The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

24 May 2013

In which I want to hug a total stranger

Sometimes I know I have the best job in the world.
It's been a busy afternoon. We are closed to the public on Friday mornings, but never fear, citizens of the world: behind the scenes we are scurrying about madly, accomplishing many important tasks which are difficult to do while open.

I helped a little girl find books about manatees. I showed another lady where The Book of Negroes is on the shelf. I told a gentleman the title of the very first Lee Child novel. I interlibrary loaned four books for two different people. I helped one person on the internet. I signed three ladies up for the "Bird feeder in a teacup" workshop tomorrow. I complemented a little boy on his choice of a Flat Stanley book.

And then, while one man waited for us to find out if the other branch has a certain book on their shelves (before he drove all the way over there and discovered it is missing) we struck up a conversation about how his whole family are readers. He looked like a complete jock - though I know I shouldn't judge books by covers (or people by looks...or hair colour. Haha) I wouldn't have been surprised to discover he spends his leisure hours entirely engrossed in the three-letter sports: NHL NBA NFL. Instead, he says years ago they made the decision to do away with television. They don't watch tv at all, and movies only on occasion. He believes television stunts the imagination, influences opinion, and fosters consumerism.

That was the perfect time to use my favourite quote from Megamind:  "I love you, random citizen!"

I very nearly hugged him.

I did do a fist-pump.

21 May 2013

Mentally blonde

We just had a long weekend up here, north of 49.  Many thanks to Queen Victoria for having a birthday and with supreme beneficence sharing it with us, her loyal subjects. We show our appreciation each year by heading up north to cottage country - up north, where, by the way, it is colder and more mosquito infested than where we live the rest of the time - and drinking astonishing amounts of beer.  That last is why we call it the May two-four weekend.

I was going to visit a dear friend for a couple of days, but knew in my knower that I was better off staying close to home. I ended up sleeping most of Saturday away, but felt the better for it. I spent Sunday with the Nuts, and we expressed our patriotic fervor by visiting the Wonder of the World that resides in our back yard, and gazing upon a statue dedicated to a famous general of the War of 1812 (which we won, by the way).  The hordes of people to be seen! Tourist season has well and truly begun. 

As there was some alcohol involved, I turned my visit into a sleep over so we could continue the fun into the next day.  Only by early afternoon I was feeling poorly again so I took myself off home, had a bath, made a sandwich and tucked myself into bed.

Boy did I sleep! Some noise woke me up, startling me, and having me grab for my phone - the only clock in my bedroom. I felt so refreshed by the rest that I wasn't surpirsed to see the time was 8:00. I was so glad I'd woken up, because I hadn't set the alarm and I needed to get ready for work. I threw myself into the shower and made myself breakfast. It was while pondering what to wear that I became aware that something felt off.  I read an email having to do with a deadline and the date niggled at my brain. Something wasn't meshing, between the 20th and 21st. I checked my Google calendar which told me it was I mentally went through what I'd done over the weekend: I slept Saturday, was with family Sunday, was still there Monday morning, woke up at home the next morning, making this Tuesday. So why was my phone saying it was Monday?

Then I noticed it was getting dark. "Hmm, it's going to rain." I thought. But that didn't feel right either.  Finally, beginning to feel as though I could no longer trust my brain, I Googled "What is the date today". You know what I found out, don't you?  It was after 8:00 PM  I thought I'd slept the whole night through, and there I was, ready to go to work for Tuesday morning of May 21st.. Except it was only Monday May 20th.

Sometimes I really am mentally blonde.

16 May 2013

Shoes. Oh, the shoes

Leaving aside the problems of the world for a moment, let's focus on something important: me.

Here's the thing. I have delicate skin. Have you ever seen Hamish MacBeth?  If you have, I'm like Rory Campbell.  If you haven't... well, never mind.  My feet are especially sensitive, resulting in blisters every time I wear a new (or different) pair of shoes.  Factor in the fact that I'm a girl meaning I often wear new (or different) shoes, my feet often exhibit the results.

Determined to be kind to my poor feet this sandal season, I bought a pair of cute slip on flats, made my Dr. Scholl's.  He's the guy I turn to for healing and soothing products when other designer's shoes leave me hobbling. 

Yesterday was the inaugural bare foot day. I wore those new shoes for the first time, and it was the first day I didn't wear socks.

I have blisters on my right heel.  I limped home from work.


Is there irony in this situation, or just canny merchandising?

Does every woman experience the pain of accustoming her feet to the shoes of each successive season? Even shoes I've worn for the past three seasons cause discomfort the first few times I wear them again.  Do we all stuff the toe box with tissue, or pad our heels with blister pads?  Are we all grimacing on the inside as we mince blithely in shoes a half size too small because we'd never admit to wearing an 8? And just how exactly does one dislocate the hips in order for them to swing properly when in heels over an inch high?

Anyway. Today I am back in an old favourite pair of brown suede flats with fake lambswool interior, making my tender tootsies feel cossetted and consoled.

Tomorrow I'm going to be brave and tackle some flip flops, but I'm going to be smart and bring the bandaids.

15 May 2013

Of socks, drapes, and the colour white

Did you notice a sudden flash of unearthly white palor today?  Were you frightened by its startling whiteness?

I do apologize. It was my legs. I am bare-legged and unsocked for the first time today since I don't remember when. I ought to have sent out an advisory, I know, giving you all a chance to prepare yourselves with sunglasses, or at least closing the drapes.

I hope there was no irreparable damage. 

14 May 2013

The question of breasts and cancer and faith

I don't know what to think about Angelina Jolie.

It's not really my place to think about her, or have an opinion about what she's done... except that she's made it public that she had both breasts removed which invites the public into her private life. Now of course there is buzz all over the place with feature acticles on breast cancer and genetics and prevention and so on. There are opinions offered on both sides: she was brave; she was foolish.

Jolie discovered she had an 87% chance of developing breast cancer due to a defective gene and decided to take the offensive approach. What would you have done in her place?  Would you roll the dice that you'd live out your life in the 13% free and clear margin?

I honestly don't know. I don't know how I feel about a woman taking such drastic action. Is it drastic action to take? Or is it smart? I don't know my family medical history very well - one of the negative results of moving as much as we have - but I think every grandparent and aunt and uncle has died of some form of cancer or other (my dad's condition had to do with his blood and wasn't cancerous) so I suppose it's a near certainty I'll find myself getting the same diagnosis eventually. So should I resign myself to it now? Remove my womb or my breasts or my lungs so I wont develop that dread disease later? Even with her breasts gone, she still has a 5% chance of getting cancer so her drastic action doesn't net her a guarantee.

Part of me feels that is a defeatist approach to life. I don't see it as brave or wise. But I also don't wish the experience of cancer and cancer treatments on anyone, especially not a mother of young children.

Part of me feels it is a denial of faith. Not because I believe that since I have faith God will spare me from cancer or that faith alone will cure me of cancer. I am a rational being. I know that God expects us to make use of our gifts and talents to help ourselves and that making use of medical treatments is not a denial of God Himself. 

But my faith also tells me that there is nothing to fear from suffering or death. If the choice were up to me, I definitely wouldn't choose to endure cancer, but I know that if it came to be, I would endure. Even death cannot take from me the most important thing: my eternal soul. My goal is not to get through life with my body in one piece with as little inconvenience as possible; my goal is to get through life with my soul intact and hopefully be granted a place in the Presence of God. I believe even in the terrible circumstance of cancer, God would bring some good from it, for me or for someone else.

I don't seek out death. I'm not deliberately putting myself at risk of cancer or other diseases. I believe health is a gift and a responsibility.  Where I'm torn is at the question of whether removal of significant parts of the body with the hope staving off a future condition - a possible, not a certain condition is wise and responsible or not. Has Jolie forged a new path for women in the fight against breast cancer? Will full, double mastectomies become common preventative action?

I'm rambling without intent. I don't know what it is I want to say, if anything at all.  I guess I'm just sharing my confusion with you.

10 May 2013

In which I am a little heartbroken

Dear Reader, I am in mourning.
You know that I am a bit of a football fanatic (that being football of the round ball variety, the one played with the foot) and most specifically, I am somewhat fond of Manchester United, that great Red-wearing club of the North (which, as my brother-in-law insists, is not Liverpool).

Since United first entered my consciousness somewhere back in the very early 90s, they have been managed by Sir Alex Ferguson. He has been instrumental in their evolution into a globally adored, trophy winning team-to-be-feared. He is respected for his football savvy, his sense of the game, talent recognition and youth development.  He has been with them for 27 years.  Twenty-seven years! And throughout the course of those years he has won something like 38 significant competitions - 13 of which have been the league title.

He is retiring in just over a week's time after their last two games of the season.

Manchester United will never be the same.

It is the end of an era.

I will miss measuring how well his boys are playing by how ferociously he is chewing his gum.

I will miss his deft use of the media in pregame tactics.

I will miss his unfailing support of the individual players, and the team as a whole.

The news is still too recent for me to have positive feelings about the next manager or the first season without him.

I'll still bleed red, however.  Glory Glory Man United!!

08 May 2013

Of bicycles and locks on bicycles

If you've been here at the Lighthouse for a while, you might remember when I took to a bicycle for the first time in what must be twenty years.  That's a whole lifetime for someone who has just graduated high school!  (You can read some of those episodes here and here). 

I see by the dates for those posts that the bicycle adventures took place nearly 3 years ago. That means I bought the lock for the bike three years ago, and set the combination for the lock three years ago.  I bought one of those four letter word combination jobbies, in which four barrels of 10 letters each can be spun round to make words.  It was up to me to establish what the four letter word is that opens the thing. I thought that was clever of me because while I don't get on well with numbers, hardly ever remember where I put that particular key, I am a word girl. No way would I ever forget the particular word that was significant to me at the time.


I mean, come on.  The bike has been buried deep in the shed for two and a half years and I haven't given that significant word a thought in at least as long.

My dear brother in law dropped off my bike at the new flat a few days ago.  I have been plumbing the depths of brain ever since, trying to recall just what word was foremost in my mind all that time ago.  I can picture myself hunching over my bike in the rack outside the library...I can just about picture spinning the letters...I remember sharing with one of the Peanuts just how clever I was with my word choice.

Do you know how many four letter words there are?

I might plant flowers in the basket hanging off the front of the bike.

07 May 2013

Books I want to read: the list

After soliciting recommendations from friends and colleagues - and random internet strangers - I have compiled the Official List of Books for The Great Reading Project. 

The launch took place this last weekend, during which I read one of the books. I waited to post the list so I could right away cross one of the titles off.  I love a to-do lists so I can check things off and chart my progress. Makes me feel good about myself.

Nancy Shuman and Alice Von Hildebrand arrived in my mailbox last week, so naturally they were included, and The Cloistered Heart was the very first book I tackled for the project.  I shall review it at a later date, but will say right off the bat - if you are at all, in any way, by the smallest measure, interested in living in the world, but not of the world, with a heart committed to God's will, this little treasure is for you.

Titles in italics are suggestions for authors I'm interested in trying, but I might end up reading an alternate. I wanted to attempt Flannery O'Connor, but honestly, something in me groans at the thought because every synopsis and review I read suggests her stories are really really hard going - down and out, struggling, blistered by the heat, badly treated and so on.  I don't know if I can do it.  I'm a wimp.  Graham Greene and Faulkner might be too much as well, but I've stuck them on the list so I have to try!  I'm very much looking forward to finally reading 84 Charing Cross Road, and Dante's Inferno - though I hope the latter doesn't stall the GRP right out of the gate.

Thank you, dear Reader, for your wonderful suggestions.
The Great Reading Project has begun!

Books I want to read


Small Island  - Andrea Levy

Inferno – Dante

Heart of the matter – Graham Greene

The Snakepit – Sigrid Undset

Sound and the fury – William Faulkner

Man and woman – Alice Von Hildebrand

The Cloistered Heart – Nancy Shuman

Invisible man – Ralph Ellison

Masterful Monk (series) – Owen Francis Dudley

Shepherd’s castle – George MacDonald

Last light – Terri Blackstock

84 Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff

Bring me a unicorn – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Unlocked – Karen Kingsbury

04 May 2013

A Room with a view

Photo: From my window I see...
This one is the view from my front window.  I see this as I sit at my desk to write.
image.jpegphoto.JPGimage.jpegimage.jpegPhoto: On my street I see...These photos are a taste of what I'm seeing as I walk and drive the roads around my home.  It really is a Slice of Heaven on Earth!

02 May 2013

Morning air

The air smelled green this morning.

Somewhere in the distance a lawn mower purred in ever decreasing circles over a front yard. 
Shaggy prunings of grass lay on the library lawn; sparse shavings decorated the sidewalk.
Heat of the morning sun teased aroma of cedar into the air, and my heart was glad.

01 May 2013

The Great Reading Project of 2013

Dear Reader, I am embarking on a reading project in which I shall attempt to read books I've always been meaning to read.  Some are 'Great Books' and some are best sellers, and others are books recommended by friends. 

You are my friends, so I'd like to hear if you have any suggestions for me.  Is there a book or two that you always tell people about when they ask you what they should read? Are there books that you have loved deeply, or books that have touched you profoundly, or books you struggled with but are glad you did so?

I'm considering everything from Dante to Karen Kingsbury (one of those "Christian Lady" writers I mentioned earlier) so please don't be shy with your suggestions!

Ode to the library

It hurts deep in the part of me that loves books and libraries, and yearns for kinder and gentler times to tell you this: I think libraries are in trouble.

For such a long time I denied it. When people discovered I work in libraries, the question would always, always be asked: do we still need libraries?

My answer was prompt, empassioned, and vociferous: of course we do!

The library is an admirable 'third place', a safe and welcoming place for people to mix and mingle and be (catch the quote?) away from home or work. Libraries provide access to resources most people cannot afford - or even want to have - in their home. We are stocked with books, magazines, newspapers, microfilm, books on CD, DVDs, computer games; we offer programs for all ages; we make many dozens of databases available such as language learning tools, academic journals, ancestry searches, free educational courses and so on; we offer technology assistance, internet access, and try to maintain an online presence so anyone can discover us. We try to be warm, friendly, inviting, and efficient, but we, too, are a little overwhelmed with the rapid pace of change.

And all the while we're trying to figure out how to position ourselves in the modern world.  The aging population is looking for large print or recorded material, while younger folks are looking for virtual resources... eEverything, or iWhatever.  How do we cover both ends of the spectrum with diminished budgets; how do we keep staff up to speed with new developments when the minute you learn one new devise or system, it's already out of date?  How do we appeal to young and older alike in an age of 3D movies and life-like graphics?  How do we draw people out of their homes when nearly anything can be brought to the front door with a few keystrokes and a credit card number?

I've been noticing for several months now how quiet it is in the library.  Sure, we have flurries of hectic activity, but generally we are commenting to each other, "Where is everyone?" 

Circulation statistics are down.  The door count is lower. Program attendance is smaller.

In the past month, two different libraries near me have disclosed initiatives to remain fiscally viable: one is reducing hours, and the other is eliminating three staff positions.

Aside from being nervous about my own employment future, I don't like what all this says about our world.  Yes, people are downloading books and albums and movies... but somehow, I do still ardently believe there is nothing like a proper book.  Is literacy truly fostered, is a deep and abiding love of reading encouraged by holding a tablet? Is information really absorbed and understood from a computer monitor?

I'm trying to be positive and hopefully, which is why I've called this post an ode, rather than a lament.  I've been in love with libraries and bookstores all my life and fervently hope they will still be around when my nephews are raising children.

What I saw on my walk to work

I passed a castle on my walk to work this morning.  I really do live in the best place on earth!