Dreaming of a season that isn’t winter

When I sat down to write yesterday’s post nothing was out of the ordinary. There had been a biting wind chill earlier in the morning when I drove the kiddo to school, and Matt and I had covered the garden beds with a large tarp the night before to protect the greenbabies from frost, but besides that there was nothing unusual. I should know better than to keep asking, “What is considered unusual weather in Oklahoma?” because the answer to that stupid question is this: consistency. Consistent weather is what’s considered unusual weather in Oklahoma.

It was nearly 90* on Saturday. On Sunday the temperatures dipped a little below 80*, and we got a trickle of hail (dime-sized, perhaps) in the late afternoon. Yet when I looked out the window yesterday morning I could barely see through the swirling mass of fat, heavy snowflakes. Because SURPRISE! (Here’s a crappy video I took just when it was starting to wind down a bit.) Even the meteorologists were caught off-guard.

Naturally, I became angry about the whole thing. It’s spring. It’s the middle of April, for cryin’ out loud! When this happens I tend to mentally transport myself back to Florida. My mother has described to me how fragrant the tangerine tree blossoms are right now. Her geraniums are blooming, too.

beautiful day to spend some time at the beach

see the dark spot on the right? Horseshoe crab, little one!

surf and shells

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This is also the time of year when the ocean waters warm up enough to release rehabbed sea turtles back into the wild. I attended one of these releases on Amelia Island a couple of Aprils ago. It was chilly enough to wear a sweater – early morning breezes from the ocean and all – but what an experience! And it didn’t snow.

Terra-Tiger!

walking her out for release

success!

If you live in the coastal Georgia/North Florida area, or plan to visit, you really should check in with the Georgia Sea Turtle Center to find out if any sea turtle releases are scheduled soon. I lived in Florida for 16 years and seeing Terra-Tiger, a juvenile green sea turtle, go home was one of the most incredible things I ever did.

Last month I found a book at the Tulsa Aquarium about sea turtles called Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth’s Last Dinosaur. I plan to read it when the weather is more conducive to pretending I’m at the beach. Or when I can actually say that it didn’t just snow yesterday.

Sunday Night Grocery Shopping

While shopping for groceries last evening, I found myself overwhelmed by the selection of canned vegetables. When this happens I usually just stare at the wall of goods in front of me until I realize how ridiculous I’m being. Not surprisingly, this takes quite some time.

A couple walked in front of me and the woman continued shopping while the man, who was pushing the cart, asked me, “Oh, I’m sorry! Am I in your way?”

I waved my hand at him, assuring him it was no big deal. “Actually, I don’t know if you’re in my way. I’m not really sure what I want anyway.”

“I’d go for the peas,” he said.

Taken aback by his boldness, I questioned whether I should actually get peas (I am a Libra and, therefore, question EVERYTHING). We don’t eat peas much in our house. Not because we dislike them, but because I have an weakness for French-style green beans and I am the one who does the shopping.

“Really?” I asked him. “Peas? I was thinking about French-style green beans.” Why am I looking to a stranger for his approval?

“Green beans are delicious, but peas fit up my nose much easier,” he said. At least that’s what I thought I’d heard him say.

When I gave him a confused look, he repeated himself. “Green beans are delicious, but peas fit up my nose much easier.” So I had heard him correctly. Ha!!! I wasn’t sure if I was more excited about his sense of humor or by his ability to look at my canned goods dilemma with such ease.

I chose the French-style green beans (two cans!) and I wanted to invite him and his wife/girlfriend to our house for beers and hilarious conversation. You, sir, are the kind of people I LIKE! But the woman had already wandered a few feet away to look at rice options and my husband was at home. The whole dinner invitation would have been terribly awkward.

 

Spring is Here! (Part II)

The title of this post should really be “Wanna know how lazy I am?”.

In the fall of 2012, my pecan tree dropped a boatload of nuts. I crabwalked for hours one afternoon to pick up as many pecans  as possible. My mother and I had worked out a trade: She would send me tangerines and valencia oranges from her citrus trees in North Florida in exchange for my pecans. I ended up shipping about three gallon-sized bags to her. The rest of the pecans I picked up that season remained in a basket, waiting for me to shell them and bake a few pies.

I never did.

But that’s not what makes me lazy.

What makes me lazy is that the basket of pecans is still out there, a year and a half later, just sitting on the back porch. The pecans are spoiled – they have been for quite some time – so there has been absolutely no use in keeping them around.

The other day, however, I noticed some twigs and dry brush inside the pecan basket. Upon further inspection I discovered that it’s a bird’s nest! WITH BABIES! Or soon to be babies…

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I am clueless when it comes to identifying these pesky house birds, but my best guess (after very little research – again, lazy) tells me that these are the eggs of a house sparrow. Starlings and house sparrows continue to show up as very different birds when I turn to the Google gods for answers, I always thought they were the same thing. The descriptions of the eggs, though, tells me I’m wrong.

Schnitzel, our little foster fledgling from last year, was a starling. So was Mr. Grumpyfeathers. I have no experience with sparrows. We’ve always assumed those two starlings fell out of their nests, which were precariously located inside the sloping eaves of our front porch. These little sparrow babies already have a leg up in the world since they’re getting their start in life inside a basket. If we happen to find any of them flopping around on our back steps, we’ll know for certain their mama tossed them out.

I don’t put it past these birds to work that hard, either. They can be quite vicious. Have you ever watched an adult bird drag another adult bird from its nest…by its face?!

I have.

 

Spring is here!

I got plans for you, garden. #spring #garden #flowergarden #veggiegarden

And this is just the beginning…

Last Wednesday afternoon we received our first threat of possible tornadoes, and spring has officially arrived in Central Oklahoma! That morning the air was humid and smelled like Florida. It was very encouraging. Overnight, it seemed, the trees along Northwest 122nd Avenue blossomed with their bright pink, purple, and white flowers. Even the half-dead ugly tree in my own front yard is sprouting tiny leaves. I’m so giddy!

A few weeks ago I mentioned to Matt that I was going to buy some raised beds for this year’s garden. They worked so well for me back in Florida, unlike last year’s Oklahoma City porch garden where everything barely survived in pots and barrels. Matt took off with the idea. Suddenly there were blueprints and cedar boards and trucks delivering dirt and pea gravel, dumping them into mounds on my driveway.

My simple raised beds idea became a two-weekend project. Friends volunteered to help build the beds and level the ground. They gave up their weekends to help spread drainage rocks after removing strips of sod, trudging them all the way into the far backyard via wheelbarrow. They shoveled and sweated and suffered sore backs. All the while I shook my head thinking, “This is too much!” All the while feeling left out, too, because I had recently hurt my back and was under strict orders not to lift anything for two weeks.

Garden progress. #garden #spring #flowergarden #veggiegarden #raisedbeds

Weekend #1

Then it all started coming together. I could see the end result! My husband kept giving me that “I told you so” look, as if he knew the whole time that I’d love this garden more than I was letting on (he did, and I do!). Sometimes simple just won’t do it. Sometimes I should trust that bigger is better. Sometimes my husband is right. (See, honey. Public acknowledgement!)

This weekend I was finally able to contribute by staining the wood and making an all-important beer run. We had Chinese delivered to the house and the whole lot of us sat around the table for lunch. Later, after the last shovel full of dirt was thrown into the beds and our driveway was cleared, we thanked our friends and let it be known that we were indebted to them.

kidhelpers

Weekend #2

It’s like Amish barn raising when it comes to our friends. You help me, I help you. Need a room painted? A floor tiled? A dogsitter? Outside of gifting them with flowers and veggies throughout the growing season, I’m not sure how to repay them. Or my husband, who endured my reluctance to be enthusiastic.

Well, I’m enthusiastic now. The moment everyone left I went straight for the dirt. I transplanted seedlings and sowed additional seeds for nearly two hours. Covered in dirt and wood stain, I finally saw what this could do for me. It’s gonna keep me busy. And, according to my husband, it’s gonna keep me happy.

garden beds

Finished!

Greenie babies! #garden #gardening #flowergarden #veggiegarden #spring #seedlings

My peas have a home now!

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I cheated with this photo from Lowe’s, but I do have these darling pansies seeded in the garden. Remember when they sang to Alice in Wonderland, as the bread and butterflies fluttered about? They have the cutest faces!

How James Patterson Stole My Motivation

This man is James Patterson. He looks completely harmless, and he probably is to most people. But lately, since starting my job at the library, I have become wary of finding his books on my shelving cart. Why?

Let me begin with Diamond Dallas Page. Yes, the wrestler. A few weeks back my husband and I decided we didn’t like feeling old. We should still be able to get up from a chair without grunting or put on our shoes without making a big deal about picking up our legs to tie the laces (we simply can’t be bothered anymore with bending at the waist). So we learned about DDP’s yoga program and agreed to try it. I mean, DDP himself is pushing sixty years old. How hard could it be?

Well, it’s hard. Especially for two out-of-shape thirtysomethings with no sense of balance. We fought through the introduction class (via DVD) a few weeks back. It exhausted us. We were probably in bed by 9:30 every night that week.

Stretchy muscles and flexibility are not regular things Matt and I find ourselves living with. I almost typed “…are not regular things Matt and I enjoy“, but “enjoy” is not the right word at all. The truth is I would enjoy nothing more than stretchy muscles and flexibility these days. I believe Matt feels the same. On Saturday, he took Elle and her friend to a trampoline park and masterfully managed to hurt himself after doing a somersault into a foam pit. He, of course, didn’t feel it until it was too late to tell himself, “Hey, self. Slow down!”

It’s Wednesday and he’s still a little sore.

My job is very physical – unloading bins, arranging meeting room tables and chairs, pushing carts, and digging around shelves to find books that have fallen through the backs. I’m up and down all day. I stretch, I bend, I crawl. While learning the geography of the library, I have discovered James Patterson’s books are all situated on the top shelves in fiction. I am barely 5’3″. James Patterson’s books are very popular.  So, naturally, I HATE the top shelves.

Other popular authors, however?

  • Stephen King – he’s got a few middle rows to himself.
  • Judy Devereaux – bottom shelf.
  • 50 Cent – his books are at eye-level and are really of little importance here. I just want to know if you had a reaction to learning that 50 Cent is a published author. Of at least three books! I’m curious enough to consider checking out a few.

But James Patterson? Top frickin’ shelf. And it’s killing my back. Yes, I use the little step stool things. I still have a hard time seeing labels clearly on the top shelf. I still have to reach and stretch and contort my body with muscles I didn’t even know I had. It’s a good thing Diamond Dallas Page is around to help me out, right?

When Matt and I began this yoga challenge, I nominated myself to be the Yoga Police (I thought I would be the more disciplined of the two). Every night I come home from dealing with James Patterson, and I am reminded that Diamond Dallas Page is available to help me. DDP promised to change the way I feel. DDP promised to change my life! But the motivation just isn’t there anymore.

Because James Patterson took it.

And he just sits there in the fiction aisles of my library, looking all smug with his arms crossed (just like in the photograph above), blocking my path and daring me to shelve his books without causing myself further injuries. The back aches, the shoulder pain, the many nights I’ve skipped doing yoga.

And it’s all James Patterson’s fault.

(If I wanted to be a jerk about it, I’d also blame him for my sniffles and watery eyes, but it turns out another symptom of getting old is becoming allergic to all kinds of things – which is also a common symptom of simply being around books.)

 

 

 

Life’s Answers & Other Things

After I got my degree in December, I had the opportunity to be very selective about where I would go to work. The months that followed were, not surprisingly, very boring. I watched a lot of Netflix, read a lot of fiction, and eventually decided to volunteer at a local military museum until the right job came along. Then I got stir-crazy and cried a lot (mostly out of boredom and from suffering a vitamin D deficiency during this winter that seems to be never-ending).

That most recent bout of crying led me to consider pursuing a master’s degree. Actually, the conversation I had with myself (and my husband) went a little like this:

Will you ever be happy with just a bachelor’s degree? NO.

Will you ever be able to work in a field you really love without a master’s degree? NO.

It was that simple. I needed a master’s degree. But I also needed a job to pay for it, so the job hunt got a little difficult because…well, how selective can you really be when you don’t have the master’s degree you need to get the job you want? The answer: NOT VERY.

What do you really want to do? This was where I got stuck.

I flip-flopped between working in a museum (but without all the technicalities of archiving and grant-writing), working with teens, or simply living in a room full of books. After a few weeks of perusing the job boards available to the public through the American Library Association (ALA), the American Historical Association (AHA),and various humanities organizations, and speaking to some MLIS-carrying friends of mine, the answer was becoming clearer. It just wasn’t clear enough.

Then I was called in to interview for a position in our public library. When I was asked why I wanted to work there, I rambled on about my work at the 45th Infantry Museum’s library and how I really enjoyed being part of the community project (without having to be the face of a project itself). I think I mentioned that I was going to start working on my MLIS in the fall, too. I genuinely enjoy outreach work, local history, and, let’s be honest, being around books. Suddenly the answer was very, very clear.

Two weeks later I got the job. A lot of it, I think, had to do with me wanting to fuse my two favorite things into a single attainable goal: my love for history and my love for books. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be preparing my application for graduate school because I just can’t seem to get enough of this college thing.

So in this day and age of modern technology, online catalogs, and our overall ability to Google just about anything we want (and some things we don’t want), keep in mind that card catalogs still exist and that they’re really, really cool. Thanks to World War II, I’m already very familiar with works filed under MDS 940.53 through 940.54. Luckily for you, you can Google that.

That meme about prehistoric googling? It's real. #45thinfantry #museum #library #deweydecimal #cardcatalog.

In other news:

    • There have been a few 80-degree afternoons scattered amongst the snow storms and overall shitty days. I saw some henbit growing in someone’s yard earlier in the week and after becoming absurdly excited at the show of color (even though it’s considered a weed), I went ahead and put in my garden seed order. Now spring has to happen. I’ve already paid for it.
    • I finally found some friends who are willing to play Scrabble with me during my husband’s game nights.
    • We have a futon! It’s a beautiful cranberry color but you’d never know it. These dogs think everything we buy is meant to be a dog bed. Except the dog beds, of course. The futon is currently covered in a paisley fitted sheet. Sigh…
    • I decided to treat myself to a quarterly book box through Book Riot. If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, you pay a set price (Book Riot’s is $50) and you receive a box of surprise goodies. It’s like Christmas every three months up in here! Here’s my loot. (And to think, I’d been shopping around for a book-themed coffee mug and blammo!! It showed up just like that. Also, advanced reader copies of books, y’all.):

My quarterly surprise! #bookriot #quarterly #books #reading

About the Appearance of Books in Wartime (and of me, in 1988)

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The private library of the 45th Infantry Museum is where I’ll be spending my volunteer time from now on. There are around 8,000 titles that include everything from Bill Mauldin’s cartoon collection to the documented fishing conditions of Scandinavian waters during wartime.  The museum’s card catalog is not up-to-date (not to be confused with “outdated” in this case), so I will be checking all the books to be sure they each have their respective filing cards. I only spend about 4 to 6 hours a week there, and I’ve estimated I’ll be finished by the end of the summer.

While thumbing through the first shelf of books, I came across this notice about the War Production Board’s ruling on publishing materials. I had never before heard of this conservative measure. Most of my knowledge of wartime policies comes from reading specific kinds of war narratives or from watching Bomb Girls on Netflix.

It turns out that the War Production Board’s policy on conserving certain materials helped to create the mass-market paperback book. Because the books were lighter, held together with glue (not staples), and used less ink, they were understandably cheaper. And more profitable. Book clubs, which were a regular part of a housewife’s social activities, grew to be even more popular. During the war years, authors worked their magic to have a nationally known book club select their book and distribute it to paying members as the Book-of-the-Month.

Paperback books have been around since the late 19th century, marketed around the United Kingdom to train riders. Their popularity soared, however, when American readers became the recipients of paperback books’ advertising campaigns.

What I find really interesting is how 1940s conservation and consumption applies to today’s world. E-books are not so alien to us anymore, and they allow us to carry thousands of less expensive and more portable versions of a book - any book. I know I’m not the last holdout, but I am a genuine fan of actual pages. I like the feeling I get when I physically turn a page. That’s not to say I’m against e-readers. I do own one. It’s just that I live in 1985 and I can’t seem to love that which I don’t understand: modern technology.

My favorite purses are large enough to carry what I consider necessities: my wallet, cell phone, lotion, makeup, hand gel, lip balm, notepads, pens, hairbrush, camera, and a book (preferably a paperback, for obvious reasons). I might show up somewhere looking like I’m ready to move house, but I’m never bored. When I stand in line at the bank, I read my book. When I wait in the doctor’s office, I read my book. When I’m stuck in traffic, I read my book. And because I’m the slowest eater in the world, my family often abandons me at the dinner table where I finish my meal and read my book. I think it’s obvious that I am a voracious reader, so I can appreciate having access to less expensive and more portable versions of any book.

I am indubitably devoted to the library; I can understand libraries, which is why I’ve taken on the overwhelming task of updating the museum’s card catalog. The fourth-grade version of me is finally living out her dream.

7thgrade

This is actually the seventh-grade version of me: fluffy permed hair, a stonewashed-denim and lace skirt with suspenders, a very short date wearing an ill-fitting jacket. Even back then I looked like I belonged in a library, though I should have done a lot more research in fashion.