Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mother Daughter Tea



Yesterday, I had my first annual Holiday Mother Daughter Tea. I did another tea earlier this year during Mother's Day. I guess it is a semi-annual program. I can only have a certain number of people in the program. In the spring I put the list out a month in advance--it filled up and there was a signifant waiting list. However, come Tea Party day, I had quite a few no-shows. I learned from this experience and just posted the sign-up list 12 days in advance. The result, I only had one no-show totalling 2 people. I had a total of 55 people in attendance.
The room was nice. I got garland at Michaels, and the Town Council let me borrow there garland and stockings. I brought in some stuff from home to complete the look. A Town Council member also let me borrow poinsettias that I festooned with ribbon and became the center pieces for the table.

I served a selection of sandwiches--trimmed of crusts, boxed heatables from Sam's Club, mini pigs-in-blanket, mini cresent rolls. Last week I baked a selection of scones--my favorite being the butterscotch scones. It won out for ease of baking coupled with a great flavor. I also baked some tartlets, almond cheesecake squares, tea cakes, and brownies There was only one small plate of leftovers.
For beverages, I served a variety of teas, hot chocolate--which disappeared flat right away, and hot apple cider. We attempted to make more hot chocolate but there was a slight snafu when the eggnog rather than milk ended up in the pot. Very interesting--we thought the only way to save it would have been to add rum but that wasn't possible--County property, minors and all.
I had bought some gingerbread house kits with royal icing. I was trying to take the easy simple way out by buying ready made easy to assemble kits. But --these proved to be a bit of a challenge to get together--next year I will do the old graham craker, frosting, milk carton route. Several people presented their Southern California Gingerbread Houses that had more or less been flatten by an earthquake. Thank goodness for our natural disasters.
Everyone expressed their thanks and gratitude. I enjoyed putting it together but like all parties for 60 people it takes a lot of effort and energy to make it come off. At the end of the day, I began to evaluate my programming efforts. I may just do book club and the two Teas next year. I went to bed last night at around 8:00 and didn't really stir much after 10:00 until 5:30 this morning when the Sasha and Misha decided they had had enough of me not paying attention to them. Sasha layed down on my face while Misha purred in my ear.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm Very Concerned!

Last Tuesday I attended the first session of the Santa Clarita Libraries Planning Committee as a public observer. I left feeling very very concerned about the future of the libraries in my city. The Library Planning Committee consists of 31 people who were hand-picked by McLean and Ender. All most all are white and none seem to have been people who were opposed to the city take over of the library nor who had had experience with the County System. This in itself is not terribly worrying, I think that most of the people will try to offer their best during these sessions. What has big question marks and @#* signs going on above my head is LSSI (Library Systems and Services Inc.) the for profit group taking over the management of the libraries.
Here are my thoughts and observations:
1) With all the brouhaha in Santa Clarita, it seems that LSSI should be putting their best foot forward and at least making an attempt to be moderately professional which I didn't really see at all. I'll explain why in the next points.
2) The facilitator of the session, a Mr. Ron Dubberly, claims that he is a librarian with more than 30 years of experience, yet he also claims that he is severely technologically challenged. We are information professionals, technology is the main point of dissimination for technology during this technological age which has been in full force for at least 2 plus decades which encompasses the a good part of Mr. Dubberly's career. Shameful, shameful, shameful.
3) So essentially LSSI has a lackluster dinosaur leading the Library Planning Committee in developing plans for Library Services in the 21st Century. Yes, this really does inspire a high degree of faith in what is to come for Santa Clarita.
4) LSSI is taking over 5 libraries from two different systems at about the same time. From experience I know that opening, reopening and/or relocating businesses requires a tremendous amount of time, effort, energy and organization. LSSI cannot get out a simple MS Word document which only required a simple amount of editing. Insert City of Santa Clarita into the template instead of the last city they worked with. How are they ever going to manage a "smooth transition" in 7 months?
5) All this makes me wonder if LSSI is biting off more than it can chew with the Santa Clarita and Ventura libraries? And I question why they would even try? Again from experience, when companies aggressively go after contracts like there is no tomorrow it is because there isn't one if they don't. I have a bad feeling that LSSI is likely in financial straits and is gobbling up contracts with the hopes that down the line their bottom line will even out. Since LSSI is a private company that is publicly we don't know what kind of shenanigans they are up to with the account books. But I have a very very bad feeling about it all. Because I can read the writing on the wall quite well, my hunches are usually pretty much on the mark. We shall see. We shall see.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Home in Idabel

It has been a nice vacation so far. I had an exceptionally smooth flight and enjoyed chatting with Bev my fellow train traveller and Trisha my seat mate on American. I don't often meet people traveling that I really enjoy talking to but this trip started out well.
My older brother picked me up at DFW. I had just walked outside, and was talking to my sister-in-law when I saw someone that looked like my brother cruise past. I asked if they were driving a Yukon, she said yes, and I yelled, stop. What great timing that was.
Brother was having a major toothache and back, hip, shoulder pain. He was not in good shape at all but like most Wiggins' he sucked it all up and drove us all the way back. Yes, I feel very guilty.
On Saturday, Mom and I went over to Foreman antique shopping. Mom told me she wanted to go to the Little Old Lady's store. We went in and sure enough it was a little old lade--Mom said that she thought he was 94. The little old lady, said "Look around and if you see anything you want, I'll give it to you." Apparently she sells Avon and then gives everything else away. Mom said that if she wasn't up to her ears in Avon she would buy some more. We left the store with some little Christmas ornaments.
After Foreman, we went to another antique mall in DeQueen before heading back to Idabel.
This afternoon we went over to Broken Bow for lunch the Chinese Restaurant. We stopped at Mostly Memories another antique mall. I found this very very cool, Native American piece. It is a turned wooden bowl on a slab of limestone that appears to have petroglyphs on it. It is a beautiful piece and as the woman at the shop said it would probably cost a lot more than $30 in California. Will post a picture as soon as I am can.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Update--Going Home for TG, Rose Bowl & Being Overwhelmed


I know, I know, I have been terrible about updating my blog. Last entry--I hate moving. I have been moved for over a month now--still waiting on my deposit to be returned from the ghetto. They are currently researching it. Whatever.
Work has been crazy busy. This past week, I have played mostly children's librarian with mine being out of the country at this time. Can't wait until the end of the month when she gets back. This week, I have done two class visits at the library, one outreach at a school, one children's program and a judging of the Pentel Bookmark Contest along with notifying the winners and putting together their prize bags. So not only am I doing my Manager job, but I am also doing both part-time positions. We have a daily circulation of between 1000-1300 items. That means that every day about that many items comes back and needs to go on the shelves. Right now, only about 35% of my staff has no mobility restrictions. So it is tough with the excess workload. I have an excellent staff but there is just too much for all of us to do. I come from strong peasant stock, and even I find myself pushed to my limits sometimes. In the end I come home exhausted wanting to stare at my walls.
Next week, I will be going to Oklahoma for Thanksgiving. The last time I went for Thanksgiving was 10 years ago when Mom called me home to say good-bye to my dad. That was a tough Thanksgiving for obvious reasons but also it was a time of disaster because one of the pipes broke in my parents house the week before when she was at the hospital with my dad. When she came home the house was completely flooded. When I came home the old carpet had been all pulled out but the new hadn't been laid down--holidays and all you know. But on to other stuff. It will be nice to be back and I need a break.
This morning Jess, my sister in spirit, and I went to the Pasadena Flea Market. The Pasadena Flea market is one of the three biggest in the US. It is pretty awesome. I ended up getting a gold occassional table for the apartment. I want to get nice furniture for a change but I don't really know what kind of style I am shooting for. Modern is about all I have gotten to. But the priority right now is to get a mattress set. I haven't had a decent one since I left Hawaii. I miss all my furniture in Hawaii. I had a nicely put together apartment in Hawaii.
The flea market was amazing. We got the Rose Bowl at about 10 to 8:00. We paid addmission of $10 each and then scoped out the RV's that were on display until 8:00. RV camping is not what it used to be. One was fully kitted out with a bedroom, bathroom, a good sized closet and recliners. I wouldn't mind roughing it in one of these.
At 8:00 we lined up to go inside the Rose Bowl. Everything you can think of was on sale. Right away, I found a booth with a couple of sisters from Arizona that came up. They had very nice items. Most of the things that I looked at were already sold. But there was a gold table for $50 that was still available. I opened my pocket book and SOLD was written next to my name on the tag. Just as the tag was completed, the person who was scooping up all the items, said "Oh, that was on my wish list." But the owner said "But it wasn't on your final list." and she said with a smile, "Yes, there is enough to go around for everyone."
I found a number of things that I liked but since I still don't have much in the way of cash flow, $50 was about my limit. I must focus and save for a mattress. Focus!! Very hard for me to do.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I Hate Moving

I started moving yesterday and already feel overwhelmed. How did I end up with so much stuff. I feel the urge just to call The Salvation Army and have them come and pick up everything. I want to purge. But then I start looking at stuff--especially clothes that don't fit me anymore--I think, I love this XXX, I want to wear it again. So alass, I have more than my allotted share of belongings.
On Friday night, I had my all purpose "I'm Out of Debt" party which piggy backed on the facts that I started moving the next day and it is my birthday month. Note that I have a birthday month--not just a day. The entire month is mine to use as a justification for any behavior I might want ti display.
It was a fun party, I got lots of loot--thanks everyone! You are fantastic. I had the dinner at Bucca di Beppo--and I still have leftovers in my fridge. We had a good time--at least we got full.
However the next day when I checked my account, my available bank balance was short in the the tune of $275. In a panic, I waited until the staff at Bucca arrived and spoke with first the Chef Manager and then the General Manager. They tried to tell me that this happens all the time, the server entered the wrong amount the first time, cancelled it, and then ran it again with the correct amount. Meanwhile the bank debits both amounts and it takes up to 5 days to show that correct available balance. What?? I called my bank First Hawaiian, the very pleasant rep told me and the manager that the manager only needed to call their merchant services department, get an authorization code, call the bank and the money would be immediately available. The manager acted like this was my bank's fault but really if there is a fault it lies with the restuarants merchant services. I waited for a call back but nothing, then on Sunday afternoon, I went to Bucca and the Chef Manager at last got the authorization codes, called my bank and then let me know that the funds would be available in my account again. Geez!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Kicking the Credit Card Debt

Well, it is official. I have paid my last credit card payment. I am so excited, it has taken me 4 long years to get them all paid off but at last. Everything seems to be changing for me. I will move out of ghetto land on October 2nd. I get moles removed on September 30. I host my first debt free party on October 1. The next month will still be tight due to the party and moving but at last I can see some $ staying in my bank account between paychecks.
Last night I was invited to the Ladies' Club Spaghetti Dinner by our Friends of the Library Treasurer. There was an "Opportunity Drawing" for gift baskets. I bought 15 dollars in tickets which meant 45 tickets to place in bags for about 20 items. I randomly selected about 12 items doubling up on most of them. When the drawing started, they started with a Christmas Basket and called my number. I wasn't very surprised because I noticed when I put my 3 tickets in the bag there were only 2 other tickets, I had a better than 50% chance for that basket. But then they called my number again and again and again for a total of 8 items. I was really embarrassed by the end. I got a wicker picnic basket, an Italian baskets, some jewelry items, and other things. At the end someone wanted to take a photo of me because of the all the loot. What fun that was.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Finally I am Moving!


At last I have decided to leave ghetto-land and upgrade my circumstances. On October 2, I will sign a lease, pick up keyes and begin to move me and the two cats across town to Valencia Town Center. I have decided on The Madison. I am excited that I will be leaving Diamond Park. Living there has just gotten me down. Living above the drug dealer really ruined it all for me. Not to say that I won't be living next to a drug dealer at the Madison but at least he will have a higher class of clients. I used to have to walk through coversations about getting out jail, fights and other conversations that men who have too much time on their hands have.
I am looking forward to a kitchen that doesn't have roaches--a going away present from the drug dealer and his family when they moved out, a broken garbage disposal, a stove that I am afraid to use and a dishwasher that I never used because it didn't look like it would work.
I will be paying extra for the upgraded--granite counters and all stainless steel appliances. Yes, the rent is way too much but I looked for similar places in Glendale and would have paid almost twice as much. And after ghetto-land, I need something to soothe my sensibilites. Also, I am hoping that I can expand my social network and get out of the funk that I have been in so long.
So right now I am looking at selling some of my stuff--namely my fridge, desk and microwave as the new place comes with all three. I am also trying to get things packed up and cleaned up so that I can make the move as smooth as possible.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Inner and Inter Library Loan Difference

Here is the letter that I am sending to the City Council. So much misinformation swirling around about this issue.




August 30, 2010

Dear Council Members:

Please take a few minutes to education yourself on the difference between an Inner-Library loan and an Inter-Library loan. It was clear that during the Public Hearing on August 24, 2010 it appeared that Darren Hernandez was grossly misinformed about the difference and therefore misinformed you.

General Definitions:
1) Inner-Library loans are loans between one branch library and another. Since the items are owned by a single library system, use one catalog and have the same borrowing policies procedures requesting and delivery are generally streamlined. An example here would be a book in the Canyon Country Library is wanted by a patron in the Valencia Library. Patrons are usually able to request items been branches seamlessly and on their own.
2) Inter-Library loans are loans between two different library systems. The items are not owned by the lending library and must be acquired from a other system. The catalogs are not shared between the libraries; the two systems my have different lending policies; requests are usually handled by library staff; and delivery is generally handled by the US mail. An example here would be the new Santa Clarita System wants an item owned by the County of Los Angeles System which is part of the South State Cooperative.

Lending Periods:
1) Inner-Library loans are governed by the policies of the unified system. Patrons usually have renewals if no one is waiting for the item, a standard loan period for the type of item, and a standard overdue fee rate set by the system.
2) Inter-Library loans are governed by the agreement between the two individual systems. Usually there are no renewal of items, the overdue fees may be different and the lending periods may be different for items obtained from different systems because the agreements are different.

What Gets Lent:
1) Inner-Library loans are generally comprehensive. What is owned by the system as a whole is available to all the card holders in that system no matter which branch owns the items. There may be a formula for priority on branch-owned items for branch vs. non-branch users for items in high demand. Video, Audio, best-sellers, and other items will be sent out within the system.
2) Inter-Library loans are highly depended on the system that owns the items and their own policies for lending items to other outside systems. Generally best-sellers and newly published items are not sent out on Inter-library loan. Always the owning system will give priority to their own patrons before sending an item out to an outside system. Some systems do not lend out audio or video.


Right to Refusal:
1) For inner-library loans a branch usually does not have the right to refuse to send an item requested by a patron of another branch. For example if someone at the Canyon Country Library wants an item from Valencia Library and it is available, the patron can be assured that the item will arrive shortly at the Canyon Country Library.
2) For inner-library loans a system has the right to refuse to send a requested item out to the patron at an outside system library. For example, if a Valencia patron in the newly formed Santa Clarita Library system wants an item owned by the County of Los Angeles System, the County has the right to refuse sending the item, therefore the patron cannot be assured that the item will arrive in a timely manner or at all. The Inter-Library Loan Personnel may have to approach several libraries for the requested item before finding a library willing or able to loan the item out.

Lending, Requesting Limits and Fees
1) Inner-library loans are governed by the internal policies of the library system. A system may or may not charge fees for picking up requested items or they may be levied fees for not picking up requested items. However, the system is uniform.
2) Intra-library loans are governed by the policies of the owning library and not requesting library. The requesting system may choose to subsidize fees so that they are uniform on the surface for the customer. However, library systems generally do charge the customer some fees and/or set strict limits due to the volume of paperwork involved, tracking required, and submitting the information to the state for reimbursement from the Public Library Fund to defer costs. The Public Library Fund by the way has been hacked away and hacked away by the State and has rarely been fully funded.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions or need more information on the difference between Inner-Library loans and Inter-Library loans. That one small letter actually makes a pretty big difference.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Santa Clarita, CA City Council Are Complete Fools

On Tuesday, August 24, 2010 after 4 hours of residents speaking out decided to ignore their pleas to slow down, think and let us have a voice in the decision and voted 4 to 1 to withdraw from the County Public Library System and hire a for-profit contractor to run the three Santa Clarita Libraries.
I am appalled and astounded that the democratic system failed so miserably on Tuesday night. Below is the speech I gave as part of public comments on Tuesday night. Never have I spoken truer words than that this was a Done Deal. After the meeting I saw the LSSI Rep give a Good-Ole Boy Slap on the Back to Darren Hernandez telling him what a good job he had done. Yes, a good job in mis-informing but I guess since the City awarded the contract to LSSI, a good job was indeed done by Darren Hernandez in his point of view.

Good evening Mayor Weste and members of the City Council,

I have been a resident of Santa Clarita for two years. During this time I have had occasion to attend city council meetings and I have often been impressed with the work the Council does and the well balanced decisions that you often make with the best interests of both the city and citizen.

However, tonight, I have come before you because I believe that you may make a decision that is neither well balanced, carefully thought-out, nor in the best interests of the citizens of Santa Clarita. The decision to withdraw from the county and for the city to run its own library system or contract it out to a for-profit group is simply put a politically motivated maneuver

I hear rumors that this is a Done Deal; you plan to contract with LSSI (Library Systems and Services Incorporated). And that anything my fellow citizens or I may say about the matter tonight is meaningless. However, I have to speak. I have to hope that you will listen to the voices from your community.

The most important thing in a library is not the books, the videos, or the magazines. The most important thing in a library is the Human Resources. The people, who work in the library, organize the materials so that they can be found but more importantly these people are in touch with the community, know what the community needs and provides quality programs and services to that end. With the County you have that. The people who staff the Santa Clarita libraries are dedicated professionals that have for decades served the community through understanding its past, current and changing needs.

You are seeking to break the backbone of the Santa Clarita Libraries by removing the most vital piece of Library Services. You propose to replace the backbone with contracted employees that most likely will not have a stake in the community and who are also most likely going to be looking for a better gig with benefits because your cost saving proposal hinges in undercutting the libraries’ human resources.

If you leave the County system you will be losing hundreds of years of dedicated cumulative service from the dedicated library professionals that staff the Santa Clarita. I urge you to reconsider your positions. And as citizen after citizen that I have spoken to have suggested—If it isn’t broken don’t try to fix it. Do not sell us a bill of goods that we do not want.

If you do chose to leave the County I can guarantee you that you will get what you deserve. However, this is not what my fellow citizens and I deserve. We deserve the quality library services with a strong tradition in serving us that we are currently receiving.

Thank you.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day Light Savings Time

The days are getting shorter. Last night I walked out of the library in the evening to a rapidly darkening sky. I love long days with short nights. I feel more alive and energetic. I hate to see Standard Time come in the winter but know that it is a has to be, because as much as I love long days, I hate dark mornings. I often run into people who tell me that they would prefer that we not have a time change. But I have lived in a country and a state that does not change the time. And I don't mind because the benefits are greater than the first couple of days of adjustment.
Hawaii doesn't change time and in a sense it doesn't need to. It is at the perfect location where winter days are longer than on the mainland and summer nights are only slightly shorter. Oh, but I would have loved to have daylight until 10:00 in Hawaii. But the rhythms are different there and I moved around much earlier in the morning than I do on the mainland. I often was up and and had my 6 mile morning run in well before 7:30, back home and ready for a shower and a cup of coffee. But then even if I wanted to sleep in the trash truck was banging around bright and early at 7:00 on Saturday mornings. Grrr!!!
Japan which is much more similar to the US mainland in latitude desperately needed Daylight Savings Time. And appearantly they got it shortly after I left the country. But I longed for longer summer days and for sunlight not to invade my sleep at 4:00 in the morning. I understand that if you don't have a time change, it isn't going to be year long Daylight Savings Time but rather a year of shorter summer summer days and longer summer mornings.
But then again as my friend pointed out, I have never had a baby and babies don't know nothing about Daylight Savings Time

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What a Summer

This month has been marked with both technical and mechanical failure at the library which has been a source of frustration for both staff and customers alike. As a new facility, the AC remained untested until the first hot days of summer. There was no passing with flying colors, more like the stale stuffy air of failure. For 4 days, the staff endured sweltering tropical mugginess until it was clear that we were not able to continue on with ever growing dread and uncomfortableness as the temperatures crept up outside, inside and within us. It was during the initial AC failure that we also experienced a systems failure with our computerized Integrated Library System. Searching, checking out, checking in--essentially everything that we do all day long--suddenly became a frustrating headache for almost 10 days. I walked around in a perpetual state of irritable stickiness. Since library work is rarely quiet desk sitting work but rather pushing heavy carts, lifting heavy boxes, running from one end of the library and back again and again type of work it is easy to become uncomfortable fast. At the end of the first week, with tempers short and fuses quickly burning down, I asked that we close the adult area and leave the rest of the area open since it was in the adult library that the AC had failed. I got permission but when I tried to put the gate down to shut off the adult area, the gate failed. Defeated, we closed the library for 3 days until we could get some fixes, firs the gate and then the AC.

For a few days we thought the fix was holding, my office was a welcoming cool haven. Then we noticed that the areas that were previously comfortable were now quite the opposite. And then Monday morning I walked through the door of my office and into a thick heavy wall of air. All the units were compromised in one manner or another. I shelved one cart of books on Monday morning at 9:30 in the morning with sweat trickling down my brow. The thought of having hundreds of bodies heating up an already uncomfortable space was unbearable. We closed for the day. We are still having problems with one of our AC units--one is down for the count until parts arrive, one has been tinkered with to run until a more permanent fix arrives. For 2 1/2 days we had the adult area shut down with the rest of the library open. I have just reopened the adult area. Temperatures outside have abated leaving the airconditioningless space bearable if movement is limited. The staff will work the area in a limited capacity--no all steam ahead until parts arrive and are installed. But at least we are open and people can use the space for as long as they are comfortable.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fire Flowers

Hanabi is Japanese for Fireworks which translates as Fire Flowers. I love this translation. It is poetic and speaks of the fascination we have with pyrotechnics. Last night I saw the 4th of July Fireworks Display at the Aliante Casino in North Las Vegas while attending a VIP Pool Party with a complimentary open bar. I was M's sister's guest. We had a lovely time. Anytime I see fireworks, I think about other displays I have seen and I end up missing both Japan and Hawaii.
The Japanese hold their annual displays in August and they are fabulous. They go on and on and on for what seems like a full hour, but is probably less. Just when you think the Grand Finale has arrived, it gets even bigger.
One year, I headed over to sacred island Miyajima with friends for the show. We caught the first bursts while on the ferry over. I would have loved to spent the entire show on the ferry watching with each burst reflected in the water. Something magical about this. We arrived at the dock and made our way down to the water for the rest.
Another year, I spent the first part of the day in the city but left at dusk to find a spot on the river. I was riding my bike along the river path when the show began. I pulled over and watch with a few others who made their way to the empty spot I found on the river path. It felt like my own private show. The warm night became magical and I was en rapt.
Being of an Asian bent, Hawaii offers up some pretty spectacular displays. My first experience was on New Years Eve 1999. I had just arrived in Hawaii two weeks earlier to start the new century with a new life in a new place. Everything was falling into place for me then, I had a new job which would eventually become the conduit to my rapid rise in Los Angeles. I had just purchased my very own first car, and I had already established a new budding social network. With new friends we headed up to a house party in the hills of Manoa Valley. With a panoramic view of Waikiki and Downtown, we were treated to a firework show that lasted for hours. At about 11:15, Waikiki was enveloped in a cloud of smoke. In 2000, there was a crack down on illegal ariels, so the Milliemum was the last year of spectacular self sponsored displays.
Every Friday night in Waikiki, the Hilton Hawaiian Village put on a display for the tourists. I spent a many of a Friday night with a group known as the Old Farts on the beach at San Souci (Kaimana) have a few beers and talking story after a run around Diamond Head. I miss these evenings tremendously.
I never knew how much of my weekly rhythm the fireworks had become until 9/11 put a stop to them for months and months. 9/11 made the entire country stop, wonder and worry. But in Hawaii, an island that depends on tourism, we were in struggle to maintain our livelihoods. The absence of the fireworks, suspended due to low tourism and slashed budgets, marked weekly how much our lives had changed during that fateful day. For days afterwards, the sky that was usually dotted with aircraft bring tourists and their dollars to the island were empty. I remember running around Magic Island on Thursday after the attacks to see a lone airplane in the air. What a welcome sight and my first thought was maybe now I will get some mail.
What a relief it was to all of us when the Hilton Hawaiian Village announced that it was going to resume the firework displays. Each and everyone of us felt that our lives were finally returning to normal after a long drought of tourism.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sasha is Out to Kill Me



Only he doesn't realize that if he is successful his meal ticket and chest scratcher also disappears. Why do I think he is out to get me? Let me build up my case. Three weeks ago, I was laying on the sofa with Sasha on my arm. His head was in my outstretched arm which put his back feet perilously close to my face. So close in fact when a motorcycle drove by and scared him, he used my face as his spring board towards safety. I received a nice slice in my cheek. I jumped up and ran to the vanity mirror, looked at my face to find that the bottom of the scratch had about an eighth of an inch of open flesh. Much to my surprise the room began to darken and I realized that I was going to pass out. I quickly got down on the floor to let the feeling pass. Gradually, I began to feel OK again--sort of. I decided that I needed to turn on the AC because I had a sheen of sweat coating me at that point. I got up and made it over to the thermostat before the second wave to darkness descended. Once again, I got down low into to child's position until the sensation passed. First a cold sweat, then chills and then nausea that sent me to the bathroom. Once, all this passed, I decided I might need to drive myself to Urgent Care for antibiotics, a good washing out, etc.
Urgent Care was pretty straight forward, I walked out with antibiotics and a script for the inevitable yeast infection following a course of antibiotics. Several hours later, I arrived back home. I was lazing on the sofa when I thought, "That's strange, I smell gas." I got up and walked over to the stove to find that one of the burners was turned about half way on. What? Sasha! He turned the gas on.
This on Thursday he got me again, this time in my calf and once again with his back claws again. The story this time is not quite so dramatic. Sasha was out on the balcony. I wanted to bring him in, he didn't want to come in. Sasha the angel cat wasn't using weapons at this point because he is a good cat. As I had him between my legs moving him into the living room, my arm brushed up against the trash can which happened to be at about ear level for him. The resulting rattle sent him in a panic, once again using my nearest body part as a push off point. My calf looks like it has a sewing machine running stitch with a very nasty bruise surrounding it.
I rubbed it with Neosporin as pondered if I should either wear cotton wadded clothing when handling the cat or invest in Neosporin?
Then last night it happened again, I smelled gas and found the gas on. Sasha looking very angelic denied getting on the stove. Since I really don't cook, Misha isn't that interested in the stove, Sasha loves to get up there and hang out, and I don't think I have a polergeist he is the likely culprit. I have since removed the knobs to prevent my from waking up in ghostly form one morning or entering into a fire ball because the friction of the key in the lock caused the gas build up to ignite.
If something happens to me, please someone make the police take investigating Sasha seriously.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Library Donations

This morning when I was doing book drop I got a couple of really good donations. One a new book with a long waiting list. I love these donations. I did a little dance of happiness this morning. The library really does depend on donations through being able to add items to our collection and the funds generated by the Friends of the Library book store and book sales. We are always happy to see good donations. However, not all donations are created equal and some really do generate a groan and sometimes cries of disgust. Lay your hand on a bug encrusted moldy book and listen to what pops out of your mouth.
What makes a good donation? Well the following:
1) DVD's are always welcome as are unabridged audiobooks. I try as hard as I can to get DVD's into the library. We also like popular children's books that are very gently used (this is hard to come by). Magic Tree House, Junie B. Jones, Captain Underpants, Geronimo Stilton--they all put a smile on our faces when we get these in good enough shape to add.
2) Books in good condition and I don't mean ones that were in good condition 20 years ago but have sat in a dusty garage for the last 18 years.
3) Books that are not out of date. No one really wants the 1999 college guide. Trust me on this.
4) Books that have not been eaten by vermin or left out in the weather.
5) Books that are not falling apart. A good rule of thumb is that if it is falling apart and is not a Dead Sea Scroll no one is really interested in it.
6) Donations that do not include encyclopedias, condensed novels or National Geographic. These things are heavy and take up a lot of space. Encyclopedias get out dated easily. Condensed novels have very low interest and everyone saved 30 years of National Geographic and wants to donate them. We have been saturated with enough of these items, the small market for these is just not active enough to justify back aches and space constrictions that they entail.
7) Donations that are reasonable in size--2 or 3 boxes are not a problem. But even pretty good donations can cause stress when they come in massive quantities. And beleive me the day that someone decides to bring in a big donation is the same day that at least 3 other people have decided the same thing. We like to go through the donations to see if there is anything that we can add to the collection, but when we have 20 boxes and a small amount of time, good things might get passed up.
8)Paperbacks that are not yellowed and with spines in good shape (uncracked is best)are welcome and may often find themselves in the collection.
9)Old books that are in good to excellent condition and might be able to be sold online as a rare book that can generate more than the average $1 or $2 that a used book usually fetches.

Sometimes we get donations and people want to see them on the shelf. We can't promise this--we have to evaluate the item and the determine if our collection actually needs it and if we have a record for it. When we add items to the library we have to link them to a catalog record so that they are searchable. If there is no record then it is difficult to link them because a record has to be created. This is time and money and one lone donation that is 10 years old and in questionable condition. Even if a book is new, that doesn't mean that I can add it to my collection. For example recently I have received 5 copies of 9 Dragons. The first 3 I was able to add but the other 2 I didn't because 3 copies meant that one would probably always be on the shelf and I don't have enough shelf space for a lot of duplicates. If I have a copy sitting on the shelf and it only goes out 3 or 4 times a year that means that I don't need two copies of the same item. Of course some things are season and we will keep extra copies--especially in the children's area because of cyclical homework assignments when we have a total run on things.

So feel free to bring in your donations but do look at them, if they are ugly, smelly, moldy and generally gross the best place for the item is in the recycle bin. Moldy items or items that hold insects can infect our collect and we would prefer not to have them in the library.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Checking in

I still do not have a fix for my computer. I am in holding pattern with that and am enjoying not having fight the cats for computer time. The cats however do miss the computer and frequently urge me for a solution. We will see. The other day I looked up Balinese in a cat book--I got the following quote "The only thing low maintance about these cats are their long silking coats" Yes, I am well aware, well aware. I still get 4 am wake up calls.
Last Saturday I had my Mother Daughter Tea. It was a success with many happy faces. I would have been in a real jam if my volunteers didn't help out. As it was, I was exhausted by the end of the day. I would like to do a bigger and better job next year but with much more delegation early on. I spend a number of days preparing the flower pens that I had as party favors.
Speaking of the flower pens, I did a test run several weeks ago to see if the flower pens would work. They were attractive so I decided to put them at the Customer Service Desk at the library because we were losing pens right and left--about 2 dozen a week. That is a lot of pens walking away. It also generated a lot of frustration because everytime I looked to use a pen that desk I couldn't find one. I would have to go to another desk to root around for a pen or walk back to get a new box. Wonder of wonders, with the new floral pens, no one is taking them. We haven't had to open a new box of pens in weeks. Amazing. All the left over pens from the Tea--I made 75 of them so I had about 20 extra--now decorate all of our service desks.
Yesterday we had so much going on at the library--the meeting room was booked out to a large group. We also had a Historical Walk that started and ended at the library. Then in the afternoon we had Korean Dancers dancing outside. Oh yeah, also there was a bicycle safety check at the library in the morning--but I didn't have anything to do with that. So once again I was tired when I finally arrived home.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

So Very Tired


I will never have children again. The feline variety is about to do me in, I can't imagine years of being awoken at odd hours. Last night the two monsters decided that they were bored at 2:00 in the morning. They believe that 4 hours of leaving me alone is more than enough.
Recently I have gotten a water bottle. They learned fairly quickly not to hop up on the bed to get a belly rub in the wee hours. But they are now crying at night. I aim the water bottle at them but they are out of range. I lock them in the other room, they claw at the door. I lock me in the other room, they claw at the door. As my Mom says cats know that Paradise is on the other side of a closed door and they want to be on that side, until they are...
I am dreaming of going to a hotel room and getting a full nights sleep. There is a reason I never had kids...I am barely cut out to be a cat's owner much less the parent of a child.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Broken Computer & Recent Reads

Alas, my computer has succumbed to either Bejeweled or the cats. The power is out and I am questioning whether I want to purchase a new power cord that may or may not work for $100 or purchase a new mini computer for $400. Hmmm...what to do? What to do? While I am in indescision limbo, I am without a computer at home. Oh, well, this means that I am not constantly on Facebook playing the very very addicting Bejeweled. I have heard that I can get it on my Iphone but I don't even want to go there, so I haven't and don't plan to. But at the same time, I realize that I am not on Facebook, keeping up with friends. But then again, I do have an Iphone that I have used for Facebook before. I am just being lazy.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have read a couple of books for Book Club, which is going very well. YEAH!! And a couple of books for myself.
Here is the listing:
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahme-Smith

This book took me almost 6 weeks to get through. It isn't a book that I was actually interested in. This was strictly for professional development. It seems to be a growing genre of either adapting a classic like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen into a modern horror classic like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Abraham Lincoln as a vampire hunter was midly interesting. I only wish I actually new more about the famous president so that I could better determine what was fact and what was fiction--I mean other than the vampires. For example, did Lincoln really befriend Edgar Allen Poe? Was his father really a lazy drunk? So now I will have to find me biography of Lincoln to try to answer some of these questions.
Her Fearful Symentry by Time Traveler's Wife author Laura Niffenegger

Again this book almost took me a full month to get through. It was slow, overly detailed and then ended abruptly. It was almost like the author was as tired of her characters as I was and tried to tie up the story neatly. It is a bit of ghost story and ends bizarrly. Someone in the Book Club said that they read in a review that abrupt ending might have been due Ms. Niffenegger being under deadline pressure. In a way I was relieved that the book finally ended. I was entirely ready to be finished with it no matter how strange the ending was. There are much better ghost stories out there.
A Dangerous Road by Kris Nelscott

What a relief to pick up this title after the above two. This book is next month's Book Club selection. Since we have a limited number of copies in the system, I needed to read my copy quickly so that I can get it out to the next Book Club Member. I truly enjoyed this fast paced mystery set around the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, TN. I read this title in hours as oppossed to days or weeks that the other two books took. Since I read The Help by Katherine Stockett recently, I thought that A Dangerous Road made a good companion piece. Nelscott's characters were likeable and I had a sense of time and place. The book is from an African-American man's point of view which made it complimentary to the women's viewpoints in The Help.

I have also read the first of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, One for the Money. It is cute, quick, and I understand why she is now on her 16th or more Stephanie Plum book.
This evening I will finish Sue Grafton's A is for Alibi.

Also the first of her Kinsey Milhonne. The writing is fresh, fast-paced and interesting. It is no wonder her alphabet novels are best sellers. I do wonder what she will do when she is finished with Z is for...? Will she start with AA is for...? or switch over to numbers? Certainly double letters would make coming up with titles rather difficult. I can only think of batteries and bra sizes that have double letters. Hmmm... DD is for... might make an interesting book--but maybe not one in Ms. Grafton genre. Also it would be tricky for her to switch over to numbers because Evanovich is already using ordinal numbers (1, 2, 3..) and James Patterson has the cardinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd) nailed down pretty tightly. So perhaps Z will be the end for Kinsey and she will be ready for retirement.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Attila The Hun



Early Sunday evening, we returned from Disney. It was a good weekend but after 3 days of fun, it was time to go home and cultivate some sofa time with my kit-kats--who by the way did not totally destroy my apartment--just mildly. I only found my chair tipped over, the small table beside it tipped, a couple of pictures knocked off the TV, and a wrapping paper roll, I left laying around, shredded. Pretty good for 2 and a half days alone.
Yesterday I had the day off. After a trip to the Goodwill to look for some tea cups for my upcoming Mother-Daughter Tea, I just lazed around home finishing up one of the several books I am currently reading: Attila: The Barbarian King Who Challenged Rome by John Man.
A highly readable account of one of histories most notorious characters. I am interested in history and read quite a bit of historical non-fiction so this fit right into my comfort zone. Of course, for Western European stock, the very name Attila evokes ruthless, warlord of the sort that leaves its resonance after more than a millennium. But when I worked at the Hungarian School in Slovakia for the ill-fated short time, I was almost unnerved every morning calling roll because I had at least one Attila in every class. It was at that point that I put together Hun as Hungarian. But really the Hungarians are Mygars who settled Attila's old stomping grounds about 400 years after his death and his people scattered to the winds. But this left me thinking that Attila is obviously viewed quite differently in this part of the world. I mean, to me naming your child Attila is almost like naming him Hitler. But not to the Hungarians, he is a hero of sort.
When I came across Attila by John Man, I was happy to pick it up and learn more. Several months ago, I was pleasantly surprised by Ghengis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford. I had no idea that the other big historical villain was a thoughtful nation builder that instituted laws, trade pacts and a succession system. He has only been brought down to vilified because his nation building just happened to cross over the unwilling backs of Eastern Europe to Western Europe's door as they quaked at the thought of being ruled by an Eastern barbarian that was if anything more enlightened than their feudal governments were. But victors write history and historical prejudices are passed from generation to generation until we believe without question. Both Attila and Ghengis are readable historical accounts that do not read as texty. In Attila, Man also takes us along for his research and introduces us to people modern people such as Lajos Kassai who has revived the forgotten skill of mounted archery--a skill that launched Attila to the forefront of history and terrorized those on the receiving end.
Attila was no Ghengis. He was a brute, pillager, warlord. But then again this was the time of the Vandals, Visagoths, Ostrogoths, and countless other Barbarian tribes that were flexing their muscle and knocking on Rome's door during the waning days of their Empire. Attila was a nation builder and through sheer personality, tactical genius, and brute force he forced an unwilling decadent Rome to take him seriously. This is an underdog story if there ever was one.
I can now understand why Attila is a popular Hungarian name and just as my favorite Oklahoman, Paul Harvey used to sign off: ...And now you know the rest of the story.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Happiest Place on Earth

Yes, that would be Disneyland. This is my second annual participation in the Reyes family reunion. Yesterday, M and arrived early, checked in and then headed for Orange for lunch. Hmmm, the five mile trip to Orange turned into a 10 mile adventure with a few u-turns. Sometimes I wonder how I made it around the entire world. Well, admittedly there were more than few lost moments during those travels. And more than one time I just gave up getting to where I wanted to go and started following people because Douglas Adams once wrote in a book, that you should just get behind someone who looks like they know where they are going, you may not end up where you want to be but you will end up where you should be. Yes, I have found that this Karmic view of getting places has saved much self-abuse.
Historic Orange is a quiant area filled with good restaurants and expensive antique shops. M and I ate at the Cuban restaurant on the corner of the roundabout. It was a beautiful day and very good food.
Later we met up with others in Disneyland. I ate a massive piece of Chocolate cake and promptly understood that I overdid it. It was like a brain freeze with icecream only in the pit of my stomach while most others were riding Pirates. I guess that the cake is still with me because as I am writing this I am in the lobby drinking coffee to try to settle my stomach. I know that this goes again all logic but I think it is because I put so much creamer in my coffee. Breakfast does not even sound remotely interesting right now.
After dinner last night, we went into first California Adventure until it closed at 10:00 and then into Disneyland. M and I were pegged out but we had Mal with us who as any 12 year old boy is on holiday, full of energy. He went off with the cousins and M and I found rides that allowed quiet repose such as the Tiki Room and the Jungle cruise. Mal and the cousins stayed on until the bitter end, so it was almost 1:00 before we found ourselves in the hotel room.
Coffee is finished, and I think I will take a walk out while everyone else is having breakfast. More later.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Help


Katheryn Sockett's first book is a highly readable story of women in a turning point of American and particularly Southern history. Women caught on both sides of a cultural divide. The most obvious divide that is still there today is the racial divide. Black and White. But there are other divides, rich and poor. Of course the maids are stuck on the poor side but we also see Miss Celcia, white trash that married above her station struggling with the lines that Aibileen comes to realize are just in our heads. Also the rich white girl Skeeter toes another line of the time. She is not settling down, marrying and having a brood of her own that will require Help to take care of. Her mother wonders if she my be a lesbian and has her drink a specially brewed tea to cure that possible tendency. Because Skeeter is questioning her own expected place in society she is able to look around her in 1960's Jackson, Mississippi and question the order. And in the 1960's the world had their eyes on Mississippi and their struggle at time with violent and ugly results to keep traditions from crumbling into a new era without Jim Crow.
Being from Little Dixie, the only part of Oklahoma that is actually Southern in culture. I was able to recognize some of the characters. Things in the world had changed by the time I was growing up in the 70's and 80's but not that much. Integration on the surface was a fact, I know that there was a Black school in my town but it was closed down by the time I was school. So I grew up with Black classmates, but I cannot say that I really had any black friends--I had to wait until college for that to happen. No reason really other than it just wasn't done. I was friendly with my Black classmates but my circle of friends were just like me, lower middle-class Whites.
Conitinuing with my thoughts, I was raised by a mother with an open world view. When I came home from schoool telling my Mom about the poor Soviet children with no choices that I learned about, she quickly let me know that what I was hearing was propaganda and that the Soviet children were more like me than not. My mom told us of her Black friend in Conroe, TX that used to come and go by the back door no matter how my mother asked her to enter like her other friends. But her friend said that it was better her way, would rumple feathers in the town over either one of them, I am sure. My mother often cited that trash and decency comes in every color, no culture, color or creed has a monopoly on either one.
But I also grew up in a tense time, our little town had a race riot incited by the appropriately named Willie Warhop, half Indian, half Black and pure thug. For three days the school was closed, my younger brother and I were shipped off to the country, a good man and cop, Rueben Farmer, lost his life and countless building burned down all over an incident that happened at the nortoriously trashy nightclub Black Cat.
My father 10 years older than my mother, had different sensiblities. In basic terms he was racist. But wrapped up in thatknee jerk racism of his era, he befriended people who were worthy of friendship. One junior officer Earner came to call my mom and dad just that Mom and Pop. Heads would sometimes turn in the store with this very black man and my parents would exchange greetings in stores. I have a special place for Earner in my own heart. During the rough rough week that my mother called me back to Idabel so I would have have a chance to say goodbye to my father who was fading fast, he lasted less than 5 more weeks, Earner came by and spent some time with my father. During a time when my father wishfully mistook me for my sister, and confused things in the present with the past, Earner gave me a glimpse of the man my father was before the illnesses consumed him. He laughed and his eyes crickled in a way that I only had a memory of, only Earner, sitting at the kitchen table, that bleak November evening, was able to bring my father back for a glimmer.
Somethings change and some stay the same. Bi-racial relationships are still frowned on in my town and probably across much of America. They happen but no one seems to like them. A friend's sister and her Asian husband and mixed children moved to Hawaii from South Carolina in search of a more welcoming environment. Perhaps it is no mistake that our first African-American president is from Hawaii. It's not that racism doesn't exist in Hawaii. It does. When a co-worker and I overheard another co-worker explaining to a student that Hawaii wasn't racist, we jumped all over him. What was he talking about, Haole's, Flips, Japs, Local this and that, etc. Local author's Lois Yamanaka's are often banned on the mainland for containing blantantly racist dialogs. Our co-worker amended his statement to "Well, Ok, we are equal opporunity racist in Hawaii." That I would agree with and perhaps that is our hope. Race is recognized along with the often cultural nuances that goes with it, but it generally doesn't get in the way of letting people live their lives.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why I Write...


Something happened that has made me reconsider why I write this blog, what I write about and who I am writing it for. Of course I don't have quite the same lofty reasons as George Orwell. I am slightly more pedestrian. The who is easy, I mostly write for myself. I used to write a day trip column for Hiroshima English Language The Outsider magazine. My travel log was titled Trippin' Out and then later I wrote some interviews titled "On the Couch with..." If I call up one of those articles, I am able to recall all the nuances of the day the event happened and when I sat down to put pen to paper (and that is what I did then--I was very computer un-savvy at the time. Of course, the secondary reason that I write now as I did then was for other people that I know would know what I was up to. This was and still is my primary way to stay in touch with friends, family and other acquaintances from around the world.
I remember the first time that someone came up to me that I didn't know to tell me that they had taken a day trip that I recommended (and that I forgot to mention that you needed to take sleeping bags to stay in the cabins--OOPS!!!). I was shocked that someone read what I had written that didn't really know me and then felt really really bad that someone READ WHAT I HAD WRITTEN and had had a bad experience. Let's just say I feel a big sense of deja vu right now.
So sometimes I forget that the who I write for can be much bigger I expect or even know. When I write, I do try to relate the facts or to try to put as positive spin on events as possible. Except for that really awful book The Year of Eating Dangerously by poofter Tom Parker Bowles. I still think that it is the most awful book I ever read. But now I am digressing.
Let me focus on what I write. Obviously, I write about what ever is on my mind at the moment. I try to write about things that I want to remember or think is interesting. Much of what I write would be classified book and movie reviews. I write these because I think they are interesting. A portion of what I write is what is how I view what is happening in my life at the moment. Like I said, I try upbeat most of the time except for that poofter's book--no positive spin there, ever.
That leaves the why--or have I already answered that. The big why is that I would love to be a writer but don't have it in me to be one. I have tried to keep journals time and time again but they always devolve into a shameful sop that I feel the need to toss in the garbage lest someone--myself included--happens across them someday. Writing this blog keeps me away from the heavy introspection of moment.
I considered giving this space up. But then I thought again, no need. I just need to be more careful to keep the good bits and avoid the rest. Unless Tom Parker Bowles or someone like him writes a book or does something that I just can't abide by. I will un-sheath the big guns then. Watch out.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Jammed Packed Week

As I mentioned yesterday, last week started off with me getting my Probationary Performance Evaluation on Monday. Monday night I stayed late at the library with the Glendale Stamp Club. This month was the club's first meeting in their new home. On Tuesday, I had the book club on Tuesday. I had another good turn out for that. Then on Wednesday afternoon I went to the charity luncheon "Smartathon". I was on the 4 person CV Library BookWorms team. My team didn't place in even the top third. We were not so boned up on general trivia. "What percentage of American never was their car?" I don't know, I guess we missed that on as well. I chose 15% over the 5% and 1% choices. It was fun, though and I look forward to next year's chance to prove that I do know a lot of useless facts.

Thursday was my day off but had to come in for a bit more than an hour for Audio Visual training. Our meeting room is kitted out with state of the art systems that we had to get taught how to use. Over the past 2 months I have been pressing buttons, hoping for the correct response and then forgetting which button got me what I wanted, thus repeating the cycle of push and hope.
Since I was on this side of of the world anyhow, I decided that I would drive over to Forest Lawn in Glendale and spend the day with dead people. It was a very relaxing and wonderful day with beautiful weather. Sometimes, the dead are just the right people for you to be around. I enjoyed walking the Labrynth, seeing the David and the Last Supper rendered in Stained Glass. Forest Lawn is more than a cemetry with a muesuem, art work and relaxing vistas.

Friday evening, I went to the local Catholic Church's fish fry. St. Clair has been hosting this charity fish fry since 1978. On Friday's during Lent, St. Clair serves up tasty fish and chips for the hungry locals. It is a community event with about 300 people in attendance. I go with Diane and her family and who ever else drops by the table.
Saturday, I took the Wheel of Reading to Two Strike Park for the annual Arbor Day celebration for the La Crescenta community. The kids love to spin the wheel for little prizes and books.
At the end of a quick 2 hours, I returned to the library, had some lunch and got ready to go up to St. Luke's to meet the Historical Society Bus Tour. We boarded the bus and was led on a two hour tour of the local historical sites in the area. I never knew so much history was packed into this valley. We were led by the local president of the Historical Society Mike Lawler who invited me along and his friend, historical film maker John Newcombe. They took us along the route to see parts of Newcombe's film Rancho Canada Then and Now. The highlight of the tour was a trip up to The Sacred Heart Academy that was bought by the Catholic Church for $120K after it failed as a hotel in the late 20's and early 30's. Overall, It was a fantastic trip and a good week. I am in love with my new community after my week of events.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The LA Flower Mart

There are times when life speeds up and events seem to domino one after the other. This Spring is shaping up to be one of those times. Monday morning I had my Probationary Performance Evaluation with my Assistant Library Administrator that retired on Friday. I passed with "always met and sometimes exceeded expectations". It is nice to be appreciated. Last Thursday, I left home at 6:00 am to get downtown for the opening at 8:00. LA Flower . I had to consider whether I wanted to try to get the flowers on Thursday morning (the flower market opens at 6 on Thursdays) for optimal freshness or on Wednesday for optimal sanity. I chose sanity over freshness. I recommend this choice. I got down to the Flower Mart, paid for parking, $3 and paid for entrance $2 and then walked into a floral wonderland. I was amazed and wanted to just browse but I remained focused because I had the Library Commission visiting my library mid-morning for a meeting. I wanted to make sure that I back to work ASAP. I quickly purchased 60 stems of peach roses, 60 stems of small chrysanthemums, and 40 stems of a small purple flower quickly fell apart but I ended up with enough for the arrangements. I also picked up some greenery and floral foam. All for around $100. I got enough flowers to make 10 regular centerpieces and one guest of honor centerpiece. I love the flower market. It is fabulous and I can't wait to go back down. However, I don't know when that will be, going down and finding my way caused more than a few honks because I was inevitably in the wrong lane and had to squeeze into the right one. And then on the way back, the normally good Glendale Freeway had a major crash and my expected 15 minutes turned into almost an hour and a half. I hate freeways. But I did arrive in time to realize that most people for the Library Commission Meeting were caught in the same traffic jam so I guess I timed the adventure right. In the afternoon, I went to Canyon Country Library to put the arrangements together.

At first I thought I was creating floral tragedies but after sizing the stems down a bit, it began to come together. The only thing I needed to do was go get some ribbon to put around the little containers I bought at the Dollar Store. I ate lunch at 6:00 pm on Wed.
Thursday was a long long day for me. I first arrived at the Canyon Country Library at 8:00 am to finish up the arrangements with ribbon and to help with getting everything in order before our 9:00 meeting. I ended up burning myself with the hot glue gun about 10 times before I successfully added the ribbon and bows. If only I had thought about this before I put everything together I would have saved myself some blisters.
The luncheon went off without a hitch. I got a lot of compliments on the flowers.

Suzanne and I coordinated our colors and decorations perfectly. After most everything was cleaned up, I took a few hours off before I headed to my library. The third Thursday of each month is both our Regional Meetings and La Crescenta Town Council. I will be forever working splits on these days. I got back to the library at about 5:00 and helped close up. Then I went upstairs to prepare the meeting room for the Town Council. I don't mind these meetings and I fully expect to be there until 10 or so. True to my expectations, I didn't get out until almost 10:30 and home until after 11:00. Thankfully Friday I was off.
I will miss my Administrator Andrea. She always offered advice and wisdom that I will take with me throughout the rest of my career. She listened to me yet also put me back in place when I needed it without too many rumpled feelings on my part. Since I am quick to react and overly sensitive although I strive quite unsuccessfully to be neither, this says a lot about her tact and skill as a mentor and supervisor. She will be greatly missed.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Committed

No not me to an psychiatric ward, although there are days that I would happily go there. That would be upgrading my desire to crawl under my desk with a bottle of booze to bouncing around a rubber room with lots of good drugs. Not a bad idea.
Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage is Elizabeth Gilbert's new bestseller after her Eat, Pray, Love climbed the charts and optioned into a film starring Julia Roberts. I kicked off my book club in February at the library with her first title. It seemed like a suitable title for February and since it will be a movie soon, I wanted to offer it before the request list gets a mile long. Movies generate request lists. I try to push books that are coming out as movies but not on the general public radar as--Oh, I should read this.
When I initially read Eat, Pray, Love about 2 years ago, was it really that long ago? Eat, Pray, Love was a difficult read for me. Not because it was poorly written or that I didn't think that her story was a good one to tell, but because it hit too close to home. It seemed that every single flaw in her personality that she pointed out was one that I could identify with. It isn't easy reading an expose of yourself via someone else's life. I struggled through the book and in retrospect, I didn't think it was the best travelogue that I had ever read but it was the best book about me that I had ever read.


For several months Committed stared me in the face every time I went down the book aisle at Sam's Club, enticing me with the question--could this one also be about you? After the book club last month I decided to go ahead and buy the title. So I purchased it and Committed first road around in my front seat for about 2 weeks, and then sat on my desk for the next two weeks. Finally, I picked it up a few days ago because book club is tomorrow night and I wanted to give them some feedback on the new title.
Yep, she pretty much nailed me on the head again. Not that I have ever been divorced. The book is once again pretty good. I didn't find it painful to read this a time because obviously I am not in a position to get married. But for a long time now I have realized that I have a definite fear of commitment and that women with a fear of commitment act very differently from men with that fear. In a sense, Gilbert explored all those thoughts I have had kicking around in my head about marriage and relationships and why I am terrified of being trapped in one despite the contradictory urge to go out and get into one. Gilbert spent hours and hours finding the answer to all my questions. How nifty is that? I wonder which of our neuroses she will explore next? Can't wait.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Balinese not Siamese Thank You Very Much


It seems that with a little search on the Internet, I can call my mixed-tabby-black-long-hair kitties Traditional Balinese rather than Siamese. Sasha and Misha have fairly long hair and gorgeously plumed tails. Sasha is a seal point with silky creamy fur where as Misha is more elegantly darker. Misha's hair is longer but not as fluffy as Sasha's. They both have a few beigish tabby stripes on their legs and a dark spot on their tummies. Misha's tummy spot is darker. The Balinese website says "The Traditional Balinese (aka Applehead Balinese) cat combines the unique personality and intelligence, robust body type, pointed coloring, and the minimal shedding of the Traditional Siamese, with a softer voice and a silky coat." Well, Sasha has a softer voice and his coat is as soft as rabbit fur. Sasha sometimes has a whisper meow. Misha on the other hand grouses around quite a bit more like a Traditional Siamese.
The website says that Balinese are loyal and will follow you around. Yep, they do--even to the bathroom. When I take a longer than usual shower, without fail, I get a cat looking around the curtain telling me to hurry up--shouldn't waste water.
Sasha and Misha also love the computer. They have learned how to turn it on and actually know how to do things that I just don't do--like change my screen resolution for me--they like to see bigger pictures, and pause the game Bejeweled--I need the occasional pointer and tip on how to get a higher score.
Traditional Balinese used to be called Long-hair Siamese until sometime in the 50's when Californian Mary Dorsey began breeding and showing the longer haired Siamese. She decided that Balinese was more elegant and reminiscent of the lithe elegance of a Balinese Dancer. Since Sasha is my graceless wonder--I might not want to push the Balinese moniker too heavily though. Decide for yourself. Here is a photo of a Traditional Balinese.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My Own Personal Sex in the City Plan




I'll Be Hanging Out in Canyon Country for a while longer. Apartment hunting really got me down, so I decided "Hey I don't have to move." I don't mind the commute, I have so much going on with opening the new library and I am just plain tired. The only thing I really don't like is Mr. Drug Dealer downstairs and his posse. But we have co-existed for almost a year now so I guess, I can put up with it for six more months.
In October, I finish paying off all my credit cards. Then I will be in a better position to rent a place that I really like and won't have to wheel and deal with the likes of Jerry the Apartment Guy. So once I formulated this plan, I felt so much better.
I have also decided to do a little Sex in the City-esque thing as well. Actually, I thought it up way before Sex in the City aired the idea [Season 6, Episode 83 A Woman's Right to Shoes]but since the series made it famous, I won't protest too much if people think that it wasn't my own original idea. But Some people get married, some people have babies, some people buy a house. I have celebrated in all these life-events for other people for years gladly and happily. I have bought countless wedding, baby, and house warming gifts for friends and family. Now, I have decided, it is my turn. Seeing as my male prospects are cavernously dark, I don't foresee wedding vows anytime in the near future and quite possibly never. I have never wanted to have kids and the option to change my mind continues to slim into eventual non-existance. Although, the nester in me sometimes thinks it would be nice to own, when I stop to consider how much that thought terrifies me, I quickly list all the advantages of renting. I am not the settling sort. I am part gypsy and wanderer. The life events that other people celebrate are not mine. So I have decided to make a landmark occassion on one of those things that many American never see--the end of CREDIT CARD DEBT. It has been long in coming but the light is at the end of the tunnel and I want to celebrate. I want everyone to celebrate this life event with me, too. So I will take this opportunity to send out invitations, plan a big shindig, and shine with my accomplishment. So expect your invitation in the mail, with details on my Gift Registery. I promise, I will not add Manolo Blanik's to the list as Carrie did. Rather expect to see Target, Willam Sonoma and Macy's.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Apartment Hunting Blues Part I

I really wish that finding an apartment was easy and straight forward. But it is not. This morning I looked at some of the classified in the Glendale Newspress online. It seems that I might be able to get something comparable to what I have now for not much more or possibly even less. YEAH! But now I have Sasha and Misha and I need to find someplace that accepts cats. Some do, some don't, some want Cat Rent some want Cat Deposits and some want both. Some want a full month's rent in deposit and some anywhere from $300-$800. Then comes the looksey process which I dread and then deciding how much in overlap rent I want to pay.
Let me state right now, I am tired of paying overlap rent. I have paid up to a month every time I have moved and it gets old especially considering how often I have moved in the last 4 years and then of course factor in the big move from Hawaii and I have spent a lot in moving expenses. Why can't this be cheaper and easier?
My main thing this time is that I want quiet and no drug ealers living below me. I am tired of having questionable people hanging out socializing with my neighbor on the stoop that I have to roust them up from so that I can get to my apartment. I also would like to have a nice kitchen that has lots of space.
Tomorrow afternoon, I might go see a space near the library if the people have moved out. The deposit is $700 plus I have to give the guy $200 for each cat that I will never see again. He says it is a deposit and I guess he is right, it will deposit the money from my account to his. I am not keen on this. Then in the evening I am going to go see Jerry and a couple of his units in Glendale, he wants a full month's rent as deposit and says we will have to talk about the cats. Then on Tuesday morning I am going to North Hollywood to see Freda's apartment. This one requires $800 deposit and she really likes cats so I guess there isn't a cat deposit or rent. It is a two bedroom for less than $1300. I wouldn't mind living in North Hollywood which is kind of in the thick of things but still on the edge. It would be about a 10 mile commute which isn't bad.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Hot Dog Dog


Two Sundays ago during my weekly calls Mom announced that she thought something had happened to Jack, the vagabond dog that roams the neighborhood and enjoys staying at my mom's house a good part of the day.
Jack has been coming around the better part of 4 years and Mom has become fond of him. It says a lot when a dog is able to squeeze into her cat filled heart. He is truly a gentle giant with an equally gentle soul.
For years now, he would show up at Mom's house for his daily hot dog. She kept him well supplied. Then he was gone. A very worried Mom even called the Dog Catcher to see if he picked him up. Since Jack is a gentle dog she thought that he would be a good target for the local Dog Catcher that is afraid of dogs. But no he wasn't in doggy jail so she couldn't go bail him out. I don't know how she would have explained that no he wasn't her dog, he was the local stray but the entire neighborhood loves and they want him back so bring him around and drop him off at the corner. But if he had been there my mom would have gotten her way. She is that kind of lady.
Then last Sunday, Cheryl the neighbor called and said he was sending his wife over to her house with a gift. Mom rushed around getting decent for the neighbor. When she opened the door, there was Jack wagging his tail. Mom reached down to give hime a big hug with tears in her eyes. The neighbor said that he had shown up a few minutes before at their house so after their greetings, they brought him straight to Mom. Jack nosed into the house and laid down while Mom fixed him a can of cat food. The hot dogs had been sadly given away to a friend's dog the week before. Then out of character, Toby, the extremely shy Siamese, went up to Jack, sniffed him, let him sniff her and then rubbed herself on his shoulder. The best that can figured about this unusual greeting is that Toby understood that Jack was the prodigal son returning and was giving her best cat welcome to him.
So the Hot Dog Dog is back and all is right with the world. Everyone figures that someone picked him up and it took him almost two weeks to get away from them so that he could make his way back to the neighborhood that truly loves him and would never pin his free spirit up. Jack does have legitimate owners that he does seem to go home to late in the evenings after a day filled with socializing. But Jack is a smart dog and knows where the hog dog vendor with a heart of gold is located that adores his doggy nature despite herself and lets him protect her when she needs it. But that is another story for another time.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Political Hugs & Kisses




On Tuesday, Congressman Dreier arrived at my library with his entourage for a library tour of the facility that he raised the initial $1.3 million for. Last night was the first Town Council meeting at the library so Supervisor Antonivich was present. He ponied up the additional $21 million needed to complete the library. I don't have a lot of experience with politicians. A few Japanese ones that are a completely a different animal and former Governor Ceyetano of Hawaii. I went on a trade mission with him and other business people to Korea one year. I didn't have much interaction with the former governor, only a few pleasantries during course of several days. Ceyetano was super laid back but I was mostly impressed by his speaking skills. An extremely good orator. So essentially I doubled my politician experience this week.
On Tuesday I felt like a celebrity. The Congressman came complete with cameras. I don't know if people actually knew who he was or not or just that fact that he looked famous but a number of the patrons were whipping out their cell phone cameras as well to record the moment. My first experience with pseudo-paparazzi. The visit started out with a firm a handshake that lasted longer than I was comfortable with. I am always awkward and unsure when it comes to touching other people that I don't know. I prefer the Japanese bow. Even in church my order of preference for offering peace is a bow and then a handshake. I have to steel myself for hugs if that is what the church does. And saying Our Father, I do not like to hold hands with the people around me if I don't know them. So Congressman Dreier's handshake quickly ratcheted up the meter of discomfort especially when he gave me a slight pull in towards him. Completely unnerved, but I kept the smile pasted on my lips. Later, at the end of the tour I did actually get a hug. Super awkward on my part. I felt I was doing a dance move, handshake, in for the hug, and then swing out. I almost lost my balance.
The last night at the end of the Supervisor's words he made his way to to back of the meeting room where I was seated a table. I got up to shake his hand and then he pulled me in for a cheek kiss. Fortunately, I am more comfortable with cheek kissing after years of teaching students from other countries and living in Hawaii where male acquaintances seem to often cheek kiss and closer male friends will actually lip kiss. I had about 3 male friends that would plant me a big one whenever we saw each other. Again my discomfort meter is triggered when I don't really know the person at all. I have been to many events with Supervisor Antonovich present, ground breakings, job fairs, dedications, etc. Also I am greeted by his smiling face every time I check the time. There is a photo of him posted under the clock at the Customer Service Desk. I almost feel that I know him. So thankfully the cheek kiss went off without a twinge on my part. But I did note that I seem to have crossed from a member of the crowd to someone that can be kissed.
I am beginning to feel a bit like a celebrity myself. I have had my photo in the paper and stories where I was quoted no less than 4 times in the last month. I am kind of enjoying all the attention, perhaps I need to start getting out of my comfort zone and offer people more hugs and kisses myself.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Glad to Be Free of Time Warner


Yesterday, I got a surprise when I opened my cable bill. It doubled in the space of a month. Apparently my offer expired. The offer that the cable guy told me would not expire--well except for the Showtime that I haven't watched in 8 months. I don't even know what channel it is and it is too far in for me to surf to.
So I called Time Warner to see what was up with my bill. I expected to see a rate increase in January but that didn't happen. It happened this week.
The call system was very frustrating, It kept looping me through with I'm sorry I didn't understand that. It took me 4:20 to get into the cue. Then I got the service rep from Hell. When I complained about the automated system and that it took me an uncommonly long time to get into the cue, she said We have a lot of people waiting. What? Instead of saying I'm sorry that must be frustrating, we are working on the system to provide excellent customer service, she didn't want to hear that the company she works for has horrible automation. Well, I guess, they hire the same sort of employees as they do machines.
Then she continued to dispute with me on this issue, I said, if you will listen to me then we can get to my problem and you can get to the next customer. Finally, I explained my problem. She looked at my account and said That is your rate. What? No it wasn't until this month, what happened. This took another 3 times explaining before she looked into my account to see what happened to make my bill double.
The I explained that Time Warner has two options they can either reduce my bill back to my former rate or I can turn my cable box in. Then she went on about something, I don't even remember. When I asked to speak with a supervisor she refused. Then I got fed up with her and explained that I wanted to speak with a supervisor about the lack of her customer service skills. This took another 3 minutes of explaining to her that I wanted to complain about her so I needed to speak with someone. Finally, she put me on hold and I spoke to the supervisor which she had previously explained to me did not exist. To be fair the supervisor was professional.
The end result is that there were no special rates and Time Warner would rather not have my business. Which is fine with me because after yesterday's interaction and the fact that the last two times I went to the local store during their business hours they were closed, I am happy to be without TV.
TV is something that I don't really need. For me $50 was a fair price for me to get TV and internet. (Turns out my neighbor has a wireless network that I can cockroach on so I don't internet) But more than $50 crosses what I deem as a fair value for my perceived needs. TV for me is a convenience and not a necessity. When the cable guy knocked on my door offering me the deal with immediate hook up (no being held hostage in the apartment waiting for them to come in the window and then failing) I did a quick value calculation in my head. The cost matched the value I was willing to pay, so it worked. Now the cost exceeds the value so back to the cable shop. If they are open that is.