December 22, 2010


We can all let loose our collectively-held breath, now that winter solstice has passed and the sun won't be quite so shy each day. With that combo of dark and cold, it's no wonder that bears and other critters opt for hibernation- every once in a while, I hardly want to leave my apartment, let alone my bed.

But for some, this season has the opposite effect. Families construct backyard ice rinks with the precision of a suspension bridge. People shovel snow away in clean rectangles near lake shorelines, and the Tetris layouts expand farther and farther out as the water freezes thicker and the Saturday games fill faster. Every evening, along my path home from work, a retention pond nestled in the curve of a highway on-ramp hosts a small herd of cars and teenagers hockeying away until they can't see by the intermittent light of headlights any more.

And this, I suppose, is the essence of winter in Canada.

December 18, 2010

merry and bright

"Why do you people think this is funny?"

My first mitten attempt, using this book. Although these won't have the flamboyant Musketeer sleeves- just a little longer than wrist length. I might keep these, but if I manage to get them done in time for Christmas, maybe they'll get gifted instead.

Your eyes do not deceive you. Toby's mutant saliva is practically his superhero secret weapon. But just when he's running in the snow.

And here's a little Christmas cheer from She & Him, courtesy of Conan. I could listen to Zooey's voice all day. Merry merry!

December 14, 2010

A rant in the name of library love

This post needs more stats so I sound like I know what I'm talking about. I don't have them. Sorry about that.

I just got an email alerting me to the new policies being implemented in the libraries where I used to live in Colorado. I'm not so great at keeping up with news, local or national or international, so I was a little bit heartbroken to learn that 4 out of 7 Arapahoe county libraries closed a little over a year ago.

The techies and whippersnappers can commence their monologues, now. Go ahead. I will wait to make my point.

Okay, enough. I know the world is changing at warp speeds. I know newspapers are shriveling up and businesses are increasingly paperless, as well as academic institutions (and if textbooks went paperless I'm sure college students everywhere would rejoice). But the thing is, what percentage of the world's populations can actually afford iPads or Kindles? I'm uneducated in this area, but isn't the basic social goal of literacy a step that has to come before the general population can afford e-readers?

I suppose we'll get there eventally, but the fact is most of the world is poor. And most Americans live on a modest income; 68% of the population makes between $25 and $50K per year.

The point? We need libraries. And not just for the books and the movies. They provide more than the archaic, outdated, gasping-their-dying-breath-medium known as books. They are full of community-oriented resources, events, meeting spaces, and materials that the average person doesn't have easy access to. As a taxpayer who literally lives paycheck to paycheck but does her best to stay responsibly out of debt, and who also happens to love to read, I can't praise the institution and rich resource of libraries enough.

I don't want to criticize the County's aim to provide services primarily for their taxpayers. This is understandable and fair. What troubles me is that there is even a NEED, to begin with, to separate taxpayers from non-taxpayers PER COUNTY in order to lighten the load for the libraries that remain.

That's depressing enough, let alone charging an annual $100 fee to those non-taxpayers to enjoy the same benefits that same-county residents enjoy. Why don't the aliens have their own libraries in their own counties? Why aren't the same resources available to them, such that it's worth it to them to wander miles outside of their own communities to find them?

Now that I have pounded out my anger and frustrations on my frail keyboard, I don't know how to conclude this. I'm sad that, whoever voted these decisions through, such people don't see (or see, but don't prioritize) the need for libraries in communities. Negative Nancy says those same people probably list "watching tv" as a primary hobby. I'm inclined to agree with Nancy.

December 13, 2010

In defense of early winter

It's getting a bit late to post this, in terms of the shift of seasons (because the seasons are rarely as clean-cut as the quadrants we categorize them in, are they?), but I guess it's been rolling around in my brain for a while without me realizing it.

I don't love the shortness of the days this time of year. I feel like I arrive at work in the dark and leave work in the dark; this must be what it feels like to work the night shift. I'm lucky to sit along a wall of southeast-facing windows at work, and like some sort of plant, my body inclines to the light as the sun passes by. I hate the typical office, soul-sucking, complexion-wrecking fluorescent lighting so much that I will avoid turning them on until I can't read anything on my desk any more.

But, short days aside, there is a particular kind of beauty to be found in late November and early December. This pocket of the continent doesn't see much happen with the weather, for the most part, and everything is cold and clean and stripped bare. All very hushed and sleeping. Nothing to distract from the sunrises and sunsets, when the moon is at its slightest, hardly distinct from the pale sky.

It's a quiet and spare beauty, at a time of year so often associated with death, but I like to think of it as the earth retreated and hibernating, hinting to us that maybe a little peace and calm, and even a nap, isn't such a terrible idea.