Thursday, November 11, 2010

Giving Thanks

Looking back on my Facebook posts this week, I have been thankful for a variety of things: libraries, my work family, where I live, and our nation's veterans.

I am incredibly lucky to get to do what I love. I know this, especially after spending quite a few years doing things that I didn't love and searching for that just right fit. Getting to work in a library and do what I love is such a gift. And then, getting to do what I love with people I love, well, it is something I am truly thankful for. I work with a group of smart, funny, hard-working, and wonderful people. Diverse, and yet we all complement each other.

Then, I am so thankful for where I live. Beautiful Iowa. Seriously. For those of you not in the Midwest, you think of the middle of the country as that abyss to fly over between the coasts.

You couldn't be further from the truth! My part of Iowa is truly beautiful. Green, lush, and hilly. A more urban area that still has the beauty of a rural area. And the glory of 4 distinct season. And lots and LOTS of wildlife. Including beautiful deer that wander the neighborhood in broad daylight. Plus, my little part of Iowa is very progressive. We're that lone blue county in a sea of red. HA

On this Veterans' Day, I also have to say a THANK YOU to all our Veterans, past and present, who have served our country. No matter what you do in your branch of the Armed Forces, what you do matters to our country. And keeps us safe, and keeps our freedoms safe.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

More Thankfulness

This weekend, I'm thankful for the weekend and the time with my darling girl. Saturday was pretty lazy, and other than a trip to Walmart and The Co-op, we just hung out at home. Gillian cleaned her room (Hooray!).

But today, Sunday, is one of my favorite days of the year. Yep, I am a geek. I LOVE the day we return to Standard Time! It's amazing how one little hour can make the day feel so wonderfully long. Plus, I can sleep in and still get up early(ish)! And now it will be light in the morning again!

I still don't understand this need to keep extending Daylight Savings Time. I do understand changing the time during the summer months - in the summer we have about 15 hours of daylight, so it is nice to shift time so we can have it lighter longer in the evening. And the sun is rising at 6am or earlier, anyway.

But pushing the return to standard time further and further into Fall is ridiculous to me. "They" (those crazy politicians) think it saves energy, but aren't we really just borrowing from Peter to pay Paul? Maybe it's lighter for a little longer in the evening, but it stays dark in the morning that much longer, so everyone has their lights on at home then! There are going to be only so many hours of daylight, no matter what time you impose on the clock.

Plus, it messes up the cows.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 3 and 4 of Thankful Month

I missed posting my Day 3 Thankful. I was still moping over the elections yesterday. The results REALLY put my in a funk. It seems that most people have very short memories, and forgot what administration (a Republican one) got us into this economic mess. So, after two short years, Republicans took over the House, and now we are stuck with John Boehner as the new Speaker of the House. Excuse me while I go barf. I know, I know, harsh, but I have a real problem with a guy whose top priority as a congressman is to make Obama a one-term President. Hmmmm. Shouldn't his top priority as a congressman be to serve his constituents - his EMPLOYERS? Yes, that's right. Those senators and representatives are OUR EMPLOYEES. We pay their salary, we pay their fantastic health care plan and their pension. I have a real problem with someone whose main goal seems to be to make someone look bad, namely, our President, who is just trying to clean up Dubya's mess.

Ok, Elaine, but what does this have to do with what you were thankful for on Day 3? I'm getting to that. So, I was on yesterday, looking at the election results. I found a map of Iowa, showing how the state voted in the senate race here. The counties in Iowa that voted for Grassley were shaded in red (Republican). The counties that voted for his challenger, Conlin, were shaded in blue (democrat).

And my county, Johnson County, was the ONLY blue county in the state. Yesterday, I was thankful for living in blessed Johnson County, Iowa.

TODAY --- Day 4 of Thankful Month.

Today I am thankful to two wonderful teens, Matt and Bob, who helped me jump start my van when I discovered the battery was dead. Gillian and I went out to the van after work, got in, and I put the key in the ignition and turned it. And not much happened. Dead battery. Went back into the library to see if anyone had jumper cables. No one did, but Matt offered to run home and grab some, he did, and jumped the van. It started up and got us home. Not sure what will happen in the morning, but we are home now, and I am thankful.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 2 of Thankful Month - Voting

Today, Election Day, I am thankful that I have the right, and the privilege, to cast my vote for who I think will be the best leaders for my state and for my country.

Voting is a right, because the U.S. Constitution says so, and since 1920, I have that right as a woman. But I also think voting is a privilege. There are many people, in other countries, especially women, who can't vote. They either don't have the right, or the leaders of their countries make it so difficult for citizens to vote that people don't even try. So, when I go to the polls on Election Day and cast my ballot, I also do it with those people in mind. And I realize that it IS a privilege. We are extraordinarily lucky to live in the U.S.

I also think about my grandmothers on Election Day. My Grandma Bickerdike was a suffragette in England, and she rallied for women to have the right to vote. My Grandma Hayes came of age when women were fighting for the right to vote in the U.S., and she was 17 the year women won their fight. She just had to wait 4 years to exercise her right. In all the years I knew her, she always voted.

So today I am thankful that I CAN vote. That I can cast my ballot and have my choice counted. It matters.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Month of Thankfulness

While perusing Facebook this morning, I noticed that a friend of mine has taken up a "thankfulness challenge" for the month. Every day, share something you are thankful for. And so, I thought, what a great challenge for myself! In addition to posting on Facebook, I will post a thankfulness blog every day this month!

For November 1, I am incredibly thankful for my wonderful family. My darling daughter, my parents, my sister, my nieces and nephews, my former husband and his partner, who will always be my family. I also need to include my "work" family here, too. The people I work with are a family, too, and all very important to me.

What are you thankful for?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Trip to San Francisco

My wonderful sister and I took a trip to San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. We had a wonderful time, the weather was almost perfect, but what was so great was the time we spent together. This was the first trip we ever took, just the two of us. I hope there will be many more to come!

We had beautiful sunny days most of the time, but we did get to experience that famous San Francisco fog. The first time was the afternoon we decided to hike the Golden Gate Bridge:

San Francisco is made up of different neighborhoods and districts. We stayed down near Fisherman's Wharf and had some beautiful views of San Francisco Bay:

Of course, no trip to Fisherman's Wharf is complete without visiting the sea lions:

Stay tuned for more San Fran posts!!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Another Reason Why I LOVE My Job!

Children are a HUGE part of any public library. Sometimes they drive you crazy, but mostly they are absolutely wonderful. Kids are honest, and when they love something, they are not afraid to tell you.

Such was the case today. A former board member came in this morning with the girls she babysits, to pick up their summer reading program t-shirts. All preschoolers. They came in to the workroom, and Dee was trying to track down their shirts. I said hi to one of the little girls, and she just gave me the "stink eye." Eeeeek. Finally, the shirts were found, and the little girls were ecstatic! They jumped up and down and wanted the new shirts on NOW, over their clothes. When the little girl who gave me the stink eye had her shirt on, she jumped up and down, ran over, and gave me a BIG HUG. And then they all traipsed out, full of glee over their fabulous new t-shirts.

If your heart doesn't melt over that, well, you don't have a heart.

It made my day.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Digital Native? Converts?

I was talking to two friends tonight about the exact same thing. Technology. We are all the same age, graduated from high school the same year, all went to college.

One friend uses pretty much the bare minimum: some computer, some cell phone. The other friend is definitely plugged in: computer, cell phone, various social networks, downloadables, etc.

As a librarian, I use technology every day. Not only am I fascinated with it, I need to know it to do my job! If I don't know it, how can I help patrons? But here's a little secret: sometimes I get impatient, so on occasion I play dumb about stuff so I don't have to play "trainer." Been there, done that! I never do that with patrons, though.

I've always been fascinated by technology and whatever is new. I think it all started with that first connection to the Internet. With something bigger, something that connected the world. That was all it took and I was forever hooked.

What I find so interesting is the connection people of my generation have to technology. I know as many people who are reluctant users as are users who embrace it. Those of us from Generation X seem to bridge two different schools: those who embrace technology and those who can envision a life without it.

People from my daughter's generation, the Millenials, have no concept of a life without all the technology we have now, and they expect technology to constantly change. While I am excited by new upgrades or new technologies, my daughter takes that for granted. I guess that's the true difference in our mindsets?

With the speed the world, and technology, is changing, I am grateful I find it all fascinating. To learn is to grow and evolve, right? I think my favorite line from the movie, The Big Chill, sums it up:

"I'm evolving, I'm still evolving."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

About Last Night

Gillian was home sick yesterday. Stomach ache and headache. I stayed home with her, too, and just went to work for my desk time and book club. By evening, she was feeling just fine.

She decided to go to bed at 9pm, so she could get up at her usual 5:30am. I went to bed at 10pm, and read until 11pm. Before turning in, I went in to check on her. Gillian was laying there, awake, and complained to me that she had been trying to go to sleep for the last 2 hours. I told her to just relax, and just try to go to sleep, but she did rest all day, so I wasn't surprised she was having trouble going to sleep.

I went to bed.

A little while later, I hear someone by my bed. It was Gillian. "Do you know where my MP3 player is? I found my earbuds."

I told her no, I didn't know where it was, and go to bed. Her response was, "Whatever."

A few minutes later, I had a hunch, and got up. Yep. Her door was closed and her light was on. I walked in, and there she is, pulling her dresser away from the wall, looking for her MP3 player.

She did find her portable drive......

I told her to go to bed, made sure she was in bed, pushed her dresser back against her wall, and turned off the light.

But, a few minutes later......."Mom, I think one of the cats is in the dresser!" Sooooooo, I got up, saw both cats, and told the girl, nothing is in your dresser, I opened the drawers, and all was well. I tucked her in, told her to STAY in bed, and shut off her light! And I announced, "Tonight has turned into a Comedy of Errors!"

And I laughed all the way back to bed.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Gray or Grey?

After just updating my Facebook status with (Elaine Hayes Reitz) "thinks a chilly, gray Sunday is the perfect day to just putz around the house," I started to wonder about that age old question:

What's the difference between "grey" and "gray"? (OK, it's probably just me that thinks this is an age old question, so just humor me.)

The English language is such a wonderfully strange and complex language. Plus, depending where you live, English can be a very different language! Word spellings rarely seem to follow any sort of rules - for every rule there seem to be more exceptions to that rule than words that actually follow the rule!

So, after updating my Facebook status, I decided to discover, once and for all, the difference between "gray" and "grey". You know what I discovered?

For all intents and purposes, GRAY is the American spelling. GREY is the British spelling. But both are correct.

Yeesh. That was it?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

It's a Generational Thing

I love when I have the time to just let my mind wander and think about whatever it wants. You just never know what thoughts will pop into your head!

Last night I started thinking about technology and the differences between my generation and Gillian's generation. What we each take for granted that the generation before did not have.

For my generation, it was fairly limited. Television, of course, and maybe air conditioners. I remember when music cassettes became so popular they edged out LPs. But the big thing would have to be television. I remember my parents talking about sitting around the radio for entertainment, and my dad talking about his favorite radio shows - The Shadow, Jack Armstrong, Little Orphan Annie. As a kid, I couldn't imagine a world without TV!

And then there was this HUGE technology explosion! CDs, cell phones, computers, Internet, laptop computers, iPhone, Playstation, Xbox, Wii, the list goes on and on! Gillian, a member of the Millenials, has absolutely no concept of a world without them.

Sometimes I wonder if there's been an evolutionary shift. The kids of Gillian's age group seem to have an instinctive understanding of all this technology. They just know how it works. And they gravitate toward anything new.

It's just amazing to me. Technology changes and improves so quickly anymore. The saying, "As soon as you buy a computer it's out of date" is so true. But to the Millenials, it is what it is! They aren't amazed by the speed of upgrades and new technology.

That's just their world.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Questions, Questions.....

I know I've said this before, but it's true: you just never know what kind of questions you'll be asked on any given day in libraryland. This evening I was asked two of the best questions ever:

1. Do you sleep here or do you sleep someplace else?

2. Where's the bathroom, lady?

Both questions were posed to me by two very precocious junior patrons. !!!!

My answers were:

1. I sleep at my house just like you sleep at yours.
2. Out the door and to the left. And then I laughed. Very hard.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

If I Should Ever Take the Plunge....

To go back to school again, that is - I believe I would study Anthropology. Get that PhD. that is always tickling the back of my brain.

It would be school simply for the sake of learning. And what fascinates me so much in the field of Anthropology is myth/legend/folklore. Where do our myths and legends come from? Why does every culture have its own dragon myths? And what about those ogres? It's these ancient myths and legends that fascinate me so.

Before humans had a written language, they told stories to impart information. These stories have been passed through generations for thousands of years, taking many different incarnations. I just find it incredibly interesting that many cultures share similar myths. It makes me think that there must be a shred of truth to these myths if many cultures share similar stories.

Who knows? Maybe someday I'll take that plunge again......

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Yea, That's Me....the One with the COOL Parents!

Without a doubt, continuing to learn and try new things keeps you young. Good for your brain and good for your attitude! I firmly believe this, based on people I see come in to the library. They exercise on the rec center side, and then they come in the library to read and get books and movies to take home.

And then there are my parents, who are, without a doubt, the coolest parents. Ever.

My dad set up a Facebook page for himself about a year ago. He's on it about every day, and he's in contact with friends and with our family who are all over the place. He uses email daily, so he uses technology and he's pretty comfortable with it.

Last night I spent almost an hour chatting online with my mom. We talked about books and I gave her a bunch of recommendations to look for at her library. We talked about 2012 and earthquakes, the poles shifting, that fun "sciency" stuff that no else I know likes to talk about! It was great.

I just really love and appreciate that my parents (who are in their seventies, by the way) will try new things and go with the flow.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Last Day of the Olympic Addiction!

I haven't blogged since the Olympics began! What an exciting Winter Olympics this has been. For the first time, the U.S. leads in the medal count. U.S. athletes have won medals for the first time in several events: Nordic combined and Bobsled, to name just a couple.

I have been riveted to the television these last 17 days, and it has been exciting and memorable. I've been sucked into everything: luge, bobsled, figure skating, aerials, snowboard, you name it! And can't forget short track, probably my favorite of these Olympics. Apolo Anton Ohno is TO DIE FOR. Without a doubt!

I guess life will get back to normal tomorrow. Which means more sleep for me! During what seems to be the longest winter EVER, the Olympics have made it memorable. Thank you to all of the U.S. Olympic athletes who have made us all so proud!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Life in the Library

It has been ONE of those weeks. You know what kind.....

Working in a library, I deal every day with returned books, as well as many donations. We've had dozens of donations this week. I think people are starting their spring cleaning a little early.

Part of the fun with returned books and donations is finding the stuff people leave behind in their books. This week has been a banner week for surprises. In the last week, we've received:

1. One boarding pass for a trip to Tokyo.
2. Two boarding passes, both legs of a trip to Dallas and back to Cedar Rapids.
3. An Alamo Car Rental receipt.
4. Various and assorted bookmarks.
5. A disembarkation form, in French.
6. A used band-aid.
Yes, you read that correctly. It was stuck to the book, believe it or not.


Other than the band-aid, the fun of working in a library is that you never know what you're gonna get.

Just like Forrest said......

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Eight Years

It's been eight years since I've been on my own. For those you who don't know, it's now been eight years since my former husband told me he was gay and in love with someone else.

Eight years. At the time, I thought I'd never recover. If you've ever been punched in the stomach hard enough to feel the wind knocked out of you, you'll know how I felt for months after he dropped the bombshell.

I felt like such a failure. It took quite awhile for me to truly understand and realize that I did nothing to cause it and it wasn't my doing. When most marriages dissolve, both parties usually share the blame. In this case, there was nothing I did that could have made this happen.

Small comfort.

But during these eight years, I've learned a great deal about myself and about the people surrounding me. Some of those people have become amazing friends. Some of these people I've become closer to than I ever thought I would. And some of these people showed their true colors and I realized they were never my friends at all.

I am so much stronger than I knew, and have been able to accomplish things I would not have been able to, if this hadn't have happened. I guess drastic things have to happen, sometimes, for the real "you" to come out. And I am thankful for that.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February: The Whine Month

This is turning into one LOOOOOONG winter! I decided tonight, after watching all the cabin fevered kids running in and out of the library, that February is officially "Whine Month."

Did you know that 70% of the United States is under snow cover? This makes for a long winter season. Additionally, my part of Iowa is at 57 days and counting for continuous days of snow cover.

Blarg. I love Iowa, but I HATE winter. I'm starting to feel like Bill Murray in 'Groundhog Day.'

Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Habits

So, yesterday I started my new resolution. I did have to compromise on this grocery trip, however, and did shop at Walmart (gasp). I have an in-store credit to use up, and I certainly wasn't going to let that go to waste!

I stuck to my list and only bought what would fit in my canvas bag. And it all fit.

Going forward, I will not desert Walmart entirely. Certain things are just the best value there. Canned goods, like beans, tomatoes, things like that. And while I am going to make a commitment to buy local, local people do work at Walmart, and need people to shop there so they can have their jobs. And that's important, too.

Isn't it funny that it takes time and effort to live a more simple life?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Better Late than Never, I Guess!

I know, I know, January is almost over and I've finally come to terms with my resolutions. Better late than never, right?

I've been thinking about how my resolutions can benefit not only myself but the Earth, too. I think that resolutions often fail because the intentions are often primarily selfish. Stop smoking, lose weight, etc., etc. Last year, Gillian decided her New Year's resolution would be to become a vegetarian. The reason behind her resolution was not to benefit herself. After hearing information about how animals become dinner, she realized she couldn't eat meat anymore. And she has been a vegetarian for a year now!

So, I started thinking, what can I do that will not only benefit myself but my community, and ultimately, the planet? I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about just focusing on the basics. The needs, not the wants. After everything I saw going on in Haiti, I feel a need to get back to basics. Simplicity.

There is also the pull to keep it local. Buy local foods, from local shops, which benefits local merchants and farmers. And, by buying locally, those foods aren't being transported over great distances, which burns more fossil fuels. Amazing how it's all interconnected......

I've decided, then. Simplicity is the theme for 2010. In addition, buy local, shop local. And with that, for the environment's sake, only purchasing as much food at one time as I can carry in no more than two reusable canvas bags.

We will see how it goes! Stay tuned.....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I Just Ate the BEST Dinner!

I love to experiment in the kitchen. Just mess around, put things together, see what works. In the winter, this is especially satisfying.

I've had a craving for some beef. Not something I normally choose to eat, but this weekend, that is what I wanted. Not burgers, something more substantial, and a better cut than just ground beef. Initially, I wanted beef short ribs, but I couldn't find them, so I settled for country style beef ribs.

It was a good choice.

Then I needed to figure out what to do with them! I knew I wanted to put them in the slow cooker, but with what? I finally decided on onions, mushrooms, some beef stock, and most of a small can of tomato paste. I threw it all in the slow cooker and let it go.

Wow. I made some mashed potatoes, and spooned the beef/mushroom/onion stew on top of the mashed potatoes.


No real recipe, I just made it up. But the flavors seemed to meld just right! And there's enough left for at least one more meal, if not two. I only did a pound of ribs, since it's just for me.

Success in the kitchen!

Friday, January 22, 2010

One Down, Two to Go....

....months of winter, that is. I'm trying to think positive, I really am! But when you haven't seen the sun shine in more than a week, when snow and ice fall all about you, and now the weekend will be filled with more WEATHER, well, all I can say is -


I am more than ready for a little blue sky above, and a little green beneath my feet. Blue sky will be easier to find than green grass in the next month or three, so I will take what I can get.

Plus, it annoys me that everyone is focused on the weather. Myself, included.

I have been battling a nasty cold that last 10 days, so really, I'm just a bundle of doom and gloom. Call me Eeyore. hehehehe

Actually, with everything that has happened, and is happening, in Haiti right now, I feel incredibly fortunate. I have so much. Any problems I have seem so inconsequential right now. It's a good time to count blessings, and realize that what I do have is so very much. And what I really need is very little. And, perhaps it would be good to live like that for awhile. Take care of the real needs, because all those superfluous things just don't matter.

Maybe I've finally found my New Year's resolution.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Some Weeks are Just Weird

Holidays are over. Back to work, back to school, right? Not so fast, bub......

Poor Gillian. She picked up some horrible crud, either from the kids at Winter Camp or from her Grandma. Regardless, she has one nasty case of the CRUD. Sore throat, cough, a fever, and just general YUCK. I took her to the doctor yesterday, they tested her for Strep, it came back negative. Diagnosed with one of those wonderfully vague viruses.

And now she is worse than she was yesterday! Did I take her to the doctor too soon? I've never heard of that being the case, but honestly.......I don't remember these vague viruses when I was a kid. Perhaps the microscopic organisms are winning?

So, the poor kid is dealing with the crud, and I'm just thankful for really good sick benefits. Between Dan and I, we've got the kid covered. But to have two weeks off for Christmas, and then get sick, just not a great way to begin the New Year!

Fortunately, the Hawkeyes won the Orange Bowl!!!! GO HAWKS! I think they surprised a great many people by taking the lead early in the game over Georgia Tech. and keeping control of the game until the very end. They proved their critics wrong and walked away with a solid win. They did the State of Iowa proud, and I have to say Thanks! and GREAT GAME!

So, after all the excitement of the game, and taking care of a sick kid, we find ourselves in the middle of a Winter Storm Warning. 6-9 inches of snow, lots of wind, and bitterly cold temperatures. Yep. Welcome to January in the Midwest. Yep.

Is it spring yet?

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year, New Focus

After feeling guilty about ignoring my blog the last few months, I'm feeling focused and ready to get back to it. It's a new year, and it's time to allow myself to get back to thing I love and enjoy!

The latter part of 2009 was pretty hectic. A 9 day trip to Amsterdam was amazing and life changing. Visiting a brand new (to me) city, meeting new people, visiting new places, and experiencing the Anne Frank House was absolutely fantastic. At some point I will post some pictures on my blog, but I do have many on my Facebook page.

After Thanksgiving, Gillian and I were busy with City Circle's production of A Christmas Carol Radio Play. This was WONDERFUL! I decided to try out when I took Gillian to auditions, and I'm so glad I did! We were able to participate together, and I will cherish this memory forever. I think I also caught the acting bug, because now I definitely want to try out for another show.

This brings us to Christmas. Which was a little messed up, thanks to the lovely weather. We were going to go to DeKalb, but instead we went over New Year's, which was actually better, because we got a longer visit!

And, now, we find ourselves at the beginning of a new year. A new decade. Okay, technically, the new decade won't start until next year, but we ARE into the "10s" so it does feel like a new decade. And wow, does it feel weird to you? Writing 2010 is taking some getting used to for me.

So, with this post, I am pledging to be a better blogger, posting the mundane, inane, and all things library. Family. And CAT!!!! Speaking of which, there ain't much better on a VERY cold evening than having a cat curled up in your lap....