Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Toilets sound different now

Verla is a library regular of mine, and she is deaf as a post. A post that yells a lot. Last week she got a $39 hearing aid off the internet, and now she can hear her own voice for the first time in decades. Her head spun around at the sound of the elevator dinging like she was one of those dogs in Up when they see a squirrel. Is that the elevator? All these years riding it up and down and she never knew it made noise. She grinned as she told us about hearing a toilet flush and barely recognizing it. They sounded so different last time she could hear.

The world she has lived in for 74 years is suddenly full of wonders.

What's the worst that could happen?

 When it's time to step back from your life and get some perspective, there are many ways to do it. Vacations are good. So are new skills, new hobbies, old friends. Prayer. Deep conversations over expensive beer.

But what if that's not enough? Suppose you had no obligations that couldn't wait a few months, no partners or children who expected you to stick around, and the urgent need for a change of scenery, both outside and in. Are you willing to make a run for the boundaries of your life?

That's me today, and my wanderer's heart is eying South America. I aim to get uncomfortable for a while, to land on new soil with only part of a plan, to force feed my brain the Spanish language, and to remind myself that life will always be stressful, but sometimes we can choose more memorable causes.

What's the worst that could happen? Doing nothing.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Random Public Library Moment (what? I have a blog? Oh yeah.)

I knew it had been a while since I'd posted here, but over a year? Zoiks. Greetings to the 2 people still out there paying any attention.

Two young men and their grandfather came up to the reference desk on a busy Saturday afternoon looking for car repair manuals. First I got the make and model, then I asked what system they were working on. One of the guys lifted his hand above the edge of the desk-- he was holding the (somewhat oily) master cylinder. In unison they all said, “The brakes.” I printed out what information I could find from a repair database. When I asked if that was enough, the grandpa said, “I hope so—but if not, we’ll come back with the other part.”

They didn't return that day. I hope that means that my information helped, and not that they gave up on their '96 Buick Regal. I was half-hoping they would be back with a series of parts to research, laying them out in exploded-view on the terrazzo floor in front of the reference desk.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

way to break typecasting

Overheard in the puppet castle:

PRINCE (played by a large hen): Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!

RAPUNZEL (played by Piglet): Okay!

RAPUNZEL lowers herself ears-first out the window to the waiting Prince. Prince latches on to an ear with his beak, and RAPUNZEL pulls him up into the castle.

Also observed: a toddler force-feeding a tarantula to a pterydactyl. Yum!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

encounters with Jesus

I met Jesus today. He's about 3 feet tall, and I caught him climbing on the dragon in my library. To be fair, the dragon looks like a fancy playground piece, even though he was designed to hold and display books. Later his mom called him back from lapping the children's area, then from splashing out a complicated Morse code message using the drinking fountain. He just left, run/walking at a good clip down the aisle, elbows pumping energetically.

Yes, Jesus is an Hispanic three-year-old.

But how different was the real three-year-old Jesus? Traditionally he's painted as a serene, wise-beyond-his-years child, but that's later in childhood. I don't assume to know how God Made Man behaved through his Terrible Twos and Threes, but I'd like to think that he had some of the energy and high spirits of today's little Our Savior of the Dragon's Back.

And with millenia of Christianity all over the Western world, why is it that only Spanish-speaking countries name their children Jesus with any regularity? I'm sure it says something deep about cultural differences, but I can't devote the brain power to it tonight.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Random Public Library Moment

I've been on a little self-inflicted computer break this month, and rather than catch you up, gentle reader, with photos and tales from my lovely backpacking trip along the North Shore, I will go the lazy route: Cheap Laughs!

When learning a language, cognates are a beautiful thing. Even if I didn't study for that junior high German quiz, I could guess what an Autobus was and what Hans was supposed to do with it. Beware, however, of the false cognate. A classic example is the Spanish word embarazadas, which sure sounds a lot like "embarrassed," but actually means "pregnant."

False cognates can also mislead you if you're browsing through the Russian children's DVDs at the library. If you for some reason read the back of this box first, you would know that it's the story of a good Communist boy's magical adventures on a flying carpet, circa 1956. Read the title first, and you might have different expectations. I know did, although I must say my first reading of the title didn't quite jive with the prominence of the leering, bearded genie.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

well, I tried.

Some things are better than you remembered them as a child, like mustard. Or beer, not that I had extensive experience.

Some things are worse, like Nancy Drew books. Seriously, have you gone back and read any childhood favorites lately? It's a risky business. But that's another topic.

And some things are about the same. My biggest food hatred as a child was beets. I would sit at the table for hours, all alone in front of a fast-cooling plate of beets, rather than eat those accursed things. Hating beets is actually one of my earliest memories; I remember sitting at the table of a house we left when I was three, trying to work up the mental and gastronomic strength to take a few beet bites. Now I'm an adult, and I sometimes choose to eat various things I used to avoid: broccoli, for example. So when my CSA farm sent some beets this week, after the initial shudder I thought, sure, why not? I've hated and avoided beets for so long, maybe something has changed in the last 28 years or so. So on my sister's advice, I sauteed them in olive oil, salt and pepper along with some other fresh CSA goodies. And I ate them.

Verdict? Blech. Yuck yuck yuck. I declare my intense dislike of beets officially a lifelong trait. Sure, it's fun to pee magenta, but for me the thrill is not worth it.