The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

26 November 2012


Today was the first time I really and truly understood the paradox we so often hear: in our weakness, God is strong, or the concept that God works through (or with) our weakness.

It was one of those days, right from the moment the alarm rang this morning.  You know the days I mean?  I felt like the best thing I could do - for myself and the world - was roll over and sleep the day away (with breaks for books and tea).  I felt so incredibly tired and lacklustre. There was no oomph within me, no pizzazz, no sparkle. Troublesome as Monday is Storytime Day.  On Storytime Day, Librarian Tess has to be on, dynamic, interested and interesting.  My left knee felt like it was going to bend backwards at any moment (odd, I know.  Don't ask me why.) My back was sore. I just didn't have it in me on any level and desperately wished for a day at home.

To work I went, without even the presence of mind to offer the day to God or ask for help.

God knew and He sent help anyway.  I don't know who was with me this morning (is there a patron saint of children's librarians, or plumb-tuckered-out-folks?) but I know you were there, and I thank you for it, from the bottom of my heart.  It was the best morning yet, program-wise.  I didn't even forget the tune to Sleeping Bunnies, and the group of children who came today were lovely.

The very best part: knowing none of it was me, not one moment of it, not one minuscule element.

Our God is an awesome God, isn't He?

25 November 2012


New Town has a very large Nativity set up in a public park down town   Hoorah! I must (sheepishly) admit I didn't expect it and was stunned this morning when I first spotted it. I will make a point of writing to my official representative to register my approval.

It is very nearly Advent, my very favouritest time of year.  Meanwhile, I wish you all a very happy Feast of Christ the King.  May He reign in your heart!

23 November 2012

Remember remember: the month of November

We're nearing the end of November. Advent is approaching which means that Christmas is near. I love our Catholic tradition of honouring our beloved dead for the whole month of November. I love the providential overlap of Remembrance Day falling in this month. I love that the weather is so often suitably gloomy to help us feel reflective. I love the feeling of hibernation setting in, the sense of needing to prepare for dark days ahead.

I've been thinking about my dad a lot lately - natural considering what I wrote above. Also, there is an older gentleman who comes to the library who wears a hat much like Pop did, and sounds quite a lot like him, too. He also has the same impatience my dad had when it comes to things being more complicated then he thinks they ought to be.  I had to hide behind the stacks yesterday after he left because his crotchitiness made me weepy.  I wanted to hug his cranky self as if he were standing in proxy to my dad.

A year ago my mom's mother passed away. As testament of God's grace, Oma was baptised shortly before her death and received full Catholic rites.  This week Opa died. He had a complicated relationship with faith and the Church, but once again God's merciful love is providing us great comfort in knowing Opa, too, will receive a proper Catholic burial.

There is comfort, too, in knowing that my dear family members are the recipents of the prayers of many many people - even from people they never knew. Their names are written into the book of life, which makes me realize that they belong to a family greater than our own - our beautiful rituals remind me of that. For example, at every Mass when we pray for the faithful departed, my dad, my oma and opa are included. When you pray for the poor souls in purgatory, my loved ones may very well be among them. I am ever so grateful for that; thank you, and God bless you.

21 November 2012

Bad editor strikes again

Same author, same publisher, sequel title.

"Although, she was driving carefully, not knowing what lay under the drifts, it was still a bouncy ride as she swerved to avoid the dangerous bumps, and the visibility was poor as the snow continued to fall, and the sun's light was a hazy gray at best as it tried to burn its way through the clouds."
Aside from the run-on sentence problem, that first comma confuses me.

Later, at the bottom of page 156, "Carrie fretted her lip." Four paragraphs later, on page 157: "'I never heard about this,' Carrie said, and she began to fret her lower lip with her teeth."

Oh dear.

I'm looking forward to reading book three in the series, to see what new editorial delights await me therein.

14 November 2012

I meant well

I visited an office supply store on my lunch hour today.  It's my happy place. What's not to love about a place full of nifty - and oh so cute - organizational doodads, paper of every kind, and pens in every colour?  It cures my headaches, lifts my spirits, soothes my ruffled feathers, calms my nerves.  And it's a gift that keeps on giving because every single time I use the notebook or the pen, or the file folder, I experience the same happiness all over again.

So there I was, gleefully sifting through a pile of discounted spiral-bound notebooks when another member of the public, a very nice looking lady, walked by, saying "Excuse me?"  "Yes, can I help you?" I helpfully asked with a big smile on my face.  She looked at me, very puzzled.

I realized she was calling to a store employee. Then I remembered I wasn't actually at work.  "Oh, sorry, I don't work here!" I laughed.

She walked away very quickly.

13 November 2012

Of phones, monkeys and what happened next

The phone system was down at work.  Not only were there no incoming calls, but we could not phone each other within the library, nor could we use the public address system.  This meant we had to use our outdoor voices to make the closing announcements ("May I have your attention please.  The library will be closing in half an hour... fifteen minutes...five minutes... get out now, we're closing...").  We use the PA in times of need as well, such as needing a manager or security.  The need doesn't often occur, but there is comfort in knowing help is just the press of a phone button away; there is no comfort at all in realizing it's down to my not-so-loud voice being able to summon someone - anyone - in case of emergency.

When I arrived at work on the first day the phones were down, I groaned a little to my colleagues.  I was scheduled for four hours on the Dreaded Third. It's typically a quiet floor, mostly students working on papers or folks watching their tv shows online. (With headphones, of course) I have half jokingly/half seriously suggested we don't really need a library trained person up there because we never get asked librarian type questions.  Never.  "I did, once." one of the library trained people told me.  Wow.  Once, huh?  Plus, I feel very isolated up there because staff never just happen to wander along, so being on the Dreaded Third is akin to a posting to Siberia.  "It was so quiet up there this morning." the same library trained person reassured me. "Bring your own cell phone in case you need it.  The managers' mobile numbers are printed out for you at the desk."  Well, what a relief!  I can use my own cell phone to call for back up if needed.  Should I take this opportunity to tell you I have an ancient and temperamental non-smart phone?  It takes about 35 seconds to warm up before it starts dialling a number.  Perfect for emergencies.

What do you suppose happened?  This was the day when I had to tell everyone on the computers at least once they had to be quiet (this is the only floor in the whole entire library where we ask people to be quiet) - even two old ladies who were learning to be good cooks by watching Youtube videos together.  Some of them I had to ask twice!  (Not the old ladies.  They apologized profusely and promised to behave themselves ever after.  Nothing like admonishing the elderly to feel really good about yourself.)

Then.  Oh, and then.  Dear reader, how can I help you understand what happened then?  Keep these things in mind:  it is a quiet floor, so quiet that we all hear someone shift in their seat; I was dreading something untoward happening; I was busy cutting out 100 monkeys for next week's storytime craft.  For little children.

Scissors in hand, mountain of paper monkeys in front of me, I looked up to see two young men, dressed in black motorcycle leather, tattooed and pierced everywhere they could be tattooed and pierced.  One of them opens his mouth and says, in a regular conversational tone of voice, "I'm looking for the website to find out if I'm gay."

I could feel the air being sucked out of the room as everyone in the place strained to get a look at who asked the question without obviously looking at who asked the question.  I could also feel everyone waiting attentively to hear my answer.

In a rather fumbling fashion, I attempted to conduct a reference interview to determine just what precisely they were looking for.  I suggested a Google search, to which they wanted to know what words to use. After tossing them a few ideas, they helped themselves to a public access computer and tapped away, seemingly with little success.  After a few minutes of them arguing with each other whether they should use "gay" or "homosexual", I walked over to give them a piece of paper I'd written my own search term on, hoping that would settle them down. 

Just when the room was returning to normal - everyone paying attention to their own business - one of the young men proceeded to read an article about being gay outloud.  Loudly.


I sent them a discrete text message from my computer to theirs pointing out they were on the Quiet Floor and if they needed to discuss their research they were welcome to use a computer elsewhere.

A few minutes later they left.  And now I can no longer say I've never been asked a librarian type question on the Dreaded Third.

12 November 2012

In reply

Dear Spammer,
I have been receiving letters from many of your friends of late, also named Anonymous.  Thank you for your kind comment, and beg leave to reply thusly:
I have not a single clue what you mean.


The comment is copied here, for the benefit of all.
naturally like your website but you need to test the spelling on quite a few 
of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling problems and I to find it very troublesome 
to inform the reality nevertheless I’ll definitely come 
back again.
Here is my page [website here... which I have not pasted]

In which Tess demonstrates why she doesn't have her own cooking show

I'm blaming the stove.  The same stove that set my grill pan alight only months ago.  The same stove that smokes nearly every time I turn on the heat.

A lovely dinner of Swiss chard (sautéed with bacon and onions), marinated pork loin, and quinoa was under way on the stove top.  The quinoa was bubbling in its pot - my only pot, the pot I cook oatmeal in, boil water for tea in, reheat leftovers in - with the proper amount of water and a little splash of wine for flavour.  Yes, the heat was on high, but there was still double the amount of liquid to grain, so I left it to do what its meant to do.

Now, I do admit to not being a terribly attentive cook.  I believe in efficiency, and so like to do more than one thing at a time.  Having assembled the components of the meal while putting yesterday's dishes away, I took the opportunity of the quinoa needing to absorb all the liquid to take care of some online business.  Legitimate business, mind, not idle surfing of the internet but banking and suchlike. I could smell that distinctive smell of something becoming far too hot far too quickly, but wanted to do more...thing before returning to the kitchen.

Only I did one more thing too many, for the pot had boiled dry, the quinoa had burned quite solidly to the bottom.


I managed to salvage enough for my supper (though it tasted rather...hmm...roasted) and left the pot to soak, though it really seemed to be a hopeless case.

Two hours later, I rather badly wanted a cup of hot chocolate so I boiled up the water in my one and only frying pan.  Boiling water seemed safe enough, even for me.

Maybe I should have my own cooking show.  We can call it One Pot Cooking With Tess.

11 November 2012

In which I am frustrated by poor editing

Where are the editors?  Did they all pack up and move en masse to Johnny Depp's island in the Caribbean? Perhaps they are working to rule, protesting for pay raises and better benefits?  They are certainly absent from far too many books found on book shop and library shelves these days.  I've come across many books spoiled by poor editing.

I'm currently reading a cosy*. I don't expect a lot from my casual reading - entertaining story, loosely plausible plot, likeable characters, with enough interest to keep me turning the pages. In this particular book, I've overlooked a few sloppy mistakes: a distinctive phrase repeated several paragraphs later (I catch this in my own writing. It needs disinterested editing to catch this particular error.), grammatical errors (ex. the sun shined on her eyelids).  I could excuse them all in part because I like giggling at printed mistakes, and in part because the author sprinkled enough charm through her prose that I knew I'd be happy I saw the book through to the end.

Until this very moment when I read the passage which sent me venting to you:
"Lindsey nodded, letting Beth take the lead since it was her personal business they'd be disclosing.
Beth gave an annotated version."

Using the word annotated gives the exact opposite meaning the author intended. It suggests that Beth used explanatory notes to augment her version, meaning it would be longer and more informative.  Instead, what Beth shared was brief and sketchy, providing the barest amount of information.  The word wanted here is abbreviated.


*A cosy is a subgenre of mystery fiction in which there is no sex or violence, the main character is an amateur sleuth, and the story is usually set in a small community.

09 November 2012

The moon verses the clock

Is there a full moon tonight?  I'm pretty sure we're in a full moon.

Maybe the time change is having a delayed effect on our library patrons because there's been a whole lot of Full Moon going on today.

One hour to go.

02 November 2012

A tale of two Tess's

Librarian Tess is different from Civilian Tess.  Librarian Tess adores Pinterest for the wonderful craft ideas for her storytimes.  Civilian Tess abhors the thought of yet another account to keep accurate, up-to-the-minute, and interesting.

Civilian Tess believes that every person with a valid library card should be allowed to print.  Librarian Tess has no real problem with this in theory, but in practice wishes that people with the plague would not cough all over their money before handing it to her to pay for said printing. She's almost willing to pay for all of New Town's printing from her own paycheque so she doesn't have to handle the germ riddled cash.  Almost.

(Librarian Tess would also like a hazmat suit to wear at the end of the day when she has to log off the public use computers.  She sees what y'all do while at those keyboards, people.  It's not pretty!)

Librarian Tess applauds the new, inclusive, enlightened standards of public libraries that permit people to talk - out loud - and to eat and drink within the library environs.  Civilian Tess is a conservative, old fashioned, pickle, and would rather people enjoyed their fries at home before browsing through the expensive art history collection.

There is more to be said, but Librarian Tess has to get back to work.  She's packing hand sanitizer.

01 November 2012

Batman and the Human Torch.

Oh, how times have changed!

I just asked a little boy (about 7 years old) who is the best super hero.  I was thinking Batman (because, obviously, Batman is The Coolest super hero there is.)

I soon learned the error of my ways.  Elastic Man is the best, because he stretches.  Plus, when his arm is chopped off (you'd be surprised how often this happens) it grows right back.  Or he can change it.  And also, he can be a car or anything else.

That wasn't all.  This little boy had clearly given the question a great deal of thought before I ever asked it.  Next, is Mr. Fantastic.  And then it's The Human Torch.

The Human Torch?? I've never heard of him, nor do I really care to know what his super power is.  Or see him in action, come to that.  And yet, he's number three on the Coolest Super Hero list!