This month our staff reflects on the things we are thankful for. I'd like to start off this post with a story of a special encounter that happened earlier this summer at NBLA.
While reviewing a spreadsheet of our rare book holdings, a particular line of text caught my eye. Now, this spreadsheet is not like a regular spreadsheet, it's a cool spreadsheet, as it was meticulously annotated by our former Library Project Assistant, Caitlin Shaffer. Caitlin took notes on hundreds of our rare books as a part of a reclassification project (you can read more about that in her blog post). Her thorough examination of the books allowed me to discover the fateful note in row 554: "Has a puppy bookplate!" As a dog owner, I was required to take a look at this book. Upon opening the cover of An elementary course of physics there was not one but three bookplates, of sorts.
The endpapers revealed two important pieces of information: 1) the book was formerly owned by physicist Homer Dodge and 2) Dodge had some sort of connection to an extremely cute dog. Knowing we hold Dodge's papers in our Archives, I took a look at the collection’s finding aid for anything dog-related. Lo and behold Box 72, Folder 12 is titled, "Samson," the dog c. 1905”.
I pulled the folder and discovered an entire photo album of Samson, who is indeed the same dog pasted into the donated book. The album includes formal Samson portraiture, as well as some epic high jumps. The last page of the album also features a photo of Dodge, Samson’s owner, who would have been around 18 in 1905.
Without further ado, I now present the things our staff are thankful for; worthy of their own bookplates and photo albums, just like Samson.
In addition to my husband and daughter, who I am always thankful for and certainly never annoyed with, I am thankful for my two kitties, Lizzie and Zoe. They are 9 year old dilute calicos and inseparable best friends and sisters. Zoe (pictured on the left) is the shyer of the two, but definitely the smarter one. She knows when it’s medicine time and she will run away super fast. Zoe loves sleeping in sunbeams and looking at leaves fall from the trees, she hates hands under blankets and tolerates the toddler. Lizzie (on the right) is not always the brightest but she is dedicated to getting her pets, even if she has to do it herself while you are asleep. She loves to carry around wool socks, and even shoes, while yowling very loudly in the middle of the night. She does NOT tolerate the toddler. They both love to interrupt remote meetings by jumping on my lap, which really makes my job exciting because I never know when they’re going to clumsily fall off and rake their claws across my legs, causing me to emit a poorly timed yelp in the middle of said meeting.
In addition to my own cats, I am also thankful for all the neighborhood cats and dogs I run into regularly or sporadically. This year I am particularly thankful for Sophi, the dog that came semi-attached to our AirBnb in Maine early this fall. She liked to come hang out in the yard and snuffle around the house to check if we’d left any food out (yes always, we have a toddler) within her reach. It was lovely to pretend to have a dog for a week without having to actually take care of a dog. Maybe a dog is in our future but somehow I don’t think the cats would be pleased by that?
Oliver and Rigby are my babies. They are my reason for getting out of bed in the morning – literally, because Rigby has a small bladder and will pee on the carpet if she doesn’t go outside often. But seriously, when everything else feels empty and bleak, I can always count on them to make me smile. They have been such a vital source of love for me throughout the pandemic, and I’m so thankful to have them in my life. My husband and I adopted Oliver from the Canine Humane Network in 2018 and Rigby from the Worthy Dog Rescue in 2019 (please check them out if you are considering pet adoption in the DMV area). Despite pretty much spending their every waking moment together since Rigby joined the family, they have very little in common. Allow me to explain…
That list could go on, but you get the idea; they’re very different! But both are fun, sweet, hilarious, and the absolute best in their own way.
Maple is my pandemic child. I have never been responsible for a cat before and did not completely know what to expect, but Maple has made it easy. His love for the sun and its warmth reminds me to be grateful for the simple pleasures of heat and light, but I do not come close to his level of devotion. I also appreciate his initiatives to join me in the work-from-home-place and have offered him the position of Assistant to the Assistant Librarian, but so far he has been happy with his post as Office Manager.
I am also terribly grateful for my family dogs, past and present, who I lived with until quite recently. They have made me the animal lover I am today. Pictured left to right: sensitive Pippin, wily Nutmeg, and goofy Gilmli.
This is Lou, who keeps me company while I work from home, and I’m so thankful for his tiny presence in my life. He loves hanging out in an open, sunny window and watching videos of woodland birds while sitting on my office chair, effectively forcing me out of my desk temporarily. I forgive him, though, because he’s so goofy, cute, and is always ready to warmly bonk his head against my leg and remind me that even when work gets stressful, he’s there to support me!
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention my slightly Audrey II-esque plant that lives on my mantle - one day, its unruly leaves will take over my apartment. *cue Little Shop of Horrors theme song* (Bonus: you can see the shadow of Lou sleeping on his cat tower on the wall!)
I am thankful for my dog Mazie, a bird dog who is keen on squirrels. I've included a photo of what I can only assume was the most relaxed moment of her life: asleep on the sofa with a bone. I am also thankful for the dahlia bulbs that my house's former owner planted. I did absolutely nothing to garner several bright bouquets this past October.
Though I don’t have any pets that live with me, I’m very thankful to have a lot of friends with pets who send me pictures of them. While I could create a very cute collage of all of them, and this is absolutely not me playing favorites, here are two of them.
This is Bumi, who lives with my sister Anya in Oregon. Bumi is named after King Bumi from Avatar the Last Airbender, though the only earth bending that he does is digging at grass periodically. He is a small, sweet, anxious boy who loves treats, pets, blankets, outside (but not when it’s cold or wet), and every single type of food that is not kibble. He is also freakishly good at spinning around on two legs.
And this is Pancake, who lives right across the Potomac with my friend Maggie. Pancake is a very charismatic, photogenic orange chonk that loves sitting on people’s laps like a person, lying down on knitting projects, screaming at his cat feeder, dumping out all of his toys just to sleep on them, and modeling. We’re coming up on Pancake’s favorite time of year as well-- when the Christmas tree comes out of the closet and he lies hypnotized underneath it for hours like the gift he is.
Our youngest family member is Rio, a lutino (yellow and white) teenager cockatiel we got from PetSmart in February this year. He continues to add new songs to his repertoire, and makes us smile any time of the day. He came home with properly clipped wings and we decided to let him grow all his feathers to see how gorgeous he is and let him fly around our home. So far, his habitat has expanded to all rooms including bathrooms, because he loves to follow us around. His favorite places are the windows and in front of the mirrors where he can look at the “other” bird who is looking at him. Sometimes Rio lands on our computers with curiosity to see what we are looking at for so long, and even tries to type with his beak a letter or two to help us to finish our work and free some time to play with him.
It is delightful to have Rio home, to observe and play with him, and to listen to his songs.