Random Thursday: Library Light(e)ning and a Didgeri-Duet

This Random Thursday was pre-recorded before a live audience of one disinterested cat, as I will be/am/was attending an all-day library conference, which will mean/means/meant driving across three towns and a river to the affiliated library branch farthest from my house so we can all leave from there at 6:45 am.

I was also suckered into driving the library van—which is what I get for following the rules about checking e-mail while working the public desk*—so I should have a hilarious-in-retrospect recap for y’all soon.

Meanwhile, have some vaguely-themed random:




For Shame

You know that Librarian Shaming photo series that’s going around?

The one that several of you sent me via Facebook and e-mail?  Because you thought it was funny?

I have one thing to say, after which we shall not speak of it again:

You have no proof that this is me.


(because it was chili. . . )


Umm . . .

I think I know where they were going with this . . .

National Reading Association

But  don’t we have enough trouble getting people to return books on time
without handing them a bumper sticker and a rallying cry?


Winner of Most Obnoxiously Stereotyped Librarian-Themed Time Suck EVER**

Lightning Librarian looks like a deceptively simple game.

Kids come to the library desk and request a book
and the Old Lady Librarian™ (complete with Hair Bun® and Wire Rims®) finds it for them before they storm off.


Except, when you hit play . . .


All the %#@&ing symbols disappear.

And the kids start lining up.  And getting cranky

Because it’s a memory game. 

And way the heck too close to how I spend my working hours.

Which didn’t stop me from playing it obsessively over my lunch break trying to improve my score out of woefully misplaced professional pride.


Hint, hint

Grunge Librarian Zazzle

Comes in Stone Green, too.

In my size.

Ain’t that something?


Are Too

Someone recently told me that didgeridoos weren’t the Funnest Musical Instrument Ever because they don’t play melodies.

Au contraire, mon frère:


*When I returned to my own workstation, I discovered a string of e-mails from the people who had also signed up for the conference.  Five of these were variations on “I don’t want to drive the van.”  The last one was from our Administrative Assistant:  “Okay, Sarah is driving, so she’ll coordinate.”  Oh.  Okay.

**Not that there’s a lot of competition.


A brief, grounded post

paper nest

Sorry for the short post, but I’m a bit overwhelmed at the moment: one Labor Day off from the library apparently equals three days of accumulated work—ironic, don’t you think?—and on the homefront, we’re all still recovering from Jane’s first grounding, which turned out to be more of a group event that we had originally anticipated.

Amateurs, right?

Punishment, as we reminded her several times during her Long Housebound Weekend of No Electronics And We Mean It, isn’t supposed to be fun and it wasn’t supposed to be ours,

Except at times, it sort of was, because a bored ten-year old is . . . a bored ten-year old.

And if, exasperated from being constantly interrupted in your attempts to get the &#!%ing scene in your mind down on paper so it makes sense to you, never mind an actual reader, you tell a bored ten-year old who is vacillating between remorse and defiance to find something to do that isn’t complaining that she has nothing to do . . . you had better be willing to accept the consequences and the guilt of realizing how much you depend on electronic babysitters.

So, there were a few problems, a few outbursts, a few tears, and a couple of Learning Experiences™—not all on her side.

But the playroom—her future bedroom—has been halfway prepped for repainting and repurposing.

She learned to make macaroni & cheese from scratch (thank you, Watson)

She spent several hours practicing knitting, even though it was audibly frustrating to her.*

She learned that she can take or leave television, but she really missed riding her bike and going online.**

And we all hope she learned that committing the crime isn’t worth doing the time.

Any advice for the disciplinary challenged?***


*If space aliens ever try to invade, our first line of defense should be a projected looped recording of the noise Janie makes when the world does not bend to her will, alternated with Sunny complaining that Jane always gets to do whatever she wants to and it’s not fair.  We will not need a second line of defense—though six billion earplugs might be necessary, lest friendly fire decimate our numbers.

**So noted.

***Kevin, if I get a BSDM catalog in my in-box, I’m forwarding it to your mother.

Isn’t that what blogging is for?

My family gave me two—two—only slightly uninterrupted hours to work on my new WIP last night.

In that time, I managed to screw up my entire first chapter, make my MC look like a real headcase—she is, but it’s too soon—and think up one sentence that maybe doesn’t suck, but doesn’t belong where I put it.

I isolated the sentence in its own document so it wouldn’t be contaminated by my incompetence, jettisoned everything else I’d written during those two precious hours and called it a night.

This morning, I figured out a new approach and spent the time I usually use for blogstuff to write myself a plan.

So I’m feeling guilty right now—not because I don’t have a scintillating post today, because heaven knows y’all are used to that, but because I’m secretly hoping that Jane’s team will lose her first softball game in this afternoon’s tournament so I can spend the evening fixing my chapter in blessed air conditioning, instead of sitting on a hot metal bleacher in my work clothes, the warm, moist, mosquito-studded air swirling around me as I squint into the setting sun and try to muster the energy to cheer my beloved daughter for doodling stick figures in the dirt with her foot* as the game progresses oh-so-slowly around her.

Don’t get me wrong**—I strongly believe that team dynamics and athletics and sunshine are wonderful things, for other people, and I’m all for good sportsmanship.  But when push comes to shove—or not, because I guess that’s sort of the point–I honestly don’t see why we all can’t skip to the chase and learn good sportsmanship waiting in line at Dairy Queen at a reasonable hour, especially on days when Mother Nature is having a hot flash.

I’d wish for rain, which has worked pretty well this season, but rain means rescheduling. Again. And this season has already been a parental relay-race with a Janie-shaped baton and a sidelined Sunny.

Of course, if her team wins, I’ll go to the second game, because I love that kid more than air conditioning and also because she needs a ride home.

And I’ll pay attention while I’m there and applaud and shout encouragements because of the Bad Mommy Guilts, and I’ll grit my teeth and keep one eye the clock because of Obsessed Writer Frustrations, which will bring on more guilt which I’ll soothe by accompanying the team to Dairy Queen, which will bring on more frustration about lost writing time . . .

But at least I’ve managed to distill all this into a semi-coherent post.  That’s something.  Right?

Which Vicious Cycle are you riding today?


*My maternal pride insists on adding that she only does this when she’s in the  outfield—when they assign her a base, she’s Janie-on-top-of-it with good instincts and a decent arm.

**Or please do, because I’m coming off as a real First World Whiner, here, and I’ll take all the benefit of the doubt I can get.


What’s the point?

I’m not a nice person when I’m writing.

Or really, when there’s this one scene I’ve re-written ten times because it’s from a man’s POV and worse than that, an almost fatally embarrassed man—and while embarrassment and I are very close friends, I’m a cis-gendered female and when filtered through my brain, this guy keeps oversharing.*

And I’d meant to go to bed an hour earlier Saturday to prepare for the time change—this was going to be the year!—but ended up chasing this thing around the mulberry bush until midnight before giving up and going to bed and waking up five hours later.

I hit the laptop to see if I could make that $#!% weasel pop before the family woke up.

But half an hour later, in bounced these two kids who would not leave me alone because they inexplicably wanted to spend time with me—and are also mentally and physically incapable of moving away from a lit television set and needed me to fetch and carry for them, because heaven forbid they miss three minutes of this particular My Little Pony episode that even I’ve seen more than twice.

At which point, I should have saved the scene, shut off the computer and the TV and made everyone have a nice breakfast together.

But I’m not a nice person when I write.  And I was going to get this thing nailed down and I was going to do it before noon, because that was when I had to leave for work.

So I tossed fruit at my children and shooed them away when they spoke to me—always, always when I’d just managed to get back in the flow.

At which point, I should have told myself to step back for a couple of hours and let the scene work itself out in my mind—to enjoy an afternoon of inner writing while I outwardly worked the reference desk on what would probably be a lazy afternoon at the library .  The scene wasn’t going anywhere, I wasn’t on a deadline, and both it and I would be better for the time.

But I’m not a nice person when I write.   So I carried on, writing, erasing, writing, cursing.

And then my husband came home from his class and started quizzing me about lunch and the TV went off and the kids redoubled their efforts to drive me insane by doing a conga line thing, with drum and recorder accompaniment, through the room and fighting loudly in their room over everything and coming in to tattle or scream.  Or both.

Honestly, where was their mother—oh.  Right.

At which point . . . yeah.

And I’m really not.

So my husband and kids had lunch in the kitchen, while I scarfed a quesadilla in front of the laptop and wrestled words to a standstill.

I did finish that $#!%  scene before I left for work.

But by the time I arrived—head aching, stomach upset, guilt-ridden, lonely—I couldn’t remember why it had been so important.

Broken Pencil


*Another, you should pardon the expression, bosom buddy.

Recipe: Potato Soup, Sanity Optional

Sometimes, the only thing that will do is a big ol’ bowlful of warm carbs and calories.  Potato soup is my favorite way to fill that bowl.

This recipe is pretty simple, though circumstances often add extra ingredients and steps that aren’t in the original.

Yesterday, in fact.

I’ve placed the original in bold—feel free to leave the rest out.

If you can.


—two long carrots or the equivalent in baby carrots
—two ribs of celery
—six medium all-purpose russet potatoes or the equivalent in whatever size tubers you have handy
—a couple cans or containers of chicken broth, or veggie broth if you prefer (either way, don’t bother with the good stuff)
—a cat with separation anxiety

—one or two onions
—two bored children

—6 Tablespoons butter/margarine
—6 Tablespoons flour, combined with:
—1 teaspoon salt
—½ teaspoon pepper
—garlic powder to taste

—1 ½ cups of milk (I use 1%, because that’s what we have)
—a cell phone, sans headset, with your parents on the line

—shredded cheese (optional)
—cooked, crumbled bacon (optional)

Chop the carrots up small, because they’re only a gesture to nutrition anyway, and toss ’em in the pot before marauding children can steal them all off the cutting board.   De-thread the celery—is there a real cooking term for that?—and do likewise, though there’s no rush because the kids hate celery.    Drown ’em with the chicken broth—the veggies, not the kids—because you have several potatoes to get through and you don’t want the first two to go purple on your cutting board while you deal with the rest.  One or two at a time, peel all the vitamins off the potatoes, chop them into bite-sized pieces, and add them to the swimming party.  If it looks crowded, add a little water to cover, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer.

Meanwhile, chop the onion into small pieces and call your parents because it’s been about two weeks since you’ve talked to Dad and you keep missing Mom.   Talk for a couple of minutes about hot dog calamari and why grandparents should really be the ones to introduce children to the real deal while parents record the event for engagement parties and blogs.  Step on the cat’s tail.

Check the veggies after ten minutes—the potatoes are done when they’re soft enough to squish between your fingers, if you were dumb enough to try that with a hot piece of potato, which you won’t be because I am a walking cautionary tale with two burnt fingers.   Agree to make Hot Dog calamari for the children because you feel guilty for saying that Bad Word that you aren’t sure if they heard.

Talk to Dad about why the scenes he likes in your WIP he’s reading were edited out in the new draft.  Tell your children to stop throwing the ball in the kitchen, please,  and if they want to help, they can stand over there and assemble their own dinner.  Smile as they evaporate and discuss your parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, which is coming up way too soon.

Put your colander over a saucepan, because you’ll need the cooking liquid later, and drain the veggies.   Put the empty pot back on the burner and toss in the butter or margarine  to melt it, which it will do quickly, so be ready with the onion, which you will saute until it goes translucent.  Alternate stirring with jamming spaghetti into pieces of hotdog, while telling your children again not to play catch in the kitchen and remind them in a tone you will later wish you hadn’t used in your parents hearing that you are on the phone. 

Apologize to your parents, pick up the bowl with the flour, salt, pepper, and garlic and step on the cat again.  Sweep the spilled flour mixture off the counter and dump it in the potStir until you’ve make an oniony roux and slowly add the milk , stirring constantly until it makes a lovely sauce.  End your phone call because you need both hands now.  Fold in the cooked veggies, but don’t worry about being careful, since the potatoes are supposed to disintegrate.  Much like your sanity.

Add a little of the reserved liquid to the pot to until the soup is the consistency you want and turn the heat as low as it goes.  Carry the half-full saucepan to the sink and trip over the cat, drenching yourself in warm chicken broth and  hollering at him to get the hell out from under your feet, as he leaps away and crashes into the cabinet.  Look up to see your younger child staring at you in disbelief and try to explain that you hadn’t kicked the kitty, honey, you just tripped.

Decide to leave out the bacon because in your current spiral, a house fire or third degree burns seem inevitable.  Fill a small bowl with shredded cheese and use a few shreds to bribe the cat into forgiving you before he does something unspeakable somewhere unthinkable.

Clean up the kitchen as the now subdued children set the table, more or less.

Serve the soup, and psuedocalamari, with potato rolls and fresh carrot sticks.

Enjoy a bowl of well-earned comfort food, knowing full well that if you hadn’t decided to make it, you wouldn’t need it so much.

But it’s still worth it.