This post will be a little different, and more locally-focused than usual. In honor of National Library Week (which was 4/19-4/25), I want to highlight 5 cool things you can get at the public library while you’re stuck at home. First, if you live in Maryland and you don’t have a library card, FCPL is offering temporary library cards that last til June 1 and can get you access to most of their digital resources, which I’ll be highlighting here. Also, all of these things are free for u, my friends!
I don’t work for FCPL but I am a big nerd for libraries, and I know their resources don’t get used as much as they could be, so if you have any questions about using any of this stuff, or you want a book recommendation or somethin’, reach out! I like to librarian for friends.
- E-books and e-audiobooks. Do you like listening to your own audiobook a month from Audible? You can get even more books, both in audio format or as an e-book you can swipe through on your lil phone or tablet through the library. Here’s the ones I like from FCPL:
- An app called Hoopla where you can check out 30 books and audiobooks, as well as some TV shows and movies (I haven’t done much of that but they’re out there!). The number of things you can check out might vary depending on your library system, but check it out!
- The other big book/audiobook app is called Libby (by Overdrive), and I like that one too, even though you sometimes have to be put on a waitlist to get super in-demand books.
- Virtual storytimes! FCPL does these live on their Facebook at 10am every day, and you can also browse their archive on Youtube. These are designed for kids 0-5.
- Lynda is a portal where you can find high quality videos to learn “business and career skills, software and IT, job search tools, web design, social media and publishing tools, and photography.” I used Lynda to learn how to use Photoshop, and there’s some good Microsoft tutorials in there too.
- Kanopy is another really popular library resource. It’s a place to find streaming videos (like Netflix), and it has its own Roku channel and smartphone app. There’s a lot of educational stuff on there, but also movies from the Criterion collection, indie films, and lots of documentaries.
- A couple homeschool/educational resources:
- Kids InfoBits is a really cute tool for elementary-to-middle schoolers (and me, when I want simple, comforting facts about farm animals).
- Gale Virtual Reference Library — I can personally vouch for this database, I use it all the time with students at work! Very readable and user-friendly, like a scholarly version of Wikipedia. I’d say it’s a high school to college-level resource, but I am also very bad at estimating reading level by age.
- LearningExpress Library has test prep and practice tests for SAT, ACT, AP, GED, GRE, and citizenship exams, plus I think some occupational exams like the NCLEX for nursing. Back in the day, I used their GRE practice tests, because those books are expensive!
So there ya go. Hope you can find something fun to read or watch for the weekend. You know what they say on Arthur, having fun’s not hard…
More of my practice drawin’ hands!
Coloring, laundry, bickering, comfort, fatigue, and friendship. Is there more to report on? I hope you are staying well and on top of your mental health as best as you can, dear friends. I’m breaking my “no pandemic journalism” pact because I have found a few reads that have been helpful (and none are from the Atlantic, whose dramatically grim headlines have given me anxiety flare-ups every time I see them, thank you very little, the Atlantic!):
- Sorrow Is Not My Name, Ross Gay. “there are, on this planet alone, something like two / million naturally occurring sweet things.” A new favorite line of poetry. The whole poem is hopeful, go read it!
- Why Its OK To Be Bored And Not Productive In Quarantine, Refinery 29. “It was the countless hours I spent dialing into my family’s broadband internet to meticulously build bad websites on Geocities — not the hours in front of a piano — that led to mine. Of course, the point of wuliao [a Chinese phrase that which translates to ‘the absence of conversation,’ and generally means ’too bored’] is not to think about the future. Any hobby, even the pointless ones, will immediately become poisoned if you approach it with the plans to eventually reap from it.” This article shows some cool and cute examples of people’s silly innovations and activities during self-isolation.
- Colorful Maps of a World in Coronavirus Lockdown, CityLab. I love this and am inspired by it. Might draw my own map, which would be of my beloved unremarkable hometown of Walkersville. A place I know almost every inch of, one that is incredibly special to me even in its unspecialness, its one-in-a-millionness. In the link, my favorite one is the fantasy-style map from a reader in PA.
- This Is Not the Apocalypse You Were Looking For, Laurie Penny. “In the end, it will not be butchery. Instead it will be bakery, as everyone has apparently decided that the best thing to do when the world lurches sideways is learn to make bread. Yeast is gone from the shops. Even I have been acting out in the kitchen, although my baked goods are legendarily dreadful. A friend and former roommate, who knows me well, called from Berlin to ask if I had “made the terrible, horrible biscuits yet.” These misfortune cookies tend to happen at moments of such extreme stress that those around me feel obliged to eat them. They say that if you can make a cake, you can make a bomb; if the whole thing implodes, my job will not be in munitions. My job will be the same as yours and everyone else’s: to be kind, to stay calm, and to take care of whoever happens to need taking care of in my immediate vicinity.” I am doing my darndest to not share pandemic journalism but the writing in this one is just irresistibly good. It makes me want to see what else she’s written. It makes me want to hug my friends. Someone should invent a way to make a virtual hug that actually feels like a physical hug.
- Dr. Seuss’s Fox in Socks Rapped Over Dr. Dre’s Beats – Surprisingly good for kids and grown-ups!
Bonus features aka my favorite section these days:
Remember Nutsy, in Disney’s Robin Hood? He’s a vulture (?) keeping the night guard, walking around the courtyard with an axe and shouting the time on the hour: “1 o’clock and allllllllll’s well,” to the Sheriff of Nottingham’s sleepy irritation. The past few weeks, writing these intro paragraphs has felt like that. It’s Friday, I’m here with my axe, and all is as well as it can be. Also can we talk about how good the Disney Robin Hood is?
- Museum Asks People To Recreate Paintings With Stuff They Can Find at Home, Here Are The Results, Sad and Useless. These are real cute! It’s cool seeing people be creative and how everyone is working to imitate the light in their chosen painting. I like the Mondrian open face sandwich the best (or the dog one at the end!).
- How Craft is Good for Our Health, The Conversation. “One of the strengths of craft practice, especially as a contributor to well-being, is precisely that it can be both solitary and collective, and it’s up to the individual to decide. For the shy, the ill, or those suffering from various forms of social anxiety, this control, as well as the capacity to draw away any uncomfortable focus upon themselves and instead channel this into the process of making, is a much valued quality of their craft practice.” I like this a lot. I sewed a lot of face masks in the past week, which made me feel both empowered and exhausted, and now I’m taking a breather to decide if I want to keep working on sewing projects. If not, there’s always coloring books, a welcome break for my brain.
- Wild Geese, Mary Oliver. “let the soft animal of your body / love what it loves.” A comforting classic.
- A Few 19th-Century Parlor Games to Amuse You While You’re Stuck at Home, LitHub. I’ve been thinking a lot about Jane Austen books lately — the parallels for social distancing and many, many evenings at home with the same few people are easy to draw — and mildly amusing parlor games seem like something the Bennetts might have done to pass the time. These games are really weird and clearly designed by people who don’t get out much. But hey, better than reading from Fordyce’s sermons, right?
- This Flapper’s Dollhouse Cost More than Most People’s Homes, Messy Nessy. I. Love. Miniature. THINGS. What a thing (“including the smallest Bible ever written”) to pour millions of dollars into. We visited the Biltmore last year with David’s parents, and as we walked through the house, each room more elaborately furnished than the last, David’s dad kept saying, “This is STUPID money!” Which is how I feel about this dollhouse. I can’t relate to the priorities, although she did use it to raise charitable funds, but it’s definitely a work of art.
me, i drew it this time!
I’m writing my Friday5 much later in the week than I usually do, and I don’t even have the excuse of being so busy I just haven’t gotten to it yet! Closer to the truth is that I haven’t been a very good reader this week (although I have been an excellent completer of coloring pages!), but here 5 things I found interesting or delightful this time around:
- “Ah, Love, you smell of petroleum”, Judy Grahn. “Meantime here is your cracked plate / with spaghetti. Wash your hands & / touch me, praise / my cooking. I shall praise your calluses. / We shall dance in the kitchen / of our imagination.” I love poems of contentment.
- Board Game Remix Kit – Can’t vouch for this yet, but it’s a PDF of different ways to remix the old board games you probably have lying around (examples: “listen to the answer from a Trivial Pursuit card, and compete to come up with the most plausible question,” or “auction off individual Scrabble tiles with your Monopoly money,” or “solve a murder mystery with Scrabble tile anagrams.”). Sounds fun! We’re going to try it out this weekend.
- Gibson Girl Evelyn Nesbit and the History of the Half-up Hairdo, Jezebel. (CW: Assault mentioned in a historical person’s biography early in the article.) “During this time [after World War 2], Gibson and others were trying to convince women to turn back the clock by presenting images of women performing femininity in a particular way. But once a definition expands, it is hard to make it contract again. Once we begin to truly see the beauty in other forms, it’s hard to remember why we resisted.” Ok so the half-ponytail (which I’ve often thought of as The Legolas) was my MOVE for every special occasion hairdo. Honestly, as someone with hair that won’t curl, who never learned to French braid, the half-up is still kind of my go-to.
- Rescued Baby Cow Follows Her Mom Like a Puppy, Dodo Kids. I obviously love animal videos but I have no tolerance for sad animal videos of any kind (even the “heartwarming” ones, don’t do it to me!). And guess what? Dodo Kids is just the cute stuff. This video has a kid telling the story of this lady and her cow and I love every part of it.
- Twitter thread of unusual acknowledgements, @AcademiaObscura. “We do not gratefully thank T. Appourchaux for his useless and very mean comments.” Love the pettiness and the sweet specifics of some of these thank-yous. Here’s another: “…If this book is not a success, I dedicate it to the burglars in Boulder, Colorado, who broke into our house and stole a television, two typewriters, my wife Helen’s engagement ring and several pieces of cheese, somewhere about a third of the way through Chapter 8.”