Saturday, December 31, 2016

calling the waaahmbulance

I worked Christmas Eve, and due to it being a holiday weekend it was terribly slow.  When my throat started feeling itchy and the chills set in during the afternoon I decided to stick it out.  It was a good day to stick it out.  I was mostly sitting and had so few patron interactions (one of which was a gentleman who handed me a footlong sausage and jar of sauce from a nearby BBQ place and said Merry Christmas).  

Though I felt poorly, Rachel, Robert and I had an excellent dinner with Robert's brother and sisters. After that, I promptly passed out and pretty much slept through Christmas day.  I had a raging sore throat that lasted through Tuesday, and thankfully dulled by Wednesday morning because I had an interview at the same library system I work for.  Though I could barely speak the interview went well and I hurried home to spend time with Robert's sisters, who were back to stay for a couple days.

Thankfully I was feeling better and we spent a merry day touring Boulevard Brewery, playing games and making cookies.  That night, one of Robert's sisters became sick with a bug she caught at another family gathering.  The next day, Thursday, not only was I feeling poorly again, but both Robert's sisters were also sick.

Unfortunately, they both had long drives ahead of them and more visiting planned.  I promptly went back to sleep, and on Friday decided it was time for the dreaded antibiotics.  My doctor did something so marvelous I'm still in shock over it.  I called and talked to her nurse, who asked me about my symptoms and told me she'd talk to the doctor and call me back.  When the nurse called me back it was to tell me that a prescription for antibiotics had been sent in to my pharmacy.  I didn't have to see my doctor at all.  Hallelujah.  Unfortunately, because it's been years since I've had antibiotics I forgot how terribly they mess with my stomach. And also, Robert and Rachel are both sick now. The question is did they catch something from me or from the sisters...  Or both?  

Sitting here, completely alone so early in the evening because Rachel and Robert are both asleep, I am trying to appreciate the alone time, but with a tummy that can't keep anything down and a sad, neglected game of Ticket to Ride sitting on our newly unearthed dining room table, I cannot help but feel a little lonely.

But I have a lot to be thankful for.  Robert's mom and grandma spent a wonderful day hanging out with us.  Robert's sisters and their dogs stayed with us in our new house for two whole nights. Something else to point out is that both Robert and I won the sibling lottery.

I'm also thankful that our house is getting to be so homey.  I've been making smoothies all the time.  The kitchen is constantly being used.

We have a huge dining room table to play all the games we want (we're huge board/card games people).  And more importantly, we have so many friends and family to play games with.  Rachel made almost straight A's this past semester (Algebra 2 was a well fought-for B) and she's so close to getting her driver's license (I'm equally delighted for her and ridiculously petrified).

I also had another opportunity to interview (it took me 6 tries to get the position I have currently, and this was my 6th interview for the next step up), and even if I don't get the job I'm happy no matter what as long as I'm working at the library.  Robert also seems more relaxed.  With his computer business, working at local high schools as their tech guy and also remodeling the house, there's been little time for him to kick it.  There's been so much more of his nerdy glee recently.  It's been great.  I just have so much to be thankful for.       

So I roll my eyes at my loneliness.  There's too much to be happy about.  I will use this time constructively and watch lots of Will & Grace and cuddle my dogs and laugh quietly so I don't wake anyone up.

Friday, December 30, 2016

I love my Scottsy Snotsy

The past couple months I've been working on an embroidery piece for my brother, Scott, to hang in his newly remodeled home in Oro Valley, Arizona.

Because I made this for a very special person I decided to include myself in the progress pictures (which show shadows of blobby cacti that were later removed):

The upper left picture shows me starting the piece while I was on lunch in my car back in October, and the lower right picture shows me cleaning off my marks.  

And here's the best picture of all: Scott opening the gift.  Because we live so far away from each other we relied on FB messaging when opening our holiday gifts.  

Saturday, December 24, 2016

the magical wheezing feather duster

The other night I went out for a walk.  Because it was dark and the sidewalks were still a bit icy and snowy I was concentrating on each step.  Very meditative, yes, but also demanding most of my attention.  

Just ahead a very strange sight materialized - what I thought at first was either an upended feather duster or worse, an angry poofy sewer rat.  I say angry because the thing was headed straight for me.  

I had only seconds to decide what to do - run and risk slipping on the ice, change direction and walk in the road, or continue on, hoping naively that the thing wasn't actually running towards me, but instead, towards something just behind me.  

Perhaps it was curiosity but I didn't change direction or pick up speed.  I let the thing race to my feet where it began wheezing heavily while leaping spiritedly against my ankles.  It was a dog! A very tiny, hairy dog!

I gave it a pat, combing its hair and looking for the source of its wheezing, but alas, I never found its face.

I said goodbye and started to walk away, but the little booger followed me.  Thankfully I noticed an open and very lit up garage a few houses ahead, so with the little feather duster dancing at my ankles, we walked towards it.

An elderly gentleman greeted us in the driveway, swiftly scooped up the dog and tucked it into the bib of his overalls.

He smiled at me and walked back towards the garage, his overalls wheezing happily.

Monday, December 19, 2016

the best way to enjoy a snowy weekend

This weekend we had a small icy snow storm. Thankfully, we were snug in the house, playing with my new zoom loom and studying for finals (Rachel is almost done with her first semester!). We also made 50 mini loaves of banana bread for coworkers and cried all the way through the documentary about Caroll Spinney, I Am Big Bird.  

We bought the bananas a week ago and enjoyed watching them turn brown.  Brown bananas are not only excellent for baking, but also for smoothies!

Interestingly enough, awhile back I found myself absolutely smitten with a friend's zoom loom.  So much so that I bought myself one for my birthday. Turns out that doing it by myself is incredibly hard, and my first square looks like some crazed beast got ahold of it. And no, I'm not talking about Robert, though he helped me wade through the instructions and offered much support as I cursed my way through my first square.  

Will I give up?  Nope, I'm giving it another try on my next day off, and I'm going to use a different yarn and also aim for less tension when I'm setting up the loom.  Hopefully I'll have a square that is square-shaped to share after my next attempt!  

Progress is still being made here and there. Bannisters are up and nearly complete.    

Lots of boring, but necessary finish work is happening.  We're hoping to have the couch in its final resting spot here soon, and also have the guest bed set up after we clean up some of the finish work in the guest bedroom.  It's slow going right now, but we have much to be thankful for.

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Last night's walk was a very cold one.  The temperature was a frosty 17 degrees with a wind that made every attempt to sneak in through my multiple layers of clothing.  But it was a wondrous stroll beginning with something so eerily perfect I am still having difficulty believing it happened.

As I was strolling through the neighborhood I saw a cat run from underneath a row of bushes in front of a house.  For a hopeful second I thought it was running towards me.  I felt chosen.  But only for a second, because that's when a gentleman stepped out of a car that was sitting in the driveway.

The cat, who was racing down the driveway, stopped as soon as the gentleman shut the door. The gentleman, who was a big burly fellow (though he could have been wearing layers too), bent down and very affectionately burbled the most eye-rolling baby talk I've ever heard from a grown man.  And with a quick pat, they were off, briskly walking up the driveway together.  When the door shut behind them, and they escaped into the warm house, I couldn't help but feel like I, too, had just entered a warm house.  

I carried that warmth with me for the rest of the walk.  

I also watched a man play ball with his two black labs.  The exciting thing about this was that the ball was lit up!  I chatted with the man, who told me where to get one, so it looks like my dogs will have a holiday surprise.  

And while I was on an unfamiliar street, I saw this:

 A little free library that's an airstream trailer with a license plate says 'luv2read.'

Monday, December 12, 2016


Folks, we have the beginnings of a bannister!

Rachel's bathroom is also coming along very nicely and should be done in a couple days!

Friday, December 9, 2016

questionable language

In the past two days at the library we had three parking lot fiascos:

1. Someone phoned in about a wallet they lost 'on the way to their car.' I tried to find it, but I wasn't going to crawl around under cars looking for it. Especially since her description of where she parked was vague. When I told the patron that I couldn't find the wallet she said, "never mind. I'm pulling in. I'll look for it myself."

Ok, so why the call?

Let me point out that the temperature barely reached 20 degrees the past couple days so I looked awfully suspicious with no coat, walking slowly around the parking lot with my eyes to the ground.

Thankfully the wallet was found and she left happy.

2. A car alarm went off for several minutes.  I ducked my head outside, located the car and saw that it was occupied by a gentleman holding his fob.  Relieved, I went back inside thinking the situation was under control.

Several more minutes passed and the alarm never ceased.  So I went back out to the car and politely tapped on the window.  He was now holding not only his fob, but also the owner's manual.  I asked him all the basics - did he turn on his car? Yes. Did he try unlocking the car from fob and door? Yes. And so on.

Apparently he had tried all the logical approaches so I asked for his fob and proceeded to click the unlock button a zillion times as fast as I could. Somewhere in all that clicking the alarm stopped.  And it didn't go off again, not once during the hour or so while the gentleman was in the library. 

The gentleman was very thankful, and quite honestly, I was too.  I will definitely always try madly pressing buttons first in the hopes that whatever problem at hand is magically solved. 

3. The craziest parking lot fiasco involved a gentleman who fell on a patch of rock salt (we had our first snow) and knocked himself out.  While the paramedics were checking him out they said it was likely he had a concussion, but in a much more urgent voice they said he was going to need some stitches because he tore his eyelid off.  

Later today, as I was wrapping up my work, one of our regular patrons handed me a signed copy of his book, which was a brand new third edition.  I had been wondering for years what kind of author he was, and so I was thrilled to get a copy.  

"It's about beating alcoholism," he said proudly.  

"There's some questionable language in here," he continued, looking concerned.  "Overcoming alcoholism is really tough," he said as if that explained it.  And then he gave me a really meaningful look and hurried off.  

Ok, so I've had a couple crazy days, but they haven't been that crazy.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Found in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book

It's been so long since I've seen one of these. My coworkers and I passed it around and made it feel very loved and welcome in our modern library.  And now it has a forever home in my journal.

Monday, December 5, 2016

spoiled and loved

I had such a fun birthday!

I woke up very excited because I was in the middle of a fantastic audiobook, and I had planned to listen to it while I walked to work.  It was probably the fastest I've ever left the house.  

The audiobook started skipping immediately and I was fine missing a few words here and there, but when the book went from chapter 25 to chapter 30 I lost my positive outlook real fast.  I called Robert, who threw on his cape and said he'd pick up a copy of the book that was available at another branch, and life was good again (yes, I'm very spoiled and loved).   

I enjoyed two pieces of fancy fruitcake toast when I got to work and spent a very peaceful and merry hour alone in the building before my coworkers arrived.  

During this time I found this in my mailbox:

Though I couldn't listen to my audiobook while processing materials I did listen to my music on shuffle, and because the stars aligned, it played several songs that made me think of my loved ones, and I felt like they were with me all day. 

They also called me nonstop (which made me smile pretty much all day). 

Rachel, Robert and Robert's mom, Audrey, picked me up after work and took me out for a steak dinner filled with plenty of wonderful conversation. 

And yes, I received lots of presents because I am spoiled : ). Robert and Rachel gave me a plushy, plaid robe, 2 new coffee thermoses and fancy holiday Elbow chocolates.  I tried out the thermos yesterday when I took my coffee to tennis.  I left the thermos in the car for about an hour and a half and it was not only still hot when I finished tennis, the coffee stayed hot all the way through grocery shopping afterwards.  And more importantly, it's sooo pretty.

Last night one of my most favorite people made me dinner (beef wellington and angel food cake): 

And she also gave me this excellent scarf:

It was a very special birthday : D

Sunday, December 4, 2016

we clean up nice

Robert, Rachel and I just celebrated a wonderful football season at Rachel's high school (Rachel was their AWESOME manager), and we took a snapshot to prove we clean up nice.  Sadly, the tree is not ours.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

the beauty of a crusty ski mask

Currently I have 5 journals.  

1. good books only 
2. gratitude (anything and everything)
3. work-related gratitude 
4. anything and everything inspirational
5. bicycling/walking

Without a doubt my gratitude journal has changed my life.  It definitely makes me realize just how fortunate I am and what an awesome life I have. It's a journal where there is absolutely no negativity allowed.  Since starting the journal in 2009, there is definitely less space for negativity in my life.

I started the work-related gratitude journal earlier this year, and though I love my job, it's definitely a more challenging experience. There are days I have too many things for the short three lines I'm given and though it's rare, I also sometimes struggle to fill those lines.  When I can't fill those lines I start pushing myself to be more present in my interactions, more observant of the everyday magic at the library, and the lines fill up.  

When I started my work-related gratitude journal there were a couple surprises.  First, because I continuously mention coworkers I now have a spot teeming with proof that librarians really do make a positive impact in the lives of so many people. When we did peer reviews recently I had a wealth of information about my coworkers that I normally would have forgotten, and it was all fantastic stuff. I also didn't realize how much the journal revitalizes and reminds me of my love for the library on the tough days. I flip through it just as often as I write in it. 

In addition to my work-related gratitude journal I also have what started out as a bicycling journal for the days I bike to work. When I started biking to work over four years ago it was a 14 mile round trip.  I saw so many things it was impossible to remember everything!  A couple years ago I switched to a library branch that is much closer to home and now I walk to work as many days as I bike.  So then the bicycling journal shifted into more of a 'how I got to work today and what I saw on the way here' journal.

I love my two work journals immensely. Occasionally I'll have a wonderful patron interaction or be a part of something library-beautiful after my last break, which is my last chance to write, and before I go home I've got to cram in a few more words before the moment disappears.

The journals fuel my already out-of-control enthusiasm. I rarely talk about the journals but I can't stop living what's going on inside of them.  

This morning I threw on my bicycling clothes and rushed to work.  When I got there I couldn't believe how badly my clothes clashed (dark pink pants, light pink top, green socks) and how crusty my ski mask was (eww I know).  And for a moment I was a little ashamed, and I told my journal this.  But last week I exercised so much and biked and walked to work every day except once that I couldn't be upset by the few clean clothes I had left.  I was down to the ugly, weird stuff, and yes, my mask was a terrible sight.  But it was the result of hours and hours of hard work, of living in the moment and pushing my boundaries.  So I said thank you to my ugly clothes and when I put them back on to go home, I wore them proudly.

Later, as I gathered my thoughts of the day I realized something. Writing in my gratitude journals has been such a huge attitude adjustment for me.  Prior to writing in my gratitude journals I'm not sure I would have seen the positivity in my terrible outfit this morning. So here's a thank-you to my gratitude journals. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Loved it thanx

I'm sure you've heard me ramble on about something called the send item list at the library, which is a list of items patrons have requested. Every library system is different.  Some libraries print multiple lists every day or grab the items as they are requested.  The library I work for generates a list that we print daily, first thing in the morning.  It's one of my favorite things about working at the library.  I love collecting the items and sending them to our many different branches and sometimes even faraway places.  

I can talk about the send item list all day.  But I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, so I'll move on to the reason I'm bringing it up again.  This morning I grabbed the nonfiction chunk of the list like I do every day.  It's my favorite.  It also tends to be a bit longer than the rest of the sections so I rarely get finished before the rest of the sections are snapped up by my coworkers.  Today, when I finished the nonfiction section I noticed that the fiction section was up for grabs so I nabbed it fast and hurried back to the stacks.

As soon as I got there I immediately started thinking about the authors I was going to look up for my staff picks.  I like to keep the staff picks packed which is difficult to do because it's extremely popular.  The first author I thought of was Billie Letts.  So I moseyed along, slowly made my way to the L's, and pulled all the books whose spines were destined for the sacred holds sticker.

Luck was on my side because there happened to be a couple Billie Letts books available.  I grabbed the lesser known one - The Honk and the Holler Opening Soon - and couldn't resist flipping through the pages.  

As I was flipping through the book my staff picks bookmark fell out, which gave me a chuckle.  

And then I saw the note written at the top:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

friends, memories and some awkwardness

I had lots of luck with kid's books in November beginning with the pleasure of listening to a storytime genius read Beekle, which is an easy book to fall madly in love with.  I found First Day Jitters at a Little Free Library on a walk, and because it's short, I read it several times while standing there at the little library, and it came home with me.  I shared Everything is Awkward with all my coworkers and nearly cried when I read The Lines on Nana's Face the first time.  My favorite book this past month is hands down, Some Writer, which is the story of E.B. White, and it's just so perfectly and lovingly executed by one of my favorite illustrators, Melissa sweet.  Here are my tiny reviews!

Beekle by Dan Santat

This is for those of us who've always wondered about how we ended up with our imaginary friends from childhood and where they come from. My imaginary friend of long ago was nowhere as sweet or well thought out as Beekle though! The pages where Beekle and Alice meet each other offer endless delight. An added bonus is at the very end of the book where there are several pictures of kids and their imaginary friends. Ah, such a brilliant idea executed with utterly adorable illustrations.

Some Writer! by Melissa Sweet

The illustrations are captivating, diverse and plentiful. Sweet also does an excellent job mixing the illustrations with the story of E.B. White's life. It's a perfect blend of memorabilia, Sweet's art and beguiling text. The text is a tribute to E.B. White's work, as it is both succinct and vivid with detail. I loved all the details of E.B White's relationship with Katharine Sergeant, his writing tips and New Yorker jobs. It didn't surprise me that he wrote the poem, "Natural History" for Katharine or that it took 17 takes for him to record the chapter, Last Day, in Charlotte's Web because he couldn't stop crying, but I was delighted by these details and many more. I loved and studied each illustration intensely, but my favorite was the family branch on page 48. The imagination and thoughtfulness that went into each illustration is astounding. The page layouts are also incredibly inventive. This book is a feast for the heart and eyes, and I will read it again and again.

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg and Illustrated by Judy Love

90% of my love for this book is based entirely on the surprise ending, which I won't spoil. I read it several times through to see if there were any hints about the surprise ending and I couldn't find any. It is so wonderfully written, and kids will love it and probably laugh even louder and longer than I did.

Everything is Awkward by Mike Bender and Doug Chernack

This is sooo funny! I like this even better than the authors' previous books because of the wonderful message, which is all about embracing your awkward moments. They're what make us unique and adorable. They also give both ourselves and others a lot of joy.

The Lines on Nana's Face by Simona Ciraolo

What a beautiful way to talk about wrinkles with kids and let them know that they should be proud of the map that their memories make on their faces as they grow older. The illustrations are impactful, soft and colorful. And they evoke much emotion as the nana talks about her lines. An added bonus is the gorgeous red spine that nearly shouts at you to pull it from the shelf.