Thursday, May 16, 2013

Summer Reading: A Love Story

Summer vacation is nearly upon us, which means several key things to me: 
1. I will usually sleep in, maybe even past 8 a.m.
2. I will get to spend more quality time with my children and grandchildren.
3. I’ll play more tennis and do more ‘round-the-Rose Bowl walking with Mrs. Ursettie, and
4. I will have the opportunity to catch up on my long-neglected reading list!  

So, the first three are self-explanatory.  “But,” you may be asking yourself, “I wonder what Mrs. Hodge has on her reading list?”  Well, wonder no more…I will be happy to share a sampling of the titles I hope to read over the summer!

·    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak—I can’t believe I haven’t read this yet!  Everyone who has read it tells me it’s phenomenal, and how can one not read a book whose narrator is Death?
·    The Jesuit Guide to (almost) Everything—Pope Francis is a Jesuit & I loved James Martin’s book My Life with the Saints, so I’m looking forward to this one.  His writing is informative, but full of humor and decidedly not dull and dry.
·    Tender at the Bone: Growing up at Table by Ruth Reichl—The famed food critic describes her relationship with food, beginning with living with a mother who would literally put whatever was in the refrigerator all together and serve it, even if that food was “past its prime.”  I heard her on an old NPR program, discussing her family and how she learned to cook in self-defense.  Hilarious.  Also, Cat S., a lovely senior, told me how much she loved this book and I trust her judgment.
·    The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott—This is my book group’s selection for June, I’ll be reading it soon.  This is historical fiction, a story of a young woman who has survived the sinking of the Titanic.  This isn’t something I’d usually pick up, but I know I need to broaden my horizons.  I may just enjoy it!
·    Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham—The Moon and Sixpence, also by Maugham, is one of my favorite all-time books.  Anjali B., a wonderful Prep grad also loved it, and she asked if I had read Of Human Bondage, which she also enjoyed.  I hadn’t, so it’s on my list.

This is only a partial list…meanwhile, here are some books I’d like to suggest for our faithful blog-readers (without annotation, since you can easily click on the links to Amazon or look on for that information!):

Wishing you a great summer, full of good times, good friends, and good reading,

Mrs. Hodge

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Purpose-Driven Library

Peabody Library, Baltimore

Have you seen this library? It is unforgettable – multi-storied stacks and a skylight that spans the entire roof, sending down a shimmer of sunlight. For about an hour, it was ours. Expertly guided through its incredible holdings and history, we soaked up the ambiance and information.
Illuminated Liturgical Song book
This rare liturgical book of songs was created in the 1400s, explained Paul Espinosa, our guide and curator of the Peabody Library. It was the work of several monks who lined, inked notes and illuminated letters. Paul handled the pages of this book as if touching a 15th century artifact was something he did every day – in other words – quite naturally and without gloves.
When someone asked about touching the vellum pages with bare hands, Paul told us that our fingers are exquisitely sensitive; they apply just enough of the right kind of energy to carefully turn pages. Gloved hands, he reports, are much less sensitive and despite the best intentions, can rip or tear pages. Research has shown that clean, bare hands are the best archival tools.

At this point in our tour, there was a murmuring in our group,
“Sing it, Tinsley….”
“Do you want me to sing it?”
“Yes, yes!”
And then it began: a Song of Benediction -filling the space, lifting the notes off the 15th century pages and into the present-surrounding us with emotional resonance. I don’t think anyone drew a breath until Tinsley sang the final “aleluia." *

The Peabody Library makes an excellent justification for libraries, yet none of their collection circulates. Somehow, our Chandramohan Library with its circulating collection, clarifies the justification for a library; the community is at the center of its purpose.

-Mrs. Eldridge
* Thank you, Tinsley, that was a peak experience.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Saving for the Future

the archivist's tools
If you are lucky enough to have saved a bit of the very essence of your community’s history – then your next task will be daunting: preserving it.

Restoration project
Not to mention organizing it so it can be found again. The Maryland Archives is a treasury of artifacts - from flags and swords from the Civil War to marriage records and maps.

Block-by-block map with layers

This block-by-block map of Baltimore has layers of information – literally. A new scrap of paper was pasted over the building’s location on the map each time a business entity changed. The archivist uncovered the sequential history of the district (each scrap was carefully unglued) and, in the process; the cultural and economic story of the neighborhood came to life. Although the map was created by an insurance adjusting agency, today it lends voice to a story of neighborhood change, where the business climate changed from pickle factory, lumber yard and bath house to theater district.

Triangular Civl War Banner

The Maryland Archives left me in a state of awe, both for the institution’s awareness of the big picture (a clear vision of what defines historical significance) and the attention to detail that restoration and preservation merits.
Marriage records
-Mrs. Eldridge

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Beautiful Baltimore

Mt. Vernon in bloom

Once a year, we change lenses and view the world from a different perspective. This year, Baltimore showed us grace, beauty and charm. From wide-open pastoral settings freckled with flowering cherry trees to inspiring workshops, we experienced Baltimore on a seriously deep level.

Our librarian conference brought over 100 school librarians together for three days of networking, school touring and information sessions.

 Besides the camaraderie and learning, what sticks with me about Baltimore is the sense of place. Sky-piercing church spires, neighborhood entrepreneurs and row houses nestled in the same block: places and spaces with stories to tell.

United Methodist Church, Mt. Vernon

At the lovely B&B where I stayed, none of the doors closed without a nudge, a jiggle or a fiddle to coax them into place. “Hey, this place was built ten years before the first shots of the Civil War,” my host explains, “things have settled a bit since then, and well, we just make allowances for that,” he adds. I loved staying close enough to walk to Red Emma’s bookstore and to a windfall of great eateries. After each day of touring Baltimore, my gracious hosts would ask excitedly what I’d seen – and then add a great story about Baltimore’s history to the day’s take of delights.

Next…..museums and archives.

Day trip to Annapolis

-Mrs. Eldridge