Friday, June 16, 2017

It's June again!

Finally! Until last week, the weather was mostly cold and rainy, but then there was the heat wave and the last couple of days have been clear, dry, and refreshing.

Well, this is New England - noted for its variety of weather. Isn't that why we live here? So we won't be bored with beautiful sunny weather day after day?

June is the month of anniversaries: M and I were married 6 years ago, began living together 26 years ago, had our first date 28 years ago. It's been an adventure living with M. and sometimes I wonder how I got myself into this situation. But then I remember it's because I wanted some variety in my life and I need help with that. If it were up to me, I'd have nothing but smooth routines - a little like that perpetually sunny weather described above.

June is the month of my birthday. This is a big one - another decade. Fortunately, I'm not nearly as upset about turning 70 as I was when I turned 60. I have lots of positive role models much older than I: most of the people in my exercise class and also M. I think he keeps me young.

And June is when I was laid off from my job in 2010. Shortly after that, I began this blog as I was looking for another job and, as it says in the tag line, maybe another career. I've found both.

Fortunately (wow, that's the second time I've used that word in this post), I'm old enough to collect Social Security and can afford to work only part-time. After many, many different part-time jobs during these 7 years, I've settled into being the MassCat Cataloger - probably the most perfect job for me I could imagine. The work can be tedious, but it's only part-time. I might go crazy if I had to do it 40 hours each week; I can manage 18 hours.

And then there's my exercise class. True, I don't get paid to lead it, but if I were the entrepreneurial type (which I'm not), I could develop those skills into something to produce income. I do get several free meals each year from the appreciative organizations for whom I volunteer.

Sounds as if things are pretty sunny after all.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I'm Really Beginning to Dislike Laura Ingalls Wilder

It's not really her fault. Nor is it the fault of Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, or William Shakespeare.

They all wrote LOTS of books and LOTS of companies published those books, often LOTS of times (revised edition, updated edition, abridged edition, illustrated edition, etc.) That makes sorting out the duplicates from the different editions rather difficult. Where's FRBR when you need it?

I'm still at the beginning of the letter L in my alphabetical list of possible duplicates - that's the beginning as in books starting with the word Laura. I'm hoping when I get further along, and get to books starting with the word Little, many of the duplicates of Little House on the Prairie will already be cleaned up.

Trying to come at these from a variety of different direction - and finding different things along the way - I did a search on the one word Laura, then Ingalls, then Wilder.

Since Gene Wilder only died last year, most of his death dates were not filled in. I did learn that at one point, it was thought he was born in 1935, but he was born in 1933. And his birth name was Jerome Silberman. That all came from the Library of Congress Authorities. The Authority Files have so much more information in them now.

And I found a book of poems by Melville Cane called Wider Arc which had the incorrect title Wilder Arc. That has been corrected.

Every time I merge records, upgrade a record, correct a record, I get a real feeling of satisfaction and think of people using MY online catalog and finding what they need.

It's time for my annual review. Instead of listing what I've accomplished during the last year and what I hope to accomplish during the next, I'll just hand my supervisor this blog! :-)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ugh! Computer problems

Without going into details, we had some major computer issues that resulted in a complete wipe-out and restore. I've been depending on my computer at work to do some basic things like e-mail and renewing my library books.

However, the evil machine is now up and running. Perhaps I should be careful about using abusive language with it. I don't want to jinx anything.

On a more positive note, M. and I just returned from a 2 week vacation in Spain and Portugal. Traveling with M. is not easy. He refuses to be part of any tour, go anywhere anyone else wants him to go, or do anything anyone else wants him to do. He's very independent.

As a result, we spent 1-3 days each in several different towns or cities: Ubrique, Spain (where we visited friends), Ronda, Spain (where we spent an afternoon at an archaeological dig, Malaga, Spain (where we visited a sculptor M. had met via the Internet and we also saw some major Semana Santa processions), Huelva, Spain (which was a mid-point between Malaga and Lisbon; we were driving), Lisbon, Portugal (where we boarded a plane to the island Madeira), Madeira, Portugal (where we visited friends who used to live in Hatfield), back to the Lisbon (where we had to stay overnight because of the flight schedules), and then to Boston. From there we took a Logan Express bus to Framingham and then drove home. Whew!

We don't travel a lot, so this whole "living out of a suitcase" thing is awkward. I'm someone who likes security and routine. For 2 weeks I did not have either.

The weather in Spain and Portugal was warm and sunny. We arrived to chilly drizzle. The last two days were more like our vacation, but today is rainy and the same is predicted for tomorrow.

Well, this is April (as in showers).

I'm so looking forward to those May flowers.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I always feed sophisticated ...

... while reading a book by Donna Leon.

Commisario Guido Brunetti and his wife Paola are elegant. Their family sits down to lunch every day. They even have wine at lunch

Donna Leon's prose is elegant. Her detailed description of Venice, Italy; traveling along the canals; looking at the architecture are all elegant.

While I read the books (the one I just finished is Quietly in their sleep), the ambiance begins to permeate my body and I feel elegant, too. I want to sit at a cafe and sip wine; I want to cook and serve elegant meals; I want to have stimulating intellectual conversations; I relish life.

Despite the fact that there are crimes being committee - usually murder, but lots of other things, too - this series is just plain elegant.

Leon's  descriptions of Venice are so thorough that, before visiting the city, friends of mine read several of her books and took copious notes. They felt they could actually find their way around by following in Guido Brunetti's footsteps.

Italy is a country about which I've heard many good things. Everyone I know who has been there loved it. Perhaps one day I'll have the chance to visit Italy and, specifically, Venice. I'll be sure to read (or maybe re-read) Donna Leon's books so that I know the best places to sit and sip wine and be elegant.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Book: Bland Ambition

If you think that the happenings in Washington D.C. today are anything new and different, reading Bland Ambition by Steve Tally will likely change your mind. It seems that not much has changed in our nation's Capitol since 1789.

Image result for dan quayleThis political satire includes brief biographies of the men who held the position of Vice President of the United States of America. The subtitle reads: From Adams to Quayle - the cranks, criminals, tax cheats, and golfers who made it to Vice President.

Dan Quayle (remember him? He's the one who said he wished he had taken Latin in school so that he could communicate better with the people in Latin America.) is the person who inspired this book. Unfortunately, it was written during the Bush/Quayle administration, so that we don't know Tally's opinion of Al Gore, Dick Cheney, or Joe Biden.

Tally sometimes sacrifices clarity for humor (I wasn't always sure, without doing further research, exactly when an event occurred), but the facts themselves are all accurate. I've read lots of political biographies and Tally's descriptions square with what I know - even if his interpretation is somewhat unique.

I found this book most useful in gaining perspective on Washington politics today. I sometimes worry about our country and it's current atmosphere of anger and vindictiveness. I keep reminding myself and other that we survived the administration of Richard Nixon. It's a relief to know we've survived a whole lot more, too.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Swordfish Plaki

Being a pescatarian (that's a vegetarian who also eats fish - though I do admit to sometimes eating chicken), I'm always on the lookout for fish recipes. I especially look for recipes that are fast and simple so that I can make them after work and still eat at a reasonable hour. I hope they will also be delicious, not only for M and me, but in case we have company for dinner. Many of my friends are really good cooks and I don't want to embarrass myself by serving a blah meal.

This is a recipe I found in the local newspaper. It met the criteria for fast and easy and turned out to be quite tasty. I served it with roasted potatoes.

Swordfish Plaki
2 8-ounce pieces of swordfish
lemon juice
salt & pepper
1 large onion, sliced
2-3 large tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 small cinnamon stick
2 Tablespoons fresh dill
1 teaspoon honey or sugar

Wash fish and sprinkle with lemon juice, season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a pan (large enough to hold the fish in one layer) and cook the onion slices for 5-6 minutes. Add tomatoes, parsley, dill and cinnamon stick. Season lightly with salt. Cook gently for 10-15 minutes. Taste and add honey or sugar if it is too tart. Add fish pieces and spoon the sauce over them. Cover and cook gently for 10-15 minutes or until fish is opaque. Serve hot with parsley or dill to garnish.

Bon app├ętit!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Two Women in New York City

book cover of 

Tell Me, Pretty Maiden 

Molly Murphy emigrated from Ireland in the late 1800s under awkward circumstances; she was running away from a possible criminal charge. The landowner's son had tried to take advantage of her and she fought back. Fearing for her freedom and maybe her life, she left.

Now it's the early 1900s and in this seventh novel of author Rhys Bowen's mystery series, Molly (who started a detective agency early on) is very busy going undercover as a street urchin, an extra in a Broadway play, and a mental patient. She has fun and quirky friends that help her get into (and, fortunately, out of) difficult situations.

Reading about Molly and the early days of the city is fun and interesting. The historical details seem accurate. This particular story took place in winter and now I'm looking forward to one that happens in warmer weather.

Image of itemJust a few year later, in the 1920s, Lillian Boxfish arrived in the Big Apple. Of course, it wasn't called that at the time.This is a title that was listed in Wowbrary - a service to which the my local Public Library subscribes. Every Wednesday morning I receive an email that lists the new books, DVDs, etc. that have arrived at the library and I can reserve whichever one(s) interests me. This one did.

The story takes place on New Year's Eve (winter again) 1984 and 85-year-old Lillian has a dinner reservation at her favorite neighborhood restaurant. Lillian loves to walk around New York, even at night, even when it's cold, and she ends up taking a long stroll from the Murray Hill area where she lives to Wall Street, to Penn Station and ultimately back home. Throughout the evening, she remembers different roles of her life (career woman, friend, wife, mother, ex-wife, mental patient, and many others) and has some unusual adventures along the way. This book is a delight to read.

Take a walk with Lillian sometime soon. You won't regret it.