Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Little Things -- for Better or Worse

Too many of my musings revolve around the weather -- how un-creative is that! I feel almost guilty sitting here with the door to my porch open and enjoying 60'sh weather while my friend in New York braved 9 degrees a couple of days ago to go to an exercise class. I think my skin would turn blue just looking out the window at that -- she obviously is a much more disciplined and committed person than moi. Spring-like weather also makes me ramble and ramble and ...

While at work the other day, I found a little thank you note in my cubby that a former supervisor had sent me after a party held for her when she left our library system. The woman was usually very buttoned-up, opinionated, likely to scream when she felt the urge and told you exactly what she thought.

She has another side, a very kind and caring one. The short note spoke volumes to me about her true personality and not just by her words. I happen to like blank notecards because I have big, awful handwriting and hate having to swiggle around the printed generic sentiment and always end up going to the back of the card. I used to put little arrows pointing to the back flap but have figured out that the recipient probably would turn the page to see who sent it to them. Duh! As I already said, I ramble. She used a blank card and instead of writing on the left side and then the right, she wrote straight across both sides. She wasn't going to be held back by margins or centerfolds to express her feelings which were beautifully articulated. I have never thought of treating the inside of a card as one sheet of paper but for someone like me who is either forced to write very small or to only be able to fit five words on one side, it makes perfect sense. Eureka!

So, I was sitting at the front desk at work, feeling warm and fuzzy and thinking about how little things can mean a lot. Then a woman came up to me with a book that she had put down in "just a little bit of water" to which I told her there would be a little bit of a fee, $19.99, since the book was destroyed. She was horrified, beligerant, outraged and all those adjectives which means she was not pleased. Her husband seemed to understand my point, and my supervisor's when she came as back-up, and did his best to rush her out. Poor guy. We have so many really lovely customers that you have to just dismiss the mean ones.

Then one of our regular customers who resembles Bauregard Lee, the groundhog, came by the desk and threw (literally) a small picture at me and mumbled something. When I said, excuse me? he snapped "It was in a book." It was nice of him to return a little girl's picture that someone had apparently used as a bookmark and had forgotten but his clear message was that we are so negligent that we don't find items left in materials returned to us. And some of those items that we have found over the years have been interesting ones: a bra, used diapers (when our drop box was near the street and people mistook it for a trash can), a jail release form with the man's picture in his orange suit, baptismal and First Holy Communion certificates and countless other things that don't belong to us.

Well, it is time to go to work and see who will be lovely and who will be ugly today. I have coworkers who check to see if we are going to have a full moon to predict the general attitude climate. Not me. Spring is in the air here, at least at the moment, the daffodil leaves are shooting up and the pollen has not yet blanketed us in green. It is a lovely day.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Is Spring Really Here?

Did the groundhog see his shadow? I've had enough of winter and am so happy we're having spring days although they might be teasers. It's cool enough to hang onto my turtlenecks and sweaters but warm enough to read on the porch and enjoy being outside.

February was always the yuckiest month in my opinion -- cold, gray and no hint of spring being on its way. Then in 1972 I met my husband, 40 years ago yesterday in fact, so it took on a different aura. When we were still up north, I lost my voice for about a week every February. I don't remember my family clapping during those periods but they may have.

Stan's sister Grace lost her husband February 18th last year (the same day my real mother died in 1962), so we went out on Friday for lunch and shopping and had a really good day. We agree acceptance is a wonderful thing! Then, today, she brought her sister, Janet from NY, also a widow, to my house and we had such good conversations. It was one of the best times I've had with them and made me grateful to have good in-laws. You know what they say about not being able to pick your family and the same goes for not being able to pick your husband's family.

I just finished a book about family, set in Ireland (surprise, surprise for me!), Civil and Strange, and I can't begin to write or pronounce the author's Gaelic name. It was a little different from my normal chick lit -- more like a modern classic -- but I really liked it. The title is taken from advice given to Ellen, the main character, by her Uncle Matt when she moves to his small town, "Be civil and strange," meaning be polite but don't tell anyone your personal business. Of course, the nosy snoops find it all out anyway, usually fairly incorrectly, but it makes for a good story and a good study on human nature.

Think Spring, laugh a lot and keep writing. I love reading your blogs.