitation dream. You know the kind, the dreams we see in movies or read in books, during which all of the details are so vivid that it seems real, it must be real … and then we wake up.

Our other cat came to me in this dream, our beloved mackerel tabby Torgi, and head-butted my face repeatedly, just as he did while he was alive. He brushed up against me and walked over my legs and flomped down next to me, at once distracting me from my distress over Zen and reassuring me that she would be fine. That we would be fine.

When I woke, I felt his presence lingering, the distinct scent of his fur, and the space by my ribcage still felt warm. As an avowed skeptic, I started to file the experience under “Moments My Subconscious Mind Doesn’t Suck” — a thin file, indeed, by the score of nightmares I have experienced. Then I reached for the paw of my still-living cat and let the feeling of the inexplicable wash over us both.

Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: “When I’m Small” by Phantogram.

Treading the water of okay.

By the middle of last month I had written almost 20,000 words of a disjointed speculative fiction manuscript before my momentum guttered and died. We don’t say things like “I lost NaNoWriMo,” but I certainly feel a loss whenever I do not complete what I set out to do.

November 30th turned into December 1st, and that day brought the start of Holidailies, in which online diarists and bloggers attempt to write a post each day in December. I have no idea if I am up to this challenge, or if my momentum is any less susceptible to outside forces merely by turning a calendar page, but here I am with you now.

I’ll follow the lead of my dear sharky friend and try to sum up 2018. Another friend recently asked how I was doing and I spewed a bunch of words, then immediately regretted not answering with a simple, “Okay, how’s by you?”

I am okay. I have been less okay and I have been more okay than I am right now, but still: I am okay. And the fact that I am okay is my shining accomplishment this year.

2018 was a year of treading the water of okay which irritates me because I want always to be moving forward. There were some highlights:

  • In April, FunkyPlaid and I had a stupendous holiday in Scotland, chock full of adventures and visits with dear friends. It is hard for me to write about this without tearing up a bit because it was that good.
  • FunkyPlaid and I made more time to play board games with our friends, and to extend ourselves socially a bit more. It has been more challenging than I thought it would be to make new friends here in Portland, and a few friendships I expected to be strengthened by geographic proximity … weren’t. But we are trying.
  • In May, I graduated from a nine-month leadership program in the city where I work, and I was named Employee of the Month for the city in September.

There was also serious upheaval. The local option levy for the city failed, and with it came budget cutbacks for the library. A few outstanding coworkers left for other jobs. And my darling tortie Zen, who has been my wee furry touchstone for almost twenty-two years, is in declining health.

Zooming out a bit, I don’t even have words for the daily impact of living in this deeply divided and excruciatingly atavistic country, and if I did have the words, would I be brave (or foolish) enough to share them here, where I run the risk of my family and friends being punished simply because I expressed an opinion that some online mob doesn’t like?

So I’ll wage my quiet war against ignorance, keep my head down, and be okay. That’s what I’ve got right now. I hope you’ve got more.

Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: “You Should See Me in a Crown” by Billie Eilish.

Homesick.

crisper

Over the past two days I’ve had three different conversations about my life in Scotland. By the time I got in my car to drive home, I was deeply homesick for it, mostly the friends and coworkers I miss, but also mundane bits like Christmas Eve in Waitrose, random herds of curious horses, learning how to ride the bus in a foreign land, and frost-covered moss. I was thinking of that moss when I encountered the frost-dusted leaf in this photo.

Homesickness is generally expressed as a one person, one place phenomenon, but I have experienced waves of homesickness for every place I’ve ever lived. I even yearn for Alabama from time to time, especially the late afternoon summer thunderstorms that shake the magnolia trees, all slick green and heavy cream. Does it make me feel fickle sometimes? Sure. Someone once excoriated my use of the word “favorite” because, in his words, “They can’t all be favorites.”

Can’t they?

Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: “Trains” by Poppy Ackroyd.