The Rant of the Wild Librarian

I spent half the day thinking it was Monday—not just because of the long weekend,  but because the library was hopping.

Anyone who thinks that libraries are no longer relevant or necessary to the majority of the population should have tried to jump the line that formed at our doors an hour before we opened.

Between 9:30 and noon, my department, which was three staff down,  located and pulled city directories, mortality indexes, assorted Federal Census volumes, alumni directories, government documents, and a map showing our area’s railroad system in 1860; worked out a bus schedule involving three towns and two bus companies for a patron whose car broke down just in time for her first day of work tomorrow;  taught three people several times each how to load microfilm into the appropriate machines and make copies; and helped another patron update both his resume and his profile on match-dot-com, as man does not live by bread alone (R220.5203 Hol).

After lunch, we encountered the new contender for Special Patron of the Year,  who in our* considered opinion, doesn’t appear to know what a research paper is for,** and is laboring—or not—under the mistaken assumption that librarians are there to write them for students who don’t like to touch books.

For any of you who are planning on doing research any time soon in an academic or public library environment, please allow me to offer a few helpful insights:

Library staff have all done their homework.***

We will gladly, happily, and inventively show you how to do your homework, even if we are simultaneously helping several other people while answering our Pavlovian phone that is conditioned to ring whenever we move more than ten feet away from the public desk.

We will not do it for you while you read Cosmo^ and talk on your cell in a quiet area, telling your friends that you’re stuck in the library doing that boring assignment that’s due tomorrow, but you should be out of there as soon as the librarian hurries up, because you’ve been waiting fifteen minutes for information that is supposed to fill up ten double-spaced pages.

Instead, we will kill you with kindness bury you in books, files, indexes, bibliographies, and rolls of newspaper microfilm and wish you luck.

Fear not.  We won’t abandon you entirely: we’ll help you load the microfilm machines, use the photocopiers, loan you a pencil and scrap paper, and even direct you to the restroom.  We may even suggest that you go back to the university librarians who wouldn’t do your paper for you either, but who have the actual resources on your topic and will be open until midnight.

And we will enjoy it, because we’ve done our jobs to the letter and we (this one is the royal ‘we’) get a blog entry out of it.

Listen:  librarians will cross the metaphorical desert to locate data on the migratory patterns of wild camels if you think you need it.   All it takes to get us to ramp up from excellent service to superlative effort is three magic words.

No, not “I brought chocolate,” though that’s not a bad guess.

If you really don’t know, you might try asking a librarian.  Very nicely.


*Not the royal ‘our’—she blessed the first floor with her presence before she graced us.

**To learn how to personally find data in a multitude of legitimate resources, none of which yet includes Wikipedia or YouTube.

***With the possible exception of the pages, who are all holding down jobs.

^I’m exaggerating.  I don’t know the name of the magazine, but I’m assuming Khloe Kardashian’s possible pregnancy is not on the list of approved research topics.


Busy Day, Beautiful Art

We’ve had a busy Memorial Day. The kids went swimming with my husband and I cleaned Sunny’s room—her carpet is beige, in case I forget again— and had mango sorbet with my friend Grace, and when the kids came back and were bored, we did crafts together. 

We colored wooden beads with markers and I told a few stories about the people I especially remember on this day—though not only today:   their great-grandparents and great-uncles, and our cousins and the few (thank heavens) friends I’ve lost over the years, through age, accident, disease or war. 

We strung the the beads onto pipecleaners and made bracelets and anklets and collars for stuffed animals.

It was a good day.

This is the project the kids wanted to do, but though we do mantain a pretty awesome craft closet, we weren’t equipped for it and I am no carpenter:



Eighteen Years Ago Today . . .

Today is the eighteenth anniversary of the day I set my veil on fire.

Having agreed in front of all our family and friends that We Did at the beautiful Kumler Chapel on the Western Campus of Miami University, my blushing groom and I arrived at our reception at the  Hueston Woods State Park Lodge, where our guests and Irish-American-Calypso folk band* (with bagpipe) awaited.

The only problem with the reception was the photographer’s assistant, a former high school teacher of mine who was so determined to arrange perfect tableaux of the bride and groom having fun with various friends and relatives that she ignored the possibility that we might prefer to have some actual fun.  She also wouldn’t let me take off my veil, in case something “happened to it.”**

 Right before we cut the cake, I was talking to one of Mom’s dearest friends in front of the main table and a passerby kicked over one of the flower urns flanking the main table, sending a flood of greenish water toward my white satin dress, which had already survived an attack by two (out of four) makeup-wielding bridesmaids, a walk over a lawn with a leaking sprinkler system, a barrage of previously-thrown birdseed mixed with dirt from my youngest cousins, because that was the “funnest part,”*** and chicken a l’orange with all the fixin’s.

So I backed out of the way.  Into a lit candelabra.

Mom’s friend yanked off my veil and put out the flames before they reached my hair.^  My dress was untouched.

And when the photographer’s assistant insisted, despite my protests, that I put on my burnt veil for the cake cutting and she’d hide the damage somehow, my new husband glared at her and said, “She doesn’t have to if she doesn’t want to.” 

I love you, too, honey.  Very muchly.   

Not every man would take his wife to see The Bridesmaids for their anniversary, and not every wife should would have asked.

I’m so glad we found each other.


*Fannigan’s Isle:  Rick Fannin and Tom Scheidt.  They can play anything, and play it well.

**My foreshadowing practice is paying off, yes?

***If I’d been a four-year old kid who’d just been forced to sit through an Espiscopalian-Catholic joint ceremony, Mass included, I would have thrown dirt at the bride, too, until my mother caught on and skinned me alive.

^Thank you again, Mrs. Pedersen.  I always liked babysitting your kids best.

(photo courtesy of the granat project on Flickr)

The Illustrated Ant Analogy

Ant and his Droplet

There’s this ant, see?

And he’s pushing this water droplet all the way to the hill, where he hopes it will earn him an audience with the queen and maybe the opportunity to distribute the product of his toil to as many of his fellow ants as possible.

But it’s a very big droplet, the hill is a fair distance away, and water tension can be messed with only so much before the whole thing goes sploosh.

So he has to be very careful how he goes and which path he chooses.

And sometimes, even with a  deft touch and the best route possible, things still go sploosh—or evaporate.  Or the queen doesn’t care for the look of the thing—or none of the other ants are thirsty.

In fact, the odds are against his success.

But see the beautiful world reflected in that droplet?  You can tell how much he believes in it.  That’s one determined ant.

Bet he makes it.  Maybe he’ll get a three-droplet deal out of it.  It could happen.

It could happen.

I think I’ll just go finish up that next chapter, now.


Image courtesy of

Random Thursday: Dinosaur vs. Bridge Traffic

Remember my complaint about the bridge traffic Monday?  Here’s one of the photos Janie took while hanging out of the window.*  Please note the bridge in the left distance and the single, lonely car approaching from the other direction.

To add to the joy, here’s a word problem:

Sarah has to get her daughter Janie to school on time, and then drive to work.  She has allowed forty-five minutes for this which is approximately twenty minutes longer than is usually necessary.

The bridge is about 2  miles (3.218 km) past the merge arrows.  Janie’s school is about a quarter mile (402.3 m) from the other end of said bridge, which is a little more than half a mile (.8 km) long.    It will take twenty-five minutes (1500 min.) at the traffic’s current speed to reach the school.

How far will Sarah be able to drive from this point without giving her daughter an impromptu vocabulary lesson? 

In approximately one third of a mile (531 m), Janie will suddenly remember that she didn’t have breakfast.   How far will Sarah we able to drive without offering a detailed and highly graphic explanation of the DOT’s collective genealogies?

Please show your work.

Extra credit:  In what way would your calculations change if this is Sarah’s view for 2.25 miles (3.62 km)?


A skeleton walks into a bar.   “Bartender,” he says, “give me a beer.  And a mop.”


Small Victory:

Two of my, um, foundation undergarments, long past retirement age, recently self-detonated, leaving nothing but stray underwire and a pile of exhausted elastic.  The second one gave up the ghost last week—in the dryer, thank heavens, so there were no casualties—leaving me with an, ah, understaffed support system, and no time to get to the nearest Intimacy store,** which is more than three hours away.

So for the first time ever, I ordered replacements online, including a style I’d never tried in a size I was hoping would work because the color I wanted in my usual style wasn’t available.*** 

I sprang for three-day shipping—lest the stress on the few remaining survivors hasten their own tragic deaths—and received them yesterday.

They all fit.  I repeat:  They all fit.

I can’t manage that on my first trip to the dressing room of a physical store.

On second thought, this is more of a miracle than a small victory.

My question is this:  should I buy a lottery ticket now or assume I’ve used up all my good luck^ for a while?


Literary Death Match

It should be clear by now that I am a complete video thief and that SBSarah over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books   is one of my favorite sources. 

This is Bob Shea’s  contribution to the Literary Death Match at  last year’s Texas Book Festival.  His first reading selection was good, but his second is priceless:


Show of hands:  who is going to look for his books now — and who really wishes the second one was for sale?


And one last Douglas Adams quote:

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”


*She managed two before I realized the flash was coming from the outside of the car.  It’s a wonder sometimes that my heart still beats . . .

**Which I recommend to anyone, of any size, shape, placement, or problem.  Historically, I would rather wrap my torso in razor wire than go bra shopping (don’t ask me about swimsuits).  But Intimacy has fitters, who fit you and stick with you until you’re comfortable and everything’s exactly where you want it.  Pricey?  A bit, even if you don’t have to use a whole tank of gas to get there.  Worth it?  Absolutely.

***Note to my male readers, should you exist: if you don’t understand why this is a risky move, you’ve just defined male privilege—congratulations.

^Or, rather, the good luck MacDougal Street Baby so generously shared with me last Monday.