Thursday, September 30, 2004

Kitten Drama

We seem to be overrun with cats - not only do we have 4 inside ones of our own but our back porch has become a hang out for the semi feral neighborhood cats. The perils of living in an area undergoing gentrification - they are quite a few homeless cats in the neighborhood. The little old lady down the street feeds many of them and doesn't seem to care that the reproduce at will.

2 young black females have taken to living under our house. One had a litter about a month ago - 2 back, 2 Russian blues. So cute, all big blue eyes and upright little tails. First one black one disappeared, then we found on the gray ones on the back porch with a broken neck. The last straw was this morning when we found the remains of the sole remaining black kitten. We suspect it's raccoons - we know we have some in the area since we've seen them on the porch too. We found the last surviving Russian blue and it's upstairs with Mama who is getting tamer by the minute. I think we've upped our indoor cat population.

The other one had a litter last night. One got separated from the others and entrapped in the Mexican Heather. I cut it loose and luckily found it's littermates and returned it to the bunch. I hope the mother cat won't reject it since I've had to touch it. I also hope Mama moves them to a safer place and that the coons don't decide to come looking for dinner again tonight.

All this kitten strum and drum has taken up way more time and energy than either of us can deal with. I know nature is not kind and that nature is cruel but facing it at 6am in the morning is another thing entirely.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Booksale Frenzy

Tis the season of the library booksales. This is the time of year when I acquire a the bulk of my E-Bay inventory. It runs from September till end October and then goes into haituts till March. My e-bay buddy and I have been to so many that we know the regulars.

First there are the pros - a group that once consisted of overweight people with bad hygiene and a passion for Science Fiction and Fantasy. Now, with the onslought of the internet they have been joined by folks who know from nothing about books but have a cell phone with internet access. I don't mind them, except for one group who moves in a pack. Two or three fan out, grab stacks of books and deposit them in front of the man with the cell phone who looks up the ISBNS and cherry picks the lot.

We deal in children's books so we get to contend with the homeschoolers. They move in packs too, Mom in her dowdy jumper and tennis shoes, accompanied by a minimum of 4 children and a stroller the size of a Mini Cooper. Said stroller is always wide enough to block an entire aisle.
The children, who don't seem to have been schooled in public manners amuse themselves by playing tag under and around the tables. Given the crowds at the sales and said strollers this is not a good thing. And then there is the occupant of the stroller who is hot and miserable makes sure everyone knows this. Everyone else gives thought to calling a truant officer and wonders just why anyone would bring a toddler to such an event in the first place. They buy stacks and stacks and stacks of books - many must have a library to rival that of any school in their house.

Some book sales are starting to ban srollers, wagons and anything with wheels and while it would put a crimp in my booksale activities, I must say I think it's a good idea. I knew the one we attended yesterday had narrow aisles so I opted for a couple of canvas bags.

What ever happened to public service?

Lost my cell phone. Very anonying. Think it fell off my belt between point A and point B. Back tracked and it wasn't anywhere. Called, reported it lost, arranged for a new one which I was supposed to pick up the next day. Seemed easy enough.

But it wasn't. Cingular replaces the phone and the accessories - in other words the black leather carrying case it lived in. Cingular store had a phone - actually it's a nicer phone , it takes pictures. They were out of the case. So I asked if I could take the phone and come back for the case. No, couldn't do that - they had to close out the entire thing, they couldn't do a partial. I could either do without a phone till the case came in or go to another store. At 6pm. In Houston rush hour traffic. After working an 11 hour day.

I thought not. They thought yes. I asked for the manager. Was told he wasn't there. Requested the person in charge. Was told nobody was in charge. Suggested they phone the next higher up.
They said it might take some time. Retorted with I had my book, a latte from the nearby Starbucks and would be glad to wait till they located a person in charge.

And low and behold, I got a phone and a rain check on a case. Which is all I asked for in the first place. Why did it take getting testy and grumpy? Especially since the request wasn't unreasonable in the first place?

Monday, September 20, 2004

Catch Up Time...Maybe

Things are piling and piling and piling up. Saturday was taken up with a workshop in puppetry- well worth time but there went Saturday. I learned a few tips and tricks and discovered I knew more about using puppets in library programs than I thought I did! In fact, I could take my own show on the road. Of course, I did have to buy a couple to add to my own collection! There was a vendor selling Folkmanis puppets and I couldn't resist a very realistic spider and a bunny in a magicians hat.

Sunday was find the floor in the office day. I had stacks of books for pack for e-bay and Amazon
and so many books to put away that I couldn't find the ones I needed to pack. 4 hours later I emerged with 30 books in mailers and all books filed in their proper boxes where I can hopefully FIND them when needed.

Somehow squeezed in some laundry, book listing, bill paying, coupon clipping and general cleaning. Sunday was not a day of rest at my house!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Lost in Austin....

Austin has sorely changed and I don't think it's for the better (I suspect many long time Austin residents would agree with me!). Drove up last Friday for the Friends of the Library Monster Book Sale, one of the highlights of the Booksale circuit. It's well laid out, nice wide aisles, good venue with good light and lots of space, reasonable prices and excellent selection. Oddly, it doesn't attract the usual crowd of dealers we manage to trip over at every other sale. Austin is strong in Children's books and we always do very well.

I drove up after work, got snarled in construction in Bastrop, traffic going into Austin and then eaten alive by the spaghetti bowls in South Austin. Arrived almost an hour late, meet up with my E-Bay buddy, who had of course scooped up most of the good stuff! Did find enough gems to make it worth my while.

Leaving, we were to head up to E-Bay buddies daughter, only we got snarled in the freeways. It was late at night, we were hungry and tired and my windshield was covered with mushed love bugs. Not exactly ideal driving conditions. The first hour was grim, the second which involved nachos and maragritas at El Mercado was much better.

I lived in Austin from 1974-1976 and have fond, fond memories of the city. Then it had one freeway, I-35 which went through the center of town in a north / south route. Now it has many more than encircle and surround the city- to the point of strangling it. I-35 is a double Decker nightmare. The construction rivals that of Houston. Throw in the fact that the Colorado River, the hills and the creeks made it impossible to lay the city out on a grid and you have a logistical nightmare. Especially when having to peer through a bug smeared windshield!

All's well that ends well but I'm glad to be home!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Money Talks

My beloved a minor surgical procedure involving a lump today. All appears to be well, which is of course, to quote Martha Stewart, "A Good Thing".

She opted to go to the plastic surgeon she used several years ago. Today's event took place at a day surgery center on the 10th floor of the building where said surgeon has her office. My beloved and I have weathered numerous medical adventures - I keep telling her while some folks travel to exotic places for their anniversaries, I seem tour hospital waiting rooms instead.

It was very apparent that this clinic catered to woman who were paying for elective plastic surgery out of their own pockets - or more correctly their husbands pockets. There was a view to die for - and since we were there at 6:30am I got to admire the sunrise over Houston.

The furniture was new, cushy, oversized and upholstered in masculine tweeds and heather greens. No row of hard chairs with metal arms and uncomfortable seats. Quiet and subdued atmosphere, no extended family groups complete with raucous toddlers and clamoring cell phones.

No ancient and tattered magazines - instead there were copies of ESPN Sports, Sports Illustrated, Wall Street Journal and Golf Digest. All nicely arranged in neat rows. Phones, adequate electrical plugs for laptops and fresh coffee. The other occupants were neatly attired in starched white shirts and preppie ties. Me, I wore a Harley Davidson T-shirt and was the only women not having surgery.

The staff was friendly, accommodating (they even validated parking tickets) and were not overworked, understaffed or rushed.

Money does indeed talk, especially when it comes to health care.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Nothing Like Old Friends

Spent last night a party given by old, old friends. Folks we used to see all the time but hadn't spent any quality time with in months and months. We'd seen them here and there and about town in such fleeting circumstances as Comets games and our dinner group. But we haven't had time to really talk and catch up. Delightful evening - excellent food and even better conversation. Laughter, talk, jokes and remembering old times. What more could one ask for?

100% Conversion

Well, it happened. My Beloved took her bike down to Republic Harley Davidson and is working with them on selling it. Could have knocked me over with a feather. I knew a BMW motorcycle was emminet but thought she'd buy it in addition to the Harley. In fact I was thinking that all things do indeed have a silver lining - a second bike would mean that she would finally have to clean out the garage. 1/4 of it is mine, 3/4 of it is her's and it's piled full of boxes of stuff she hasn't wanted to deal with. Filing paperwork bores her to distraction.

But no, in a sudden moment of financial prudence she's decided that she doesn't ride enough to justify two bikes. BMWs not only cost less, but they are lower maintance. They are also a well performing bike - nothing corners like a BMW.

The BMW is already lined up - going to buy it from BMW Bob, whom we meet on the Edelweiss Tour. He's giving her a good price and I bet wants to use her testimonial in an ad. Harley's are commplace she says, everyone has one. 10 years ago they weren't all that common, especially for a woman but now - well- My Beloved never wants to be part of the mainstream. That's a trait she shares with our oldest daughter, who also turns her nose up at anything -be it music, clothes, books or fashion once it's commonplace.

Friday, September 03, 2004

What a difference 100 more kids makes...

We picked up 150 + extra kids due to boundary changes and what a difference it is making. The library seems to be going non-stop, especially on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays! The kids keep coming and coming and coming. The classes are bigger - most of our teachers are at their class limit and we've added two new teachers besides. The students we inherited from another school aren't used to routines & rules. All of us are spending a great deal of time and effort in teaching them that at Housman kids don't run, walk in line and respect their teachers.

I am so grateful to have an assistant not many librarians have that luxury. I think I'd run screaming from the place were it not for Joyce. No way could we run the program we do without her. School has only been in session for 3 weeks and we've already checked out 4,500 books.

We gave out High AR Point passes today- always fun. The kids who earn them are so excited - Jerona lets me do a "come on down' over the intercom. A large crop lost theirs due to not reading, some of whom we will miss and some of whom we most certainly won't. The latter earned theirs due to class reading done with their teacher and not due to efforts on their own. Left on their own devices they would rather do as little as possible - and did.

3 day weekend coming up - yeah! I will miss my Monday though, which I use for catch up since nobody wants to come to the library on Monday- due to said 3 day weekends!