Friday, January 27, 2006

The Shirley Temple Contest

I had a wild question the other day on the desk.

An elderly lady came up to the Desk and said, "I just stopped by to get the pictures of those girls that were in the Shirley Temple contest in 1936 in Winnipeg."

"Um, do we have pictures like that? Where do you think those pictures might be?"

"You girls got those pictures for me before, printed them off, right back there."

[me, sweating a bit] "Were they on the computer? Tell me about the contest."

It turns out that this woman was, at the age of five, the winner of the Shirley Temple contest in Winnipeg, in 1936. We had printed the photos of all the girls in the contest for her before, but they had been lost in a lost luggage incident. My colleague and I spent 45 minutes trying to get the Internet to produce such photos, and then in a further discussion, learned that we printed them for her from the microfilm reader. Ah, different search altogether.

After following many tiny sleuthing threads (my Ellery Queen mystery magazine subscription at the age of 12 obviously served me well), I learned that, in 2002, we ordered two months' worth of microfilm of the 1936 Winnipeg daily paper for her. Phew. She was thrilled, and is eagerly awaiting her films to arrive again.

A wild ride altogether. And an opportunity to meet an interesting human.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Issues with Teeth

It seems particularly ironic to me, on election day in Canada, from the birthplace of Medicare, that I had to pay $340.00 last week to get my cat's tooth pulled.

Unless Canadians come to their senses in the next 10 hours, there may be a Conservative majority government, and Medicare will be seriously threatened. We've had the same Tory fellow elected in our riding for two terms now, and I think/fear that the - mainly rural - voters will send him to Ottawa yet again today. Our 'representative' never seems to talk about issues that affect all of us, such as health care, education, child care. He only seems to focus on the evils of same sex marriage and abortion. And the rural voters chase these red herrings, and vote him in on issues that are complex, yes, but affect very few people. I'd like the rural voters to take a look at where Mo-Mo stands on health care and other issues that affect every single Canadian. If the Conservatives open health care to privatization under NAFTA, and rural farmers suddenly have to pay $340.00 to get a child's illness looked at in the future, they are going to be shocked and appalled once again at the abandonment of rural Saskatchewan. I shake my head.

On the topic of voting, I hope that ex-pat bohemian Saskatonians in Ontario take time from carving their spoons to vote. Older sisters feel the need to nag, occasionally.

Torrid Affair

I had a brief and torrid affair with strep throat this week, but have rediscovered the efficacy of antibiotics. The difference in my energy levels between the day before the first dose and the day after were stunning. Saturday morning, I bounced out of bed a perky, perky squirrel and skipped around work all day being superwoman.

Since I worked the weekend, today is my day off - and it's full of possibilities. I dream about carving spoons in a shop full of young bohemians, but I suppose my time will come too. Until then, I might simply clean the basement and perhaps glue a loose chair leg while listening to CBC radio.

Or not. Does one want to listen to CBC radio on election day? Especially if one is in the riding of Mo-Mo Vellycott? Erm, perhaps not.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Remembering Pooh

If you have ever lived in Saskatoon for a length of time, especially as a child or a parent, you have probably been to Pooh Corner.

Pooh Corner is the name of the storytime room at our Library, and it is a wonderful, magical place. It has carpeted steps to sit on while you listen, lights shaped like stars in the ceiling, and even a fireplace for those cozy special storytelling occasions. Library staff at our Library are recognized nationally for their innovative, creative children's programming, and it all happens here in Pooh Corner. They design their own programs. They make their own puppets and sets. It's live theatre for short people, and thousands of children experience the magic in Pooh Corner each year through school visits and drop-in storytimes.

When people here talk to me about the Library at cocktail parties, sometimes they say, "Oh! I have an overdue book!" or "Do you think I have a fine on my card?" (universal library patron angst), but mostly they talk about Pooh Corner. "Is Pooh Corner still there?", "What a great place that was, when I was a kid." Pooh Corner has taken hold of the hearts of Saskatoon people in a fiercely emotional way, because of the wonders they saw and heard there as children.

This year, Saskatoon is celebrating its centennial, and as a way to celebrate, the Library is planning a Pooh Corner homecoming. And, bless their heart, the Library has also created a blog about Pooh Corner - if you have a memory of our beloved story room, you can leave a reminiscence. I'm a proud squirrel.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Do You Su Doku?

My friend T has introduced me to Su Doku, the number puzzle, and I'm completely hooked.

I have always liked logic puzzles, and this is right up there for a pleasant brain workout. At the end of a successful Su Doku, my brain has the same sort of tired buzz that it used to after a bout of Latin homework. Very satisfying.

The interesting thing about Su Doku, as compared to a crossword puzzle, is that if you get a number wrong, the whole thing can go straight down the toilet. Suddenly, you don't know what numbers are right and what are wrong, and you have to erase everything and start over. Because I hate doing anything twice, I have started doing the first half of the puzzle in pen, and then I switch to pencil when things get rocky. At least this way, I only have to erase half the numbers.

They have just started to put a Su Doku in the daily newspaper, and this pleases me, but it's often on the reverse of the page that Jim's beloved crossword is on - thank you very much, Star Phoenix, for this new marital strife.

Ooh, Ouch

My librarian conscience is pricking me this morning.

I usually give pretty good reference service, but yesterday I had to walk away without giving it my best. The young lady wanted information on compound fractures for an essay, and I could only help her to a point. I showed her the catalogue, with the provision that the university would probably have more information than we, and indeed we had one book on fractures - written for children. Then I showed her the health/medical encyclopedias, and left her wandering the aisles in the 610s. Couldn't bring myself to try to take her through the health information database.

I hate this about myself, but I can't deal with people who ask for help but won't take my advice. It pushes my buttons. Shades of Aunt Frieda, I suppose: she likes to wail things like, 'What am I going to do with [the mountain of crap that I've accumulated, and that no one wants]? How can we make decisions if we never talk??' Over the holidays, my sister and I (or was it Jim and I?) finally deciphered that 'how can we make decisions if we never talk' is code for 'let's sit down together and I'll tell you what I'VE decided and then I'll tell you how I'm going to boss you around to get it done'. I always knew I hated those 'family meetings' but I couldn't exactly say why.

Anyway, this girl at the Library yesterday came to me for help, and her only real 'sin' was that she desperately wanted us to have the material that she needed for her paper. I know that sort of magical thinking - if I look REALLY HARD, I'm sure this store will have this dress in my size. If I crunch the financial numbers JUST ONE MORE TIME, I'm sure we'll suddenly have the money to buy a bigger house.

In the Library, this sort of thinking looks like this: if I type in 'compound fractures' three different ways, at some point the Library will have JUST THE BOOK I NEED. If the librarian suggests that I look under 'bones' instead, I will ignore her because that is not what I want. I WANT compound fractures.

I understand the thinking, but when I'm on the other end of it my little brain just screams "Run away!!!" like a herd of Monty Python knights.

Anyway, I could have handled it differently. Given her more options, or at least more emotional support. Sometimes that makes all the difference.

Aim higher, Squirrel.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A Day of Changes

Lots of things change today.

I am back at work after a few short holidays.

My sister flies back to Ontario, to continue furniture design school. Boo hoo. I miss her when she's so far away.

Must remember to write 2006 on the top of each reference question sheet I write out, instead of 2005. Somehow this is a tremendous effort. Perhaps the decaf coffee I'm drinking on my current break will help (perhaps not).

I have a new (yet another new) self-improvement project: I have decided not to keep trying to get myself to dress in suits and dresses. I have decided, cleverly I think, to embrace the real me (jeans and long-sleeved T-shirts) by simply putting lovely suit jackets over top and wearing heeled shoes. It seems to be working! - people are telling me how fabulous I look, and I've only simply thrown a jacket over top. Am feeling terribly suave.

For the first four days of 2006, I have felt that I am disappearing. I am losing myself. I am the brown blend-in-with-the-underbrush-and-keep-the-babies-safe female bird. But today the cloud is lifting.

Perhaps 'ought six will be all right, after all.