By MBPDLPayday Loan
things i like
I'm moving, for the third time, to actual blogging software. Both previous attempts ended up with me getting locked out of my account and unable to reset the passwords (a common WordPress glitch, according to a few forums I visited). Anyhoo, I'm hoping to permanently archive old skool html grittykitty so that my limited readership can finally enter the world of web 2.0 and subscribe and/or comment to their heart's desire. New address is http://blog.grittykitty.net. If all goes well after my test period, anyone who comes to this page will be rerouted. Fingers crossed...
Since I can't seem to stay awake past 10 (at the latest) these days, we sort of gave up on trying to do anything Halloweeny tonight. Bummer, since I actually have a good costume. Next year, I guess.
I knew I'd get one (or more), but I didn't think it would be so soon!:
Sigh. It has been kind of an emotionally exhausting couple of weeks that are not easily summed up in a few paragraphs. Two weeks ago, our friend TJ Langley headed out for one last autumn peak-bagging session north of Leavenworth but did not come back. An exhaustive search and rescue operation made up of various S&R teams, plus many friends of TJ including Jeff and others, finally located TJ after two days of searching a vast area around the Napeequa River. At that point, the 'rescue' part turned into 'recovery' as TJ had apparently fallen almost 1000 feet from just below the summit of Luahna Peak. Most everyone has been quite a wreck as TJ was an incredible guy and many people counted him as a good friend. He was one of those people who would do anything for anyone, and was abundantly generous with his time, his friendship, and even his cash (he was incredibly cheap when it came to himself but often picked up the tab after a night out). I think it's fair to say that TJ's sense of fashion generally hovered somewhere between "questionable" and "baffling," but the man could rock that Prada suit like nobody's business.
I never worried about TJ when he headed out into the wilderness. I knew that his climbing experience, conservative judgment and respect for the mountains would keep him safe. We don't know what happened this time. The area where he was climbing is known for loose crappy rock, he was on a slighly different route to avoid solo glacier travel, and there was some new snow and ice on the ground. One thing TJ really believed was that when your time was up, it was up. I don't think anyone thought his would be up quite so soon, and it's a damn shame that he's gone.
TJ Langley Memorial
Heading out to Winthrop this weekend for my birthday and some much needed R&R. Of course, I'll be bringing a stack of books with me, so it won't be all play, but I'm still excited to get out of the city for a few days and do a little chillin.'
Insanely busy lately, but a couple cool things. First, after two years of fruitless searching for a desk that met our requirements (small size, good craftsmanship, not super ugly), we finally gave up and had something made. I've always had my eye on Kerf, so we made a little inquiry, stated a budget, and they agreed to come up with a good solution - and they did! Check out the goods, installed last week:
I was interviewed at ALA last July about the perenially popular BBYA teen feedback session. The brief podcast in which I sound much less stupid than I anticipated is here.
O few but loyal readers - sorry I've been slacking. I've been drowning in books trying to stay on top of BBYA committee work, plus I've started reviewing titles for a YA journal (v. exciting), there's a whole bunch of other junk that's been taking up some time, and I haven't been doing anything even remotely exciting lately, so I simply have nothing to report. I promise to do better! Until then, enjoy this little montage of sad critters, courtesy of Cute Overload.
Plans to go backpacking in the Pasayten Wilderness this weekend have been thwarted by bad weather (I've done enough backpacking in wet snowfall to know I don't want to do it again). So, instead, we're using our four days off for some serious relaxation and will spend Monday and Tuesday in Portland. Never pass up a chance to go to Portland!
Yesterday turned to to be kind of a bad day. Work was long and boring, it was pouring rain most of the way home on my bike, and just before I finally got home, I got stung by a bee on my upper lip. Twenty minutes later I was covered with hives, itching like mad and looking kinda like Marge Simpson.
Separated at birth?
This is what I'll be working on for the rest of the month:
Hmm... I'm not really sure how it became August already, but I guess I'll just have to roll with it.
Between all manner of familial and professional duties, I haven't spent much time out of the city at all this summer, so last weekend I went on a much needed overnighter past Roslyn with Valerie and Caroline. We headed out not-quite-early on saturday morning, found us a relatively decent camping site on Cooper Lake and did a nice but mosquito infested hike to Pete Lake. Saturday night began with a jump in the lake and finished with a successful completion of Operation Stomachache by S'mores. Sunday started with lots of coffee and sitting around, then another hike to Paddy-Go-Easy pass, which turned out to be rather difficult, actually. Biting flies on the trail, mosquitoes at the pass and a fairly steep ascent pretty much kicked my ass, but a jump in the river on the way home cured my ills (and my mood). A few choice pics:
A special congratulations to Sus and Ketil, who welcomed baby Iris after what I'm told was a long and fairly tortuous birth involving multiple shifts of hospital personel and a large pair of forceps. Nice work, Sus! I stopped by to see the wee baby girl and am happy to report that all is well. Can you see the love?:
I'm a totally new woman after three nights of uninterrupted nights of sleep. As it turns out, chairing a committee is a lot of work. It's good, satisfying work, but some recovery was definitely in order. Although most of my time in Chicago was taken up with official business, I did manage to get some good stuff in. The lady librarians and I headed to Handlebar on Thursday evening (always delightful) and Friday I spent wandering the city, getting in a little quality time with Jen and babies, which was awesome. I'm a natural - check me out with Audrey!
Once the conference hit, though, it was all business (well, at least until 6:00 pm). I'm lucky to work with some really, really great people, which makes things a lot easier than they could be. I wasn't quite sure what I was getting into when I agreed to chair the committee, but it's been a really interesting learning experience for me. Most of you know that I generally say what's on my mind, but I've had to be very diplomatic and really think about what I say and how I say it. With 15 different personalities to navigate and lots of work to accomplish, it can be a serious challenge to keep it all going. I definitely look forward to our next session in January, despite the stress!
Busy, busy! I've been a serious reading machine, trying to squeeze in a few more books before I head to Chicago on Thursday. I will admit, though, that I've had a pretty sweet, mostly non-reading weekend. Saturday spent doing some chores, making strawberry shortcake and hours upon hours hanging out Val's new house on Lake Washington. Today was another day of chores, but only fun ones: a trip to the farmer's market, some shopping for canning supplies and now making jam! I just finished seven wee jars of strawberry and am about to do another batch of strawberry-rhubarb. Anyone interested in major assembly-line home canning this summer should give me a call. So fun!
Things have been extremely busy over the past few weeks. I've hardly been in the library at all due to visiting schools to promote summer reading, which is completely exhausting but fun and rewarding. I usually get all the 6th and 7th grade classes at two different middle schools, but I fell a bit short at one school this year due to lack of teacher enthusiasm - apparently, not everyone is willing to let me hijak their Language Arts class for 30 minutes - but still visited well over twenty classes. I've already been seeing tons of kids coming in as a result, which is pretty sweet - love seeing my work pay off.
Jeff and I spent last weekend in Estes Park, Colorado for his family reunion, which is really close to where Jeff spent his first 12 years. It was fun to see his old neighborhood and go to some of the places he remembers being as a kid. We snuck out on Saturday morning and did a great hike near Long's Peak and a Sunday morning drive up through Rocky Mountain National Park got us (just barely) above 12,000 feet - a first for me:
Reading like a madwoman right now in preparation for the ALA conference in Chicago. Most of what I've read so far this year has been pretty unexceptional, but a few good ones are really standing out:
I like these books in particular because they have an intensity and weight that you often don't see in books for teens. They are all fairly dark, but not at all gratuitously so, and each has extremely well-drawn, realistic characters. Despite being written for teens, there is enough in each of these books to engage adult readers as well. If you are looking for an immensely satisfying read that won't take you two weeks to get through, head to your local library and grab one of these. You won't be disappointed!
When you work at a library, you hear some weird and surprisingly intimate stories. Usually this has to do with why someone can't pay their fine or return an item, but I'm often shocked at the thing people tell me, especially when it's totally unnecessary (I don't really need to know all the details about why you lost custody of your kids - just tell me the forms you need and I will get them for you). Last week a woman came in and and said she was really sorry her book was late, but she couldn't return it because she was in jail. There's something kind of liberating about it, actually, and I love it that this woman would say something like that (rather loudly) in a public place where people are obviously going to hear it.
I really should be reading, but it would be criminal not to get an update of the weekend, since it was so unbelievably awesome. Jeff and I packed up the car on Friday night and headed out to Winthrop, where we snagged a prime camping spot next to Sullivan Pond (about four miles outside of town), which is host to all manner of noisy frogs and birds. Saturday morning found us fueling up on a fat breakfast before doing a stellar mtb ride on Buck Mountain, which was in perfect, early season shape. The Balsamroots were out, not quite in full force but enough to leave whole hillsides covered in yellow. We spend the rest of the day hanging out with Roger, Malia and Oliver (baby's first camping trip=lots of dirt). Stephen, TJ and Nick showed up around 8, just in time for the campfire. Woke up early on Sunday to do the Birthday Tour, a classic spring backcountry ski route in the north cascades. The sun was shining and we had great views:
Monday, I decided to take an easy hike while the boys did another mtb ride. Got in a lot of birdwatching and managed to add two new species to the life list! The first was a Grey Catbird (they really do sound like a cat), quickly followed by a Black-headed Grosbeak. Sweet!
Jeff has a few photos up here.
We have a pair of Steller's Jays nesting in our courtyard. Although (obviously) I'm generally pro-bird 24-7, this is kind of a bummer. First off, they seem to have chased away the multitudes of robins that usually nest there, and I am a big fan of robins, especially those little spotty juveniles. Second, jays are pretty squawky by nature, so residents are currently subject to constant scolding every time they enter or leave the building. They are awfully pretty, though...
In other news, H a P p Y b I r T h D a Y!!!! to wee sister Lily!
Still working on getting a trip report written up, but I did manage to compile a list of the birds I saw on the trip (not included are several species seen in North America - who wants to hear about my sightings of house sparrows and starlings?). Being a fairly casual birder, it isn't extensive, but I did manage to add quite a few new species to my slowly growing life list.
In order of appearance:
Thanks to Britt for bringing my attention to yet another piece of brillance on the internets: My First Dictionary
Some photos from the trip are up here.
Home and totally exhausted, but delightfully so. Trip report and tons of photos coming soon...
The trip is getting close! I'm still trying to figure out some details, but here's the general idea:
Two awesome library stories this week:
First, the Tukwila School District is the most diverse in the entire nation. I feel lucky to be a part of it. Second, a fourth grade girl asked me for a book to read the other day. She said she liked fairy tales, which is not an area of my expertise. I remembered one of my book club teens telling me about a series called Sisters Grimm, so I pulled out one of the books and said, "well, you might like this - it's about two girls who are solving mysteries in fairy tales." I swear to god, she looked at her mom and got this look of rapturous joy on her face, because it turns out she loves fairy tales and mysteries. A job well done, if I do say so myself.
Trip to Europe is starting to come together. Tentative plans include leaving Jeff and crew in Innsbruck to head south to Sulden, Italy for their tour while I hop a train for Slovenia. I've got some birdwatching locations there I want to check out, plus I'll spend about four days in the capital of Ljubljana before heading back to Italy, most likely via a night in Trieste and/or Venice. Jeff and I will get a couple days of Tuscany hill town action before heading to Rome to stay with my friends Yves and Sienna. Should be a great trip and I'm really looking forward to it!
Finally! A double-header ski weekend. This season has been crap, for the most part, which means I haven't had much quality time on the skis (either kind). Yesterday, Jeff and I headed up to Hyak for what will probably be the last skate ski session of the season. Warm temps meant slow, sticky tracks, but I haven't been skate skiing in a couple weeks, so I didn't care so much. We finally threw in the towel after a couple hours, tired, but in a good way.
Today, Jeff, TJ and I headed up for a little backcountry recon mission up at Snoqualmie Pass. None of us had any delusions of finding even decent snow (and we were right), but we wanted to check out a little basin on the east side of Red Mountain. Some sunshine and decent snow conditions would have made it a gazillion times better, but we have filed it away for later. We turned into the Three Stooges by the end of the day - the snow was so heavy and the track back to the car so narrow and steep that avoiding injury meant skiing until you got going too fast, then trying to get out of the track long enough to slow down, but the snow was like a mixture of mashed potatoes and cement, so the minute you put your skis out of the track you were snagged by nasty little snow demons and went head first into a snowbank.
Have been hanging out this weekend with long lost Jen, who dropped off the planet last summer after giving birth to twins, only to reappear live and in person for a weekend of
Long lost Jen also turned me onto the brilliant hilarity that is Garfield Minus Garfield, in which one man is systematically removing Garfield from every panel of his namesake comic strip. Existential angst ensues.
I've been doing ass loads of cooking this week, which has been really fun. Made some nice whole wheat pasta dishes with ricotta and veggies - who can believe how delicious ricotta is? Not I...
I've been married for four years! I can't believe how fast the time has gone, but it's been an awesome ride.
And, of course, it wouldn't be family without Buddy. Last night I had a dream that Jeff and I had gone out of town and left Buddy in the care of our friend Mary, who quickly disappeared from the scene. Buddy, in some sort of crazy dream/fantasy that probably exposes my interests in overpriced east coast hipster lifestyles, ended up living in Brooklyn with a semi-famous drag queen and was featured on the front page of last week's Sunday Styles. I am not lying, not even a little bit.
I just read my first favorite book of the year.
Another long and busy weekend! After working on Saturday, Jeff picked me up and we high-tailed it to PDX, where Mary Cass had gathered friends and family to celebrate her 40th birthday (yay, Cass!!!!). After a lovely dinner, Jeff and I headed to the Ace Hotel, our sleeping destination of choice whenever we are in Portland. Had a perfect, long and lazy morning reading the NYTimes at Stumptown before packing up and wandering around the city with a final stop at Random Order for delicious pie. (It occurs to me after reading this that I probably wrote something exactly like it when we spent the weekend in Portland last fall. We are creatures of habit, Jeff and I.)
Today we headed up to Snoqualmie Pass for some skate skiing, since neither of us can stomach laying down the cash for a lift ticket when it's hardly snowed during the past four weeks. The nice thing about skate skiing is that it just doesn't matter if it hasn't snowed - nordic skis don't need new powder! I gave up after two hours as I was pretty exhausted. Now I'm at home, using up a bunch of old apples in a galette that looks like it's going to be delicious when it comes out of the oven. A good holiday weekend, indeed!
Still tired after a long and very busy weekend. I've been dying to get out into the snow, and we definitely did it. Saturday, Mary, Jeff and I headed up to Hyak and skied the Mt. Catherine Loop, which is about 18 kilometers of hilly trails. It was gorgeously warm and sunny. Sunday, Stephen, Nick, Jeff and I got up hella early and drove to Crystal Mountain to do a backcountry tour through Bullion Basin near the ski area. The lack of snow for the last four weeks was tough, and we had some rough going trying to ski across some steep slopes. Conditions were variable at best and I never was able to fully shake my paranoia that something was going to go terribly wrong, but we did get a couple good turns in and (again) it was a good learning experience.
Yesterday also marked the first day in a really really long time where I did whatever I wanted all day, didn't think about books or reading and didn't feel guilty about it. After skiing, I made dinner then played Peggle, also known as the best game ever (besides farm hustle), before heading off to bed for some well deserved sleep. Granted, the reading is kicking in already, but I'll take a few minutes of leisure while I can.
Arrived home late last night (this morning?) from Denver. Super tired and feeling a little woozy, but I am so proud of our work! My committee was absolutely fantastic and I'm really proud of our final list of 2009 Best Books for Young Adults. Eleven of my nineteen nominations made the cut, and two of them (Bog Child and Mexican WhiteBoy) are on the BBYA Top Ten! All that reading really pays off, and it's pretty satisfying to see some fanastic results.
In other SUPER FANTASTIC EXCITING NEWS, Jeff and I bought our tickets to Europe. We'll be there for about 18 days, and I'm really looking forward to it. We'll be flying into Munich and catching a train down to Innsbruck to meet up with some friends. Jeff, Roger, Stephen and TJ will then head to the Italian Alps for a week long backcountry ski tour, while Malia and I go to Venice. I will stay there for a day or so, then head to Slovenia for about a week. After that, I'll be meeting up with Jeff somewhere around Cinque Terre for a few days before heading down to Rome to stay with my friends Yves and Sienna, who have been living there for about 10 years. I'm so looking forward to it!
Jeff and I headed down to the Paramount Theater to watch the inauguration. It was incredibly exciting and I cried like a baby. I don't think I've ever felt this much pride for my country. A few more pictures are here.
I put this picture up on Facebook, but I'm putting it here, too, just because it is so incredibly awesome.
Working in a public library means I spend a lot of time talking to, well, the public. There are some things you learn about people when you talk to lots of them all day long. Mostly, from what I can tell, people don't pay attention and they don't really think that much. On Friday, a girl came into the library asking for directions. A quick request on Google maps brought up directions and a map, which I showed her. She then, I kid you not, asked me MORE THAN ONCE if she had to turn anywhere. Sigh.
Flying to Denver of Friday for five days of conference madness. I still have about quite a few books to read by then. Although I've probably hit the point where I won't be able to finish all 224 books nominated for BBYA this year, I will come pretty darn close - I'm aiming for a mere 220.
Sometimes the confluence of craft and awesomeness are beyond my wildest dreams. If only I had thought of it first! (note the "666" on the bottom left corner)
A belated entry for January 1, 2009
I could get all sappy, go on and on about how lucky I am, joy to the world, blah blah blah, but suffice to say I've got what I need and I love what I've got. Happy New Year and much love to friends and family. Let's kick some ass in 2009.