Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Post of 2008

Hard to believe, but here we are, the last day of 2008. Can you believe it? I don't think I can remember another year that flew by so quickly. For the most part, I'm not complaining, as 2008 was a bit rough in some ways. Good in some, rough in others.

The Good:

Watching Gillian grow and develop into herself is always part of the good. She had some wonderful acting experiences this year: Spider in James and the Giant Peach, performing with City Circle in Schoolhouse Rock Live! and being asked to fill in the last night of Dreamwell Theatre's production of The Pillowman. I hope she will find more wonderful acting challenges in 2009.

Sixth grade, so far, has also been a positive experience for Gillian. She has made some very good friends, continued friendships that have existed since pre-school, and she's doing very well in math. Lanuage Arts is still her "thing," but it pleases me to no end to have her come home talking about how much she likes math.

Gillian is also starting to get excited about Jr. High next year. I'm hoping I get used to that idea!

More good: obviously, the great vacations we've taken. The adventure in the Pacific Northwest with my dear friend Janice, from Napa, CA, to Prosser, WA, and then to Portland, OR. And then our second cruise on the Disney Magic this past November. The underwater helmet dive and the trip to the Mayan ruins at Chacchoben will always be wonderful adventures to remember.

My continued friendships with dear friends, including some very dear friends online. To Patti and Johanna, girls, you both have become very dear to me, and I raise a toast to you both. I look forward to our continued friendship, and MAYBE we can all finally get together in 2009??????

Challenges: definitely the old work environment. Many of you know the story, but things got very difficult at work and without such great friends and support at work, I don't know if I could have tolerated the tension. We were all in it together, and seeing how we all supported one another made me realize what a wonderful group of people I get to work with every day. So, there WAS a silver lining in that very black cloud. Fortunately, things seem to be getting better, and we'll just keep our fingers crossed that things continue in that vein.

Tomorrow I'll post about my resolutions for 2009, but for now, New Year's Eve is a time to reflect and celebrate, and toast the old and welcome the new. I wish all of you a VERY Happy New Year, and I wish you all nothing but the very best in 2009!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Looking Back on the Holidays

The holidays have been lovely this year. We stayed home since I had to work the day after Christmas, I couldn't get it off, even though the 26th is my mum's birthday. Yep, people all over the world get to have the day after Christmas off, but not me, not this year. Such is life, I guess!

But I digress. Christmas Eve and Day were absolutely lovely. I spent the morning of Christmas Eve honoring my tradition of making Nissua, a Finnish coffee cake, and listening to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, live from Cambridge. Then we packed up and headed to Dan and Jerry's for Christmas Eve. We had Filipino food for dinner, watched a wonderful dvd of Lea Salonga, sang some karaoke, tried to watch It's a Wonderful Life but only made it a third of the way through, and then we opened some presents. Our friend Trevor and Noel spent the day with us, and we just had a wonderful time together.

We slept in some on Christmas Day, then I got up to get started on Christmas dinner preparations, with trifle for dessert, and roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for dinner. Gillian got up and HAD to open her presents from me, which she was so excited about, and so wonderfully appreicative of. My best friend Janice also came for the day, and then Dan and Jerry came over, and we had a lovely time talking and laughing and opening more presents and enjoying dinner.

It was such a relaxed and joyful two days, full of the people I love. What could possibly be better?

Tomorrow, Gillian heads up to Camp Wapsie for a short Winter Camp. She is so excited! Dan will take her in the morning, and we'll go pick her up Wednesday afternoon.

Life is good.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Week in Review: Pictures and Videos

Some photos from the adventure to the St. Louis Arch:


This one was taken from the car, believe it or not!













St. Louis Courthouse, taken from 630 feet up!












Inside the arch.














Here is the sword dance from Gillian's music concert. They did a lovely job!


video

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Waiting.......

Yes, waiting. For another winter storm! Can you believe it? We have a winter storm warning that goes into effect at 6pm tonight, through Noon tomorrow. Right now, though, it is sunny out, and difficult to believe that we'll be hit with sleet and snow in just a few hours........

I have some great video and pics to share with you all. The video is from Gillian's music program that was held at school yesterday. They don't do a Christmas program, they do a "Holiday" program. Sometimes Iowa City is just too politically correct....Anyway, Gillian danced in a sword dance (not real swords, Mom!) with a group from her class, and it was excellent. Very well choreographed and well mastered by the kids. The pics are from the trip to St. Louis this past weekend.

I will hopefully get that all uploaded tonight, at home, where my camera is.

I can't believe Christmas is only a week away! The time is flying. I still haven't even started my Christmas cards, but I do promise to get them out in the next few days. Maybe you'll get them on Christmas Eve, which would be perfect timing....

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Snow Day? Maybe Ice Day.......and AAAACHOOO!

I have some kind of strange cold/allergy that just won't seem to go away. I've been blowing my nose and sneezing for weeks. So I am home today with a sore and tickly nose and a congested head. Yuck.

Gillian is home today, too, because it is a snow day. Rather, in our part of Iowa, an ice day. It was just wet this morning when I first woke up, but in about 20 minutes, everything froze and school was canceled. The roads are icy enough that the Johnson County Sheriff's office just advised no travel within the county.

Slip slidin' away..........

I don't really think that was what Simon and Garfunkel were singing about.......

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Some Random Photos and Thoughts on the Long Weekend

Our two pusses. They were enjoying a cuddle together when I snapped this one.






My friend Melanie and me on a recent night out on the town.












It's been a lovely holiday weekend. We had a great Thanksgiving, including lots of great food, laughter, friends, and family. Gillian and I learned a crazy new card game, and we sang karaoke until late in the evening. Friday was a lazy day, and Saturday Gillian went to play at a friend's in the afternoon, and we watched a bunch of movies in the evening. Today, Sunday, we ended up at the Outlet mall in Williamsburg, about 20 miles west of here. I didn't go expecting to buy anything, but I found some good deals, and came home with some loot! A few Christmas presents, and some new snowmen to add to my collection. Here they are, along with Gillian's Advent Calendar:


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Making Friends with the Starbucks Barista

It's official: I love Starbucks.

Gillian and I were at the mall Monday evening, and I asked her if she wanted an Advent Calendar this year. I didn't want to assume, now that she's 11 years old, because maybe Advent calendars are babyish? But she assured me that she definitely still wanted one, so I thought we'd look to see what Target had while we were there.

But then I remembered that Starbucks sometimes has very nice Advent calendars, so we wandered over to see. We walked in, and sure enough, there was a table display of Advent calendars. As I was picking the display up to look at it, a guy sitting at a table next to the display said they'd be on sale for 50% off starting Wednesday. But when I turned over the box, it already had a sale sticker of $9.95 displayed, so I took it up to the counter. Unfortunately, the sale stickers were on a little too early, because the calendar still showed as $19.95. The barista was very sweet, though, so I didn't give him a hard time about it, but I did mention that since the stickers were already displayed, I could have given him a hard time about it. So.....he told me if I came in Wednesday morning to purchase the calendar, he would treat me to a cup of coffee. He said he'd be working, so I told him I'd be back.

Sure enough, when I walked in this morning, there he was, and there was the display of Advent calendars. And, it did ring up for the sale price, and I got my Americano with an extra shot. Plus, they had a coffee roast, the Pikes Place roast, that I haven't seen at a Starbucks outside of Seattle, and he gave me a pound of beans for about half price!

What a lovely way to start the holiday weekend. And, to find someone who knows how to treat customers, well, that is definitely worth repeating.

That's why I now love Starbucks. The End.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Excursions: The Ruins at Chaccoben

Our second excursion was to the Mayan ruins at Chacchoben. This was my first visit to a Mayan ruins site, and I was very excited. Incidentally, I had just seen the latest Indiana Jones movie, so we had been joking about crystal skulls and aliens all week......

After docking at Costa Maya, we took an hour bus ride to the site. Diana was our tour guide, and she was fantastic. She knew the site inside and out and had a great deal of information to share.



This is a map showing where the Mayans lived in Mexico and Central America.




Several photos showing some of the structures at the site.











Cruisin', Part IV: The Excursions

We took two excursions on the trip. The first excursion was at Cozumel, the underwater helmet dive.


I was a little nervous about this one. There was a certain leap of faith that I needed to take in order to go about 15 feet underwater, under the deep blue sea, in nothing but a swim suit and a helmet that was attached to a hose that fed oxygen into the helmet. The helmet weighed 70 pounds which kept you submerged, and the pressure of the oxygen in the helmet kept the water from sneaking up into the helmet.


I was fine, just a little nervous, up until I had to climb down the ladder and have the helmet put on me just before going below the surface. RIGHT before that happened, I almost panicked: could I really do this? Was I actually going to be able to breathe underwater with just a helmet on me? But I followed through, and the helmet went on and down the ladder I went, to the ocean floor.


After that initial feeling of panic, this unbelievable wave of euphoria hit me as I followed the rope that was attached on poles to the ocean floor and walked to meet Gillian and Dan, who went down before me. All I could is giggle as I realized what I was actually doing! I felt a little bit like James Earl Jones' character in Field of Dreams as he walked into the cornfield. It was amazing! Here are some photos of us:































Cruisin', Part III

Back to the cruise highlights. It really was an amazing week. Since we managed to avoid the hurricane, our weather was glorious the entire week. Never too hot, although our excursion to the ruins at Chacchoben was almost too hot, but not quite.

The Disney cruise line spoils its passengers wonderfully. And, like that dreaded ride at Disney World, it truly is a "small world after all." Let me explain how Disney accomplishes this.

The staff onboard the ship are literally from all over the world. Our dinner serving team were from India and the Phillipines, and our room wait staff was also from India. We met other staff from Poland, France, the Czech Republic, the U.K., Peru, Chile, Germany, Scandinavia, and Italy. In addition, the staff doesn't just work, they take the time to talk with guests, and we made friends with several staff onboard. Making those connections is part of the magic.

A special connection happened to me, Thursday afternoon, when we had high tea at Palo, the adult only restaurant on board. Our server, Laura, is from the U.K. I asked her where she is from, and she said Manchester. I said, wow, my mother is from Manchester, so she asked what part. When I told her New Moston, she just about dropped what she was carrying, as that is exactly where she's from! We talked, and shared family names, and I promised to email her after I spoke with my mom to see if she knew Laura's grandmother. Laura said she would mention the family name to her grandmother and email me after she heard any information. It really was a "goosebumps" kind of moment, and really did illustrate that "small world" mindset that Disney tries very hard to execute!

Other things: food was DIVINE, and I especially loved the smoked salmon that was available every morning for breakfast, no matter where you ate breakfast - the buffet on deck 9 or in one of the restaurants. Lots of wonderful seafood. There was also pizza and chicken fingers available at almost any time. Can I tell you the chicken fingers were some of the best we've ever had? I kid you not.

But the best of all was being at sea, surrounded by it, and on one occasion, immersed in it (I'll get to that in the next blog). I truly believe that sea air will cure whatever might ail you. Being on the water, feeling and smelling the breezes, hearing the sound of the water, was invigorating. I know that someday I will need to live permanently near the sea. It's where I belong.

Gillian had an amazing week, and was usually headquartered at Ocean Quest, the hangout for pre-teens. She made a gang of friends, and they did everything together, all week. She made very good friends with a girl from Chicago, and they had dinner together with each family on two nights, and generally ran around the ship together. It was also very nice that Ocean Quest was on the same deck as our cabin, and she could run back and forth whenever she pleased. We just had one rule: dinner together every night.

Coming up: photos from our two excursions: the underwater helmet dive in Cozumel and the trip to the Mayan ruins at Chacchoben!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cruisin' Part II: A Few Photos

Here are a few photos of life onboard the Disney Magic. Just a couple, to whet your appetites!





This is me at Palo, the adult only restaurant, about to enjoy high tea. Don't I look so posed? Actually, as the restaurant is on Deck 10, and the ship was going full tilt at this time, I think I was contemplating an almost nauseous tummy. Thank goodness for the tea!







We had the most marvelous dinner serving team imaginable! This is Charlie, he is from the Phillipines. He is actually cutting Gillian's steak for her!







This is the Disney Magic docked at Cozumel.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cruisin', Part 1

Yep, I'm finally getting around to blogging again. I've been meaning to get to it all week, but the slide back to reality has been pretty bumpy! Plus, and several of you have already heard me whine about this, it's COLD, really COLD in Iowa, and I'm not ready for it yet!

So, I promised I would blog about the week aboard the Disney Magic. But first, a word about hurricane season.

Let me explain a little about why hurricane season is important.......we tend to vacation during the late summer/fall months, for a variety of reasons. One, it is difficult for me to get time off from the library during the summer (we'll save that for another blog), and two, it tends to be less expensive to travel then, and of course, it is less crowded. All good reasons to travel during hurricane season, especially to coastal areas, right? Even if it is hurricane season.......

We've always been ridiculously lucky when traveling this time of year as well......and until last year, we were batting a thousand. Four years ago we traveled to Key West the week after one hurricane and the week before another. Three years ago we traveled to Texas right after Hurricane Katrina and before another hurricane hit Galveston. Two years ago we traveled to Puerta Vallarta right after a typhoon hit there. You see the trend........

This year, our hurricane dodging skills were absent. Of course, in the middle of November, the hurricane season is usually about over. Not this time! We were supposed to cruise to St. Maarten and St. Thomas, but this time a hurricane changed our course. We ended up cruising to Cozumel and Costa Maya.

Our vacation week started on an adventurous note! To be continued....

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What an ABSOLUTELY GREAT Night!!!!!

I'm watching ABC and they've just projected that BARACK OBAMA will be the 44th President of the United States!!!!

I have GOOSEBUMPS!!!!!!!!!!

This is absolutely amazing!!!!! I am so proud, tonight, to be an AMERICAN!!!!!!

GO OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fall Back!

I haven't blogged for awhile, it was a long week. Work has really been draining, exhausting, and frustrating, and I just haven't felt like doing much at all when I get home in the evenings. All I can say is if things don't change soon, I don't know how much more any of us (on staff) can take. Being a librarian is a joy to me, and I know without a doubt it's what I'm supposed to be doing with my life, but lately it's been very difficult to find the joy. But that's enough about that, because the weekend has been really lovely so far....

Since Friday was Halloween, and an absolutely gorgeous one to boot, Gillian went trick or treating, and one of her best friends came over to trick or treat with her. They wanted me to come along. I didn't think it was necessary for me to go with them, they are 11 years old, but I was glad I did. It was fun to see all the families out with their little ones and be a part of the neighborhood, but it hit me that I have really limited time to do things like this with Gillian. She may trick or treat one more year, but as she gets older she'll be spending more and more time with her friends and need mom around a little less. It's a little bittersweet, isn't it? It's incredible to watch your child grow and turn into this amazing person, but the price for that is that they begin to need you less and less as they become that amazing person. I'm just lucky to get to be a part of it.

After trick or treating, we went to a friend's party for a little while, which was lots of fun, and then we came home and watched Jeepers Creepers, a very scary movie. The girls had never seen it, and I'd seen it once but a long time ago, so we ALL screamed!

Yesterday, Saturday, we did a little vacation shopping. I was counting on Kohl's to have some good clearance deals on summer clothes, since that's what we need for the cruise. We did very well. Gillian needed a dress for formal night on the ship, and we found an absolutely adorable dress for her - on sale. Then I found a cute little dress for one evening, a pair of shorts, and Gillian found FOUR new shirts. Grand total for all these clothes???? Only $48.00!!! I was very pleased.

Last night was a Halloween party at Dan and Jerry's, and we had a GREAT time. Gillian and I dressed up as beat up Cubs fans, and our costumes were well appreciated. It was a very laid back party - lots of talking, great food, good music, and an overly dramatic interpretation of Time Warp, a la Rocky Horror, by a few of us!

Today is a lazy day, but even better, it's the day we move the clocks BACK an hour! It is one of my favorite days of the year. Isn't that goofy? It's just one hour, but it really seems to stretch the weekend! Gillian and I are going to have a little pre-vacation spa time, and later today we'll meet up with people to celebrate a friend's birthday.

Two days until Election Day, although I've already voted. It's going to be a monumental day. I'll be up late watching the returns, I'm sure. Please, to all of you - VOTE! Be a part of the process. Everyone's voice DOES matter.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Some Time for Me

It is a gorgeous October Saturday, vividly blue sky and breezy, so the leaves on the ground make that wonderful crunchy sound when they blow around. Days like today make fall my favorite time of year.

We were up bright and early this morning, MUCH earlier than normal for a Saturday.....reason being because this weekend is Halloween camp at Camp
Wapsie! Check-in time was 10am, so we were on the road by 9am. It takes about an hour from our house. The day started out cloudy, but started to clear as we drove north. As we pulled in to camp, the sun broke out from behind the clouds, promising a glorious day!

I walked Gillian to her cabin, helped get her sleeping bag and pillow on her bed, and then gave her hugs and left her to her adventures. They will have so much fun - crafts, a "haunted" trail, and a party tonight with Halloween costumes. Good stuff!

I got home a little around 11:30am, after a quick stop at my friend Kristina's great food store, Cocina del Mundo. It's a great shop, full of wonderful combinations of spices that she combines, and her own AMAZING chicken salads, salsas, soups, pastas, and imported goods, just to name a few of the things Kristina carries. I picked up a serving of her pear pecan chicken salad, which was perfect for lunch, and a couscous paella mix, that I'll make in the next few days. Seriously, check out her website.

I've spent the day messing around at home, doing some cleaning and organizing, and then I did some grocery shopping. I did shop at Walmart. I have been shopping at Walmart quite a lot lately, and I'm noticing a real change in the service as well as in the employees working at my Walmart. In the past, the employees didn't seem quite as devoted to their job, but today I noticed a real change in the attitude of the employees working there. Much more customer service oriented, as well as older (by that I mean actual grownups). Harder working, too. I'm going to hope that means that the Walmart conglomerate is treating said employees better...

I also stopped at our Co-op, and picked up some fresh bread, cheese, and some salmon for dinner tonight. I was amazed at how EXPENSIVE salmon is right now! I just got a small filet, and I know it will be delicious.

After a walk in the gorgeous fall air, I'm now home, relaxing and thinking about a yummy dinner and an evening of movies before seeing what Saturday Night Live has up their sleeves tonight. I hope everyone is having a glorious weekend!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

At Long Last - Pics from Dubuque

I've been meaning to post some photos from my trip to Dubuque last week, but life has been getting in the way! Before we get to what's been going on, here are some photos from my trip last week.

We stayed at the Grand Harbor Resort in Dubuque, Iowa. It's right on the Mississippi River, and it's a beautiful building with breathtaking views. Of course, I'm a Illinois/Iowa girl through and through, so I have a special affinity for The Big Muddy. Anyway, here are some views of the Mississippi River from the resort and from our hotel room, which looked right out on the River. Click on the pics if you want to see them up close....






























This is my favorite picture, taken last Friday morning from our hotel room:













If you can ever get to the middle of the country, north or south, to experience the Great River that is The Mississippi, you won't be sorry. It personifies America to me like few other landmarks do.


Oh, and here's a picture of a chipmunk outside my house. Isn't it cute?


Thursday, October 16, 2008

I'm in Dubuque!

Just a quick blog this afternoon. And a shoutout to laptops and wireless connectivity.

I am in Dubuque, Iowa, this week, at the Iowa Library Association annual conference. The conference is being held at the Grand River Center, right on the banks of the Mississippi River. It's beautiful here. We can walk right out the doors and straight to the river, and our hotel room also has a river view.

I'll be taking pictures and posting them later this week. When we drove up yesterday, it was rainy and very dreary. Today is beautiful - brilliant blue sky, sparkling river, and the leaves are changing. It's getting difficult to be inside!

The conference is very interesting. Right now I'm sitting in a session about Wii gaming in libraries. For all ages. I'm going to try this this winter.

I've been learning about the changing face of reference, and generally getting that good feeling of "I love being a Librarian!" that I always get when I come to the conference. It is usually a very motivating and self-esteem boosting experience!

More later!

Friday, October 10, 2008

What a Week

Friday night and I'm finally home. Exhausted. It's been a busy week, and I'm feeling it!

I had to work on Sunday, it was my turn, so knowing that I now have two days off, I feel like I've entered heaven. Sunday was a rough day - our automation system at the library was down, so everything had to be done by hand. Not awful, but it takes at least twice as long to check in and check out. And of course, everyone had to comment, so I had to repeat the story multiple times. God love our patrons.

The rest of the work week, other than a few extra hours of desk time on Monday, has been pretty normal. Lots to do, and lots of planning done for programs for this month.

Gillian has had rehearsal every night this week, plus some extra rehearsals for the play she's doing on Saturday. Nice though - no Schoolhouse Rock rehearsals this weekend. Just one last rehearsal and then the performance of The Pillowman tomorrow (Saturday) night. One week from tonight is opening night of Schoolhouse Rock!.

Tonight I had a program at the library, after we closed at 7pm. Duffy Hudson, a film and Broadway actor, also does a traveling, one-man, Edgar Allan Poe Show. He performed tonight at the library, and he was phenomenal. It was a treat to see someone make Poe come alive. After hearing some of Poe's life story and dramatizations of The Tell-Tale Heart, Annabelle Lee, and The Raven, I will never read or look at Poe the same way again. We have a book of Poe's poems and short stories here at home, and I may need to pick it up again this weekend.

But for now, we're home, relaxing and watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on Disney. I'm happy, so happy, it's the weekend!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Here Are the Facts

I have really tried not to talk too much about the Presidential election and all the campaigning, but I really need to speak up about an issue that's really bothering me.

It started with VP candidate Sarah Palin accusing Barack Obama of being friends with terrorists. Terrorists, you say? Why yes, a certain William Ayers, who was a founding member of Weather Underground, a domestic terrorist outfit of the 1960s. He and his wife, also a member of the group, allegedly carried out a number of bombings of federal buildings in the 1960s.

When Barack Obama was 8 years old.

All charges were dropped against Ayers and his wife, and now Ayers is a professor at the University of Chicago. He and the Obamas live in the same neighborhood and have worked on some projects in the last few years. Ayers is no longer involved in any kind of insurrection. According to CNN, "Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt told CNN that after meeting Obama through the Annenberg project, Ayers hosted a campaign event for him that same year when then-Illinois state Sen. Alice Palmer, who planned to run for Congress, introduced the young community organizer as her chosen successor. LaBolt also said the two have not spoken by phone or exchanged e-mail messages since Obama came to the U.S. Senate in 2005 and last met more than a year ago when they encountered each other on the street in their Hyde Park neighborhood."

These accusations that Obama consorts with terrorists are ridiculous and I'm so sick and tired of listening to the McCain campaign using them as their rallying cry. Please, just drop it and spend the rest of the campaign talking about what you will do as President, and not what the other guy has done, will do, or can't do. And THAT goes for BOTH campaigns.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Her Reputation Precedes Her!

I had an interesting email this afternoon! I received an email from Josh, the director of a production of The Pillowman in Iowa City. It is an award winning, and very controversial play, by Martin McDonagh.

Saturday is the last performance of the play, and a young girl in the show cannot make the last performance. Well. Josh knows Chris, the director of Schoolhouse Rock Live! that Gillian is currently in rehearsals for, and Chris recommended Gillian to play the role in the last performance! Additionally, Josh saw Gillian perform in To Kill a Mockingbird last year. So, he emailed me and asked if I'd be willing to let Gillian perform in The Pillowman. Because it is a show intended for mature audiences because of language and some violence, Gillian won't see the rest of the show, only the part she is in. No lines, she just acts out a role as her story is narrated. And, it's just one night.

Gillian is excited to do it, and feels very honored that she was recommended for it. And I feel the same. She's gaining a reputation in Iowa City theatre circles, and I think that's exciting!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Lots Going On

The last few days have been busy, and it's really just the precursor to what's coming in the next month.

First, to all my fellow Cubs fans: JUST WAIT 'TIL NEXT YEAR! How in the WORLD one of the best teams of this season could blow it in the first round of playoffs is beyond me, but the curse lives on.

We are now twelve days until opening night of School House Rock Live - Gillian's show. She will be very busy with rehearsals this week, then the weekend off, then next week will be dress rehearsals and the show. I'm not at all involved with this one, so I really don't know how things are shaping up, other than the bits and pieces of rehearsals that I do see, but I think it's going to be a great production!

Next week, Wednesday - Friday, I will be at the Iowa Library Association's annual conference. It's in Dubuque this year. It's always a good event, and great to network with librarians from all over the state. It's just a little crazy this year, as Gillian will have dress rehearsals Wednesday and Thursday, but I won't be here. Dan will be taking her to those, and then I'll be home Friday afternoon, just in time for opening night!

This Friday, the 10th, I'm hosting an amazing program at the library. Duffy Hudson is a Broadway and film actor, and he does a one-man Edgar Allen Poe show. He's coming to perform the evening of the 10th, and I'm very excited!

So, last night, we went to see Kathy Griffin in concert. Of course, she was hilarious and irreverent and naughty, and it was a riot! She didn't make fun of Sarah Palin as much as we expected, but she spread her snarkiness far and wide so as not to leave many celebrities unscathed! We were home in time for Saturday Night Live, however, and whatever Kathy Griffin didn't mention about Sarah Palin, the cast of SNL, including Tina Fey, certainly did! Their mocking of the VP debate was fantastic!

Fall is slowly making its way to my part of Iowa. Some of the trees are starting to turn colors just a little bit, and many more trees are thinking about it. I hope to take some pictures and post in the next week or two. But, the weather is gorgeous - this is a great time of year to live in Iowa!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Random Musings

Lots of little things tonight. For instance:

I've been sitting here watching my cats play with each other. It's so funny! They wrestle and jump on each other, and Leo has been entertaining himself with an empty gum wrapper. Angel decided to jump on his head and walk away. For a cat with such a "spread," Leo is extremely agile. And Angel is the quiet stalker, lying in wait to make her move. I think she makes Leo nervous. hehehe

Tomorrow is October 1, the first day of my favorite month of the year. I love everything about October - the crispness of the air, the riot of colors, the crunch of the fallen leaves, the sound the leaves make when the wind blows them across the driveway, street, or sidewalk. The way the wind makes less and less sound as there are less and less leaves on the trees. Instead of a rustling, the wind becomes more of a sigh, or a roar if it's a windy day. No other month has such a change in season and weather as October.

Our reviews of the library director are due tomorrow, and for those of you who have followed my stressful work environment this year, mostly told on MySpace, you'll know that the reviews are not going to be in her favor. Her behavior has not changed at all this year, becoming more erratic and passive-aggressive as the year has passed. I just hope the library board will read all of our reviews and realize that a change must happen.

(By the way, Leo has lost the gum wrapper in my tennis shoe, so now he's attacking the shoe. So far, the shoe is winning.)

Gillian is campaigning for student council president at school. Voting is Friday. She's worked hard on her speech and made posters, and she really REALLY wants to win. I hope to have good news to share sometime on Friday. Keep your fingers crossed for her!

(Oh - Leo won, the wrapper is out of the shoe. The game is on!)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Aren't Saturdays Great?

The weekend is in full swing, and so far, it's been illuminating, productive, and relaxing!

Last night was the Presidential Debate, and I think Dan and I called each, back and forth, at least half a dozen times, commenting, yelling, and analyzing. It was an illuminating debate, and I was pleased to see Obama do very well. He stayed calm and focused, professional and respectful. And, for the most part, he answered the questions posed by Jim Lehrer, the moderator of the debate. Gillian wasn't particularly interested, although she did comment from time to time. It's good for her to be exposed to the political process. I always take her with me when I vote, and she's attended two Iowa Caucuses. She's getting a little tired of the campaigning, especially the political ads, but hey, who isn't?

This morning we slept in and had a lazy morning. After Gillian turned the television to Nickelodeon and found out it is their Worldwide Day of Play, she called a friend and met them at the park for some play time and a picnic. I'll pick her up around 5pm. While she's been doing that, I grocery shopped and came home and cleaned my kitchen.

You know, the entire house feels clean when the kitchen is clean!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

YAWN.........

Gillian had three friends over for a sleepover last night. They've all been friends for a long time (long for 11 year old standards!)

The nice thing about 11 year olds is that they are basically independent. I could just let them have their fun and I could go do my thing. The other side of this coin is, that as laid back as they can be, they can also be REALLY loud and REALLY rowdy until REALLY late!!!! I remember going down, for the third time, at 1am, just to ask them to quiet down a little.......I had my bedroom door closed and they were still loud and clear. Hehehehe

They told me they stayed up until around 2:30am-3:00am. Fortunately, I was asleep by then.

They're awake now, just finished hot cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and they're messing around until their parents come to pick them up. They've had a great time. No sleep, but a great time.

I think I'll be spending the day recuperating!!!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

It's Been a Long Week....

Friday evenings are my favorite part of the week. The work week is over, and the weekend has just begun. I can feel myself unwinding, bit by bit. It is a good feeling...

......I've started a new book, Open Season, by Anne Rivers Siddons. I'm still getting into the story, but I think it will be good. I still can't quite shake the book I finished yesterday, The Distance Between Us. Every once in awhile, a book makes such an impact on me, it takes a few days to move past it. That one is still with me....

So, the weather should be glorious this weekend. Gillian has play rehearsal, and she's having some girlfriends over for a sleepover tomorrow night. We're going to make cupcakes, I do believe. They'll have a good time.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Remarkable Novel

Tonight I finished a remarkable book, The Distance Between Us, by Bart Yates. It is the story of a mightily dysfunctional and musical family, as told by the mother and main character, Hester Parker. Hester is a gifted pianist whose concert career was thwarted by a fall that broke her wrist. Playing more than a few minutes causes excruciating pain, so she fulfills her gift by teaching at a well known conservatory in a small town in Illinois.

Her husband has left her for a younger woman and her two surviving children will have nothing to do with her. When she advertises her third floor apartment for rent, a young college student, Alex, enters her life when he leases the apartment.

As the novel progresses, we learn more about Hester, her family, her relationship with Alex, and the events that led to the death of one of her children.

I was completely captivated by this story and by Hester. The author has a gift for bringing characters to life as well as their relationships with the other characters in the story. He brings a frozen Illinois to life as the story takes place during a frigid midwestern winter.

Every once in awhile I read a book that makes me dread reaching the last page. This was one of those. The characters became fully real to me. I spent a great deal of time with musicians in my high school and college years, and this book was somehow comforting.

5 stars, two thumbs up, and highly recommended. Beautiful.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Leo the Large

Leo is our other cat. He is a gorgeous, fat, marmalade tabby. He's also a shelter kitty, and when we took him home, every single bit of him was scrawny, including his tail. That was in March. I fervently wished that he would beef up a little, as he was so teeny tiny.

I think you can tell from this pictures that I've gotten my wish! He'll be a year old in October:




Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Go Cubs Go!

Go Cubs Go......Hey Chicago, Whaddya say? The Cubs are gonna win today!!!!

Yep, they beat the Brewers, 5-4, and the magic number goes down to.....

4!!!!!!!

WOOHOO!!!!

Go CUBS GO!!!!!

MUD

So.......about Noon I get a call on my cell. It was the school number, so I answered right away. It was Gillian.

"Mom, I fell in the mud at recess....can you bring me some clean pants, socks, and shoes?"

Fell. In the mud. I am trying not to laugh. Fortunately, she does not sound at all upset. She actually sounds amused by the situation!

Then the nurse/secretary gets on the phone. Apparently, Gillian collided with a boy on the playground, and they both took a mud bath.

I chuckled all the way home, while I found clean clothes and shoes, and all the way back to school. On the way in, I ran into the dad of the boy who was part of "Mud 2008," he took a look at what I had in my arms and started to laugh. I took a look at the mud covered clothes he had in hand and laughed along with him.

Gillian wasn't as mud covered as I'd imagined, but she definitely needed clean pants and shoes to go back to class.

And the girl took it all in stride..........And I laughed all the way back to work!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I'm Thirsty!

video


Thought I'd share a short video of one of our cats. This is Angel, although we call her The Petite most of the time, as she is a very dainty girl. Lately, she has become obsessed with the bathroom sink. Any time either of us go into the bathroom, she jumps up on the counter and mews at us until we turn the water on for her! So, we decided to immortalize her favorite pastime.

I'll post some pics of Leo, also known as Leo the Large, later. He's a beautiful marmalade tabby!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rainy Weekends - A Great Time for Reading!

There is NOTHING like a Friday evening. The entire weekend is ahead, and it's time to kick back and relax.

Gillian had a short rehearsal tonight, and since it was short, I stayed, read, and watched a little. The ladies worked on the 'Sufferin' Suffrage' number, and the choreography is going to be terrific. It's very rough right now, but still great fun to watch!

I finished a wonderful book last night - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer. The story is told in letter form between the main character, Juliet, her book editor, her best friend, and a number of people living on the isle of Guernsey, right after the German Occupation during World War II. Juliet is uncovering information about the occupation on Guernsey and how it affected the islanders so she can write a book documenting this event. The characters became so real to me, and the description of London and of the island immediately after World War II are very vivid. It was a fascinating read, and I highly recommend it. I enjoyed it so much I want to visit the Channel Islands now!

Tonight I started a new novel, The Distance Between Us, by Bart Yates. The author is from Iowa City. I am not too far into the story, but the premise seems to be about an aging piano teacher, once a well-known concert pianist, who was badly injured in a fall years ago and had to resort to teaching. Her husband had a torrid affair, they are going through a bitter divorce, and two of her children, who still live in town, have sided with their father and are very angry with her. She has taken in a boarder, and now the story is unfolding. I'll keep you posted.

The weather report promises a rainy weekend. Perfect for a pot of something in the slow cooker, and a pile of books by my side. Fall will soon be upon us, and the rain gives me a taste of my favorite time of year.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Breathing a Sigh of Relief - Tonight, Anyway

For those of you who don't know, I am a Chicago Cubs fan. I know, I know, what am I thinking - the Cubs, for crying out loud??? I can't help it. I'm a corn-fed, baseball loving, Illinois girl, through and through. Born and bred in northern Illinois, 60 miles outside of Chicago, and I'm a die-hard, just wait 'til next year, it's not over 'til the fat lady sings, Cubs fan.

But maybe, JUST maybe, this is the year. Knock on wood, fingers crossed, salt over the shoulder, and every other good luck superstition you can think of. It is, after all, the 100th year since my dear Cubs won the World Series. 63 years since they won the Pennant. Is it too much to ask???? Pretty please????

Cubs won tonight, and the magic number is down to 13. The division championship is getting close enough to taste. And now the suspense really kicks in. Can they do it? At least win the division championship two years in a row? Can they get it together to keep the momentum they've had all year going strong?

Please???? Pretty please????? I don't think it's too much to ask.........and I think we Cubs fans have proven ourselves. We don't give up, we are loyal through and through.

My fingers remain crossed. I'm knocking on wood, and not daring the unmentionable to cross my lips. If I had a rabbit's foot, I would carry it with me 24/7.

I'm serious.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

For the Love of Libraries

I am a librarian. I consider it more of a vocation than just a job. I am certain I am doing exactly what I was meant to do with my life.

I started out as a part-timer, working when Gillian (my daughter) started pre-school. It evolved into a career, including completing my MLIS degree! I've done a little bit of everything at the library, starting as an assistant librarian, then assistant children's librarian, to youth and teen services librarian, and finally to my current title - adult services librarian.

Working in a small library gives me the opportunity to gain experience in areas I probably wouldn't if I worked in a larger library. We are a small staff of 9, so everyone does a little bit of everything. Work the circulation desk, work with patrons, take reference questions, etc. Plan, schedule and execute programs. Select, order, and catalog new material.

Every day is unique, and that is probably what I enjoy the most about being a librarian. There is nothing routine about it! In addition, since every day is different, and I never know what the day will bring, a carefully planned "to do" list often goes undone because other things come up!

A library is the heart of the community. We're here for everyone, young or old, rich or poor, educated or uneducated. When our patrons walk through our doors, they are treated equally. Everyone deserves equal access to information and resources. I love that.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Time to Pick it Up Again!

A friend of mine has decided to move her blogging from MySpace to Blogger, and she got me thinking. I used to blog quite a lot here at Blogger, but abandoned it when I got sucked into the MySpace vortex. And I remembered that I really liked my blog here, and have decided to resurrect it! So, Postcards from Iowa is back!

Yay!

Thanks to my friend Johanna for inspiring me to start again. I will still blog at MySpace, but I'll post here as well. I've lost touch with some people who used to read this blog that don't do MySpace.

So, for those of you reading this blog for the first time, here's a little bit About Me:

I live in Coralville, Iowa. I'm the mom of an amazing 11-year-old. I'm a librarian and I love everything about being a librarian, from collection development to working with patrons, to cataloging books to doing readers' advisory. I believe that a person's right to information is one of the most important rights that they have and it is a librarian's utmost responsibility to preserve that right.

I also absolutely adore books and reading. I also really enjoy writing, and I harbor a secret desire to publish a novel someday. Of course, I actually have to actually start writing a novel for that to happen!

I love to travel. I wish I could travel more often, but time and money only allow so much! I try to take two trips a year. So far this year I've traveled in and around Napa, CA and up through Oregon and parts of Washington. A cruise to the eastern Caribbean will come in November!

Thanks for visiting and reading! I hope you'll be back!!!