Monday, May 31, 2010

The Library Makes Me Cry

I LOVE the library. I have to hold back tears each time I walk through its doors. No really, I do. Usually, when I leave the library, (having bitten my tongue the whole time I'm in there), I just cry for joy, in the privacy of my own car. I'm never tempted to text message while I'm driving, but I would dearly love to prop a new book on the steering wheel and sneek a peek while I drive. Don't worry, just wishing.

When I was 10, I got a turquoise bike with chrome fenders for my birthday. Freedom. I used to get up early and go ride my bike around Greenlake. I never asked my parents permission and they never batted an eyelash when I came in past breakfast time and informed them I had been several miles away from home, cruising on my bike, but that's another story. On Greenlake Way was a branch of the Seattle Public Library. I loved that place but rarely went inside. My mom was frustrated with trying to keep track of books checked out by her brood and so, paid our fines and cancelled our library cards. On my morning bike rides, I used to stop and sit on the steps and wish I could go inside and get a big stack of books to read. The place wasn't even open at that hour, but I used to wish for library books.

I love the shelves and shelves of books and CDs and DVDs,the smell, the decorations, the stuffed animals, the comfy chairs, the little tables in the children's section, the smiling workers, the clean restroom, the drinking fountain... What other place can you go and walk in and gather up as much stuff as you want from the shelves and take it home with you? Yes, you have to check out your books, and you have to pay a fine if you don't bring them back on time, but this place is free. Anyone can go. And furthermore, I order books online and pick them up from my Black Diamond Library when they are available for me.

I raised my children on the library. When Danny was three we lived in Shelton. It was a HOT summer (check out the temperature records for August/September 1979, record breaking). We would walk to the library, crossing the street several times to stay in the shade as we walked. And then, the cool relief of the LIBRARY. Ahhhh, so nice to sit and read stories and gather up a few to take home. A blessed gift.

Years later, I used to take six small children to the library in Parkland (yes they were all mine). I allowed each child to check out one book per year of age. That was alot of books. I had to fill out a slip of paper for each book: title, author, publisher (why?), copy number etc. Each slip also had my name address and library card number. Wow! I remember corraling a kid between my legs to keep him (probably Christopher) from running noisily through the library. If I had been smart, (which I wasn't) I would have taken a big stack of those check out slips home to fill out my information at my leisure and add the book stuff when we had our stack ready.

When the Spanaway Library was finished, it became our branch with a Computer!!! Woo Hoo! No more slips of paper. At this point, we sometimes took out 80 books a week (remember, we had Noel in our family). I asked the librarian if there was a limit to the number of books we could check out. She said a teacher had recently come in to check out alot of books and the computer had stopped at we were safe.

I remember seeing a bit in Reader's Digest about a small African Country that was trying to promote literacy. A visitor asked if even though she was not a resident, would she be allowed to check out some books. She was given permission, but when she brought a few books to the counter, she was told she could not take these few books because the library had a 13 book minimum, per person! Now, that's promoting literacy. I love that.

We have a small library in Black Diamond. I sometimes go to the Auburn Library. The Maple Valley Library is a few miles away from home and the Muckleshoot Library is a few miles from my work. I shop in Federal Way and use one of the two libraries there (can't wait until the renovation is finished on the FW Regional Library next week). I love the Bellevue and Issaquah libraries, but I don't get there much with my current work schedule. I take my nanny babies to the Enumclaw Library and while their mom is at physical therapy, you can find us at the Covington library, so there you have my libraries of choice.

Anne, Laura, Jurgis, Kunta Kinte, Corrie, Precious, Jim, Caddie, Clifford, Horton, Abigail, this list could be pages long. I have met and love and hated so many people in library books. I have learned from all of them.

Cook books, decorating books, craft and pattern books, gardening books, picture books (yes, for me, not necessarily for the children in my life), foreign language training CDs, novels, and my friends on CD to keep me company in the car. Yummy, delicious and free. One of the most uplifting places in my world. I LOVE THE LIBRARY!!! Thank you Benjamin Franklin

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Navel Orange Experience

I fasted yesterday for spiritual reasons. I fasted today for medical reasons. (I did eat dinner last night after church.) This morning, I zoomed to Federal Way to have my lab work done, without eating a piece of James' utterly fabulous chocolate cake with ultra fudgy frosting for breakfast (or anything else for that matter). Had my blood draw done, got my cotton ball and tape on my arm and headed to the grocery for a little shopping.

Little is the operative word. With my head swimming with hunger, I couldn't think of anything I needed, but I wanted something to eat, but what? (Are all of my blog posts going to be about me going without food? I need to discuss that with my counselor....oh wait, first I need to get a counselor) Odwalla chocolate protein drink??? Wow more than 400 calories per bottle! A little cup of fruit? Nah, looks overprocessed and it's packed in syrup instead of juice. Yum, those strawberries smelled good, but how can I eat them without washing them (it's a 30 minute drive home). I don't eat bananas in their un-banana breaded form. What else can you eat without washing? An orange?

I like oranges, but they are a gamble. Sometimes fruity and tart and juicy and sometimes bland and pithy and yuk. I chose the heaviest, smallest orange I could find, added a loaf of bakery black bread and yanked a quart of fat free milk out of the dairy case, they didn't have any pints.

I sat in my car in the parking lot, watching the Douglas firs across the street waving in the very gusty wind. They were so beautiful against the blue with the wispy clouds barrelling across the sky behind them. I peeled my orange, it smelled so good, kinda like Christmas, I opened my milk, pulled out a slice of that chewy dark bread. I turned on my CD story book, and enjoyed a perfect orange, a delicious slice of bread and sips of milk straight from the carton.

What is the point of this story? No point, just wanted to tell you I had a really good orange today.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Hot and Bubbly vs Cold and Crunchy

Once or twice a week, I cook a nice dinner for my Nanny Family. The mommy loved to cook before her incident and she has some lovely recipes. So we plan for the family favorites and I throw in some of my own and we put out some nice meals. They are very generous and offer to have me "take some home", but I always feel funny about it and anyway, it's nice for the mommy to have some leftovers for her lunch.

So as I drive home, visions of hot and bubbly dance in my head. I think about those nice pork chops and seasoned rice, or that beautiful roasted chicken or a steak stir fry, that I just left behind. Herbs and spices, roasted asparagus, a nice little sauce...

I am tired when I get home at about 6:30, so the idea of launching into another meal preparation is nix. So I open the pantry and what do I see? Mmmm, shredded wheat (actually, it's mini spooners in a bag, but we call it shredded wheat [sorry Post]), and that's what I usually have for dinner. Now, I like shredded wheat. Don't get me wrong, but it is not exactly hot and bubbly. We are told to breakfast like a King, lunch like a Princess and dinner like a Pauper, so I guess I'm on the right track, but it's a little dispiriting to finish the day with cold and crunchy.

Every week I plan to feed myself better, but tiredness and time constraints get in the way of my well planned list. And, bless his heart, James is on his own, most of the time. So, onward...I'll just keep trying. I know having everything thawed and prepared in advance is the key. That's what Saturday is for. I did buy a rice cooker with a timer and I continue to work on my relationship with the crock pot. We're in counselling together and he is being a little more giving lately.

So, here is my plan for the coming week:

Salmon and asparagus with roasted garlic potatos (leftover potatos from Sunday dinner)

Curried chicken and rice (crockpot)

Snow pea and radish stir-fry with peanuts (prepare the veggies in advance) What should I serve with this? Soba noodles in chicken broth with julienne carrots and scallions? Yes.

Lemon herb chicken picatta (pound the chicken and leave it marinating, add frozen veggies)

OK, my friends, I will report back on my adventure in "Hot and Bubbly" land. If you have any advice, or desire to drop casseroles on my doorstep or serve me a plate while I'm tucked in to my bed watching Evening Magazine and Jeopardy, feel free. Or my shredded wheat an I will continue our little tete a tete each evening at 6:30.