Friday, March 28, 2008

The end of an era

Today was strange. It snowed most of the day. Yes, it snowed at the end of March in Portland. One of the local TV stations said this is the latest snowfall on record, the previous record being March 10, I think. We're supposed to have more snow this weekend too. Guess I won't be gardening.

Today was also the day I said goodbye to my boss, who's retiring after 32 years as our library director. 32 years. Wow. He was hired in 1976, when I was a freckly 10-year-old making red, white, and blue candles at Girl Scout camp. It's hard to imagine the library without him. The first time I worked at the library, in the early 90s, I was a student assistant, hired to catalog some historical books during the summer between years of library school. I was a freckly 24-year-old at the bottom of the org chart. Library Administration was a suite of offices on the top floor of the library, and I knew the people who worked up there must be important because a) they wore suits, and b) they had the only air-conditioned offices in the building. One day I was hunched in front of my OCLC terminal (you library types might remember those old dedicated terminals with the green text on a black background), cataloging away, when Jim came down to tell me that he was glad I was there, and my supervisor was pleased with my work. I learned my first management lesson that day: show you appreciate your staff, even (maybe especially) the ones at the bottom of the org chart.

Several years later, after my sojourn in Georgia, I returned to the library, this time as a librarian. I worked for a wonderful supervisor who could turn a freckly, rough-around-the-edges 29-year-old into a somewhat competent professional. A few years later, we went through one of our many reorganizations, and I ended up reporting to The Boss. I was a bit intimidated, but I soon realized I had a new mentor. Jim helped me gain confidence as a new manager (still freckly and rough around the edges, in case you were wondering, but not quite so young) and was endlessly patient with my questions, insecurities, and frustrations. I always knew I could go to him for advice or a reality check, and I often needed both.

We gave Jim a fine send-off. In addition to the official retirement party, a group of us filled his office with balloons and streamers last night, and we pulled together an impromptu farewell lunch today. All too soon, though, it was time for goodbye. As someone wrote on the whiteboard, it is the end of an era. I don't know what the new era will bring, but I know I'll miss Jim's part in the old one.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The book is out!

I spent the summer and fall of 2006 slaving over an article on electronic journals, which I was writing for a reference book. I submitted it at the end of November 2006, got it back with some requested changes in February 2007, made the changes, and waited. And waited. And waited even longer. A few months ago I got the author proofs for a final review, sent in my changes... and waited.

This afternoon I strolled into my office after a half-day meeting across town to find a package waiting for me. A heavy rectangular package. From my publisher. Could it be? Yes! The book is finally published! Even better, they sent me a free copy. The cover price is something like $175, and the publisher originally said that authors wouldn't get any free copies but would have to pay half price, still a chunk of change. Apparently they decided to be a bit more generous, because there was no bill enclosed with the book.

I've been showing it off all afternoon to anyone who will stand still long enough, whipping it out the way other people whip out baby pictures -- which is challenging to do with a large, hardbound reference book. Too bad it won't fit in my purse. Then I could tote it around all weekend and really annoy people. Since I can't do that, I'll show it off here:

The book is finally out!

My chapter:

Hot off the press

Now don't you want to run out and buy a copy for a little light reading? If you do, be sure to use this link, so I can have a cut of the sale.

We academics rarely get paid for our writing. We do all that work out of sheer dedication to our field... and a line on our CVs... and the ego trip of seeing our names in print. I think I've illustrated that last point thoroughly with this post. If any of you are still reading this, thank you for indulging me. I'm going to shove my overinflated ego back in its place now, before it runs amuck and starts accosting the neighbors.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Funny quote on creativity

Tom at I'd Rather Be Writing posted a piece last week on types of blog posts. It includes the funniest comment about creativity I've encountered in awhile:

I’m hesitant to use the word “creative” because it has become a euphemism to describe someone who doodles impressively on napkins and flunks out of math.

I guess I'd better be careful describing people as "creative."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Almost spring

I've really been slacking on my blogging lately, mostly because I seem to spend all my time at work or gardening. By the time I get done working or playing in the dirt, I don't have energy left for much else, but there's dinner to cook, dishes to wash, laundry to do... you know, the endless parade of household chores that consume vast swaths of my weekend. So I don't have anything profound to say tonight, but I do have some pretty pictures. A few things are starting to bloom around here -- come see!

The marsh marigolds are in full bloom:
Marsh marigolds up close

The planter I got for my birthday last year is looking good. I plopped in the primroses to replace something that didn't survive the winter.
Basket of spring flowers

I get to breathe in the heavenly scent of winter daphne as I approach my front door:
Winter daphne

Red-flowering currant:
Red-flowering currant

Flowering quince:
Flowering quince


And the gorgeous pink cymbidium orchid my husband bought my for my birthday this year, which is currently adorning my kitchen:
Pink cymbidium

Even though the 10-day forecast calls for showers followed by rain followed by more showers, I can feel spring in the air. Every time I go outside, I see something else peeking through the ground, budding, or blooming, and the days are getting noticeably longer. 'Tis the season of rebirth, renewal, and hope, springing eternal.