Thursday, January 29, 2009

New Bible :)

I always love the joy of researching how I'm going to use my Christmas gift cards. And there is no gift card that I adore more than one to my favorite online shopping destination, I've been wanting a nice Bible for a long time, one that is attractive but small enough for travel and personal devotions. I also wanted a "study" format with notes of some kind, in a Catholic translation. I read the scriptures often via Mass readings and in the Liturgy of the Hours (I'll post about that separately one of these days), but I've never kept up a daily devotion of reading the Bible chronologically each day.

So, with my amazon booty this year, I thought ahead to Lent and the new devotions I'd like to start in the hopes of fostering a new habit that I keep up, and I researched Bibles. As quickly becomes the case with any online research I do, I became absorbed and wiled away hours and hours doing this, and I loved every minute of it :) I looked into the Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, translated by some highly regarded Catholic apologists and published by the orthodox Ignatius Press. Impressive, definitely, but I have to admit it's a bit too "scholarly" even for the Catholic Librarian. I also couldn't find one in the format I'd like, aesthetics-wise. I have paperback Bibles (they rip) and plain hardback (binding broken). I wanted something a bit sturdier. I'm hard on books :)

My interest was piqued by the New American Bible, frequently used at Mass. I had a paperback of this translation in the past, and it was always my favorite. It disintegrated rather quickly, but I used it in a Bible study that I belonged to in law school, and I really liked it. It has extensive footnotes included throughout the text, and the translation is more aimed at regular people, if you know what I mean, but not as loosey goosey (not a bad thing at all, it's just a difference) as the Good News Bible or The Message. I own a copy of the New Testament edition of The Message and really like it, that's just a completely different entity. Check it out at amazon, it's the Bible translated sort of like a novel. It's cool.

Anyway, I viewed numerous adorable New American Bibles. Different colors, cute zip-up cases, one with a magnetic close. This was more of what I was looking for. I finally settled upon a New American Bible published by Fireside, a well-regarded publisher of Catholic Bibles, called the Catholic Companion edition. Couldn't you just die with how cute that name is? It has a soft, faux leather cover, and is embossed with a crucifix on the front, and a full rosary on the back:

I received it this week, and it's *beautiful*. I chose the burgundy, pictured above, but they also make it with a black cover/tan back, and ivory cover/pink back, and these have a one decade rosary on the back. They are all really, really pretty. You can see them here. They have a full dictionary at the back (the librarian in me really digs this sort of built-in reference material) with all kinds of cool entries, like "Patron Saints" with a full listing of key saints (I found that St. Ferdinand III is the patron of engineers, at Mike's request, just from this list), and "Eastern Catholic Churches" with a full description of each. They also include maps, a listing of all popes with years of reign, and a beautiful silk ribbon to keep your place. I love mine, and I've been a good Bible reader and have read a chapter each evening. I'm starting in the New Testament (I get very bogged down in the Old Testament right around Leviticus) and so far, I'm loving the footnotes and the format. It only takes a little bit to make the Catholic Librarian very, very happy.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fun Times at the Reference desk,,,

I have been on the reference desk for 55 minutes. For the record, that's under an hour. In that time, I have had no less than a half dozen sweat-inducing interactions. The reference desk that I work at serves undergraduates generally, and science and engineering students. We had a desk consolidation some years back, and let's just say that it's been pretty painful for those of us lacking, well, science backgrounds. Librarians are trained to know what types of sources to look in even in fields in which they have no particular expertise. It's part of our duties as information specialists :) However, we're not miracle workers. Whenever I sit down at the reference desk, beam at an approaching student, and am greeted with a question that begins "I need to find a spectra..." My eyes glaze over and my mouth goes dry.

This particular reference hour has been filled with some doozies. Allow me to elaborate. The amusing one appears first.

(1) Clueless looking guy asking about the journal collection. "Hi, yeah, I was just upstairs? With the journals? Yeah, it says that they are, um, *non-circulating*, yeah, that's it. Non-circulating. What does that mean? I can't check them out, right? Oh, I can check them out for 2 hours? Great. But where could I then go to photocopy them for free?" The Catholic Librarian can do many things, but she cannot make a free photocopier materialize out of thin air. This was the easy one; it gets better.

(2) Introduction to Chemical Literature students are lurking in the reference collection. I hear them talking, looking over sources that appear to have been composed in a foreign language with no discernible index to making sense of anything. They keep glancing nervously at the reference desk. I'm fearing them. I'm really fearing them.

(3) Female student approaches with a tattered list of citations clutched in her hand. She actually encompasses 3 of the 6 aforementioned panic-causing interactions. She appears to be doing reseach for a faculty member, and the list states at the outset that "some of these citations may be incorrect or incomplete." Oh great, just make my day. One of the citations is for a journal title that is abbreviated, I KID YOU NOT, "J.D.E." What in the name of all that is holy does that stand for? The next citation is for a conference paper from some mathematics conference held in the 70's. Oh yes, all the librarians know where I'm going with this. It was one of those eeeeeevvvvvvviiiilllllll monographic series. And finally, we had the German-language mathematics journal. Oh, and let's not forget the citation to some mysterious sounding title that was "preprint." What? Pre-publication? In-press? A Worldcat and a Google (I was desperate, don't judge me) search turned up a big fat nothing aside from the very printout in the student's hot little hand. This source doesn't even *exist* yet and yet someone is citing it. Great, just great. The only good thing about the end of this interaction was that the chemistry students had left the area. I think it would have broken me to have dealt with them as well.

Monday, January 26, 2009

New hip scarf...

is *fabulous*. You'll be happy to know that I shimmied, hip circled and otherwise shook about happily in it this past Friday at my weekly bellydance class. I got it from hawkdancing, and they even sent me a cute letter with it. It's a form letter, but all the same, very thoughtful and above and beyond the call of duty. My new scarf is dark gray velvet with silver coins, and it stays on my hips firmly and jangles noisily. This is definitely the nicest hip scarf that I now have. I have a lovely dark green chiffon scarf (my first! it'll always be special) that I adore, but am constantly fussing with due to its propensity to slide down my hips at an alarming rate anytime I move. So, a happy, bellydancing Catholic Librarian. In celebration, I re-organized my playlists on Max, my iPod Nano, so that I can access my Middle Eastern music more efficiently. The librarian in me just can't help from coming out in all arenas of my life.

Friday, January 23, 2009

New bird!

To me, that is. Yesterday, I caught wind of a bird I've never seen before spotted on campus. Naturally, I grabbed my binoculars and dragged my good friend and colleague Chris with me, since he's much better at bird spotting than I am :) The bird we were looking for is an American Kestrel:

Cute, huh? Don't be fooled. This guy can rip small birds and other creatures to shreds in mid-air. Kestrels are actually in the falcon family, and are skilled hunters. But I admit, I find the picture very cute too :) Anyway, we head out there, and catch a fleeting glimpse of a female Kestrel scaring the absolute living daylights out of a flock of pigeons. I actually once saw a pigeon meet an unfortunate end at the claws of a Cooper's Hawk:

Just consider the Cooper's Hawk the larger cousin of our Kestrel. These are formidable birds of prey. Any pigeon just hangin' out on campus is in danger of being someone's next meal all.the.time. Plus, let's face it, pigeons aren't very bright. They coo right along until a dark shadow appears atop their heads. Anyway, I digress. We briefly spot the Kestrel, but by time we turn around (we had to drive; our campus is so ridiculously laid out) Miss Kestrel was no where to be found. Naturally. It's like they know I'm looking for them.

Later, I'm exiting campus, heading home. Up on a lamp post, Miss Kestrel is casually hanging out, waiting for some pigeons to cluelessly happen by. I nearly drove my car into a snow bank trying to get a closer look. She was quite dainty; you know, for a raptor. Very small for a falcon. But lovely. And scary looking, to be sure. I enjoy looking for her now each time I drive past that area of campus on my way home. Even birds of prey are my friends :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bellydance starts up again...

After being off for several weeks over the holidays, a very rusty Catholic Librarian has had bellydance class the past few Friday nights. My hips have felt clunky ever since. Finally, this past week, I've felt a bit more like my old belly dancing self. Which is to say, not all that good, but trying hard. We're learning a new routine, set to Bellydance by Saad. It's perky and fun.

Of coruse, being perky does not come naturally to me. When Claire tells us to "have a good time with it" and put some sass into our hips and smiles, I cringe a little inside. Rather than "look cute!" I'm more likely to "sweat profusely" but I do what I can. Claire showed us some new arms to go with our hips, explaining that the well-known bellydancer Aziza uses these arms with her hands making a pulling motion, like she's "pulling" her hips. Apparently, she does this with her chest also. I'm certain that Aziza pulls this off quite nicely, because as Claire says "she's absolutely adorable," but your Catholic Librarian just comes off looking stiff and paranoid. We'll get there.

As I usually do, I bought myself my own birthday present, and told Mike he's off the hook :) I am the proud owner of a brand new silver velvet hip scarf, and I'm tremendously excited. I plan to make lots of noise with it this weekend.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Spiritual Memoirs

I have loved books from the time I was a small child. Given that I'm a librarian, I'm certain this is no surprise. Books hold treasure for me in ways that other social activities do not; at least, not in the same way. Books have excitement and mystery, inside glimpses into the lives and private emotions of others. Frankly, the lives of others whose day-to-day happenings are much more interesting than mine :)

But I have always been in love with books. I'm always reading one. Always. I love playing with a new one when I get it fresh from Amazon or from the library; flipping it over, reading the back cover and flaps, paging through it, looking at included photographs. I even like the way books smell.

My book habit has always been expensive to maintain (hey, it's a vice, but I maintain that it's much more wholesome than other vices one could have :) so, given that we're down to one income, plus we have a little mouth to feed, I've taken to requesting most of the books I read from our local public library. I'm loving this new system. I usually read 1-2 books per week, so this public library angle has really come in handy.

My genre of choice in recent years has been religious non-fiction, particularly personal spiritual memoirs. Despite my addiction to reading, I've never been a fan of real heavy, academic books on religious studies. As soon as deep, theological arguments get underway, my eyes start to cross and I begin to skim. I like personal narratives. Stuff about real people and the spiritual journeys and challenges they face. I do read a lot of books authored by Catholics, but I really read a lot of spiritual memoirs by members of other faiths, non-Catholic Christian and Jewish. The books I'm reading right now is excellent, written by a female Jewish rabbi, I promise to devote a whole post to it when I'm finished :)

Lately, my consumption of religious memoirs has reached a fevered pitch. I've been getting an excellent selection of titles from the library (check out my LibraryThing library for specifics). Most recently, I went to pick up my holds, and the librarian actually arched an eyebrow at me: "you have 4 books here; do you want them all now?" I'm still well within the 3 week borrowing period, and I'm on book #4. Yes, I'm a book nerd, what can I say?

This has all gotten me to thinking: I wonder if I should write one myself one day? I'm a private person, so writing makes me feel "exposed" sometimes. But obviously I like to write, just based on this blog alone. This blog has given my latent writing desires room to grow and be creative in a way that I haven't been since high school. I'm very grateful for that. It seemed that I went to law school and although that experience honed my writing skills in a good way, all of my creativity was sucked out. I never had the desire to write for pleasure again until very recently.

Besides the private thing, I also don't have anything particularly dramatic in my spiritual story. No eclectic conversion to Wicca or ancient Celtic spirituality and then back to my Catholic roots, or something cool like that :) So we'll see. But my writing desires, previously neutralized to mandatory library literature, are back in full force. We'll see what happens :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Heading home for a long weekend...

I'm tired, so this is good. I think I'm getting old :) I have lots of good library books in my possession (more to be picked up on my way home from work, too...) so there will lots of reading. I think I'd like to start posting reviews of what I read over at my LibraryThing page, so check there for recommendations :) I can't believe what a book nerd I am. My life would literally come undone if I had nothing to read. I can't even imagine such an apocalyptic event as not being able to read; it's right up there with swarms of locusts coming to consume us all. It's too upsetting to even contemplate.

At any rate, I'm headed home to grill turkey burgers and make brown rice before heading to bellydance. My hip circles are pretty rusty.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Favorite student quote...

of my evening reference shift last night. After spending ten minutes patiently explaining some of the material in a required library tutorial, my protege says:

"oh. I see now. I didn't read the directions."

Amen. This is the epitome of my existence as an academic librarian :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My personal library catalog

So, I'm tremendously excited. I'm working an evening reference shift, and in between explaining to students that the library does not have a personal copy of their textbooks just waiting for their hot little hands to snap up (seriously - 200 plus other students are in your class shelling out over $100 for the textbook, and somehow *you* are going to snag that one magical, free copy at the library and horde it for the entire semester? Think about this before approaching the reference desk, crumpled syllabi in hand, iPod headphones still in ears, cell phone in other hand, dialing your significant other, whom you will inevitably break up with, via cell phone, in the reference collection stacks right outside my office door 3 months from now) I've been brainstorming on how to catalog what I read. I'd like to keep track, plus it will give others (you :) the chance to find some recommendations should you share any of my reading interests. I played around with blogger's gadgets for a bit, and then had a eureka moment. LibraryThing! Right now, I'm working on creating my profile and library of titles, and as soon as it's finished, I will obtain the widget that will allow me to link to it from this blog. I bet you're excited :)

So, what I'm going to do is not add books that are already in my collection at home, but the titles that I'm reading as the year goes on. I inevitably re-read all of my owned favorites anyway, so they'll make their way on there. I can also write book reviews on there, rate them, and get other suggestions on stuff to read. This is making my librarian hormones go into an excited overdrive.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ugly churches, take two

So, continuing on my central Florida theme, this is a great opportunity to delve back into the arena of modern church architecture. This is found in abundance on each of my trips to this region. The church that my mother-in-law attends, St. Ann's, definitely falls into this category. Each time I go, I scratch my head at what new things about it bother me. Now, I need to clarify that of course attending Mass is the most important thing, regarless of the beauty (or lack thereof) in the church building itself. That being said, I find modern churches harder for me to enjoy worshipping in. It's just a personal preference.

So anyway, what I dislike about St. Ann's is manyfold. Is that a word? Anyway, it's large and pointy and sort of vacuous. Here's a particular pet peeve: it has *abstract* stained glass. Isn't the point of stained glass to tell the Gospel story? Sigh. Not sure what is up with this, but bulletins aren't left out in the open so that just any Catholic librarian can snap one up while coming into Mass for perusual during the collection. They're squirreled away and then doled out after Mass by the ushers. Why? Don't they trust us to not read them during the homily? But the thing that bothers me the most about this church layout is that the tabernacle isn't at the front. It's in the back, in the daily Mass chapel. This bothers me quite a bit. The Eucharist is a central part of our faith, and it should be central in our worship spaces.

Those are the constants. Each time I go to Mass there, I notice something else. Like this time, when I went to Mass for the feast of Mary, Mother of God. We go in, sit down, attempt to pray. Suddenly, we're interrupted by the music director, guitar in hand:

"ok everybody, the opening hymn is going to be 'God is With Us,' Number 553 in your hymnals. Let's practice the opening verse together."

I won't relay what went through my head, because it was most uncharitable. I don't want to practice hymns before Mass unless I'm in the choir, particularly not when they're being led by a guitar. Guitars in other contexts are fine, but I loathe them in Mass. And I really don't want to be coaxed to sing by a bossy music director.

The following Saturday evening, Mike and I were going to dinner in another town, so chose to find a church nearer the restaurant where we could attend the vigil. Well holy smokes. We pull up, and Mike says "oh look, there it is." I look up, and swear to God, I averted my eyes. This church was so ugly, it was like I had seen something disturbing. I may have actually shuddered. The inside was even worse. Abstract stained glass abounded, and the entire shebang looked like a convention center. I couldn't find the holy water fonts, and then realized I was supposed to have used the immersion baptismal pool for these purposes. And this isn't architecture-related, but Florida-related: it was so bloody cold from the a/c, the pages of my Missal were blowing in the artificially forced breeze. It was 70 degrees outside; why on *earth* would we need air conditioning? We're not polar bears.

Anyway, the liturgy was actually quite nice, I was pleasantly surprised. No bossy music director in sight. Just a simple organist with a trio of excellent singers. Given that it was the Epiphany, there was a holographic star up above the altar, which I rolled my eyes at. The priest made a really good joke though about the star, saying he feared he was having a vision when he first saw it. "You do also see this star, don't you?!"

So, ugly church #2 in fact turned out better than I would have anticipated. I just don't understand why "new" always has to be translated into "modern." I go by the "if it isn't broke, don't fix it" mentality.

Monday, January 12, 2009

My Florida journey

As I've mentioned in the past, in contrast to most everyone else I've ever met, especially in the area in which I'm located in the Northeast, I'm not a huge fan of central Florida. I will grant, I live in a place in which winters are long and cold, and we are on the receiving end of a lot of snow. If it's not a foot or more of accumulation, it's not even newsworthy. But I'm just going to out myself: I like snow. I like the winter. My wedding anniversay is January 8th; this says a lot about me. I love the stark, barren beauty of the winter and then appreciate the first buds of spring. I'm a seasons girl; I never want to live in a place where the weather is the same year round. Particularly central Florida, although the weather is not the same there year round. The weather there is either pleasant or it's excruciating. Not a lot of in between. Plus, there's altogether too many strip plazas in central Florida, and not enough sidewalks. Doesn't anybody walk anywhere down there? I'm thinking not, judging by the sheer number of golf carts that nearly mowed me down. But I digress; Florida obviously isn't bad, it just isn't for the Catholic Librarian.

However, one thing that I truly appreciate about Florida is the birds. I saw some fabulous birds there, things that I would never get to see in the Northeast. So, allow me to pictorially elaborate.
We went to the beach for lunch one day (a 70 mile round trip journey; this is fairly commonplace when we visit this region :) and I can't say I was looking forward to it. Being in the car that much makes the Catholic Librarian nauseous. But anyway, after lunch, we walked down to the beach. I saw some shorebirds there that simply made my day. The first, I expected. They were Laughing Gulls:
I know, I know, all gulls look the freaking same, don't they? These guys actually usually look identifiably different. When they're breeding, in the summer, they have dark hoods: Where I'm from, we see a lot of gulls, but not these Laughing Gulls, so I'm always happy to glimpse them. So, I'm standing on the beach, admiring the gulls, when my little eye spies some small birds down the shore line. A quick look in my binoculars seals the deal: these are birds that I've never seen before. Translation: I mumble a quick explanation to Mike and my in-laws and race down the shore line like a maniac, dodging pokey people in my wake. I get down near the bird flock, and attack with my binoculars. What I see are the cutest birds I've ever seen before in my *life*. They were Semipalmated Plovers: I mean, did you ever?! They were so cute, I actually squealed at the sight of their sheer adorableness. They were pecking at the sand, and whenever the tide rolled in, the whole flock of them would gather their feathers up, and scamper up the sand away from the water as fast as their skinny little legs would carry them. They were so cute I could hardly stand it.

Seriously. Who could resist this face? So, as you can tell, I loved the plovers. Suddenly, beneath me I sensed a scampering. I looked down to see a smaller bird hustling around me. Being an amateur birder, I'm easily overwhelmed by multiple new species. I just remember thinking to myself "is he different? I think he's different!!" I immediately (like the true nerd that I am) whipped out my little birding notebook to write down all his details for later identification. He was smaller and lighter, and was clearly on a mission in the sand. His skinny little legs were pumping overtime as he hustled about. He wasn't bothered by the tide like those wimpy plovers :) I eventually deduced that this bird was a Western Sandpiper:I liked him *very* well indeed. I think the plovers were my favorite though; I wanted to pick one up, kiss it, and tuck it into my purse for transportation home. I'm thinking airport security wouldn't have liked this too much.

Another bird that I see each time I go to central Florida are Sandhill Cranes. These are magnificently graceful large birds that actually mate for life.

When one is eating or otherwise distracted, his/her mate very stoicly keeps watch. They're truly beautiful birds to observe.

I also caught glimpses of a few wood warbler species. Yellow-rumped Warbler:

And the Palm Warbler:

These guys are tough to pin down. They're teeny tiny, and constantly bounce around in leafy trees, frustrating Catholic librarians everywhere and causing them to swear in a most unladylike manner. But your Catholic Librarian isn't easily dissuaded, so damn it, those birds were going to get in the purview of her binoculars. Truly, I enjoyed it. I'm working madly to hone my skills before the big spring migration, when once again you will be subjected to lengthy posts about birds.

Friday, January 9, 2009

I think I'm getting sick...

Yucky. I feel lethargic and real sore. I have an odd stiff neck, and just want to go home and sip tea in bed. And whine. Thusly, I promise to write more on Monday when I'm feeling better.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A fall from grace...

Last night, I went to work installing 2 new car seats for Hank in my and Mike's car, since Hank outgrew his other seats by weight. Apparently, the true test of if you want your child to be safe is if your hands are sufficiently bruised and bloody after working on this project. I was assigned to this task because of the two of us, I declared myself to be more patient than Mike. How the mighty have fallen. A slew of profanity, several losses of temper, and a couple of profane gestures later, the car seats are in. Now, I just have to worry about uninstalling the f-ing things again in the spring when Hank gets taller and I need to adjust the harness slots again. Things are never dull around our household in the evenings, I tell you.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Catholic podcast update

Ok, so I tested a few of those rosary podcasts that I mentioned last week. There are tons of Catholic podcasts out there, just check out sqpn. I'm liking "Catholic in a Small Town," considering subscribing. Anyway, we'll see. But for the rosary, I test drove two different podcasts. The first was a generic one I found on iTunes called "Pray the Rosary" by Don Crescenzo. What I liked about it is that it is very straightforward, mowing right through the mysteries, no long meditations. I'm not exactly a mystic, as you can tell. Problem was, you could barely hear it. Keep in mind, most everything that I own is *old*. I do have an iPod, but I have a 2000 Honda Civic that requires an fm transmitter to play the music on my iPod. I love my fm transmitter, but as would be expected, I get a lot of interference and scratchy background noise at times. And with this guy whispering the rosary, it doesn't exactly bode well for me being able to follow along. So, I unsubscribed :) Next, I tried The Rosary Army's version, accessible through A Catholic iPod. The name of the web site alone made me pretty amenable to trying it. And, so far, so good. There are meditations, but they are short. And I like how the prayers are recited as one person saying the beginning, with another following up and you joining in, like you would normally say a rosary in community. The first podcast I tried was just that one guy, quietly saying all the prayers, and it just sounded odd. So, I downloladed all 4 of the mysteries of the rosary, created a rosary playlist, and here I am, content as could be.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Finally back from vacation...

I'll post more later, but I had to relate Hank's funniest line in some time. We were out for a walk yesterday, happily reveling in our cold weather (after the banal-ness of central Florida; sorry, had to say it :)while trying to avoid slipping and breaking our necks on the icy sidewalks. Hank announces: "Mommy, I have to go potty!!" Sigh. We're several blocks from home. I tell him we're almost home, and we pick up the pace. "But I HAVE TO GO POTTY." Clearly, this isn't going well. "Honey, you're going to have to hold it. We'll be home soon." "But I *can't* hold it mommy! I'm wearing gloves!!"