Blog Slacker, or Where I’ve Been Lately

burning candle at both endsSome of my more loyal followers have noticed that I’ve slowed down a bit lately.  Not in a physical sense unfortunately, since I still feel like the proverbial chicken running around with its head cut off,  (this is a very gruesome metaphor – lets say, a very busy person, instead) but due to all the other demands on my time, I’ve recently become a BLOG SLACKER.

Define BLOG SLACKER:

A blog slacker is one who lets her blog go to rack and ruin because she’s overbooked during the day and her body thinks it needs to sleep at night.

O.K. so what could possibly be more important than posting regularly on your blog?

1.Spending time with family members whom one rarely sees anymore except on holidays and special occasions.

2.Cleaning and other boring but essential activities which  make it possible for me not to be featured on one of those hoarders reality shows.

3. Church callings and  civic responsibilities, which while a seemingly minimal commitment can balloon into staggering amounts of time. (i.e. Organizing the Church Luau which 91 people – so far – have signed up to attend.)

4. Attempting to read the stacks of books which call to me from the shelves of the library each day. Even when I have a million other things to do, I get panicky if I don’t have a good book going.

5. And this brings me to the library – Ah yes – the black hole into which the vast majority of my hours fall.

Yes, earning a living ranks right up there with blogging when it comes to matters of importance, though lately the necessity of a regular income has begun to edge into the lead.  If it were up to me I would spend my days writing, all the while commenting on other people’s blogs and witty repartee, but alas, I am compelled to trudge off to my job, (which I quite enjoy by the way) to be able to meet my financial obligations.

Interestingly enough, I’ve recently discovered several new ways to twiddle away my time – and add to my bank account, by writing on-line. Who knew?  I will address this in my next post, whenever I can fit that in, but in the meantime, don’t give up on me.  I’m still here – just not as often.

 

Learning To Fly

a young chipping sparrow fresh from the nest

The weather is so beautiful today, it puts me in mind of another spring day years ago . . .

The sun dappled leaves of the Elm tree-shaded our patio swing as I swayed, happily immersed in the Sunday paper. My faithful hound Toby snored at my feet, and a warm breeze carried the scent of summer blossoms. It was a tranquil scene – until I caught a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned just in time to see a scruffy-looking object plummet from the sky and land with a plop on the dog’s nose.

Too startled to move at first, we both just stared. It was a baby bird. As it hopped from its unfortunate landing pad, Toby came to her senses and did what any self-respecting dog would do – she lunged. So did I, and grabbed her collar just in the nick of time. Toby’s teeth snapped shut on empty air and I began dragging her towards the house. Claws raking furrows in the lawn, she struggled to get at the bird all the while yelping like a strangled hyena.

My husband stuck his head out the door. “What’s going on?” he said.
At that point the noise level in our backyard was roughly equivalent to a rock concert. In addition to the howling dog, we had acquired an entire flock of hysterical bird relatives chirping and shrieking and swooping through the air. All the while the young bird, apparently unconcerned by the uproar it had caused, sat calmly in the grass, bright eyes blinking in the sun.

After depositing our crazed pet in the house, my husband and I sat down to watch the drama unfold. Two of the birds, presumably Mom and Dad, landed near the baby and chirped with shrill disapproval.

We wondered what had happened. Was this a flying lesson gone awry? Had the youngster simply gotten tired of testing its new wings and checked out? The odds of it dropping from the sky and landing on the nose of a dog must have been astronomical, but as I’ve learned over the years, it’s best to expect the unexpected when dealing with children. The adult birds were clearly appalled by their offspring’s close call, and I could imagine the dialogue that must have been taking place.

Mother bird: “What were you thinking!”
Baby: “Nobody told me not to land on a dog’s nose.”
Father bird: “Why would we tell you that? Everyone knows better that!”

Like any child caught in an embarrassing situation, this one appeared to ignore its elders. It fluffed its feathers with great dignity and at one point actually turned its back on the others. It made a couple of half-hearted attempts to fly, but though seemingly uninjured, just didn’t seem that interested.

Suspecting that our presence was adding stress to the situation, my husband and I retired to the house. I kept an eye on the scene lest a cat should appear, but it was clear that the bird family could easily take down a dinosaur if necessary. Before long the baby seemed to reconsider the merits of our lawn, and without fanfare, lifted itself into the sky, entourage in tow, and flew away. Quiet reigned in our yard once more.

I could relate to that bird family. I knew exactly how they felt. Eventually we all have to push our children out of the nest, yet in spite of our best efforts they often manage to get themselves into awe-inspiring trouble. In the end we simply have to shake our heads and accept the fact that we can’t protect them from everything. Sometimes all we can do is pray – namely that they’ll exercise caution with their new wings and ultimately, that they’ll find a safe place to land.

Human Library, Living Books

human library 2Have you ever been to a Human Library?  Here you can check out Living Books, and on Saturday I did just that.

The Salt Lake County Library System gathered a variety of people, i.e., books who were willing to share  their life experiences, and brought them together with readers who wanted to hear their stories.

I chatted with a retired soldier who had been involved in every American conflict since Viet Nam.  One man, a Muslim, told of being raised in apartheid South Africa, and another who was known as the Tom Brokaw of Iraq, recalled fleeing for his life after speaking up one too many times. I talked with a woman about the terror and the joy of escaping a life of polygamy, then discussed educational theory with a non-tiger Mom. There was an urban farmer, a polio survivor who climbed mountains, as well a an author, a songwriter an artist,  a member of the LGBTQ community and many more.

The Living Books festival originated in Denmark in 1993. The city had experienced a strong societal shift due to a large number of immigrants,  and the new and old members of the population were not getting along. The first Human Library was aimed at giving people a chance to sit down together as neighbors. It was an opportunity to break down barriers and  prejudice, and it serves the same purpose today.

“This event gave people  a chance  to talk with someone they wouldn’t ordinarily meet,” said the Imam of the Salt Lake Islamic society. “Whenyou bring people from opposite ends of the social and political spectrum together in a  non-judgmental setting, a lot good can come of it.”

“We’ll do this again next year,” said Liesl Seborg,  coordinator of the event.  “Hopefully everyone will come back and bring their friends.”

And that’s what it’s all about – friends.  The people who attended today have some new friends to show for it, and judging by all the animated conversations and smiling faces, the event was a great success.

don't judge 2

Poster for the Original Human Library

http://shouldbereading.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/musing-mondays-mar-31/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lost and Found

businessmanI work in a busy public library and am constantly amazed by the variety of things people leave behind.  For instance, car keys – we have on average 4 sets of car keys in our lost and found drawer at all times. Can somebody please tell me how you get home without your car keys?  Don’t you need them to start your car?

Another popular item is cell phones – a big-ticket, stress inducing item to lose track of.  I always feel bad about this and try to answer the phones whenever I hear them singing their sad little lost song in the drawer.  Often it’s the owner calling from someone else’s phone trying to locate their own.  “You left it in the library!” I say, and we have a good laugh and the mystery is solved.

Much harder to resolve and equally traumatic is the instance of people who leave their flash drives in one of our computers.  I’ve been there done that, and I know how it feels. People store important information on those tiny bits of technology – things  like business proposals, midterm notes, personal journals, and final drafts of their novels.  It’s like back in the day when everyone carried planners.  You lose it and you lose your mind.

We also deal in lost coats – last check we had three, backpacks and shoes – did you really not notice you were missing a shoe? Canes, we’ve found four over the past year and they’re all alike.  We suspect it’s the same person losing them, but have yet to catch the owner in the act of abandonment.

But all these things pale in the face of the Grand Champion of lost and found items. One day at closing we were astounded to find a  brand new, state of the art, convertible double stroller, sitting all alone in the children’s section.

What?  Someone entered the library with a giant double stroller and managed to leave without it? Poor  young mothers, I feel for you.  I know, sometimes life with young children gets so stressful that you’d forget you own head if it wasn’t attached. (But seriously, your stroller? That’s more important than your head.)

Anyway this particular story  had an interesting ending.  One day a young man came into the library and glanced at the stroller collecting dust in the manager’s office. He skidded to a halt and stared.

“Excuse me,” he said, “but I think that’s our stroller. We lost it a few weeks ago, and my wife thought someone had stolen it.”

No, not stolen, just forgotten.  I hope he broke it to her gently. In conclusion, the stroller and it’s owners were happily reunited, and our manager has his office back – for now anyway.

Are you missing your eyeglasses, your wallet, your trumpet or your wedding ring?  Can’t find your notebook, your credit card or your soccer shin guards? Check out the library. Books aren’t the only things we collect.

Linger

Wall ClockThe daily prompt asks what  we linger over – Ah, so many possible answers . . .  a good book, a crossword puzzle, a cup of hot cocoa on a snowy morning, lunch with a friend, a hot shower, a cuddly baby, puppies, a beautiful garden, and time with family.

I also linger too long over my word press posts, checking and re-checking spelling and grammar,  making sure I’ve made sense to someone other than myself.  So today I won’t do that.  Short and sweet – here it is.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/daily-prompt-linger/

Jaws and the Weedwacker of Doom

Is it just me or does anyone else greet the coming of spring with bit of trepidation.  Don’t get me wrong; I love Crocuses, budding trees and the sound of birdsong as much as the next person.  I look forward to throwing open the doors and windows of the house, drying sheets on the line, and feeling UV rays on my sun-starved skin, but along with these heady springtime activities comes a looming responsibility.  Namely yard work; weeding, pruning, watering and most odious of all mowing the lawn! 

As the snow recedes and the grass slowly begins to emerge, it’s almost as if I can hear the Jaws theme song echoing across the yard. It gets louder and louder with each unfolding square of green. In the movies, whenever this ominous cello music begins a giant shark appears, and sensible people run from the scene splashing and screaming.  It’s hard to run from my lawn. I’ve surrounded my house with it.

shark1When I moved into this house 17 years ago, no one talked much about water wise plants or xeriscaping.  So being rather landscape challenged, my husband and I did what everyone else was doing and planted huge sections of Kentucky bluegrass. I remember being thrilled when first few seeds began to sprout.  We coaxed and babied the delicate blades into a full-fledged lawn and felt a great sense of accomplishment when we finally got to mow.  We had absolutely no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

As the grass grew, so did our family and everyone loved the lawn.  We soon had four children who thrived on this football, soccer and Frisbee field. Happily they also took care of much of the maintenance of their playground, since mowing and trimming was a great way to earn extra cash.

Of course the kids complained a bit about the hard work, but their protests fell on deaf ears.  A little work never hurt anyone.  Besides, I distinctly remembered my father saying that yard work developed character. Then came the day when I got tired of their mutinous mutterings. I threw my hands in the air and threatened to take their job away from them.

“Fine,” I said, “If you guys don’t want the money, I’ll just mow the lawn myself.”

mowingHonestly, I thought how hard could it be?  I ended up sweaty and dehydrated with grass stains on my shoes. Despite repeated instructions, I had no idea how to operate the gas-powered, turbo-charged weed whacker of doom, and was quite frankly terrified of the noisy, rock spitting appliance. All in all . . . I was appalled.   I promptly upped the compensation package for lawn care and turned the job back over to the kids.

Over the years my children have grown.  One has moved out of the house altogether with others soon to follow. Empty nest syndrome looms on the horizon and I approach it with a mixture of sadness and concern.  I will certainly miss my children, though one can hardly dread the prospect of peace and quiet. 

But wait  a minute – if all the kids leave, who is going to mow the lawn!  Uh, oh.  This is vaguely reminiscent of the age old question, “who is going to take care of the dog/ cat/ guinea pig, when it’s owner goes to college?”  We all know the answer to that one.

I need to downsize my lawn, but don’t know how to go about it.  I have seen some lovely boulder and bark chip yards.  Maybe I should move in that direction – but how to get rid of all this grass?  There’s that cello music again. Well . . . how did they get rid of Jaws?  It seems like the solution involved some kind of explosion. 

explosion

Now there’s an idea, with a couple of good blasts I could get rid of my grass, and xeriscape the yard all in one fell swoop.  Now all I have to do is get the plan approved by my homeowners association. In the meantime though, I guess I’d better tune up the lawnmower. Does anyone want to earn some extra cash?

 

Rock My World

thinking

Daily Prompt: Under Pressure? Only when I’m awake . . .

It doesn’t take much to confuse me these days, but this one really rocked my world.

I was running late for church last Sunday and wasn’t paying a lot of attention as I jumped in the car and drove off. I attended church, had a lovely time, and returned to my car only to find  the door wouldn’t unlock.   Now let me explain that this was my husband’s car and it has one of those electronic keys that you don’t even have to take out of your purse.  It’s magic and the door unlocks as soon as you approach – but not this time.

car keyWhen the lock wouldn’t work, I  assumed the car battery had died since it’s been doing that lately.  I was once again in a hurry  so I hitched a ride home with a neighbor and, master procrastinator that I am, promised to resolve the car problem later. Not surprisingly things came up that afternoon, and that night it  was just too cold so, bright and early Monday morning my spouse and I  went to retrieve his car.

We were surprised when the car immediately sprang to life with his key. Apparently it wasn’t a dead battery after all,  so what was wrong with my key? I began digging through my purse and discovered that the key wasn’t in there.

Wait a minute, how had I driven his car to church without a key? OH NO! Had I lost it at church?  Please not that. This key is expensive, in fact  one of my pet peeves about new cars, is that they all have electronic keys that cost roughly the equivalent of a years pay (mine anyway) to replace.

But I digress.

Back at home I tore the car apart to make sure I hadn’t dropped the key inside. I tore my purse apart again, and checked all the pockets of the clothes I’d worn to church. No luck.  Defeated, we finally sat down to discuss the options.  We still had one key to his car, but if we lost that we were toast.

toastMe: “I guess we’ll have to buy another key.”

John:  “Yes, it’s unfortunate that it costs roughly the equivalent of a years pay.”

Me: “Sigh.”

Daughter:  “Are you guys looking for Dad’s key?  I’ve got it right here.”

John:  “YOU have the car key?!!

Daughter: Uh oh, (stricken look) how did you get home from church Mom?”

Me:  How did I even get to church?”

John: “Why do you have the key?!!

(What you see here is a classic case of multi-level confusion.)

To make a long story short, unbeknownst to myself I had taken my own car to church.  My daughter who doesn’t like to drive Dad’s vehicle came by and traded cars with me, then left an FYI text which I never saw because I don’t know how to find texts on my new phone. She left John’s car in the same parking place so I wouldn’t be confused, (Hah!) but neglected to leave the key, and had been blissfully unaware of the problem until now.

Is anyone still with me?  I’m not.

Anyway, all is well now because my paychecks can once again go towards paying bills and buying chocolate instead of installment payments on a new car key.

Note to car manufacturers:  Enough with the magic.Can we please go back to cheap metal keys?

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/daily-prompt-heat/

This Takes the Cake

IMG_20140205_154900Here’s one for Sherlock. We’ll call it the Mystery of the Baffling Baked Goods. As I walked out of McDonald’s one afternoon I came across a puzzling sight.  There on a little patch of dead grass in the middle of the parking lot was half of a child’s birthday cake, perfectly preserved, with plastic lid still intact. (In case you’re wondering, the white patches are melting snow.)  Now some of you might say, “So?  There are many reasonable explanations for a situation such as this. For instance,” ? . . .?  . . . ?.

See what I mean?  What could possibly have caused a half eaten birthday cake to appear in this parking lot median. Did it fall from a passing space ship, the remnants of an alien child’s  festivities? Did it get bumped out of  a hungry delivery man’s bakery truck? Did someone eat their fill and decide to share with other parking lot dwellers? I don’t know, but that’s about the extent of my theories.  Ideas anyone?

Where are Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys when you need them?

Four Paws Up!

Rosie Bear

Rosie Bear

Rosie Bear here, fresh from a long winter’s nap – yawn. I actually had no intention of hibernating this year as I had way too many books to read, but one night last October, I was reading a long, looong book, and the next thing I know – it’s March!  Anyway, it’s time to get back to work.

As some of you may know, my friend the Library Lady had a falling out with the PBS series, Downton Abby.  (http://geanieroake.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/downton-abby-emphasis-on-the-down/)  As a result, even though her husband, and that ridiculous dog Lucy still stayed glued to the set on Sunday evenings, the Library Lady swore off all things Downton. Well, I bet I can get her to change her mind . . .  with this!

The Missing Diamond By Nick Page

The Missing Diamond
By Nick Page

Mouseton Abby – The Missing Diamond,  is unbearably cute and everyone will want to read it. Mouseton Abby originally belonged to the monastic mice of the Stinky brotherhood of the Holy Goatcheese, but it eventually ended up in the hands of Sir Roquefort, the Earl of Mouseton.

This mysterious story is filled with lots of fun characters, with many cheesy names like the Dowager Countess Lady Gouda. As the story goes, Lord Roquefort, who is very forgetful, loses the Great Cheesy Diamond, right before the annual celebration of Cheesemas, and the hunt is on.

Mouston Abby is a fun book for the cubs, and also for Mama and Papa bears especially if they like Downton Abby, which the Library Lady doesn’t, but she might give it a second chance after seeing this cute book!

Speaking of great books.  Here’s another must read.

By Amy Hest

By Amy Hest

Mr. George Baker is a Reading Rainbow book, and rightly so since it’s all about one of my beary favorite subjects – Reading. Mr. George Baker  is a hundred years old.  He’s sitting on the front porch of his house waiting for his friend Mr. Harry “in charge”, who is five.  When Harry arrives, he tells us about Mr. Baker and  his crumpled hat and long stretchy legs in saggy baggy pants with pockets full of candy.

They wait, and talk about some of  the things Mr. Baker  learned over the years, and some of the things he didn’t.  One of the didn’t is learn to read.

“That must be corrected”, he says.

Finally the wait is over. They stand and walk to the street as the school bus arrives, and  Mr. Baker and Harry both get on the bus. Though everyone wants Mr. Baker to sit with them, he always sits by Harry. When they get to the school, Harry goes to his room, and Mr. Baker goes to room 7 with the other adults who are  . . . learning to read.

This  honey of a book, also has furry beautiful pictures. You won’t sleep through this one!

Four Paws UP!

Four Paws UP!

Talent Show

cake2

It has recently come to my attention that I have a very talented group of friends, and today I’d like to tell you about them. We all come into this world with a God given set of skills, and while some people take their gifts for granted, others take their talents and run with them.

Speaking of running . . .

Need some new running shoes?  How about this one?  Nice color,  nice tread, and check out those cool silver laces. I think everyone should have a pair of running shoes just like this. The only problem is – they won’t wear very well . . . since they’re made out of cake and fondant!  Can you believe it? (click on the image to appreciate the minute details)  My friend Michelle is a cake decorator.  She  made this fun cake for her running group anniversary celebration and I thought it was fantastic. Michelle does cakes for weddings, parties and just about any occasion. (Would taking a bite be a case of sticking your foot in your mouth?)

Celeste is an amazing quilter.  Unfortunately since I’m not an amazing photographer these pictures don’t begin to do her work justice.

The red and white snowman quilt is full-sized, and is  covered with minute and perfectly executed embroidery stitching.  It took almost a year to make and was clearly a labor of love. The cute bunny quilt hangs in her bunny – themed play room, brightening the walls for the many grandchildren who frequent her home. Last but hardly least is the beautiful diamond pattern, jewel toned quilt that lies on her bed. This is not just a quilt, it’s a work of art.

One thing that I love about Celeste and her hobby, is that she doesn’t box these treasures up and stash them safely in a closet, she uses them and has them out for everyone to see and enjoy.

Ludy is a candy chef extraordinaire.  As you can see she’s into chocolate and caramel,  and has actually made a business of her hobby.  It’s called Chocolate Divine, and let me tell you that name perfectly describes her creations. Ludy caters parties, makes goody baskets, and sells her wares in several grocery store chains. My favorites are the chocolate/caramel/almond turtles.  Note to self: Don’t leave me alone with a box of these.  The great thing about Ludy, is that  as good as she  is, she’s always taking classes to improve her skills.  Oh, I almost forgot, she also does a mean Chocolate covered strawberry.  Don’t you wish you had one right  now? Well guess what. You can. http://chocolate-divine.com/news/

Melinda has been sewing for years, and thinks nothing of sitting down at the machine and whipping up a project that would boggle my sewing challenged  mind. These jackets were all  the rage a few years ago, and never go out of style. They’re made from a pullover sweatshirt that’s been cut  down the front. After the embellishments are added you’d never guess it’s humble origin. Besides making them for herself,  she’s taught many others the ins and outs of the craft. Alas, it’s not as easy as she makes it look, and I have yet to finish mine..

These cute bags are also a sewing masterpiece.  Both bags, one a generic tote bag and the other crafted to hold sewing supplies, are filled with secret pockets, inside compartments and, the bane of my sewing life,  zippers.  She makes them as gifts, since thanks to the hours that go into each one, the price to sell would be astronomical.  These bags are bright and festive and fun, just like my friend.

Boots are her bag. My sister-in-law Sue, scours garage sales and second-hand stores for used cowboy boots, then brings them back to life as a beautiful purse or tote bag.  Who knew that cowboy boots were this pretty?  Sue has also turned her hobby into a thriving business.  She sells her handcrafted designs on-line and has several celebrity buyers.   The best thing about her business, Sue says, is when someone comes to her with a pair of boots that have fond memories attached.  She takes extra care with these projects, and loves turning something old into something new and making it a cherished keepsake to boot. .http://www.pinterest.com/sueroake/

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/writing-challenge-object/