Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Something New

You all should know by now, I love to read. Love, love, love, love. Love. And I read a lot. Crazy amounts, really. So much that I frighten co-workers. Seriously.

I keep a blog for work which is filled with all manner of book-related things, but I find that reviewing books on the work blog means that the book I review should be in our collection RIGHT THEN, and that isn't always the case. Sometimes I get books months before they're released. Sometimes I buy the hardcover version of a book for ME but have to wait for the paperback release date before I can review the book on my work blog. This leads to 1. Me forgetting I planned to review a book, 2. Me being distracted by another, newer book with an all-consuming distractedness, causing me to no longer want to write a review of the other book because I love this new book so much.

In other words, I don't want to wait anymore. You can't make me.

Sometimes, Jen certain individuals complaingently remind me that I ought to write more blogs. So I have a solution that might fix my problem AND Jen's. Book reviews! I will write them and post them here!

Reviews will mostly be of ARCs or new releases that I completely adore and want to gush about. I will also create a completely ridiculous rating system for the books. It will make you laugh. And I will post it on the sidebar so you can remember how funny it is. And also so you know what the rating system is.

Some of you might be thinking, "Gee, Laura, I really don't want to read your book reviews, because I don't think they will be entertaining in the same manner that the stories you tell about your father are. Book reviews have nothing to do with your father leaving apple cores all over the house, like on bookshelves or on the top of the TV, or in the basement where they grow Friendly Mold and are discovered only when you go on a Smell Hunt trying to figure out what exactly must have died in the crawlspace."

To you I say, "That is sort of mean. But I guess you don't have to read them if you don't want to. You can just ignore me." *crawls into a corner and weeps piteously*

But don't worry. I will still have funny stories for you. And knitting ones. And various rants. I will tell you what my computer did this weekend! You will love that story. It involves me saying nasty things to my computer, questioning its lineage, and otherwise hating on Microsoft. It's a good story.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Near Death Experience Number...I've Lost Count

I tried to leave work yesterday, but the rain was coming down in sheets and I was wearing my new cute little ballet flats (the ones I was obsessed with last week), so I waited a bit. That choice either 1. saved my life or 2. greatly complicated my drive home.

On the drive through the country, I saw fields filled with only water. The road actually had a current. Really. I don't know how many inches of rain we got in five minutes, but it was a LOT of rain. And the wind was insane. When I got to the gas station in the little town near my house, I pulled in and waited for the wind to calm down and the HAIL to stop, because it was just that bad. I don't have trouble driving in the rain, but I was thinking at that point that if visibility was poor enough, I wouldn't see a car in the opposite "lane" of the little country road I now have to take home because the bridge over the river is being torn down.

I would like to take this moment to repeat: If I were blind, I would have no idea this bridge is out, because no one took the time to, you know, post the fact the bridge being ripped apart on the state's website, or send out fliers or newspapers or...anything. Surprise! Road construction! Who knows when it will be finished--we'll get back to you!

When I could see to drive, I started my car again and made my way over a bridge and onto another road. As I traveled, I noticed a barn that had a perfectly good roof that morning...but the roof was now gone. Nice, I thought. I wonder if that other chunk of tree has fallen on the house? Then I noticed that the same house was missing shingles--that's how windy. Or how tornado-ey.

I drove down the little hill we used to race our bicycles over, across the tiny bridge over a now-roaring creek, and stopped behind a pick-up that was now executing a rather pathetic three-point turn. I could tell why: there was a tree down over the road.

But seriously. This dude was in a pick-up. Couldn't he, like, DRIVE OVER the pathetic little skinny branches? I knew I could drive over those wimpy branches. And I almost did. But as I got closer I noticed there was also something else wrong. The tree had taken a power line down. And it was now on the road, in a puddle. A puddle my car was now sitting in.

Great, I thought. I really did want a little electrocution with my commute. Whatever.

That was when my fuel light went on.


I had to find a new way home. Those of you who know me at all are well acquainted with my sense of direction. I don't HAVE a sense of direction. I am like the opposite of one of those homing pigeon things. Spin me around in a circle and I couldn't find the bathroom in my own home. How did I expect to find a new route home when the two paths I knew about were blocked?

I'll tell you how.
Hello, gorgeous.

I pressed the little button that said "Home" and drove back along the road to my last turn. I proceeded on THAT road, and I thought I was doing okay. I was heading further North (forward) and that meant I would have to turn in that other direction, the direction that was right. I mean left. I would have to turn left (this is why that GPS comes in handy).

I went over another tiny hill and discovered--another felled tree. This one was ginormous, too big to even consider driving around, because it would have meant my car in a ditch with no suspension, sinking rapidly in Indiana clay. I turned again, zig-zagging closer to North Manchester and further from my house.

Did I mention the fuel light was on? Because it was.

That road turned onto another country road, this one unpaved. While the car sank in the mud of the "road," I stayed on the phone with the 911 ladies in two counties, because I was sort of in two counties at the same time. The poor 911 ladies could barely hear me because cell service is so bad out in the country.

That is why that movie, Deliverance, could totally happen, even though everyone has cell phones they could use to call 911 if they happened to be stalked by crazy inbred hill people. And I have seen those hillbillies. They come in the library to check their facebook pages and their Match.com requests. Seriously. They are on Match.com, so think twice before you go looking for love there.

I tried to explain this to the 911 ladies, but they couldn't hear me.

By the time I had reported the downed line, I was reaching the end of the soggy dirt (mud) road. I turned onto another road, which was, fortunately, the road I was originally trying to get to when blocked by the power line. Unfortunately, the road was mostly flooded.

At this point, I was sick and tired of all of the turning. The road was flooded, but I could still see through the flood water enough to know how deep the water was and if there was still road underneath it. So I did the Country thing. I plowed my car through the water. Yeah. Even though the nightly news told me that's an easy way to die. Whatever. They never tried to drive home in these conditions. They have HELICOPTERS.

When I arrived home, Mom opened the freezer and presented me with a bowl of hail. She had sent Paul outside to gather it, because she thought I should see.

At least my Monday night wasn't boring.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Can I please have dinner, please?

I am so blasted hungry right now. So hungry I cannot concentrate on things like wanting these shoes or book discussion tonight, during which we will talk about The Hunger Games.

I feel like Katniss right now.

Why WHY WHY did I think two Pop Tarts would get me from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.? WHY?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Low Expectations

I wish I could say I was surprised.

My home state cannot spell the name of my hometown. See?

It's "Roann" not "Roan." Roan is a term used to describe the color an animal's coat.

I could go on and list the many other failings of Indiana's website. But instead, I'm going to issue a challenge to you, my readers. Can you figure out what the cause of the closure of State Road 16 is (this would be between State Road 15 and State Road 19)?

If you can, I promise I will think of a way to reward you, like with cookies or praise or by letting you pick a new blog topic or something. (In other words, I will BRIBE you.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

From Worse to...Much Worse: Laura Gets Some New Neighbors

You know how that tree fell on my house? And then Dad and Paul smashed one of the back windows because they didn't understand Newton's Three Laws of Motion?

Well, clearly we had to file a claim with our insurance company.

Mr. Insurance Agent Guy told us an adjuster would call us, talk to us, visit us, verify that, yes, a tree DID fall on the house, and then we could get things fixed. But as I told you earlier, Insurance Adjuster said, "You are too far away for me to travel to you," and "I will have this reassigned." We were told to wait. A new adjuster would get in touch with us.

We waited. Nothing.

After the two weeks Insurance Adjuster told us to wait, Mom was suspicious. She called. Mr. Insurance Agent Guy was in shock. No one had been to see us yet? So he called the office where Insurance Adjuster worked to find out what had happened. Then Insurance Adjuster called us.

You see, when the case had been "reassigned," it was sent away from Insurance Adjuster. And then it was sent back. Basically, it was "reassigned" to HIM, so really, it had not been reassigned at all, it was just a bureaucratic black hole, like the Circumlocution Office in Little Dorrit.

Insurance Adjuster guy had clearly been yelled at by Boss Insurance Adjuster, because he made it very clear that this was in no way his fault.

(I'm just not even going to say anything else about that...you know what I'm thinking.)

Mr. Insurance Agent Guy was Unhappy about this Situation. So, HE is going to come and tell us we can go ahead and fix things. So that's good. Something can finally be done, right?

Except, no.

Yesterday, Mom was walking Darcy. Dad was with her. Darcy was sniffing and chasing things and running around. Dad and Mom were looking at the tree from the river bank, not from the house the way we usually see it.

They noticed a few holes in the tree. No one had seen them before, due to the giant branch that used to obscure them, but there they are. Who knows where they came from. Do birds do that? Raccoon? Squirrels? Whatever.

But Mom noticed the holes in the tree weren't ordinary holes in a tree. They were moving, sort of. And so was something in the air around the holes and--oh.


You see, when the tree decided to die, because clearly it was a choice by that tree to screw with us, it had become a home to various woodland creatures. I know birds have nested in it, definitely squirrels, but they have all moved on. The new family that's moved into the tree is about 40,000 strong, and I hear their mom is giant, fat, and lazy. Also she bosses everybody around while she lies back in her cell all day, shooting out babies.

Because she has her own cell, in the BEE HIVE where she LIVES.

At this point, Nature is flipping us off. Nature is mooning us. Nature is making obscene hand gestures, and we are Its target. Nature was like, "You like falling asleep to thunderstorms? Okay!" Then Nature said, "You love trees? Really? You planted so many! You must love them! So have a tree!" And then it hurled one on the house. Now it's saying, "You wanted to save the bees, didn't you? So SAVE THEM." And it gave us an entire hive of bees to take care of.

Because you can't just kill bees, what with that hive collapse thing.

Now, none of us have seen the bees up close, so maybe they aren't really honey bees. Having honey bees would kind of be a good thing, because they are having so much trouble, healthy hives are great to find. I'm sure someone would want our bees, in that case.

And I suppose it's great that we didn't send some guy up the tree with a chainsaw only to have him come running down, followed by a swarm of angry bees.

If our luck stays the same, though, these bees are Africanized honey bees, otherwise known as Killer Bees.

No one will want to get rid of our deadly-deadly bees. They will want to leave them alone, and it will take us even longer to get the tree, which is dead and could fall down at any moment, cut up and taken away.

This is what will happen. The tree will fall down. On the house. Through it, really. A swarm of angry, deadly-deadly bees will rise up out of the tree and come for us while we are sleeping. We will try to run, but only the cat would escape because Dad is a bigger target and the rest of us don't like running, plus I have asthma, so I would probably die first, swelling up like a giant Laura Balloon, just like that Violet Beauregarde girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I will be a blueberry-shaped corpse, and they won't be able to fit me into a coffin, so they'll have to have one custom-made for people shaped like berries.

What do you even do to get rid of bees? I've never needed to try to make them move before. I mean, bees won't move to a new place because they'd be in a better school district or to be closer to family and yarn stores. Can you bribe bees? Can I get a new bee-house for them and say, "Here bees! Come live here, and I'll give you THIS," while I show them a giant flower I bought from the garden supply store?

Do you think that would work?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Why Won't People Go Away?

Yesterday, She came back. You know. Her. The one with the granddaughter. The one that asked The Question.

This time, I was ready for her evil ways, so I watched her. And as I stared, it occurred to me that one of us did very much look pregnant. But it wasn't me. She was wearing athletic gear--high waisted yoga pants--the kind that cover the belly but do nothing to conceal or restrain it. The Question burned on my tongue. I forced myself to look away.

While I concentrated on NOT putting her in the same void of despair she put ME in, a little girl came in. She was about eight, young, cute, and eager to find books. I helped her look for a few Junie B. Jones novels to read. She explored.

When she came back around the corner, she walked up and asked if she could leave her books on the circulation desk while she looked for more. I told her she could. Then she walked away.

As she left, I noticed something. A wet spot.

She had wet her pants, I realized.

The location of the spot made it impossible for her to have gotten it any other way. But her grandmother was with her, I thought. Her grandmother would take care of her.

I went over and said as delicately as possible, that I thought the little girl had wet her pants.

What would YOU do if your child or grandchild or niece or nephew or little cousin or baby-sitting-charge had lost bladder control in a public place?

I know what I would have done. I would have whisked the child out to the car, put a plastic bag down on the seat, put the child on the plastic, then driven home before giving the child a bath and a change of clothes, then laundry. If we'd been in a store and I had a cart of things, I would bring them up to the service desk and tell them I was very sorry, but I had to leave in a hurry. If I were, say, here in the library, I would put the books down and take the child home.

That's what anyone would do, right?

Not this grandmother. She first asked the child if she'd wet her pants. The child, with her wet pants (they were gray leggings, so it was VERY obvious there was an issue), stood there. The grandmother checked, made a disapproving noise, and then said--

Wait for this. This is really something.

"Okay, we'll finish picking out your books and then we have to go."

They stayed for another fifteen minutes; the little girl sat on the floor, sat in chairs, leaned back against tables, pretty much everything any normal kid would do while looking for books.

Unlike any other child, when she did it, she left urine on the carpet, chairs, and tables. I watched her every move, marking in my mind the spots I would have to clean when she left.

After five minutes had passed and still I saw no signs of the family departing, I went into the office and asked what on Earth I could do to...contain the problem. Everyone told me to do the thing I'd already done--tell the grandmother and let her take care of it.

Except she wasn't.

I finally checked out the little girl's books, expecting the family to leave then. No. She sat down in a little chair and read a book out loud to her grandmother. The grandmother listened. THEN they went home.

And I went to work. First I grabbed disposable gloves. See, urine might be sterile, but it still comes from the inside of a living creature and is a waste product, so I wasn't taking any chances. Then I went hunting for carpet cleaner, which I basically dumped on the floor in the various spots where the little girl had been seated.

Then, still in my protective wear, I scrubbed down the tables and chairs with bleach wipes.

Once that was finished, I got a new wipe and scrubbed the bottle of carpet cleaner. Then I peeled off the gloves and threw them away, put the carpet cleaner back in the cleaning supply area, and then washed my hands.

This experience, along with Pooping Man, goes on the list of the things the library doesn't put in the job description. That's because if people really knew what they'd be getting into, they'd never sign on.

That's why I need this trip to Chicago so much. I really need a break from cleaning up human waste.

**While writing this, we had another issue, this time with a young man who apparently was unable to clean himself after utilizing the facilities, and now the entire top floor of the library smells like feces**