With apologies to Iain Broome at Index Card Shorts - I haven’t used an index card and my pen may not be fat enough. But I did make something up today.
An Index Card Short can be anything you want it to be. An entire story. A play on words. An event or scene. They are snapshots of something or nothing. Whatever you want. A finished work or just the beginning. There are three rules. One index card. One fat pen. Don’t write small.
via Index Card Shorts.
I’m really curious to see where Iain Broome takes this. I’m almost tempted to try it myself. Almost.
“Librarians have suffered enough”, according to Lemony Snicket, who is setting up a new annual US prize “honouring a librarian who has faced adversity with integrity and dignity intact”.
PS. Also a good way to make librarians like you and buy lots of your books. Assuming of course they weren’t already buying lots of your books anyway.
Earlier this year on a family holiday to Queensland, the mysterious Kinipela and I had an afternoon alone while our children were with friends. We decided to spend that time going for a walk in the Noosa Headlands.
A little way into the walk we found ourselves on a rocky beach. There were two other people there, but some distance away. It was peaceful.
Someone had been there before us and balanced a few rocks on top of each other.
Without speaking we both started to do likewise.
I have no idea how long we were there. It could have been 5 hours. It could just as easily have been 5 minutes. The reality is probably somewhere between the two. Not that it matters.
We crouched, sat, and knelt while trying to make rocks balance. Did I mention it was quiet? I think I mentioned it was peaceful.
We didn’t speak much. It wasn’t necessary. We weren’t working in each other’s pockets, but a distance apart. We regularly glanced across at each other. We took the odd photo. We each took breaks from our efforts to sit and admire each other’s work, or to wander across for a kiss, a touch, a brushing of hands.
When I look back over the last 12 months, that afternoon stands as a highlight.
The significance of this may not make sense to anyone else. But that doesn’t matter. I really only wrote this for one person. I’m pretty sure she’ll get it. She always does.
Kinipela and I have been married for 17 years today. We don’t do everything together, but we do a lot of things together. We don’t share all the same interests, but we respect and encourage each other to pursue them. We have different capacities for social interaction, but we have found an approach and a rhythm that works for us. We have travelled through life together for what is approaching two decades and continue to grow closer and closer.
Sometimes we are in each other’s pockets. Other times we are glancing over to see what the other is doing. Sometimes we are holding each other. Other times we are grabbing quick kisses while heading in different directions.
We seem to balance together. We are at peace. Together.
Sometimes we are enjoying the same things. Sometimes similar things. Sometimes completely different things. But always together.
Even when we are apart, we are together. Always stacking rocks.
Always have been.
Always will be.
I’m sure everyone knows the legend that is passed on in cultures all around the world. The stories shared around campfires, in caravans, hotels, and people’s homes. Wherever folk gather together, long after the sun has set, eventually someone will start talking about the legend of Kinipela. The mysterious woman who will always make a conversation take the next step. Who will cross the line nobody else is brave enough to cross. Who will do so without any expectation of thanks or appreciation. She will do it because she loves an adventure. Because when she sees a line, she can’t help but want to cross it.
A woman of breathtaking beauty. With a body that can make grown men weep and a smile that brings light to the darkest of days. Some believe she has the uncanny ability to smile with her whole face in a way no other person can.
They say she was born in a northern land of snow and mystery. That she was raised in an igloo, kept a pet moose, and rode a snowmobile to school. Other versions of the story say she skated on lakes of ice or paddled a canoe.
As an adult, she is said to have travelled to the ends of the earth. Nobody quite knows what she was seeking. Some say she didn’t even know herself. But she found herself in a land of sun, beaches, and ice cream. Although the translations do differ at this point. Some suggest is was a land of shopping malls, netball clubs, and primary schools. And ice cream.
Regardless of the reason for her travel or the nature of the land she discovered, the legends agree on one thing: that she found a precious treasure there. Of course, they disagree on the nature of the treasure. Was it gold and jewels? Or a fountain of youth and beauty. Some suggest a handsome man who brought her pleasure no other man could. The stories add that a dedicated librarian guards these sections of the original manuscripts because their contents are too shocking for most to read.
The legends say she can accomplish anything she puts her mind to, if she considers it worth doing. And that good things happen to those who are close to her. She has a way of bringing people together. Of seeing connections between one person’s needs and the opportunities another can provide. She seeks little for herself but always strives to help others.
Kinipela views much of the world through the lens of what most believe to be a camera. But it is clearly no ordinary camera. With it she captures not the souls, but the smiles of those she sees. Not for her own benefit of course, but for the benefit of the people themselves. So that in their darkest of times, thanks to Kinipela, they will never forget they have a smile. They will never forget the world can, and will, be better. They also say she can be booked for weddings, parties, and family portrait sessions.
Many people believe the legends are just that: legends. But others place great faith in their truth. They believe in the stories because they know there is hope in them. There is hope in the chance that such a woman exists. A woman of breathtaking beauty, of amazing compassion, of wisdom and knowledge far beyond her years (which according to what few pictures exist, must surely be early to mid thirties). They know the world is a better place if Kinipela is real. They cling to this hope and live their days longing to meet her.
Different cultures know Kinipela by different names. Jennifer, Jen, JenJoy, Jeffina, JJ, or simply J. There is one very small tribe that calls her Budina. One story tells of a nation of mighty warriors that once called her Jenny. Despite a polite request to use any of the appropriate names, they chose to use the forbidden name once again. Those warriors have never been seen since. All traces of their people have been erased from the history books. Their ashes scattered across the earth, destined to be blown this way and that by the wind as a constant reminder of their folly. Of course, even among those who believe the legends are true, most suspect this to be an unreliable account. But are you willing to take the chance?
There’s one last thing about the legend that confounds scholars to this day. Some manuscripts clearly place her birthday in the summer. Others place it in the winter. This is one of the great and precious mysteries surrounding this amazing woman. Perhaps we will never know the truth.
But we do know that today is the day on which many people celebrate her birthday. So I join with them today in hoping beyond hope, in dreaming beyond dreams, in loving beyond love, that she is real, that she exists. And knowing beyond all knowledge that the world is a better place because she does.
Happy birthday Kinipela.
The world is a brighter place because of you.
In January, we dug a big hole
and played some cricket.
In February, my baby girl started school and my boy built a tower that reached to the sky.
In March (and a bit of February), I covered a fair portion of Philip Island on my bike.
I also made some necklaces.
In April I found a mermaid at the beach and three days later watched her jump on a hail covered trampoline.
In May, we bought a car and flew to Queensland the next day.
We also bought a new waterproof camera.
In June I sold a piece of jewellery to a stranger for the first time. I also found time for some soccer practice.
In July we played with some giant chipmunks
a giant car
and giant ants.
In August, we did some baby sitting
built a snowman
and made a coffee table for my wife’s birthday.
In September we welcomed a new cousin into the world
and had a super hero birthday party.
In October I was acting Hawthorn Librarian and work took a lot of my focus
but I did find time for a spot of pruning.
In November we went hunting butterflies
spent some quality time with Nanny when she visited from Canada
and celebrated a birthday party with the world’s cutest fairies.
In December I made some vases
a soccer goal
a rapunzel tower
and did some decoupage.
We enjoyed pancakes at Phillip Island with family
and hosted Christmas for the first time.
We played with some critters
And we had spent another year together.
No wonder I’m tired.
It turns out that tiny bedbugs and their eggs can hide in the spines of hardcover books. The bugs crawl out at night to feed, find a new home in a headboard, and soon readers are enjoying not only plot twists but post-bite welts.
Something to add to the list of things didn’t teach me in library school:
To reassure skittish patrons like Mrs. McAdoo, libraries are training circulation staff members to look for carcasses and live insects. Some employees treat suspect books with heat before re-shelving them, to kill bedbugs, which are about the size of an apple seed when fully grown.
The Monkey’s Paw, a second hand bookstore in Toronto has the most brilliant vending machine:
Built by designer Craig Small and the store’s owner Stephen Fowler, the ‘Biblio-Mat’ is an old metal locker that dispenses random, used tomes at $2 each.
‘IT STILL looks messy.” A student is heckling illustrator Craig Smith as he whips up a remarkable charcoal drawing of Billy the Punk, a character he illustrated for a popular children’s book.
Mr Smith laughs and applies finishing touches. He enjoys interacting with young readers at schools such as St Brendan’s Primary School.
He has visited about 30 schools this year, but at this Catholic primary school in Flemington he has an important mission – to act as a role model for Books in Homes, a program that provides children from disadvantaged backgrounds with nine books to take home each year.