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Up Late

With the possible exception of the folks who are directing the decisions about library services for Hennepin County, I’m not sure if anybody else is paying as much attention to the library situation as I am.  I’m checking the website every day or so, massaging my hold list, checking the status of anything coming available to me and just generally watching the news.

So I know that I don’t have to rush through anything – nothing that has been checked out since March 14 is due yet and won’t be due until a minimum of three weeks after libraries begin to open back up (no date on that yet).  I’ve actually read all but one of the physical books that I have checked out (just picked one up yesterday from curbside pick-up) and I only have two audiobooks that aren’t finished.

That knowledge did not keep me from staying up late on Sunday night however.  I was reading The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King, one of my favorite series and the clock was advancing towards my usual bedtime, about 10.  Normally I say to myself, “keep reading until you fall asleep” and this works pretty well but the book was good and I wasn’t getting tired.  I just kept going.  11 o’clock, midnight…. one… two…   I felt like I was a kid reading under the covers, doing something illicit and I had to remind myself that I can stay up as late as I want.  It’s not like I have anything specific that I have to be out of bed for in the mornings.

Finished at 2:45 a.m.  Enjoyed it thoroughly and although I was a little droopy on Tuesday, it was worth it.  I went to bed at 8 that night.

What’s the last book you remember staying up late to finish?

Della Street

You all know I’m a big fan of Perry Mason, particularly the two tv series with Raymond Burr.  I’ve seen them all and YA will tell you I’ve seen them all repeatedly.  Mea culpa. 

With the big storm on Sunday/Monday, I spent the day inside, watching another of my favorite old shows – Columbo.  When watching episodes back to back, I noticed something in Columbo that I have always been bothered by in Perry Mason.  Secretaries are portrayed as a bad lot.  Either they are in love with their bosses and will lie (and kill) for them or they are sexpots either having affairs with their bosses or vying for those affairs, always with the aim of blackmail of some sort. 

Except Della Street, of course.  Intelligent, resourceful, extremely loyal, kind and completely devoted to her job.  Early mornings, late nights, weekends…. she is ALWAYS working.  She goes to nice restaurants with the boss, gala affairs on occasion, holiday weekends in Mexico, an overnight on a boat with the boss to check some bit of evidence.  She even goes to the boss’ house to take care of him when he is sick.  But no canoodling of any kind, although the later series does lean a little over the line in terms of their relationship.  (And we’re not going to discuss a movie made in the late 30s in which Perry and Della get married!)

I did secretarial work for my father’s law firm for a couple of summers and winter breaks in college and I never met another secretary that fit any of the secretarial visions that Hollywood has dreamed up – no killer gals in love with the boss, no sexpots aiming to entrap the boss and no Della Streets.  Not a one.

In your opinion, what else does Hollywood always mess up?

Bug Bites

Well, the dog may be happy and the garden is really thriving and my kitchen floor is spectacularly clean, but I can’t say that my lower legs are particularly flourishing with furlough and shelter-in-place. 

Two weeks ago I dropped my bow saw putting it away and it scrapped my leg below the knee, so I have seven ½” long wounds, nicely healing but still a bit pink.  I have a bruise just below my left knee – I really have no idea how I got that one.  I have a nice gash from a rock that whipped its way out of the lawn mower and at least five various pokes from crawling around on mulch while weeding.

The spot that’s bothering me is the bug bite that I got on Thursday – it actually looks like two bites right next to each other, so it probably happened when I kneeled on something, but it itches like the devil and is still red after a few days.  Lots of Benadryl gel helps some.  Neosporin and a bandaid felt good this morning but I figure I’ve got a couple more days until it’s healed up.

I’m not sure if I should just give up my lucrative leg modeling contract or start wearing long pants while I garden.

Any unintended consequences lately in your life?

Biscuits And Gravy

Husband, as a rule, has excellent taste in food. There are  exceptions,  like cornmeal mush, that I won’t touch.  That is traditional to his mother’s family who came from southeastern Ohio.  I don’t understand it. I like polenta,  but the mush his family makes isn’t like that at all. He also likes fried clams. My nonexistent gallbladder, which rebels over fried food, can’t tolerate it.  The main  food disagreement we have is over biscuits and gravy.

He never started eating biscuits and gravy until we moved to North Dakota. Don’t ask me why.  I like biscuits. I like sausage. I just don’t like glutinous, gloppy gravy on top of them. Husband has taken to making it in secret. He says the combination of softness (from the biscuits) and the  spiciness (from the sausage), all held together with the comforting gravy, is too appealing to him to give up. I noticed this week that there were bags of biscuits in the freezer I hadn’t noticed before, and he admitted he had made biscuits and gravy for breakfast, and tossed out the leftovers before I got home.

I think part of this has to do with his diabetes, and his feelings of hunger when he wakes up in the morning.  He says there isn’t really isn’t anything I like that he doesn’t like, but that he finds biscuits and gravy so comforting.  He blames it on the diners and truck stop cafes that he ate in while he worked on the Rez for six years.

What do you eat that your housemates won’t eat? Do you eat anything in secret? What are your comfort foods?

Under Lock and Key

I saw a young man by a white car in the college parking lot near my work the other day. His bicycle was propped up against the car, and he was evidently trying to get into the car with  a long wire inserted through the window frame on the driver’s side. Given it was broad daylight and that there is a low crime rate in our town, I knew that he was the owner of the vehicle and he had locked his keys in the car.  He was still there, with a friend, when I went home for lunch, and they were still at it.

We are preparing for my agency moving to a new building, and we are faced with clearing out decades of materials before the move. Storage space in the new building is limited, so we need to go through multiple filing cabinets to sort and toss what we don’t need. We have discovered full, locked filing cabinets in storage rooms. We have no idea where the keys are. What now? Do we try, like the young man in the parking lot,  to jimmy the locks? Do we toss the whole thing, hoping that what ever is in the cabinet is not useful? It is a hard decision to make. I am glad that it is not up to me. I have the keys for the four psychology filing cabinets in my purse, and there they will stay until the cabinets are in position in the new building. I just better not lose my purse.

What do you have under lock and key? Ever been locked out of anything?

Following Directions

On June 24, 1497, John Cabot and his ship bumped into Nova Scotia, thought it was Asia, and claimed it for England.  My, was he wrong!

I love maps and reading maps. I hate being told I am wrong. I don’t know if Cabot learned he was wrong or how he felt if he found out he was wrong.  I reluctantly use Google Maps in cities if I don’t know my way around.  I am a visual person, and I prefer to see where I am going. I wonder about the maps Cabot had to follow. I would have had a word with chief navigator about this entire continent being in the way of Asia, and no one knowing about it.

When have you been wrong? What is your favorite way of getting information?

Socially Distant Strawberries

The alarm clock went off at the crack of dawn.  The woman who answered the phone at the berry farm the day before had said that they had been very busy the first week that the strawberries were ready for picking.  (I guess strawberries are the new toilet paper.)  I wanted to be there when they opened so threw on my shorts and shirt and got a move on.

The berry farm was doing a good job with the covid restrictions: everyone got a good spray of sanitizer on their hands before and after going into the field, masks were strongly encouraged, containers brought from home were strictly forbidden and they put us in every other row of berries.  And we were told in no uncertain terms that this year we could not sample berries as we picked.   I had thought I would be irritated by wearing a mask while picking berries, but soon my knees and ankles took my mind off it.  It was a beautiful morning and I found that none of the restrictions bothered me at all – although I will admit that with folks in every other row, I wasn’t able to eavesdrop on other folks’ berry patch conversations like usual!

The berries were great and I managed to overfill my two flats just as I got to the end of my row.  Having gotten there so early, I got home early and had 14 jars of jam and 8 quarts of frozen berries processed by 10:30!  I had been worried that the pandemic would wreck my annual strawberry routine, but the berry farm did a great job of getting safely on with business!

When was the last time you set your alarm clock?  Do you even HAVE an alarm clock?  What kind?

Mass Hysteria

I news clip caught my eye yesterday about incidents of hysterical dancing that broke out in Germany in the 1300’s.  Men and women started to dance, and were unable to stop.  Others  joined them. The dancers rarely stopped to eat or sleep for days and sometimes weeks.  They did not appear happy to be dancing, but they didn’t stop. Outbreaks of this dancing continued through out the Middle Ages.  It was sometimes called St. John’s Dance, and, later, St. Vitus Dance and the Tarantella. There are theories that it was caused by ergot poisoning, but that is still up for debate. Other theories attribute it to living in stressful times. It seemed to die out with the advent  of Protestantism.

There was a modern outbreak of hysterical laughing  in 1962 in a girls’ mission school  in Tanganyika which eventually affected  around 1000 people in the surrounding community for 18 months.

Given the stressful time we are living in, I started to wonder what sort of mass hysteria might we see occurring. I thought it would be nice to see mass recycling or picking up litter and trash.  Unstoppable acts of kindness would be refreshing as well.

What mass hysteria would you like to see? Have you ever been “hysterical”?

What Party Do You Belong To?

Husband started volunteering  at the local food bank on Thursdays, and was asked rather pointedly by another volunteer what political party he belonged to.  The questioner was a disabled Gulf War Veteran who was rather unhappy with the possibility of a George Floyd protest march at the local mall, and who was supportive of the local bikers who surrounded our mall to make sure there wasn’t any destruction or looting. (It was the most peaceful, non-eventful happening our town has seen.)  Husband answered, quite brilliantly I thought, that he was a member of the Lutheran Party and Lutheran Tribe. That seemed to puzzle the questioner, but ended the discussion. If asked the same question, I suppose I would say I was a New Deal Democrat, but I don’t know how many younger people would know what that meant. I am so proud of the questioner to be volunteering at the food bank, no matter what his political persuasion. I am dismayed to think that he would judge someone on the basis of their answer.

What party do you belong to?  Be creative.

What To Read Right Now

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown.

When Toni Morrison died on August 5th last summer, I was amazed to realize I’d never read anything by this Pulitzer (and Nobel!) Prize winning author. Then I watched, on CBS Sunday Morning, and excerpt from an NPR interview, and promptly read three of her books to get a sampling of her writing. They were not an easy read.

What I’ve realized in the past few weeks is that, while I’ve heard myself say I love to read about women’s lives (and lately some men’s, too), I’ve read precious few books about black women’s lives, most by Morrison, Maya Angelou, and Alice Walker – either fiction or memoirs. There have been tons of posts on FB, etc., about what it is like to be African-American in this country (not to mention Native, Hispanic, Asian) – stories that try to explain what the term “white privilege” means, and I think I’m just beginning to understand.

Something  PJ said the other day on the Trail spoke to me:  “At the moment I’m immersed in learning more about American history, race relations, politics, and the changing vocabulary and strategies that have been used over time to divide us along racial, economic, and political lines. I’d much rather be doing something else, but it feels as if it’s my civic duty to be as informed as I can be so I can better understand what’s going on all around us.”

To that end, I’ve ordered James Baldwin’s Collected Essays, after hearing a conversation about him with MPR’s Angela Davis. I came upon this “Anti-Racist Lit. Starter Kit.”

It can be argued that we need to do much more than try to fix it by “throwing a book at it”. But like PJ, educating myself is what I can do right now.

Do you have any recommendations for books we could read right now, to further understand what needs to change in our culture?