Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gotta Get Back to It!

It's been over two months (!!!) since I've blogged! The time has really gotten away from me since school started, and now here we are, and it's the end of October! I've gotten out of the habit of blogging, so I need to get back to it.

Gillian is getting used to 7th grade and a new school. She played volleyball, and while she's glad she did, she's also glad it's over! It was fun to go cheer on the girls and watch them play. Who knew 7th grade girls could play volleyball so well? With Junior High comes new challenges and new experiences.

Stay tuned for more blogs about what we're up to in the coming months! Just to tease: a new play production for the both of us, and a trip to Amsterdam! Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Summer FLEW......

...and now the first day of school is just three days away! What happened to summer? I can't ever recall a summer that flew by so quickly. Is this what it means to get older? I don't mind getting older, not that much, but I don't like that time starts to go by so fast....

And we are days away from the beginning of junior high. How is this possible? I remember, so vividly, that first day of kindergarten. KINDERGARTEN, for crying out loud. And now we are starting 7th grade. We have gone from a small girl, barely 5 years old, starting her first year of school, to a very tall, very beautiful, young lady, beginning 7th grade. Blows me away.

Junior high is the beginning of "real" school. Grades that count. Homework that matters. Study skills that count. Gillian coasted through elementary school, other than one year with one VERY bad math teacher. But a little tutoring, and a good 6th grade math teacher helped with that. Now she's going to be in pre-algebra, and starts volleyball practice on Thursday!

The new school year signals a new year for us. I'm ready and excited for the fall routine to begin. New school year, new beginnings!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

One of those things that make you go...hmmmm...

Does anyone else see the irony in this one? :

An audio book about American Sign Language..........

Friday, July 3, 2009

Long Overdue Review of Disney

Finally, a few pics from our trip to Disney last month! For now, just a few highlights. We visited each of the parks: Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (was MGM), Magic Kingdom, and Epcot. Well, at Epcot we decided to just do the countries.

There were two highlights of our day at Animal Kingdom. The first one was the safari ride. We've done this one twice now, and both times we saw completely different animals. The giraffes were in the spotlight this time:

The second highlight of this day was the Everest roller coaster. Talk about a crazy trip! It takes you so far going forward, in the light, and then all of a sudden you are going backwards, in the dark! It was wild. Here's our approach to this one:

Our second day was at Hollywood Studios, also once known as MGM Studios. This park is devoted to all things movie. Great fun, and the ride Gillian and I were most excited about was Tower of Terror. We rode it 3 times!

The third day was Magic Kingdom. The original of all the Disney World parks, and this place is sure to turn you into a 9 year old all over again. A few thrill rides, but these rides are devoted to the stories we grew up with. And of course, a visit wouldn't be complete without setting our sights on Cinderella Castle:

Our final day was spent at Epcot. We decided to forgo the futureworld part of the park and spend our day exploring all the countries. This was a wonderful day, very relaxed. We spent the day eating and drinking our way through the countries.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Reference Questions?

Being a librarian, I get my share of reference questions. These range from the usual, kind of information searching questions to the bizarre. I've had two very weird phone conversations today:

The first one went something like this:

Me: "North Liberty Library, this is Elaine."
Patron: "Yea, I want to know what vegetables you have there."
Me: "Vegetables? Well, we don't sell vegetables here, sir......."
Patron: "Well, don't you have something where you can get different vegetables?"

(Ahhhh haaaa. This guy is asking about the Farmer's Market)

Me: "There is a Farmer's Market, every Sunday, from 1-4pm, in the back parking lot."
Patron: "Yes, that is what I needed to know! Have a good day!"

The second call went something like this:

Me: "North Liberty Library, this is Elaine."
Patron: "Yes, this is Jane Doe, and the last time I returned books at the library, I may have returned one of my own books. But I don't remember the title of it."
Me: "I can look in the lost and found and see if there are any books......" (rustle through lost and found box.) "No, no books in there."
Patron: "If I did return it, what would you have done with it?"
Me: Well, it probably would have gone into our book sale, but without the title, there's really no way of finding it." (Seriously, are you kidding me?)
Patron: "Ok, then. Thank you."

Just a day in the life.....

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Today has been one of those relaxing, "free spirit" kind of days. After a hectic weekend last weekend, it's nice to have a weekend with no set agenda.

My best friend Janice and her friend David came out to visit yesterday evening. We had dinner at Red's Alehouse, a great restaurant/pub in North Liberty. David is visiting from the DC area, and they came out to spend time with Janice's mom, who lives in Dewitt. We had dinner, hung out, talked, and had a lovely time. I haven't seen David since I visited Janice when she lived in DC, so it was very nice to see him again. He's a good guy.

This morning we went to the Farmer's Market in Iowa City. Melanie went with us. Even Gillian went, mostly to people watch. She recently read Harriet the Spy and now she wants to write down everything she observes. Not unlike me, when I read it years ago! Melanie and I wandered the market, bought some delicious fresh produce. Then we grabbed an iced coffee at Java House, and walked around downtown.

It's wonderful to get a jump on the weekend and get up early. The day seems to last forever, and I've enjoyed every minute. We had a little thunderstorm in the afternoon, and then I headed out to run a few errands. This evening we've just been hanging out, reading and watching some tv. I just came in from enjoying some porch time. It's a beautiful evening, and I sat out on the porch and enjoyed the twilight. Gorgeous.

Here's to a relaxing and lovely long weekend! Cheers!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

This Weekend Wore Me Out!

This was a tiring weekend. I don't know why, I didn't do anything exhausting. I think mentally and emotionally it was a draining weekend.

Friday night was relaxing and a good start to the weekend. We did our grocery shopping and got that out of the way, and then my friend Janice and I IM'd and discussed our trip to Amsterdam this November. She's been going there every November for years for her job, but this will most likely be the last year she goes. I've wanted to go with her for a long time but the timing has never worked out. This year it will work. I'm going to MAKE it work. So we talked about the trip, the hotel where we'll stay, etc. I started to get a little excited! November is a long way off, but I'll use the time to save money, etc.

Gillian had a party Saturday afternoon, so we spent the morning cleaning up and getting ready. Some friends came over early to help her set up, and then there were 7 of them, boys and girls, having a great time all afternoon. Gillian had everything under control so I didn't have to do a thing. I just let them have fun and checked on them periodically. Remind them not to run in the house, don't bang on the sliding glass doors on the porch, stuff like that. They had a good time, but it was a little exhausting, mostly because one of the girls was a "screamer" and screamed about everything. When you're 11 you don't notice things like that, but it gets to you after awhile!

Today was audition day for Gillian. City Circle, the acting company the she did Schoolhouse Rock with is going to perform a school edition of RENT. It's just for junior high and high school students, and since Gillian is going into 7th grade, the director said of course she could audition. Well. She did a fine job with her audition, but she was by far the youngest in the room, and the other kids trying out easily had 5 or 6 years of muscial theatre experience and/or choir under their belts. There was a little stage fright going on, and it was a rough afternoon. A good learning experience, but not a comfortable learning experience. We'll put it that way. It was also a time consuming experience, and we were both exhausted when we finally left. I think she's feeling better now, but she's disappointed, of course. I was blown away by the talent in the room. Some of those older teens can really sing. And in a few years, Gillian will have a stronger voice. She needs patience.

So, it was a learning weekend. Sometimes those growing pains can really hurt. But, we learn from them and we're better off from the experience. In the meantime, we'll focus on the summer, and Disney World, and warm weather!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Just Can't Win

You know, when you're the mom of an almost 12 year old, nothing you ever do is good enough, or right, for that matter..........

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Update and a Little Happy Dance, Part II!

Being the last day of the month, I weighed in today. I've lost another 2 pounds, for a total loss so far of 7 pounds!

Not as much as last month, but hey, still working in the right direction! I'll take it!


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It Can Only Mean One Thing.....

I just read that Arlen Specter, Senator from Pennsylvania, has switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. He has served in the Senate since 1980.

Last year, 200,000 Pennsylvania voters changed their voter registration from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party.

This can only mean one thing, folks: Hell has frozen over, and that means......

The Cubs WILL win the World Series this year!!!!


Thursday, April 16, 2009


I am so angry right now I could just spit. Or cry. Or throw something.

Gillian woke me up in the middle of the night, very stuffy and with a sore throat and having trouble sleeping. I gave her some cold medicine and she went back to bed. When it was time to get up this morning, it was obvious that she was sick. Sore throat, stuffy, and puffy from not getting a good night's sleep. So, I sent her back to bed and called her in absent at school. Poor girl, and on such a beautiful day, too.

Now, I'm not angry that Gillian is sick. I feel bad for her 'cause it's never fun to be sick, but being sick is not something you can control.

What I'm so angry about is the way I was just treated by my boss when I called in to say I would not be in. How does it help ANYTHING to be rude and unkind to your employees when you call in because your kid is sick? Her tone was mean and she pretty much hung up on me.

I don't understand -- what is the point of behaving this way and treating people with such disrespect and unkindness? I don't deserve to be treated this way - NO ONE deserves to be treated this way.

She is back to all her old ways, and well on the way to creating a hostile work environment again. When you treat people like this, you don't get the best, do you? How do you expect people to be motivated to do their best and give their best when you treat them horribly?

I am so incredibly tired of this. Something has GOT TO CHANGE.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It's Been Awhile!

It's been 10 days since I've blogged! The horrors! Sorry about that, folks. There hasn't been much important to mention, so I didn't see the need to blather away at nothing.

But, things at work are getting weird again. Some of you may remember the insanity I lived through last year. Unfortunately, the passive-aggressive games seem to be starting up again. This time, it focuses around Facebook.

In the public library world, we have dozens of patrons who come in every day and use our public Internet stations. Many of them use Facebook to keep in touch. Librarians use it, too, to keep in touch with other librarians, to stay current on the technology that our patrons are using, and to keep in touch with our family and friends.

It's a great tool for keeping in touch with colleagues, friends, and family. No one on staff, who uses Facebook, abuses it. We don't take a formal lunch or breaks, so a 5 minute mental break to get on and check things is not a big deal.

But suddenly, access to Facebook has been blocked on staff computers. Not on the public Internet stations, just staff computers. Well, some of us, anyway. It's interesting, but our director, who instigated this, still has Facebook access on her computer.

Hmmmmmmmm. As usual, "do as I say, not as I do" is the philosophy that seems to reign supreme. Nice, huh? Some things just can't seem to change.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Weekend of Mixed Emotions

So much going on in the last few days, it truly has been a weekend of mixed emotions....

It actually started Thursday evening. My best friend's father passed away, after several weeks of hospitals and finally hospice. She called me Thursday evening to give me the news, and then to ask if I could drive her niece to the Quad Cities. Her niece doesn't have a car, and her friends could get her to me in Iowa City, but not all the way to Davenport. So, at 10pm, off we drove to get the niece to her family. Can I tell you, there is a great deal of traffic on Interstate 80 at midnight! Who knew?

On Friday, the Iowa Supreme Court handed down their decision about gay marriage, and unanimously voted that banning gay marriage is unconstitutional. This is so exciting and monumental and wonderful. And not as surprising for Iowa as you might think. Iowa, after all, was one of the first states to abolish slavery, end segregation in schools, and lift the ban on interracial marriage. This is just another example of the leadership the state of Iowa takes in Civil Rights. I've been proud of being an Iowan for quite some time (I've lived her longer now than I lived in Illinois) but now even more so! Hopefully we will become an example for the rest of the country.

This is the roller coaster I've been riding all weekend. That, plus a very happy birthday celebration for Dan, and I've spent time very sad for my friend and jubilant for the stand Iowa has taken. It's been a little bit intense, but that's life, right?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Update and a Little Happy Dance!

So, we started our weight loss program at the beginning of March. And now, at the end of March, I've lost about 6 pounds! That's worth a happy dance, right? I think so, because this morning I tried on a pair of pants that were too tight in December, and today they fit. Comfortably!

I am back in the habit of exercising regularly, and I am eating more healthfully. I'm noticing a difference in my energy levels, and I'm feeling happier and more comfortable.

And hey, that happy dance burns calories, right? : )

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Visiting a Post-Apocalyptic World

I have a thing for futuristic/dystopian fiction. Considering one of my favorite books of all time is Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, you can understand my love for this genre. This week I've found myself drawn to two novels, one a classic, and one brand new, that examine life in a post-apocalyptic world.

The first, Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank, was written in 1959, during the Cold War. This novel examines life after a nuclear attack on the United States, focusing primarily on one small town in Florida. It was absolutely riveting. The characters were very real, and it was written in such a way to make the reader feel as isolated as the characters in the story. Also, even though the novel is now 50 years old, it didn't feel dated at all. I guess, considering what could happen in such a situation, that the way we would adapt and survive now would be very similar to what would have happened 50 years ago!

The second novel, One Second After, by William Forstchen, is a new novel that deals with a very real threat that could destroy everything we have come to rely on so heavily. In this novel, an EMP - Electromagnetic Pulse - shorts out everything electrical and computerized. Considering the way we live today and how almost everything we use is powered by electricity and computers, what happens to the characters in this novel is very much the same as what happens to the characters in Alas, Babylon.

Alas, Babylon is our bookclub read this month, so I knew I was going to read it. But One Second After just came in to the library this week, and after reading the summary, I knew I had to read it. It's fascinating to read two very different accounts of the destruction of American society, yet the results of the destruction are vastly similar. While the threat of a nuclear war now is nothing like it was during the Cold War, the constant evolution of new and better weapons, as well as new and better, and highly sensitive technology, makes me wonder what would happen if something got into the wrong hands. It also makes me wonder what I would do if such a disaster would occur.

I hope I'll never have to find out. But in the meantime, stocking up a little on water and canned goods wouldn't hurt, would it?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Back to Reality

I headed back to work today, after a wonderful week of vacation......

Gillian and I had a terrific week. The weather was more than cooperative, which is amazing, considering this is Iowa, and we often have snow on the ground this time of year! We spent lots of time outside, and really enjoyed our screened-in porch. You know what's so nice about warm weather this time of year? No bugs!

So, we spent the first part of the week at home, being lazy, doing a little shopping and a lot of reading. Gillian read Twilight in just a few days. She was THAT hooked. I read a couple of books: a collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury, and an interesting novel called The Cradle, by Patrick Somerville.

We headed to Illinois on Thursday. We spent Thursday and Friday morning with my folks. My sister came over for dinner on Thursday, and my nephew Tony and his wife, Aime also came to see us for a bit. That was wonderful. Aime, my newest niece, is great, and she is great for Tony. I love my family. We didn't do anything special, Gillian helped Mom make a pineapple upside down cake, we had dinner, and spent a great deal of time laughing. Gillian was very entertaining.....it was all very life affirming and happy.

We headed to Aurora/Naperville on Friday. First to my best friend Janice's. We hung out for the afternoon, and got ready for the party before taking Gillian to her friend's in Naperville. Gillian was so excited to spend time with her camp friend! They had so many plans and I think they hit everything they wanted to do.

Janice had a Lia Sophia party Friday evening. A friend of her is starting to sell Lia Sophia, so Janice had a party for her to start her new business. It was great to meet some of her friends, and we had wine and very good food and lots of fun.

On Saturday we went looking for a new dog for Janice. She lost her lovely Bailey a few weeks ago, and it was time to get a new dog. We ended up at the Kane County Animal Control, and Janice fell in love with a beautiful dog there. He is part German Shepherd and maybe part Australian sheep dog or collie? Anyway, he is beautiful, needs lots of love, and the two of them bonded almost immediately.

We spent the rest of Saturday in Geneva, had lunch at The Little Traveler (I thought of you, Johanna!), shopped at Trader Joe's, spent lots of time out on Janice's deck in the warm sunshine, and had dinner at Meson Sebika, a wonderful Spanish tapas restaurant in Naperville. It was a great day.

We were very lazy on Sunday, and Gillian and I drove home in the afternoon. Had a relaxing evening at home and get ready to re-enter the real world.

It was a good week of vacation. And the re-entry into the real world didn't hurt as much as I expected!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tomorrow - Head East!

Gillian and I have been having a WONDERFUL week. The weather has been beautiful, even today. Although cooler than Monday and Tuesday, it was still spring like. Plus, it didn't rain! I thought we might have a dreary day, but again, we lucked out. It's been a little overcast off and on, but right now the sun is shining, and it's 55 degrees, and that is truly lovely for mid-March in Iowa.

Tomorrow we head east to Illinois. We'll spend Thursday and Friday morning with my family. I'm really looking forward to seeing my mom, dad, and sister. I don't know if we'll see anyone else. Gillian is looking forward to eating whatever Mom makes, which will be spaghetti and meatballs and garlic bread, minus the meatballs for the vegetarian.

Friday we'll head into the 'burbs. The Chicago suburbs, to be exact. Gillian is going to visit a friend from camp, and I am going to visit my Sis by choice, Janice. She happens to be having a party Friday evening, so I'm also looking forward to meeting some of her Chicago friends. I don't know what else we'll do this weekend, but I KNOW we'll have a great time! Gillian is very excited to spend time with her friend, and they have the entire weekend planned.

But, first, gotta pack!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sometimes the Weather is Nice

I am on vacation this week. What a treat, really, to take vacation time without a big trip planned. Gillian has Spring Break this week, so we're just hanging out and going with the flow.......

Today we took our time doing anything, other than sipping coffee (me), watching a little daytime television, and contemplating the day. Oh, and enjoying a little homemade banana bread....Then we got ready and headed out: first to Goodwill to drop off some clothes. Then to Walgreens to drop off some disposable cameras that Gillian had. Some lunch, a trip to Barnes and Noble, and then back to Walgreens to pick up the photos. It was fun to run around a little bit in the fresh air and sunshine.

After that, I took a walk up and down our neighborhood hills -- yes, contrary to popular thought, parts of Iowa ARE very hilly -- and then we christened the screened in porch for the season. Gillian found this very fun "Girls' Kit" at Barnes and Noble, complete with a how-to manual for some different crafts like friendship bracelets and God's Eyes, a great jump rope, and a set of jacks. We did a little jump rope, played jacks, and I perused a few magazines I bought. It was a wonderful afternoon.

We'll have a few more lazy days this week, and then on Thursday we head to Illinois. Thursday and Friday morning at my parents', and then Friday we head into the 'burbs for some girlfriend time -- Gillian going to visit a friend, and I'll visit my dear friend Janice. What we've just discovered, which is so coincidental, is that Gillian's friend lives less than a 1 1/2 miles away from Janice! I like that. Gillian gets her friend time and a little freedom, but Mom won't be far away at all........very nice!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Yay Vacation!

Well, almost! Other than a program tomorrow morning, I AM on vacation! I was off at 2pm today, to make up for my hours tomorrow morning. I will need to get a move on earlier than is usual for a Saturday, but the program will be fun and I'll be home by 12:30pm-ish, and then my vacation will truly begin.

I am ready for some time off and a break. We'll spend the first part of the week here, and the weather is supposed to be lovely. We'll head to Illinois on Thursday for some family time and then to the 'burbs on Friday for friend time!

It should be a good week.

I had an adventure at the DMV this week. I had to get my driver's license renewed. In Iowa, you have 60 days after your birthday to get it renewed. The DMV in Iowa City is on the extreme opposite side of town from me, and with it being winter, it can be difficult to get there. So, finally, Wednesday was a good day to go. And getting close to the end of my 60 days. Off I went, with plenty of time. Only to be told, since my name changed back to my maiden name, that the lovely DMV needed proof of my name change before they could renew my license! Grrrrrrr.

I went back this afternoon, with proof in hand, and found an EXTREMELY crowded office. Lovely. I expected at least a 30 minute wait once I checked in and got my paperwork and my number. I was happily mistaken.

First of all, the people who work at the DMV in Iowa City are sooooo nice. They've always been nice when I go in there. Maybe it's just Illinois where I've encountered grumpy DMV employees. The folks who work at the Iowa City DMV are cheerful, they greet you with a smile, they laugh, and this was at 2:30pm! All told, I was in and out of the office, with renewed license in hand, in about 25 minutes. Not bad at all!

So.....wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Saturday Morning Chores

Saturday mornings are busy around here! There's always laundry to do........

....not to mention odds and ends of computer work.....

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Tomorrow is the First Day of the Rest of My Life

The library staff, minus one party-pooper, is beginning a group diet-athon. Tomorrow. We weigh in tomorrow. Gulp. It's lasting for 6 months. Ugh.

It all started when one of our very loyal and very favorite patrons said that he would donate money toward the library building expansion, one dollar for every pound the library staff lost, up to 250 pounds. So, we decided to start a diet challenge to raise money for the library expansion. The title of our diet fundraiser is -- "Lose to Expand." Kinda catchy, huh?

So, tomorrow, we weigh in, and start our weigh toward healthier weights and healthier lives. We'll weigh in every two weeks.

I am ready to do this. Last year was a very stressful year, and I know I handled that stress in an unhealthy way. Less working out, didn't pay attention to what I was eating or drinking. Now is my opportunity to redeem last year's sins.

I'd already decided that this year I was going to take better care of myself and treat myself better, and this new challenge just feeds right into that. I won't tell you what my weigh-in tomorrow tells me but I will report on how the challenge is going.

Here we go!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

How Cool is This?

My DAD is on Facebook. How cool is that? You know, he just had his birthday, he turned 78 years old this past Tuesday, and the man joined Facebook!

It's true that Facebook is no longer just for high school and college students. So many people in my family are now connected thanks to this wonderful social networking site: family here in the U.S., family in Canada, and family in England. I'm in contact with cousins I haven't seen or spoken to in years.

And now Dad is part of the mix. It really excites me to see people embracing and trying new things. And just goes to show, you should NEVER stop learning!!!

Yay, Dad!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

February is SUCH a Boring Month!

It's a good thing it's the shortest month of the year......

I haven't blogged much because there's been nothing to share! Work, then home, then work, then home, a nice day here and there, and then back to dreary and grey winter days.

Gillian and I have been keeping sane with reading and movies. She is lost in camp dreaming at the moment, and I think she's watched the movie Meatballs about 20 times! Dreaming of green and birdsong and warm sunshine is getting us through the rest of a very long winter.

I am finishing up the new novel by Kristin Hannah, True Colors. Her books tend to be a bit maudlin, and so far this one is no exception. But somehow, her novels are compelling, and sucked in I get! I'm just about finished, and I was going to start the new Jodi Picoult, Handle With Care, but Gillian is RAVING about a book she just finished, The Year Without Michael, by Susan Pfeffer, so I promised I would read it next. I've never seen her so energized about a book, so it must be a good one.

It's almost the weekend, and I am ready to kick back. Read, grocery shop, do a little cleaning, and just relax. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

25 Random Things About Me - Redux

There is a big craze sweeping Facebook lately. It's a survey, "25 things about me." You list 25 things about yourself that people may or may not know, then you "tag" a bunch of your Facebook friends to do the survey. So, several weeks ago I did the survey and tagged people, who have in turn done the survey and tagged other people, so I've been having a great time reading all these survey answers! The only thing is, now I'm completely dissatisfied with my original survey answers, so I've decided to do it again. This time, I'm also adding it as a blog post. So, here goes!

1. I went to Cornell College, in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, which has a "One Course at a Time" teaching philosophy. You take one course for 3 1/2 weeks, have 4 1/2 days off, then start a brand new class. Learning is very intensive, and class time is somewhere between 2-5 hours a day, depending on the class. If you want to compare it to a traditional semester system, one day at Cornell is like a week at a traditional college/university.
2. In my very first class at Cornell, Intro. to Philosophy, our professor LOVED to throw pop quizzes. His requirement for answering the questions on those pop quizzes: you must answer each question in ONE grammatically correct sentence. One sentence only. This has stuck with me ever since.
3. I used to be painfully shy. Those of you who knew me in grade school/middle school/high school probably remember this. I was also really scared of being teased/made fun of, which actually rarely ever happened, with the exception of one certain person, and who I allowed to destroy my self-confidence for years. But when you're a kid, you don't understand that other people do not have control over you, so it took me a very long time to realize that I'm a pretty cool person.
4. My daughter, on the other hand, does not take after me in this regard. She is outgoing, always eager to make new friends, and doesn't worry what other people think. She isn't afraid to stand up in front of people and speak, and she is one of the best young actors I've ever encountered.
5. I completed my MLIS degree completely online without ever having to set food on the Univ. of Wisconsin - Milwaukee campus. I find this absolutely amazing.
6. The act of censorship angers me more than I can express. Censor yourself, censor what your kids read, but DO NOT even try to make those decisions for other people or other people's children.
7. One of my favorite movies is Field of Dreams and I watch it every February when I really need a dose of Iowa green. What's funny about this is that when I saw the movie for the first time, I was not an Iowa fan yet, even though I lived here, and the first time you hear: "Is this Heaven? No, it's Iowa," in the movie, I laughed out loud in the theatre. I was the only one who laughed out loud. But, I get it now.
8. I don't miss being married. Sometimes I get a little twinge when I see two people together who are very much in love and respect each other, but the twinge is more of a "what a great relationship those people have" rather than a "I wish I had that."
9. My daughter is the world to me. She is such an amazing person and I delight in watching her grow into herself.
10. When I was a kid, I thought the perfect day would be to spend the entire day in the library, reading whatever I wanted and wandering all over the library, and eating lunch at the nearby donut shop. I thought it would be heaven! And now I am a librarian, so go figure......
11. I love to travel and will happily go to places I've never been, but at the same time I'm also a homebody and love being in my home and puttering around. I need my downtime, especially on weekends, and don't like to be on the go all the time.
12. I am rarely bored. I enjoy my own company.
13. Last year, on my trip to Napa, Washington and Oregon with my dear friend Janice, I got pulled over for speeding. 73 mph in a 55 mph zone. I was freaking out, until a red pickup truck drove by us so fast he made our car shake! Needless to say, the Oregon state trooper ran back from his squad car to return my license to me, and sped off after the pickup without giving me a speeding ticket!
14. It took me a very long time to know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I did a bunch of different things - music sales, customer service, corporate training, business analyst (that was weird, too), stay-at-home mom, and then one day I applied for a part-time library position. And the rest is history. Once I started at the library, I knew I found my vocation. Being a librarian is exactly what I'm supposed to be doing.
15. I am immune to the chickenpox. No kidding. My mom thinks I might have had one pox on my face when I was about a year old, but she wasn't really sure. Other than that maybe pox, I've never had an actual case of chickenpox. When I was pregnant with Gillian, my bloodwork came back stating I'm immune from the chickenpox. The only thing I can think of is that my mom had the chickenpox right before she was pregnant with me and passed on her immunity to me.
16. I am VERY grateful to be in contact with friends who were very dear to me growing up. Facebook is wonderful. I think it is very important to have friends who knew you "when." I love that I am in contact with a great group of people from my DeKalb days and a great group of people from my Cornell days.
17. I am extremely critical of myself and spend too much time comparing myself to others. In my heart I know that this is a complete waste of my time and energy, but I have yet to learn to cut myself a break. I am much more forgiving of others than of myself.
18. I find absurd and random things exceptionally funny, especially when they happen out of the blue. I also have a tendency to want to laugh at inappropriate times, and trying not to laugh just makes it worse.
19. I firmly believe that a hot cup of tea can cure just about anything.
20. At work, I am much happier and more productive if I have a little too much to do.
21. I hate alarm clocks, and the best thing about weekends and vacations is not having to set my alarm clock!
22. I am a good listener, and will lend an ear, or a shoulder to cry on, at any time. I am, however, not good at letting others do this for me. It's been a long time since I've "put myself out there." I think sometimes it comes off as superficiality, but it really is just being afraid to stick my neck out and risk being vulnerable.
23. I often think that, as an adult, I don't have a clue what I'm doing, and at any moment, everyone else will think that about me, too.
24. I am skeptical of organized religion. Not to be confused in any way with faith. Religious people make me nervous. I also believe that religious people are not faith based, and faith based people are not religious. They are completely different. I think about this quite a lot.
25. Lately, I've been fascinated with biographies and autobiographies, and I love looking through the photographs that you find in the middle of many bios. I love the opportunity to get a glimpse into people's lives.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

This Recession Affects Everyone, and February is the Longest Month of the Year

It's been a long week. A little discouraging and morale testing. But, in the end, I realize you need to be thankful for what you have. What's the line from the Sheryl Crow song? Oh yes, It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got.

The North Liberty City Council decided, in their ultimate wisdom (cough cough), that the budget for the upcoming fiscal year did not have room in it to give city staff anything close to a decent raise, even though our city administrator and asst. city admin. had already completed the budget and determined that yes, there was money for staff raises. Only 1 council member stood up for staff. The rest of them wanted no raise at all or 1%. This, after they spent thousands of dollars to do a compensation study last year that determined that city staff was underpaid compared to other cities North Liberty's size. This, after our admin. and asst. admin looked at the rise in the cost of living nationwide and looked at what other cities in our area were giving for raises.

It was a real blow. Not just that the raise isn't there, although that does smart, considering our health insurance rates just went up, which means we'll be taking less home in every paycheck because our raise won't even cover the increase. What is discouraging is the lack of respect the city council members showed city staff. The council doesn't keep the city running. It's the city staff that does!

It feels a little like playing God to me. I fail to understand why these people should be able to control my purse strings AFTER they were presented with a budget that was put together by the two people in this city who were hired to be stewards of the city's money. And they do a good job.

I don't expect sympathy, and I especially don't expect sympathy from people who have lost their jobs and are now struggling to make ends meet while they find a new job. But I will say that this recession is affecting everyone, in some form or another.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

An Anniversary of Sorts

Today marks 7 years. It's an anniversary of sorts, the anniversary of the day I began to find my voice, my strength, my passion.

Seven years ago today, Dan dropped his bombshell. It devastated me, it was the last thing in the world I was expecting to hear, and over the next several months, I wasn't sure I had it in me to pick up and continue on.

But then I found out I did. I found myself at a crossroads. Take the way of self-pity and bitterness, or take the way of self-discovery and love. I chose the self-discovery path, and while not easy it was most definitely the right choice!

I was already working part-time at the library, but the bombshell forced me to consider all my options. I went full-time, discovered I truly LOVE library work, and then was lucky enough to go back to school and obtain my MLIS degree. I've gained so much wonderful experience working at the library and I work with amazing people who are like family to me. I am blessed to do what I know I'm meant to do.

If 7 years ago hadn't happened, I don't know if I would have been motivated to go full-time and then go on to get my degree. I also think I would have remained the passive wife instead of going after what I want. It makes you think. You may lose one thing, but gain another. One door closes, but more than another door, a new outlook opens!

I know I'm stronger and I know I truly can do ANYTHING I set my mind to. Sometimes the result of a REALLY BAD experience is something great. But I don't thank Dan for that.

I thank ME.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Libraries Change People.......

....this is what our library director said this afternoon. Interesting words, and true on many different levels.

Specifically, we were speaking about a new volunteer at the library. She is a practicum student and I believe this is the first time she's worked in a public library. No holds barred, public library work is VERY different from working in an academic setting. I'll call our new volunteer K. K has to do about 80 hours of volunteering for her class this semester. Since she's interested in adult services, our director assigned her to work with me. So K works Wednesday evenings, and then also comes in Sunday afternoons, and she gets a taste of working an evening and a weekend.

I really like her. She's quiet, but I don't think she misses anything. She jumps right in and helps with whatever needs to be done. K has commented a couple of times that she thinks it's exciting and I think she's really enjoying seeing the differences between working at our casual, and often rowdy, public library, and working in an academic setting of a law library and a reference desk of a main university library.

So, I mentioned today that I thought K was doing a very nice job so far, and seemed to be enjoying it, and our director made a comment about our practicum student being a little meek and wasn't sure how she'd take to working in a public library. I said something about K taking the time to really observe what's going on in a setting she's never been in, and then I made a comment that 15 years ago, our director would have probably thought I was meek. And our director nodded and smiled and said,

"Libraries change people."

I thought that was an extremely interesting and observant comment to make. And so true. I know it's true of me. I'm not scared to speak up anymore, and not scared to expect our rowdy kids to toe the line when they come in, and I don't hesitate to send them on their way if they misbehave. And this assertiveness translates to other areas of my life, too.

But libraries change people in other ways. They give people a chance they might not otherwise have. Libraries give people the opportunity to access information that they might not otherwise be able to obtain. And sometimes, someone just needs a friendly face and a librarian to chat with. Libraries aren't just about checking materials out to people and telling kids to be quiet. More than anything, libraries are about people. In these uncertain times, libraries give people the opportunity to come in, find out about jobs, type up a resume, access books and movies and newspapers and the Internet for free, which is a godsend when a person can't afford to pay for those things.

And in so many ways, libraries have the power to change a person, and maybe make their life better.

I certainly hope so.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Yes, a big DUH to me.

I've always felt pretty comfortable with technology. For the most part, it makes sense to me. I'm no expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I can figure things out.

Or so I thought! Okay, let me backtrack a little. Several months ago, our modem died. We had a brown out in the area, and it fried my modem. After a (very) lengthy phone conversation with a tech rep. at Qwest, we determined the modem was dead, and they sent me a new one. And not just a new one - a brand new, updated, and sleek new modem. I downloaded the software to both computers, hooked it up, and thought all was good! Then I upgraded our service as well.

All was not good. I couldn't figure it out. For the last few weeks, it's taken FOREVER to get connected, we couldn't stay connected, and we've had to do constant repairs to renew our IP addresses and/our reset the router. It was getting very frustrating.

Finally, the other evening, I got down on the floor to reset the wireless router. I looked at the back, and discovered that perhaps the ethernet cord wasn't plugged in to the right spot. Lo and behold, there was another place to plug in the cord and it said INTERNET next to it. Feeling just a little bit sheepish, I re-plugged the ethernet cord into that spot, and BAM: our computers were instantly connected to the Internet!

DUH. Perhaps being more observant of those little details would be a good idea......

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I've had goosebumps all day. Watching all the pomp and circumstance this morning, the swearing in first of Vice President Biden and then President Obama, His Inaugural speech, and then that amazing Benediction, and now, watching the festivities this evening.

I feel such a renewal of spirit today. Renewed optimism, renewed credibility of America around the world, and renewed patriotism. There is a charge in the air; people are excited, proud and hopeful. I'm not sure if I've ever felt this, this energy of people focused on a common goal, brought together by an uncommon leader.

Tonight, I feel united. People came together in November, and that feeling is still there. President Obama seems to have a gift for bringing people together, and he's brought the country together. He will lead, but we can't expect him to fix things alone. He empowers us all to work together, and he makes me feel like my contribution is necessary. Now THAT is a leader.

God Bless, President Obama. YES, WE CAN.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Wonderful Birthday

It has been a lovely birthday weekend. Added to that is knowing something else is going on this coming Saturday, so the birthday celebrating will continue! I have no idea what it is, I just know that two dear friends couldn't be with us on my birthday, so we'll be doing something, at least with them, on Saturday.

My birthday started out VERY lazy. Gillian and I took our time doing everything. My darling girl made me cupcakes on Friday, so we enjoyed cupcakes for a birthday breakfast. YUM.

Dan and Jerry picked us up about 4pm and off we went. East. To points unknown. We drove and drove, and I hunted for clues, but didn't get much. Finally I asked if we were going to Illinois, or staying Iowa. Dan said we were staying in Iowa, but don't trip. Hmmmmm. That made me think we were going to be VERY close to the Mississippi.

I was right! We ended up in Le Claire, right on the Mississippi, at a wonderful restaurant called The Faithful Pilot
We sat at a table overlooking the river and watched the sky darken to evening. Several trains chugged by. We enjoyed some Pinot Noir, wonderful food, and lovely conversation. I can't wait to go back.

We ended the evening at The Wig and Pen, a British Pub in Coralville. They were closed for over half of 2008 because of the flood, and reopened only a week ago. They are known for their pizza. The place was PACKED, and the pizza was as good as always. It was a great way to end a wonderful evening.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

But it's Summer There......

This morning, when I turned on the local news, the big story was the weather, of course. Cedar Rapids set a new record low of -29, and I know it wasn't much warmer in Coralville. I saw -22. We're talking COLD. REALLY, REALLY, COLD. So the morning anchors were being silly (their brains were frozen, I'm sure) and asked the weatherguy to find out the temperatures at the north and south poles.

At the next weather update, he reported his findings. He couldn't find the temperature at the North Pole, but he did find a current temperature in Antarctica.

It was only -18 there. Really. It is warmer today in Antarctica than it is in Iowa.

Well of course it is! It's summer there!

Monday, January 12, 2009

By God, the Wind!!!!!

Indeed. It is cold and getting colder and the wind is howling and the snow is blowing. Windy winter days always remind me of one of my favorite professors from Cornell.......

Cornell used to offer an England trip every other January. I was lucky to get to go in 1987. Yeesh, a long time ago.......anyway.......For 3 1/2 weeks, we traveled all over England and Scotland. It was an amazing experience. We saw amazing productions in London's West End, spent 10 days just in London, and traveled Great Britain, north and south. On one day, visiting Whitby Abbey in northern England, it was terribly windy. As we were getting off the bus to tour the Abbey, Stephen, our professor, flung his scarf around his neck, announced, "Dress warmly, children. By God, the WIND!" and marched off the bus. Stephen always had a flair for the dramatic, and this scene has always stayed with me, and makes me smile every time I recall it.

Tonight is definitely a "by God, the Wind!" kinda night, and I think tomorrow will be a "by God, the Wind!" kinda day!

But, here's a little something to warm you up - a lovely picture of our Leo the Lion, all orange and sunny looking, and full of all sorts of mischief. You can see it in his eyes!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Hibernation Mode

It's that time of year.......when I want to hibernate.

Besides taking Gillian to school and going to work, this time of year I just want to be a homebody. I really don't want to do anything else. It's cold, and the weather is icky, and if I don't have to be out and about, I am perfectly happy to be home.

So......this time of year, not much is going on. I try to read more. I try to work out more, and I cuddle more with my wonderful daughter. It's hard to get up in the morning (due to lack of sunlight) and it's easy to go to bed early (again, due to lack of sunlight!).

I finished the latest in my favorite mystery series by Shirley Damsgaard. She writes a WONDERFUL series, the Ophelia and Abby series. Ophelia is a librarian in a small town in central Iowa, and she and Abby, her grandmother, are witches. Murders happen, they get involved, things get sticky, but they use their supernatural powers to figure things out, much to the chagrin of the local sheriff! Ms. Damsgaard's latest, The Witch's Grave is the best yet in the series. I highly recommend it. Fun, and suspenseful, and well written.

This weekend I'm going to finish The Rope Walk, by Carrie Brown. It is the 2009 selection for All Iowa Reads. It's beautifully written, and I'm about half-way through it, but I'm still figuring it out. I'm not sure yet where this story is going. The characters are very compelling. And, even though the story is contemporary, it feels older, somehow. I think this is what makes it so compelling to me. Old world, yet current.

It's cold, it's winter, but my lovely books are keeping me warm. OH! And next Saturday is my birthday!!!!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

At the Movies

Yesterday was a perfect day to go to the movies. Cold, very overcast, and a promise of slick roads later in the day. So, we decided to head to the movies in the afternoon. One of Gillian's friends also went with us.

Now, I must explain, it's been over a year since I've set foot in a movie theatre. Oh sure, I've watched lots of movies in the last year, but on DVD or Video on Demand. I haven't felt particularly motivated to go the the theatre, plunk down $6.50 for a matinee, and then pay another enormous amount for popcorn and drinks. Plus, so many of the movies coming out seem to be remakes of older, already classic movies! I swear, if they ever remake To Kill a Mockingbird...

But I digress (I seem to do that quite a bit!). There has been a movie I've been motivated to see, and this is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It's based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I saw previews for it on tv, and I was fascinated by the story, of a man who ages backwards, and the life he leads while living this curious life. I found the short story in a volume of Fitzgerald's short stories, and read it one day at work (shhhhh, don't tell!). It was remarkable! Sweet, touching, and heartbreaking. Probably one of the BEST short stories I have ever read. I decided I definitely needed to see the movie for two reasons: because it had the potential to be an epic, and because I wanted to see what they would do to the story. Would they stay true to it or somehow modernize it and put a current spin on the story?

I can only recall one movie that I actually enjoyed more than the book. Usually I'm disappointed with something left out, or the interpretation of something I had my own vision of, or the choice of actor for a role. But this time, although the movie is quite different from the short story, it stands next to the story as an equal.

Brad Pitt is Benjamin Button, and Cate Blanchett is Daisy, and they are extraordinary. The movie is almost 3 hours long, but it is so compelling it doesn't feel long at all. At times it is a sweeping epic, but other times it is a very personal and intimate recollection of Benjamin's amazing life. And the makeup in this movie is out of this world. Just amazing to watch the characters change throughout the movie.

If I had to wait a year to see a movie on the big screen, this was definitely the movie to end that wait. I HIGHLY recommend it.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year and First Post of 2009

Happy New Year to you all! I sincerely hope that 2009 is a wonderful year for everyone.

We had a very calm and quiet and fun New Year's Eve. Gillian and I went over to Dan and Jerry's for the evening. We enjoyed a little champagne, ate, and played a marathon game of Pixar Monopoly (Gillian received it for Christmas). We barely made it to midnight! But we did, and saw in 2009, and went home to bed. Such excitement!

Today has been a wonderfully lazy day. We have been avid watchers of SciFi channel's Twilight Zone marathon today, and I made bread. Amazing and incredible, "I can't believe I made this at home" bread. I am serious.

Last year, in a weekly newsletter from Mother Earth News, was a bread recipe. Easy, and promised to deliver home baked bread just like bread you would buy from a bakery. Crisp crust, soft and chewy interior. I've never been able to make bread like that at home. You know what I mean: those wonderful rounds of bread with the glossy brown crust, and all soft and snowy white inside. The secret? It's baked in a Dutch Oven.

I asked for, and was given, a wonderful ceramic Dutch Oven for Christmas. So last night I started the bread. It is a no-knead bread recipe, which means it takes an incredibly long time to proof and raise. We're talking 12-18 hours for the first step. All said and done, it takes about 19 hours from beginning to end, but there is actually very little work involved. Just patience.

The only ingredients in this bread are yeast, water, salt, and flour. And a great deal of time. But boy, oh boy! The results are well worth the time it takes. I ended up with a round loaf of bread that I easily could have purchased at a bread makers', but I made it myself! Making it in the Dutch Oven is what did it. It steams as it bakes, covered, which produces the wonderful crisp crust. Yum. Here are some pictures of my marvelous bread: