Getting Ship Shape

July has proven to be one of those months where all sorts of projects come along and disrupt the normal flow of things.

I’m not really sure when it all started, or exactly why. What I do know is that I’ve been planning a redo of my Library/Craft Room for quite a while now. That led to a serious Clean Out and Tidy. Which is still <cough> ongoing.

Part of that “tidying” has brought me to the point of inventorying my rather extensive library. I have a collection of paper books, audio books, not to mention movies and music in various formats. All in all, over time it has become a bit unwieldy. A point made very clear to me when I was cleaning one of the shelves and found myself saying, more than once, “I didn’t know I had this!”

You too?

Now, there was a time when I would sit down and develop my own database to collect said materials. To be dead honest, I just don’t have the interest. aka: Been there, Done that, What’ve you got for me?

I found a system that is pretty flexible, easy to use and, best of all, Free. ๐Ÿ™‚ Libib.com has been a wonder and a joy and a bit of an adventure. I managed to catalog the majority of the majority of my collection(s) in roughly a day or two with some additional work needed to clarify, and update my personal catalog.

As that project is progressing, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the rest of the room. I have a good idea of what I want and how I need to get it done. We shall see just how ambitious I get. ๐Ÿ™‚

I have been playing with my card stock again. Having a bit of fun and trying new things. This is what happens when you discover things you forgot you had. LOL!

Before you ask, at this point, I have no plans to sell cards. That will have to be contemplated another time. Right now, I’m playing for me.

All that being said, I have to give a shout out to Pootles Papercraft and Maymay Made It for their inspiration. They are among a select group of crafters who have given me ideas and made me want to return to the craft table.

The month of July is almost over and, for the first time in a very long time, I feel like I have accomplished something. I’m not done, but I feel like I’m well on the way.

One plus of rediscovering things is the joy of using them again.

If you feel stuck, need a bit of inspiration, or just want to see a bit of a change, I encourage you to pick a small thing and just take that first step. All journeys begin with one step, right?

Give Yourself Permission

A few weeks ago I came across an article about the need for some to be given permission to do pretty much anything. Around the same time, in a conversation with friends, the topic came up again and the general consensus was that for people younger than ourselves, there seemed to be a need to get an okay from someone to try new things.

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to goโ€ฆ

Dr. Seuss, Oh! The Places You’ll Go…

It may sound strange, but as I thought about it, it occurred to me that my generation was one of the last to just jump in and try things. We were the kids who watched the first space flights, the first moon walk, the first reaches beyond what we already knew. We were raised with the idea that anything is possible. What followed us was a group that seemed to be raised with the idea that maybe anything was possible, but the world was a dangerous and unpredictable place. Better safe than sorry.

Now, I understand – and to a degree agree with – the idea of the danger, but I think that perhaps we might have taken it a bit too far.

I’ve talked to folks who commented that thanks to inspiration from watching some YouTubers, they were inspired to get out and explore the world a bit. Starting with their own towns. Still others found themselves trying new things that some would consider hobbies, but for others are simply ways to get by. Cooking, cleaning, gardening, for example.

There is a lot in the world to be inspired by and to do. Travel, even limited, can lead to a broader knowledge of or, experience with, the history and people of an area. Culture in its many forms ties directly into our own individual histories.

We often don’t think about our favorite meals – the ones we had at Grandmother’s table – but those foods and flavors came from somewhere, right? When we start to dig into where the foods came from, often we discover other things about the people as well.

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

George Bernard Shaw

I submit to you that the idea “You can!” is real. It doesn’t really matter what “it” is, if you want to do it at least try. You may, or may not, succeed, but you won’t know for certain until you put in the effort. Should you decide that you don’t like it after all, fine.

As for the idea of “success”, I submit to you that your definition of success can, and probably should, be different from someone else’s definition of the term. It could be something as simple as a home cooked meal or a clean home or a garden that is bursting with color. It does not have to be winning a Nobel Prize if you are not interested in that.

My point is that you will never know what possibilities, what adventures, what you are capable of until you try – and the trying is up to you.

So, give yourself permission to explore, experiment, attempt, play, and all the other things that you have secretly wanted to do but were afraid to.

Let the adventures begin … now!

Old Friends

โ€œFriendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: โ€˜What! You too? I thought I was the only one.โ€

C. S. Lewis

I’ve been having a conversation with a new acquaintance about our interactions with some old friends. It has been a very interesting, and enlightening, discourse.

Some of these folks I’ve known for 5 decades, give or take. Others came along at varying intervals. My acquaintance, however, is a bit younger and that perspective is different.

Disclaimer: Our conversations have focused on a shared love of the various parts and pieces of “Star Trek” et al.

As I’ve contemplated our discussions, it occurred to me that the relationships we have with people, and characters, are built on how we connect. That spark of recognition, understanding, curiosity that began the connection.

I’m a long time Trek fan, but I also have similar connections with characters of other works; Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series, Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings”, “NCIS” et al, to name but a few.

For most of my life, I’ve been around people who never quite understood why I enjoyed certain things. Science Fiction was way out of the comfort zone for many folks I knew. I was a reader, something else that confounded people, and that didn’t begin to include the types of things I read. To be around people who enjoy books is a rare and wonderful pleasure. To be able to share a media franchise, like “Star Trek” can be great fun. “Outlander” books are my preferred version because they are Gabaldon’s work unfiltered, unedited, unchanged. Tolkien gives me nightmares along with some truly amazing stories. Being able to talk with people who have similar reactions is very enjoyable.

There is something about being around people for a long period of time. You get to know them. Their habits, quirks, warts and all. One may be a bit of a curmudgeon, but underneath has a heart of gold. Another will give you the shirt of his back, no questions asked. A third loves the adventure, just isn’t quite sure when, how, etc.

Each brings something to the table – as we do ourselves. That is something I would venture is rarely thought about. ๐Ÿ™‚

On a recent episode of “Star Trek Picard” I spent time with old friends that have been a part of my life for around 35 years. Coming together again after so many years was full of joy, serenity, safety and comfort. This was a group of people I knew and trusted and they were just as I thought they would be. Riker cooking, Troi keeping watch, Picard looking for a place to just be. And those of us who came along for the visit sitting in the background watching, listening, remembering. There is a lot to remember.

As I reflect on 50 odd years of Trek, there is, indeed, a lot to remember. Good and bad, happy and sad. A lot of the person I am today came from those people. More, perhaps, than the ones I spent time with outside of the book, TV or film.

I’ve always thought of “Outlander” as being up in Grandma’s attic reading journals from her trunk. The story spans such a large time period there is a lot of people, let alone history, to take in.

A recent episode of “NCIS” brought home the idea of how these characters become part of a family – the viewer’s family – in ways we don’t always recognize.

Gibbs watched Bishop do something that would have been inconceivable when she first joined the team many years before. Watching him stop and observe her, and then smile, made me smile. The kid, who, when she first came along preferred sitting on the floor with her laptop, was growing up and turning into quite a formidable agent.

I had a similar moment many years ago during a first run viewing of “Star Trek: The Search For Spock”. I was sitting in the theater surrounded by hundreds of other fans and there was a moment where Kirk plotted to embark on a scheme that Starfleet would not sanction. We all knew he would find a way to do want he needed to do and we all shared a knowing chuckle as the plan unfolded. We all knew that no matter what, we would be right at his side, too. We trusted him that much and what was at stake was far too important.

In my life there have been very, very few people that I know I can trust that way. I suspect it is a similar situation with many people. We like to think that our group of friends will always been there, but reality tends to show otherwise for a variety of reasons.

As I get older, and hopefully wiser, I treasure those few people, ‘real’ or not, who share the pleasure of their company along with many years of memories. They are true treasure.

“Not all treasure is silver and gold, Mate”

Captain Jack Sparrow

From The Reading Table: Lady Hardcastle Mysteries

Looking for a cozy book series that has some interesting twists and turns before the actual mystery?

Author TE Kinsey has created a series focusing on two women of different classes set in the early 1900’s.

The friendship between lady’s maid Florence Armstrong and her employer of many years, Lady Hardcastle, is unusual in that the two share an actual affection towards each other. There is respect and trust built on years of mutual support. It doesn’t hurt that the two have apparently been involved in some … interesting escapades in many locations around the world.

Starting with the very first book in the series, the reader is introduced to suggestions of the two women’s past adventures, albeit with passing references and not that much detail. We are left to imagine…all sorts of things. ๐Ÿ™‚ As the series unfolds, the backstory is filled in. A bit.

The series begins with what appears to be a retirement to the country, but since the two can’t seem to be all that far away from murder and mayhem, retirement is in name only.

The stories are interesting, well developed and peopled by a broad array of characters that are intriguing and, often, humorous.

Think “Downton Abbey” meets “Murder, She Wrote”. Sort of.

I particularly enjoy the unfolding of the history of the two along with the attention to detail the author employs.

As for the mysteries, those, too, are well constructed and presented. All in all, a good series to add to your To Be Read List.

There is an interesting interview with the author here.

From The Reading Table: Beryl and Edwina Mysteries

I’m a huge fan of Barbara Rosenblat, who reads a variety of books for audio. One of her most well known series is the Amelia Peabody books. When I discovered that she was reading the Beryl and Edwina Mysteries for author Jessica Ellicott I couldn’t resist checking them out.

The series is set in England in the late 1920’s. It features Beryl Helliwell who is a boisterous American and Edwina Davenport, a very proper British woman. The two are life long friends who reconnect when Beryl decides to stay in England after America has implemented prohibition.

Currently at three books, the stories are centered around Edwina’s home village of Walmsley Parva. The village is full of interesting characters – many hearken back to similar cozy mysteries – and the setting is both comfortable and interesting.

Jessica Ellicott has an interesting website providing information on the series as well as the opportunity to sign up for a newsletter to keep up with the goings on.

I do recommend reading the books in order. There is some back story that feeds not only the main story of each of the book but the series and the character growth will make more sense as you read.

As I said, I love Rosenblat’s work and she does an admirable job with all the voices. I enjoy it so much, the series is one I return to time and again when I need a little something to curl up with.

Please add these to your To Be Read List for the next time you want to read (or listen to) something a bit cozy. ๐Ÿ™‚