Friday, January 28, 2005


I can't resist a squirrel blog, and yesterday I stumbled upon Cheeky Squirrel!

Whitesquirrel is also looking like a promising read, not to mention the very beautiful Miss-Bianca-like squirrel photo at the top.

In other news, I'm a working machine! Something clicked last week and suddenly I'm getting tons of things done in my job. I've recently been reading one of those 'organize your work life' books, so maybe that's the trick. I read books like this occasionally, and most of it I'm usually already doing in some fashion, but each new book has at least one good idea. The two bits of wisdom that I'm taking from the latest read are these:

* handle every piece of paper only once (and the same could be said for e-mail messages) (this is tough, especially if you don't have years of experience in the job and you get snagged on something you don't understand! Comme moi.)

* spend your best brain hours working on the task that will have the highest impact (I tend to clear all the little niggling things off my desk first so I don't keep anyone waiting to hear from me, and then move on to the elephantine job at hand, but maybe all those people can wait an hour?)(I also tend to think 'big task, little task', but I don't think 'highest impact' very often)

At home, Sprout woke up this morning with Pink Eye, and so he's at home with Jim doing boy things. The doctor directed Jim to put Polysporin IN Sprout's eyes. I bet that's a fun parental activity. Can't wait for my turn!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Hobby Shopping

For a while there I was thinking that I'm a 'discontent' - one of those people who is always a bit grumpy. Then Jimbo and I talked about it and I realized that I'm just discontent without a project (typical busy squirrel behaviour, I suppose).

I struggled a lot with the surprise of being pregnant a few years ago, because I had so many projects on the go that suddenly I couldn't do: stained glass (toxic lead), furniture refinishing (toxic stripping chemicals), exterior house painting (scraping toxic lead particles), etc. Since then, I've embraced motherhood remarkably well, I think, but I still have a tiny bit of resentment about the lack of serious hobbies.

I don't mind librarianship (especially right now - love my job), but if I suddenly found myself with a livable pension that meant I didn't have to work, I would spend my days making stained glass and refinishing antique furniture. I find both of these activities completely engrossing, exciting, and full of possibilities.

No-one is currently offering me a pension, of course, so I continue to come to work and do my librarian thing.

Anyway, my point is this: I am still regularly frustrated that I can't do stained glass or furniture stripping in the bit of spare time that is available to me, since I am still nursing and don't want to pass lead/chemicals on to my nursling. I do accept responsibility for the fact that I could stop nursing and then go ahead and get toxic, but I'm not ready to go there yet.

The other day, after I mentioned this lack of good hobby thing yet again, Jim suggested that maybe I should just find a new hobby that is not toxic. I dunnowhyIdidnthinkofthat. So, now I'm hobby shopping. Except, how do you shop for a hobby?? I usually start with an interest and go from there. I've never started with a set of parameters before (non-toxic, can pick up and drop easily, can do at home, doesn't affect waning wrist tendonitis, etc.), and gone out trying to fill the space.

It doesn't help, of course, that Jim and my sister scoff at every possible hobby that I come up with. 'Paper tole', for example, really took a killing...

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A Gem

I'm reading the most awesome book right now.

I'm still plodding slowly through my plan to read Newbery award-winners and honour books, and I'm reading them in reverse-order, going back through time. 2000-1998 was rough, because there were a total of four dead babies in the books I read from that time period (oh, the crying...) - some sort of odd thematic thing, dead babies? Am firmly ensconced now, however, in 1997, with no dead baby in sight so far.

The book of the day is "A Girl Named Disaster" by Nancy Farmer. I'm completely hooked. It's about a girl from a small village in Mozambique (not clear on the time setting (1960s?)), and it's fiction but based on serious ethnographic study (Nancy Farmer doesn't get on the Newbery list so often for nothing!) I was sold by page two. Not only is the storyline good, but oral storytelling plays a strong part in their culture, and so stories keep popping up in the middle of the text.

I was recommending it to Jimbo last night, because he's a serious science fiction reader. The food, the spiritual beliefs, and the setting are all so foreign to me that I feel like I'm reading science fiction at moments, and yet it's solid on raw human experience.

(And it has no dead babies. What else can you ask for from recreational reading.)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Fun with Singulars and Plurals

Sprout is really into eating cheese these days. "Mummy, want cheese." "Mummy, want eat cheese."

Yesterday, I gave him yet another small piece of cheddar. He held it up and said, "Dat's a chee." "No," I said, "That's cheese."

I can't imagine trying to learn a language like English, where there are words like "keys" and "key", but "cheese" and "piece of cheese". Not to mention "cheeses".

Friday, January 21, 2005

Rash of Photos

I just got some film developed, and there were a few nice ones which I have scanned and uploaded here. Mostly for Auntie, who is so dreadfully far away.

I learned how to scan with Photoshop and upload my photos with Hello a number of weeks ago, but of course, this morning I had to call Jim at work and get him to walk me through the whole thing again. There's something about my brain that refuses to learn this stuff. It's funny.

I have a brain like a steel trap for other things. I can tell you most everything that was decided at every Library union meeting I've been to in the last 9 years, and the rationale behind it. I can tell you where every one of the 250 staff members (aside from the newer shelvers that I've never met) in our library system works, and at what pay level. I instantly memorize any important phone numbers I need, and I even store the page number of the current book I'm reading in my short-term memory so I don't have to dog-ear the book or waste my time flipping. And yet, the minute I sit in front of this computer and think about scanning/uploading/downloading/whatever, I can't even remember where to start. Goofy.

Today is my day off for puttering (Sprout's at daycare) before I work the weekend. I'm hoping to have a nice nap this afternoon, since I'm rather sleep-deprived. On top of a lot of staying up late, yesterday, Sprout woke up at 6:00 a.m. and we argued for an hour about whether he would go back to sleep or not (not). I don't know why I don't just accept that the minute he makes a full sentence, he's too awake and it's over. Wishful thinking, I suppose. I'm also going hard at work, which is making me tired.

This week I love my job. I haven't loved my job since I left the Outreach Services Department about 4 years ago, and I'm the sort that really needs to love my job. The position I have currently was a new position when I started it in February 2004, and I've finally got most of the processes smoothed out so I can dispense with the necessary tasks quickly and spend some time doing interesting projects.

But, today is my day off and I have the following fun tasks on my list: declutter (send boxes of baby clothes to imminently-pregnant step-daughter), shop at second-hand clothing store for more pants for potty-training Sprout (I love shopping, in whatever form), have a quick coffee with Mo (who returns to the workforce Monday after 4 years of straight parenting), have that elusive nap (I have a hard time napping if there are fun things to do), and maybe even buy myself a new swimsuit (shocked to discover old suit starting to become transparent?!? Damn that chlorine). Oh. But it's already noon... Maybe that nap is a pipe-dream...

This picture is for Auntie Bean, who is missing all the cute stuff while she's out there in Ontario being artistic. Posted by Hello

The cuddles are the upside to having a sick toddler. Posted by Hello

Sprout was sick at Christmas, so I had to carry him around all day. Posted by Hello

Fun with convex mirrored objects. Posted by Hello

Sprout discovers the Christmas tree. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Gigantic Boob Incident

Last week, I kicked someone out of the Library because he was viewing porn on our Internet computers. We have a very clear Internet use policy, but of course we still have people viewing porn when they can get away with it. We don't hover over the terminals trying to catch the perpetrators; we usually notice that something is amiss when we are strolling by and we see a quick switch of windows from graphics to text as soon as they notice us.

My office is right near the terminals, and when I left my office, this guy last week did the quick window switch. I caught enough that I knew he had been looking at a standing naked person, but (thankfully) I didn't have to see anything more upsetting than that. I did my short errand in the back workroom, and thought I'd peek at his screen before I returned to my office; we have the responsibility to uphold the policy, especially if there's a chance that children might see what he's viewing. He was viewing graphics of naked flesh again: it was a close-up of a breast, and he was zoomed in so much that it completely filled the screen. I told him 'this is not acceptable, and you'll have to go, etc', and the whole thing ended without further incident. It's usually much more upsetting to deal with these porn guys since the pictures are usually very disturbing, we have to work in a place that has creeps looking at this stuff, and they often deny it or swear at you, etc., etc.

I had to stifle massive giggling, though, through this whole thing. Because I'm still breastfeeding, breasts have become completely de-sexualized for me. They are tools that have a very important nourishment-related job. It was just so weird to see a little man's head centered in front of a picture of a giant breast. He looked desperate to nurse or something. How can a breast THAT BIG be titillating (pardon the pun)?? My first thought was that obviously he has major residual 'my mother didn't breastfeed me' issues. The world is a very weird place. Thank God there are a few decent men in it who don't spend their time like this.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Saskatchewan Words

These words are either true Saskatchewan words (listed as native to here, according to the Oxford Canadian Dictionary), or words that you never hear anywhere else:

bunny hug - this is what we call a sweatshirt with a hood (hoodie). The Cdn Oxford says 'bunny hug', but I've always thought it was one word. It runs together like it's one word. I just heard a rancher use it the other day on the radio: 'I'm warm enough in the barn during the calving season with a long-sleeved shirt and a bunnyhug on.'

frajolaki - a.k.a. frazolaki or fratzolaki. My sister calls it 'fraj'. This is a sandwich, found on the menu of most of the ubiquitous Greek restaurants in Saskatoon, and around the Province. It's beef or chicken, marinated like souvlaki, grilled, and then put on a torpedo bun with onions and tomatoes. It's so tasty. BUT, if someone calls the reference desk to ask how to spell it (like they asked me), it's not listed anywhere definitive! I tried every dictionary I could find, and then I tried Google. The only listings in Google at that time were Saskatchewan websites! This 'traditional' Greek dish doesn't seem to exist outside Saskatchewan! Even now, if you do a Google search, you get 32 hits for 'frajolaki' (all Sask. restaurants), 1 hit for 'frazolaki' (Sask. restaurant), and about 29 hits for 'fratzolaki', which is again mainly Sask. restaurants but now comes with about 3 hits for websites written completely in Greek. Sandwich in a bubble.

siwash - I always thought this was a Saskatchewan word, but the Cdn Oxford only gets as specific as 'Canadian (West)' in attribution. It's a thick woolen sweater decorated with symbols or animals, and the sweater is usually of a grey/black/white colouring.

matrimonial cake - Cdn Oxford attributes this to 'Canadian (Prairies)' and equates it to a date square. You don't need to be at a wedding to eat it.


I haven't blogged for days. It's so cold here that I think I'm hibernating (sound squirrel behaviour, really). I merely eat, sleep, work, and follow my toddler around, bleary-eyed. It's actually so cold here, and dry, that my fingers are splitting. Boy howdy, does that hurt. Now that I'm on the super vitamin-E regimen, however, it's all sorting itself out.

Today it's pretty warm, actually, if you compare it to last week. I think Friday was -45 with the wind chill (that's -49 for you Americans). Zut. That's cold.

Prairie people take fierce pride in surviving weather like this. This is the climate of extremes. It's either -45 in the winter, or +38 in August. Why do we live here? I don't know. But don't get us started, bragging about the weather. We like to talk tough.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Another Blogging Class

T. and I are teaching a class on 'how to blog' on Tuesday morning. Last season (Fall), we ran this class on a Saturday for teens, and no one signed up so we had to cancel it. This time it's in the morning, and targeted at adults: the class is full. I'm very excited. We have created a new blog and put our class notes in it, so we can use it as an illustrative outline. It should be really fun.

The students will, of course, ask us questions we can't answer, but we might be able to start them off and then they can figure out the rest as they go along. I used to hate public speaking, especially because of the likely possibility that someone would ask you a question that you aren't prepared for. Working on the reference desk makes you really good at coping in the face of a subject that you don't know a lot about, though, so I've lost my stage-fright to a great extent. Should be fun.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

My Son, the Comedian

Sprout comes to Church with me every week, and I regularly take him with me when I go for communion. A number of weeks ago, we were sitting at home and he had a bowl of dry Cheerios. He turned to me, gave me a Cheerio, and in a breathy, solemn voice said, "Amen."

I thought this was so funny that I told the story to a bunch of people, and Sprout heard me tell it a few times. The next time he did it looked like this: I gave him a sippy cup of juice, he took a slug, handed it back to me, and said "Amen" loudly with a big you-know-what-kind-of grin on his face. It was funny, again, but not as funny as the first time. Since then, he occasionally barks it at me after he has a drink, "Amen", "Amen", and then stares at me (grinning) and waits for me to guffaw. He is, of course, puzzled as to why I don't roll on the ground when he does it, since I get such laughs from other people when I tell the story.

I'll say it again: babies are hilarious.


It's stinking cold here these days. Right now, Environment Canada is saying that the current Saskatoon temperature is -19 degrees Celsius (that's -2 degrees Fahrenheit for you Americans), with a windchill of -29 degrees Celsius (or -19 F for all y'all).

I never hear this on the radio anymore, but I used to love it when they would quote how long it would take for you to start to freeze at the current temperature: " flesh will freeze in [5] minutes..." Don't you love the Prairie outlook on life.

I suppose that the most amazing thing, upon which I should be commenting, is the fact that there are actually a lot of people in the Library on a Wednesday night when it is -20 degrees! I guess we're all acclimatizing, and it's business as usual. Personally, I would be at home with my warm felt slippers on, if I had my druthers, instead of squeaking through the hard-packed snow to the Library. But I have books to read at home, so I suppose I can say that.

Mookey-Pukey Christmas

Our Christmas was a quiet one, with really just our immediate family, and that was a good thing because there was puking. This time I didn't let the Sprout drink any balsamic vinegar, so at least it's not my fault. Christmas Eve the little guy got a minor fever, and by 2:00 a.m. he was feeling very hot, and so he said "Mummy, want cow-mook [which we all know to be 'cow's milk']". I got him a nice cold glass of cow-mook, and we sat in a little heap on the bed while he drank it.

Unfortunately, very cold milk in a very hot tummy can mean sudden projectile vomiting. Who knew. (Although it feels like intuitive knowledge once it happens...)Yoicks! We were both so soaked that we both had to take a little bath, while Jimbo was kind enough to change the bedsheets.

There was only the one incident, and soon we were tucked snug in our beds again. Christmas Day, I had to carry Sprout around all day because he was still a bit feverish and whiney, but he rallied for a while after breakfast when we showed him what it meant to open presents. He got quite into that, but there was no wrapping-ripping frenzy as I had pictured beforehand.

Because Sprout wasn't feeling well, we put off making a turkey until Boxing Day, and that was a nice decision. We just spent Christmas reading books, watching movies, and playing with Sprout's new train.