Friday, November 28, 2014

he rolled his eyes and corrected me

While I am not a Youth Librarian I do enjoy working with the kiddos at the library.  Any time the Youth Librarians have any gaps in their schedule I always volunteer to sub.  While there are a lot of "where are your princess books?" and "where are your superhero books?" questions I still enjoy being a sub-Youth Librarian for an hour here and there.  

Today, I spent about 15 happy minutes helping a grandma find animal movies that she could watch with her grandchildren who were coming into town for the holidays.

After that, I flopped on the floor and flipped through wolf books with a gregarious little boy.  Whenever I called them wolves he rolled his eyes and corrected me  - "they're wild dogs."  

When an adult asks for a book they never sit on the floor with me and pick out their favorites.  I think I would get more than a little eye-rolling if I found the WWII section, pulled out a stack of books, sat down and patted the floor next to me encouragingly.       

Also overheard in the youth area today - a mom pointing to a baby and asking her older kids "did you guys notice if Clara was wearing her shoes when we came in the library?"

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

a little nerdy perserverance

Thanks to my lovely stud muffin Robert, I have been reunited with my dream pop, Surge.  When I told Robert about my childhood Surge memories I never expected him to find a way to time travel and get me a can.  

Ok, so he didn't time travel.  But he did try and try to get me some Surge when they brought it back, but it was always sold out before he could get any.  Thanks to his undying love for me and a little nerdy perseverance, he nabbed some!  Three cases!  Enough to share with my librarian homies!  Enough to generate a mob of exclamation marks!

In the sixth grade I had this plastic pepto-bismol pink lunch box covered in a giant sticker of my last name courtesy of my dad, who had leftovers from a scrap business.  My lunchbox was not only cool because of that sticker, but also because it often had a can of Surge in it.  I can still feel it swinging in my hand, the stench of peanut butter and jelly spilling from it as I popped the snaps. 

Surge also appears in a few of my earliest poems and writings.  I believe I wrote a Pablo-Neruda-esque ode to it at one time.   

I was thrilled to see it arrive in the mail.  Did it make me queasy and just a shade lighter than its signature color?  Yes.  But was it worth it?  Absolutely.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Letting Swift River Go by Jane Yolen and Barbara Cooney

The story is haunting and sad and powerful. When the graves were moved it felt like they were taken right from my very ribs. 

And oh the fireflies! And the stars! And how the bridge connecting all that transient luminescence remained a constant!

The illustrations perfectly reflect and illuminate the story, from harvesting the ice to shuffling the graves to the sun leading the canoe along.

This book is for anyone who has ever sat in a canoe and tried to guess the secrets of the lake beneath the waves or had to leave their house and friends but still carry them everywhere.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Neon Deer

My latest piece:

I haven't taken him out of the hoop yet and cleaned up my marks.  By the way I am really digging my fabric pencils that I found at the fabric store.  The marks disappear with just a bit of water, and I can edit as I go.  

This is the most fun I've had with embroidery.  I had a great time changing my stitches every few minutes and playing with the shading.  

As soon as I finished, however, I felt this terrible emptiness, and struggled to start the next piece.  It took a whopping total of 10 hours to make this, and I started three audiobooks that can be found in my 'currently reading' list on Goodreads.  I have discovered that I am not complete unless I am in the middle of

* a good book 
* at least two good audiobooks
* composing a few poems 
* an embroidery project 

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Enchanting language, lush scenery, a romping, completely factual story and a rascally, joyful raccoon are the fixings for this adorable and happy memoir by Sterling North. 

This was my favorite animal story as a child.  And it is still at the top of my list.  I started squealing the moment Rascal was swiped from the woods, and made no efforts to contain my delight for the duration of the book.  My adult squeals echoed the squeals of my 10 year-old self as Rascal snuggled his way into Sterling’s bed, made a sugar lump disappear and trilled all of his desires, questions, indignations and love. 

Like Rascal, the characters in this book are captivating and exceptionally lovable.  From Sterling’s sisters, Theo and Jessica, who flutter around the outskirts of his life, to Poe-the-Crow, who struts “like a poolroom bully,” each character defines a crucial element of Sterling and Rascal, who together, rather than separately, comprise the protagonist slot.  At times you will find yourself looking up from your book with disbelieving eyes at the raccoon curled up on your rug, but it will only be your dog or cat or whatever wild thing that hangs out in your living room.  At other times you will trill excitedly, perhaps at the thought of strawberry pop, and you will steal a quick glance at your paws before they turn into hands.

Lake Koshkonong is brought to life with North’s poetic voice.  Just a mere two pages in North quickly establishes this as a multi-generational read with a stunning description of foxfire, which is “as luminescent as all the lightning bugs in the world…” The marriage of beautiful language and an otherworldly landscape create a magical glow, quite like foxfire, that snares the reader.  No matter where you are when you read this, Lake Koshkonong of 1918 becomes your present place.  You may be lounging on your reclining sofa when you bike to the Indian Ford dam, but your sofa will disappear beneath you and a curious wind will embrace you as you “peer ahead like the engineer leaning from the cab window of Old Ninety-Nine.”

Rascal will carry you through a memorable camping trip at Lake Superior, fishing forays galore, and the last few months of WWI, but more importantly, it will selflessly give you the long-ago friendship of a boy and his coon, and in return, ask only that you share their story with everyone you know.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Diva and the Prostate Book

If I think no one is looking I sometimes I walk just like Beyonce does at the beginning of this video while I’m shelving books at work.  Today, while walking that walk I froze in horror as I looked down at the title of the book staring up at me: The Whole Life Prostate Book: Everything That Every Man-at Every Age-needs to Know About Maintaining Optimal Prostate Health. 

OMG, how does a person EVER put their pretend fringe sunglasses back on and strut around after that?!?

Friday, November 14, 2014

I'm going to drown no matter what Marco Polo biography I read

It's Coupon Week at one of my favorite used bookstores!

Just a few days ago I read and greatly enjoyed a poem by James Whitcomb Riley on my mom's blog, Dear Hannah Jane, so I was delighted to find a book of his poetry so fast.  

I made the mistake of passing up one of Maryjo Koch's books the last time I was at the bookstore so I not only grabbed Dragonfly Beetle Butterfly Bee, I also nabbed Pond Lake River Sea.  

I just checked out Fairies, Trolls, & Goblins Galore: Poems about Fantastic Creatures from the library last week and had to discard it after reading it because some child with grown-up handwriting wrote all kinds of appalling things in the margins such as, ''nuh-uh', 'this is bullshit' and 'goblins suck more than feet.'  

The Haiku Handbook will come in handy for the poetry workshop that I facilitate.  To be quite honest, the regulars in that workshop have been asking about the haiku, and even though I wanted to deliver the best haiku workshop experience ever, my time is running out, because my regulars are haiku fans and want the 411 pronto.  I am thinking about combining the haiku with the exquisite corpse method for a prompt, but am not sure yet.  I keep telling myself, just one more haiku book, just one more!

My favorite part of this bookstore visit was the children's clearance section.  I found a step stool and plopped down rather like a building being whacked with a wrecking ball.  My knee barely responds to walking, let alone anything else yet. The stool made me just a bit shorter and gave me an entirely new viewpoint of the books.  I might just have to use the step stool approach more often.

The best find was Marco Polo by Demi.  After listening to Billy Collins read Hangover recently, I knew I had to read about Marco Polo asap because it would break my heart if Billy Collins ever had a reason to not like me.  Fortunately, I found a children's book about Marco Polo with big words and lots of pictures, which is a fair compromise considering that I'm going to drown no matter what Marco Polo biography I read.    

Hangover by Billy Collins

If I were crowned emperor this morning,
every child who is playing Marco Polo
in the swimming pool of this motel,
shouting the name Marco Polo back and forth

Marco Polo Marco Polo

would be required to read a biography
of Marco Polo-a long one with fine print-
as well as a history of China and of Venice,
the birthplace of the venerated explorer

Marco Polo Marco Polo

after which each child would be quizzed
by me then executed by drowning
regardless how much they managed
to retain about the glorious life and times of

Marco Polo Marco Polo 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tsk tsk

Poor Rose took a dunk in the tub
for she was filthy and needed a scrub.

Sadly, her mega pillow is in the washing machine
because it too, didn't smell nice and was no longer clean.

One little pillow isn't enough for my tush she said.
Can you please get me another schnauzer-sized bed?

Oh Rose, you silly horizontally-challenged dog.
This bed can fit a rafter of turkeys or a Christmas hog.

Tsk tsk, Rose said with stern eyes.
Can't you see this isn't the right size?

Don't worry Rose, your fat tush is safe from the floor.
Your stern look is too much!  I'll find a pillow, at least one more.

Thank you my towering human pawn.
Now shoo.  These eyes are tired.  Run along.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Is this going to hurt?

As most of you know I had knee surgery on October 28th.  But I know you also want the full scoop.

September 18th was a typical day off for me.  I rode my bike to a special place and spent a few glorious hours writing poems, including a multi-tiered haiku called ‘Joy.’  After writing, I hopped on my bike and headed to tennis and played a few nasty sets of doubles.  It was a fierce game that left me drained.  Robert had stopped by to watch the last of it, and afterwards, took me to lunch across the street.  I felt fairly drained, but after a bite to eat I was ready to conquer the world again.  I hopped on my bike, and in order to avoid hills, took the long way home.  It was a happy ride.  When I got home I had enough energy to play ball with the dogs before a shower.  I spent the rest of the day reading and writing.  My right knee was a little cramped, but other than that I felt excellent.  For the past few years I combined both biking and tennis in one day several times a week with little or no aches. 

The next day I woke up with a sore left knee.  Furthermore, I was filled with a sense of doom whenever I tried to bend it.  I wasn’t concerned.  As an athlete, I have lots of aches and pains and typically I just badass my way through them.  After a week and a half, however, the pain did not go away, and I could no longer do stairs, let alone tennis or biking.  I decided to see my doctor, who ordered x-rays.  After the x-rays were taken the pain decreased and I began to make plans for yoga and tennis, but just as the plans were finalized I received news that the x-rays showed something awry.  An MRI was ordered, and it showed a tear.  An appointment with an orthopedic surgeon was made, and during the two-week wait I forgot I had a whoopsie in my knee and one night, attempted to tuck it beneath me as I sat down like I have for 28 years.  It felt like a water bottle was being crunched inside my knee.  The pain was fairly intense, not poison sumac between your toes painful, but somewhere between breaking your nose with your knee and ear infection painful.  After that incident, I could barely walk.  When I finally saw the orthopedic surgeon on October 27th and found out I needed surgery, I didn’t hesitate when I told him I wanted it done ASAP. 

I was a little surprised when he said he had an opening the very next day.  But surprise was erased by discomfort and pain and I was ready to get beyond that and get back to tennis and leaping around like an idiot again. 

The surgery went well.  Frankly, I wasn’t worried about that.  It was like taking an awkward nap.  Pee in a cup, put on an immodest gown, let someone stab me, fall asleep.  Easy.

After the surgery I was hooked up to an ice machine, which pumped cold water into my bandages 24 hours a day.  I could not reach the plug that connected me to the machine.  If I needed to pee someone had to unhook me.  At one point Robert had a job in another city and I was left alone for several hours.  Two friends came and unhooked me and let the dogs out.  One of these friends brought bread pudding, and after I declined a piece and the friend left it dawned on me that the bread pudding was in the kitchen and I was trapped in the living room. 

After the ice machine was removed Robert and I ripped the bandages off with glee.  Ok, carefully… But with glee!  Underneath the bandages I discovered a very strange message just above the offending knee.  It said ‘yes’ with possibly a signature beneath it and was circled with gusto.  By gusto I mean that the line kept going after the circle was finished.  Whatever marker this message was written in is taking its sweet time being removed, which has given me ample time to question what this yes was answering at the time it was written on my leg.  The most obvious question is, “Hey, is this the knee that’s being sliced?”

But I can think of other questions as well like, 

1. Is this going to hurt?
2. Will this be expensive?
3  Which side do you want your IV on?  Oh, sorry, that was a rhetorical question.  You want this in the smallest vein on your body, right?
4. Did you get an improper crutch fitting before this surgery?
5. Did you know your doctor’s nickname is Dr. Zigzag?
6. Do you like Pearl Jam?  No??  Too bad! That was also rhetorical and we’re still going to crank it right before we knock you out. 
7. The last time you ate was at least 72 hours ago, correct?
8. Would you like some applesauce?
9. You do know that, after surgery, your pee will smell like something burning inside a vacuum cleaner, right?
10. Do you have to go up steps before you enter your house?
11. Yes?  Ok, do you know how to sleep in your car?

I also have speculations that the initials just below the ‘yes’ weren’t really initials.  They might be something radically different, like:

1. hahaha
2. muahahaha
3. the Starbucks order the doctor was trying to remember for his surgical team so they weren’t thirsty during surgery
4. how much money the doctor was hoping to make for every strand of menisci that was repaired
5. how much money the doctor still owed on his student loans
6. a grocery list
7. the letters “U Owe Me”
8. a comic relief button that, when pressed, activates the ‘can-can’ muscles in the leg and instantly puts a smile on the face of anyone on the surgical team who is taking the surgery too seriously
9. a treasure map
10. a diagram that either showed where the tear was or how to dance the Robot

After the bandages were off I was ready to get a move on.  Unfortunately, after taking off on the crutches for a day my armpits felt like two raging forest fires.  I decided that crutches were put on this earth to make the original owie disappear.  I vowed to ditch the crutches ASAP, and tossed them aside on Friday.  Sure, I have to use all of my telepathic powers to propel myself up and over a curb, but it is better than listening to my pits scream at me. 

I have another appointment soon, plus physical therapy, plus I get to go back to work.  After two weeks of healing, aka watching Robert attempt to clean house by vacuuming a single line down an area rug and lining up baskets of dirty laundry in our living room like soldiers too tired to make the trek to the basement, I am ready to get back into the library and maybe soon match Robert’s clean patch of rug with another swipe. 

But I don’t want to get carried away.  So far, the road to recovery has been smooth, and according to the strange message on my knee, the answer to a complete and speedy recovery is Yes. . . gobbledygook.   

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


“Age gracefully? I think not! Age ferociously instead.” 

After watching this movie I think I know who came up with that saying.

Barely twenty minutes into the film I was clapping and singing and having as much fun as the choir.  I was incredibly impressed with the choir’s level of dedication and enthusiasm.  Many members had health issues, some life-threatening, but when their voices united they overcame their problems.  At an average age of 80, the health issues did not surprise me.  I was, however, surprised by the tenacity of the choir and the strength of their singing.
In addition to fierce musicality, there was a powerful sense of camaraderie and a hefty dose of humor.  At one point a member of the choir says “we went from continent to continent until I became incontinent.” 

My favorite moments included “I Want to be Sedated” originally covered by The Ramones and The Pointer Sisters piece, “Yes We Can Can.”

Monday, November 10, 2014

Evolution of Acceptance

This is my newest embroidery piece.  I used 3 stitches - running, chain and the french knot.  

I am hoping to start an Etsy soon *crossing fingers*.  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Language of Letting Go

This is the book that propelled me out of a depression many years ago. A special friend encouraged me to write a response to each of the daily meditations, and I learned a lot about myself by the end of the first year, most importantly how to protect love from helplessness. 

I have been blessed with four copies of this book. And each one eventually journeys into the hands of someone, who like me, struggles to let go. Each time I stumble upon another copy of this book, I take it as a sign that it should be revisited. It's a beautiful cycle that prevents me from ever trying to lasso anything beyond my control. And each of the hands I have put this book into are hands that I still hold.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Interpretations II

I have two poems in this book, which can be bought here!

Interpretations: A marriage of 40 visual artists and 40 literary artists, each submitting one work of her/his own choice with any theme. Then, an art swap: Each visual artist receives a work from one of the writers; each literary artist receives an artwork. The task for each artist and writer: to create a second work of art or piece of writing, which is his or her interpretation of the other artist’s work. The result: A show of 80 artworks and 80 pieces of writing. The aim of the show: A reminder that we all see the world differently; our interpretations of the world around us are uniquely ours. How will each artist interpret the other artist’s work? How will the viewer interpret the written words and artworks in the show?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Mike Mulligan and More

I was sad when I finished this book. I had become such great friends with the steam shovel, Mike, Katy, Maybelle and especially The Little House.  

This may be an ode to pre-industrial society, but it's also an ode to the acceptance of change. I appreciated the tidy-wrap-ups at the end, how peace and amiability were always just a compromise or an open mind away.

I do feel like The Little House's problem was only temporarily resolved, and I am haunted by this. It is such an eerie and exact representation of many industrialization-related problems that have been half-ass solved with cheap band-aids that often exacerbate the problems or create new ones.  

Ok, so The Little House story pissed me off. But it pissed me off in a way that applauds Burton's impressive insightfulness. I think she would agree with me when I say that I wish she was wrong. But I am currently reading Poop Happened and from what I can understand industrialization had a little bit to do with making this world less plague-friendly and odiferous. So please pardon my industrialization-bashing party here. The Little House may have to keep moving each time progress springs up around it, but at least there aren't pails of shit in our houses and only a handful of plagues lurking around *knock on wood*.

The illustrations are exceptional even without the knowledge that Burton made them with the same kind of waxy crayons that kids use today. The expressions are extraordinary and convey a wide variety of emotions, from happiness to pride and even dismay. If I were to ever be lucky enough to befriend a few machines and a house, these guys are at the top of my list.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

pure grade A sunshine

Ella is a little bit rascal and thug.  She is a blossom of Anything You Can Do, I Can Do better.  She is both a diva and Hobbes.  She is loud and sometimes smelly, a narcissist and loudmouth, but has the biggest, fluffiest heart on the planet.

Most importantly, she is made out of pure grade A sunshine.

She is also the only one around here using my jogging shoes.