Tuesday, September 18

Today's Joys

Things I thoroughly enjoyed today:

Walking in light rain down to the Mississippi.

Watching the white heron I've been seeing lately. Watching the shimmer of waves in subdued light.

Taking off my shoes, standing barefoot in cool wet grass, and eating raspberries until I could eat no more.

Choir practice at First Universalist: both the singing and the joshing around. The basses as usual were the "troublemakers," the tenors had ready quips, the sopranos were thin and lovely, and the altos laughed at all the jokes.

An extended call to the help desk at work, because Tony cracks me up. I can feel myself on the verge of losing it laughing, and sometimes I roll right over the edge.

Sitting in a bookstore, drinking tea, reading a magazine, listening to the rain pound on the outside. (Vastly preferable to being stuck in extra-slow rush-hour traffic, on top of post-bridge collapse congestion, on top of our already crowded streets and highways. I waited it out at Borders Books.)
I copied the picture of the heron from this blog entry about herons: http://qualiajournal.blogspot.com/2006/12/white-herons_8518.html

Credo, #2

(The picture shows Bach's original manuscript for the Credo section of his B Minor Mass. Click on it for a larger view.)

Ever since I became acquainted with the "Credo" from Bach's Mass in B Minor, I've tried to determine what my credo is. What do I believe? Here is a not-very-serious but absolutely-for-sure list of some things I believe.


• Always keep your sense of humor.

• Take your work seriously but don't take yourself seriously.

• Never make a decision at night. (Grandpa Ray)

• If you can't sleep, turn your pillow over so the cool side is up. (Grandpa Ray)

• There's always time to go to the bathroom.

• You get what you pay for.

• The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.

• Take time for quiet time, also known as "To keep crisp, reroll inner bag." (Kellogg's Rice Krispies box)

• Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great Battle. (Philo of Alexandria, philosopher)

Friday, September 7

Books to avoid

I was browsing the mystery section at my local library the other day and found a lot not to like. I might be considered fussy, though not by me. I don't like my mysteries too cute, but I've sworn off the ever-escalating "can you top this" violence at the other extreme. Why are serial killers of young women so popular? I find it disturbing on so many levels.

Books I avoid include features such as:

- horrifically mutilated corpses of young women, and I don't care how good the writing is. I'm just done with this.

And on the other extreme:

- blurbs which include descriptions of Westies, Wheaten Terriers, or any small annoying dogs
- blurbs in which people "stumble across a corpse." Uh-huh. Repeatedly, book after book. Uh-huh. Really.
- blurbs for fantasy books which include anyone "wise in the lore of" anything
- any combination of cooking and murder
- books where the protagonist puzzles through one scenario after another, with the most gossamer of rationales, reeling off theory after theory based on nothing at all
- any combination of the romance genre with the mystery genre.

Which brings me to some deliciously awful writing I've been meaning to post. This is from Andrea Kane's "Dark Room," a book with a fairly good mystery which in my humble opinion is completely ruined by overlaying it with romance. You don't need to know much about the story to -- well, enjoy it is not quite write -- er, right . . . but here: Morgan is the one who, yes, "stumbled upon" her parents' bodies. Her father's best friend and his wife Elyse raise her along with their own daughter, Jill, with whom Morgan now runs an upscale dating agency. Lane is the hunky love interest. And now, with a flourish: ~~~~

“Dressed in an emerald-green velour Lacoste running suit, with her frosted blond hair cut fashionably short and wispy, Elyse invited Lane in, took his coat, and asked what he’d like to drink.”

“A lump forming in her throat, Morgan studied her mother’s handwriting—the flowing letters, the achingly familiar use of circles to dot her i’s.” (!!! Hair standing on end!!!) =:0

“Lane wasn’t quite sure what he was expecting, but it wasn’t the fine-boned brunette who walked in. Shoulder-length hair. Pale green eyes. Fine features and delicate build that conveyed fragility. But with a take-charge self-assurance that completely contradicted the vulnerable image. No, actually it enhanced it. Sensitivity and strength, composure and fire, with a depth and expressiveness in her eyes that spoke of compassion and pain.
‘Hauntingly beautiful’ was the term that sprang to mind.”

(Feel free to permit yourself a small shudder at any time.)

“He glanced from her to Jill and back. ‘Two beautiful, intelligent women--one, charming and intuitive, the other vivacious and enthusiastic. It’s a pretty unbeatable combination. I can see why clients flock to your agency.”

This last reminds me of those clippings the "New Yorker" used to run, captioned, "Shouts we doubt ever got shouted." Things like "The crowd shouted, 'take your wife and your childen and your old green Chevy and get out of town." Not really pithy shouting material.

I can think of no proper summarizing remark. I'm at a loss for words.


I checked out a book about Chiyogami, a kind of Japanese paper, usually with a small all-over pattern. As is so often the case, I didn't have time to do much but skim it and look at the pictures. I did find out there are dozens of kinds of Japanese paper, but didn't really understand what differentiates them. Here is a particularly lovely example of Chiyogami from the internet. If you're like me, you'll recognize it as origami paper, but there seems to be a distinction. Maybe chiyogami is used for origami but other papers are, too? Who really cares? Isn't it pretty?

Wednesday, September 5

The Music of Failure

I think about failure and success, having such a spectacular track record of failing to find a library job. I console myself with the character-building qualities of failure, and with the opportunity to develop spiritual robustness with all the time I save not having a demanding job. I regret my inability to provide more security and more fun for my children, and I don't have a silver lining for that.

I am attracted to stories of failure, its antecedents and consequences. Last night after a heavy day of resisting that insistent voice in my head chanting "loser, loser, loser," I reached for Bill Holm's The Music of Failure. He grew up in a small rural town and calls those a success who pass on a love of learning and beauty, particularly his friend Pauline Bardal and her brother and sister.

I'm an adult living in a wonderful city that values learning and beauty. Though I may occasionally inspire such a love, so do multitudes of other influences.

Here in the city, in my adult life, I count myself as a success those times I am kind, the times I am optimistic, the times I listen from the heart. These are qualities I possess that may be in short supply around me, and which could kindle another's heart the way the Bardal's love of learning kindled Bill Holm.

Is it spiritual discipline or cop-out to believe wholeheartedly that is enough? I work to believe that intangibles such as love can be my success, but keep a cynical eye out for self-delusion.

Here, for your reading pleasure, is an excerpt from The Music of Failure:

"Pauline, in American terms, was a great failure: always poor, never married, living in a shabby small house when not installed in others' backrooms, worked as a domestic servant, formally uneducated. . . gawky and not physically beautiful, a badly trained musician whose performances would have caused laughter in the cities. She owned nothing valuable, traveled little, and died alone, the last of her family. . . Probably she died a virgin, the second most terrible fate, after dying broke, that can befall an American.

Pauline shared a small house with her brother Gunnar and her sister Rose, and when she died, the last of the Bardals, there was no one to inherit it. Holm helped clear the "pack rat" house for the executors.

"They accumulated no cans full of bank notes, no hidden treasure, nothing of any genuine monetary value; the Bardals were, in that regard truly poor. But not poor in mind and spirit! They owned books in three or four languages: Plato, Homer, Bjornsson in Norwegian, Snorri Sturlasson in Icelandic, Whitman, Darwin, Dickens, Ingersoll, Elbert Hubbard, piles of scores by Handel, Bach, Mozart, George Beverly Shea and Bjorgvin Gudmundsson, old cylinders of Caruso, Galla-Curci, Schumann-Heink, John McCormack, cheap books reproducing paintings and sculpture from great European museums, organ, piano, violin, trumpet, manuals for gardening, cooking and home remedies, the best magazines of political commentary and art criticism next to Capper's Farmer, the Minneota Mascot, and The Plain Truth, dictionaries and grammars in three or four languages, books of scientific marvels, Richard Burtons's travel adventures, old text books for speech and mathematics, Bibles and hymn books in every Scandinavian language, Faust, The Reader's Digest, and "Sweet Hour of Prayer." That tiny house was a space ship stocked to leave the planet after collecting the best we have done for each other for the last 4,000 years of human consciousness. And none of it worth ten cents in the real world of free enterprise! The executors might as well have torched the house, thus saving the labors of sorting it, giving mementos to friends and peddling the rest at a garage sale on a sweltering summer afternoon. What one realized with genuine astonishment was that the Bardals piled this extraordinary junk not only inside their cramped house; that house was a metaphor for their interior life which they stocked with the greatest beauty and intelligence they understood. They read the books, played the instruments, carried the contents of that house in their heads, and took it off with them at last into their neat row in the Lincoln County graveyard."

"But not entirely . . . Anyone who carries a whole civilization around inside gives it to everyone they meet in conversations and public acts. Pauline gave me music; Gunner, the model of a man who read and thought . . . Rose, in her odd way, her crazed longing for God. Not one of them had so much as a high school diploma. "

Friday, August 31

Breaking News

This just in. Today is my last day "alone" here. On Tuesday I'll come in and train the new secretary. Or so I thought until 15 minutes ago, when the new secretary's old boss called Yusef to see if she could stay another week. Yusef left it up to me--did I want to come back next week?

I've been mentally saying goodbye all week, and am ready to launch. I like it here and it's really hard to say goodbye. I don't really want to prolong the goodbye any longer. Plus there's those few unpleasant tasks I was looking forward to handing off.

On the other hand, it's a dollar more per hour here than at Barry & Sewall.


I've got mental and emotional whiplash!

Most Fanciful Disappointment

I drove by a garage sale sign on the way to work this morning and for some reason was reminded of my most disappointing garage sale ever. The Minnesota Jungian Society advertised a garage sale, in Northeast!

Hoo boy, think of the opportunity to rummage around in the attics and basements of a crowd of Jungians! I imagined exotic musical instruments, incense burners, tattered old books on alchemy, astrology and dreams, ribbon-tied packets of letters, bottles from old patent medicine remedies-- a treasure trove of riches.

How disappointing it was to find only ugly children's clothes, old National Geographics, and dented ping-pong balls.

First predictive dream! Sort of

I have a great dream life but my dreams are not at all predictive. Mostly not sensible, either, but that's O.K., dreams are supposed to be mysterious.

This week I finally had a predictive dream: I dreamed I was in China shopping for cut price handbags. For those of you who don't keep up with fashion trends (and I do?), the handbag is a big status symbol now. I guess once you graduate from buying a "purse" at Target, it's a slippery slope to paying hundreds, even thousands of dollars for a "designer handbag." This is apparently for teens and the middle class, which blows my mind. It's a new fashion "must have."

The day after the dream, I heard a news story about all the luxury goods -- like designer clothes, handbags, sunglasses, etc., that are made in China. Yeah, O.K., so I didn't make it to China. And I didn't actually buy a handbag. But still!

Take that, psychics!

Tall Things Near Water -- a Pearson moment

This morning I was looking for the famous Guichard photo, "Phares Dans La Tempte--La Jumet," or, "that one where the big wave wraps around the lighthouse and the man standing there better get inside quick."

I had to search an image database, and I couldn't get the word "lighthouse" to stay in my head. Over and over, all I could think of was "water tower." Such a Pearson moment. "You know, one of those tall things . . . and water . . . "

P. S. Here's the story of the photo. Very dramatic. As you might guess.

Thursday, August 30

Less Joy in Mudville

Remember "Casey at the bat"? The final stanza:

" Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville -- mighty Casey has struck out."

Well, I didn't get the library job I interviewed for or the secretary job I was offered pending a five day posting for internal candidates. A good internal candidate turned up, bringing me another come-from-ahead loss.

And the library job? Well, I think I'm Too Introverted to be a Librarian. This may be a fatal flaw in these days of diminished government funding. For $17.00 an hour one is expected to be an expert in child literacy and a go-getter at building community alliances. Except for large libraries like Ridgedale, Brookdale, Southdale, and Minneapolis Central, I believe the days of the reference librarian are over.

As I used to joke with my friend Laura long ago, it's time for life plan Z'', or Z double prime -- there have been many " life plans" along the way.


I was devastated the day the secretarial job fell through. I got through the day by promising myself I could hide under the covers when I got home. Jarrett was home when I got home, and he gave me a hug and asked me if I wanted to talk. Yes, the Man of Few Grunts himself. What a peach. This is his way when I am sad. I feel very supported. He doesn't say much, but I can feel how tuned in to me he is. He gives me some extra hugs, volunteers more help around the house, fetches me something to drink, and listens when I want to talk.

When Evan came home I was hiding under the covers, but I'd promised Jarrett I'd take him to buy a new video game he had on reserve, so once again parenthood pulled me out of self-centered self-pity and into the mobile world. Obligations give life structure -- something absolutely critical for a person who battles depression. Thank god for kids, cats, and work.

Evan gave me a hug too, and asked if I wanted to talk. What fine sensitive guys. Once male pattern baldness sets in, they'll be perfect Sensitive New Age Males. Evan also did something he's very good at, although it's hard to explain. I guess you could say he took over the physical and emotional management of the evening, smoothing out any conflicts, making sure things went smoothly and we all stayed on an even keel, pitching in even more than usual with chores.

Furthermore, he does it so subtly. There's no heroics of "Look, now I'm doing dishes because you are incapacitated with sadness, ain't I great." He just quietly steps in and covers things, not in a perfectionist way. He does "just enough," and that's a compliment, not a put-down. He doesn't grandstand it, and neither does Jarrett. I guess you could say Evan takes on a wider and more subtle role, some elements of which you might not notice if you weren't paying attention. In particular, the way he takes on what I can only call the "emotional management" of the household that impresses me.

I've seen Mom do this many times, and most of the moms I know (or women in any relationship), but I think it's outstanding that teenage young men have chosen to learn how to do it, each in their own way and to their own ability, and know when it's needed. I don't like to lean on them, but we all have days when we need support, and boy, do I appreciate it.

P.S. The subsequent days have been much better and my mood is much improved.

Monday, August 27

Lazy Librarian

One of the standard library interview questions is about Reader's Advisory, or recommending books. My answer is that one starts by asking what the patron has read lately that she liked, and what it was about the book that she liked; and then recommend other books along that line. (Standard protocol.)

The interviewers agree but still want a recommendation, and in part because it is my second favorite book in the world (Zorba the Greek is my #1 favorite), and in part because I become forgetful in job interviews, I always end up recommending To Kill A Mockingbird.

I had a job interview recently and made mental notes about several books to recommend, and then forgot them during the interview. Fell back on To Kill A Mockingbird.

Imagine how hard I laughed when I saw this headline in the August 18 issue of the satirical newspaper The Onion: "Lazy Barnes & Noble Employee Recommends To Kill a Mockingbird."


Wednesday, August 22

The Geographer's Library

"Item 9b: The Peacock's Tail, a brooch . . . Ten pieces of Baltic amber. . . each a different color (blood, cooling lava, late-August afternoon, Karelia, dead man's lips, January noon, wine, everything, nothing, God) . . ."

This is from Jon Fasman's novel "The Geographer's Library." It's a search novel along the lines of --yes--the "DaVinci Code" or "The Historian," except when we arrive on the scene, the mysterious local professor who has done most of the searching is found dead in his apartment, and Paul Tomm, a cub reporter on the small-town Lincoln, Massachusetts paper, has been given the task of writing his obituary.

The assembled items are part of an alchemists' formula for long life. Possessing even part of the whole extends life -- what would happen to the one who assembled them all? The delightful thing about this book is that the author manages to write all this convincingly, going back and forth between the creepy and unbelievable to the Tomm's very ordinary life (although his new girlfriend, the professor's neighbor, is pretty spooky.)

I want to know how the puzzle ends, and I definitely want to know Paul Tomm's fate. The real treat is Fasman's writing. He writes of mysterious things in matter of fact ways, and handles the quotidian equally well. His wit is dry, light, and laugh-out-loud funny, and at the same time, he maintains a suitable air of creepy mystery that convinces but doesn't go over the top. In looking for some short quotations to show off his style, I found whole pages I want to quote.

I will add some later, but for now, gotta go.

Read this book. Plot: four stars. Characters: four stars. Writing: five stars.

Friday, August 17

Must See: Uzbecki Embroidery

The Uzbecki embroidery ended up way down at the bottom of the post, but here is a link. "Uzbecki embroidery" sounds dull and obscure, but the bold colors and the simple-yet-sophisticated motifs just open your heart and make you grin. The exhibit is at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

I'm having one of those afternoons when I'm flooded with creative ideas for writing, work, and dozens of other projects. The only problem is that as new ideas come up, they replace the old ones, which I forget.

Last night I went to "A Mirror of Nature: Nordic Landscape Painting from 1860 to 1910," at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. (Some of the images are shown on the museum home page and there is a slide show on the exhibit page.) Some parts were wonderful, others looked like the kind of landscape you would buy at Sears and hang over your sofa. Now I know who all those painters-of-lame-paintings got their ideas from. (I'm hoping against hope that they weren't lame painters, just paying the rent.) The exhibit was arranged chronologically to show the changes over time as new ideas changed the painting scene again and again.Things got progressively looser and more emotional. Works for me.

As always, the art museum is a good place to people-watch and eavesdrop. I am completely tongue-tied when I talk about art, yet I get a chuckle out of all the high-flown sentiment flowing around me. Likewise, the explanatory notes for the paintings are very useful and help one get more out of the paintings, but occasionally someone gets carried away.

I found this last night: "the lack of figures and the tenebrous sky imbue the scene with an odd quiescence."

Exactly what I was thinking!

(Punchline from one of my favorite jokes: "Up in the hills where my people come from, we speak of little else.")

The museum is filled with lovely things and lovely people, but it is surrounded by a very tough neighborhood.The contrast was unsettling. Read Tim Wise for an exegesis of "white privilege."

All this leads up to the amazing Uzbecki embroidery. The embroidery is amazing mostly because it absolutely sings. You almost want to laugh out loud for joy. (OK , someone is getting carried away here.) The pieces are usually on black fabric, completely covered with mostly flower motifs ranging in from hand-sized to a foot or so. The colors are mostly reds, greens, blues and white, in strong clear colors. Many of the motifs are circular or paisley shaped, and many of them are constructed so they almost vibrate with motion. They have very sophisticated details, because this embroidery was purely decorative and displayed a woman's (highly valued) artistic skills.

I get excited just thinking about them! I wanted to buy the exhibit book, but it is $60.00! Yikes.

Sunday, August 12

River Level lowered to aid divers

See the low wall on the left of the picture? Marius and I sat there this spring and dabbled our toes in the water.

I-35W Bridge

I went down to the Stone Arch Bridge today to pay my respects to those killed and injured in the bridge collapse, and to pay my respects to the bridge, too. I arrived a little after 8:00 on a Sunday morning. There were already people on the bridge looking toward the wreckage, which you can barely see from that vantage. It was a hushed and solemn crowd.

Here are the things that stood out most for me: the quiet, respectful mood of the crowd, the very low level of the Mississippi, and when I crossed the river and went to Gold Medal Park by the Guthrie, just how close everything is. I tend to see the city cut up by the routes I take; from the hill in Gold Medal Park I could see the Metrodome, the U, the color-blocked apartments of Cedar-Riverside, the downtown skyscrapers, and across the river to the St. Anthony mill neighborhood.

Sock Watch Photo

This is the first photo I have uploaded. It took me way too long to figure it out. The blogging software was easy, I just couldn't find the photo in my iPhoto library. I hope it gets easier.

Saturday, August 4

The words we choose

One of the things I've been doing this morning instead of getting up and on the road to see my beloved aunt is reading a magazine, "Artful Blogging," which highlights and excerpts several artists' blogs. These are artists who work primarily in mixed media, doing altered art and collage. (The magazine is published by Stampington, a vendor of rubber stamps and a publishing kingdom for altered art and collage.)

I'm fascinated by the altered art and collage, mixed media movement. Rubber stamps give access to art and images for those who can't draw, as does collage, which has unleashed a torrent of creativity. There is a wide range of styles, and I can't tell you how many hours I have dawdled away browsing online and print, absorbing images, techniques, and discussion of this art/craft trend. (See my del.icio.us links. Click on the tags for collage and artblogs. I'm still working on making the page easier to use; bear with me.)

As in any visual art, there are pioneers, visionaries, a great many people who do cool stuff, and some uninspired followers. One of the few things that annoy me are the words people choose to use in their art and collage. It probably relates to the rubber stamp words that are available. The ones that sell, and so are created and kept in stock, are the ones you can guess: "Dream." "Dream big." "Delight." "Believe." "Take flight." There is also a fascination with French words and images which charmed at first but now has become tedious. I do get tired of all these relentlessly cheerful words. Here are my modest proposals for additional art-appropriate words:

slightly cynical

in keeping with the French themes that are so popular, I offer the following phrases from French I:

C'est vrai, c'est aujourd'hui Mercredi! (That's right, it's Wednesday!)

donne moi une coup de telephone (call me)

cherchez une livre (look for a book)

c'est moi (it's me)

and my favorite fruit,

(that can't possibly be right; I'll look it up tomorrow, it's past bedtime) -- grapefruit

Escaping the Gravitational Field

It's so hard for me to escape the gravitational field of the house. Today I am going to visit Aunt Lucille in Park Rapids. Though I know it will be good, I always have trouble breaking from my home and the familiar to go someplace new.

If I weren't traveling this weekend I would be working today. But in this moment when I haven't yet committed to the countdown sequence of launching myself, there is a free space. Knowing I will travel has kept me from making the usual lengthy list of things I should do, so I don't have any other plans for today. Into this small mental free space flood a dozen longings to read, do art, write, work on projects, walk . . . not weed, or do housework, or any of the things I would really do if I were to stay home. It's a small free space, a rarity for any of us. A duty-free zone.

In truth I also drag my heels because for each trip there is at least one unpleasant task that must be done before one leaves. Usually it is bill paying or doing the dishes. Today my paycheck has been deposited, the library books have been returned, and I even have something in the house to eat on Sunday night. There is plenty of book and paper clutter that could be cleaned up, and vacuuming to be done, but the real show stoppers are emptying the kitty litter box, which has been left a little longer than usual this week, and cleaning my suitcase, into which Potamus has peed. I left it out after my last weekend away, just two weeks ago, and perhaps he sees it as a sign he's going to be home alone, which, as a very social cat, he doesn't like. Whatever the reason, I absolutely am not interested in attacking two depositories of cat pee before I go--but I must. So here I am, procrastinating.

And if it weren't that it would be something else.

Tuesday, July 24

Mad with Joy

People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us. ~Iris Murdoch

I haven't had time lately to write anything, but the quote above is worth posting. I hope to write soon, now that I've finished Harry Potter 7!

Friday, July 20

I Can't Get Started with You

I'm going to a high school reunion tonight. While pondering the nature of success, this lyric came to mind and made me laugh. It's all relative, isn't it?

Lyrics by: Ira Gershwin
Music by: Vernon Duke
Originally made famous by: Bob Hope
From the Show: Ziegfeld Follies of 1936

There are a couple different versions on the web, so I just put them together.

I Can't Get Started With You
I'm a glum one
It's explainable
I met someone
Life's a bore
The world is my oyster no more

All the papers where I lead the news
With my capers Now will spread the news
Superman turns out to be flash-in-the-pan

I've flown around the world in a plane
I’ve settled revolutions in Spain
The North Pole I have charted
But I can’t get started with you

Around the golf course I’m under par
And all the movies want me to star
I’ve built a house and show place
But I can’t get no place with you

You’re so supreme
Lyrics that I write of you
Scheme, just for a sight of you
And I dream both day and night of you
And what good does it do

In 1929, I sold short
In London, I’m presented at court
But you’ve got me down hearted,
Cause I can’t get started with you

I've been around the world in a plane
Designed the latest IBM brain
But lately I'm so downhearted
'Cause I can't get started with you
In Cincinnati or in Rangoon
I simply smile and all the gals swoon
Their whims I've more than just charted
But I can't get started with you

O tell me why
Am I no kick to you
I who'd always stick to you
Fly through thin and thick to you
Tell me why I'm taboo

Each time I chanced
To see Franklin D.
He always said
Hi buddy to me
And with queens
I've a la carted
But I can't get started
With you

Wednesday, July 18

Unforgettable books--fiction

"A Winter's Tale," Mark Helprin's fabulous book of magical realism set in New York at the turn of the century, which features a consumptive heroine, a magical flying horse, and a gang leader who is a "color junkie, " is catalogued as follows:


Irish Americans -- Fiction.

Reincarnation -- Fiction.

Supernatural -- Fiction.

Burglars -- Fiction.

Upper West Side (New York, N.Y.) -- Fiction.

Nowhere do you find a hint of the book, and none of these are intuitively obvious.

Zorba the Greek is cataloged as "Love of life--fiction" and "Elderly men--fiction." It's a good start, but shouldn't there at least be a "Greek Islands--fiction" entry?

These are the Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication (CIP) categories, which the LoC kindly prepares so individual libraries don't have to reinvent the cataloging for each book. This save time and money and makes cataloging consistent from library to library. Fiction is difficult to classify, obviously, but somehow we're missing the heart of the book.

My solution, which might need some refining, is to have a category, "Must read this book." "Fabulous." "You'll kick yourself if you miss this one."

"Unforgettable books--fiction." Then the question is, who gets to decide what is unforgettable? I'm sure we could work something out.

Tuesday, July 17


This morning I ate a perfect peach, a proof of grace and beauty.

Do you remember the wonderful book Umbrella, by Taro Yashima? It's the story of a little girl named Momo, which means peach, and her umbrella. The rain, when it finally comes, makes the sound "bolo bolo, pom polo, bolo bolo, pom polo."

The Hennepin County Library doesn't have it, but the Minneapolis Public Library does. It was first published in 1958, and reissued in 1986. It's a perfect example of a classic children's book that stands the test of time, and a good example of why we need both kinds of libraries, the ones like Hennepin that have more copies of popular books, and a collection that is in general newer and in better shape, and a library with a big "back list" a deep collection of classics.

Friday, July 13

Jul 12, 1817

Yesterday was Henry David Thoreau's birthday, born July 12, 1817.

"Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink,
taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each."

Thank you, Jessica W, who posted the quote above and a Happy Birthday to Thoreau on First Universalist Church's Cybercoffeehour yesterday. Quoting Jessica, "Happy birthday Thoreau and thanks for your influence which is considerable indeed." Thoreau is one of our Unitarian Universalist ancestors, a UU saint. If we had saints. Which we don't. But if we did.

Here are some favorite, and most famous, quotations from his work:

I have a great deal of company in my house, especially in the morning when nobody calls.
A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.
As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.
Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.
Distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes.
Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life so. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.
Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.
How can any man be weak who dares to be at all?
I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.
I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
In wilderness is the preservation of the world.
Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.
Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify.
The heart is forever inexperienced.
The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length, the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them.
Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.
What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

Happy Birthday, Henry.

Thursday, July 12

Wild Mondarda

For the past two days I haven't gotten out into the garden at all. This morning when I walked out to the car I noticed a lavender blur in a place I wasn't expecting one.

It was wild monarda, harvested from a field behind the Subway off I35 in Moose Lake two or three years ago, thought dead and gone lo these many years. I don't understand it, but I like it! I'm racking my brains to think if I've had other, more recent, Monarda adventures. This was growing in my brush pile, so it hasn't been watered all year. One tough plant! I'm going to transplant it to the front slope, which gets hot afternoon sun.

On a related topic: this is the first year we've had more raspberries than we can eat. I should harvest some. Right after the rhubarb, which should have been cut months ago. And I should really fertilize the roses, they should have been fertilized twice already.

This reminds me of a wonderful essay by T. B. White. I'll see if I can scan it and post it here. It's a long list of "I should" chores for his farm, with all the accompanying "but before that I need to" and "and as long as I'm doing that I should. . . " It ends "but now it's 4:00 in the afternoon so I think I'll finish this essay and go have supper."

Dale and Jim Ed read it on the Morning Program years ago for Labor Day (Labor=work=chores.) You could hear their voices grow embarassed as the essay went on and on, sounding longer to them than it had in their estimation, and I think they probably consider it one of their less successful moments. I loved it and went on a leisurely search for it that involved skimming many of White's books over the course of 5-8 years.

I finally found it while subbing in the Central Minneapolis Public Library ("downtown") Literature and Language Department with the help of a very experienced and wonderful librarian and a paper card catalog! The card catalog was no longer being maintained even at the time, and I don't know if it made the transition to the new building. On-line cataloging has improved and if the book were to be cataloged today it might, repeat might, have a list of all the essays. It's a good possibility. But of course, the book won't be re-cataloged, and in most libraries it wouldn't even still be held. In fact, it might have been weeded in the Minneapolis system, too. I copied the essay and I don't know if I even noted the name of the book. One small look at the inner workings, and trade-offs, of deciding what to keep and how to access it.

Wednesday, July 11

Ocean in view! O! The joy!

Ocean in view! O! The Joy! -- words of Lewis? Clark? on reaching the Pacific

I finally got out my reading glasses today to examine the back of the newest nickel. I'm so proud that someone chose this beautiful, poetic quote and vision. When I first traveled to Europe, their coins and bills seemed so glamorous compared to ours. This is better!

Shoe-Girl Express

Yesterday I went mad and bought a pair of peep-toe, leopard-skin sling backs. Whoo-hoo! Their only nod to Library Protocol is their modest 1" heel. Fortunately, the Library Code of Professional Conduct no longer mandates sensible shoes.

Cheryl G., Janice K-D., Stacey K. and I went out to Ray-J's for wings after work and then to DSW Shoes for their 80% off Summer Clearance sale. Our average shoe price was slightly under $10 per pair. I bought three pairs for under $30.

Today we all arrived at the first floor elevator at the same time -- never happened before -- dressed up and wearing our new shoes. What a hoot. As I got off the elevator and the others continued to the 5th floor I heard Cheryl say, "Here comes the Shoe-Girl Express!"

The other three are shoe-lovers from way back and can wear high heels with elan. I had to stick to low heels but got strappy shiny flimsy things.

Not only were the shoes and bargains lots of fun, but there was also a feeling of participating in a cultural ritual, akin to "going out for drinks after work." What came first, having shoe shopping become part of the cultural reference for "what is fun" or a critical mass of women loving shoes? Which came first, "Sex in the City" and Manolo Blahniks or a groundswell of shoe love? I knew of women with lots of shoes, but it seems like it only hit my radar with "Sex in the City." Of course, my fashion radar is notably undeveloped. In 1980 when I got married, shoe love and expensive shoes were not a part of culture, but expensive shoes have become a part of bridal expectations. That narrows it down to a sea change sometime in the last 27 years!

No matter, it was great fun to fool around with new friends. I drove home happy on a near-empty freeway in the magical long July twilight, the sky pale golden to the west, white-pink to the east.

This morning, the leopard-skin peep-toe sling backs pinch my foot (did I mention that the inner-sole is shiny gold?), and I think the black flats are inexplicably a size too big. As I drove to work I recalled the "Buy-Nothing Summer" blog I read yesterday, pondered the carbon cost of shoe manufacture and transport, and remembered my no-frills budget. It's now ok for librarians to wear cute shoes, but I don't know if Unitarians approve. Pas de problem. Today I rode "The Shoe-Girl Express."

Tuesday, July 10

Lazy Sunday

Last Sunday, July 8, was my first "lazy Sunday" of the summer. Didn't go to church or do heroic work in the garden. Slept until 9:00, read the paper and lazed around until 1:00, went to an afternoon movie (Transformers) with Jarrett and then to Border's Books. Wonderful!

AND, it rained! The weather report said it was the most rainfall at one time since last August. I think our part of town only got 1/4" to 1/2", but some places got an inch and a half.

Saturday was 98 degrees and humid as all get out; the cool front that brought the rain brought relief from the scorcher, too.

Monday, July 9

Home from the wedding

Lauren and Stacy's wedding was this weekend. They were radiant. Jarrett danced.

Home feels dull. "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, creeps in its petty pace from day to day." Something like that. Even though I work temp, I still am in a rut.

That was my last "big thing" to look forward to. My class reunion comes in three weeks, but I dread it more than look forward to it.

So, what IS the meaning of life? Anything more than survival at one pole and amusement at the other? Into what should I put my time and energy?

Friday, June 29

Good-bye to Marius

Marius left this Tuesday, June 26, to return to Germany. Very sad. I didn't say half the things I wanted to say because it always seemed to soon to be giving any kind of closing remarks, and then at the airport it was clear that both of us needed to keep it light if we were going to get through it. I'm just glad it doesn't have to be good-bye forever, and that we have e-mail and Flickr and cheap long distance. Our "generation" of host parents has it good.

Tuesday, June 19

Sock Watch Retrospective

Marius found out I was keeping a sock watch and was rather indignant. "I don't care" that socks don't match. Tried to explain that I don't care either, just find it completely charming.

At the Ultimate (Frisbee) game and banquet, I saw a veritable plethora of unmatched socks. Stripes with polka dots was my favorite -- I think it was blue stripes and the other foot had red dots. Or were they butterflies?

At any rate, apparently this is either 1) COMPLETELY acceptable 2) ordinary, as in, why would anyone bother to match socks? there's so much more to life, or 3) kinda cool.

I'm awed. I did have some spectacularly bright and fuzzy aqua-lime-yellow socks, very caterpillar-esque, when I was in 9th grade, but since then I've pretty much been a sock conformist.

It's been weeks since I posted, and sock variety has ebbed and flowed in that time. Most memorable pairing was one black and one orange. I was also impressed with a pairing of one tan ankle-high sock with a brown pattern and a crew-length blue stripe. It was a quiet mismatch, and I almost overlooked the genius of this sock watch trifecta: different length socks, different color socks, and different pattern socks.

Only a week until the day which shall not be named. Only seven short days left for sock watch. Just one example of how dull life will be without Marius.

Feel the pain of Jarrett and Evan. I will try not to, but no doubt will look to them to make my life interesting again. And they've had a whole year off, able to fly under the Mom radar. Now I will be Paying Attention, looking for interaction. For a whole year they've been able to get by with a lot more grunts and silence, because I've had such a good conversational partner. Now comes the Mom pester again. "How was your day? Did anything interesting happen? Did anything funny happen? How's (litany of friends whose names I know)? What's s/he been up to lately?"

Oh, they haven't missed that one damn bit!

P. S. I couldn't help myself. How many times do you get a chance to use the phrase "veritable plethora." Never mind that it's not good ritin'.

big-hearted, tough, challenging, and fun.

I wouldn't mind at all if my kids thought of me this way:
-- big-hearted, tough, challenging, and fun.

I think this is an aspiration that mothers of boys would have, more than mothers of girls. At lease I don't know if I would have had this aspiration if I had two girls. One of each? Who knows. That's when you have to admit that not all boys are alike and not all girls are alike.

Having boys has made me value a big heart, shrugging off the small stuff, hanging tough, rising to challenge. My pre-kid fantasies of girl children were more about emotional bonding and domestic sweetness.

Having boys has also kept me big-hearted toward men. I understand them more than I used to. So I believe, at any rate. Perhaps I just sweat the small stuff less in those relationships too.

"the teacher every kid should have -- big-hearted, tough, challenging, and fun."
Scott, describing his wife, in Old Bulb Gardens' "Friends of Old Bulbs Gazette"

Friday, May 18

Dame Kind

"Dame Kind" is a name for Mother Nature. After a dry spell at the start of the week, visits from Dame Kind included a rainbow in a rainless sky on Tuesday, a white egret yesterday at the river, one of the black birds I've yet to identify (grebe?)

Today, wonders! A double rainbow in a rainless sky, then a gentle rain in the sun. I was driving east to work, the rain was overhead, but the sky to the east was clear. And looking back over my right shoulder, that double rainbow all the way from Stinson and 33rd to the merge onto east 94, when I turned and couldn't see it any more.

Friday, May 11




Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est.
Knowledge is power. - Francis Bacon

This is the motto for refdesk.com, one of the best reference sites on the web. It contains encyclopedias, dictionaries, unit conversions (e.g. kilos to pounds), newspaper links, almanacs, amusements, editorial links, and a host of subject links. You could play here for hours.

More running around

We are still racing around like mad fools all the time. I hardly remember myself from one week to the next what is keeping us whirling around! This past weekend went like this:


Evan had to be at Minnehaha Academy at 7:45 to take the SAT college entrance test. Came back from that and drove to Maplewood, to get a tree at a bargain price from a non-profit group, but it didn't work out.

Then drove Marius down south to the same area of town I'd been to with Evan, to be at someone's house at 10:00 to do chores to raise money for their trip to Boston with the church youth group.

While I was gone, Jarrett got himself up and dressed to his job, working from 10-5 Saturday at Party City.

I went home and seemingly a few minutes later (I got lost reading) Evan called to be picked up, and we picked up Marius too. Jarrett got home under his own steam. Evan's girlfriend Mikaela came over in the late afternoon.

What on earth did we do that night? I don't even remember! I think just watched TV at home.


A phone call to come in to work woke Jarrett up at 10:00. *Amazingly*, he woke right up and tottered out the door! I think he likes working, likes his job, likes the people, and likes the manager. *Yes!!* He does stocking, blowing up balloons, and cash register; "everyone does everything."

Marius, Evan, and I dropped him off at Dennis's on our way to church. He keeps his uniforms at Dennis's house since it is closer to the store (at the Quarry.)

We had to leave church early because Marius and the other YFU kids were going to a Twin's game, and Evan had to be at work at Orchestra Hall.

IMAGINE THAT, BOTH OF MY BOYS AT WORK! Somehow, I never anticipated that.

I took myself out for a pre-mother's day visit to the arboretum. There is a three-mile trail that winds around, and I walked that through blooming magnolia trees, flowering crabs, and lilacs, as well as woods and prairies, and little gardens of azaleas, bushes, etc. Up near the main building they have tons of tulips, hyacinths, and hosta. I've always driven around, stopped and parked at various spots, got back in and drove, but walking is MUCH better. What was I thinking? The walking path goes through wooded areas the road doesn't. I spent a lot of time in the woodland garden, enjoying hepatica, trillium, bluebells, wild phlox, marsh marigolds -- tons o' stuff. Took a lot of what will be probably the same bad pictures I take at the arboretum every time. I'd love to have a camera that could do closeups and macro photos. Someday.

Came back home , picked up Evan from work; and was deep into post-game traffic and one-way snarls around the Metrodome when Marius called to say he'd gotten a ride home from someone else (grr) then we all did homework and housework and watched TV.

On Monday I had a follow-up mammogram. Didn't sleep too well on Sunday night. After a mammo and then an ultrasound that seemed to take FOREVER, I was pronounced healthy, the lump non-malignant. Weak at the knees with relief. On Monday night Marius and I went to rent his prom tux.

Tuesday, Evan had a concert with the jazz band, and Jarrett had school and work.

On Wednesday, we went to see Spider Man 3, except for Evan, who had tons of homework. I did dishes, laundry, and housecleaning when I got home (second wind) and couldn't slow down. Another night of only a few hours of sleep.

Thursday night I went to pick Marius has a game (he is on the Ultimate Frisbee team) and was wrestling with hot slow bogged-down traffic and almost to the park where they play, when he called me to tell me he was at home, that he didn't go to the game. Ahem! With my "detour," it took me an hour to get home. Had trouble sleeping last night, too. A rash of insomnia lately, for various reasons.

Tonight is Friday. Evan and Jarrett go to Dennis's house, and then on Saturday, it's more chores fundraising for Marius and Evan, work for Jarrett, and then Prom for both Evan and Marius. Sunday we'll go to church and so far, that's all that's planned for that day!

I am actually going to go out with two very fun women from work tonight, to shop and have a drink before Evan's concert. Marius was amazed and pleased for me – I don't think I've had an independent social event in the whole time he's been here. (I have usually brought him along to things if at all possible, but this is definitely Girls Night Out.)

Next week will be quiet with Jarrett and Evan gone but I still pick up Marius after his sports practice every night. The SPPS headquarters building is about the same latitude as Powderhorn Park, near South High, so I go across town and read for a bit until he's done. Otherwise, it takes him an hour and a half and $2.00 to get home. And with the price of a tux, prom tickets, and dinner, he needs those $2.00! (Just as an aside: prom tickets are $45.00 each, not per couple. His tuxedo was $170. Dinner, who knows. The tux was a little extra because in our ignorance we waited too long and the less expensive tuxes were gone, and we also had to pay a late fee. But: Going to prom in America? Priceless.)

It's only going to be like this for another year, and I'm sure I'll miss it when it's way too quiet. Then I'll have a chance to try online dating.

Best wishes for a wonderful Mother's Day. God knows we've earned it. J

Lunchtime Walk

My one hour lunch-time walk on the walking path by the river is the absolute highlight of my day. Time to go now!

Sock Watch Back

The sock watch has been on hiatus due to lack of interesting sock pairings. Yesterday, however, Ms. Sock Watch observed M. wearing one red sock and one orange sock.

We're back!

Thursday, May 10

Credo 1

"Credo" means "I believe." It's a part of Mass, at least Mass as I know it, which is sung Mass. Particularly Bach's "Mass in B Minor," which belongs on any list of my favorite things in life. Here are some of the words I live by, from the quotidian to the hearfelt.


"I play it cool and dig all jive
That's the reason I stay alive.
My motto, as I live and learn,
Is dig and be dug in return."
Langston Hughes

- There's always time to go to the bathroom.

- You get what you pay for.

- "Laugh hard, hang tough, lend a hand."

- Non scholae sed vitae discimus--Seneca
"We learn not for school, but for life."

- Wisdom from the e-mail signature of a co-worker:

Life is short! Break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Leave the rest to god.

OK, I can go with that.

I'll return to this thought in later posts.

Wednesday, May 9

Shift Happens

An interesting video about the rapid change in work, education, technology.

Shift Happens

Wednesday, May 2

Bullet Train

Spring is going with bullet train speed. On my noon walk I saw bloodroot (an early ephemeral) and lilacs blooming. I don't think that's usual. I have to go to Eloise Butler to see what's going on there.

Planted peas, raked, dug up dandelions, and trimmed around the muscari stream so the blooms show. Last night from 8:20-9:00. Zooming the whole time.

Then called Cindy, Darcy, and Marti, and to bed. Anxious about mammo on Monday.

Monday, April 30

Running Around

Some future day I will wonder where all the time went. On Thursday it went for haircuts: Marius, Jarrett and I all went to Nicole's and got cleaned up. Got back from there about 10:30.

On Saturday Marius did chores all day (washing windows for Boston trip money) with Mikaela and Evan. I cleaned up and did a bunch of paperwork. Also driving around; went to fetch Mikaela for the chores, went to both libraries.

A sign of spring: first dalliance at Linder's, the little mini-greenhouse that springs up in the St. Anthony shopping center parking lot. A library, a greenhouse, and a DQ (first cone of spring, chocolate soft-serve, $1.49 for a small I would have called a medium.) Glory, glory, glory.

I got two plants. All plant sales at this point are unauthorized, off budget, because there isn't enough budget for them. Nevertheless I've been wanting poppies, pink poppies, for many years, and there one was before me, and one that promised a mixture of pink, orange-pink, and white poppies (changing over time? on one plant). I still would not have gotten them if I had checked closely. I thought they were $9.99, but they were $12.99, closer to $30 than $20 once you add in tax. Ouch.

The kids finished chores about 7:30. I drove Mikaela home, and Evan stayed down there. Marius and I stopped at Turtle Bread for chocolate bread buns and a baguette for tomorrow, then Lake Calhoun for a walk, and then to Burger King for supper for him. I had popcorn.

Some desperate reading of a good library book that's due (Sherman Alexie, Reservation Blues), then Saturday night live, and at 11:30 went to get Evan and bring him to dad's. Dennis was at a funeral: Neil Lincoln, from ETA days. Then stayed up until 2:00 a.m. reading the e-Artella I received last fall and never have had computer access plus leisure time to read (three computer fiends in the house.)

Sunday: morning came too early. I walked around Lake Calhoun while Marius was in Sunday School. The chores we were supposed to do (Boston fund-raising) fell through, to everyone's delight. I talked to the Alberti's and to Eric L about how interested they are in more chores. "Sorta" was the general response. The kids worked all last Saturday and all this Saturday, and worked hard.

Marius and I ate at Jimmy John's (BLT's, and I love their signs as much as their sandwiches) in Calhoun Square, then went to Target for soccer duds and swim trunks, and Play It Again Sports for shoes with cleats. Which turned out to be soccer shoes, making Marius laugh. Everyone in Germany plays soccer, everyone but Marius and Adrian, who hate soccer. So he comes to America, and what does he get? Soccer shoes!

Marius made supper, God bless him, with what we had on hand: potatoes, peas, and onion soup. Not a bad meal for a pantry-scraper. Gotta shop for groceries. Hate it. In fact fell into a short depression on reviewing the grocery ads on Sunday morning. Too much to do in life, I don't want to spend my time at the grocery store.

I was wiped out from my fast trek around Lake Calhoun (teeming humanity! one-sided sunburn -- the lake side. Fun, fun, fun!) and all our shopping and talking so I read for a bit, then got up and did the dishes, which for kids means dishes, but for an adult means dishes, wipe the counters, put away little fiddly bits of stuff on counters, fold a load of clothes, sweep the floor, empty the trash, clean the microwave) and then went out to garden, to plant the poppies. (cue Wicked Witch of the West, "Poppies! Poppies!)

Got sidetracked into finally transplanting my poor African violets which have languished pot-bound about 18 months past their recommended re-pot date, and the Christmas cacti, which were also pot-bound, and in not very good soil. Unfortunately I had purchased the cheapest potting soil, which was mostly dirt with a few tablespoons of vermiculite. I mixed in the African violet potting mixture and voila! usable stuff.

Then our neighbor called me over to talk about her dog (barks a frenzy whenever one of us is near.) Planting of course means trying to unearth some compost, but I did get the things in the ground. It is so much more pleasant to plant newly-purchased plants than the sickly neglected things I often deal with due to procrastination and business.

Dragged up the hose from the basement, climbed up the step stool to turn on the outdoor water. Pulled all the dead geraniums from their pots and tossed them. I've been keeping them for years but this year they were in Marius's room and they got dried out. (Out of sight, out of mind.) (Usually that room contains the TV so I see them all the time. Sigh.) I'd kept them for a number of years, but what the hell. All the amaryllis I've been keeping going rotted in the ground last summer or in pots this winter. All I have left is a bunch of baby ones too small to bloom. Daily debate over whether it is worth it to keep them.

So watered the poppies and tiny amaryllis, raced upstairs and took a shower. Quelle signs of spring! First trip to greenhouse! First unauthorized purchase of plants! First DQ cone! First workout with nail brush to remove dirt from under nails! First aching legs from gardening! Outdoor water turned on! Hose out! Oh, and we ate out on the back deck for the first time. Spring, glorious spring.

So came in at about 8:30? 9:00. Had to do a load of wash, no underwear of any sort. Started Lamb, by Christopher Moore, also due soon. Hilarious! I'm going to have to just pay the fines on this one. The untold story of the first 30 years of Jesus' life, as told by his best friend, Bif. Laundry, cleanup, late to bed because of Lamb.

So that's where the time goes.

Got up this morning not at all organized for the day; didn't leave until 7:55 for my 8:00 job, what with gathering lib books, packing lunch, gathering paperwork to try to do during the day.



The spring canopy has exploded over the weekend. Last Friday we were still marveling at the silhouettes of fat leaf buds against the sky, exclaiming over the new green-gold leaves. Trees were still bare. Today I can look out Boss's window to the bank of the Mississippi and it is trees you see, not tiny leaves or branches. I'd best hurry to Eloise Butler Wild Flower Garden before the ephemerals ephem. Vanish. Skidoo!

Sock watch, Thursday: claims he wore matching socks to school, but after Extreme Frisbee practice changed socks to one black, one orange. Weekend: mild mismatches only. Maybe the glory days are over. I talked him into getting some white athletic socks for running and practice. The YFU told him white socks are a sign of nerd-hood. That's with dress clothes. I told him black socks and athletic shoes are nerdy. Ah, culture.

Thursday, April 26

Blue Herons

All last week I watched as many as seven blue herons on the Mississippi River as I took a lunchtime walk from work. Delight! Looked them up in my bird book and concluded they were Little Blue Herons. Brought my book in this week to compare, but they were all gone. Haven't seen them since. What a serendipity that was!

Sock watch: yesterday Marius's socks were tan and tan. Ever since I started the sock watch, it's been dull, but I'll keep with it. Maybe we'll have a return to the red and orange combos necessitated by our previous laundry slowdown.