Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Wild Trees

Thanks for all the anniversary wishes folks! We had a great trip, and we're glad to be back. I have tales and photos to share, hopefully later today.

I'm just popping in to tell you about a book I'm reading, called "The Wild Trees" by Richard Preston. It's about the crazy ecosystems that exist in the canopies of redwood forests, and about the even crazier people who climb these trees and wander around hundreds of feet above the ground. I saw the author on both The Daily Show and the Colbert Report, then I saw the copy come into our library.

Anyway, it's a very compelling read. AND, it turns out these crazy tree climber / scientists are also Tolkien Dorks. One of the tallest trees they've discovered so far they named Laurelin, and the section I'm about to start reading is called "The Fall of Telperion." Go Tolkien Dorks!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Yosemite, Day Two

Also known as "Anniversary Day!!" Nathan and I played several more rounds of "What were we doing a year ago today." We enjoyed remembering how great it was to be with so many of our loved ones, eating great food, enjoying the planetarium, and heck, getting married. I can't believe it's been a whole year!!! Mostly I can't believe it's been a year since I've seen most of you. Well, I look at you in pictures all the time, but still. Your actual selves.

We had our Big Hike lined up for Monday morning. I'd never been able to get to the top of Vernal Falls or Nevada Falls, either due to laziness or trails closed off due to snow. I was determined this would be the day. So we got up at our usual time, gathered our stuff, and hit the trail. (The ladies restroom in Curry Campground was surprisingly busy at 5:45 am. Who gets up that early? And who brings an electric toothbrush on a camping trip? Why, I ask you? Why?)

The hiking gear distribution in our family breaks down thusly:
Jenn carries : first aid kit, bug repellent, water and snacks for two, various clothing layers she might need, her camera, small tripod, sunglasses, and journal.
Nathan carries : his camera, all the lenses we might need. His bag is heavier. :)

The first part of the hike we've both done before, to the bridge below Vernal Falls. It's less than a mile, mostly uphill, and as we've walked our daily walks, we've been thinking of this first part. We've done the math, even. Our Big Hill at home is 0.2 miles, and the Big Hill to the Bridge is 0.8 miles, so we know we're climbing our own big hill four times. With gear. Turns out we hadn't been carrying gear at home. We do a fairly tidy job of getting to the bridge. AND, because it's not yet 7 a.m. we have the bridge below Vernal Falls entirely to ourselves. This has never happened to me before. We take many pictures. I use my tripod and get the water to blur. I'm quite excited.

There are two paths to the top of the falls. One, short and very steep, called the Mist Trail, where one is likely to get quite wet. The other, the John Muir Trail, is longer, less steep, and dry. I decide we should take this trail.

It was a long three miles or so, my friends. Several times we passed, and were passed by a group of six guys. I thought they'd just blaze by us and be gone, but no, they'd pass us, then in a few minutes, they'd be stopped, and we'd pass them. It was pleasantly shady on our way up the hills and switchbacks, probably because it wasn't much past eight o'clock. We ended up at Clarke's Point, 5400 feet of elevation. We ran into the same six guys, a lively chipmunk, and a map.

From Clark's Point, one has several options, depending on the type of trail you want to hike and your destination. We helped the six guys decide which path they should take to get to the top of Half Dome and wished them good hiking (I wonder if they made it.) For ourselves, we decided we didn't need to get to the top of Nevada Falls, which was now before us, but that we'd head downhill (YAY!) to the top of Vernal Falls, which was now below us.

What fun it is to walk downhill after two or so hours of walking UPHILL. And the views were incredible. How often to you get to look down on a waterfall? We walked down to the observation area near the falls and hung out for awhile. Nathan took some video footage, and I tried to instill some fear of humans into the squirrels that wanted to know more about the sunscreen I was using. Nathan was more successful than I was.

Many of the folks at the observation area had come up the Mist Trail, the short path that winds up the side of the waterfall, and they were, indeed, misty. We were headed down that way.

It was an amazing trail, I'm glad we just went down it. Three tenths of a mile down granite steps that were often much smaller than my feet. We developed a side of a side stepping motion that felt safer, though must have looked rather silly. We had to "pull over" frequently for folks who were on the way up. As we were just getting to the mistiest part of the mist trail, right after Nathan said "Well, I guess we consider this our shower for the day," one of the ladies coming up the hill got an call on her cell phone. Don't worry, she answered it. Sure, "Hi, I'm in a National Park. I'm standing on a dangerous set of slippery granite slabs, and that roaring you hear in the background is actually millions of gallons of snowmelt rushing by. I'm holding up traffic here on this narrow path, so hey, how are you? Talk to me!" People are weird. I believe that in my heart.

By the time we got back to the bridge, the morning people were up and around. It was teeming with tourists. We'd already been to the top though, and felt, I'll say it, rather triumphant. We passed hundreds of people on the downwards trek of the first big hill. They looked tired. It was hotter now, and they were walking uphill. I smiled at them encouragingly, and thought "Poor fools. "

Back in our camp, we had some pastrami and cheese (delightful!) and took a nice afternoon siesta. So very civilized.

In the late afternoon, Nathan suggested we take a trip to Sentinel Bridge. We availed ourselves of the Yosemite Shuttle service for the trip to the bridge. Awesome, they Yosemite Shuttle. Hybrid buses on a regular route through the park, helps keep some cars off the road in the Valley. Thumbs up, Yosemite National Park. When we got to the bridge, we discovered it was a hot spot. This photo doesn't quite do it justice, I didn't quite find a time when all the photographers were leaning at the right angle so you could see them all. You'll have to imagine five more guys with camera bags going on down the line. And me, of course. (Really, why is it that you rarely see girls out there with cameras. More than the little palm sized cameras, I mean. How is it that taking pictures became a guy thing? Why?)

The view was awesome from the bridge, I can see why it was crowded. We sat with our feet dangling over the edge of the bridge, and watched the rafters go down the river, with Yosemite Falls in the background. A glorious afternoon, really we totally lucked out on the weather.

After sitting on the bridge for awhile, we walked back to Curry Village through the meadow in the center of the Valley. Now that it was the end of Memorial Day weekend, most of the hordes had left the park. There were no traffic jams, the sides of the roads were clear, mostly, and it was more, well, idyllic. Less urban.

We made it back to our camp, and had some PBJs. I caught and released a wasp in our cabin. The same wasp, I guessed, that I had already caught and released twice the day before. I never put a tag on her, but I feel it was the same wasp. I called her Waspy. I tried to explain to her that while I was a patient person, and willing to admit that she was here, in our cabin first, that I would eventually grow tired of showing her outside in a plastic cup. Waspy never got the message. She continued to visit the whole time we were there. Of course, after I named her, I couldn't exactly step on her, now could I?

Later, after we'd been asleep for several hours, I woke up to the sound of a lady clapping and proclaiming "Go Away Bear! Go Away Bear!" She used her words. For a moment, I thought she'd driven the bear towards our block of tent cabins. There was a persistent growling sound very near to our tent. However, it was a very consistent growling sound, and I soon realized it was, in fact, our neighbor snoring.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Yosemite, Day One

(I'm back dating these posts, pretending either that I wrote them from Tent Cabin 545, where there was no electrical outlet, or, if you prefer, that I had a time machine.)

We took a bit of a circuitous route to Yosemite, following a path laid out by a GPS with only a vague familiarity with the areas we were passing. It was a pretty route though, and we passed through one small town where the firemen were collecting money by passing boots around from car to car at intersections, and another small town where there was a guy on stilts (we never did figure out why.)

I hadn't been to Yosemite in the busy season in years. Decades, even. I've been going in February, March and October. So imagine my surprise to discover traffic jams in the valley. Stop and go traffic to get to a tent cabin. Rangers on bikes who wouldn't let us pass if we didn't have reservations. (You shall not pass, rangers on bikes, I just can't help this stuff.)

We did have reservations, though clearly we forgot to reserve a parking spot. I guess it's some sort of commentary on our times when parking in a National Park is a big issue. I mean, I went to the National Park to get away from problems like parking. Luckily, we did find a spot that only required a moderate hike to the check in desk. From there, a guy with a golf cart helped us shuttle all of our stuff to our cabin.

Which led to another sort of you tip the guy who shuttles your luggage from the outer reaches of a parking lot to a canvas tent, via golf cart? All sorts of etiquette contradictions there. Have you ever tipped a National Park employee? Is a bellhop really a bellhop if he's in a golf cart?

We settled in nicely, though the bear locker we were assigned was much smaller than we expected. The tent cabins were hopping, especially several large rocks that were covered with children. Provided us with some interesting eavesdropping. My favorite jewel was a ten year old (or so) girl who started to shout out a story with the preface "This is a non-fiction story that took place, oh, about an hour ago."

Once we settled, we packed up some photo gear, and started a good wander. We ended up by Mirror Lake, feeling proud of ourselves for not being overly bothered by the shallow but long uphill climb to get to the water. We puttered around, took many photos (which I'll add in here soon) and then headed back to the cabin.

I led us through a few rounds of "A year ago today, we were...." Rehearsal dinner night!! Good times!!

Then, we crashed. We were asleep before the sun set.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Peer Pressure

Our hard work has paid off! Dad's ready to join the blogging pool. Thought I'd just cultivate a little peer-pressure for that idea. He's thinking it might be a week or two before he's ready to commit to the daily grind of writing, but it's out there on the horizon!

One MONTH of Walking

Well, friends, we're past the one month walk. One month of getting up at 5:45 am and walking for an hour. We've made some new friends. There's the guy with the chocolate lab; he's got one of those handle thingies that pick tennis balls off the ground and throw them without slobbery hands. There's the guy with the black poofy dog. There's another guy who walks three dogs at one time. We know several newspaper delivery guys. And one lady who uses us as a benchmark -- she's extra proud of herself if she's coming down the big hill while we are headed up, as most days it's the other way around.

We've seen some critters, too! Most mornings we see two or three bunnies. One Sunday we saw three raccoons, finishing up their night. There is a hawk of some kind that sits on a power pole near the top of the big hill. And the same Sunday we saw the raccoons we saw what was either a VERY large house cat, or a little bobcat. It ducked into some bushes before we were certain.

So we're off tomorrow to try our practiced legs in the hills of Yosemite. Nevada Falls, here we come!!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Temporarily Unisex

As I mentioned a few days ago, we have quite a few signs in the library. We have piles of simple signs at the ready for when things break. Yesterday, I was at the circ desk joking with the other circ desk worker as we flipped through the piles of signs trying to find the ones that accurately represented the state of disrepair of the computers.
"Internet Unavailable" -- no
"Out of Order, use machine in children's room" -- no
"All library computers are down" -- ah yes, this is the pile we need

Today all the computers are festooned with these signs. It's no use people, all these computers are broken. The person working the ref desk just came in to report that a patron walked up to one of the two dozen computers with signs taped to their screens, and flipped the sign over. She sat down, and attempted to use the computer. When it didn't work, she asked why not.

The Ref Desk worker waved her arm at all the signs. "The computers are down," she said, "that's why they all have signs that say they are not working."

The patron said "This one had a sign that said 'Temporarily Unisex.'"

Several things to love here.
1) We actually have a sign that says "Temporarily Unisex," for when one restroom breaks. Then boys and girls share the one remaining restroom.
2) In a sea of broken computers, the patron thought one was working.
3) She wasn't put off by the unisex sign. As though, on other days, we have some computers for males, and others for females.
4) And of course, she seemed surprised when the computer didn't work.

I heart patrons. No really. They are entertaining.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

If you like movies about spelling bees.....

you should see this one. Heck, even if spelling bees don't seem like compelling movie fodder, you should still see it. If you liked "Whale Rider" then you should extra-definitely see this movie. If you like Scrabble, you should see this movie. If you like the word "pulchritude" then you should see this movie. If you think it really *does* take a village to raise a child, regardless of the fact that you feel dorky saying it, then you should see this movie. I think that covers everyone in the world, right? You may spend some time wondering "What exactly is the connection between Starbucks and this movie?" You won't be on the edge of your seat wondering "What is going to happen next?" But you will, I bet, experience a severe warming of the cockles of your heart. Maybe in even in the sub-cockle region. Maybe (say it with me Jean) even in the colon.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Farewell, TV Friends

This week, the last episode (ever) of the Gilmore Girls aired. Now I know many of you aren't TV heads, and more power to you, but let's spend a few moments contemplating the end of a long running, well loved series. Much like a good friend, a good TV show moves into your life and, as the Indigo Girls would say, "makes your thinking crowded." Over time the characters grow with you, they grow into you somehow.

I remember when ST:TNG ended. Jean, where were you the night the episode aired? Was Paul Witworth involved? I don't remember, but while I tried, I ended up thinking "I don't know beans about cars." I digress. Anyway, I watched it by myself the first time, and then Dad called, and I explained to him the import of what had just occured. "All Good Things," a great last episode title. It was coming on summer in the Land of UCSC, where I'd seen almost all the Star Trek episodes. The show was (dare I write it?) much like our own expanding universe. So much to explore! We were working out the details of our own Prime Directives, if you will. Late nights watching Data and Picard, then discussing the holodeck and the jeffries tubes . . .

And the West Wing! The West Wing unfurled at the time of ultimate lameness with our "real" government. The show provided a reality where our leaders were not only brilliant, but moral and *gasp* articulate. Witty even. Moreover, I watched the show during years when I was surviving a workplace that had nothing going for it but the awesomeness of my coworkers. Watching, I could imagine what the world would be like if my real life brilliant coworkers were working on something that actually mattered, in a place that respected our abilities.

Now, too, we've lost the Gilmore Girls. I've watched Rory go through her prep school, and her four years of Yale. I've admired Lauren Graham's hair and pondered her indecision as she went from Luke to Christopher to Luke to Christopher to Luke. We really connected in the post-LOTR movie years, when Lorelai told Rory she had to be home by 10 p.m. lest she be set upon by orcs. Really, the Gilmore Girls get me. The people of Star's Hollow have come to represent my ideal community. Miss Patty and her dancing daffodils in that gazebo in front of Taylor's market are now benchmarks. Who doesn't have a community of some sort with it's town meetings, with Kirk as a mime, the random guy singing on the street corner, each wackier than the last, and valued for whatever their wackiness adds to the total picture.

So when these shows end, it's a lot like losing a friend. It hurts a little to know their stories won't progress any further, barring some awful reunion show you'd dread but watch because of it's train wreck magnetism. And it hurts to lose the potential metaphor the show provided, the lens that makes a little sense of "real" life. Sure, I can still toss out "Temba his arms wide," but I won't what new mannerism Data adopts in his quest to become human. I can still think "How would C.J. proccess these magazines? That's how I want to process them!" but I won't ever get to see the West Wing crew make their tour of all the National Parks, per President Bartlett's plan. How will Rory do, riding on the press bus following Barack Obama? You know I'll be looking for her when I watch the real-life press conferences.

Farewell, my TV friends. Thanks for sharing seven years of your fictional lives with me. I'll really miss you.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lord Kitchener

Libraries have a lot signs posted in them. Whenever we host an event (even regularly scheduled clubs and classes) we post way too many signs about it. This library, and I hear this is a common thing for libraries, suffers from sign overload.

As you might imagine, there are specific sign styles, that vary based more upon the sign crafter than they do upon the event the sign reflects. I haven't been entrusted with the task of making signs long enough to have developed my own signature sign style, but you could probably visualize what my signs would look like. Our primo sign maker, his style is like this. That's his favorite font. The guy who reminds me of Goodyear, he's got a new position at the library that now involves sign making. So. He's made his first sign for Teen Poker Night.

There's no picture of it up on the web yet, but it features Lord Kitchener saying "I want YOU! to come to Poker Night." I suppose only time will tell whether or not this image will inspire the teens. Heck, perhaps Lord Kitchener is nouveau chic. Perhaps it's an unfortunate choice. Either way, it's made for some hysterical conversation.

Goodyear's Twin and the librarian who runs our Knitting Club were both prepping to hang new signs (I made the knitting signs, my first great work here.) Knitting Club Lady was asking why we had a Russian on the Poker Night signs.
Goodyear's Twin: "That's not a Russian, that's Lord Kitchener! What makes you think he's a Russian?"
Knitting Club Lady: "His mustache."
GT: "That's not a Russian mustache."
KCL: "Hey, did he knit?"
GT: "What? No! He's way too manly to knit!"
KCL: "Well, the stitch you use to finish off socks is called the Kitchener stitch. I think he invented it."
GT: "NO! He's not a knitter! Look it up on the web."
KCL: "It's called the Kitchener stitch. I think he was a knitter."

Then they both rushed out to secure the prime spots for their signs. :) Later, GT was taking a flier about the knitting club home to his wife, and KCL said "Hey, do you ever wear those socks your wife made you?" He said he didn't because they had a hole in the toe, but he didn't want to tell her they had a hole in the toe. I said, all ready to rile the crowds up again for my own entertainment, "You know who could've fixed those for you?" They both looked over. "Lord Kitchener."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Next Generation

Wow, what a deceptive subject line. My first thought was "Oh, some people are going to think that's about Star Trek." Then, several moments later, I remembered the all important connotation those words could have coming from a fairly-recently-married person. Nope, not that one either. My apologies for the double psych out.

I was at the Circ Desk today, checking out books for a mom who was there with her daughter. Little girl was maybe two, at the oldest, sporting those baby fine pigtails in blonde. She started to wander off, and mom called after her, "Eowyn, come wait here with me please!"


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Saturday = Blogs + Jeans

I've entered my stretch of working Saturdays, we rotate here, and so about four or five out of every twelve Saturdays finds me in the library. You know what? I love working Saturdays. It's so peaceful here. There are *just* enough staff to go around, and most patrons have either plenty of time to browse, or better things to do. It's soooo relaxed.

In former eras of my life, pre-public library, probably most of you know, I was a jeans and t-shirt girl. UCSC, not what you'd call a formal place. Kid you not, we kept slippers under our desks, and wore them around the office. Shamelessly. Here, I've been kicking it up a fashion notch. Nothing crazy, no pantyhose or power suits or anything. (And I only wear slippers at home. Sigh.) But I wear jeans once a week. The last day of my work week, be it Friday or Saturday. Sure, I miss the day to day comfort of jeans. But man, when I wear my jeans now, it's so FANTASTIC. Just getting to wear jeans to work makes the day great. Heck, wearing jeans at home rocks too. Today is a jeans day.

And, because of the relaxed Saturday atmosphere, I'm tooling through some Librarian Blogs. I can't decide if this falls into the category of "going the extra mile" or "creatively trying to look busy."

Here are a few I've discovered that are just hysterical. I have also found some that look informative, but I'm saving that for later. I guess that answers my question. "Creatively trying to look busy," it is.
There are more. Every time you find a good one, there are links on it to more librarian blogs. Isn't it strange how as every day goes by, there is only ever more, never less, to read. One of life's Great Conundrums.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

A Week of Walks

Nathan and I have embarked on a new fitness routine. We're walking daily for an hour. Nathan felt it was particularly important that we walk at the same time, every day, without variation. The only window in our shared schedules that can be relied upon every day is 5:45 am. That's right. A.M. We're done with our hour walk before 7 a.m. We started a week ago yesterday.

And you know what?

So far it's not that bad.

I mean, it's early. Sure. And it seems even earlier on days when I would normally sleep in until 8 or even 9. When I originally started to well, I guess "whine" is the right word, about this, Nathan suggested we try it for a month and then make adjustments if necessary. That was so reasonable, I couldn't exactly refuse, now could I? But it's not that bad, AND, it means that by 7 AM, I've already exercised!! I'm off the hook for the rest of the day. Sure, I'll get more walking in, and I might stretch or something, but I've already gotten over the biggest hurdle. (We're not actually hurdling, though occasionally we are motivated enough to scurry up the hill by our house, just to get the climbing over as quickly as possible. Gina taught me that trick.)

We're off to Yosemite in a few weeks, and we're excited to imagine starting the trail to Vernal Falls at quarter to six. I bet we have the place to ourselves!

The visual equivalent for "onomatopoeia"

I went to church last Sunday with my mom. It's been awhile. Going to church is a lot more like staying at home and watching church on television than it used to be. There are power point presentations and music videos and the like. My favorite thing about church was a lady who signed a hymn, while the lyrics ran on a power point presentation behind her for those of us who don't understand sign language.

I assume that most of the words in sign language are rather "onomatopoeiac," or that they do have some visual representation of the word they represent. Whoever invented the sign for "hallelujah" did an excellent job. "Hallelujah" looks like a party! It starts off with a clap, and then there is a spiraling upwards gesture with both hands, and it ends with that now classic charasmatic christian gesture of the palms upturned to the heavens, as if to say "High Five God!"

So I ask you, is there a visual equivalent of onomatopeia? (Good band name "Visual Onomatopoeia." ) And of course, no converstaion about onomatopeia is complete, to my mind, without referencing the West Wing episode when Sam heads off some sort of crisis with the Russians, based on the fact that the Russian ambassador knew the meaning of the word onomatopoeia, but not the word "frumpy."

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Overly Enthusiastic, Perhaps

I was just leaving the Circulation Desk, and one of our staffers was just about to take over for me, when she said, casually, "Didn't I see you reading 'Ysabel?' I just finished reading it." Turns out Ysabel was her first GGKay novel. Well, you know how exciting that is, when someone's reading GGK for the first time. I was, perhaps, a shade overly enthusiastic in my response, given that this person doesn't really have any context for that which is Jenn, beyond a certain friendliness and a few circ desk shifts. There may have been just the slightest bit of squealing involved.

She had moved from Ysabel to Last Light of the Sun, and claimed to be enjoying it. I got into our catalog with her and talked about the pros and cons for various reading order scenarios. I was shocked and saddened to discover we own The Darkest Road, but not The Summer Tree or The Wandering Fire. I spent some time on my lunch hour making her a list, sorting them into varying intensities of fabulousness. The Tapestry listed as the penultimate work, Tigana and Lions and Ysabel as "Life Altering," Song for Arbonne as "Excellent" and the others as "The Other Stuff."

It's a bit of a puzzle, as I'm sure you see. Normally, with new Kay people, I suggest an Arbonne, followed by either Lions or Tigana. Then, assuming they won't be offended by fantasy, of course there is the Tapestry, and now I'd suggest one wait until after that for Ysabel. Then I leave it up to folks to try or skip Sailing to Serantium and Last Light, as they feel best. She's read Ysabel, but not the Tapestry. She's reading Last Light. Next, should I encourage her to treat herself to one of the tastiest morsels, or should she work her way from least amazing to most mind boggling, since she's on the path. She says she'd read them all, but I'd hate to lose her to the second book of Sarantium, you know?