Monday, November 29, 2010

Maybe I Think Too Much!

Cranberry sauce: Boil up some sugar and water, add some fresh cranberries, heat till they pop. Add other stuff if you want. Cool, serve. Who knew? Yum. Amazing. Years ago when I could still influence my kids, I made sure that they agreed with me that cranberry sauce was meant to be jiggly, and smooth and slip with a satisfying "slurp" from a can. None of that sour grandma stuff with lumps. Not at Thanksgiving, not ever. Well folks, I have been enlightened. Ocean spray go away. Come again another day. Or not.

Just Finished: Room *** A unique and unusual voice, fascinating story!
Currently Reading: Unaccustomed Earth - Jhumpa Lahiri

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I Love you madly madly

My love for libraries began in junior high when I got my very first job as a "Page" in the Schenectady County Carnegie Library. Wearing a dusty brownish smock that seemed to acknowledge my importance as an "official" of the library, I pushed a heavy cart about, shelving books and answering questions like "where is the restroom?"The job blended my passion for books with my growing need for independence and offered me the opportunity to control and put things in order. The fact that every book had its own perfect and unique place was supremely satisfying to a girl who grew up in a sometimes chaotic house. The pay was eighty cents an hour - an astounding thirty cents more than an hour of babysitting.

Back then folks signed out books on cards bearing the full names and dates of every previous borrower. At check out the circulation librarian filed the card in a long tray and stamped the due date in the back of book. A reference librarian kept a list of questions from patrons and spent her time frowning and looking up answers. Silence was strictly enforced by all senior library staff who regularly walked between the old wooden tables and chairs glaring sternly at anyone whose voice lifted above whisper.

Today I walked to my neighborhood library to return books and pick up one that I had reserved on line. On line! In the space of a few minutes I can hear about a book on NPR, go to my home computer and reserve it at the library. My computer tells me how many copies there are in the system, how many people are also waiting and what my place in line is. I can decide which of the many library branches will be most convenient for pick up and then know that my email box will light up with a message when my turn comes. Soon the book is waiting on the shelf just for me. I type in my card number at the desk and the computer tells me to place books for sign out on the scan tablet. Amazingly the tablet quickly reads the bar codes of up to four books at a time and prints me a date due slip. Incredible!
I love my library!
Another change with the times - My local library is NOT a quiet brown smock frowny kind of place - It is a cheerfully respectful inviting space with quiet nooks and comfortable easy chairs, window seats and bright tables. It is a bustling active place of great community, tutoring corners, adult classes, computers, children's story hours, and author readings. The librarians smile and speak in a voice you can hear.
Tax dollars doing some of their best work.

Currently reading: Room

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

After Winter's Silence

Every school in the area is on weather closure.

Yesterday was a silent day in my corner of the city as Metro buses gave up and cars stayed parked. Families with kids used the streets for great sledding adventures. Lots of walkers about and more than a few have dusted off their cross country skis for street travel. The silence was quite lovely.

This morning the main roads seemed a bit better (I even saw a brave biker negotiating the ice and snow - Seattle has a powerful biking community - we will soon have bike lanes on all major streets - and by the way did you ever notice how "real" bikers look like insects?)

Just noticed - the buses are running again! This is a very good sign in a city that was silenced and paralyzed by three inches of snow and freezing winds. Though I loved the quiet, i am glad that my beloved city is valiantly returning to its noisy on-the-move self.

Time to bundle up my temporarily housebound self and bus to Trader Joe's for a pound of butter. What would Thanksgiving be without enough butter?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Snow Place Like Home!'s freezing in the Northwest! The snow that looked so pretty this morning is now blowing in all directions. Up north in my cottage, my tenant has not been able to get out to go to work. Here, the few cars on the road are limping along, or going too fast and spinning their wheels. I am huddled in my city home glad to have heat and a couple of good books. I ventured out earlier for a walk to the coffee shop. It was yummy to be on the inside of the steamy windows sipping Starbucks with other hearty coffee city neighbors. I loved watching people walk in, stomp off the snow, embracing the warm chatter and community of this lively gathering place. Later, walking home, the wind came up, the footing became slick, the flakes became chunks and my face began to sting. I could feel the temperature drop with each step. Tonight will be icey and windy. So glad I don't have a reason to go anywhere. Seattle is not a snow city. Everyone knows we are experts at RAIN. We are a city of Rain Dears. Tonight I am red-nosed and snow weary, I am ready for warmer temperatures and rain. Not until Thursday they say.

UPDATE 11PM - serious wind and freezing temperatures - the freeways have been blocked for up to six hours - people who left work early are still not home! They must be so cold! I vividly remember the nightmare winter driving in my years of commuting to work. This is one day I am very very glad to be retired.

Just finished: Cutting For Stone ***** (Five stars!! Best book of my reading year)
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand *** (A good read with charming characters)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Freedom's Just Another Word For Nothing Left to Lose

A year or two after my husband died I realized I really didn't mind being single. My kids, my job and my friends were enough. I loved solitary walks, the freedom to choose how I would spend my days off and the opportunity to just "BE." That was then. This is now. BEing semi-retired and single, is, well, lonely. My friends say their retired husbands drive them crazy. Sounds really good to me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Like Emptiness In Harmony

My cooking gene kicks in with daylight savings time. When the fall fog rolls in I want to chop, saute, stew and roast things while listening to NPR. Is it the early darkness? Maybe the cooler weather? Who knows what makes me absolutely NEED to cook something savory, bake something pumpkiny, and sip something cidery? When I was a kid I hated the chore of starting dinner for the family before my mother got home from work. When I was a young wife, I was filled with anxiety and dread whenever I had to cook for anyone with the title "in-law." When my kids were at home, cooking dinner was what I had to do after I had worked all day. In the autumn of my life I cook because I want to.