TCLI

Whew! I just returned yesterday from a week in Bozeman, Montana. I was attending the Tribal College Librarians Institute, which was a terrific experience. Lots of awesome networking and useful information, as well as making friends with neat people! I had thought I might be able to post while I was there, but I was too busy having a fun and informative time.

Living that dorm life at #tcli
We stayed in the dorms on campus at Montana State University, and it was a real journey down memory lane! I can’t recall the last time I made a bed with two flat sheets. 🙂 And I managed not to forget my room key ever, even on mid-night trips to the washroom.

One of the highlights of the trip was an excursion to the Yellowstone National Park archives and Mammoth Hot Springs.
Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center (archives) #tcli

We got to have a tour of the archives and learned about some of the many various things they collect there, such as bear and deer skulls. This reminded me of The Brain Scoop!
Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center (archives) #tcli

In addition to nature artifacts and specimens, they have lots of documents, photographs, and similar items.
Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center (archives) #tcli
I thought this photo of visitors was neat – look at the clothing and hairstyles! And look how close they are sitting to that geyser!

Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center (archives) #tcli
There’s so much neat history about Yellowstone. It’s the 100-year anniversary of when they first allowed cars to come into the park (apparently there was one year of overlap with horses/stagecoaches and cars that did not go well, so they discontinued stagecoach entry the following year), and when the park was first opened, most of the visitors were extremely wealthy people. Most tours were all-inclusive including train ride to the area, stagecoach service in the park, food, and so forth. When cars were first allowed in, the ticket price was something like $1200 in today’s dollars, which was less expensive but still pretty darn pricey. That was the start of less-wealthy folks being able to experience this national park.

Having spent the morning at the archives, we then had the afternoon in Mammoth Hot Springs, which was super neat.
Mammoth Hot Springs #tcli
More of the springs were dormant than I expected, but it was still beautiful and fascinating and full of many things to look and wonder at. My walking partner for that day and I kept remarking that we wished for more informational signage! #librarianproblems

Mammoth Hot Springs #tcli
Another fiber enthusiast there noticed the same thing I did – that this formation reminded us of knitting!

I even managed to climb all the way up to the top, seeing all there was to see! I wasn’t sure with the altitude and my not-suited-ness-to-sun, but I made it!
Me at Mammoth Hot Springs #tcli

My trip back to Michigan was full of delays, but all turned out to be relatively minor, and I made my connection and got home before dark, so I’m calling that a win. I think some of the other attendees who left later than I did ended up stuck in airports for many hours. I hope they are all home safely now!

I feel so lucky to have been able to attend this conference! I look forward to going back in future years.

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FO Friday: end-of-year wrap-up

I had a really long break from work over the holidays, which meant that I was able to do a ton of knitting, including designing/publishing a number of new patterns (some of these designs were in the hopper for quite some time and this break gave me the opportunity to get them ready for prime time). I was super lazy about posting, though, so here we are to catch up.

Chroma Scarf

This is the Chroma Fingering Scarf. I designed it to take advantage of this particular yarn‘s neat dye scheme. This pattern is SUPER simple and easy and knits up pretty quickly for fingering weight yarn. It’s also free!

Winter Headband (1)

Here’s another freebie! This is the Winter Headband – of which I made two for xmas gifts. It’s another quick and easy pattern and might be a good opportunity to learn a new technique if you haven’t done a provisional cast-on or Kitchener stitch before. Kitchener stitch is magical and will make you feel like a wizard, no joke.

Sea Monster Hat

Here we have the Sea Monster Hat. I made this one with a very stretchy rib pattern so it would be sure to fit the head of even my biggest-brained friends, but not be so huge as to give them the (totally incorrect, obvs) impression that I think they have a big head. I’ll definitely be making this hat many more times in the future, and probably for myself pretty soon.

Velveteen Hat

Although, I might make myself one of the Velveteen Hat instead. I am SO PLEASED with how this pattern turned out. I also love the yarn I used for this one – it’s a Merino/silk blend that is so soft and supple and really perfect for cold days when you want to feel cozy.

Okay! That’s enough for right now, though admittedly I have a bunch more Blythe-centric things that I will also post about soon. I hope that all of you are starting the new year off with cozy handknits to keep you warm, or at the very least the yarn and needles to make something for yourself!

Shameless self-promotion: With the exception of the freebies (only available on Ravelry), all of these patterns are also available in our Etsy shop!

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do as I do

This article popped up on my twitter feed this morning. I’ve heard of companies offering unlimited vacation (but never worked for one – libraries are generally not the places where this type of innovation happens*) but this is the first time I’ve read something that spoke to how such policies actually function.

It’s not surprising to me, though, that in an undefined system, people would end up competing to see who could take the least vacation time – who could be the most hardcore. Having been an exempt employee in administration/management for most of my career, this type of competition has been the norm. In most of my workplaces, people have felt compelled to prove how tough/committed they can be by taking as little time off as possible, coming in early and staying late as often as possible, and making themselves available 24/7 regardless of vacation or non-work life. Non-exempt employees have some constraints on this type of behavior (at least according to the letter of the law) but exempt employees do not – and they end up pushing themselves to burnout and, along the way, taking their colleagues with them. The supposed leaders in the organization end up setting the worst example possible of what it looks like to live a balanced, healthy life as a professional.

I daydream a lot about what the world could be like if we were kinder to each other and to ourselves (complete universal healthcare into which we all pay according to our income, complete universal healthcare that includes mental health as well as nutritional health and everything else that goes into making a person well, complete human rights for all members of every community without regard to race, background, sexuality, etc.). Minimum vacation days seems like a good addition to my wishlist.

What would you wish for in an ideal workplace?

*Working in governmental/public sector administration has taught me that those who govern our institutions generally believe that those who work for the institutions deserve the very minimum of benefits such as vacation time. These workers should feel lucky to have a job at all, according to most of those who make/approve the policies (very few if any of whom, tellingly, have ever worked in public sector positions). This sense becomes ingrained in administrators, who also come to believe that even they themselves are not deserving of free time, let alone those they manage, so there seems little hope of any eventual change.

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CMU: New Acquisitions art show

My goodness! So much has been going on lately that I have a bunch of stuff to post that has just been waiting for me to make time to sit down long enough.

We found out (through a careful reading of our new lease documents, NOT through the direct questions we asked the office staff, mind you) that the new owners of our apartment complex decided to raise the rent AND give us the bill for a number of things that were previously covered in the rent (water, trash, etc.), which has effectively priced us out of living here. In addition, our current non-smoking community will no longer be such, and that is a big issue for me (remember when we had to move to a new building here, only a month after moving in the first time, because our neighbors inside the first building were smoking a lot and it was invading/permeating our unit? I am NOT doing that again). So, we’re going to have to move AGAIN before our next, hopefully final for the foreseeable future, move when we buy our next home. We are, as you can imagine, not thrilled about this, but we are trying to see the bright side (even after paying movers, we will still likely save money in the long run due to paying a much lower monthly rent at the new place) (*fingers crossed* that we get the place we’re looking at). We also have to go through all the hassles of moving, having our mail forwarded, and so on – it’s just a huge time- and energy-suck that we were not anticipating.

ANYWAY! On the bright side, I recently went to see an exhibit of new art on CMU’s campus, in the beautiful Baber Room at Park Library.

CMU New Acquisitions art exhibition

Paint by Number (ceramic) by Amy Dziesenski (2014)

I love the juxtaposition of something ephemeral, generally considered to be “low art” with a fine art like ceramics. This piece is really fun (note: all my photos from this show are TERRIBLE and should not be considered to be accurate representations of the artworks).

CMU New Acquisitions art exhibition

The Spirit: Graham, Dickenson, O’Keefe (multi-media quilt) by Ann Kowaleski

I was really excited to see that CMU acquired one of Ann Kowaleski‘s art quilts from her show earlier this year. I am a fan and admirer of her work.

 

CMU New Acquisitions art exhibition

Batman (ceramic) by Brett Sauve (2013)

This piece was an unexpected delight. It’s Batman, of course, but it’s also a lot more than just that. I really like the artist’s interpretation of the character. I feel like this piece highlights the humanity of the character (rather than focusing on the brutality or sex appeal, as the movies so often do). For me, the eyes especially convey the haunted, lonely life that led Bruce Wayne to take on the Batman mantle. The ears are almost dog-esque (this may just be me – given my love for bat-eared dogs) and their waver-iness gives a feeling of vulnerability. The way his cape is tied reminds me of how a child would tie on a cape, which also leads to that feeling. At any rate, this piece is also just really cool.

This show will be up through July 18 and I highly recommend checking it out.

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Free Comic Book Day 2014

Last Saturday was Free Comic Book Day. As per their usual, our local public library had a wide array of programs and activities leading up to and on Saturday. We were pleased to pick up some free comics (well, K mostly – despite my appreciation for them, I’m not a huge reader of comics), take in a few activities, and attend the panel discussion about all things Marvel.

me and an Imperial Spy at FCBD 2014

One of the members of the Great Lakes Garrison 501st Legion, Michigan Chapter, was there for photo ops. It was awesome to see a ton of kids cosplaying and getting their photos taken. There were also a lot of games and activities that we left to kids of appropriate ages.

Free Comic Book Day at Veterans Memorial Library

One of the fun things happening was that the library had held a contest for which patrons could create their own superhero poster, and the entries were on display in the Library Annex community room. I snapped a few of my favorites, including Thunder Woman! Look how she rides her thundercloud to water the flowers, with her hair flowing dramatically in the wind. That’s my kind of superhero.

Free Comic Book Day at Veterans Memorial Library

Name of superhero: Awesome. What more needs to be said?

Free Comic Book Day at Veterans Memorial Library

Bubble Spider Woman likes spiders!

Free Comic Book Day at Veterans Memorial Library

SkySea: Jumper of Peace. Bonus points for using fabric to make the cape!

Free Comic Book Day at Veterans Memorial Library

The Marvel panel was interesting. It was moderated/hosted by Joe Sommers, a professor from CMU (my alma mater), and the panel was composed of three graduate students from the English Department. Some time ago, Sommers acquired a shield that was used in the filming of the first Captain America movie and had it there to show off and pass around. That was neat, but he was surprisingly reluctant to share any details of how he came to have it, which was a bit of a bummer. It was more of a Q and A rather than a discussion of any specific topic by the panel, and the audience asked a lot of questions about upcoming Marvel movies (or movies they hope will be forthcoming). It was interesting to hear what people are looking forward to and interested in.

I was especially interested when one young audience member brought up the topic of women in comics and comic-based movies. She asked how the panel members felt about the representation of women in comics media and how they thought that women could play a more evenly balanced role. The panel’s answer was pretty much, “support women with your entertainment dollars,” which, while certainly a factor, is not in my opinion going to solve the root problem. Until the pen-holders and dollar-holders include more women, we’re going to continue to see a male-dominated industry. We live in a patriarchy and just buying tickets to see a Wonder Woman movie (if such a thing were ever to even come to be) is not going to solve all our problems. I’d have liked to hear the panel encourage that young woman (and others) to get involved in creating and doing herself, and I hope that there will be some women on the panel in future years.

(Note: you can kind of tell from this photo that one of the panel members is cosplaying as Wolverine, which I thought was great.)

me and Kristin at FCBD 2014

Of course my favorite thing was seeing Aquaman, AKA my pal Kristin, who helped put together the day’s awesomeness. She recently spoke at C2E2 about libraries doing FCBD programming, which you can read all about over at Lisa‘s. All in all, it was a fun day and I’m very glad to have a public library who does so much neat stuff.

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focus

Jordan Jesse Go!One of the most challenging parts for me of being in transition (home, work, location) is that I am really having trouble finding focus. I want to DO ALL THE THINGS and I can’t seem to decide what I feel passionate enough about to dive into. I go from thinking that renewing my efforts toward our Etsy shop is the right thing to do, to seeing someone tweet about how well her writing is going (for whom I am very happy btw) and thinking, I’ve been wanting to get back into writing! I should devote my time to that! Then I read a post about coding and think that I should come up with some projects to teach myself some programming I don’t yet know. I end up feeling scattered and just picking up my knitting or playing Animal Crossing.

I also keep being inspired by the many awesome acts of creation and innovation I’m seeing around the interwebs. Maximum Fun keeps adding to its list of kickass podcasts (and the ones that have already been around continue to delight and inspire), amazing DIYers are blogging about their projects and are finding happiness and even more opportunities for creativity, content innovators are looking at the world and finding ways to make it work the way they think it should, and there’s just such a lot of neat fucking stuff happening – I, too, want to be doing neat stuff and I know that I need to focus in order to make that happen.

I think that my general feeling of being not settled yet makes it more difficult for me to form a mental picture of what focusing on a particular thing looks like: I can’t see myself creating things in my new CraftyTown, because it doesn’t exist yet. I’m still getting my sea legs at my new job and there are still a thousand things I don’t know or I’m still researching to figure out what our normal operations look like. Even just finding a feeling of being settled in our new community is still eluding me. Making such a significant change in location has given me a ton of uncertainties: What if the sale of our old house falls through (again)? What if it’s a long time before we’re able to get our own place? Is my hair actually growing more slowly since we moved or is it just that I’m anxious to grow out this layered cut? What if this isn’t the right place for us to be? (Pretty sure the penultimate question in that list has an easy answer.)

Having just switched types of libraries to a job that, while it has many things in common with my past jobs, also has a lot of things that are different or new, also has me questioning everything. Is this the type of library I want to be in for the long haul? We’re in a budget crisis and a number of our systems are outdated and unlikely to be replaced anytime soon – should I be worried for my career since I’m not going to be able to stay up to date (at least on a really-knowing-them-since-I’m-using-them-daily way)? How long will it be before I really feel like I know what I’m doing here, and what if at that point it turns out that it wasn’t the right choice? Some of it may be due to library fatigue (growing tired of the stuff that never seems to change – this may be due to not spending enough time with other innovators). Switching types of libraries is a new thing for me, so for now I’m trying to just chalk it up to that. I have been reading a number of posts lately where others are wondering where their career path will lead, and several friends have recently become directors and have found it either awesome or awful. I’m going to write more about that later.

All of this adds up to one thing: nothing feels super certain, and that feeds my feelings of anxiety, which leads me to wander all over the place (mentally) without settling on a focus. I like to be a gal with a plan! I want to have a goal in mind and determine the steps on the path to getting there. On the one hand, I’ve been trying to treat this as a learning/development opportunity: learn how to feel okay with uncertainty, develop patience and the ability to Be Okay when not everything is figured out. To some extent I’ve been doing pretty well with this, but there’s always this voice in the back of my mind saying, “You’re not actually doing anything! You’re just wasting time when you have no plan! Get out there and DO ALL THE THINGS!”

So how do YOU deal with uncertainty? What strategies do you use to help you find focus?

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morning sun

I love to see the seasons change in the naturalized area behind the library. A few years ago we planted a bunch of natives back here and are trying to encourage natural wildlife to take up residence (as well as improving the whole water situation through the natural filtration that native plants do).

pond behind the library

This photo is from before we lost the last of the snow, but I really liked the way the sun was coming through the trees.

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Nook-ington

We recently repurposed a couple of spaces in the Children’s Library to better suit the needs of our patrons. As our budget has declined, we’ve had to cut back on the number of programs we offer and we’re hoping that we can provide more spaces where patrons can DIY their own fun times. One of these areas is the Baby Nook.

cheery Baby Nook

It’s a sort of weird area that was once a courtyard but was then enclosed when the building was renovated and expanded around 10 years ago. It was always sort of awkward and without a defined purpose – but now it’s revamped and filled with things that are especially for babies and their parents. There are board books (on the awkward stairs that are poured concrete covered in carpet – totally not ideal but a major deal to get rid of, so that’s not happening), toys designed for babies, mats, and (not pictured here) some comfy sofa type seats that are comfy for moms and dads. We’ve had the Nook open for a couple months now and have rearranged the stuff a few times based on feedback from the folks who’ve been using it.

cheery Baby Nook

We used primary colors because of course those are good for babies, but it also makes for a really cheery space, especially compared to the bleak snowy courtyard.

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