Library Meatloaf

Yesterday marked the start of the first full week of school and also the first morning confiscations of the school year.

With minimal frisking—this ain’t my first rodeo—I bagged an iPod, an MP3 player, and a set of earbuds I thought I’d left in Chicago from an eleven-year old who honestly may not have noticed they were still attached to her, and also a bulldog puppy named Meatloaf, whose seven-year old thought I was kidding when I said she wasn’t allowed to bring toys to school without asking her teacher first.

I promised Sunny I’d take good care of him all day. Remarkably, this worked and she handed him over with minimal fuss and a heartening touch of guilt.

To be honest, I meant to leave him in the car, but tossed him in my bag instead, where he quietly tangled himself in my badge lanyard.

When I pulled out my badge to clock in, there he was.

And since he was, I decided to put him to work.

Meatloaf Clocking in

Did it beep? I didn’t hear a beep . . .

Meatloaf turned out to be the perfect library page: eager, willing, and remarkably quiet, considering his owner.

He helped answer the phone:

Meatloaf Taking Calls

Yes, we’re open. Yes, I’m sure.

Look up information for patrons:

Meatloaf at the Catalog

You don’t know the title, the author, or the plot, but the cover could be blue? Or maybe red?  No problem.

And sort magazines (from his expression, clearly not his favorite):

Meatloaf and Magazines

Um . . . I’m going to need the step stool. And some thumbs.

He also shared my dinner and helped me hone my Flappy Bird skillz* on Jane’s iPod before napping in my lunchbag for the rest of my shift.

Meatloaf for Lunch

Got any Scooby Snacks?

At the end of the day, I returned one very sleepy puppy to his equally sleepy little girl just in time for him to tell her all about his day before I tucked them both into bed.

This morning, I didn’t have to remove him from Sunny’s backpack.

I found him hiding in my purse. Wearing my lanyard.

Good boy!


*Which are nonexistent.  Someone needs to invent a game where you’re supposed to bash a digital bird into the same building over and over.  I would be the reigning champion of the world.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Good Boy)

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We met Tom’s partner, Turner, last week, when he walked into the agency while Tom was busy subduing a belligerent visitor.

I’ve skipped a couple of sentences between that and this, so I can share that much more Turner.

Lobb Shoe

Turner walked past me to the desk, stepping over the blood with more care than I would—then again, even if I hadn’t been plowing most of my paycheck back into the agency, I wouldn’t have shelled out on my whole wardrobe what he did on shoes.

My guest’s ears elongated and I heard his claws scrabble on the wood. I pressed the gun harder. “Pull it back in,” I said, “or I’ll blow your brains all over your chinny, chin, chin.”

“He means it,” Turner said. The gun drawer squeaked. “That’s why we can’t have carpet.”

The scratching stopped and the ears relaxed their lobes.


In Tom’s defense, one wouldn’t want to wear Dolce & Gabbana to a werewolf attack.  Or even J. Press.

In Turner’s defense, he doesn’t spend quite that much on clothes, but he makes it all look like he does.  Possibly by avoiding werewolf attacks.



Image of the left half of a pair of frankly gorgeous oxfords in green mist calf from the Rothley Collection of John Lobb was located at GQ (where else?).



Random Thursday: Random Travels and Battle Sheep

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon this week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

My MIL is doing well (thank you for your kind thoughts and crossed fingers), I made it to the next level of interviews, traveled by train to Chicago all by myself (hush, it’s a Big Thing),  had a marvelous time with two of my favorite people (and one favorite’s teenaged daughter), and made it back home in time for a two hour nap before taking the kids to the annual school Luau and Backpack Dumping.

Been an active week.

The kids’ school stuff was waiting for them when I dropped them off this morning for the first (half) day of the new school year.  The entire household is very excited about this new opportunity for intellectual and social growth—with the sole and unsurprising exception of the kids, who just last week were complaining loudly about how boring summer camp was, until they realized they only had four days left.

I took the day off, so in a little while, I’ll head back pick them up, along with all the forms we forgot to pick up at the Luau.  Oops.

But for now, it’s time to relax, have another cup of coffee, and offer random, illustrated pieces of the last couple days:


The Windy Rainy City

Chicago Tour2

It doesn’t have a thumb in it, but I’m pretty sure I did take this photo. Jane wasn’t with me and it’s on my phone, so unless a pickpocket took pity on me, it’s mine.

My friend thefirstmausi and I (and her daughter) met early Tuesday morning at the Chicago First Lady Boat Dock—and when I say “met”, I mean for the first time in person—to take one of the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruises.

‘firstmausi has the best ideas.

If you ever have the chance to take one of these, please do.  The docents are a hoot—they know their stuff and they also know how to make it interesting—and since Chicago is a tall, busy city, it’s easy to miss all the beautiful structures—historical and new—if you stick to the streets.

And also hidden urban folk art.

Graffitti Chicago

Plus, you’re on a boat on a river, so everything is relaxed and lovely and mercy those bridges are low.

I’m going to go again the next time I’m in Chicago, because the city is constantly in flux and I want to see the results of all the construction and restoration efforts that are just getting started. . .  and also because I missed most of the last half of this one due to the rescheduled rainstorm—which was inexplicably moved up from Friday, and whose decision was that?—drove us inside.

There were large windows and we could hear the docent, but we always seemed to be on the wrong side of the boat to see whatever she was describing.

But that gave ‘firstmausi and I time to talk, so I can’t complain.*


In the Pink

One of the only things Sunny likes about going back to school is getting new shoes.

You can’t tell from the photo, but these things are bright, bright pink.  With neon color splashes on them.


She loves them so much, she asked for a second pair, exactly the same, for gym.

And went to school today, wearing them with her new, lacy school dress, which is bright purple.

Clutching her pink, hedgehog-shaped pencil sharpener.  Named Fluffy.

Guess where we had breakfast?

Guess where we had breakfast?

Why not?


Taxi of Shame

Chicago was a seven taxi trip for me—five of them on Tuesday—and totally worth the cost.

I like taxis, especially when I’m alone in a city I don’t know well and won’t be staying in long enough to learn bus routes.

You get in, given them an address, and they take you there. No transfers, no missed stops, no walking.

My only problem with this method of transportation, aside from the environmental impact, is that I’m total crap at flagging them down, and I’ve learned—thank you, Manhattan—that throwing myself on the mercy of the nearest hotel doorman or even random strangers works a lot better than throwing myself in the middle of the street.

I’m not easy to miss, so I assume my body language isn’t confident enough . . . or I have a random secret invisibility superpower that only works on cabbies.

I’m fully aware that this may be two ways of saying the same thing, but having a superpower is way cooler, so we’ll use that one.


In the Pink, Redux

Jane wore some pink today to school, too.


Unlike her sister’s shoes, this image has the intensity juuuuust right.

Not that she didn’t opt for awesomeshoes of her own this year:


That’s my girl.


Psst, Lyra

These are what I think of, when I think gooseberries, which grew wild in our yard when I was a kid:


What we had Tuesday evening** were apparently cultivated Cape gooseberries.

Cape gooseberreis

What else would you serve with memoir bandal cheese and purple heirloom tomatoes?

(The pita chips from the hummus, right)


Battle Sheep!

I can’t take a trip without getting something for the kids, mostly because I love them and also because dear god the puppy dog eyes.

To amplify the incentive, they were supposed to come with me but we couldn’t make it work.

Guilt is a great motivator.

So is shopping at cool toy stores. Like Marbles: The Brain Store.***

A somewhat bewildered ‘first mausi found a Gummi Candy kit that’s perfect for Sunny, my budding Mad Scientist and gummyworm addict.

And for Jane?

Battle Sheep

It’s like Risk.  With SHEEP.



Tuck This in Your Garter . . .

Flask Building

‘firstmausi and I saw this building after the rain chased us below deck, so I have no idea what the docent said about it, if anything, and I haven’t had the chance to track it down, yet.

Until someone can tell me what it’s called or what it’s for, I’m dubbing it “The Flask Building’, because that’s what we thought it looked like from our angle and I persist in the delusion that I’m funny.

So if one of the characters in my wereduck story has his office in the Flask Building—and he will, ’cause I wrote it up on the train—this is why:

Flask Building 2




*I might complain about the photos she took of me—I really should know better than to bother picking up my hairbrush in Chicago—but I’ll wait until I see what she does with them.  If it’s blackmail,  I might have to travel to Germany to retrieve the negatives—darn!

** I was able to meet Lyra for a wondrous hour or so at One North Kitchen, which has good food and fantastic staff. Our  waiter—who made the mistake of joking about writing his memoirs in front of two writers who were more than willing to run with it until he fled—sold us on a plate of bandal cheese with (purple) heirloom tomatoes, crostini, and gooseberries.  She and I had also ordered two other appetizers—herbal flatbread and hummus, YUM—and were holding seven different conversations at once, so by the time we noticed the gooseberries, we’d forgotten what they were.  I figured they were a kind of baby tomatillo, which sounded plausible to Lyra and the passing bartender we asked.  He went to check and it turned out we were both wrong.  And now I’m trying to figure out where I can get gooseberries up here . . .

***Can I just say here how much fun I had trying to explain to two German women the ode to commercialized history and disposable income that is the American Girl Doll Store?  I finally gave up and agreed with ‘firstmausi and her daughter:  “Only in America.”  Such a proud moment.

Post Called on Account of Chi-Town

I’m leaving work early this afternoon and heading for the Amtrak station to catch a train to Chicago, where I will be spending not nearly enough time with friends before heading back way too early Wednesday morning.*

In the morning, I’ll be taking a boat tour with a friend from Germany, whom I met online when she commented on one of my online stories and I commented back—we’ve been e-mailing each other for almost five years and though she’s visited the States before, she’s touching down for a day close enough for us to meet. I can’t wait!

I’ll be meeting Lyra (You all know Lyra, right? Why not?) in the early evening—if she can swing it—for an hour or so somewhere between her office and the last train out to her neighborhood, if she can swing it.  I hope she can—we’ve been talking almost as long and it’s ridiculous that we live this close and haven’t met.

In between?  I’m thinking pizza and shopping but I’m willing to be persuaded into visiting a museum and shopping, or maybe catching a show and shopping.  Or just shopping.

Regardless, the trip should be a lot of fun and absolutely nothing like this:

At all.


*I thought about taking a later train, but there’s a Schlep Your Stuff Back to School Luau that evening that I really shouldn’t miss, because making my kids haul all their school supplies in by themselves on the first morning of school would be as cruel as flipping baby box turtles. If funnier.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Turner)

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When last we left them, our P.I. hero was pinning a homicidal werewolf to the floor of his office with a knee and a forty-five.  He’s just asked the wolf who sent him.

Did I mention that Tom has a partner?  He does.



“Your brother’s keeper.”

“Not possible.” Bryan had a hard-wired problem with authority and a deep-rooted aversion to pack politics; his job involved a lot of travel and he never settled down anywhere long enough to need more than temporary permission from the locals.

A whistle sounded through the door before it opened, so I stayed where I was. “Now, there’s something you don’t see every day,” Turner said, shutting the door behind him. He paused. “Oh, wait.”

Turner was often fatal, but no one would call him femme and lipstick wasn’t his style; under the circumstances, I didn’t mind.


I added a couple of semicolons to I could get in the last lines(s).  Which sound a bit random unless you’ve read the first paragraph of the chapter—Tom apparently likes to riff off past dialogue, which works a lot better if it’s read all at once.