My Kitten

Yesterday, I referenced a kitten that Jason had gotten for me and realized that I have somehow (shocking) never mentioned him at WATAT. His name is Scrap:

I Love Scrap

I am in love with Scrap:

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Technically he belongs to Jason, Amy, and Ethan, and he lives at their house. Scrap seems to like them:

Amy and Scrap

Still,  I think of him as my kitten. The only reason I haven’t stolen him is because I fear if I bring him home, Ella will eat him. Also, I guess I have enough going on that I can’t keep up with. But still. He’s just. so. stinking. cute.

The Kind of Thing I Write If You Pester Me Too Much About Writing in Your Birthday Book

Jason turned 40 yesterday and had a huge party today to celebrate, which I commend. I love being 40 and think everyone should celebrate the milestone joyfully, and it was a fun time hanging out at the park with so many friends.

Of course, Jason thinks that his birthday gives him the right to be all bossy, and he kept insisting that people write in his birthday book. I decided to write something from the heart:

This is the Kind of Thing I Write When You Remind Me 500 Times to Write in Your Birthday Book
You really are okay, Jason.

And the brownies really were amazing. I’m not going to parties anymore unless a.) Xandi is invited, and b.) she brings those brownies.

Quotable Saturday

“This is just personal preference, but I find the world so tumultuous and hardscrabble and generally terrifying that I will never tire of stories about people caring for each other, and doing nice things for each other, and in a very basic way trying to make each other feel less alone on Earth… It’s explicitly the theme of Parks and Rec–that people need each other to be happy, that communities are important, that nobody achieves anything alone.”
-Mike Schur in Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations with Today’s Top Comedy Writers by Mike Sacks

Most Accidents Happen in the Kitchen

“I think I unburdened myself. I don’t know. The heart’s a funny thing; the mind’s a funny thing.”
-Marc Maron in WTF with Marc Maron, Episode 517 (July 24, 2014)

A few weeks ago, I cut my finger while attempting to separate some baby beets from their greens. I wish I could report that I wasn’t doing something stupid when it happened, but what I was doing was holding the beet greens with one hand over the sink and using my chef’s knife, which I’d just sharpened, to cut the beets so they’d fall directly into the colander. I’d gotten the beets from the farmer’s market, and they were full of dirt, so I was trying to minimize the mess.

I knew the cut was bad right away because I felt it, but it didn’t hurt immediately. I dropped everything into the sink and grabbed a paper towel to cover my finger. This sounds like good first aid, but I really just didn’t want to see whatever I’d done to myself, mostly because I didn’t want to have to go to Urgent Care and get stitches. I wanted to make this unhappen. I wanted to finish cooking dinner.

The pain hit on a slight delay, strong enough to make me sit straight down on the kitchen floor. There are a few things that keep me in therapy. The biggest one is that when I get sick or even if I, say, hit my leg hard enough on something, I get vertigo and pass out. Emotional shocks can do this to me, too. My doctor says this is because my heart stops. “Just for a beat or two,” he says. “It’s not so uncommon.”

This will explain the amount of time I spent sitting there on the floor trying to will myself into not fainting. The last time I got sick and passed out, over the winter, I wound up with a black eye and had to spend the next week convincing people that no one was beating me. And I hate waking up on the floor and having to piece together how I got there.

Finally my ears stopped ringing, and I felt like I could stand up. I went to the bathroom and managed to rinse, dry, and put a band-aid on my wound without really looking at it. I bled through four more band-aids before the bleeding stopped and I could finish making dinner. It was a warm beet green salad with roasted baby beets and a balsamic vinegar reduction dressing. It was delicious, much more satisfying than a trip to Urgent Care.

I should have gone to Urgent Care.

I figured this out a few days later when I worked up the nerve to take a good look at what I’d done. I’d been dutifully cleaning the wound and applying fresh bandages, so it wasn’t frightful, but I did have a cut that went about a quarter inch straight in from the side of my finger, right through the nail, even. I am fortunate that in the subsequent weeks, the wound has healed cleanly, though a tiny bit of my finger–not so much that you’d notice if you aren’t me–is gone. The nail has almost grown out and shouldn’t look weird. This is my left hand, which had a dramatic scar through most of my life that has finally faded to the point where people don’t ask me about it all the time, which never bothered me, though my scar story seemed to disappoint people. Usually a scar’s from some ordinary thing, like making dinner.

It wasn’t always like this with me and the passing out. It’s something that came with accumulating years on this earth, like grey hair and an inability to ride the Tilt-a-Whirl. A body tells its story eventually, one way or another. Mine’s been telling me a story about needing to slow down a little and stop trying so hard. It’s telling me to take the extra minute to get out the cutting board. My therapist would say that maybe it’s telling me it’s okay to make the mess.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s a gift in this life that there’s always something left to learn.

Adventures in Radio

Earlier today, I was on WXXI’s Connections with Evan Dawson radio show talking with Stephen Cook from the U of R, Deb Ross from KidsOutAndAbout.com, and Tonia Burton from the Central Library about keeping kids’ minds and bodies healthy. You can listen to that conversation here. I really enjoyed the opportunity to do a radio show (a first for me!) and to hear such smart, passionate people talking about something that means a lot to me. I hope you enjoy it, too!

I Am Trapped Here with These Dark Chocolate Cherry Muffins

UntitledI have the day off, and it’s raining. Not just a little rain, a lot of rain. I assume that I am not the only one who got the flash flood text alert in the middle of the night (which when did that become a thing?)–not that I was sleeping, since I stayed up to watch the thunderstorms, which were spectacular.

Normally this much rain on my day off would make me cranky, but I’m making the best of it reading picture books and eating these dark chocolate cherry muffins I made yesterday from one of my new cookbook obsessions, Fruitful: Four Seasons of Fresh Fruit Recipes by Brian Nicholson and Sarah Huck. I have the library copy right now, but I finally put a copy on order for my own collection, since I have several times wanted to write notes in the book when I’ve been using it, and one can’t write in library books, particularly when one is the library director.

Later I’m going to try baking this upside-down polenta plum cake recipe out of Cook This Now by Melissa Clark that I’ve had my eye on. I should, in theory, run some errands, but I did make about one million phone calls this morning that I’d been putting off forever. (Such as, I at long last responded to a message my doctor’s office left when I was at the Grand Canyon, in March.) I feel like that’s probably enough of that kind of thing for one rainy day. The errands always wait for me.

To Do or Not To Do

“We’re also big users of Google Calendar at the radio show. The desktop interface for that is good but the Google Calendar iPhone app is just fucking annoying and really should go to hell.”
-Ira Glass in “I’m Ira Glass, Host of This American Life, and This Is How I Work

Ira Glass is someone who inspires me. I’ve long been a fan of This American Life, but they’ve kicked it up a notch over the last few years with ambitious investigative pieces, like this one about Tylenol or this two-parter that came out of the five months their reporters spent in a Chicago high school. They’ve also taken up doing live shows, and Ira’s always out on the road speaking. I saw him speak in Buffalo this past fall, and when you hear him talk about the process of putting together the show, it’s impressive.

The newest thing Ira’s done is he’s decided to take on This American Life‘s distribution, which he keeps insisting is not such a big deal but is actually completely badass. Every time I think about it, I want to do something radical and awesome.

What I’ve done instead, though, is I’ve started using the to do list app Ira talks about in this Lifehacker interview I can’t stop quoting. For many years, I have been using my patented Spiral Bound Notebook Organizational System, but a few months ago, I realized this was no longer working in my new job* because I’m always looking so far aheaFind the Money Tree: DO IT NOW!d. Sometimes I have to write a thing down that I need to remember to do, say, two years from now. I write down things I want to remember to think about at some point. The present is important, but a lot of what I do is about the future and planning. Not so long after I got my job at HPL, I gave up my paper calendar and switched to iCal, which I mostly use on my iPad Mini, which worked out way better than I wanted it to (because I love my paper), so I decided that maybe the Mini was going to be the solution to my to do list issues and started using Reminders.

Reminders has been helping, but I don’t like its display, which is a completely aesthetic response, but some of its functionality is likewise irritating–like if you want to put a lot of items on a list at once, that doesn’t work smoothly. I keep fussing with the customization to try to like it better, but it hasn’t helped. I fell in love with the app Ira uses, Wunderlist, as soon as I opened it. It’s the pretend wood grain that hooked me, which is ridiculous–because shouldn’t it look like paper?–but I find it easier to look at than Reminders. It turns out the functionality is better, too, at least for me. Adding new lists, editing, and adding multiple items to a list is more a one-click business than it is in Reminders.

Not that I’m giving up my spiral-bound notebook, my blank paper desk blotter, or my colored pencils. For me making plans and really thinking things through involves paper. (And Malcolm Gladwell says that’s just as it should be, so it must be true.) Ira uses paper, too. He specifically mentions these notebooks and these pens, which how much do I want both those things now? Very, very much. But do you see how the notebooks are out of stock? I don’t know how the universe expects me to endure this hardship. I guess I could use the legion of notebooks I already own, but that’s not what Ira does.

And they do have a wide selection of other notebooks.

My choice here is clear.

*I celebrated my two-year anniversary on July 10. I’m not sure when I’m going to stop calling this my new job. Perhaps when I have a solid organizational system. Maybe never.

Instead of a(nother) Box of Books, I Got a New Magic 8 Ball in the Mail

Everyone, meet the Union 76 Magic 8 Ball:

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Question: Union 76 Magic 8 Ball, how have I carried on not knowing of your existence?
Union 76 Magic 8 Ball: Dream on.
Question: How did Craig find out about you?
Union 76 Magic 8 Ball: Be more specific.
Question: It’s because Craig is awesome, isn’t it?
Union 76 Magic 8 Ball: Absolutely.

Until today, I thought I knew about all of the Magic 8 Balls out there, and I also thought I owned pretty much all of them. This is one of the benefits of collecting something extremely niche. This thing appears to be vintage, which is probably why I didn’t know about it (though, naturally, I do have some older Magic 8 Balls, too). It’s lost a little bit of its water, so it’s a touch hard to read, but it’s so wonderfully bright and has a lot of sayings I haven’t seen in other Magic 8 Balls, like “Not now I’m busy.”

Delightful.

Question: Union 76 Magic 8 Ball, should I be reading picture books right now?
Union 76 Magic 8 Ball: Oh yeah.

The 8 Ball has spoken.

Thank you, Craig.

That Which Sustains

A couple weeks ago, I was at the lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere:

Chilling at the Lowest Spot in the Western Hemisphere, 130 Degrees

I look happy there, and I was, but it was 130 degrees when that picture was taken, and I was sitting that way so as to not have any bare skin touching the ground, as it would have burned me. As it was, a minute or two later, I discovered that my necklace and my shoes had grown hot enough to leave a mark.

It was a little troubling, but we had enough water, and it was also awesome. I’ve wanted to experience extreme heat like that since I was a girl and first learned about Death Valley, and now I have.

Since I got home, all I’ve been thinking about is food, per usual–particularly in July when everything is amazing. I wrote about some of my favorite cookbooks for the library web site. I think I’ve written about most of those books here, but just in case. I’m trying to write more for the library site–for the library in general–but I am trying to do a lot of things lately. I have been doing a lot of things. Life has been good, interesting, full. I hope I get to share more of it soon, but, in the meantime, I’m going to go hold onto a little more summer.