What Have You Been Doing?

Whether it’s an entry into a journal, a note about a book I’m reading, or revision, revision, revision, writing is my passion, hobby, profession, and most important these days, a distraction.

With that in mind I want to share some writerly news.

I’ve recently completed two eBooks, well eBooklets really, and they are available for free through links in Internet Archive. Architectural Studies is my undergraduate work on building surveys for Montgomery Hill Baptist Church and the Bayside Academy Administration Building. Those projects are combined in one book.


The second book, The Cape Cod House, An Architectural Study, traces the origins of the Cape Cod style house dating back to the late 1600s to it’s proliferation in the 1950s. CapeCodCover

I’m proud of my scholarship. The books are for fans of local history, architectural history, and historic preservation. You can read them online and download them for free through Internet Archive. Yes, FREE. They will also be available to borrow soon from the Fairhope Public Library. If you prefer your own print copy, I’m selling them myself for the low, low, direct-from-the-author’s hatchback price of $5. For distant fans, or if you prefer the speed of Print-on-Demand, the books are available for purchase on Amazon for $9.99. Readers, not sales, make me rich! So write a review to let me know how your heart raced a little when you skipped down the page toward those tantalizing…footnotes.

Another Book (not free, but very reasonable)

Have you ever wondered about the orange block structures and houses around Fairhope? Or perhaps you know about them but want to learn more. Well, soon you will wonder no more.

My book Clay City Tile: Frank Brown and the Company that Built Fairhope will be out in July! People have called me the “Clay City Tile guy” for a while, so I’m finally getting around to publishing it. It’s local history, which I enjoy. I’ve posted a few photographs (not in the book) on the book’s website Clay City Tile.

Stay tuned for updates about the Clay City Tile book on the above website and right here at Stump the Librarian!


Of course, I’m always doing research. Lately, I’ve gone down the letterhead rabbit hole. I’ve found all kinds of great Fairhope letterhead at the Fairhope Single Tax Online Archive. Of course, anything can be used as letterhead these days. I’ve been using the Bank of Fairhope. It’s kind of cool, and it surprises me that with all the banks in Fairhope (26?), no one thought to resurrect one, the best one in fact, from Fairhope’s past.


Incidentally, The Bank of Fairhope’s second location, which became the Press-Register building and is currently Christmas Around the Corner, was built in 1927. It is scored stucco over…you guessed it, Clay City Tile.

Odds and ends


New Typewriter, it’s a sickness really, but at least I’ve got the ten fingers for it. Er, well, that’s five per typewriter now.

Stumpcoverfun (2)

People have been taking photos of themselves in book covers. How could I resist!

Oh, I almost forgot Summer Camp. I’m leading a Creative Writing workshop for writers ages 10 and up at the Eastern Shore Art Center. My Creative Writing Summer Bash takes place July 13-17! Join me if you can. It’s going to be super fun!


Stump’s Best of 2018

Here’s the best of 2018! By category, only one winner per category, no runner ups, no honorable mentions, no blah blah blah. I’ve culled the list from 427 articles, 119 Youtube videos, 67 books, and 41 movies. Unlike many other best of’s on the internet, I’ve actually read, watched, or listened to the media that tops my list. Enjoy and Merry New Year!


Books by an Amputee

Stump the Librarian: A Writer’s Book of Legs (I’m rather biased, it’s mine!)

Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship, by Jessica Kensky, Patrick Downes, illustrated by Scott Magoon


The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination, and the Invention of Los Angeles, Gary Krist


Ready Player One, Ernest Kline (A PBS Great American Read)

Pictorial Works

Journey: An Illustrated History of Travel, Simon Adams

Children’s Picture Book

Her Right Foot, Dave Eggers, Art by Shaun Harris


22 Things to do After Work



Christmas Song

Merry Christmas from the Family by Robert Earl Keene


If you hate Small Talk


Convicted killer confesses to 90 murders

Generation Gap

Which Generation Are You In?


Emma Stone learns British slang from Rachel Weisz

Shark attack Cape Cod

Also a language lesson to everyone not living on Cape Cod. It’s an island, so it’s “on Cape Cod” not as this headline reads “in Cape Cod.” It’s like when when people call the Gulf of Mexico, the ocean. Sorry, rant over.

Long Form Journalism

Map (Interactive)

Medieval London’s Bloody Murders

Mental Health






The Disaster Artist


We’re the Millers


Beat Root Revival, Live At the Saxon Pub in Austin, Texas

Sports Writing

Bill Belichick and Nick Saban Friendship

Social Media

Teens Desert Social Media


Big Little Lies


Travel is No Cure for the Mind

Truck Drivers





Thanks for reading, watching, and listening.

Best Mail

Jump over to my personal page to learn more about the best Christmas present!



2015 Recommendations



In the Sanctuary of Outcasts, Neil White

Scorsese: A Retrospective, Tom Shone

Steal like an Artist, Austin Kleon

Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck

What we See When we Read, Peter Mendelsund

Picture Books

The Book with No Pictures, B. J. Novak

The Day the Crayons Came Back, Drew Daywalt

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, Lindsay Mattick, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

USS Alabama: Hoorah for the Mighty A! Karyn W. Tunks

Graphic Novel

Demise of the Spirit’s Guiding Lady, Megan Redlich

The Odyssey, Gareth Hinds


The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck


Next Door to the Dead, Kathleen Driskell


Big Eyes

Big Hero 6

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure



The Cobbler

Dolphin Tale 2

Gone Girl

The Help


The Imitation Game

Inherent Vice

Night Crawler

A Night to Remember




St. Vincent


Star Wars *In Theaters

The Theory of Everything




Evel Knievel’s Spectacular Jumps

Fed Up

Ivory Towers

Open Sesame


American Crime   

Boardwalk Empire Season 5

House of Cards


Red Oaks *Amazon Prime

Survivor : Cambodia-Second Chance

Happy New Year!

What Makes a Public Library Great?

I spent four hours, on my day off, in the Fairhope Publlic Library with a group of local bloggers I belong to called, Southern Bloggers Jubilee. The seven of us met in the library to socialize, learn, and hopefully have a few laughs, all before we head to lunch.

We had our regular monthly meeting, and there was a shwag bag, which included an application for a Fairhope Library card, stickers, coupons, and a welcome flyer. Tamara, the director, and I led the group on a tour to show off the wonderful space, architecture, art, books, programs, classes, and study rooms.

During the tour, the bloggers took photos and made notes. Along the way, Tamara and I said hello to patrons and introduced staff members to the group. Everyone blogged about how wonderful the library is in Fairhope, and they conveyed it so well in words and pictures. Please visit their blogs to see and read everything they discovered.

We Are: Clamco

Lorraine had a wonderful photo of Worldbook, a set of encyclopedias now rarely used. She reminisced about a set of encyclopedias in her childhood home. In our conversation at lunch, Lorraine talked about how a friend of hers in Jersey, an amputee, married his prosthetist. I found it fascinating for two reasons. There are not many female prosthestists, though the number continues to rise. Secondly, pyschologists say amputees marry their caregivers. I’ve researched this all the way back to America’ s first amputee, Peter Stuyvesant. He lost his leg to a cannonball, and when he returned to the Netherlands to recuperate, he married his nurse.


Kim learned about our genealogy collection and even signed up for a class. It was on her Macbook that the group hovered around to learn how to use Picmonkey, an online program to format photographs for your blog, specifally your header, the image at the top of the page. She took a great photograph of our head-dressed staffer Megrez.

 Crafty Hope

When I introduced all these women to Tamara, I got a little ahead of myself and almost introduced Hope, as  Kim. I corrected myself and said Hope makes  jewelry from found items, like washers, brass, copper, glass, metal from file holders, etc.  She makes crafty, creative, and one-of-a-kind bracelets, necklaces, and earings, which she sells on her Etsy site. Also, her husband is coming to our next meeting to talk about HTML. She cautioned us that he doesn’t know much about blogs and confessed, “he doesn’t even read mine,” which I didn’t believe for a second. Even if it were true, she has a real following with us, the Southern Bloggers Jubilee.

Flower Child Designs

Deborah arrived late, but was eager to contribute to the discussion. Many of us complimented Deborah on how well her painted hardwood floors turned out. She talked about the success of her “linky parties,” and I laughed because it sounded funny to me. I learned that “linking parties” are a way for similarly themed bloggers, like fashion art, and jewelry, to connect.

Fairhope Supply

During her tour of the youth services department, Leslie Anne was verklempt. (Talk amongst yourselves. The topic: Is a jubilee a lagniappe?) She got emotional as the memories turned the pages of her mind to her son’s time in the library. She also snapped a photo, the first I believe, of me in shorts in the library, showing off my sleek carbon fiber and titanium prosthesis. Did you see it? She also had me take a photo with the newest Florida State graduate. Tamara just graduated from FSU with a Master’s in Library and Information Science.

Professor Storytime

Karyn, who welcomes guest book reviews on her blog for Throwback Thursdays, was enamoured with the children’s department. Her own children’s book, Jubilee, is wonderful, and you should check it out. On her blog, Karyn has a great photo of a mom and her son reading in a window seat. During the meeting, Karyn said my blog needed a new header, and a sidebar. She also suggested I use three photos in the header. Everyone at the meeting who saw my recent post, told me to use the coffee shop photo in the header.

The Library

During our bloggers meeting we discussed SEOs, Hootsuite, how to insert the Southern Bloggers Jubilee and Bloglovin’ “buttons” into our blogs, Instagram, and gave praise for things we are doing well, and offered suggestions for ways to improve.

It’s only now, weeks after the meeting, tour, and having read everyone’s blog posts, that I’m beginning to catch what the Southern Bloggers Jubilee netted. The value of our library is in the building, architecture, art, books, and DVDs, and the beauty of our library lives in the hearts and minds of the  people who populate this memorable place.


The Amputated List of Movies Watched and Books Read in 2013

As a librarian people often ask me, “What are you reading?” I usually tell them that my tastes range wide. I don’t typically read popular fiction, and tend to lean heavily toward nonfiction. Since its the end of the year, here’s the list of books I’ve read and movies I’ve watched in 2013. At the bottom of the list are my top five for each category, including a list of my favorite amputee related books and movies. 


1.  Midnight Rising, Tony Horwitz

2.  The World Atlas of Beer, Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont 

3.  History of the World in Six Glasses, Tom Standage

4.  The Eagle and the Raven, James Michener

5.  Fly Guy Presents: Sharks, Tedd Arnold

6.  The Men’s Club, Leonard Michaels

7.  Blog Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community, 

     Joy Deangdeelert Cho, Meg Mateo Ilasco, and Grace Bonney

8.  999 Tadpoles, Ken Kimura and Yasunari Murakami

9.  Winter’s Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again, Craig Hatkoff,

      Juliana Hatkoff and Isabella Hatkoff

10. What Teachers Make, Taylor Mali

11. Franklin and Winston: An intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship, Jon Meacham 

12. Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters, Marilyn Monroe, Stanley Buchthal and Bernard Comment

13. Capturing Camelot, Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of the Kennedys, Kitty Kelly

14. Same Sun Here, Silas House and Neela Vaswani

15. Start and Run a Creative Services Business, Susan Kirkland

16. Wise Men, Stuart Nadler

17. Come on Rain, Karen Hesse and Jon J. Muth

18. The Falling Raindrop, Neil Johnson and Joel Chin

19. Did a Dinosaur Drink this Water, Robert E. Wells

20. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, William Joyce and Joe Bluhm

21. This Moose Belongs to Me, Oliver Jeffers

22. St. Patrick’s Day, Gail Gibbons

23. Where Men Win Glory, Jon Krakauer

24. Maggie McNair has Sugar Bugs in There, Sheila Booth-Alberstadt

25. Catherine the Great, Robert Massie

26. ABCs of Baseball, Peter Golenbock and Dan Andreasen

27. The Legend of Colton H. Bryant, Alexandra Fuller

28. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

29. Different Seasons, “The Body”

      “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” Stephen King

30. Carrie, Stephen King

31. Fairhope in the Roaring 20s, Cathy Donelson

32. Bossy Pants, Tina Fey

33. Between East and West, Anne Applebaum

34. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman

35. The World’s Strongest Librarian, Josh Hanagarne

36. Isaac’s Storm, Erik Larson

37. Dubliners, James Joyce

38 The Big House, George Howe Colt

39. The Day the Crayons Quit, Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

40. Men on Strike: Why Men are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream-and Why it Matters, Helen Smith

41. Blogging for Dummies, Susannah Gardner and Shane Birley

42. The Odyssey, Homer (Robert Fagles Translation)

43. The Iliad, Homer (Robert Fagles Translation)

44. Best Foot Forward, Ingo Arndt

45. The Matchbox Diary, Paul Fleischman and Bagram Ibatoulline

46. Wumbers, Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld

47. The Lump of Coal, Lemony Snicket and Brett Helquist 

48. The Alabama Night Before Christmas, E. J. Sullivan and Ernie Eldredge

49. The Killers, Ernest Hemingway

50. The Spirit of Fairhope, Dean Mosher and Megrez Mosher

51. To The Nines, Janet Evanovich



1.  Zero Dark Thirty

2.  Fistful of Dollars

3.  For a Few Dollars More

4.  Beasts of the Southern Wild

5.  Argo

6.  Lords of Dogtown

7.  Rust and Bone

8.  42

9.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower

10. Night of the Hunter

11. The Great Gatsby

12. Gangster Squad

13. Pixar Animated Shorts

14. Silver Linings Playbook

15. Hemingway and Gellhorn

16. Carrie

17. Quincy M. E.

18. One Crazy Summer

19. Despicable Me

20. Back to School

21. The Way Way Back

22. Feasting on Asphalt

23. Love Song for Bobby Long

24. Zombieland

25. Moon

26. Louis C. K.

27. Better Off Dead

28. Cinderella Man

29. The Paperboy

30. Boardwalk Empire Seasons 2 and 3

31. The Raven

32. Fenway Park 100 Years

33. Monsters U

34. The Heat

35. Better Off Dead

36. Cinderella Man

37. The Paperboy

38. Searching for Sugar Man

39. Good Ol’ Freda Fairhope Film Festival

40. Ginger and Rosa “FFF”

50. (Notes on) Biology “FFF”

51. Chasing Mavericks

52. World War Z

53. Memento

54. Robot and Frank

55. The Words

56. Point Break

57. The Killers

58. American Hustle

59. King’s Row


Top Five Movies

American Hustle

King’s Row

Silver Linings Playbook

The Way Way Back


Documentary: Searching for Sugar Man

Animated: (Notes On) Biology


Top Five Books

The Odyssey

What Teachers Make

Men on Strike

Legend of Colton Bryant 

The Great Gatsby

Picture Book: The Day the Crayons Quit


Top Five with Amputee Characters

King’s Row

Rust and Bone

Same Sun Here

The Eagle and The Raven

Winter’s Tail

Shelf Life

With an extra staffer at the reference desk for the summer, we had the opportunity to take some time for collection development. The process, in reference as in other parts of the library, goes something like this; weeding, withdrawing, replacing, ordering new, donating, transferring, and cataloging books.

During the weeding process, the reference staff determines if a book has reached the end of its shelf life, whether by date of publication or relevance. We also have a list put out by the American Library Association to make sure we retain certain reference books in our collection. Decisions are made to buy newer editions, transfer the item to nonfiction, or withdraw the book. We withdraw or delete books from the catalog that we, including the reference manager, deem is outdated, damaged, or no longer relevant.

We have withdrawn a 1995 reference book titled Blue Book Dolls and Values, by Jan Foulke. We are replacing it with a nonfiction book by the same author. VideoHound’s Golden Movie Retriever, published in 2000, is also being withdrawn. We are not replacing it because we have the latest Leonard Maltin guides. Once it has been stamped, “Withdrawn,” we typically place it on the free cart in the lobby.

At one time, reference books, which don’t circulate or check out, were often cataloged simply by their higher price tag. Now, in addition to cost, we have to determine the risk of losing a reference book to theft versus the reward of having patrons be able to check it out.

We now have two collections in reference that patrons can check out. Using a new holdings code (reference circulating) the reference books that check out are identified with a sticker on the book binding. When patrons search the catalog for reference books that check out, the books are now shown as “Available,” and the new collection is identified as “reference circulating,” along with the reference call number. American Architecture: A History, by Leland Roth, is just one example of many books that will now be able to leave the library, one week at a time. Nursing, medical, law, and literary criticisms will not check out, as we have patrons, including Faulkner State Community College and high school students who frequently use these resources in the library. Patrons can check out test preparation books, located behind the reference desk, with a deposit. The most “missing” book in Baldwin County is always the GED test book. Rather than buy it, patrons seem to think their card entitles them to check it out and never return it. It is cataloged as a Non-Check Out but with a $20 deposit, new test preparation books check out of the library. You can also hand over a valid picture ID and use the books in the library. For test preparation online, visit our website or the catalog to find Learning Express, a great “at your own pace” practice test database. We also have a subscription that allows patrons to check out eBooks too.

We don’t purchase all our books, many come from donations made to the Friends of the Fairhope Library cart in the lobby, which are sorted by volunteers. Some authors and annual editions are on what we call standing order, which means that are sent directly from our wholesale book supplier automatically. Popular novelists like John Grisham, Stephen King, Nora Roberts are books being shipped automatically by Ingram to libraries. All libraries are different and their standing orders differ as well. For example, in our library there is very little nonfiction on standing order. To supplement our purchases, staff members and patrons can submit book purchase recommendations to the director. I’ve recommended and the director has ordered hundreds of books and movies I’ve suggested over the years. Below is my summer request list.

Helter Skelter, Leo Bugliosi, 1976 TV Movie DVD

Hooch: Simplified Brewing Winemaking Scott Meyer

The End of Night, Paul Bogard

I Hate to Leave this Beautiful Place, Howard Norman

Cotton Tenants, James Agee

The Day the Crayons Quit, Drew Daywalk

I Wear the Black Hat, Chuck Klosterman

The Joker, Andrew Hudgins

The Emotional Eaters’ Repair Manual, Julie Simon

River Road Rambler, Mary Sternberg

After getting new hardwood floors installed in my home, I decided it would be a good time to weed my own shelves. I have a collection of about 250 books that had mushroomed to over 300. So I weeded my own books, donating many to the Friends for them to sell, and dropping a few books already in our collection on the free cart, and the rest were cataloged. These books can now be circulated to library patrons throughout Baldwin County.

Boston from the Air, Elizabeth McNulty

Symphony Hall: The First 100 Years, Boston Symphony Orchestra

50 Favorite Houses by Frank Lloyd Wright, Diane Maddex

Lou Gehrig: An American Classic, Richard Bak

The Chronology of Water, Lidia Yuknavitch

The Transformation, Franz Kafka

The Made-Up Self, Carl Klaus

The List, Robert Belknap

Who Says I Can’t, Jothy Rosenberg (amputee)

Consider the Lobster, David Foster Wallace

The Iambics of Newfoundland, Robert Finch

Christ in the Passover, Ceil Rosen

The Making of a Poem, Eds., Strand and Boland

The Best American Essays, Ed., Adam Gopnik

Smell the Love, J. D. Crowe

Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Faye Greene

Chuck Klosterman IV

Mr. Boston Bartender Guide

Candy Girl, Diablo Cody

True Grit, Charles Portis

Slow Way Home, Michael Morris

The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived, Lazar Karlan, and Salter

Drinking From My Leg, Paul Martin (amputee)

Travels with Alice, Calvin Trillin

French and German in the Mississippi Valley, Ed., Roark

All the books are in the new section, next to the reference desk. For clarification the books we put on the new shelves are not always freshly published but simply “new” to our collection.

There is something sweet about seeing the books you’ve purchased and read sharing space on the new book shelves in a library. Having first three books on my list already checked out means even more.