Tuesday, November 29, 2011

365 Photos Day 333


Today was the last Storytime of the year. For whatever reason, the number 10 was not something the kids were getting their heads around. "What was last week's number?" "NINE!!!" "Good! So, what's this week's number?" "...NINE!!!!" "..."

Afterward it was time to pack away all the craft supplies until next April. We're going to try and avoid the snowstorms...even though it'll probably snow through May or something. I have 2 big totes that I use, but not everything fits very well. So it was a process of "Does this fit here? No. Dang. Try again."

Eventually, I got everything back in. Hopefully the lids won't fly off anytime soon. I'd hate to have the Back Room of Doom look like Ke$ha was back there throwing glitter and making it rain or anything.

365 Photos Day 332


My printer is taking a beating this week printing out all the Silent Auction things we need. Bid sheets (seen here), signs, bidding information...it's all stored on my computer. The printer started acting all weird and wasn't letting me print, but I showed it. I had Steve come in and glare at it (he did some computer-y stuff too, but I was doing other things, so I don't know what he did). And then it was working again, just in time to print off more bid sheets.


365 Photos Day 331


Starting the long process of getting ready for this year's Silent Auction. Kim & I worked on the gift certificate wall today. It was sure more fun than I know what to do with.

We used to put out the gift certificates on a table. Now, though, we make copies of them and hang them on a wall with a description so that people can see them, and we don't have to worry about them being taken or knocked off the table, or whatever may befall them.

The good thing is that this is our 13th year of doing the Auction, so we all know what we're doing, and we all work (fairly) well together, which is always a good thing.

365 Photos Day 330


Oh, glorious day! Iz's little green ball has been found!

This is her favorite ball. It's been missing for almost a month. She looked for it everywhere. WE looked for it everywhere. No luck.
We finally just gave up and found a purple ball that looked like the green one & took out the bell (the green one had lost its bell somewhere along the way), and she was happy.

Saturday I heard her playing in the hall, so I went to see what she was batting around. And lo and behold...it was the green ball.

So now she has TWO cool balls. She likes to play fetch with them. We throw them, she brings them back in her mouth. Like I've said, sometimes we think that she thinks she's part dog.

NaBloWriMo Day 29

NaBloPoMo 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011
What is the last thing you do before bed?

Depends. Mostly I read, but it depends on what I've been doing that day. If the house needs a quick pick-up, I do that. If I need to finish up something for work, I do that. It's not very exciting.

The last thing I do before I head upstairs is drink a glass of milk and take Advil. I make sure the doors are locked, then I say goodnight to the cat people and go get ready for bed.

It's a routine, and there've been times where I'm laying in bed trying to remember, "Did I do such-and-so?" and if I honestly can NOT remember, I've been known to get up and go check. (At which point I realize that, yes, I actually did do such-and-so and have just gotten out of a nice warm bed to go check.)

NaBloWriMo Day 28

NaBloPoMo 2011

Monday, 28 November 2011
Describe an heirloom that has been passed down through generations of your family. What is its significance to you personally?

I have a couple that've been passed down only through the women of the family. All are special in their own way.

1. The 'Elizabeth' Bible: I am the 3rd Elizabeth to have this bible. It's very very old and very fragile. I received it from my Great-Grandmother, who received it from her Grandmother. As the name implies, it gets passed from Elizabeth to Elizabeth. The other 2 had Elizabeth as her middle name; it is my given first name. If my daughter so chooses to name her daughter Elizabeth, it will be passed on. If it doesn't happen until a couple of generations down, it will be passed on then.

2. The Double Wedding Ring Quilt: This is a beautiful handmade quilt that has been passed down for 4 generations on the daughter's wedding day (or kept in trust until said daughter has a place for it). I put it on our bed only in the spring, and keep it in the cedar chest the rest of the year.

3. The Chest of Drawers: This piece was made in the late 1800's and went west on a wagon. It gets passed down when the daughter is settled enough to be in one place for awhile. It's really a lovely carved piece that is still very functional. It currently resides in our foyer.

These are 3 things that get passed down, mother to eldest (or only) daughter. Even as I don't like to have a lot of cluttery stuff, I love the thought that these things have seen a few generations come and go, yet still survive to serve and be loved by the next ones. They are beautiful in their own right, but the added bonus of having family meaning makes them irreplaceable treasures.

NaBloWriMo Day 27

NaBloPoMo 2011

Sunday, 27 November 2011
Topic of the Day: My Random Thoughts

This will be very random. You've been warned.

  • I don't much like the holiday season. Never really have, probably never really will. No particular reason, but as much as I don't like the cold in January, at least the holidays are done.
  • This was not the week to start cutting back on my consumption of Diet Coke. Perhaps a better time to do so would be the 12th of never.
  • Mass on Saturday night was, um, interesting. Since the changes to the Missal took effect this weekend, it was amusing (to me) how many people were still on what I call "AutoCatholic". You know, like they've said the responses, etc so many times before that it's just by rote, not because they're thinking about what they're saying. Me, well, I never bothered to memorize any of that. I have more important things to remember, like all the lyrics to '80's songs that I haven't heard in 20 years.
  • I really need to finish the storage closet in our room. But since I messed up cutting the 1st two boards and had to go get replacements, I'm apprehensive about doing it wrong again. So by not doing anything, I'm at least not doing it wrong. It makes more sense in my head.
  • I keep thinking that I need to make a list of everything I need to do this week. Sadly, when I start to make said list, I forget what it was I wanted to put on it.

There you go. You just got to experience 5 minutes in my busy brain.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

NaBloWriMo Day 26

NaBloPoMo 2011

Saturday, 26 November 2011
Topic of the Day: Enough

This week I've really been thinking about who/what I'm thankful for.

Yesterday was Black Friday, and I didn't go shopping until much later in the day. I know that perhaps I didn't get the best deals, but I maintained my sanity, so I'll call it a win.

However, I gave some thought to the whole Black Friday hoopla, and how that fit in with my evolving belief system.

I used to gladly go shopping at the crack of dawn to get things for the kids and not have to spend lots and lots of money. It was even kind of fun. Except the year the woman in front of me in Target got mad and pushed my cart into me because someone else (NOT ME) had hit her. That year...not so fun. Anyway, I get the whole thrill of the hunt thing, and I'm not here to condemn it or anyone who participates in the day.

Every year on the news, there's stories about how people get run over, in fights, whatever. I've come to realize that for me, there's nothing in a store worth that. It's not a mentality that I can get behind for my own self, not in this season of Advent.

This has been years in the making. Maybe it's because I really dislike having to come up with a Christmas list that has things that sure, I like them, but I don't NEED them. Maybe it's because we've come so far financially that I don't have to balance the wants vs. needs anymore, and can usually just buy whatever it is that catches my fancy. Maybe it's because I'm less tolerant of STUFF than I used to be. Maybe it's a combination of all of the above.

Every year my husband asks me what I want for Christmas. Every year I tell him that I'm pretty sure that I've already told him. Every year he tells me that if I did, I only did in my head, which we've established DOES NOT COUNT (maybe). Or that I pointed out something in a store, but changed my mind 2 aisles over (true).

One of the best presents I got was a couple of years ago when I got him to agree to take most of the money he'dve spent on me, and let me buy food and other supplies to give to a family in need. We asked our priest if there was anyone who needed a hand-up (not a hand-out), and actually since we had so much to give, it ended up being split up between 2 families. One was to a guy who'd pretty much lost everything when the economy went haywire, and was struggling to hold on to a house that he shared with other family members--he'd almost lost his faith in life, but our gift helped give him enough hope to keep going (I love that); the other was to a single mom with 2 little girls who had been in an abusive situation & had managed to get out, but was thinking there was no possible way to have any sort of Christmas for her girls. Thinking about how we could share even just a little of what we take for granted, and at least for that moment make life a little easier for someone was awesome.

It's not about doing it so I feel better about what we have. It's not about doing it because I should (if there's one thing that will make me NOT do something, it's because someone tells me I "should"). It's not about doing it because it's the Christmas season and I'm buying into the whole "Christmas Spirit" thing, because I'm usually low on Christmas Spirit in the best of years. It's not about doing it because as a "good Christian" that's what's expected.

No, it goes back to my Mom telling me that we give because we can. We give because it is a way to acknowledge and be thankful for what we ourselves have. And as I look around our house, and what we have, both tangible and intangible, we have enough. That's one of my mantras when I'm panicking about money, "For today, for right this moment, I have enough."

We have more than enough to share. We have more than enough that we can freely give some away and not worry if that would be the make-it-or-break-it between this payday and next. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all the help that is needed, and I feel so inadequate. But then I realize that may be the lesson that's being taught. To do what I can, where I can, with what I have. And to do it from love and compassion, not because it's expected.

And that's a wonderful feeling. That feeling of Enough. That's what I want to hold onto during not only this Advent season, but the rest of the year as well.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

NaBloWriMo Day 25

NaBloPoMo 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011
Do you like to buy presents ahead of time or right when you need to give them?

Well, I'd love to say that I always get things ahead of time...but I don't. If I did, I'd probably either forget that I'd already gotten them or forget where I'd put them. Or both.

I tend to buy them within a week or so of when I'll be giving them, unless it's something that I'll need to have shipped. Then I might look at getting it earlier. Or not.

Yep. File this one under "Chronic Procrastinator".

365 Photos Day 329


Today I'm grateful for the job that allows me to go out and shop on Black Friday.

Ahahahaha. No. No marathon shopping on Black Friday for me. No thanks. When the kids were little, sure. Now, not so much.

I am, however, still grateful for the work I do. It's not a job, not most days. I love what I do, and am thankful for the opportunity to keep doing it. I'm also grateful that we don't depend on my paycheck to help cover anything but fun stuff, because I tell you what, I may love what I do, but I sure am not in it for the money.

365 Photos Day 328


Today I'm grateful for our extended family. I'm an only child and didn't grow up near my extended family, so the craziness that is Steve's immediate family sometimes makes me want to run away screaming (his extended family is HUGE, and kind of overwhelming sometimes). Holidays are never boring, that's for sure. There's also something to be said for having a good support system if we need it.

These are only 2 of our nephews--I have 2 more, but one was off doing something and the other was texting his girlfriend. Our niece was downstairs, I think.

365 Photos Day 327


Today I'm grateful for our house. We are incredibly lucky to have gotten to build this house pretty much how we wanted it. We wanted it to look like a house that had been there for 100 years (like our old one was), and like we'd inherited it from one of our grandmas and updated it. I think we succeeded.

Mostly, though, I'm just grateful that we have a house that we can afford and that we can raise our family in (although the Kid will be leaving for college next fall), and maybe pass it down to the Kid.

365 Photos Day 326


Kit Kat


Isabelle (Iz)


Today I'm most grateful for all our assorted cat people. Dart has been here the longest, the 3 girls have been here for just over a year.

We started off with no cats. Then we bought a house.

Then we got one cat (Sammy). Steve got her from a lady he worked with as a surprise for me. When he brought her home, he said, "That's it, though. Only ONE CAT."

A couple of months later, another cat showed up and adopted us. Steve said, "OK, fine. BUT THAT'S IT. ONLY TWO CATS."

When the second cat died, I was in college. After Christmas break, one of the girls I worked with at the school library came in and asked if anyone wanted two cats (one of whom is Dart). She had to give them up because she was too allergic to them. I called Steve, who sighed and said, "OK. BUT THAT'S IT. THREE CATS IS THE LIMIT."

One of the cats had to be put down. I'm still not certain what happened to her, but I suspect something like a stroke. So we lived with two cats, until we had to put Sammy down. Then Steve said, "You know, I think I'd like a kitten. Or a younger cat." So we went to the shelter...

And ended up bringing the 3 girls pictured above home. All Steve said was,

They can be the biggest pains in the asses ever, but they also can be so damn sweet that all is forgiven. I feel so lucky that they have deigned to have us as their people.

365 Photos Day 325


Today I'm grateful for my friends. These two ladies are probably my closest friends at this point in my life. They both accept me, quirks and all, and I can count on them to be there if I need them.

I'd love to say I make (and keep) friends fairly easily. I don't, not really. Mostly that's because I'm not as social as I used to be, some of it is because being an adult and doing adult things tends to pull our lives in too many different directions sometimes.

But, I'm happy that these ladies count me as one of their friends too. Life with them in it is certainly more interesting.

365 Photos Day 324


Apparently when the camera gets used a whole bunch more than normal, the battery will die. When the battery dies, it's kind of hard to take pictures when it's not recharged.

Live and learn.


This week is all about what I'm thankful for.

I'm truly thankful for these two. As much as I think they're from another planet sometimes (most of the time), I'm ever thankful that they're my family. I always say, "All I wanted was a normal family. Instead I got you two." But I'd rather have them than anyone else.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

NaBloWriMo Day 24

NaBloPoMo 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011
Do you enjoy being alone? Would you rather be around other people?

I'm fine with being alone. Really. Sometimes I'd much rather be alone than have the stress of interacting with other people.

Maybe it's because I'm an only child. I could, and was certainly expected to, entertain myself for hours on end. My husband prefers to be around people, and I do wonder if that's because he was the 2nd of 5 kids, and his extended family was (still is) HUGE, so there was never really any alone time.

Actually, this was why I loved loved loved living in a city. There were lots of people around, sure, but mostly I was by myself, if that makes sense. It's kind of like that line in Glenn Frey's song, 'You Belong to the City': "Nobody cares where you're going, nobody cares where you've been."

It's not that I don't like people. I do. Just not ALL. THE. TIME. I need times to recharge where I don't have to talk to anyone. Or interact with anyone. I'd probably be OK if on a desert island all alone.

NaBloWriMo Day 23

NaBloPoMo 2011

Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Write about a piece of music that changed your life forever. What do you feel when you hear it now?

Criminy. I can't really say a piece of music has changed my life forever...mainly because I can't remember any.

Music is just one of those things that I like without analyzing the heck out of it. When I hear a song I liked, I can usually remember what was going on in my life when it was popular, along with most of the lyrics even if I haven't heard the song for a looooong time. It's one of the most useless skills I have, what can I say?

I still remember saving my allowance to buy 45's at the record store of songs I liked, which I would play over and over and over and over and over and over and over. And then some more.

Later it was trying to capture ALL of the song without any DJs talking over it from the radio onto a cassette tape. Sometimes it went well. Othertimes, not so much.

Music has always just been part of my life. Some of my earliest memories of cleaning the house was to the soundtracks from 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and 'Camelot', or to the sounds of Three Dog Night, The Smothers Brothers or Bill Cosby. I had my own record player fairly early on, and had quite the variety of music, from K-TEL records with funny songs to classical to Shaun Cassidy. I was exposed to lots of different kinds of music and even today don't just limit myself to one genre.

And maybe that's how it's changed my life. I'm open to new things (just not a lot of new things all at once), and I can usually find something I like in pretty much everything.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NaBloWriMo Day 22

NaBloPoMo 2011

Tuesday, 22 November 2011
What is the luckiest thing that has ever happened to you, and why?

The luckiest thing that ever happened to me is an ongoing thing. It's my superpower, really. And probably my Kryptonite too, but it all works.

It's my ability to not get too attached to things or places.

Probably that's not generally looked at as a really super good thing, and more of a "where on the autism spectrum did you say you were?" kind of thing (I suspect I may be a borderline Asperger awesome person), but it really is a good thing.

It's a blessing and a curse. Part of it ties into my not-so-good memory I'm sure. If I can't see something, I tend to forget I have it, be it person, place, or thing. I also have the tendency to really focus in on some things to the exclusion of other things. My dear sweet husband likens it to a laser, with all the energy focused in on one thing (I am really lucky that he gets that, even if he's not always happy about it).

It worked out well when I was a kid. When my parents (usually my Mom) would take something away from me as a punishment, I was mad at first, but then I was more like, "So? Take it away. I don't care." Thing was, I really meant it. It wasn't bravado. By the time I got it back, I'd usually forgotten about it and moved on. It drove my Mom nuts, which was just a side benefit. :)

It worked out well when I moved so much between the ages of 18 & 23--if it didn't fit into my car, it didn't go. Therefore, I really didn't have a lot of STUFF, and I rather liked that.

Somewhere along the way I had to figure out where "Home" was to me. It ended up being where ever I am. It's not a physical place, it's not contained in physical things. The ability to not be attached to places and things really helped me fine-tune that definition long before I could clearly articulate it in a way that others can understand. Don't get me wrong, I like my things, and I like most of the places I've been, but if they were all taken from me, I'd still be OK.

Like I said...blessing and curse; superpower and Kryptonite.

NaBloWriMo Day 21

NaBloPoMo 2011

Monday, 20 November 2011
Is It All Just In My Head?

I'm a summer person. No doubt about it. I was born on 5 July during a hot summer. I missed being an Independence Day kid by 4 hours. Story of my life, right there, just missing something because I'm late.

I love summer with every fiber of my being. I'd rather be too hot than too cold, and I think I should be able to (comfortably) wear shorts every day of the year.

So this time of year messes with my inner rhythms something fierce, and I don't like it one bit. The lack of lots of sunshine and warmth makes for a loooooooong winter. Today was grey and damp, and I just wanted to stay in bed forever and ever. Or at least until spring.

I haven't been formally diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but I'm fairly sure the older I get, the more it affects me. I find I have more anxiety attacks during this time of year, and I just feel like I'm running at a negative speed.

For Christmas I may ask for a tanning package so I can just go sit in a brightly lit warm space for a little bit a day. I'd like to ask to relocate to a warmer climate, but that's not going to happen.

Too bad it's not socially acceptable to hibernate this time of year, because I'm pretty sure I could manage to do that quite well, thanks.

Monday, November 21, 2011

NaBloWriMo Day 20

NaBloPoMo 2011

Sunday, 20 November 2011
Free Choice Topic

Today I spent some time cleaning out and organizing my favorites on my computer. It's times like these that I really wish I'd remember to take the time to re-name the links to something I have a shot at remembering why I saved them in the first place.

Alas, I probably never will.

It's kind of like a treasure hunt. Oooo! Lookit! I'd forgotten I'd saved this! My Pinterest boards are the same way, which makes it fun.

However, sometimes I re-discover really cool things. Like this guy, whom I love love love:

I'll go ahead and call tonight a success.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

NaBloWriMo Day 19

NaBloPoMo 2011

Saturday, 19 November 2011
Free Choice Saturday: Peanut Brittle

Today was the opening day of the holiday season in our house. How do I know? Because Steve & the Kid made their first batch of peanut brittle. Over the course of the next two months, they will make close to 30 pounds of the stuff for friends, family, the library's annual Silent Auction, and maybe if we're lucky, for us too.

For the past few years, those 2 have perfected their intricate dance entitled "The Making of the Peanut Brittle." It's a complex dance, with timing so precise that a 2 second delay can spell disaster for that particular batch.

It was also kind of bittersweet watching them. In too short a time, she'll be off in the big wide world, and not home to help make the peanut brittle. I asked Steve what he thought and he said he'd been thinking about that too, and would just have to find a new helper (I don't go out into the kitchen while they're making it...the dance is usually accompanied by loud voices and sometimes swearing).

But for this year, anyway, the peanut brittle dance will go on as planned, which is always a good thing.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

365 Photos Day 323


And snow it begins...

This is only Iz's second winter. She's not impressed with this stuff. AT. ALL.

It's OK, Iz. Either am I. But we're stuck with it for awhile.

This isn't supposed to stay long, but the real stuff is coming. Sooner rather than later.


365 Photos Day 322


*This was taken by the Kid. That's why it's art-ier than my normal photos.

Ah, Diet Coke and crackers. What this week has been primarily fueled by. Well, these and a bunch of Tums and Prilosec (neither of which I've missed taking).

What a week. Sampling week only comes twice a year, apparently. I think that's plenty.

However, it was interesting (in a bang my head against the desk repeatedly kind of way) to see about how many people come in. If I'dve had to estimate, I would have been way low. But it's also good to do this to see when we really need the double coverage there (Mondays & Fridays for sure) during a normal (not summer) week.

In any case, I'm just glad we're done. For now.

365 Photos Day 321


Ah, standing order list time. How I (don't) love thee.

It's always a tricky balance between what the patrons want and what we can afford. This year I've been instructed to really hack our list back based on how much each book costs on Baker & Taylor and our book budget.

I usually play the odds that most of the authors won't publish more than one book a year (unless said author has taken to publishing 6 or 7 a year...I'm looking at YOU, Mr Patterson), but can't this year due to the new management.

At least I get to pick our authors, so I'm OK with giving a little to get a little.

365 Photos Day 320


Today was all about labeling the metric ton* of library books that we've gotten back from processing.

A couple of years ago, we decided that in order to help us look brilliant, we'd label the order of series with sticker dots on the spines of the adult fiction books. This has been a big hit with our patrons, and it makes seeing if the next one in the series is on the shelf super easy.

Of course, this means every time that new books come in, we have to check if they're part of a series, and if so, which one, and what number. A little extra work for us sure helps our patrons, though, and that's who it's all about.

We've started doing the same to the teen/junior section with the addition of a "Teen" label on the appropriate books. Parents can then see at a glance if that book is OK for their kid to read...well, at least as far as we've gotten (roughly to the J's).

*estimated weight based solely on eyeballing the amount of books and how many carts they took up when unloaded from the delivery boxes. Not a scientifically approved measurement.

365 Photos Day 319


This week's Storytime number was 8. So, we read stories about spiders and octopuses.

One of the little guys really doesn't like bugs. REALLY DOESN'T LIKE. And tells me so whenever we have a book with any kinds of creepy crawlies. Our first book was "I Love Bugs", but after I said the title, he said, "NO! I don't like bugs. AT ALL." On every page, as the bugs were being described, all he had to say was, "EWWWWWWW."

Mental note to self: no more bug books for awhile...

Friday, November 18, 2011

NaBloWriMo Day 18

NaBloPoMo 2011

Friday, 18 November 2011
What has been the happiest moment of your life thus far?

I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to say "My wedding day" or "the day I had the Kid", but no. Neither of those were my best days ever. Our wedding day was the hottest summer day EVER (pretty much), and I almost passed out; the day I had the Kid I'd had labor induced at some God-forsaken time in the single digit A.M. portion of the day, yet didn't have her until almost 15 hours later. Although, I *did* get some heavy-duty drugs when I had the Kid... Nah, still not the best moment ever.

I've had lots of "happiest moments" throughout my life.

Flashes of glorious perfection, fleeting at best. Sometimes Time really does hold still long enough for me to realize that *this moment* is one of those special moments, that although I'll likely forget it, it's magical for just right then.

Sometimes it feels like something goes "click!" into place. Sometimes it is a shift in my thinking that allows me to see things in a whole new way, thus leading to me figuring it out. Sometimes it's mundane.

For instance, one of my happiest moments while studying abroad in Scotland came when I was tired, thirsty, and really wishing I could find somewhere that served Diet Coke ON ICE. I got on a bus going the wrong way from the direction I actually needed to be going; decided it was no big deal, I'd just hop off at the next stop, cross the street, reboot, and try again. We went around a corner, and I would swear I heard angels singing, for there at the next stop was a Burger King. Yes, indeed. I can't begin to describe how great that pop tasted. And it turns out it wasn't angels singing, it was actually a Mayan musical band playing on a corner during the Festival.

Another happy moment came when I realized that yes, I really had managed to graduate with a 4.0 GPA for my 2 year degree. The immense pressure I'd put on myself was lifted in an instant. I was only 1 of 2 people to do that in our graduating class.

Day to day life is where I find my happiest moments. It's easy to be negative sometimes, and I know I have my days where my happiest moment is when I finally just get to go to bed and leave the day behind. I'll never be nicknamed "Suzy Sunshine", which is fine, but it's a good reminder to me to find the happy moments where I am and in what I am doing, not where I think they should be.

NaBloWriMo Day 17

NaBloPoMo 2011

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Today's topic (about listing all my crushes & describing one) is not my thing, so I'll go with something different.

Like the weather. Can't go wrong with talking about the weather.

Apparently this weekend we're going to get a lovely storm. It will feature, among other things, snow.

I really don't like snow much.

Yes, I realize I live in Minnesota, which is the frozen tundra and all, and that yes, for part of the year there will be snow.

But I don't have to love it.

Where I spent the first part of my childhood, we were in a valley. Yes, there was snow during the winter, and lots of it, but there wasn't cold like there is here. I don't remember anyone plugging their car in at night to make sure the engine started in the morning. Where I spent my teenaged years (in Western Oregon), well, snow was a cause for celebration, because school would be closed. That was so awesome. "There's no school because there's a couple of inches of snow?" My Mom would ask. "Yep, and I'm going back to bed," I'd reply.

Here, though, it snows. And snows. And snows. And is really freaking cold. Last winter was kind of long. Who am I kidding? It was unreal. It was cold until the middle of May. Farmers couldn't get their crops planted until way late. I was bundled up watching the Kid play softball. It was long enough I was thinking maybe there'd never be summer again.

So, I tried to spend as much time as I could outside this summer, no matter how hot or humid. I was trying to store up the sunshine to last me through the coming months.

We'll see if it works.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaBloWriMo Day 16

NaBloPoMo 2011

Wednesday, 16 November 2011
What is the moment that you leave childhood and enter adulthood?

Is there just one moment? I don't know.

So, is it an age thing? Even though I'm 842 (says so on my birth certificate), I don't think of myself as an adult much. Legally we're considered adults at 18 years old. Thing is, there's no way I was an adult at 18; even at the time I didn't consider myself an adult. Could it be at 21 when we can legally drink alcohol? Nah, because I wasn't adult then, either. I got married when I was 24, and I suppose that was closer to being an adult, and even more so because I had the Kid 2 weeks before I turned 25.

Is it a mentality thing? Like, I think and act like an adult, therefore I am? That might be it. The Kid is only 17, but she's an old soul, always has been. She is probably more adult than I am, even now. Being responsible is considered an adult trait, but does that make a person an adult, just because s/he is responsible and trustworthy?

I don't know that there's ONE moment where ta-da! we become adults. I think it's more of an ongoing process in which we keep evolving, hopefully for the better.

In the end, I just don't know.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

365 Photos Day 318


Oh, yes. It's sampling week at the library this week. I can't remember when I've had less fun at work.

Since I can't find the numbers from the last sampling week, mainly because I think that the old head librarian (my old boss) probably just made them up, what we count this week is what will stand for this whole year.

Whoo-hoo. So, no pressure, then, to make sure I count every person who walks through the door; every reference transaction; and every electronic usage that happens this week.

Nope. No pressure.

It's going to be a loooooong week, I think.

365 Photos Day 317


This is the second time I've listened to this book. And it's the second time that I'm still mad that Lee Scoresby & Hester were killed.

So not cool to kill off the good guys. Not cool at all.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaBloWriMo Day 15

NaBloPoMo 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Describe a favorite place. Focus on how that place affects your sense of taste, touch, sight, sound, or smell.

I have lots of favorite places, but I'll pick what's (probably) my most favorite-ist of them all.

The name of the place is Flagstaff Hill, and it's just outside the town I grew up in. It's a part of the Oregon Trail, and before the Interpretive Center was built, was something that unless a person knew where (or even what) it was, s/he could drive right on past and never know it; if one knew where it was, one could jump the fence and walk on the trail, provided one knew enough to be able to identify any and all snakes and didn't mind breaking the rules that said "don't jump the fence." I've only been to the Interpretive Center once, but I like to remember the place as it was, because that's what sticks in my memory, which is what I'll describe.

But first, a little background. So, the Oregon Trail is something that is taught in grade school as part of the whole Western Migration process. But there's just something about actually LIVING in a place that was part of that, and being able to take it for granted. It wasn't until much later in my life, after I'd moved away from it, that I really understood what that trail meant.

For some, it was a new beginning. For others, a chance for a better life.
I don't know if I'dve had the fortitude to endure that journey. I do know it was not easy terrain to endure, especially not the stretch I lived in. The travelers would have just gotten through Hells Canyon (aptly named) on the Idaho/Oregon border, to come up to Flagstaff Hill, just to see ONE. MORE. FREAKING. MOUNTAIN. RANGE. I've wondered how many wives looked at their husbands and said, "We came ALL THIS WAY FOR THIS!??!?!?!?" Although Oregon was known as the land of Milk & Honey, it must have been so disheartening to see all that sagebrush and more mountains. Once they got across that last mountain range (the Blue Mountains) though, the landscape changes from the harshness of the high desert to a more temperate place.

For me, though, that stark, unforgiving harshness is beautiful.

It's a barren place, yet not. There is beauty in the sagebrush that covers the ground, and it's so quiet that I can hear the wind blowing and my heart beating. The view is beyond incredible. Down the hill are the well-worn wagon wheel ruts, and in the distance is the valley proper, protected on the other side by the Blue Mountains. I feel peaceful here, and can appreciate the way my thoughts slow down. The tangy smell of the sagebrush fills the air, and I wish that I didn't ever have to leave, because this place, this magical place, is more home to me than anywhere else I've ever been. The absolute stillness of the place is both mesmerizing and unsettling, but yet inviting and a perfect foil to the busy life that awaits just down the hill.

Picture from: City Data

NaBloWriMo Day 14

NaBloPoMo 2011

Monday, 14 November 2011
I was terrified to go on DWTS, but facing my fear and overcoming it has been an incredible experience. Have you faced fears and overcome them?

Well, of course. Anyone who hates public speaking but gets up in front of a class and does it anyway has fears. Or hopes that even though s/he knows the answer, that the teacher calls on someone else so s/he doesn't have to speak out loud in class has fears. And both of those scenarios would describe ME.

I would turn about 70 shades of red, my mouth would get dry, I felt like I was talking too fast, the (Eastern Oregon but think a faster version of a Southern) accent that I worked so hard to get rid of would come back, and I would've sworn I was going to die.

Luckily for me, I had a really really really good public speaking professor in college, and learned to manage all that and make it through a few speeches without mishap.

This is actually a skill which has helped me immensely in my life, both in and out of school. In school for doing all the class presentations, and out of school as an advocate for my library.

I've mastered the art of doing either a prepared speech, or an impromptu one. I'm not sure which I prefer, but I can do either without getting too nervous beforehand.

So, although I probably won't be leaving my day job anytime soon to go on a public speaking binge, yes, I faced that fear and overcame it quite well.

Monday, November 14, 2011

365 Photos Day 316


Hey! My Mom had fake grapes like these that she used for decorating!

Ah, the joys of shopping at Goodwill. Sometimes I'm left shaking my head.

365 Photos Day 315


This was parked outside the library earlier this week. Some of my patrons asked if it was mine.

I'm not sure whether to take that as a good thing, though. Am I quirky enough to have a SMART car? (Probably) Would I drive one? (Yes, just not in heavy traffic)

When I studied abroad in Scotland, I remember thinking it was odd that there were so many SMART cars and Mini-Coopers, but no really BIG cars. But I was so used to it, that by the time I came home, it seemed really overwhelming to see all the HUGEMONGUS cars that are driven here.

Of course, every time I see a SMART car, I think of the scene in the movie 'Pink Panther' with Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau trying to park his car.

365 Photos Day 314


The fireplace has been turned on at the Eden Prairie Mall. This is both good and bad. Good, because I like to sit by it when I'm there. Bad, because it means winter and very cold weather are imminent.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

NaBloWriMo Day 13

NaBloPoMo 2011

Sunday, 13 November 2011
Today's Free Choice Topic: Sundays

Ah, Sundays. How I love thee. Not just for the low-keyness (outside of softball tournament season, anyway), but for the relaxed rhythm of the day.

On Sundays, I change all our sheets and do laundry (not all, just some). There's just something about cleaning up the house on Sundays to get it (and us) ready for the upcoming week.

That's one of the strongest sensory memories I have from my childhood, about the clean sheets and laundry. We store our sheets in the same cedar chest my Mom stored our family's sheets, so pulling back the sheets to go to bed on Sunday nights always releases that whiff of cedar. Also, when I was growing up, Sundays were laundry day, and oftentimes I fell asleep to the sounds of the washer and dryer, which were both located just below my bedroom.

It all adds up to a nice relaxing start to the week, and one that I tend to take for granted more often than I'd like to think.

Something to think about this week, perhaps.

NaBloWriMo Day 12

NaBloPoMo 2011

Saturday, 12 November 2011
Free Choice Saturday

I just finished reading "The Return of Sherlock Holmes" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I need to pick out a book to read before I go to bed tonight (well, actually this morning, because it's already Sunday), but I already know it's going to be at least a half-hour process.

Why it takes me so long to pick out a new book I haven't a clue. There's plenty to choose from all within 5 feet of where I am sitting. Reading is supposed to be fun, not stressful.

It depends on what I'm in the mood for. It depends on if it's a library book and when it's due. It depends on what time of year it is. It depends on how the book feels in my hands when I open it.

When I was in college not-so-long ago, I had to come to terms with the fact that while I was knee-deep in homework and reading assigned stuff, the publishing world was NOT going to stop, and thus, I'd never be able to read everything I wanted to read.

This makes me rather unhappy. No matter how fast I read, and I can read fairly quickly, I'll never be able to plow through as many books as I would like.

First world problems, indeed.

Friday, November 11, 2011

NaBloWriMo Day 11

NaBloPoMo 2011

Friday, 11 November 2011
It's 11/11/11, make three wishes

Three wishes? Normally I'd be able to reel off a few right off the top of my head, but now that I have to come up with just three? Ugh. THIS IS SO HARD.

Why is this so difficult for me? They're theoretical wishes, right? They won't count against my total wish balance the universe might be keeping...at least I hope not.

This reminds me of my thought process when I have gift cards that someone has given me. In my mind, I'm all, "Oh, yeah! Free money!!!!" In practice, though, it goes more like, "Ok, so I can get $___ of things for free. Would I rather have *this* or *that* as my free thing? If I had to pay for this, would I pay this price? I wonder if I can get it somewhere else for less?" And then I spend a couple of hours in the store paralyzed at all my choices.

And then there's the whole choice of "Do I do the noble thing and wish for others? Or do I do the self-centered thing and wish for myself?" dynamic going on in my head too. I mean, sure, on the one hand, there's a few things I'd love to do/have/be right now, but pretty much, I am so very blessed with what I already have that it seems rather selfish to just wish for myself. On the other hand, it makes sense to wish for my own self instead of trying to arrange someone else's fate.

UGH. See what I mean?

OK. I'm just going to go with three wishes...with a contingency clause of "these may change as needed/wanted".

Three Wishes for 11.11.11.:
  1. I wish for all of our troops who are currently serving or have served, that no matter which branch, which rank, which time, that all veterans and soldiers are respected for their decisions to serve, and are taken good care of on their return.
  2. I wish for peace for all those who have lost someone this year, especially those who were unable to say one last "I love you" or "goodbye".
  3. I wish nothing but light, love, and happiness for all who are in my life, be they people or animals.

There. Two hours later, it's done. Sigh.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

365 Photos Day 313

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday:

This is what the second half of my day at work looked like since I spent it in the Back Room of Doom:

NaBloWriMo Day 10

NaBloPoMo 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011
What is your secret (or not-so-secret) passion

My not-so-secret passion is books.

Disclaimer: I'm a librarian, which doesn't necessarily coincide with loving books, but it helps.

I love to read. I'd rather read than watch TV, which is good since my family tends to monopolize the TV anyway. I have 3 bookcases, all of which are double- or triple-stacked with books I have yet to read, and yet I still buy more.

My Mom taught me how to read when I was 18 months old. She'd found some kit (I think it was called 'Teach Your Baby to Read') at a garage sale and modified it. It was something where the parent was supposed to hold up something like 5 flashcards and say, "This says _______." This was supposed to happen a couple of times a day, I think, but she just did 1 flash card at a time and then taped it on the wall. When my Dad got home (if he wasn't out on a fire), he'd take me over to the wall and ask what the word was. Mom said sometimes words would come up that she hadn't taught me what they were for real, like 'elbow', in which case she would say, "This says 'elbow', and this IS your elbow."

This worked pretty well, I think. I can't remember a time when I wasn't able to read. I used the same method with my Kid, starting around when she turned 2, and she's an avid reader too. Well, except when she's in school--since she's taking a full college load this year, she only has time to read her textbooks, lucky her.

My husband says (half-joking, mostly seriously) that he could drop me in any town any where, and within an hour I'dve found the library. This is probably true. When I studied abroad in Scotland between my junior and senior year of undergrad school (the summer of 2006), I found the library in St Andrews in 45 minutes (and got a library card in another 5), and the Central branch of the Edinburgh library the first day (but I didn't get a library card there).

I can do (and have done) without lots of things in this life. Except books. That's where I draw my line in the sand.