Archive for June, 2011


The High Cost of Botulism

June 23, 2011

The title of this post is mainly there to serve as both an example of the kind of conversations that happen when I spend time around my brothers and also as my attempt to claim the phrase for when I finally start that emo ska punk band (in which I would obviously play the viola).

Anyways, while it already feels like a quite a long time ago (thanks in part to two early morning trips to O’Hare aiport and a fun time hosting an old friend from high school), I figured I should talk a little bit about the awesomeness that was this past weekend.

Brought about Charletta’s long anticipated graduation with a Masters in Marriage and Family Counseling, this weekend included both a full complement of my immediate family and the presence of Charletta’s parents.  In other words, it was a grand ole time.  Highlights include hanging out with Jonathan for most of the day on Friday, during which we bought (and ate) fancy cheese, walked around downtown, and finally got drinks at the Signature Lounge.


Jonathan shows off his angelic side

Chicago haze

Chicago summer haze, at it's best

Other really fun times included a celebratory pizza dinner hosted by the Charletta’s parents at a local Italian restaurant and getting to can 8qts of strawberry jam with my Mom.

Charletta's parents in the middle

Charletta's parents are the ones in the middle

Saturday afternoon jam session

Not only is this jam yummy, but it actually set, instead of just forming yummy strawberry sauce

But of course the highlight was getting to see Charletta finish a long (and arduous) life stage called grad school.  Congrats Charletta, welcome to the Masters side of the family!

Jonathan, Tim, Charletta, Mom, Abby and Dad

Charletta and her rockin' robes

*Bonus Shots* A side by side analysis of two champion nappers:

Dad sneaks a quick napLina joins him


Updated goals for after grad school

June 14, 2011

Back in November of last year when I was doing NaBloPoMo, I wrote this post about things I wanted to do after grad school.  I figured 5 months past grad school it might be a good time to check in and see how I am doing on those goals (original in italics, update in regular).

sew myself a new dress (this will require both setting up and fixing my sewing machine)

So this one I have made absolutely no progress on, however I have been reading Mena’s blog over at Sew Weekly and I have been really inspired by her.  The pattern I really want to try is Macaron by Colette (or perhaps the Crepe, also by Colette).  However the two big hurdles for this goal are clearing off my desk/work table enough to set up my sewing machine and of course figuring out if my sewing machine works at all 🙂

date more (I have talked before about online dating, but haven’t tried it much since earlier in the summer, so time to try, try again)

While I don’t get to go on as many dates as I would like with him (silly long distance), I would say being in a relationship with Alex pretty much knocks this one out of the park 🙂

take a photography/design/art class

I done nothing so far on this one, however I did take pictures for a 50th wedding anniversary and just lots of pictures in general.

read more! (I know it seems like I do this a lot already, but the freedom to read whatever I want in whatever order I want is a little intoxicating)

As I mentioned the other day, I am behind on this one, but oh so excited about catching up this summer!  This weekend I read a childrens’ book called Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass, another volume in the graphic novel adaptation of The Stand by Stephen King and started Maise Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear a mystery set in 1929 London, England.  But I am really going to have to pick up the pace if I want to catch myself up to last year (126 books) by having 60 books read by the end of June (alternate page goal requires reading 6,000 pages by the end of this month).

exercise more (I have yet to find a regular way to fit exercise into my life, despite many attempts over the years, but I really like the way I feel afterward and want to feel stronger and be an even better Boundary Waters leader this coming summer, so that is definitely a goal)

While I am not actually going on the full fledged Boundary Waters trip, like I originally thought (the group was all boys and I was wary of breaking up the male-bonding potential).  However I am instead doing Paddlethon, which is the extremely awesome, extremely arm-numbing attempt to paddle either 30 or 50 or more miles in one day.  My lovely friend Steph will be joining us and we will be paddling to raise money for Wilderness Wind.  An excellent camp that works to provide spiritual, ecologically aware, accessible wilderness experiences for a range of individuals and groups in the Boundary Waters, Wilderness Wind is a pretty incredible place and I have been on around 6 or 7 trips and each time I go I leave refreshed and amazed by the joys of hard work in the great outdoors.  As a part of Paddlethon, I will be trying to raise $500 to support Wilderness Wind, so if you feel like helping out, here is the link.

Anyways, exercise didn’t happen as much as I would have liked during the “spring” (in quotes, because it was cold and rainy enough to put that label into severe question), but being active is always easier in the summer, so basically I will give this goal a renewed attempt during the coming months.

start the job hunt (okay this is not a fun goal, considering I kind of hate that whole process, but is definitely on my list of things I need to do post graduation)

Well if we take this goal solely at its word, than I have totally met this one.  I have applied to 12 or so different positions, had 5 interviews, written 15-20 essays, revised my resume, scanned in 2 transcripts and 1 teachers’ certificate, collected 3 reference letters and applied for 4 different Americorp programs.  In other words searching for a job is at LEAST the equivalent of the work for one graduate course, possibly two.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t actually resulted in any jobs being obtained.  But, I just had an interview for a really awesome Americorp position in Seattle, so I am trying to keep up the “something will work out” attitude.  However feel free to send any spare “good job getting vibes”, my way. 🙂


Last week of school = walking through molasses

June 10, 2011

Thanks to both the addition of two days to the end of our year (snow days are so much cooler when you are enjoying the day off, not the added consequence several months later) and my growing anticipation to be DONE, this week has seemed at points to actually be moving very slowly backwards through time.  Due to our snow days our school year extends two extra days beyond this week, making my last day of school Tuesday, June 14th.

Fortunately today is finally Friday, not faux-Friday or almost-Friday or “I really wish I had a little more influence over the whole time/space continuum thing” Friday.  Ahhhhh, finally 🙂  So all I need to do is get through 6 more hours or so, than home to pack and then downtown to catch a train to Goshen for the weekend.  Mainly planned so that I could go organize another Wilderness Wind 25th Anniversary planning committee meeting, this trip should also be full of time with Goshen folks, hopefully some relaxing, time with the parents and perhaps even some “sorting of the boxes still stored at my parents house” time.

Hmmm, well I guess I really didn’t have much of a point with this post, but I hope you all enjoy your Fridays and even more, enjoy your weekend!


Young Adult Fiction: Is censorship an answer to dark themes?

June 6, 2011

As per usual, Linda Holmes of Monkey See blog fame hits it out of the park with her eloquent retort to Wall Street Journal’s claim that young adult literature is too dark.  I particularly liked this paragraph, mainly due how I felt very similarly about the mentioned books (especially in the comparison between Hunger Games and Lord):

Even the things we read for school were things like Animal Farm and Lord Of The Flies and even that horrible thing in Johnny Tremain about being burned by molten metal OW OW OW. If we’re speaking thematically, The Hunger Games has nothing on Lord Of The Flies.

While I enjoyed Hunger Games (or at least books one and two, I was not as sold on the last one, although I overall liked the trilogy), I abhorred Lord of the Flies.

Oh and this paragraph too, because I think her interest in Stephen King comes from a similar place as my interest in apocalypse based books.  When you strip most of society away you get some incredible stories of hope/despair/etc.

I was always going to read Stephen King, because I was interested in the way he talked about hope and despair, about finding salvation in other people, and about things like eating your own foot that were just plain freaking crazypants cool. Not reading scary, weird, dark, or dirty books wouldn’t have made me a different kid. It certainly wouldn’t have made me a happier kid.

It might have made me a kid who read less, though.

And of course the librarian in me loves that she throws a good dig at the idea of book banning as “guiding young people’s reading. Go read it for yourself!


An update and some random/happy thoughts

June 3, 2011

Well earlier this week I finally got the news that I didn’t get the job. 😦  Obviously that isn’t the happy thought, but actually it really isn’t the end of the world.  I knew going into it that my chances of getting the job were low (not due to any lack of awesomeness on my part, but mainly due to the huge number of equally qualified folks applying to all the same jobs as me) and I was really glad to get the chance to get two more interview practice sessions in.  Sure, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, but at the same time I never really thought I would actually get this job in the first place.  However the one thing that I have found to be a bit of a downer is that it is looking pretty likely that whatever happens next fall, I won’t be working at a school library.

But on to happier thoughts:

  • Today is Friday! Bringing my countdown to summer down to a measly 7 days!  And while I knew that was coming up, I had managed to kind of forget all the awesome things that brings with it – sleeping in, unstructured days, beach time, lazy time, craft time, sitting on the porch swing sipping iced tea time, movie matinee times, etc.
  • Summer also means a chance to really tackle my out of control to-read list.  I kind of have this half-way serious goal to read as many books this year as I did last, which might be quite hard unless I read about 10-15 picture books like I did for my children’s lit class last spring.  However my alternate goal is to just equal the same number of pages as I read last year and on that account I am doing okay, but a little behind.  But first on my perfect summer read list is Game of Thrones, which I keep hearing endlessly good things about and it has been way too long since I have read a really long involved fantasy series.  Plus this way when the first season of the TV show comes out on DVD I will be prepared.
  • Last night while I was hanging out with Jess and Becca, while the later packed for her upcoming trip to India, I did some mental calculations and discovered that I own 17 cardigans (of which the majority are thrifted)!  I guess this is more a hilarious thought than a happy one, but I just find it so amusing.  Especially when you consider that a) 5 years ago I am pretty sure I owned maybe 1-2 cardigans, tops and b) I actually wear all of these pretty regularly c) could I be a more stereotypical librarian?.  In fact I think this collection would be worthy of its own unique post.   But for brief preview, here are 7 of them that have managed to already photograph:
    Nov 16, 2010February 8, 2011Nov 2, 2010Wednesday Jan 20, 2010July 23July 27August 2

First ever give-a-way winner!

June 1, 2011

It seems that Option 7 was the clear favorite with a total of 5 votes, so when I actually get around to finishing up the new and improved text, be prepared to see this over on my “about me” page:
Windy AbbyThanks to all of you who voted and managed to leave such lovely compliments, that was really sweet of you.  Anyways I went with the trusty Random Number Generator to pick the winner (and I figured I should have the screenshot to prove it) because……

CONGRATS Commenter number 6 (i.e. Dad!)! You are the lucky winner!  Let me know if you want the Amazon gift card or the 10,000 villages gift card.  Or alternately something at Nashbar?  Thanks again to all of you who entered, that was fun.  I don’t know how many of these give-a-ways I’ll do with actual prizes, but I could see doing more of the “win something random I found in my room” type of thing 🙂