Thursday, August 26, 2004

My Aunt Frieda - Queen of the Nile

I started this post last week, but never finished it because it's been madness around here. There are many stories about my Aunt Frieda, and occasionally one pops into my head. I was walking to work the other day, and saw some bumper stickers that reminded me of my Aunt Frieda.

Aunt Frieda has three beater cars that all should have been sent to the junkyard years and years ago, but she persists in driving them anyway. They all have a constant rash of bumper stickers across their rear ends, mostly of a smug, didactic nature.

A few of my favourites have been the AA stickers. Aunt Frieda is not a drinker, but was married to an alcoholic for many years, and subsequently is a rabid Al Anon member. My favourite AA bumper sticker of all time has got to be "Denial is Not Only a River in Egypt". Aunt Frieda can spout the twelve-steppin' lingo with the best of them, but interestingly enough, none of it seems to apply to her own life. Hence, My Aunt Frieda, Queen of Denial.

Aunt Frieda's quest to be justified through Al Anon once resulted in my sister and I being dragged as 8 and 9 year olds to the AA RoundUp in Kindersley. If you have never been to an AA RoundUp, it's a conference of alcoholics. Hundreds and hundreds of AA members getting together in a room for a day of inspiration. Probably a great experience for adult alcoholics. There I was, though, at age nine, listening to grown men describe hitting bottom, in graphic detail. Young children do not need to hear graphic details about hitting bottom. As a child I knew this on some level, but life was very weird in our family, and so it took years for me to become enraged at her decision to take us there.

Nowadays, I am occasionally ill-behaved (e.g. inappropriate tantrums, snippiness, etc.) and feel very bad about it afterwards. One of the ways I deal with it is to remind myself that I come from a background of chaos and am really quite high-functioning in society, all things considered. And I fancy that every time I have a tantrum, it is smaller and less embarassing than the last one. One can only hope.

Or live in denial. But that's not me. That's my Aunt Frieda.

Balkan Heart Attack

I have recently discovered 'Balkan Style' yoghurt. 5.9% MF. Omigosh. It's like eating Creme Fraiche disguised as something good for you. I might as well wrap a strip of bacon around my heart.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Word of the Day

Today's word is 'prequel'. What a great word that is. Only humans could come up with a word that means 'before' at the same time as it means 'after'.

I have just finished reading "The Blue Sword" by Robin McKinley (a la 'Beauty'), which has a prequel called "The Hero and the Crown". Echt fantastisch.

Sprout just celebrated his 18-month birthday yesterday. He no longer has a word of the day. In fact, he has left off single words and is making more and more sentences. On Saturday, he was saying, "She sell seashell inna seashore." It's too funny. That's my boy.

Why Squirrels Do Not Write Romance Novels (or Blogs About Their Sex Lives)

Who did he think he was, so proud and arrogant. Leaping from branch to branch like he owned the forest. Well, she'd show him. She could be cold and distant too.

And yet, how strong and powerful his hind legs were. How sleek his bushy, red tail. If only he weren't so cold. He shared his nuts with her, it was true, but didn't he do it out of pride and pity??

She needed to know. She dashed across the branch and down to the meeting place. There he was. He wheeled. She froze. "Chip?" "Chip chip... chrrr." His oft-proud eyes went soft and limpid. She was so close that she could see every whisker on his muzzle. "Chrrr," he had said. Chrrr??? Did he mean it? Could it be true?

He scampered close, a glint in his dark-brown eye. He leaned in to nuzzle her smooth cheek. And then... And then...

[ahem][forest sounds]

Friday, August 20, 2004

How Can it be Fall???

I think officially 'fall' is not capitalized by the rest of the world, but I always prefer to capitalize the seasons myself. It just looks so wrong as 'fall' and so right as 'Fall'. Seasons as proper nouns, says Gwen. That's my tiny bit of grammatical rebellion.

Am currently reading, in bits and pieces, "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" by Lynne Truss. Very entertaining, for anal grammar pigs comme moi. Am equally appalled at the use or lack of apostrophes in today's world. I like her idea of guerrilla tactics that grammaticians might employ.

I survived, narrowly, the creamed chicken and German struedel from the other night. Bit of a tummy ache, but no proneness and no screaming. One of my colleagues yesterday burst my little balloon of denial, and said that gall bladder problems don't just 'go away' and will return to me someday. Sigh. I had myself completely convinced of it before this conversation...

Am on the reference desk with Ms. Lauveen. We are browsing other blogs through the 'next blog' feature at the top of the blog screen. Days could pass you by, doing this! It's fascinating. I like how you get a different blog every time you try it. Like Russian roulette.

Okay, am stunned - do people really discuss, in graphic detail, their sex lives in blogs? Why?? To be titillating? Why do it for free? Why not write a romance novel and make some money at it? Seems like these folks need a hobby.

Seems like our culture is imploding. Thank God I'm really a squirrel.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Mouse Lives

Yay, Mouserobics no longer dead on the central site. Got e-mail from the creator, who said that the computer it runs off of quietly died while he was on holidays and no one else noticed.

The death of the mouse in class last week was a good 'teachable moment', used to talk about how it's common that websites die without warning, or are sometimes unaccessible for a whole raft of reasons.

My seniors computer classes are over for a while, but the new thing I'm involved in at work is a leviathan beta test of some new Interlibrary Loan software. Among my duties is Interlibrary Loan Supervisor, which means that I never do hands-on ILL work, but instead get to interpret and politely reinforce policy when my very capable staff can't reason with a patron. I also get to participate in policy changes and beta tests like this one. Sometimes I groan at this duty, but the squirrel-perky part of my personality likes being involved because ILL gets to be a more and more important part of library service, as we get more electronic and interoperable.

The beta test meetings are at 8:00 a.m. (an ungodly time for the up-all-night parent squirrel), but once they are over and I'm fully awake, I get excited about leaving work at 4:00 p.m.!

My sister is still at our house (now sleeping in the garage on a plywood platform over two sawhorses!!)(avec Thai mosquito net!), and she's making a traditional German family dish for us tonight: creamed chicken with German struedel. We call it the 'fat fest', as in "pour oil and butter into the pan to a depth of 1/2 inch..."

I'm not kidding. If anything's going to bring back the gall bladder problems I skirmished with last year, this is the test...

Wierd Patron Sightings

I'm not about to go so far as to record and index all weird patrons at the Library, like Tales from the Liberry does (Gawd, I love the Liberry's Purple Nun). But, occasionally there are moments when one must comment.

Today, there are THREE sets of Mormon missionaries (clean-cut young men who arrive in pairs, wearing white shirts and ties) hanging around at the Internet terminals. It's very odd. Looks like a re-creation of life in the 1950s. Perhaps there will be some cool 50s fin cars parked out front if I look.

I always want to ask these young men how far from home they are, or if they live here in Saskatoon and are just shirking their missionary duties by hiding at the Library. Jim's pooka friend Charlie grew up as a Mormon and then left the Church before the missionary period - hence, Charlie, Son of Perdition.

I love that word, perdition. Lostness. Lostitude. Lostfullness.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Is Mouserobics Dead???!!??

To my horror, I discovered that the trusty mouse tutorial, Mouserobics, did not work when I needed it yesterday in my Absolute Beginners Computers for Seniors class yesterday. Today, when I checked hopefully, I discovered that the URL does not exist on that server.

This is not good news. This is bad news. I fudged my way through learning the mouse yesterday, and it was okay, but Mousercise certainly does it prettier than me. Tomorrow morning is the practise session (same seniors back again, reinforcing what they learned), and I don't really have a back-up plan or time to figure out anything else (aside from more fudge).

Can't wait until Sprout tries fudge for the first time. I suppose by then he will speak a bit better. If he tried fudge today, he would say, "Mo' fuzsh, peas, mo' fuzsh!" It would be too funny.

Okay, cute Sprout mini-break over. What to do about Mousercise?? Have sent plaintive e-mail to Mousercise creator. Have cried crocodile tears. Now must find new tutorial or build my own. Zut alors!

Don't want to be mouse tutorial creator. This is not the sort of megalomania I had in mind (last week when all was going well with teaching computer classes, I imagined myself jet-setting all over the country as a librarian database trainer).

My kingdom for a mouse tute.


My dear husband never lets me forget that I am a megalomaniac of sorts. It's true, I know. I love to learn new things. I love to START projects. Whenever I start a new hobby (they call me "the hobby slut" around these parts), I learn the ropes, I buy all the stuff, and I immediately have visions of becoming the best stained glass artist - esteemed woodworker - boundary-pushing gardener - fluent French speaker - rare, paid blogger - you get the idea.

And then the next learning opportunity comes along before I have quite brought all my dreams of grandeur to fruition.

My latest thing (I remind myself of Auntie Mame sometimes) is a self-improvement project, to become a better librarian. I am planning to read, systematically, all the Newbery and Caldecott winners and honorees, starting with 2004 and working my way backwards.

When I was a kid, I read non-stop. I would drag 30 picture books home in my little wagon or bike basket, and read them all in an afternoon. I hung out in the dusty little Leader library most days after school, browsing all the shelves, when all the other (normal) kids were playing barbies or something.

When I started university, though, I started reading for my classes and had no energy to read for fun. As a librarian for the last 9 years, I thought I didn't read much because I do it all day at work (= busman's holiday). Or that was my theory until lately.

Recently I was hanging out at lunch with Judith, the Children's Librarian who knows all there is to know about kid's lit. While we were chatting about children's books, I realized that I always loved reading children's books. Perhaps I stopped reading as an adult because I thought I had to read adult books and I didn't actually like them much?? Judith recommended Robin McKinley's Beauty as one of the best books she's ever read (and it's hard, don't you know, to get to the top of Judith's favourite books list). So I scurried out to the stacks and squirrelled (pardon the pun) it home with me. What an awesome book.

Beauty has given me the energy to start on my tour of Newberys and Caldecotts. Although now that I have stated my plans out loud, I will surely crash and burn after a tour through the first decade of award-winners.

And move on to some other megalomanic pursuit...

Thursday, August 05, 2004

The Blog of Shame (A Hodgepodge of Hurried Catch-Up)

It's true, I haven't written anything in this blog for basically a week. Not that there is nothing to write about. There are just so many activities to juggle in a busy squirrel/parent/librarian/renovateur's life. What to do first??

Jimbo always says, "You're only as good as your last blog." The pressure!

What's new in my life? Am in the middle of 3 weeks of teaching seniors how to use a mouse. Or to use mouses. Learned recently that the plural of computer mouse is usually 'mice', but can, in fact, be 'mouses'! How silly! I love it.

I love hanging out with seniors. They are the keenest students. They show up early, they stay late, they tell great jokes, they laugh at my jokes (it's all about me, don't forget).

We have been using Mouserobics, which is a pretty cool program, but I need to continue my pursuit of keyboarding software for the library. There are too many seniors out there who have never used a keyboard in their lives. And I don't really want to be a typing teacher.

Was having horrid flashback to Grade 9 Typing class at lunch today (after teaching the seniors): we learned on old-fashioned manual typewriters with the carriage return, and greasy Mr. Whasisname used to be fond of saying, "Don't make love to it, just push the carriage return and let it go." I remember being absolutely mortified in my shy, pubescent state of even hearing this statement. Ack. I suppose if he didn't have quite so much dandruff and such a lecherous gleam in his eye, it might have been a mildly funny joke. Or not. Ick.

Sprout has learned to walk backwards, and bursts with pride when he does it and gets praised. It's too funny. He looks like a little moonwalking Michael Jackson (a little white, tow-haired Michael Jackson).

Jimbo leaves for Vancouver tomorrow for the wedding of our beloved Shmally to young Jeremy. I am a shade nervous about a weekend of single-parenting (but real single parents out there will be shouting "shut up" at me, so I will).

Watched a great video series this week from the Library called Heat of the Sun. British whodunit about an English expatriate police officer working in Kenya in the colonial 1930s. Totally fab.

Kitchen renovations plug along glacially. What is left to do? Put the shelves in the cupboards, put on the toe-kicks, glass in the glass cupboard doors, trim out the window and door frames, paint the walls, replace the ceiling fixture with track lighting, add baseboards, add quarter-round, drink champagne. Ha. Maybe it will be done in time for Sprout's graduation...