Friday, June 8, 2018

Gardening

Most of the last 6 weeks of my time has been spent outside working in the yard.

It began on April 28 when we drained the pond and cleaned it. That sounds a lot simpler than it was, which was a grueling day. It meant renting a sump pump and power washer, draining the water, catching the 30 or so fish and putting them in temporary buckets (they were not happy), vacuuming out leaves, removing lots of leaves by hand, power washing the algae off of the rocks, removing all of the plants in pots (heavy!), cleaning and dividing them, then putting everything back (especially the fish). I was very sore for 2-3 days.

The rest of the gardening work has been a lot easier, but there is still much to do.

There are LOTS of geraniums, most of which I bring in for the winter. They get leggy and need to be trimmed before going back outside. Some need repotting and I usually re-root several more.

Then I need to buy and plant annuals so that I'll have lots of color. The back yard is very sunny and that's where the geraniums spend their time. The front, the north side of the house, gets far less sun. I usually put begonias and/or impatiens in pots scattered around.

And then there are the house plants which periodically need repotting or re-rooting.

The back of the house
I also have a container herb garden on the east side of the house on the screened-in porch. I started an herb garden in the sunny back yard, but it meant going down a flight of stairs every time I wanted a bit of basil or parsley. Having herbs in pots on the porch just outside the kitchen works much better. The screened-in porch has a glass roof, so it's like a greenhouse. Geraniums and herbs do very well there, though they need a lot of watering.

I still need to buy a few more plants. Many of the water lilies did not survive the winter and have to be replaced. There are also some bare spots that I want to fill with something interesting.

The view from my bed
Many years ago, I had a vegetable garden. Then I realized I spent most of my summer tending it and getting far more vegetables than I could possibly use. Now I visit the plethora of near-by farm stands every few days. That's much easier.

I've decided I don't really enjoy gardening that much. I don't mind a little bit of it, but day after day it loses its charm. I do like the results, though, and I'm willing to put some time in so that I can sit back and enjoy the yard, the pond, and all of the color.

Soon, I'll be able to spend some time visiting art museums and lunching with my retired friends.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A Long Journey

In my alphabetical list of possible duplicate records, I've reached titles beginning with the word "long". The titles begin specifically with "long" - not "a long" which were listed in the beginning after the numbers. And not "the long" which will come much later. The sorting program does not recognize initial articles.

In the process of finding and merging duplicates in the MassCat catalog, I'm also finding and reporting duplicates in other catalogs. As I've written before, I key in a word, sort by title A-Z and then begin looking for problems.

One of those problems is CIP (Cataloging in Publication) records. Generally, they are pretty good, but because the record was created while the book was in the process of publication, they lack information such as the number of pages, the height, and whether or not there are illustrations.

When I find such a record, I go to the C/W MARS catalog and look at their bib record to find the missing information. Sometimes I find 2 exact records, which I then report to the cataloging staff at C/W MARS. Given the size of their catalog, they have very few duplicates. I find maybe one or two in a month. Compare that with MassCat where I find 20 in a day. Well, that's what I'm there for.

When C/W MARS started, it had one catalog for all of its members. Then, it moved to different software that couldn't handle the size, so it was split between CMARS and WMARS. When they moved to yet different software, the catalogs were once again combined. But not all the duplicates were automatically merged. Human intervention is needed for those last few stragglers.

The other place I find duplicate records is in OCLC. That is such a HUGE catalog, there are bound to be "issues". And so much of the information is loaded automatically, there are bound to be even more "issues". I think I find a duplicate record nearly every time I search the catalog. It is not unusual to find 2 or 3 of the exact same thing. Those I report to the cataloging staff at OCLC.

Sometimes I get the feeling my purpose in this world is to find and merge (or report) the duplicate bib records in every catalog on Earth.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Woody Allen Movies

I've seen just about all of Woody Allen's movies, if not in the theater, then on DVD.

When a person writes and directs one feature film every year, some are bound to be duds, but others will be great and worth watching more than once.

My very favorite Woody Allen movie is Hannah and Her Sisters. Someone suggested that may be because I have sisters. It's possible, though not an overt feeling on my part. I just think the characters are realistic, have such depth, and their relationships are multi-faceted. There's so much going on in their lives from a variety of perspectives.

A close second in terms of favorite movie is Midnight in Paris. I saw it when it was first released and recently watched it again. While this movie is clearly a fantasy, it's just SO enjoyable. And the music is great. I actually bought the CD of the soundtrack which I have been playing regularly for the last few weeks. It doesn't hurt that I love Cole Porter's songs. My favorite is You Do Something to Me, though Let's Do It has been running through my head for the last several days.

Another favorite is Blue Jasmine. This is a serious movie, very unlike most of Woody Allen's. It's somewhat reminiscent of Tennessee Williams' Streetcar Named Desire which I also view every few years. The definitive version, of course, is the one with Marlon Brando.

Allen's most recent movie is Wonder Wheel. While it is narrated by Justin Timberlake and might give the impression of a comedy, this film is very much in the genre of Blue Jasmine. It involves a moral dilemma, which is a theme in several of his movies.

This idea of a moral dilemma plays a big part in Irrational Man. However, the movie, which tries to be a thriller, just doesn't make it. I love both Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix, but I doubt I'd ever bother to see the movie again.

Another film that began with a good premise but wasn't able to follow through is To Rome With Love. Three amusing stories that take place in Rome, flip back and forth from one to the other. I found that the stories sounded a lot funnier when I was describing them later to a friend. On the screen, they somehow didn't quite work.

And then there is Melinda and Melinda. What a great idea! A group of playwrights is arguing about whether people prefer to watch comedy (to forget their tragic lives) or tragedy (to make their lives look better). The men begin with the same scene and develop two different stories. In the film, the stories go back and forth and I found trying to keep the characters straight was totally confusing. Another one to add to the "don't bother to see again" pile.

Most of Woody Allen's other movies fall somewhere in between, though Annie Hall is often listed as one of his best and I do like it.

I've been borrowing DVDs of Allen's movies on a regular basis for the last few months. Given how many he's made, there are still lots to come.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

What Bennie Rosato and I have in Common

Bennie Rosato (real name Benedetta) is a character in Lisa Scottoline's legal thrillers. Bennie lives in Philadelphia, is a Civil Liberties lawyer, stands six feet tall, has curly blonde hair and blue eyes. None of that describes me, though I identify with her in other ways.

I just finished (for the second time, I think) Dead Ringer, the 10th book in the "Rosato and Associates" series.  As usual, Bennie and her associates face myriad problems, some of which could be fatal. This all-woman law firm is pretty resourceful, though, and is willing to take risks when needed. I always enjoy Lisa Scottoline's books.

As I was reading this one, a particular paragraph stood out. Bennie is preparing a class action suit and has filed a motion that brings the judge, other attorneys, and the clients to court for a preliminary hearing. She arrives early.

"The flag, the dais, the seal, and the jury box - all of these fixtures reassured and thrilled Bennie. They were the stuff of the law, the emblems, accoutrements, and tools used every day to hammer out justice, case by case, verdict after verdict. Bennie wasn't so naive that she thought justice was always perfect, blind, or evenly administered; she knew from bitter experience that judges and juries made mistakes, were bamboozled, or simply went the wrong way, every day. But she also believed that in the main, judges, juries, and lawyers strove together for justice, and that the courthouse remained a citzen's best hope for a truly level playing field."

Wow! That's just how I feel about libraries. The catalog, the databases, the reference desk are all emblems, accoutrements used by librarians to provide information every day. The instruments are not always perfect. I certainly know the MassCat catalog could be better, but it is useful even in its not-quite-perfect state.

And talk about "level playing field". What could be more level than the public library? Anyone can use it regardless of how much money they have or don't have. Anyone can find the information they need. Yes, librarians might make mistakes, but every one I've ever known works hard and does their best.

Thank you, Lisa Scottoline, for that paragraph and for reminding me how much libraries reassure and thrill me.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Spring?

The calendar says it's spring, but there's still a little snow on the ground and more is predicted for this afternoon. Well, it is New England.

A couple of days ago, I looked outside and even though there was ice on the pond, there were fish swimming around underneath the ice. And there are daffodil sprouts in the garden. Clearly the fish and the flowers are ready for spring and so am I. I even heard the song Spring Can Really Hang You up the Most last night during Jazz à la Mode.

I'm getting tired of my winter clothes; I want to switch to shorter sleeves and fewer layers. I want to paint my toenails and wear sandals. I want to pack away those warm scarves and gloves till next year.

I know it will all happen soon, but waiting can be hard.

On the work front, I've reached the title Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I've pretty much cleared out those duplicates and problems already because I dealt with  Little Men a couple of weeks ago. Little Women is a wonderful book that every girl should read. About ten years ago, I read it again and was surprised to realize I was reading at that level when I was in elementary school. It is a great read, but not an easy one. The vocabulary is quite sophisticated.

I've never seen any of the movies that have been made. One fan of the book told me the 1994 movie with Winona Ryder was terrible.

I tried reading Little Men, but didn't get very far. I'm not certain why. I had planned to read the entire series that Louisa May wrote. I guess I got distracted by murder mysteries. I know I read Eight Cousins when I was younger.

I was a voracious reader as a child. Come to think of it, I read a lot of mysteries then, too.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Book Review: The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

Even though the subtitle of this book by Margareta Magnusson is How to free yourself and your family from a lifetime of clutter, I would not call it a guide book to de-cluttering.

It is really a 117 page essay on one woman's experiences, thoughts and reflections on cleaning out the home of someone who has recently died. It is very personal and somewhat self-indulgent, but then, so is this blog.

Ms Magnusson who describes herself as someone "aged between eighty and one hundred" was responsible for cleaning out the home of her deceased mother-in-law. After her husband died, she was faced with the same situation. Now, she is in the process of what might be called "pre-death cleaning" so that her children are not burdened with the task. She does specify that "death cleaning" also happens in anticipation as well as after the fact.

I guess I would describe this book as a pleasant pep talk for shedding unnecessary belongings and living a simpler life, not only for oneself, but for those who follow.

An update on work: For the last few days I've been eliminating duplicates of books that begin with the word "little". There are Lots of Littles. I originally thought of using that phrase as this title of the post, and there were other variations (e.g. A Little Can Be A Lot).

Finally, after 5 1/2 years of merging duplicates, I'm beginning to see the results of my searching methods. Since I usually pull up many records with a general search and hunt for anything that may need fixing, I've already merged some records in the last half of the alphabet.

While there are lots of books beginning with the word "little" I'm going through the list pretty quickly. Who knows? I may actually finish the list - all the way to the letter Z - before I die! Then I'll have more time to death clean at home.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Last Time I Saw B.

Everyone knew B. He was a celebrity during the time I worked at Harper and Row (now HarperCollins). He was one of the highest grossing sales reps, though he was rather unorthodox and nontraditional as sales reps go.

We began hanging together at one of the national sales meetings and kept in touch via phone and mail. In 1982, I wanted to make a road trip to visit friends who had moved away from Massachusetts. I outlined my route, then contacted B and asked if he wanted to do any part of it with me.

After I spent a couple of days in New Jersey and a couple of days in Indiana, B and I met in Denver. We visited my friend, visited some of his friends, camped out near Aspen, and generally had a great time touring around Colorado. Then I headed for Missouri followed by Buffalo, NY.

A couple of years later, I got tired of being a publisher's sales rep and went back to being a librarian. In 1986, I attended the American Library Association conference in NYC. I had told B when I'd be there and, sure enough, he showed up. We met with some of the H and R editors for drinks, went out to dinner and took in some of the sights.

The following year, the ALA conference was in San Francisco. I stayed on several more days to visit my younger sister, Wendy, who was living in Berkeley. B joined us for a short time and then headed off on other adventures.

The next summer, I was at the ALA conference in New Orleans. I had told B I'd be there. I expected to run into him on Bourbon Street, but I never saw him. For whatever reason, after that we lost touch. Those couple of days in Berkeley was the last time I saw B.

I've been thinking a lot about Wendy and remembering our time together in Berkeley; the only extended time she and I ever spent together as adults. Though it wasn't a long time, I got to know a lot about her. And having someone else there for part of that time, someone from outside the family, gave additional dimensions to my picture of her.

Thinking about Wendy and those days in Berkeley, I can't help but also remember it was the last time I saw B. I wondered what ever happened to him. Lo and behold, he's on Facebook and is now one of my Friends. He remembered Wendy and our time in Berkeley.

Wendy died last week. I'm very sad. Communicating with B, having him remember her, is a link to Wendy that I find comforting.