Tag Archiv: library

Terrifying no risk activities

photo compliments of mxruben @ morguefile.com

photo compliments of mxruben @ morguefile.com

Once upon a time I was very disciplined about my internet use and determined to stay that way. All that connectivity can be pretty disconnecting. What is perfectly clear outside of the fray is obliterated by the noise within it.

Except that’s not what it says when it’s calling your name. When it’s whispering: Library! Post office! Your place of belonging! Your chance!  (At least that’s what it murmurs to me.)

A friend of mine leaves her computer at work, schedules on-line times, and stays off-line for much of the day. That she is following the plan I used to have grates. I console myself with the fact she owns a phone. She might not write from it, but surely, she is trapped by the need to check? Again and again? I should not find comfort in imagining this to be true.

For weeks and weeks, and possibly a few weeks before that, I have been planning to make a  plan. Libraries are wonderful. They exist with closing hours. Mail service faster and cheaper than the pony express is great. But a  breathless check every hour or so to see if any more ponies are standing at the gate takes away from the sacredness of here and now. There’s plenty of water and grass in the pasture; their needs are not urgent. Brushing and re-brushing old ponies when the pony I’m waiting for fails to appear might not make the pony come faster. (This is a theory I’m considering. Superstition dies hard.)

The thought of planning to make a plan feels good. I know because of all these weeks riding the waves of good feelings.  Actually making a plan does not feel good, it feels alarming. It feels like I’ve gotten involved with a bad idea. I have to picture my friend obsessing on her phone in the middle of the night in order to calm down.

Long term commitment is too intimidating. While waiting for the strength to enact accountable reform, I’ve been experimenting here and there. Used pen and paper. Unplugged the internet connection from the wall. Gone places to write that don’t have internet.

I relay the following results slowly because the implications agitate me.

I. really. really. like. how. those. spaces. feel. How the work goes. I. even. like. me. afterwards.

The happiness I feel away from the internet does not seem to diminish the panic I feel about expanding the experiment this week. I have limited the exercise to five days, two and a half of which I’m committed to communal activities all day long and therefore unable to access my computer anyway. It’s not a bold plan; it’s what I can manage. Five days. One hour of internet per day, used in no more than two blocks. Or three. The end. After that I go back to whatever lopsided unbalanced illogical rhythm I want. Plus there is steak, cake, and asparagus. By Tuesday, the list may have expanded to include chocolate covered almonds and a shrimp ring. Illicit drugs have never appealed. By Thursday, that may have changed.

Making men


Boys on Bikes, originally published May 1919. Compliments of OldDesignShop

It started off with rides. I’m teaching Phys.Ed. two afternoons a week at the younger kid’s school. On teaching afternoons there’s simply no way to pick up Boy one unless he has a late practice. Enter the lowly bike. It’s about 18 or so km (10 miles) from the bus stop to here, most of it against the wind. I thought he would balk at the idea but he didn’t. We’ve only needed the bike solution a few times, but the effects have been far reaching. The stress of how he’ll get home those days is gone and we’ve all opened our eyes to the possibilities.

A few weeks ago, Boy one wanted a ride to the much beloved, 150 year old annual fall fair. Timing wasn’t good for me. He opted to bike. It took him an hour. He got permission to put his bike behind the village store. We picked him and his bike up after dark. For the cost of admission and the labour of transportation, he got a much appreciated day of independence.

On the weekend, Boy two was desperate to get to the library. Normally pretty happy go lucky, every once in a while he gets his mind set and becomes remarkably like a dog with a bone. Such was his need for the library. It was the third or fourth day in a row I had been grilled about it, but I didn’t know if I could manage to get him there or not.

Just last week we were chatting with the librarian (librarians = revered members of the social elite in Boy two’s world) about kids who live in town vs. kids from the country. How Boy two would be at the library every day if he could walk over, and how old did he have to be to volunteer there anyway. With Boy two now in obvious emotional pain for want of a library trip, I was feeling bad about not living in town, when I remembered the mighty bicycle.

“I can’t promise to take you. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t. If you want a guarantee, get your brother to bike there with you. It’ll take you awhile to get there,” I said.

Brother tried to say no due to other plans but did not stand a chance. Normally the weaker debater, Boy two had Boy one signed on the dotted line in pretty short order. They got their music practiced, their beds stripped and some basic chores done. They filled water bottles, threw in some cold pancakes and a hunk of cheese for lunch, grabbed their backpacks for book restocking, and pedalled off. They left at 11:30 and didn’t get home until 2:00.  Due to size, they don’t make bikes for Boy two with big tires and lots of gear options, so their trip was not speedy. With book offerings for themselves and their sisters, the brothers returned home tired, but happy and taller.


State of the nation summer edition


We started summer on Saturday with a coughing, hoarse Girl one and a UTI for Girl two. After we saw the Dr. I asked Girl two to call her father and tell him she had a urinary tract infection but had medicine and would be ok.

Daddy, she said proudly, I have a urinal confection but I have medicine now so it will be ok.

The picture of bakery counters filled with urinal confections has hit my funny bone. When Girl two reaches 13, she’ll be hard pressed to find an acquaintance who doesn’t know about it.

I wanted to start the summer with a bit of gusto and I didn’t want to wait until Boy one was finished exams so I organized a cleaning party for Monday. When I called my friend to ask if I could hire her 8 and 10 year old to come work with us, she thought I was crazy. I might be, but that was not the point. The bolstered troops announcement was met with much enthusiasm here. By the end of the morning, my downstairs was strewn, but our porch was clean and ready for summer use, the driveway was full, but the garage was swept and tidied. The kids were happy, and content to play for the afternoon. By dinner, it was all put away. If I am crazy, I stand by my insanity.

Yesterday I discovered that Boy two took to cough drops sometime in the winter. I found wrappers strewn throughout his treasure drawer. With no shame he admitted that he eats them for candy.

In the afternoon, we went to the library. Our library is a restored one room school house, an old stone building in the middle of the country. Our first summer library outing was another cause for rejoicing.

Boy two and Girl one hit the car after with books in hand and disappeared into couches and chairs as soon as we got home. Girl two begged miserably for a playmate to no avail. She leapt with excitement when Girl one finished her book after an hour or so, only to be ignored as Girl one walked past her to the library shelf to get a new book. Applesauce came to our rescue. Girl two made it for dessert, spun the spinner herself and chose her own spices.

Yesterday, I had to stop the car on the way home from Boy one’s exams so he could baptize the weeds with his lunch. I wish I could say our exam taker is toiling endlessly. He is toiling mildly. No sweat, but one hopes the heart rate of the brain is elevated ever so slightly. He has two exams left to go and then he will join our book loving group of manual laborers. The thought no doubt delights him.

And that is the state of our nation. :)

Small tasks

"Girl Sweeping," by William  McGregor Paxton, 1912.  (Sadly, many of the painters seemed to have lacked any imagination whatsoever when naming their work.

“Girl Sweeping,” by William McGregor Paxton, 1912.                                       (Sadly, many of the painters seemed to have lacked any imagination whatsoever when naming their work. I would suggest, “Was it wrong to put mouse droppings in Gerald’s shoes? It was he fifty fourth time they weren’t put away this month, but maybe he’s trying I can’t see it. Maybe I’ll tell him where I keep the cookies . . .  but it’s awfully hard to keep up if he knows where they are. Dear me.” to be a much more interesting title.)


Yesterdays sorrows and triumphs were small. With all the farm work recently, the house has been sorely neglected. A missing book loaned by a friend (who had herself borrowed it from a library), tipped the scales to desperation and I hit the sorting and cleaning with a will. Everywhere I turned things needed doing. Some discoveries were too terrifying to detail.  – Let’s just say that the night I was sure I smelled toilet like items originating from a cat and then decided it was all in my head, well, I was right the first time. –  I vacuumed, mopped, cleaned bathrooms, culled bookshelves and went through almost endless piles of papers.

For other small triumphs, all twelve lambs are doing great. The bottle guys are down to three feedings a day, soon to be two. All of them are energetic and growing like weeds. Speaking of which, the lowly pricker bush is our big winner this year, bested in number by the dandelion, but hated so much more deeply that it wins for worst weed thus far.

In poultry, the meat chicks are also doing well. Three more weeks before their life insurance plans run out. Unfortunately, we have a wounded chicken from the layers. I haven’t figured out what happened yet. The skin underneath her was torn by something. Recovery does not seem possible. Madam is on the porch in a blue tub where the other chickens won’t bother her and we are keeping her hydrated. Sprouts from the desert wildflower seeds are hopefully providing a bit of ambiance on the table beside her. As well, we have the candles and a cross on the doughboy by the couch for when the porch serves as our makeshift family chapel, so really, Madam should have everything she needs for this life and the next.

But back to house sorting . . . after seven hours of taking things from where they were and putting them where they go, the book was found! I had already given up, deciding that a donation to the library was preferable to further fruitless searching, when lo and behold, it’s little green cover appeared.  An inordinate amount of satisfaction rose up in me and smugly remained. I laughed at myself but the laughter did not diminish contentment even slightly. Some days the simple things suffice.

Helen Keller described my life at present pretty well.

I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.


Thank you, Ms. Keller.