Saturday, February 27, 2010


My lack of a computer since early February has prompted me to go to the local library on a somewhat frequent basis. While I freely admit that I use the library mostly for computer usage, I've been exposed to a number of local public library branches recently, and I am quite impressed. Libraries are trying very hard to keep up with the times, which are moving at the speed of light. (I saw a two year old in the supermarket yesterday, "using" a iPod. I do not know if he really knew what he was doing, but he was clearly "paging" through the iPod screens and enjoying the colorful photos while dad was otherwise distracted searching the shelves. I am sure that the two year old knew more about using an iPod than I do.)

Libraries are no longer the hush-hush places of my youth, where you could look up reference material not available at home, or check out an actual hard copy novel. They have become gathering places, for story-telling for pre-schoolers, for talks by best selling authors, for advice for seniors (Tax Tips and Tax Paperwork Organization, or How to Make your Home Safe for Seniors), as a gathering place for middle school students after the school day is over, for high school seniors to check their Facebook accounts (or to do the much less popular homework research) when the home computer is temporarily "down". At the local branch library where I am typing up this post, even the large children's section has four computers for the kids to use. This branch library even has a snack center section. (Food of any kind in the library would have been taboo in the days of my youth.) Most libraries have have a large selection of DVDs and CDs. In fact, books seem to take up a relatively small part of the physical space these days, at least in comparison to days of yore.

The changes amaze me. I suppose I shouldn't be amazed, after seeing the commercial where the four year old girl enhances a photo of multi-hued tropical fish and then prints it out, all in a few seconds, but I am still amazed. The younger generation seems to soak up technology like a dry, thirsty sponge. The lightning speed of change makes me feel not old, but left behind, like the kid in elementary school who couldn't quite keep up with the rest of the class. If I can't keep up with the younger generation, I will eventually become a technology dinosaur. However, libraries are trying very hard not to become fossilized institutions of the past. While sometimes I yearn for the libraries of my childhood, with aisle after aisle of floor-to-ceiling shelving, bulging with hard cover books and the musty-book-smell that only hundreds of well-read hard cover books congregating together in one place can make, I understand that modern day libraries must keep up with the times, or face extinction. I laud their efforts and applaud their successes.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Certain Contagion

I have been "plagued" by a nagging cough for two months now, a deep throated gutteral hacking, the sound of severe contagion for sure. At least, that is what other patrons at the local drugstore must think of me, when I stand in line to buy several bags of mentholated cough drops, as they give me "the look" and move several paces back. "The Look" says with alarm in widened eyes "What the heck are you doing out here in public, obviously spreading germs all around?" I back up from the register line, and try to explain that I'm not contagious, really, the cough is just from allergies. See, I'm buying expensive allergy medication. "Right", says "The Look". She stays firmly planted a few feet away from me.

I am not contagious, seriously. I have been fully vetted by my doctor. Do I need a physician's signed note hanging visibly around my neck? Have we all gotten just a little bit paranoid about germs and flu viruses? I do carry hand sanitizer in my fanny pack, and use it religiously after every encounter with a public surface, including this keyboard I am using in the public library, as I am convinced that the reason I got a nasty cold just before Xmas was from a touch screen. (Fortunately, they have a giant pump-top bottle of hand sanitizer at the entrance of the computer room here in the library in case anyone has not brought their own stuff.)

Just what kind of deadly virus does one spread in this modern day and age? No one wants to get a nasty cold, or the flu, but most relatively healthy people (ie, those not in hospitals or nursing homes) recover quite nicely. The Avian Flu is not being spread around the globe at the present time, at least not that I am aware of. The Flu Epidemic of 1918 was lethal to thousands of the healthy and the young, but unless you have had an H1N1 Flu shot, anyone could be a carrier of such a deadly flu and pass it on to you, quite surreptiously. (A sneeze in an elevator; an unwashed hand on a public restroom door.)

So, if you are germaphoic like I am, carry your own little bottle of hand sanitizer with you in public. Rub it on your hands after every public surface encounter. Swab down the seats before takeoff when traveling by plane, and ingest some Airborne before you fly. Use a mask when at the physician's office (possibly the germiest place around). Do whatever makes you comfortable. But please, don't spread an attitude that could turn your friends and neighbors into the lepers of the 21st century.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


We have all felt betrayed by someone at some point in our lives, whether it be by the sibling who ratted on you to your parents for eating candy during Lent, or the supposedly commmitted mate you one day find in bed with another lover, or the loved one who died and specifically left you out of her will, or the day you found out that your parents lied to you about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. All of those feelings are heartfelt at the time and some of those feelings linger just below the surface for years. That is the one thing about feeling betrayed - those feelings of betrayal can permeate to the very core of your heart and soul. Once there, they can ferment and breed anger and hatred, or they can slowly dissipate over time. Or, they can remain hidden seeds in our souls, just waiting for the rainfall in the desert to bring them to new life.

When you place your trust in someone, and that trust is violated, you feel betrayed. When a colleague at work uses information you worked hard to come up with and claims it as her own, that is betrayal. When someone says they are your BFF (best friend forever, in the lingo of the young and internet-savvy), and the next day snubs you in the school cafeteria to sit with Miss Popularity, that is betrayal. When your lover of several years abandons you in the midst of a personal crisis, that is betrayal. When you are separated from your spouse and you pour out your heart to someone who claims to be your friend, and later you find out that the so-called friend has been sleeping with the still-legally-married-to-you-husband, that is betrayal.

There are many forms of betrayal, and I bet we can all name several to which we have been exposed. The question is, what do we do with these feelings of betrayal? What is the right thing to do, for each one of us, under each particular circumstance? Based on my very Catholic upbringing, I feel that I "should" turn the other cheek and forgive. But, not only have I found that forgiving is easier said than done, I am not convinced that "forgiving" in each and every instance is the best thing for me to do.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Julia and Julie

The movie, 'Julia and Julie", is based on a book, which is based on a true story. Julie, a fan of Julia Child the cookbook author, attempts to prepare all 524 recipes in Julia Child's famous book on French cooking for Americans, within 365 days. (Julia Child's famous masterpiece, entitled "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", was published in 1961.) Julie not only succeeds at her attempt, but blogs about it as well, and becomes a seriously considered writer at the end of her cooking ordeal. At the end of the story/movie/book, a reporter comments to Julie over the telephone that he told Julia Child about Julie's accomplishment and that Julia Child did not seem very pleased with Julie's feat/blog/sudden fame as a writer. All I could think of was why, oh why, did they put that pinprick-deflating-the-balloon comment in the movie? After all, when Julie finished making all of those recipes, Julia Child was in her 90s and probably didn't even know what a blog was. Julia Child died before the book or movie was ever released. Who cares if the comment was true? Why deflate a legend?

Seeing the movie only whetted my appetite for the "real" Julia Child, when I stumbled across a biography about Julia Child a few days later in a bookstore. I decided that had to have that autobiographical book, never mind that I had several boxes of unread paperbacks in the trunk of my car. The book was written in 1997, when Julia was still alive. The more recent movie must have ressurected interest in Julia Child's life and thus sparked interest in the decade old autobiography, which meant a prominent display at the bookstore.

I must admit, I am only about half way through the autobiography, which provides a wonderful background about the history of the times during Julia's life and the familial background of the McWilliams family (Julia's family of origin), all of which helps to understand the larger than life character that was Julia Child. But, I am beginning to see why Mrs. Child might have taken offense at Julie's feat and virtual overnight success.

You see, Julia Child worked on creating hundreds and hundreds of recipes for "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" for eight long years - after learning the French language and graduating as the sole female in her class from a professional cooking course at The Cordon Bleu school of cooking in France, after testing and re-testing hundreds of recipes, after typing and re-typing text and recipes on an old Underwood typewritter, after sending drafts back and forth across the ocean between Europe and America, after courting publishers and receiving rejection letters, after editing and re-editing the monumental manuscript numerous times, and, after publication of the book, promoting French cooking on public television in America, for which she was barely reimbursed for her own costs, and which was held in a makeshift trailer and kitchen, with her husband lugging the equipment for the cooking show, and volunteers helping out behind (or under) the scenes. It was very simply a staggering mountain of work, much of it tedious, which required Heruclean effort and an unwavering belief in success. Julia Child did it seemingly effortlessly, with humor and grace. I say she's allowed to feel less than generous upon hearing of the virtual overnight fame of a young enthusiastic fan, who didn't create anything new in the gastronomic world, but merely did what Julia hoped many Americans would do - use her cookbook and fall in love with French cooking, not necessarily in that order.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It Is Time

Now that I suddenly have the time, internet access and correct blog password, I have nothing much on my mind to write about. Hmmm......

Why are men I meet from Yahoo Personals (aka, etc) so condescending, as if they are god's gift to women? (Which in my experience, they clearly are not.) Why do men from Yahoo Personals who are relatively short, usually "embellish" their profiles by adding a few inches to their actual height? Do they think I won't notice that they are several inches shorter than I am when I meet them, or did they just forget to wear the shoes with the three inch lifts? (At 5'4", I am not all that tall; you have to be quite short for a male to be shorter than I am.) Either I am happy to date someone who is shorter than I am, or I'm not, and I'm definitely going to notice the discrepancy when I meet Mr. Not-Quite-As-Tall-As-I-Was-Led-To-Believe. (By the way, I have found out that I am definitely not happy to date someone who is shorter than I am AND who lies about it.)

Moving on to a completely different topic:

I am currently reading a biography about Julia Child, which is a bit strange because I am not a gourmet cook by any means, and I have never watched her cook on television (spoofs on Saturday Night Live excluded). But I did just watch the movie "Julie and Julia" (or maybe its "Julia and Julie", I'm not really sure) after which a friend of mine dragged me into a bookstore. Usually I don't have to be "dragged" into any retail establishment that sells the printed word, but I recently swore that I wouldn't buy any more books right now, having recently spent a good deal of money on paperbacks of various types, some of which remain un-read in a box in the trunk of my car.

I have boxes and boxes of books in my storage unit. Why pay $100 per month in storage rental fees in order to keep books that I have already read, or probably will never read? I believe it is time for the Great Book Give Away. I have recently given away most of my son's childhood favorites to a friend who has small children. I admit that I kept a few for memory's sake, but most of these childhood stories have moved on to delight other children.

When I have read what I consider to be a wonderfully written book, I am, more often than not, likely to give that book away to a friend to read. The books that remain, packed in boxes, are but a small fraction of those I have read and loved and passed on to others.

I think that it is time to part with those remaining books that have been left sitting in the darkness. It is time for them to see the daylight, to be thumbed by human fingers, for their pages to be scanned by human eyes, for their words to paint pictures in human minds, of adventure, sorrow, fear, mystery, delight, and passion.

It is time to pass those books on so that others may savor the tales which only the written word so deftly imprints in our minds and in our hearts.


I finally have access to my blog! Yay, yay, double yay!!!!

Unfortunately, my trusty old laptop of ten years and mutliple hard drives, is literally on life support. I am typing this from the local library in the mid-afternoon, where momentarily the quietitude will be interrupted by middle school students of the male variety, eager jostling each other to get to a computer to do serious internet research for their homework.....or, much more likely, to play video games. I know; I have watched them. In the past, I have tried to sign up for computer use at the library after 3 pm, but my attempts were all in vain. However, regardless of being descended up by an onslaught of youthful exuberance and energy or not, I will be ousted none-the-less in exactly eight minutes time, when my computer "session" expires. And now, after one more scan of the above prose for typos and other linguistic errors, make that five minutes.

I will be back, I promise, tomorrow, with more than a minimal greeting.