Monday, December 17, 2012

C is for Santa smoking

While I admit I was off to nursery school the fall that Sesame Street hit the airwaves, I did in fact see some of it and my favourite character was not the bird, the green guy in the can, or the mysterious, long unseen, snuffy.  I was a Cookie Monster fan.  I grew up,  you can do the math from the launch of the show, in an era when kids were sent out to play and told to come home when the street lights came on. So you can imagine I was less than pleased to learn a few years back that Cookie was no longer allowed to eat cookies because they weren't good for him.  Bah.  I could use stronger language, but I was well brought up.

Then this week I discover that a woman has hacked out a few lines of "'Twas the night before Christmas", declared Santa to be a non-smoker, Photoshopped out his pipe, and published.  Why? because Santa, who according to the poem is in fact an elf, might be influencing small minds to rush out and take up smoking. Reminds me of the people I once babysat for who gave up Santa because when you rearranged the letters it spelled Satan.

Let's let the old elf have his pipe.  And if your kid wants to take up smoking, I suggest you look to other much more insidious influences.

C is for cookie, and that's good enough for me.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Returning Books

Rhacophorus nigropalmatus.  
And the cool things you can learn doing it.  I am off on secondment to the Natural Sciences library for five months.  Today I signed back in a book called Evolution*, 2nd ed/ Douglas J. Futuyma.[NatSci QH 366.2.F86 2009]  The cover caught my attention:  Bat Frog!, sailing, clearly, must be, off a tall building, in a single leap.  I mix my super heroes, but I care not.  Checking the inside information (oh that the intertube could be so clear about where things come from) and I find Bat Frog is actually a Wallace Flying frog.

*you are not required, by the freedom of religion attitudes in Canada to read this book.  Or like it, or think about it.  But the frog is darn cute.

Friday, November 30, 2012

21st C mechanic

It is true.  I have been under the hood of my mac.  I am moving up the Adobe ladder from CS to CS6 this coming month.  Yes, yes, I can hear you all screaming in horror, but really I had to wait until it was worth the change.  And now that I have unscrewed screws and pulled things out and put other things in, can I still call myself a Luddite?  Certainly.  I have changed the RAM.  Thanks to the guys on You Tube who made it look as easy as it is.  Now I just wait for the computer to actually prove it made a difference.  And wait.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

One ping only

In the summer our library changed from Meebo (which had been successful and therefore sold and put to death) to LibraryH3lp for use as our online reference interface.  I miss Meebo's calming blue colours, LibraryH3lp is elblanco boring.  I miss the squishablity of the conversation windows that allowed me to put my conversations 'down' out of sight if the conversation has paused or stopped.  But what I missed most about Meebo was the comforting little 'pong' it made when letting me know someone was calling.  LibraryH3lp screeched.  It was painful.  It was frightening.  I had to turn my speaker way down.

Then one coffee break not too long ago I popped over to another branch and was talking to a co-worker who was doing online reference.  Screeeeech.  "Oh," she said, "my submarine is calling.  And there I was, suddenly on the bridge of the Red October, with Sean Connery asking me for 'One ping, one ping only.'  I have turned my speaker back up a bit.  And I am happy.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

today's count

Geese gone grey in a misted sky, a magpie heard but not seen above me, the heavy comforting silence of student empty paths, the distant call of construction trucks, water bomb droplets from passing elms, a chubby pocked snowman in the bowl, and the silent giants of memorial contemplation planted in 1967.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I'm saved!

Hello,  I am, I confess it, it does denote above average intelligence after all, dyslexic.  And now a bright cookie called Abelardo Gonzalez has invented a font to help the wild and creative dyslexic brain remain on the line, and let the words appear in the right order, or at least the order the author thought was right.

and it looks really cool too.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


According to the powers that be we officially entered my favouite season on September 22nd at 14:49 of someone's time zone.  But I beg to differ with them.  Today I checked the weather report of this stunningly beautiful fall day, blue, warm, not hot, glorious in gold, and dry (oh sweet mysteries of pre climate change I miss you), and there beside the humidity report is the sunrise and sunset.  And I declare today to be the equinox, equal day and night.  Sunrise:  6.58am.  Sunset 6.58pm.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Today and yesterday's count

Yesterday in the afternoon sunshine seven brightly coloured children, pink and green and turquoise, bravely in the sun in their hats, did what children have always done if allowed, invented a game using what comes available.  These seven had found a large-ish branch off a poplar tree and used it as a pony on which most could ride, to charge up the slope, then it changed into a toboggan and they slide down again.  The sky was blue, the day was warmly hot, and I was able to pick crabapples from my favourite  tree after all.  A pie is in the offing.  Today I went to the far side of the crabapple grove and entered the path to the Education prairie garden.  There a large brown and green dragonfly landed on my leg.  But it tickled and I started, and he flew away.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Today's count

A perfect pre-fall day.  Pre-fall I say because fall is my favourite season, unless it is spring, and visa versa, and a sign that the heat and stickiness of this summer may finally be over is a blessing and a bliss to me.  I wore jeans the other day.  Sigh.  Today though it is blue with wispy clouds which send forward messages of distant rain, and a breeze which made a light sweater over my sleeveless shirt quite comfortable.  I walked not to the crabapple grove but down between the buildings in the tree lined avenue to watch the geologist setting up spikes in the bowl where they are doing a sub something on the ground there.  I think she meant under the grass.  There being much under the grass: gophers, plumbing, electrical tunnels, soil, dirt (which I am told are most certainly NOT the same thing), tree roots, and a monstrous, and as far as my brain storage information goes, number of unknown and uncatalogued weeny beasts of all kinds.  (Wow, that was almost a proto Dickensian sentence.*)

*In one of my copies of one of what-his-name's books I found the entire first page was a sentence.  Dicken's blog says he once counted one that was 21 lines long.

Monday, August 13, 2012

quick cataloguing tip

Or is that trick?  It's great anyway because it saves you writing a note to the overworked people in cataloguing, attaching it to the book, letting someone haul the book over to the catalogue department, having them print a new tag, affix it to the book and reverse the process to you.  Go to the catalogue (online in these fasinating modern times). Check for the correct number.  Discover it is only the difference of a 0 that should be a 9.  Pull out your trusty dryline whiteout, and whiteout the 0.  Pick up your trusty black pen and write in, carefully now, practice a few times first if you feel you need to, a 9. Situation saved. Shelve the book.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

me vs the ipad: round eight

Henry and I went to class yesterday.  Him to enjoy a direct link to an electrical outlet and me to learn tricks and tips (which are more than just angry birds...which I admit to actually having heard of!).  I now know that if I hit Henry up along the top of his noggin where he alerts me to the time, he will shoot up from the bottom of a long web page to the very top.  My poor flicking fingers thank you, which ever clever geek thought that up.  I also discovered that I have been a bad mother, if I am such, to Henry.  He is languishing behind all his ipad friends at a mere 4.3.something aruther, while they are all zipping along at 5.1.1 and gaining rapidly on 6.  I feel adventures in updating coming my way...

...but after my vacation.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Today's count

photo by Ron Oriti 2007
Hot, but not too hot.  Blue, with clouds accenting the sky.  A cool wind which is most pleasing.  And I walked among the blue and orange dragonflies in the crabapple grove.  The blue dragons have a wing span of about five inches and are a joy to watch hovering and turning, and once flipping over backwards as they eat the dreaded mosquito.  The orange dragons are smaller and spend more time close to the grass.  The apples on the trees are just starting to turn.  But sadly the ones on the yummy tree have some kind of blight, so there will be no crabapple pie again this year. Sigh.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Here be the dragon

I promised to show you where the den of the dwarf dragon is.  And what it is. It is the dumb waiter in the law library, by which we transport trucks of books, and once, according legend, a person, from floor to floor.  We have five levels at the law library which house books.  Three exits to the dumb waiter face north, and two south (give or take a fee degrees due to the winding nature of the river and its effect on the placement of buildings).

The buttons give up, from top to bottom, come (the all purpose button), 1st floor, upper ground, ground, lower ground, basement (which is not shown on this set) and up and down.  These last two are necessary when the carriage stops too far up or down making disembarking the truck difficult or even impossible.  The legendary human occupant had to trust absolutely a compatriot because once inside, there is no getting out without help from the outside.

I was told about dumb waiters from an early age.  My mother, raised by her grandmother, played in one as a child in the house of one of her grandmother's bridge partners.  So I knew that the dumb of the waiter meant mute, not stupid.  I have found most people don't know that any more.  The waiter who serves, but is silent.  Now apparently they are called micro elevators.  I find modern language so sterile.  I prefer the image of a silent waiter in tails, standing ready to serve, like one of the footman at Downton Abbey

Friday, June 29, 2012

a story

The old man is running. The grass is whipping at his legs; the ground so flat feels uneven.  Like his breathing.  It is harder and harder to breathe.  But he is listening, his ears all out ahead of him.  He is close, surely they will be there.  It is a hot day, he told them to stay away from cars.  They would not have gone to a car.  The older ones knew why.  It was just hot.  They had left the yard to go to the slough to swim.  But he couldn't hear them.

The old man has to stop.  He can't breathe.  Sweat is running down his face. His worn hands on his knees, his gasping loud in the summer air.  But otherwise, silence.  Are they hiding on him, playing a game?  He pulls in deep breaths.  He calls their names.  His seven beautiful grandchildren.  All their names carry away on the wind.  They would not have gone to a car.  The older ones knew why.

The slough is calm, empty, the ground around it untrammelled by bare feet.  A robin looks at him.  He heads toward the coulee.  Perhaps they are playing hide and seek in the cool of the ravine.  It is farther away.  Farther than they would have gone without telling him.  The old man tries to keep running, but his breath will not let him.  He sets a steady pace and goes to the coulee.  They are not there.

The silence of the afternoon hurts his ears after the sounds of their laughter in his yard.  His children trusted him with their children.  

The old man looks at the sun, then at the horizon.  He must go for help.  The RCMP detachment is nine miles away.  The old man starts to walk.  He is hungry, the wind dries the sweat of his running onto his body.  He walks.  He reaches the highway and hopes a passing car will give him a lift.  He sees no one.  He walks.  Finally he reaches the detachment.

The tall blond RCMP officer has kind blue eyes.  He is concerned about the children.  Could they be playing a trick?  Perhaps they had gone to a neighbour's farm.  He helps the old man into his van and they drive to the nearby farms.  No one has seen the children.  They go back to the slough, the coulee.  It is dark now.  They call in the darkness.  They do not find the children.

Much later, when some of the children come home, the grandfather is told what happened.  It wasn't a car.  It was a van.  They had never seen one like that.  The tall blue eyed RCMP officer let them get inside.  It was only when he shut the doors that they realized.  It was only when the doors of the residential school closed on them that they knew.

A the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Saskatchewan some of the stories that are told are to be repeated.  I have repeated one here.  It was told to the Commission by an old man who was the youngest child taken that day in the Qu'Appelle area.  He was five years old at the time.  He did not go home again for two years.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Yesterday's Count

Blue, blue, blue.  The roses, pink and bumblebee, fill the air with sweet.  Brightly coloured children scream and laugh through the sprinklers.  I jump through to wet my bare legs and remember.  A little breeze ruffles things, like single blades of grass, and carries the scent of the roses.  My favourite crabapple three is thick with bulbous young apples.  Horse feather clouds paint one piece of blue, wispy tendrils curled.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Where is the den of the Dwarf Dragon

This week we are learning about other branches in our library system, so there is a scavenger hunt going on.  Each branch has four questions to pick from, reach into the bowl and take your chances.  This afternoon I have been enjoying sending my co-workers into the deepest basement after Jack the Ripper books and having them try to figure out where the den of the Dwarf Dragon is*.  I went to my first 'other' branch this morning and found a textbook from my childhood.  Mr. Mugs.  He was quite a pleasant shock after: see Spot run.  Yes, I was one of the last grades of children to learn from Dick and Jane.  Though now they are hanging out with vampires, as many children are these days.

*It shall be revealed next weeeeekk, after the hunt is over.

Friday, June 15, 2012

pride and shame: the dictatorship of Canada

Over the last couple of days the Opposition in the House of Commons has demonstrated clearly that not all Canadians are support the actions of the current government.  I salute them with pride and thanks.

Last night, and no surprise, the aptly named Harper Government, because Canada as a whole is certainly not well represented there, voted down the amendments put forward as a protest to the omnibus budget bill by the opposition parties.

At the end of the marathon vote, 22 hours non stop (I actually watched some of it. Up and down and up and down, as over and over to each name read and repeated, stand and acknowledge the Speaker as you vote.) After it was over a tired Minister Flaherty gave the same tired statement to the press that Canadians wanted jobs and prosperity, that they had mandated the government last year to get that for them.  Well yes.  Who doesn't want to be employed and well off.  But this tired repetition is entirely forgetful that the Canadian people want other things as well and considers them worth the price, like a healthy environment to pass on to their children, like fair wages and labour practices, like democracy.

Yes, Harper currently leads the majority in the house, yes he and his party can now,  in dictatory style push through anything they want.  And I can't fault the 'get the thing done and let them howl' logic.  But a howl can rise to a level that will deafen, and when democratic rules are used to dictatorial ends, that howl can rise to to a hurricane pitch and sweep away that which offends it.  Mr. Harper, you offend.  You have the rules on your side, but you do not have Canada.

Canadian rules come out of British and French traditions where when the head of government oversteps the bounds of right, that head is removed.  The Official Oppositional call loudly for 2015, but I think MP May has the right of it.  Remove Harper now.  This is not America. He can be taken out as team captain and the team continue to play.  After all, even Conservatives have good ideas now and then.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Today's count

Two babies. Goober.  Ten week old rescue puppy.  I was walking back in the grey cool breezy afternoon from a work event and afar I saw a puppy.  Puppies are me magnets. I flagged down its human and she kindly brought him along side.  Happy days, I have cuddled, petted and been chewed on. Samuel.  Six month old human baby.  Asleep.  So cute when they are asleep.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Darwin Award winning App

For the Darwin details.
And its Free!  Wow. For only nothing you can, on your android, iphone, and blackberry (get them while they last), an app to put you in the running for the Darwin Awards: or how to die in the stupidest manner possible.  Especially, apparently for lawyers (I was giving the Lawyers Weekly the once over when I found this):  Text'n Drive. Yup.  Once more for those who really want to apply now: Text'n Drive.

Friday, May 25, 2012


 In the late winter, hummm, about February, there was a CBC interview on Q with P.D. James.  Delightful.  I love Unsuitable Job for a Woman.  I also love Pride and Prejudice.  And oh, amazing, P.D. James had written Death Comes to Pemberly. Oh, goodie.  Finally a sequel worthy of Jane.  I had great imaginings.  I order the book from the library and settled back to enjoy the anticipation of the coming read.  I got to enjoy it for months.  Who would die?  What new characters would I meet.  Had Elizabeth brought Darcy to the point of being able to laugh at himself yet?  How would they solve the murder?  It was great.  I must have imagined the book a dozen times.  And then it came.

What a disaster.  Same characters.  Elizabeth had become uptight rather than Darcy more relaxed.  Much time was spent reminding me of what happened in P&P, as though I had never read it for myself, or watched endless tv productions.  You really must try the 1940 one with Greer GarsonDeath Comes to Pemberly is, in short, deadly dull.  I couldn't even finish it.

All that anticipation for not you are thinking?  Au contraire (that's French for 'on the contrary', if I may quote Jasper Friendly Bear).  The anticipation was delightful.  I enjoyed that book for months.  Instead of a quick partial read of a disappointing book, I got months of enjoyment.  Wait for it.

Friday, May 18, 2012

educating repair

Or, what I learned today while repairing a book.  And trust me it is a lot easier to repair a book than figure out why your CSS is not rending properly on the website you are designing for your mother. But I digress.  Today I am repairing torn pages on Remedies in International Human Rights Law.  The 2005 version.  I open to the torn spot, my flimoplast* to the ready and discover that should I loose my ability to 'flip the bird', I can claim over five thousand dollars.  Mind you, that finger your grade school teacher used to point at you, the one your mother told you never to use... that one will net you seven thousand on a trade in you would rather not make.

* ® P  (an extremely delicate translucent repair tape for tears.  It is used by those of us who have not mastered the art of gluing the edges of a tear together with just the right amount of the right kind of glue to make the tear disappear for ever.  Poof.)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Where the Wild Things Are

Some of them ain't here anymore.  Sigh.  I just got the news.  In that library there, yes, that one on the left there, I went as a small child and asked the librarian in that magical place in the basement for 'that book', the one about the monsters.  And she knew excactly what I was talking about.  And just last week I discovered the document archive site documentcloud.  Just cruising around in it I found a letterhead that Sendak made for the Cedar Rapids Public Library.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

today's count

A perfect Saskatchewan summer day.  Sunshine, warm, dry, windy.  Shorts, barefoot in the grass, straw hat.  Two gophers, one in a hole a few feet from where I sat who began to get used to the idea I was there.  A big orange bumblebee.  A dragonfly.  The daycare kids in bright colours like flowers.  Blades of grass showing lime green in the sunlight. The leaves budding out, turning the trees a hazy green. The smell of them, still sticky and sweet.

Monday, May 7, 2012

backup plan

I had intended to put the original spine back onto this book, but the leather's age and creak, even with a new backing, was not going to take that curve. Soooo, I scanned it, tried to get the colour to come right, but I apparently need practice with that, and created a new spine.  I glued it down onto a piece of spine cloth to strengthen it, folded over the ends and then proceeded to pry the already mended book covers away from the spine.  I spread glue in between the cover and the spine cloth previous attached for the mending of the spine and slid in the edge of the new spine.  Wrapping round, I did the same to the other side and voila, we have the new, if a bit green, spine.

For the sake of historical accuracy I am, of course, building a small pocket inside the back of the book for the original spine.

Friday, May 4, 2012

out of luck

For many years now the Universe has communicated with me via pennies. Yup, those small round coins, different from all our other coins, and apparently so expensive to make. Sigh.  Pennies have popularily been considered lucky, and in times of trouble in my life pennies have turned up in the oddest of places.  I'm not talking just the odd penny on the ground where you would expect them to be, but odd places.  Three sitting on the floor outside my room at college during a romantic break up. One in the mail slot during the same time.  One outside the place I now live each time I came to see it while deciding to live here.  I have a pile at home that is well past the twoonie point and each has had some meaning attached to its presence.  And today the last penny was stuck by the Mint.  Sigh.  What will the Universe do now?

Use nickles, like the rest of us.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

today's count

The first thing I noticed was that the leaves are budding out on the crabapple trees, right out around last year's fruit.  The second thing I noticed was evidence of dog walking without benefit of baggie.  But then I realized there was just too much around and that it was actually evidence that Templeton may live in hope of another egg. There was a plane, two dogs with two owners, a group of big rocks on one of  which I sat to eat my orange. I think they must be for some new installation in the statue garden.  Note to self, if taking up stone engraving make sure what you write is legible. On the way back: a big fat robin, a baby gopher, and a large family of Hutterites out for a picnic.  And still bits of blue sky left over from the glorious visit from the sun this morning.  

Monday, April 30, 2012

internet invents newspaper!

"Storify lets you curate social networks to build social stories, bringing together media scattered across the Web into a coherent narrative."  Yup, you can gather information and put it together into a readable format, into a 'coherent narrative'...which is short for story.  The common denominator, what will it think of next?  Fictional coherent narratives?  I do find it reassuring how common our denominator is.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

seeing is not believing

I have seen at the viewing.  I have seen at the cremation.  I have seen at the funeral.  I have seen their house without her.  And I still do not believe it.

Thank you to everyone for your kindness and comfort.

Friday, April 6, 2012

the robins remain

This morning at five a.m. my sister in law Barbara Rose died.  The sky is grey and I am raining.  The robins remain, taking baths in the puddle at the end of the drive.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What I learned today at the Law Library

From Wikipedia

I learned there is a country in the continent of Africa called Gabon.  Officially on record as the Gabonese Republic.  You all knew this, of course, but I must say, that despite knowing more about geography than my sister who confidently informed me while in grade six that 'yes if she coloured it purple it would be Portugal' (even if it was Spain or France), that my knowledge of the African continent is limited - to say, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa.  But today, I know where Gabon is.  And I know this because I was cruising through the Statues of Canada as I familiarized myself with Can LII, the free Canadian Law Database*.  And there, in the Statues was Canada–Gabon Tax Convention Act, 2004, SC** 2005.  You will be surprised how many countries Canada has Tax Convention Acts with.  It is almost as though we did business with them or something.

*Through our Lib Guide
**Statue of Canada (amazing, eh)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

today's count

Back to the crabapple grove.  It is snow free now and the robins are back.  I counted 12 in total.  Five were flying madly through the branches.  Three were squabbling over fallen crabapples, and the rest where spread about the grass with activities of their own.  Three crows, two lounging on the verge as though they owned it.  Who knows, perhaps they do.  A magpie.  A gum wrapper, and a construction peg.  The sky is grey, but at least nothing is falling out of it, knock on wood.  And I was walking around barefoot in my birkenstocks.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vote of confidence

I think I have spent too long with the common denominator to think this will work, but I am glad of the vote of confidence and will watch with interest.  The campus has gone the great step of having full stream recycling.  Which means they present us with blue boxes and we huck everything in but the wet garbage and the kitchen sink.  We adore it.  We bring our stuff from home and feel our virtue and our future generations pleasure at our actions. 

Today arrived word of a small addendum to this process.  Each staff member on campus will have their garbage cans taken away and a blue box given to them.  Each blue box will have within it a little black box (sounds ominous and appropriate) for the non recyclables (the garbage formerly known as garbage).  But will we, the common denominator, manage this simple task?  Will we be able to lift up the tiny lid of the little black receptacle and place the gucky stuff inside?  Or will we just chuck everything in the blue bin...which will then be covered in printed signs to remind us which part of the bin to use when.  Large "GARBAGE" signs will appear on the little black box, in red, with arrows.  Or will we demonstrate we are better than ourselves for whom the turning out of a light is an onerous task upon leaving a room, and actually hit the can. 

We aim to recycle. You aim too please.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Missing Latvia

The stats on this blog used to make me happy.  It tickled me pink to know that the odd person in Malaysia, or Latvia, Poland, Mexico, was stumbling across my little wanderings.  But now there is an error on my stats page.  No access.  I turn, to the friendly, don't be evil, company and find...that I am dealing with the Borg.  No access.  No entry.  No human anywhere.  Reminds me of the time it was -40 degrees and I wanted to talk to my bank.  All I wanted to know was were the calendars in.  But I was shunted to a call centre in Toronto.  How can I help you?  You can connect me with my bank.  But I can help you.  Yes, you can, you can connect me with my bank.  If you'll just give me your accounts... and on and on.  Finally I managed to make clear to her that she could not possibly tell me if the calendars were in and if I had to go out into the -40 degree weather to get the answer to that question I would also be closing all my accounts at the same time.  She connected me with my bank and the calendars were in.  So, I went to pick one up.  No sense going out in that weather without a good reason.

So now I can't hear from Latvia anymore.  And google will give me no entry to anyone who can help my find out why.  Latvia may still be out there...Helllooo Latvia.  (Been wanting to say that a long time.)  In the old, inefficient days, I could pick up a phone, dial a number, yup actually dial it, and get a live being on the other end who could sort me out in a matter of seconds.  Now, in this efficient computer, internet all hail and worship era, I am required to spend hours going through pages of possible answers to my question, none of which are the answer to my question. 

One day someone will figure out how really versatile and amazing the human brain is, and maybe, if the internet gives them the idea, they might decide to use it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

baseball hat season

Ah, you would never know we had a foot and a half of snow last week.  One of my readers in fact mentioned my lack of making note of it here.  It was indeed beautiful, mounds of snow like winters of old.  Like last year.  It took me a moment to realize why I hadn't noted the fact.  I was spending ever spare minute digging out the apartment block.  But since then the ground has come ever clearer to our view.  I planted tomato seedlings in my window.  I walked on Sunday afternoon in sandals, outside.  Today I wore my ballcap, my hat of spring and fall, to work.  It is the season.  And, in a warm corner of the Law College garden, pussy willows were budding out.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Visit from Italia

Photo by thrillwnc
 Well google translate was no help, but the Italian gentleman and I managed to work out between us what he wanted and how I could help him.  He now has a map of campus and is off to photograph all the library branches.  Somehow I don't think any of them will come off as beautifully as this picture from Italy.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

today's count

Sunshine.  Blue sky as far as the eye can see.  And warm enough for runners, with pink laces.  Birds calling their harsh small calls from out of sight.  The soft crunch of partially melted snow.  The quiet t-wack of runners against the asphalt where the snow has already melted.  A child speaking to 'Mommy' in the distance.  A single walker on the river path, wearing a purple coat.  The perfect image of the train bridge in the exposed river.  Ice flows.  And on the way back, nearly there, a helicopter trying to shatter the afternoon as it roars up and then back along the riverbank.  It is red and white, and only succeeds in a making a brief interruption.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mr. March gives me hope

This weekend I read The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott.  I read it while I sewed, and did dishes, the laundry and general house tidying.  The copy I borrowed from the library was audio.  And the reader was excellent.  The thing I loved best about the story, being a big fan of Jo since I first read Little Women, was that Louisa held on to herself.  She loved, but refused to give herself up just for love.  She was a writer and a determined writer.  She loves the young man in the story, Joseph - and it took me half way through to catch on to that, duh - but she will not give up her writing for him.  In that day marriage would have meant caring first for him and their family. 

Which brings me to the part of the novel which made my blood boil.  Not a fictional character, as Joseph was (though he may have some suspicion in fact), but a character who was a man, and the character was closely based on the man.  And I can only hope the real Bronson Alcott was more like Mr. March than he was presented in this book because I liked Mr. March, but Bronson Alcott needed a Gibbsion cuff up the back side of his head.  Louisa's father presented in this book, and in certain facts I have read, believed in not living off the work of others.  No eating cows, or honey, or milk, or eggs.  No working in commerce.  But he had no great trouble in accepting the money Ralph Waldo Emerson made from his work, or the money his daughters and his wife made from theirs.  Or the work his wife and daughters put in keeping the family together, fed, clothed and housed.  He even at one time, according to this novel, when his daughters were still young, decided free love was for him and called the family together to inform them he wanted to leave.  It is stated in the book that the Alcott women never recovered from this betrayal.  And yet they worship him.  What gives?  I'd have tossed him out on the street.  So, perhaps he was more like Mr. March than this story gives him credit for.  I hope so.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

me vs the ipad: round seven

I loose. You loose.  We loose.  This one is in no way Henry's fault.  He didn't make himself.  I have touched at different times on the reality of the toxic nature of our digital toys and their long term effects to our environmental health.  Today on CBC's Q I was reminded of what, really, I knew must also be so.  'Oh shiney', and 'look how fast it is', and 'I have the newest one' which, of course, makes me better than you.  I have a computer at home.  I have an ipod. I loved the ease with which I can take photos with Henry for this blog. I use a computer at work.  Some young woman or man in China, worked 10-16 mind numbing hours a day, six days a week in less than glorious conditions so that I might enjoy these toys.

When I first read The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula le Guin I was younger than I am now, by a good bit.  I couldn't understand why anyone would leave that poor child in the basement.  I was outraged.  Get the child out of there, feed it, it's crying.  How cruel.  I didn't get.  I have got it for sometime now.  I taken small walks. I know of the horrors of the children who harvest chocolate.  I buy fair trade organic chocolate about 90% of the time.  But, I have never actually left town.  I am not sure how.  I think I will continue my small walk of using my digital and electronic equipment into the ground.  And I think I will start sending emails to Apple, my general company of choice in the matter, and encourage them to be the leader they claim to be, in more ways than the current one.

Friday, February 10, 2012

February spring and winter

Five days ago, on Sunday afternoon, I stood in our parking lot with my cello ,waiting to be picked up for an afternoon concert.  For warmth against the winter cold I wore a sweater and a ball cap.  This morning I woke up into the increasing early morning twilight to find the just gibbous moon hanging above the trees in the last of the dark blue dawn.  I donned long johns, jeans, shirt, sweater, boots, jacket, scarf, overcoat and my favourite -30 degree weather hat.  I went out, walked to the river bank, sat on a bench , and saw the cold mist rising off the river making the Broadway bridge look like a romance painting. And watched the moon fade into the morning sky.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

inside books

It is amazing what people use as bookmarks.  I have been putting the cover back on Western Canada Law*, from 1921.  As I spread the pages out fell a postcard, an RSVP really, from 1921.  Yes, it has been inside that book all this time.  And I will put it back.  It was to be sent to P.E.C. Ecob, Secretary Graduates Association, Collegiate Institute, Saskatoon.  As the city was only incorporated thirteen years before the simplicity of address is understandable.  Mind you the nice white interlopers had been hanging around since 1883 on the general spot, and if my great granddad's buffalo hunting stories are anything to go by had been seen in the area a lot longer. But still, 1921, and no need for a house address, a street name, least of all, a postal code.  And next year I will have to use the provincial area code just to phone next door!  The really pleasing part was the back of the post card, the language of the response:  Dear Sir, In reply to your invitation to the University of Saskatchewan Graduates' Reunion on May 6th next, I beg to say that......, Yours faithfully, ....  What a delightful luxury of language. I think I'll go to the party.

*Full title just for fun: Western Canada law : a concise handbook of the laws of western Canada, as the same are applicable in the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, together with other information of value to business men, farmers, secretaries, justices, police magistrates, and all other persons interested in the laws of western Canada / by Arthur E. Popple

Friday, February 3, 2012

Book Launch

I've known this book since it was a little baby manuscript.  I have read it and commented on it, read the rewrites, and the title change!, and cheered when it was accepted by Kids Can (and they can you know, they'll surprise you, you think just 'cause they are teeny they can't do anything, hah!).

 It is a delightful story of Frazzle and his model 7, which he bighearts. Frazzle tells about his adventures in his Flyary. Trouble begins when the model 7 begins to make strange noises.  "Humm, piffle, humm tick tick". (I may not have that quote just right, but its been a while since I've had the manuscript in my hand.  I am looking forward to having the book in hand).

Rusty Macdonald Branch Library Auditorium, 225 Primrose Drive, Saskatoon.  Sunday March 4, 2pm

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Today's count

Two running shoes, one left, one right, on me, instead of boots.  Why wear boots when it is spring warm and the snow from the brief January cold snap is melting down and showing us the grass?  The moon, pale and luminous against an all blue sky, just past half on its way to full.  Two crows, black and sharp, flying one, then nothing, then the other, in the direction of the sun.  They are sun worshipers, crows.  I have seen them at the end of summer evenings, flying en mass to the top of the highest building in their territory to yell at the disappearing sun. When it is gone they croak away to their trees, beautiful black against the twilight sky, and roost.  Perhaps they are chasing the sun away.  I think they are wishing it well and a safe return.

It is returning well.  Even the unenlightened are noticing the days are longer.  It is Imbolc, a pagan festival falling between solstice and equinox.  It is St. Brigid's Day.  It is the 33 day of the year.  And here and there gophers are popping out to see if they can see their shadows.  As we haven't had winter much this year I wonder what they will have to say.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

me vs the ipad: round six

Okay, Henry could have won this one.  But he has a small disadvantage.  He's too big.  We have a basement in this library.  And I mean a basement, don't stop on the landing, go allllll the way down.  It is a maze.  Look for the wall of red books (American Supreme Court something-a-ruthers for those who are interested) and you will find the exit.  Otherwise it is a "bodies of students lost in this library will be retrieved Mondays and Thursdays only, no exceptions" kind of basement. (One poor young foreign student thought I was serious! eek).  I go down into the basement, in which I could find my way out blindfolded, one a week to seek out books which are labeled "missing".  Ie, we have no idea where they have ended up.  It is true, humans work here, no digital breakdown required, we don't have to be rebooted, we do this naturally: we make mistakes. 

So, there I am, in the basement, and low a student appears.  "Can I help you?"  Yup.  So I charge about the back roads of the basement and pull out the books he needs.  But there is a problem, he's new in life and missed that part of education which demanded handwriting was something you could actually read.  Especially if it was your own.  And here is where Henry would have had his moment.  I could have looked up the book and got the call number* by using Henry, who, bright little bug that he is, has access to the internet.  But I was searching for missing books and had that list in my hands, as I have to make a note of each time I look for them.  Carrying the list and Henry around with me was not a happening thing. So, I had to send the poor student all the way up the long staircase, step by step, on foot, to the main level where the computers are.  Sigh.

Now you will say I could use Henry to hold the book search list and mark off the dates on which I had checked for the books.  And I don't doubt you are right. But given that we are not allow aps due to the need for credit card back up and due to the fact that I have already stated the difficulties of Henry's note taking abilities....I will leave you with this little story.  Belonged to a group that send out a few hard copy newsletters to the luddites among us.  A friend in the group said she could print out the mailing list for me on stickies so I would not have to slave away by hand with the envelopes.  After four hours she had not sorted out how to get her computer, printer, and paper to work in concert.  I wrote the envelopes out by hand each month for five years, and still hadn't used up four hours of my time doing it.

*Yup its true, with hundred and eighty thousand, give or take, titles we do not sort them by colour but by library of congress call number.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Loving the book

A friend of mine came over for tea yesterday.  She has an e-reader.  She was unable to get it to let her read.  Asking her beloved, men always know these things, right?, and he gave advice. She followed his advice.  Twice, to be sure.  Nada.  Nothing.  No action.  Without giving in to the madness of doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different response, she called tech support.*  She was helped.  And I thought (after 'I love tech people like that'): Tech support.  Give me a book.

*The lovely (a comment on personality and duty qualifications) woman at tech support said,
"See x icon on the left?' 
"Click that."  Pause.
"See y icon?"
"Click that." Pause.
"See z icon on the left?"
"Click that."
Voila, she can read again.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

January remembers herself

Last week we were still living in a surreal extended version of October.  This week January has remembered herself. The snow came, a good half foot, quite respectable, on Saturday night.  Sunday morning my work out was shifting it off the sidewalks around the place.  Monday was cold, -25 C cold.  And today it is January:  -37 C.  Long johns, jeans, ski pants, winter boots (not the late fall early winter boots that look like glorified hikers, but BOOTS), shirt, jacket, sweater, overcoat, two shawl sized scarves, two fleece neckers (one too many as it turned out, but I am out of practice), hat with the ear flaps, gloves inside the fleece lined leather mitts.  Winter.  Fresh, bright, beautiful.

The 'green' roof of the Law College

Law KF 706 .W37 1899 gets a spine

Second spine in 112 years.  Last time the cardboard replacement method was used.  This time I decided it deserved a spine that would arch beautifully over its beautifully arched spine.  After the new mull was thoroughly dried, I measured, with a string and then the string on a ruler, the distance of the arch.  I decided which colour of book tape I would use (green won out, it looked best and was widest). 

I cut the tape the needed length and then cut a piece of binder tape.  It is gummed cloth.  You need not use it.  At home I would use a sturdy piece of regular cloth.  A cotton probably, some unsuspecting male's old cotton trousers, or, as I have used before, ancient and venerable linen towels.  Cut the cloth to cover the length of the book's covers and width of the spine arch.  Then place it centred on the sticky side of the book tape (that's important - sticking it to the non sticky side of the book tape requires glue and leaves your cloth strangely exposed on the outside of the spine.  An artistic statement perhaps, but not the one I am after.).  Then! to make the ends of the curve of the spine match the thickness of the book covers place the always useful pieces of string the width of the spine.  This time I cut straight up from the string ends and only formed the wedge shapes afterwards using an knife, but you can simply cut out the wedges with scissors. 

With the book resting on the cloth of the new spine, press the tape onto the book cover.  Draw up the centre first and work out to the edges. The tapered ends are then wrapped around to the inside of the cover.

Next time a quick look at the finishing off bits.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

salt mines

Okay, this is too cool.  As we go digital there are those with the brains to preserve paper copies of stuff. Cause, guess what, the digital stuff, as I have probably noted before, have to keep changing their format (good thing we have those lucky people in India and China who risk their lives and their health to break up our junk and pull out the useful bits).  So in the legal world there is LLMC.  And yes, I will give that to you in English.  Law Library Microform Consortium.  It is saving legal information, statues and the like, in microfilm form - high quality Silver-Halide, thank you -, in digital form, and, here comes the cool part, in original paper form in salt mines in Kansas! (Cause its archivally dark down there.)  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

today's count

And perhaps some of yesterday's, for yesterday I sat out on the grass by the museum.  If I had not been in recovery from a cold, I would have taken off my boots and socks and walked on the grass just to say I had.  Today the air it turning and there is snow in the forecast, though I do not yet smell it in the air.  What I did smell was a small piece of crushed sage between my finger tips.  I saw the little people out with their keepers.  The keepers were in black and stood back observing.  The little people were in pink and plaid and blue and when one toppled the short distance to the grass the next would oblige by following suit.  Pig pile.  A lone jogger meandered along the river trail.  And two magpies dared the roadway to do their natural cleanup duties.  And upon my return to artificial light, I was delighted by the delivery of that which constitutes my cleanup duties.  To each their own.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Law KF 706 .W37 1899

It is not surprising that at 112 years old this book was not is as fine a shape as it was when it was born.  It had been re-spined once in the time honoured method of cardstock, string, and tape - which I am sure I have already shown you somewhere.  But this new year repair required a bit more effort.  It was, as you can see, hanging on by two original cloth tapes sewn to the spine.  I did not want to cut those tapes, but I did want to give the spine a completely new mull for support.  With the covers separated as they were it came to me in a bright moment to thread the mull between the tapes.  This was done yesterday.  Today I have glued the ends to the inside of the cover.  I will show you more as the repair progresses.

New Year's count

This year began with book repair.  And chocolate biscuits. I spent New Year's Day afternoon at a friend's house showing her, her daughter, and another friend some of the more basic book repairs: putting a cover back on a paperback, tipping in a single page.  That sort of thing.  It was a delightful opening to 2012.

New Years Day evening involved sewers and rubber boots.  But I choose to laugh at such adventures, it makes for a brighter life.  And I did get to see down the camera scope, which was very cool.

Happy New Year.