Saturday, May 17, 2014

I am the proud holder of a library card!

I love libraries. Of course I love bookstores too, but in libraries everything is free. You can browse all day if you want. You can relax and revel in being in the company of kindred souls.

I was introduced to the library at an early age. My second grade class was escorted across the street to the imposing Carnegie Library. Around on the right side was a half-flight of stairs leading down into the children's section. We were then seated in a half circle around a tiny woman named Miss Mole (or so it sounded to me) who read us a story book. The book was about a little boy who ate so much, he turned into a balloon and floated away. This concept was confusing and a little frightening but I was enthralled--there were lots and lots of other books in the library with other stories. We were each issued our very own library card so we could come back and check out books again.

The prestige of being the holder of a library card was pretty heady stuff.  I was hooked!

The adult section was up those stairs and you were not allowed to check books out of the adult section until you turned thirteen. It therefore became a "rite of passage" to ascend the stairs and be issued your adult library card.

Oh the wonderful things that were to be found in the upstairs library! There were books on archaeology and foreign countries, murder mysteries and science fiction, biographies and even humor! I loved reading so much, I would smuggle books upstairs and read far into the night. 

Of course, that old library no longer exists. It was built in an era when nobody gave a thought to providing access to the elderly or handicapped. It also became far too small for a growing population and too expensive to maintain. I'm sure that was the fate of many Carnegie libraries around the country.

But how wonderful that we had those treasures while we did!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Happy Mother's Day to all species!

                           I hope these give you a smile

  You have to look closely to see the baby snuggled between the parents.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

It's a muddy May Day

After a three-month hiatus, I'm slinking back. It's been a lousy winter and so far, it's a lousy, cold and rainy spring. There is still part of an unmelted snowbank over in the corner of the parking area.

On Tuesday, we went over to Mort's Deli in Golden Valley, a suburb of Minneapolis. It's on the other side of the Cities so I don't get there often. They have a unique menu so it's one of my favorite places to eat. We met my granddaughter, Samantha and her sister's boyfriend, Mark for lunch.

Mark works on the far western side of North Dakota at a "boomtown" oil drilling site. There are lots of guys who go out there for the high-paying jobs. He works twelve hours a day for two weeks and stays in a bunkhouse with some other guys. Then he has two weeks off and comes back to the Cities (on the eastern side of Minnesota) for the next two weeks. Since Samantha's sister is at work during the day and Samantha had the day off, they were hanging out together.

Anyway, back to the food. Mort's has lots of New York deli menu items like blintz's, knishes and matzo ball soup. I ordered the beef brisket sandwich with chopped chicken liver "schmear" on rye. Samantha ordered the Elvis Burger, apparently based on a favored sandwich of his. It was topped by a fried egg and peanut butter! She loved it.
                                       Samantha selfie
It's one of my pet peeves that you can drive from one end of the U.S. to the other and find the same restaurants every, single place you go! Most of those places are waaay down on my list of desirable places to dine. MacDonalds, Arbys, Subway, Perkins, Taco Bell, Burger King, KFC...

So here's to all the independent restaurants that provide a sense of adventure to eating out!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A salute to the squirrels!

We've been having historic low temperatures for a long stretch along with lots of snow. There doesn't seem to be any relief in sight either. I am always amazed to see the squirrels racing around in the trees like it's a spring day when it's 20 below 0. I put out an assortment of food every day for as many as eight squirrels and the flock of sparrows who show up for a handout.
                                     (Borrowed image)
With all the snow and bitter cold, there is very little going on outdoors. I'm so grateful for the uplifting energy and spirit of those little furred and feathered creatures who brighten my day.
                      (Borrowed image. Eastern Gray Squirrel)
                      Our area is home to three kinds of squirrels.
                          (Borrowed image of Fox Squirrel)
They're more caramel-colored. After the bad storm we had last June, the Gray Squirrels disappeared and some Fox Squirrels moved in. It seems like there was a "Wooded Lot War" and the Gray Squirrels took over again.

                        (Borrowed image of Red Squirrel)
.There are also several little hyperactive Red Squirrels that sneak over to snack on the food too. They're half as big as the other squirrels but very active and noisy.                                    

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Batting 1000

I'm figuratively batting 1000 going into 2014. This is my official 500th post and I recently did my 500th workout at Curves. I'm not sure I can claim that as a single accomplishment, but I take my victories where I can get them.

Here is my first, ever-so-optimistic post from 2008:

"Hallelujah, I'm a Blogger!
I chose the title Ms. Sparrow because I have a lot of affection for house sparrows, a much under-appreciated bird. They congregate in small trees or shrubs in the evening where they twitter away as though chatting about their day--sorta like a homey tavern where people gather after work. There is something about driving past a boisterous and busy sparrow tree that invariably makes me smile.

Sparrows were originally imported from England where they are now declining in numbers. More's the pity. They are industrious, resourceful and chirpy. They will settle in urban areas and for many inner-city children, they are the only representative of the bird family besides pigeons. That's a lot of responsibility for such a little bird.

Sparrows are common, drab and always around. This is a trait I am content to share."

                                      (Borrowed image)
This winter, instead of a flock of turkeys, I'm feeding a flock of sparrows plus an assortment of other birds and lively squirrels.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Today is Pearl Harbor Day. The sneak attack was 72 years ago and killed 2400 Americans  in a bombing that sank the battleship Arizona. I was a little over a year old at the time. The news stories today reminded me of my encounter with the father of a sailor who died in the attack.

When I was eleven years old, my family was living in a tiny town in Minnesota called Dovray. My dad was the contractor on a Norwegian Lutheran church being built in that farming community of 100 people. The town was really behind the times in 1950. My younger siblings all went to school in the one-room school house down the hill. (I've often felt envy that they had that experience while I had to make a one-hour long bus ride over to Westbrook for 7th grade.)

There was a general store called Smestad's Mercantile a block away. I was sophisticated enough that I knew how old-fashioned the store was compared to other places we had lived. It was just like the general stores I saw in old cowboy movies. On one side of the store the old man and his wife sold "dry goods" like flannel shirts and four-buckle overshoes. On the other side they sold groceries from a counter just inside the door.
                                     (Borrowed image)
There were open cardboard boxes of cookies and sheets of saltine crackers standing by the counter. The customer could take a brown paper bag and fill the bag to be weighed and priced. With no air conditioning and sealed packaging, the cookies and crackers were often stale. I don't remember if I was in Smestad's for cookies that day but I remember standing by the counter as he told me that his boy had been at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. 
                                      (Borrowed image)
He was terribly sad and I was very confused. I'm not at all sure that I responded appropriately. Being a kid, with the off-kilter sense of time kids have, ten years seemed so very long ago that I wondered why he was talking about it.

Now that I am 73, I realize how very recent his loss was and how much he was still hurting from that dreadful day.   

Monday, December 2, 2013

Back in the wooded lot...

I  haven't posted about the wooded lot for a while. Things were pretty quiet for a long time but now that it's turned cold, the birds and beasties are coming around. The main attraction seems to be the pan of water I set out every day. The squirrels, a large variety of birds and the four turkey boys come around to quench their thirst.

I recently started getting deer coming at night for a drink. I had a lot of family visiting over the Thanksgiving weekend and my grandson and three great-grands were delighted when three deer showed up outside my bedroom window in the early evening. There is a light on the side of the building so they were clearly visible.

                                          (Borrowed image)
So far I've only been putting out birdseed and bread or fruit scraps. With the loss of the bread thrift store where we were buying a trunk-full of stale bread for $5, I'm not sure how I'll feed them over the winter. I really hope I'll locate another resource somewhere soon.
                                        (Borrowed image)
Once we get some snow, the animals won't need the water anymore. Right now, with everything so dry there is a constant stream of birds and animals drinking at the water pan. I'm using the bottom tray from a large flower pot.

Sometimes I can hardly believe how very lucky I am to have all this wonderful wildlife right outside my window!