Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Patrons You Remember

I love working as a public librarian. Interacting daily with the public is fun, frustrating, strange, eye opening and often hysterical. My favorite moments are the times when you meet a patron who is so interesting or so kind or so unique that your few minutes with them changes what you believe, what you wish for or who you want to be.

A few months ago I was working at the reference desk and an elderly couple came in. The information/reference desk is set in the middle of the library which gives staff a visual of almost everything going on in our small library. On this particular afternoon the couple walked in slowly, holding hands and walked directly to the desk. I don't think either of them were under the age of 80 but neither of them looked like they needed the other for support as they walked. As they stood in front of me the man inquired about books that he wanted for his wife. She watched him and nodded her head as he spoke and when he was done she added a few things and I helped them with their book requests. At some point I noticed that the man was holding his wife's handbag, he had it over his arm as he held onto her hand. I noticed this because my Grandfather often carried my Grandmother's bag. A sign of love to me.

After I helped them, the couple turned around to walk back out of the library. As they turned they left go of each other's hands and reached for each other with their opposite hand as soon as they turned around. As if they couldn't not be touching each other at all times. They slowly walked out of the library, holding hands all the way, like teenagers walking in a high school hallway. A fellow librarian was standing next to me and as we watched them go, we both teared up. "Oh isn't that sweet." she said to me. All I could do was nod my head as I thought...that is what it's all reach the end of your life with your partner, a person who holds your hand, carries your bag and knows what books you want to read.

Yesterday I met another patron. He was looking to volunteer after losing his wife of 59 years less than a month ago. As I listened to him talk about her love of reading and the home she had built for their family I again thought, this is what it's all about. A love that lasted. A life well lived. It was a privilege to hear the way he spoke about the woman he loved for more than half a century.

I love my profession. I train librarians and patrons on technology. I teach them about Facebook and Twitter. I help them find books and DVD's. But somewhere along the way I stopped being the librarian with the answers and became a librarian with questions. Sometimes I find the patrons with the answers and I'm thankful for my 5 minutes with them.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Cookbook That Should Come With Health Insurance

Checked out a new cookbook recently, read through it and promptly returned it.
Southern Plate: Classic Comfort Food That Makes Everyone Feel Like Family
by Christy Jordan has beautiful pictures of macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, corn bread and pie on the cover...that should have tipped me off to what was inside. Now I'm all for Southern cooking, home cooking and comfort foods in moderation but the recipes in this book frightened me away from trying any of them. No substitutions were suggested if you are alarmed by using 2 cups of mayonnaise in a recipe or a half a cup of corn syrup in your dessert. Two of the recipes in this book need a pound of sugar each!
Not only would I not make any of these recipes "That Makes Everyone Feel Like Family" I'd be alarmed I'd serve up a family member a heart attack with their plate of high sodium, high sugar and high fat.
Grossest cookbook I've read recently. Interested in Southern cooking and comfort foods there are far better cookbooks out there that combine traditional cooking with a responsible diet.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Home Sick in Narnia

Chicago is Narnia, thanks to the White Witch weather effect the City is a land of ice and snow. Figures in the midst of all the winter misery I am fighting a cold. Honestly I would welcome some rain, anything but more snow.

So on my 3rd day hopping from my bed to the sofa and back again I thought I would venture back on the web to reconnect with the world. Apparently I am not the only one fighting illness right now according to the status updates by dozens of my friends on Facebook. So readers when you are sick do you hunker down at home and hibernate or do you push through and get on with the daily grind?

I'm a hibernator and here are my creature comforts:
  • Chamomile tea or Earl Grey tea with soy milk (so soothing and mild)
  • My Nook Color (I LOVE this e-reader/tablet. I have over 630 books on mine and when I'm not reading in bed I'm browsing my favorite websites or reading magazines on the fantastic color screen)
  • Indian food (I don't have much of an appetite, 1 meal a day is about all I could do until today but my go-to food when I have a cold is spicy Indian food. Hot, delicious and perfect food for a cold night)
  • Gatorade (Red-fruit punch Gatorade is my fav drink when I am tired, sick or dehydrated. I enjoy it so much that when I was in labor with my son 18 years ago a bottle of Gatorade was my focal point during contractions since all I could have was ice chips)
  • My new iPhone from Verizon. (Yes I was one of the crazy people who pre-ordered the phone in the middle of the night last week, mine arrived on Monday. I have given up my beloved Blackberry for the iPhone and the last 2 days in bed have been the perfect time to play with this amazing little phone)
  • Budget Travel Magazine (Great destinations and travel tips, I've booked more than 1 vacation after falling in love with a locale featured in this magazine)
  • HGTV and the Travel Channel (love me some House Hunters International, Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and The Antonio Project. That is pretty much all I ever watch on TV except late night reruns of South Park or Sex and the City, I don't watch any sitcoms or reality TV)
  • The Daily Mail (not much is better for a mindless read than London news and gossip)
  • (I'm looking for my next nest and this site is addictive)
  • My beagle (She is the perfect companion and keeps my feet warm in bed)
  • My Kid (He knows just how I like my cup of tea)
  • Vitamin C, Echinacea, Ibuprofen. (I hate taking medicine)
Stay healthy readers!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chicago Blizzard 2011

The City and most of the Midwest has been hit by the biggest snowfall in recent memory. Shops, restaurants, schools, libraries etc have closed as people try to dig themselves out of the snow. Today is a beautiful sunny day and people are taking advantage of the warmer temperatures and sunshine to help each other shovel, push their cars out of snow bluffs and get out of the house before more snow hits.

This morning I had the following conversation with one of my neighbors in the parking lot:

Neighbor as he is smoking a cigar yells to me as I'm digging out my car: "Honey...honey, you get your husband to do that."
My reply, "I don't have a husband."
He points to the Kid, "Then your boyfriend."
Me: "Umm, nope."
He looks confused, "Your brother?"
Me: "No, my Kid and he is shoveling out that gentleman's car."
I point to the elderly man standing in the snow with a walker. "
Neighbor: "Ah, good boy you have there."
I smiled and agreed.

If you are in Chicago or the Midwest, be safe!