Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Calico Bess Flint

Every fall, when I see the Halloween costumes out in the stores, it reminds me of one of my personal favorite costumes. Wes has worn it, John's friend Alex borrowed it, and I've worn it many times. When on, I feel empowered somehow! I'm colorful, I'm sassy, I'm rich with dubloons attached to my belt, I'm wearing gaudy jewelry and it's okay. I can say words like "Aaargh" and "Surrender Cowardly Scum" and not use the words "Please" and "Thank you." So, when I came upon a website that could have me take a quiz to tell me my true pirate name, that's just what I did. My name? Calico Bess Flint! How cool is that? Especially because I like fabrics and Bessie the cow and the Flintstones!
When I was teaching, we would have an annual pirate day. I would dress like a pirate girl, complete with a black goucho skirt, red and white oversized striped sweater, colorful sash, black boots and striped socks, eye patch, one gold huge gold earring, a necklace made of coins, and, of course a bandana. We would walk the plank (balance beam), go on a treasure hunt, snack on "coins" (yea, chocolate!) and learn how to sing the parrot song. It was a blast! And, of course, there would be books...
Left: a book for those who love glitter and sparkle!
Right: A great pirate book to read to kids who will be so proud that they know how to read and pirates DON'T. It's a great one for promoting going to the library, too! And also that parents can be your allies in times of great danger.
Left: This one has got to be my absolute favorite book about pirates! It anwsers the questions many of us want to know such as: Do pirates take baths? What do pirates eat? (seaweed and barnacle stew -hmm, don't think so!) Why don't pirates get lost? (it helps to have a destination of "x") What do pirates dream about at night? (this answer might surprise mothers everywhere)
Go ahead.... walk the plank, shiver me timbers and pass me some pieces of eight! Find out your own pirate name when you go to this website and answer some questions to determine who you are. Let me know, matey!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Autumn Splendor

Wes and I have just returned from a weekend trip to our cabin in the UP of Michigan. It's our job to close up the place for the winter, and we used to do this over the Labor Day weekend, but found out a few years back that we were missing out on the best show ever...the fall colors! This year we were in for a real treat...great fall colors AND gorgeous weather with temps in the 60's and 70's! On our way to the cabin, we stopped by a pumpkin farm in Wisconsin. Now we are all set with colorful pumpkins and gourds to decorate our home and front porch. It's been an extremely dry summer there, and the levels of the lake are down considerably. On Saturday, we had a first ever: walking around the entire lake on its shoreline. We saw fallen tree trunks, rock formations and the beauty of a lake bottom never before seen. Today (Sunday) we took a break from our work to walk the back stretch of the lake for about a mile. (This walk around the lake is about 6 miles, so we cut it short due to work.) Though we have been coming north for so many years now, sometimes the beauty of it all can take ones breath away!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I'll admit it: it's not always easy to go to visit my Mom in her nursing/retirement home. I see my future, and it's not always uplifting with seeing canes, wheelchairs, diapered adults and senior confusion. However, I have recently been introduced to a very happy, very peppy, very upbeat, very active, very excited, very adorable old gal and her name is Jenny. And what does Jenny look like? It's a compliment to say she looks like a d-o-g, because that's exactly what she is! I have no idea how she is permitted to reside at this retirement facility, but she does.
Wherever Jenny goes with her master, she attracts attention and is generous with her affection.
Her kisses are freely given, she's always happy to see you, she makes you smile.
I just have to hold this dog, and here's the reason why...
...Jenny reminds me of my own girlhood little bundle of wiggles and kisses, Boots. (I dug around to find this picture taken with our miniature dachshund when I was about in the 7th grade, and also in my Charlie Brown phase with the wall posters and striped shirt.)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Field Trip

When was the last time you took a field trip? I can't remember my last time, but it certainly wasn't in a bus this nice, with a stop for lunch at such a great restaurant as Francesca's Vicinato's! It was a trip to see two other libraries for all staff employees at my library. We are currently in a building remodeling/building project.
The two libraries we visited were the Elmhurst Public Library and the Tinley Park Library.
The two libraries had totally different was open, airy, light-wooded and high-ceilings with exposed ducts and pipes. One had darker woods, regular height ceilings and a deeper color palate. But both libraries had greens in their color thematics. The stained glass window panels at the Tinley Park Library really made a statement as one entered their lobby. In the prairie style, one wonders what Frank Lloyd Wright would think.
Yes, this is a coffee shop!
Who would think of a fireplace in a modern library? But, I certainly could picture myself sitting there in the winter with a blazing fire (I never asked if they did that...darn!), a cup of cocoa (did you know beverages are allowed in the library now?) with a good book in my hands!
Both libraries had some outstanding features: beautiful stained glass windows and even a fireplace, modern seating, "green" friendly designs (cork floors, bamboo on stairways, efficient cooling and heating systems), rich woods, prairie style light fixtures, nice shelving, great public access.
When it came to the Children's Departments, I was especially attentive. Ours presently is over-crowded, anything but spacious, in a basement. We share our storyroom space with the entire library (that will soon change, though as our AV department is moving upstairs and their old space will become a public meeting room like it was long, long ago.) Talk about crowded!
I loved the wooden cut out trees around the columns in the Kid's Library! But, what truly blew me away at the Elmurst Public Library: their Story Room! This storyroom was a dream for had all the "bells and whistles.' It had a closet with a kitchen, a closet with art supplies, remote control lighting and film screen lowering and even two doors that, when opened, revealed fantasy and fairytale backdrops.
Just like magic! Open sesame and the audience could be transported back to days of yore.
This is where I'd like to spend my time as a library patron...reading a book on a cozy chair overlooking a park. (And , of course, the children next to me would be well-behaved!)
Now, dear readers, I am going to ask you a question: What do you like about your library? Does it have an eye-catching coffee kiosk? Or a Border's Book Store feel? A great storytime room? Is there perhaps a type of chair you like? Even if you have never commented on my blog before, I really hope you give me your input. You can also tell me what you DO NOT like about your library!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Who Knew?

Who knew a silent auction bidding would give us such a fun, laughter-packed evening? Who knew we would flashback to the years we spent watching Saturday Night Live in its '70s glory days remembering the crazy antics of John Belushi, Dan Akroyd, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtain and others? So many of them started out at The Second City and this is where we hung out this past Sunday evening. We shaved years off our lives for just a few hours of time. Below is the cast line-up and their pictures. The show was called "Between Barack and a Hard Place". They poked fun (in sometimes irreverant ways) at just about everyone in the present political scene: Hillary, Barack, Craig, George B., Daley. They were politically incorrect about ethnicities and genders. Still, we found it hysterically funny...what does this say about us? I think it says that we, as humankind, need to lighten up and laugh at ourselves and all the messes we get ourselves into.
Having been told to stay after the regular show, Wes and I were prepared to postpone our trip back home for the impromptu improvisations...and we were all very surprised when this man
(Jim Belushi) showed up as a guest improviser! We laughed even more when he joined the sketch about being the hired "cheer up" man for those stranded at the airport with delayed flights. (Now, if only THAT would happen in real life!) Isn't it amazing what the human brain
and a funny bone sense of humor can come up with?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Blessings of Generations

Last week I wrote about getting to hang out with Ava and Cal soon, and it has since happened. What a true blessing it was to have 4 generations together for a short time: Mom, my sis and I, my nephew and my great niece and nephew. The older I get, the more I realize that times like these are not to be taken for granted or minimized. Things can radically change with the blink of and eye or the passing of a day. Sieze what is there in the here and now.
Mom is stable, but not mobile. It's not easy for her to go about daily living. She needs someone to help her into bed, out of bed, into a chair, out of a chair. She lives in a small room and misses her belongings from home and her old friends. She misses her mate. She misses her freedom. She misses privacy. She misses her home state of Colorado. But what came as a very unexpected surprise is that she DIDN'T miss the experience of living to see great-grandchildren in her lifetime...something she never expected.They light up her life like nothing else!
Here's Mom with her daughters, her grandson, Ryan, and the "greats" Cal and Ava. See how she's smiling? (We had a good ratio of wheel-riders to wheel-pushers, thankfully.)
Here's my sister...the lucky Grammy! (The above picture was taken at the little zoo we visited after lunch with Mom.) Believe you me, I am learning a lot from her ways as a Grandmother. She gave the kids cookies FIRST as we went to a meal together with my Mom. She has a bag full of books, toys and such to entertain Ava and Cal. And when Cal ate all his ice cream and stickified (is that a word?) his shirt, Diann was the first to come up with the idea to blow dry the shirt in the bathroom with the hand dryer! Cal would survive being shirtless for a little worries.
Uncle Ryan is so very tender with Cal and Ava. He's patient, great with explanations, and interested in getting to know his young niece and nephew...and they love him right back.
Being able to watch and interact with these two young "greats" was just that...great!
And I know, I just know, that my Mom is glad she could live long enough to see her children's children have children! Can you tell that I am loving being a Great Aunt, too? Again, blessings.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Over the holiday weekend, Wes and I decided we should act like tourists. We packed a little suitcase, grabbed comfy walking shoes, hats and sunscreen and away we went... We started our day by visiting the church we were married in! Followed by the best brunch ever at Tre Kronor where we devoured the cinnamon rolls and other tasty Swedish morsels. On the train next; found our great deal hotel on Priceline, then walked to Navy Pier where we boarded the Sea Dog for an architectural tour via river. Hours later, it was the Chicago Jazz Fest! Exhausted by now, we happily sunk our tired bodies into a heavenly downtown bed. The next morning, we walked to the Museum Campus, and enjoyed the Adler Planetarium. I loved seeing all art globes on the walk there...especially "The Scream" interpretation. (For those of you not familiar with the art globes, it is similar to the past "Cows on Parade" outdoor art show a few years back.) More walking, boarding the train back to meet family for pizza at Gulliver's. We just loved our time as Chicago tourists!!