The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

27 November 2015

On being not tall and the chair

I am not a tall person, by which I mean to say that I am almost short. I may have already mentioned it here at The Lighthouse in which case I do most sincerely apologize for taking up your blog reading time with redundancies.

Being not tall is a deeply sensitive issue with me, because My People are Dutch. According to it-was-posted-on-line-so-it-must-be-true statistics, the Dutch are the tallest people. I'm not sure if that is a world record or a European record. When the Dutch Family visited for Christmas last year, their twelve-year old daughter was taller than me, with her mom and dad being so tall I had to stand on tip toe for my head to reach their shoulders.

There are many instances during the day when being almost short is an inconvenience. There are tall shelves everywhere, requiring the use of a step stool (or chair, but shhh... don't tell Health and Safety about that). There are awkwardly spaced stairs, unreachable hooks, and lost books on tippy-top shelves all over the library. Chairs are often uncomfortable, with too-deep seat pans and too-tall chair legs so that my own legs swing awkwardly, feet rarely flat on the ground.

Which brings me to the inspiration for this post: the Ridiculous Chair.  This is the chair at the circulation counter, which is high, so the chair must needs also be high. There is no handy step-stool, nor even a convenient bar upon which to hop and so launch oneself upward and into the seat. It has taken me three weeks to perfect my method: I stand with my back to the chair, hitch my left hip up, perch with corresponding cheek and proceed to wiggle from side to side while also pulling myself up, ungainly and awkward, by the arms of the chair. This maneuver works wonders on my professional image, I assure you.

Oddly, when I first arrived in this library, the spot under the desk where this chair lives had a shelf across it, so one would have to sit as though side-saddle, with legs and torso facing opposite directions, feet dangling uncomfortably many inches from the ground. I removed the shelf so I can sit straight-on, stacked several very large books atop one another so my feet have a resting place, and do my very best to have everything I need with me at the desk so I needn't slide down and climb up again too often.

When perched in the Ridiculous Chair I feel like the stern overseer character in a Dickensian novel. Rows and rows of clerks hunch over their desks while I glower at them over my half-glasses, and I remind them to be grateful for the crusts of bread they get for lunch. (In real life I am a slightly cranky librarian, negotiating world peace one teenager at a time.)

Such is the power of a chair for one who is not tall.

26 November 2015

Of socks - oh, the socks!

Reading socks!
Who knew there was such a thing as reading socks?  I certainly did not, but the moment I opened the email from Canada's Monster Book-n-Bath Store and saw the promotional ad showing super cute socks branded as "Reading Socks" I realized the world has been in very serious need of them.

Ok, perhaps that is an overstatement. I have been in very serious need of them. I like reading. I like socks. Especially soft and cozy socks to wear instead of slippers around the house.  To have socks just for reading, well, that's a brilliant notion. There are already specially designed socks for other activities: running, hiking, and those really short ones to wear with heels.

These, from the BnB Store have cute designs and are lined with faux sheerling. Doesn't that sound amazingly soft and cozy?

Just as I was about to impulsively click the "purchase this item you don't really need for far too much money even though it's on sale" button, I opened the product information box to discover these are high maintenance reading accessories. They must be hand washed in cold water and laid flat to dry! Can you imagine hand washing your socks? I hope you're laughing at the idea.

I haven't given up on the dream of reading socks, however. I plan to hit the dollar store for a pair of their $2.00 fuzzy socks, and keep them solely (ha ha) for the very special occasion of  a lazy afternoon with a good book and a pot of tea.

23 November 2015

Further adventures in the kitchen with Tess, in which mom always knows best.

I've reached my maximum stress threshold at work. One of the reasons is that I currently begin the workday at O'Dawn:thirty. Of course schedule math is never that simple because you have to keep borrowing backwards in order to eventually get to where you need to be. (If that made any kind of sense to you, you're just the sort of person I like.) What that means is I leave the house 35 minutes before that, set the alarm an hour before that, which  means I'm doing as much as I can the night before so that I can hit the snooze button at least once before absolutely having to tear around the house like a mad thing in order to leave on time.

One of the tasks I've been attempting to do ahead is preparing a big batch of something or other that I can quickly reheat and eat each day during the week. I try to do this on the weekend because I'm absolutely comatose when I get home Monday to Friday. You know the sort of thing: big pot of soup, huge batch of chili, a chunk of roasted something or other, and so on.  (In fact, if you have any suggestions, please do let me know, as I've reached the end of my big-batch-repertoire and would dearly love to not have to eat chili again.)

Yesterday was Cooking Day. My plan was to cook a vast number of sausages in the oven, and roast a big tray of vegetables at the same time. (I was going to do a big bowl of rice as well, but forgot to buy rice, so it will have to be quinoa or pasta.) (Don't you find this all so very interesting? Bear with me... we're getting - ever so creakingly slowly - to the point.) As a treat I also cooked up a package of bacon for the week's breakfasts.

Let your nostrils help you imagine what my kitchen smelled like at around 1:30 on Sunday afternoon.  Sausage and bacon cooking away, along with cauliflower, and onions, and other aromatic bits and pieces.  Nice, huh?  Tempting when you're at a brunch buffet, but not exactly House & Home worthy. My mom used to put on a pot of vinegar water to steam. It's meant to cut the odors, and it also turns out to be beneficial, health-wise.

I, however, had a brilliant idea. Why replace sausage-fog with vinegar-vapour? Why not go for what smells lovely in the first place?  So, in a pan with a little water I dropped a few cinnamon sticks, a few pods of star anise, and a handful of cloves, setting them to gently steam on the stove top. It smelled so good!

Then I walked away.

I spent an hour or so in the living room, reading a really good book about a shepherd from the Lake District in England. It's a fascinating read.

But then I noticed an acrid smell. Like something burning.  And burning thoroughly.

That's right, dear Reader. If you noticed I wrote, "in a pan with a little water..." and realized that 'little' was going to be an important detail, you were on to something.  I had allowed the pot to steam dry, causing the lovely, aromatic cinnamon, anise, and cloves to burn themselves right to the bottom of the pot.

Do you know the best way to remove burnt-on goop from the bottom of a pan?  A little baking soda and, you've got it.... vinegar.  Let it sit a bit, then add water, and gently heat.  I found myself steaming the house with vinegar and water after all.

Mom always knows best.


The reading challenge

I've just learned about 48hbc. It happens at MotherReaders' Blog. 

It's a wonderful thing, about reading as much as is possible within a 48 hour period (48hbc stands for Forty-eight Hour Book Challenge). According to the rules, the 48 hours must be in succession. Not, say, four weekend days of 12 hours each. Also, in order to qualify as a ‘winner’ (or having adequately participated) a minimum of six hours of reading are required. I would find that a challenge, many days, and I'm already the sort who would do nothing but read if I could! 

The idea, I believe, is to set yourself a goal, blog about it, and share the stats of what you read including summaries and reviews if desired. It’s almost a reading partner to NaNoWriMo, though over a more condensed time frame.

It would be fun to try it sometime, though when set a challenge, I either become more focused on 'winning' than enjoying the process, or becoming stubborn and refusing to do it altogether. Remember my Great Reading Project? I got stuck about halfway through, because whenever I perused the list for the next book to read, I'd pout and say, "But I don't want to read any of these books!" then happily devour any other book within reach. ('Tess' must be Latin for 'contrary'.)

In order to read for - at least - six hours over two days, what would you have to give up? Would there be no knitting, no eating, no sleeping? Or would you instead not be bingeing on House of Cards, or watching the weekend footie? Perhaps you'd have to not clean the bathroom or putter in the garage and the garden would have to fend for itself, not to mention the poor dog.  Reading is serious business, folks, calling for great sacrifice and unstinting dedication. 48hbc is not for the dabbler or the faint of heart.

21 November 2015

Christ the King

This Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King!
We have reached the end of the liturgical year, the last Sunday before Advent.

The world is shaken by the actions of men too cruel and cowardly to fathom. Words are not sufficient to express the sorrow, the disbelief, the regret, that we have come to such a time and place. There is no easy explanation or remedy. All I can think to do is turn to God so that I don't succumb to fear or hatred.

Lord, I place you at the centre of my heart, my life. You are Christ the King, my King, my Redeemer. Transform my heart that I may be wholly Yours. Amen.

20 November 2015

The pens, oh the pens!

Lest you think, dear Reader, that I exaggerated the story I told about vast number of pens I find in the library every day (my family seems to think I embellish when I tell stories), I have photographic evidence.

This is a shoe-sized box filled to full with mostly pens (a few stray pencils) that sits on my desk in the back office. It is overflow only, the daily takings are kept out at the circulation desk.

Here's something funny: a student just came to the desk to ask about her pencil. A very ordinary plastic mechanical pencil you buy in packs of 10. I pulled a handful out of the drawer, and she was able to pick hers out of the bunch.  I sense in her a kindred spirit.

The corner with the animals

There is a back road to home that I love as it reminds me of the country lanes of Germany. It is narrow and winding, with gentle dips and rises. At one point it goes through a hollow, over a creek, into a wee forest and out into the orchards before rising back up a hill until, at the little tree with tea cups hanging in it, I turn onto the road my own house is on.

In the hollow, between the creek and the winding road, sits a simple farmhouse. It isn't a large property, but it has sheep grazing. I see them just as I cross over the bridge and they make me happy each time I see them. The simple farmhouse also has a collection of chickens, roosters, ducks, and gooses that huddle and peck where they please, whether grass or gravel. Caution is required when passing the driveway of this simple farmhouse as there are certain to be fowl rambling about close to the road.

Just yesterday, still smiling from seeing the sheep, I had to come to a complete stop, for there in front of me I saw 5 ducks and a goose crossing the road in this order: duck, duck, goose; duck, duck, duck. And if you don't know what happens next, you've left childhood too far behind.