Thursday, August 27, 2015

We Haven't Done A Library Post In A While

If I had to choose one picture - and one picture only - to summarise the last week or two or three..... or five.... or maybe, the last few months at the library, this one would be it. It ias been crazy...... craaaaazy.... And if coconuts truly are the epitome of craziness, I would have to say that the library is full to the roof of crazy-as-a-coconut people. 

There are all the usual suspects, of course: shady and somewhat mentally diminutive elderly fellows, who suddenly feel obliged to say weird things your's truly, in such a tone and with such a look, that I cannot tell if they have mistaken me for someone else - someone with whom they have an intimate relationship, or if they are attempting to be sexy and pick up a cute young thing, or if there is a bit of genuine 'interest in you as a person' going on. There are the year-round, semi-indigents, who have been such regular customers, that there are times when we (the legitimate library staff) must remind them that they are guests, not branch managers.There are the poor folk whose mental state is shaky at best, who hang about all day long, for days on days, and with whom one has a motherly relationship. ("Have you taken your medication today? No? Well maybe you shouldn't drink any more of that 16 litre Coco-Cola until you've done that. You're going home to do that now?  Splendid!") 

And then, there are people who tell you stories like this:

"Hey... I got a sea story  to tell you!"

Boss and self, finding that we are cornered, assume looks of polite interest. "Oh, yes?" we say.

"Yeah! It was is a story about the Atlantic! I was in Louisiana, near the coast... "

(Self becomes distracted, trying to come up with anyway for Louisiana to be on the Atlantic Ocean.)

".... You know, the coast around New Jersey..."

(Self begins to feel unequal to the task of maintaining a politely interested expression. Self also biting tongue, so as not to correct a lunatic's geography.)

"Yeah, so I am sitting there on a beach, you know, watching the waves and the sand. Livin' the moment, you know...."

An expectant pause... Boss and self nod in complete understanding.

"And then, you know, there's this hole. Just like that. Right in front of me. A hole. And as I'm sitting there, livin' the moment, I start to notice that it's spurting water out. And then it goes all quiet again and I forget about about... and then there is water spurting out again."

"Tide coming in?" Self inquires, in an effort to speed this story along. (If Pippin, from the movie version of The Two Towers had heard me, he would have told me, "Don't talk tae it, Mahri, don't encourage it!")

"So then, this totally hot babe goes by. Dressed in high heels... Fur coat. Classy babe. And I say, 'Hey! Look at that hole! There's water shooting out! Do you have a watch? I want to time how often it happens.' And so she sits next to me, and holds out her diamond encrusted Rolex, and we time it together... and... and it is five minutes apart....."

A prolonged silence. Storyteller's face convulses. Boss and self remain polite for a few more moments. Denouement not forthcoming, boss says, "Yes?"

"And that's all I got." He turned on his heels and left without another word.

Well, the library being the library, and the sort of clientèle we serve, being what it is, we were soon up to our ears with other curious incidents, nor overly bothered at being left in suspense as to the nature of the water-spouting hole, in Louisiana... or New Jersey, as the case may be. The next couple days were spent in waking up people who had fallen asleep at the computer and drooled all over the keyboard. Or in telling the human snail with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that he cannot store the entirety of his possession in our meeting room. Or listening to stories about the increase in fairy abductions. Also, there is the fielding of inappropriate inquiries -  "do you know what I am thinking now?" with a leer. "I choose not to delve too deep into a strangers' mind", self says, cleverly extricating herself... And let us not forget the woman who had scribbled tattoos all over both arms with a Sharpie, who came charging up to unsuspecting people, placed her face uncomfortably close to their, and demanded that they sell her a cigarette. When they, fearing for their lives, back up, averring that they had no cigarettes, she answered, mysteriously, "Well, then, you're not him." Then she stalk away muttering, "Did you see that? Something's wrong.... People are getting annihilated all over the place here. She was, quite frankly, rather terrifying, and as none of the Mental Health services were available, we called the cops on her. She obligingly lunged at the officer and was taken away in handcuffs...

Indeed, so much drama occurred in the time between the cliffhanger, and the return of the storyteller, that he had quite nearly been forgotten.... He was not the forgetting type, however. A couple days later, he marched in and without preamble announced: "One word: think sand crabs" before walking back out again.... and that was the end of that story.

At present, I am rather tired of people. All people. Crazy people in particular. I feel that if I have to be around them much longer, I too will be crazy as a coconut.

At least my car still runs.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Harvest of Days

Well, for all of you who find my calamity stories so funny: I am sorry. Today, you do not get a funny story. My car, I am happy to report is still running. The jury is still out as to whether it will truly "run forever" as the English mechanic avers, but it has run for a whole week without the need of boiling water or jiggling wires. And I have taken it off the hill thrice. So perhaps, it shall whinny with us for some months longer.

At present, I am sleepy, so if there are any glaring errors is spelling, grammar, or punctuation in this post, you will know it is because I have scarcely been to bed in 2 days. It is not because I am ailing - oh no, not at all! Quite the contrary. I have not had so splendid a set of days in some time. The dratted White Dog of Life has been distracted for the time being, and I find that I can stand up in the puddle of my existence without being bowled over. The World Pipe Band Championships took place on Friday and Saturday, and as usually, there was a live stream of the proceedings, for those who wanted to observe the event in real time. I, obviously, was amongst that number, so I dragged myself out of bed at 2 ack emma, so that I might have the pleasure of gluing myself to a computer screen for the next 7 hours, and listening to band after band play the most astonishing music. 

Here is quite a low-quality picture of the blogger, taken
with my pathetic wee phone camera. It is about 3 am,
and I am drinking coffee from an appropriate vessels, whilst
wearing my Inverary and District Pipe Band shirt.

Last year's competitions were quite exceptional, and there were a few sets that were mile-markers. This year... Oh, this year! The piping was transcendent. By the time a mere handful of bands had played, the bar had been set so high that you began to feel as if this could not possibly be mortal men, standing there in a circle on Glasgow Green. Perhaps the Fair Folk had come out of the Hollow Hills and were enchanting us all with fairy music.... Do not mock. At 3 in the morning it seemed a very real explanation for the quality of music we were being treated too. I have no idea how the judges were able to produce a winner, the puir men, nor did I envy them the task. Suffice it to say, the title of Champion, after dwelling with Field Marshall Montgomery these last three years, has gone back to Scotland, With Shotts and Dykehead taking the honours, and my two favourite bands, St. Lawrence O'Toole and Inverary and District, coming in 2nd and 3rd, with only a point between them. I have had as near to my fill of piping as I have ever had, and the world is Good.

Here the blogger, having been out of her bed for 5 hours,
is treating herself to a pre-breakfast glass of Laphroaig,
whilst cheering on her favourite bands

Add to that, the unexpected treat of having Mass on the Feast of Our Lady in Harvest (otherwise know as the feast of the Assumption) and a splendid dinner of barbecued corned beef, with potatoes and carrots (also prepared on the grill as we DO NOT turn on the indoor cooking equipment in this weather) not to mention the luxury of two extra days off from work, and you have yourself one well contented blogger. If only every weekend could be like this!

I have also been attempting to apply myself to my arts lately. (My, aren't we preening!) I have produced a few passible little miniatures over the last month or so:

There us this beehive:

And this curious little medieval dragon and border:

There is this painting. There is a marshy bit of meadow, a couple miles from my home, where a little river comes out to the lake. We've been in a drought for long enough, that the grass comes down nearly to the lake in a wide swath of marsh grass and wild flowers. I like to walk down there if it is cool enough in the evening, and watch the sunset. I came home from one such jaunt and made a paint sketch of it - free hand. No preliminary drawing, just wet washes laid down quickly on top of each other, and a bit of drier painting on top for detail:

And lastly, there is this ladybird beetle - otherwise known as a ladybug in the US - painted up yesterday, for the feast of the Assumption, this particular insect being named for Our Lady:

And lastly, I have been trying to write poetry. I am not entirely sure why I am struggling so much with it. I have attempted four poems in the last month, and none of them have made it through the creative process. I still think the ideas behind them are quite good. I just can't get them out on to paper. This one came to me a couple days ago. The weather has been a bit warm of late, and the summer sun here at nearly 6,500 feet, is piercing, but the nights are getting the least bit cooler, and there is a bit of autumn in the wind. So I wrote this:

Turning From the Sun

The air lies heavy still, with heat
And still too fiercely burns the sun -
Too bright the blue, unclouded sky,
Too hard the earth, for want of rain.

But winds have come now, edged and sweet,
And copper needles, slanting down,
A chill curls where deep shadows lie,
And clouds give hope of green again.

Maybe we will finally have a proper winter here on the West Coast, and the drought will ease, if not leave entirely. I miss snow in winter, and green growing things in summer. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Semper Gumby

See this thing:

Clean Battery Terminals Step 3.jpg
From Wikihow

That is a car battery terminal. That is where you clamp the red or black wires to the car's battery. Everyone who has ever had cause to open the hood of a car and glimpse the battery, knows what a terminal is, even if they don't know they know it. 

Here's the thing about battery terminals - they are subject to corrosion. And corroded terminals are a bloody nuisance. They cause your car - which has had its alternator replaced twice in one week - to lose its charge as it sits in your driveway overnight with the engine off, so that when you go out a bit early, intending to run an errand before heading off to work...You find yourself subjected to that increasingly familiar experience of sitting in a car that is so dead, even the dashboard lights quit on you when you attempt to start it. 

And Your mechanic is then subjected to the weekly wail of a stranded and very fed-up female.

"What's your car doing?" the laconic and unflappable English voice demands.

"Its not doing anything. Its just sitting there, and won't start."

"All right, Lovely, I'll tell you what you do. Just pop up under the hood, and look for the black wire on the battery terminal and give it a bit of a jiggle."

"Battery terminal" you repeat dutifully, walking out, phone in hand to the car.

"Right. It will be the one on the right - right up there under the fender. Just give it a bit of a jiggle."

You obediently pop up under the hood and jiggle the black wire on the terminal - which you already knew how to find - it being, after all, the only jiggleable black thing on the battery. Then you try it again - upon which the car gives you a wheezy cough before lapsing back into a coma.

"It didn't start." you say.

"Riiiight. Ok, then. Here's what I want you to do. Boil up some water, right? It needs to be boiling...."


"And then you pour it all over the terminal. Got that? Boiling water. All over. Give it a jiggle. And it will start right up and run forever."


"And be really, really careful not to get any of the water that will come pouring off on to your clothes. Because anywhere it splashes.... it will leave a little hole."

"O... K....."

"Right. Give me a call back if it doesn't start. That's all it needs - well a new terminal really, but I can't do that from here. My arms aren't long enough. So just pour boiling water all over it and that will be you."

So, after vowing to replace the terminal as soon as possible, you take yourself off to boil water and fetch it back. You pour boiling water all over the terminal, taking care to avoid splashing little holes on to your clothing. You gingerly give the black terminal wire another bit of a jiggle and sit behind the wheel, feeling something like a mad scientist, about to test his newest theory. To your relief, the car does start right up, as though its brush with death never happened. Whether it will run forever remains to be seen, but so far, it has carried through the day. You might not have to hit it with a hammer after all.

And you know a new trick. Fancy that.