Friday, August 26, 2016

Thanks, I Needed That

Serendipity was on my side today. During a few minutes of downtime before a meeting, I found this quotation from Janet Taylor in a magazine I was browsing:

          What you agree to spend your time doing should be true to your values,
          aligned with your goals, and emboldening to your spirit. If honoring a
          request isn't, then take a pass, keeping in mind that a firm no leaves
          space for a life-changing yes.

Perfect timing!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Find

The world of books is a marvelous place.

These beautiful Chinese books came in as part of a donation to the library's used book store. They are especially intriguing because they are "backwards" - opening left to right, and reading "back" to "front" and in vertical lines of text. I have heard of this but have never actually seen it, so they are a thrill.

I hope we can find them a new owner who will cherish them as they deserve. Do you know anyone? They are $2 each.



Monday, August 22, 2016

What's Missing is What Matters


Harrison Shepherd, American-born boy explorer, cook, plaster-mixer, typist, deliverer of paintings, and writer, is a creature of the author's imagination, but he inhabits a world of historical fact. After a childhood marked by his mother's mercurial sequential romances in Mexico, the fictional Shepherd becomes part of the household of artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, including their houseguest Leon Trotsky. This association, while hardly political in nature, proves extremely difficult when Shepherd returns to the U.S. during the Red Scare of the 1950s. There he faces the challenges of being a famous but publicity-shunning novelist, aided by his stalwart secretary/personal assistant, Violet Brown.

This is all pretty rarified air, but Kingsolver brings it off with aplomb. Somehow all these historical figures fail to distract from the details of Shepherd's life - perhaps because Kingsolver has so effectively drawn his character through multiple methods: diaries or daybooks kept by Shepherd himself, commentary by Violet Brown, plus newspaper articles, book reviews, letters sent and received, and congressional hearing transcripts. It's a lovely and effective mishmash.

Throughout the narrative Kingsolver has included a series of "lacunae" - absences that give the title a pleasing resonance as the novel progresses. A lacuna can be a gap in a narrative, or a cavity in the structure of a bone, or a space in a plant cell. In Shepherd's case, the lacuna is a gap in a rock wall that leads to a tunnel and an escape to another world, a missing notebook in his lifelong series of written observations of his world, a life lived beyond the reports in the newspapers, and what remains unspoken between lovers and friends in the silences between words.

As Shepherd himself says, "The most important part of a story is the piece of it you don't know." The gaps in Kingsolver's story speak volumes, in a most satisfactory way.    

Excerpt:

And now, at the end of everything, this: standing waist-deep in the ocean wearing the diving goggle, with Leandro watching. A pack of village boys had come along too, their dark arms swinging, carrying the long knives they used for collecting oysters. White sand caked the sides of their feet like pale moccasins. They stopped to watch, all the swinging arms stopped, frozen in place, waiting. There was nothing left for him to do but take a breath and dive into that blue place.

And oh God there it was, the promise delivered, a world. Fishes mad with color, striped and dotted, golden bodies, blue heads. Societies of fish, a public, suspended in its watery world, poking pointed noses into coral.

Friday, August 19, 2016

On Time (and the Lack Thereof)

Whew!

My work life has shifted around this year and while I like the changes, the adjustment is taking some time.

Things I gave up include a 2-hour daily commute in frightful traffic, office hours, dressing in "business casual" every day, and a steady paycheck.

Things I gained include working from home, making my own schedule, wearing shorts or jeans anytime I feel like it, and wondering what's next in the financial department.

I'm coming to the end of contract work for my previous employer and looking forward to another contract for occasional work, the possibility of teaching in the spring semester, and starting my own business. I've never thought of myself as an entrepreneur, but the idea is growing on me. Fortunately I have a wonderful community of entrepreneurial friends and a fabulous mentor, so I'm on my way, with confidence that I can do it.

Funny, though, that now I'm not working full time, I feel busier than ever. That's a surprise. Maybe it's that I used to say "Heck no, I don't have time for that" and now I think I will?

It sure seem that I'm always trying to squeeze everything in, while feeling the need for better time management. I'm starting to think it's time to dust off the One Thousand Ways to Say "No" that I practiced in law school.

The biggest time soak right now is setting up a website for my new venture (still under wraps, for now). Of course, once I get it situated, I won't have to do much with it. Except hopefully welcome legions of clients.

Time will tell!    

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Gotcha

Fun with the wildlife cam.

In the kitchen.