Meetings

One thing I hadn’t anticipated when I somehow became chair – or, as they call it, president, not a title I care to have these days – of the library last year was all the meetings and events involved in this volunteer, and as far as I can see, pretty much perk-free position. As the only board member who still works full time (and apparently, the only board chair they have ever had who works full time) and the only one who lives in faraway Hooterville, I felt like I could skip some of the events from time to time when I was just a board member. Now I feel obligated to go, and indeed it seems that I am often expected to run the show and give speeches, another unlovely aspect of my exalted state.

So it was that I had a library meeting on Friday, another one on Saturday, and yet another one is looming this Friday. Last Friday’s meeting was a special one to discuss delays in dismantling the decrepit house next door. Before I joined the library board, they had bought a long vacant house and lot next door with a view to expanding the current library facilities into that space. One of my duties as chair was to find someone to do it. He has been doing a great job and is salvaging as much of the amazing redwood as he can, some of which has been set aside for the (distant) future expansion, but he expected to be done by the end of the old year, when his contract expired, and he has not. So the meeting was to hammer out these details and for me to sign them, along with the contractor.

The Saturday meeting was the annual meeting, which I blithely skipped last year, but could not this year. This year I had to emcee the proceedings, while having no idea what they were exactly. They included presenting the budget which I had put together with our Treasurer earlier in the year, even though I have never created a business budget before. Not knowing how to do things doesn’t seem to stop me, even if it should. I think it all went as well as such things can, though I am unenthused about yet another meeting hovering on the horizon. Three in about a week is too many. At least the next one is not on a weekend.

After the latest meeting, I spent some time chatting with the audience, including someone who asked me if I was related to Jonathan, since our last name is unusual. According to HowManyofMe, there are only around 120 of us with the same last name in the entire country. It turned out that this gentleman had recently retired from his Silicon Valley job, and from caring for his mother, who passed away just short of the age of 105. He moved here and met my brother through their shared interest in ham radio.

One of the board members, who is 85, told us that she grew up on a ranch in what was then called Santa Clara Valley rather than Silicon Valley, and in those days, there were just fruit trees as far as the eye could see. She described the Valley in springtime as “clouds of blossoms”. I was interested to note that nearly everyone I chatted with that day was a native Californian, including some who have lived right here for generations. It was nice to feel connected to our community and appreciate how the library and everyone who works there, in whatever capacity, is enriching our little corner of the world.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Visiting Erica and Jessica. Why didn’t I do that more often when I could?!

strong>TEN YEARS AGO: Kitty antics, inside and out.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: An airport adventure.

Speech

I’m still not exactly sure how I became the President of the library board. It’s strange for an impostor like me to run meetings and sign official documents, even though I sign all the checks at work. When Megan was living with me* while she was in high school, I went to all her parent-teacher interviews as her “parent”, and every time I went, I half expected them to tell me that I had to go back to high school since I wasn’t a real grown-up**.

There are more events than I expected when I joined the library board, and it can be hard to fit them into my long and busy work days, but as President, I feel I have to go. Recently, a thank you dinner for library volunteers was held at the beautiful Guest House Museum in the heart of the Big Town. I love it that this lovely home, built in 1892, is still the tallest building in town:

I was less than delighted to learn that I was expected to make a speech at the volunteer thank you dinner. Other than speaking at my father’s funeral nearly 20 years ago, I don’t remember having to speak in public. I could happily have gone another twenty years to forever without doing so. Here’s what I said:

It’s been an eventful year for the Friends of the Fort Bragg Library. We have started to make some real progress in dismantling the Whipple Street house, a meaningful step toward the future of expanding our library. Thank you to Daniel Z— for providing invaluable technical advice and support as we move forward with this project.

We lost three beloved Board members over the course of this year: Carol L—, Jennifer W—, and Jane V—, all long-serving and dedicated Friends who are dearly missed and will never be forgotten. If you seek their memorial, look around you. We are fortunate to have some new Board members who bring fresh ideas and expertise with them, and who have already made some very valuable contributions to the Board.

Thanks to Sandra F—’s wonderful “Thousand Dollar Club” idea and advocacy, funds continue to roll in towards making the dream of a bigger and better library come true. Fundraising events have been very successful this year, thanks to our dedicated volunteers, some new and some of many years’ standing. Thank you to all of you who contribute your time, your ideas, your perspiration, and your inspiration to helping your local library and community. We couldn’t do it without you. Here’s to you!

It went pretty well, though, judging by the applause. I don’t think public speaking is going to become a favorite hobby or anything. But I am proud of the work we are doing at the library and how much it means to our little community.

*I never really thought about how weird this situation was until a couple of years ago. Looking back, I can’t believe that a 23 year old was expected to parent a 14 year old. It all worked out in the end, though.

**Someone recently pointed out to me that actual grown ups do not refer to themselves or others of their ilk as “grown ups”. They use the term “adult”. Apparently, my use of the term “grown up” is just one of the many signs that I am not one.

A YEAR AGO: Some things were better. And some weren’t.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A trip to the south coast. And an unexpected cow.

TEN YEARS AGO: An impending job interview. Bonus: Baby Jessica!! Oh, the cuteosity!

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Eeek! A mouse!

Books

It wasn’t all sloth on this long weekend, however. I found time to help set up the library book sale, along with countless other volunteers, young and old alike. My high level task was to haul handcarts of books through the alley behind the library to the Veterans’ Hall across the street.

We had a pretty good system going. One of the volunteers pushed boxes of books down a chute to a loading area, where another volunteer stacked the boxes onto the handcarts so they could be dragged across the street, up the ramps, and into the Hall.

There other volunteers decanted the books onto tables set up by genre, arguably a less appealing task than the book haulage itself. Having said that, though, each load seemed to get heavier, and I began to feel about 90 years ago. At last, we got to the “special price” books, the last to go. These only had to moved around the corner into the room where the Board meetings are.

It looked great when everything was set up:

And I am pleased to report that the library made close to $9,000 from the book sale. How’s that for teamwork?

A YEAR AGO: Dodge gets the thumbs up from the vet.

FIVE YEARS AGO: My computer was brand new. And somewhat shinier.

TEN YEARS AGO: Still love those Chanel rain boots. And I rarely use an umbrella now that I live in the country. Mostly it’s just a hat. And non Chanel boots.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Art on the streets of San Francisco.

Dark

The Naked Ladies are flaunting their pink, leafless blooms by the side of the road, and you know what that means: high beams have made their unwelcome return to my morning commute. I need a flashlight to get to the car, and I am extra vigilant looking for the wildlife hanging out or meandering on the Ridge in the early morning darkness.

This morning, I wondered what that mysterious light through the trees was. It turned out to be the nearly full moon once I emerged from the redwoods. The moon kept me beaming company all the way down the Ridge and yet was also hanging over the pastel ocean once I arrived there.

It reminded me of when I was a young girl and my mother’s father, the inimitable (and much missed) HoHo, had me convinced that he put the moon up every night, using a long ladder. Once the moon landing happened, I asked him what he did about the astronauts, those men on the moon. He explained that he used a catapult for that. Remembering this half a century later still made me smile as I drove down the beautifully empty highway. Is there anything lovelier than a two lane highway beside the ocean with no other cars in sight on a clear summer morning?

Work has been a crazy thing lately. Or crazier than usual. I worked 35 hours in three days this week, as the Feds examined the operations at the clinic where I work. Weeks of planning, data gathering, and fretting were involved, and there was of course a last minute scramble for documentation, and you know how I love that. In the end, we got 88 out of 93, and have a certain amount of time to fix the 5 things we did not pass. The graders themselves said it was “excellent”, but somehow I just feel let down and not all celebratory like my boss and my coworkers. Maybe because the fix involves having yet another board meeting this month, which means yet another twelve hour day for me.

I have to admit that I’m a bit worn down. I feel like I have been running a marathon. First the move in June, then the dreaded annual staff day and 25th anniversary party in one week in July, then the Feds in August, and now the annual audit is looming in September. I also have to find time to help set up the library’s annual book sale, since I am now the board president, and have been knee deep in dealing with contracts for the library expansion, a thing I know nothing about. Not that this has ever stopped me.

In other library news, yet another board member has passed away, making a total of three this year. To be fair, she was 94, but it’s still a sad loss. She was much loved by the community and still very active on the board. So I am attending her funeral next week and hoping that I will not find myself shoveling dirt onto a coffin again.

I keep thinking, “Once this is over, I can relax”, but it doesn’t seem to work that way.

A YEAR AGO: Yup, the darkness was coming back in. And the new normal does seem to be the norm, since I am sleeping with fans again and can’t remember the last time I didn’t. I miss having the screen door open in the bedroom at the old house. If I have the windows open here, Dodge pushes the screens out.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Under construction!

TEN YEARS AGO: The sudden, unheralded appearance of my landlords. Yet another good reason to move.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Summering in the Hamptons, darling!

Circus


Step right up!

I took two days off around the Fourth of July holiday, and I am pleased to announce that it was not boiling hot and I was not sick or injured, as often seems to happen when I have the temerity to take a day off.

It was nice not to get up in the dark to the tyranny of the alarm, to not drive to the Big Town, and not apply faux adult armor. I sat in bed in the morning with the boys, catching up on my fan mail while drinking coffee and contemplating getting up. It was nice to have the feeling of having time, though like most time off, it sped by too quickly.

The circus was in town – the Flynn Creek Circus, that is – and Megan arranged to go to work late that night so we could go together. That night’s show was a benefit for the local library, of which I am now Board Chair. Megan asked me why I didn’t get free front row seats, which I thought was a good question. Also, where was my limo?

I forgot about these questions as soon as the show started. It was a new one, featuring a rabbit who escaped from a magician’s hat, rabbit revolutionaries, and some very talented humans, to whom the laws of physics did not seem to apply:

The jugglers were phenomenal. They bounced ping pong balls off their arms and did things with hats that had to be seen to be believed:

Even though I saw them, I couldn’t believe my own eyes. I spent the whole show gasping with amazement, filled with wonder and delight. It was like being a child again.

At the end of the show, the artists lined up outside the tent and we had an opportunity to tell them how wonderful they and the show were, which I really appreciated. I was especially happy to tell the jugglers how amazing their act was.

They are doing another show in the Big Town next month, and I’m thinking we should go again. Encore!

A YEAR AGO: The annual quilt show, which I missed this year due to Megan’s changed work schedule.

FIVE YEARS AGO: My scenic drive to work in the Big Town.

TEN YEARS AGO: Surprisingly few of you wanted to swap housing with me back when I lived in Oakhampton. Moving there was not one of my better decisions. Moving away was.

Goodbye

I found myself at an unexpected funeral one sunny day. One of my fellow library Board members died suddenly just a few days earlier, and I received an email one afternoon asking that I attend her service the following day. I later learned that she was Jewish and that they do not believe in embalming, so funerals happen a little more quickly than I am used to.

Fortunately, my boss let me take time off, though wrapping up details at work made me late for the service. That, and the fact that I thought it was at the cemetery overlooking the ocean when it was actually the one in town. Its entrance is not well marked or marked at all, as far as I could tell. When I arrived, I could see things were already in process. I parked Wednesday under a tall tree and made my way toward the group as quickly as I could.

The rabbi was speaking about Jennifer, and it was funny and delightful. I think she would have approved. Others spoke, and there were tears and laughter both. I couldn’t understand the Hebrew prayers, but they sounded beautiful and I could feel the centuries-old tradition as I did at that long-ago bar mitzvah. A lone raven wheeled slowly overhead, the sun glistening on his dark feathers as he surfed the air currents. I felt the sun warming my back and smelled freshly cut grass as I tried not to stare at the simple, pale wooden box poised over the grave.

I don’t think I have been to an actual burial since my grandparents’, 42 years ago. It was a little shocking. The rabbi said that it is considered a final gift to the deceased if you help to fill in his or her grave, since they cannot cover themselves. So I got in line with the other mourners and when the time came, I took the shovel and as gently as possible put the dirt in her grave, where it made that terrible, hollow sound as it hit the coffin. That’s a sound you never forget. Some people used their hands instead of the shovel, perhspa feelinga little closer or more personal that way.

At the end, the rabbi asked us to stand in two lines along the path leading to the grave, and as the family passed by, they clasped our hands and we each said, “May you be comforted.” It was really beautiful. I was glad I could be there.

A YEAR AGO: Silly Suzy! Could it be spring fever? Or only having two brain cells?

FIVE YEARS AGO: The naughtiness of Clyde. I am pleased to say that he seems to have reformed.

Bookish

Our county is big – the size of two small states, blended up and garnished with hippies, intellectuals, rednecks, and artists with a bottle of wine and a joint on the side – but the population is small. Its nearly 4,000 square miles is home to a mere 86,000 people, or about 23 people per square mile (less if you live in Hooterville). So the pool of people, whether it’s for dating or jobs or pretty much anything else, is limited.

It’s also not the wealthiest place, so everyone from the volunteer fire departments (thank you, guys!) to my workplace are always holding fundraisers. Sometimes it seems that half the county is selling stuff to the other half. Having had to deal with the nightmare of the annual work fundraiser and the difficulty of finding and keeping Board members at work made me sympathetic to a plea from our local library to attend one of their Board meetings with a view to possibly becoming a Board member.

Although this is a shockingly adult thing to contemplate, I went to the meeting on a sunny Friday morning. The library Board meetings are held at a civilized 10:00 am rather than the depressing 5:00 pm of the monthly work Board meetings.

They are usually held in the community room rather than in the library proper, but it was a staff training day, so the staff was using that room. It also meant that although I was in the library and equipped with my card – acquiring which, you may remember, was about the first thing I did when I moved here – I was unable to actually pick up the books which were waiting for me, since the staff was otherwise occupied.

I perched on a pouf and observed the proceedings. It’s safe to say that I was the youngest person there, possibly by decades. It’s nice to feel youthful as time marches on in its inexorable way. They seemed like a nice bunch of people and there was a pleasing lack of drama.

The library is looking to expand and it would be interesting to be part of that. I love the library and our community so perhaps getting involved this way would be a good thing. My boss has no problem with my taking a very early lunch one day a month (it certainly makes the afternoon long, though). I am planning to attend the next meeting and make a decision from there.

A YEAR AGO: Of time and place.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A graveyard stroll.

TEN YEARS AGO: Stuck in the airport.