Friday, January 4, 2013

First term check-in

Hello !
If any of you are still following, or have forgotten to un-follow, I'll plant an update on you right now.
I've just finished my first term of Library and Information Technology (well actually about to start my second term in 3 days).
What an experience!
Where do I start?  The dragging of my ancient carcass out of bed at 5:30 am? The harrowing hour-long drive in my little Honda Fit?  The triumphant day when I first conquered the traffic circle at the freeway exit near the university?  And wait - I'm not even talking about the actual school experience yet.
I have learned SO MUCH. 
Honestly, I did think, when I registered for the program: Librarianship - How hard can it be?
Let me tell's complex, interesting, exciting, precise, creative....and pretty darned awesome.  And hard too.  I've started learning the mysteries of cataloguing (who knew it was so , um, detailed?), learned about Young Adult Literature (again - who knew? and Wow, is it really cool!, and hey, my instructor made me sign up for Twitter and now I'm addicted!), Introductory Library services (dealing with everything from reference interviews to diversity, to safety and security, to job descriptions, to Online Public Access Catalogues.... lots to learn!)
And - my elective: Canadian Criminology.  INTERESTING!  Now I understand a lot more of what I hear on the news - about crime and punishment (or lack thereof) in Canada.  Really neat course!

So.  Let's say I enjoyed my first term, worked really hard, did quite well (blush), exhausted myself, exhausted my poor husband (who took up the spatula with good grace once it became apparent that I was too befuddled by the whole school experience to produce regular meals), and made friends of all ages! Or, maybe I just met a lot of polite people of all ages.  Whatever. They seem to accept my fashion faux pas, my mom-ishness, my anxiety over handing in assignments via email (?!?), my need to sit at the very front of the classroom like an eager nerd...
For some strange reason I think I'll be able to handle term 2 better than term one, and actually cook meals or go for walks or keep up with reading blogs, or have a life.  I'm not sure.  My next update may be soon, or I may not get back here until April.   Either way, thanks for reading...and thanks for reading.  (get it? thank for reading here and thanks for being readers in general, which means that you may be library users, which means that I may actually get a job some day when this is all over...)
Kathryn : ) 
Now go and hug a librarian.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Now what's she up to?

Sometimes when bloggers disappear we never find out where they went - or why they left.  I've been absent a long time now...but all is well.  I had the opportunity this last year to reflect on my life so far.
Where I've been and where I'm going.
This was triggered when I started to document the jobs I've had in my life, which was, in turn, triggered by my reading about other bloggers' life stories, reflections, aspirations, activities, hopes and dreams.  Thanks to Friko and DJan, in particular.  You started something!

As a result of all of this, on September 4th, 2012 (eek, 4 days from now) I will be going back to school for the first time in over 25 years. I'm starting a 2 year diploma program called, 'Library and Information Technology' at one of our local universities.  After attending my orientation a few days ago I see that my fellow classmates range from 18-ish to 50-ish (I am the 50-ish - I think I'm the oldest, but I haven't taken a poll), with a 75/25 female to male ratio.

We're not all stereotypical librarian types.  There are beards, piercings, tattoos, young men and women, generation X-ers, middle-aged hipsters, yuppies.....diversity! We've been told that we will be part of a vibrant, ever-changing community of information providers, using all sorts of media as well as the traditional printed page. We've also been told to embrace ALL the technology: computers, smart-phones, e-readers, laptops, tablets, social media - the works.

As one of the older students, I am so looking forward to drinking from the fountain of youthful ideas and energy all around me.  I'll suspend posting on this blog for now, but please know that I am off on what promises to be an amazing adventure. Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

My third job (Or, 'How to land a job without really trying')

After short but stellar careers in babysitting and newspaper delivery I landed my third job without any effort at all.  It fell into my lap, and left me with the impression that getting a job was easy and always would be. 
As it turned out this job came to me not as a result of some wonderful skill or earnest job hunt on my part, but as the result of someone's need to control a situation. And, as it turned out, there is no real way to control such situations, but people will try....

In grade 11 I turned 16, and found my first serious boyfriend.  Or he found me.  He was an older man, (Grade 12!) and one of only a handful of boys who was not allowed to wear his hair long like most of the others. It was the late 70's and Beatles hairstyles had reached our small town some years before.  This poor boy had what we called a 'pig shave', a haircut so short it followed the contours of his head and let his scalp show through.  He had an unfortunate (for that day and age) last name which was easily changed to 'Hard On';  the other boys delighted in yelling it derisively as they shoved him into the bank of lockers whenever there was an audience. Thus, he was a scrawny, bruised, pig-shaven young man nick-named 'Hard On'. My first real boyfriend.

Poor H and his two younger sisters had been raised by a STEPmother (gasp!), a strict woman who stepped into the breach when their own mother abandoned the kids when they were only 6, 4, and 2.
Looking back, now that I am a mom myself, I give her full credit for taking on this challenge: taking on 3 young step children, and putting up with the inevitable cries of 'You can't tell me what to do.  You're not my REAL mother!' that surely came along with pimples and puberty.

As the children grew, so did her need to control them; she dressed the girls just differently enough so that they were not 'cool' and made them tie their hair back while the rest of us wore it long and straight, and in our eyes.  She made her son wear that awful haircut, and made sure his jeans were nicely hemmed, and not dragging on the ground as was the style of the day. 
For some reason, one day he decided to 'like' me.  I was still geeky and underdeveloped (the more cruel boys called me 'Flatsy'), and he probably decided that I was attainable to one such as himself.  I liked him back, just for liking me!  A boy liked me!  Beggars can't be choosers.

We started to 'go around', which meant that we spent time near each other between classes, talked, wrote notes to each other....and attempted to see each other after school as well.

His mother must have found out from his tattle-tale sisters that he now had a girlfriend.   Feeling the need to monitor the situation, and needing to find out just what kind of jail bait-floozy-seductress her son had gotten himself entangled with (had she no idea what he looked like in that ridiculous haircut?) she decided to give me a job, effectively killing two birds with one stone.  Not only could she get to observe me at close range, she could arrange the schedule so that I was as unavailable for socializing as possible!

Of course I had no idea what was happening.  One evening at home my mother received a phone call offering me a job. She got off the phone and said, puzzled, 'That was Mrs. H.  She says you know her son.  She says that she needs someone to help with inventory and would you be interested in starting right away?'

A job!  Someone wants to give me a job! Wow!
So, I took the bus to the local mall, and helped take inventory at McLeod's, a small-town department store.
Mrs. H. was the manager of the ladies wear department.  I still hadn't met her, but she was later pointed out to me; I'd been told to report to the supervisor, who got me a smock, and showed me how to take inventory. I didn't  have an interview, but was introduced to my coworkers, and given a clipboard.  We counted clothes in ladies and childrens wear, down to the tiniest pair of socks.  

Little did I know that I was being observed for that two weeks....and that Mrs. H would be asking the supervisor what kind of girl I was.  Luckily, I seemed not only harmless, but acceptable.  I was quiet, respectful, a good student, I followed instructions, I was punctual....
Mrs. H, seeing that I was a good enough worker, arranged to hire me on permanently, but forgot to tell me.
One week after inventory was over I was sitting at home one evening when I received a frantic call from the supervisor.  'Where are you?' she hissed.
'Um, I'm at home. (Duh). Why?
'You're supposed to be here!  You're on the schedule!' she said.
'But inventory is over!, I said.
'But you're on the SCHEDULE.  You WORK here!, said the poor supervisor. 'Get here as quickly as you can, and I'll cover for you!', she said, hanging up.

And thus, I was employed.  Not just for inventory. Well, well, well.

I still didn't really understand that the situation was being controlled.  I was scheduled for every Friday night and all day Saturday (Saturday being the coveted 8 hour shift).  The pay was $2.75 per hour, and the weekly pay cheque, encompassing those two shifts, was usually a massive $33.00 - a fortune compared to $18.00 per MONTH delivering newspapers.
Coincidentally I didn't have much time to see my new boyfriend. It took me a while to put 2 and 2 together.  (I was an 'A' student in school, not in life.)
After a few months my boyfriend turned 18.  At this point his mother gave in and let him grow his hair long.   He grew taller and filled out, and turned out to be quite cute. 
We found ways to see each other outside of school and work, heh heh, and I continued to meet with his mother's approval. I also continued to get that great Saturday shift.
Months passed, the bloom of love wore off, and we broke up. Almost immediately my shifts were reduced to the minimum, that least desirable shift: 5-9 pm Friday.  No coveted Saturday shift. No Wednesday or Thursday nights.  Just the social-life wrecking dreaded Friday, and nothing else.
And my weekly pay cheque....shrunk to $11.00.   I still remember cashing those $11.00 pay cheques. 

My third job paid $2.75 per hour.  I learned to walk up to women and ask if I could help them.  I learned to fold clothes properly.  I learned to stab the price ticket needle into the intersection of the underarm seam, where it would do the least amount of damage.  I learned that some ladies used the change room to try on a bra, put their old one in the box and leave the store wearing the new one, without paying.  I then learned to remove the bra and hold on to the bra box before unlocking the change room door!  I learned how to cash a pay cheque...I learned to juggle school and work and homework...and a boyfriend.
And I learned that jobs don't fall into your lap without a reason.

Friday, February 24, 2012


I interrupt the chronicling of my life's various jobs to say that my husband and I are dog-sitting this week.  My daughter and her boyfriend are on vacation; we offered to look after the dog.

He's a nice dog, about a year old, and very cute.  Skittish at first, he warmed up on day two and has been the soul of doggy affection since then. 

So far he has:
-terrorised and chased our two geriatric cats,
-peed on the carpet twice,
-visited the cat box buffet and smeared poop on the living room carpet,
-found a wooden puzzle and chewed several of the pieces (I'm not sure, but I think 2 pieces are missing...)
-torn the felt base off same puzzle,
-pulled my arm out of it's socket during the frequent accident-preventative walks we have taken,
-barked at the cats for being cats,
-awakened us in the night with barking at the cats (he can see them through the glass pocket-door we use to separate canine from feline),
-scratched at our bedroom door in the middle of the night,
-awakened me with clicky little footsteps, also in the middle of the night. Click click click click.... 
-found a mud puddle at the dog park and frolicked in it with gay abandon, leading the other dogs on a merry chase (and causing their owners to hate us instantly),
-pulled me off my chair at Starbucks outdoor patio, (chair as fulcrum - whoops!)
-pulled my husband off his feet on the slippery leaves in the park, (grown man comes home with wet bum)
-and repeatedly pooped at the furthest possible location from the nearest outdoor trash can causing me to carry a bag of poop for the longest possible interval.

He draws attention wherever we go, eliciting questions and squeals and baby talk:
Is it a boy or a girl - what kind of dog is it - isn't he cute - how big will he get - is he a basenji - Is he a husky - he looks like a fox - isn't he a pretty colour - how old is he - what does Shiba Inu mean - isn't he a widdy biddy cutie pidey widey - Ootchie kootchie koo. Etc.

We tried removing the cat litter box to higher ground, but one of the cats just decided to poop where the litter box USED to be, rather than adapt to the new location.  We put the litter box back and resolved to check it every 3 nano seconds in order to avert disaster.  Unfortunately I let down my guard for 1.5 nanoseconds coinciding with a recent deposit, and the dog found the fresh treasure and well, you know.
Toss, flop, rub, smear, roll, repeat.
It's a good thing I fell out of love with my mint green living room carpet long ago. Too bad I can't afford to rip it out quite yet.

On the other hand (the one on the arm not pulled out of it's socket), dogs are fun! We have experienced doggy love and affection and slobber.  We have received sticks and balls and anything else fetchable many times.  We have had 10 times more exercise than normal.  We have seen real live people walking real live dogs in our very own neighbourhood (that place we only formerly drove through.  Other people - who knew?).  We have explored the local parks and trails and greenspaces. We have had the satisfaction of knowing that beloved doggy is not stuck in a kennel for the week or shut in a crate for hours.

We have had the thrill of witnessing the barking dog chase the yowling cat between us and the wall, pulling the power cord out and nearly taking the laptop with it...

(That's my toe. Ow.)
It's been an interesting week.  And now it's snowing, just when I thought winter was over, and I have to take the dog for a walk.  I'll never take my cats for granted again.

Friday, February 10, 2012

My Second Job

My second job was delivering newspapers.  My friend Sharleen and I (we were 13 in Grade 9) decided we needed money - more money than we could make babysitting.  We heard of a route coming open; a boy in Grade 8 was moving on to bigger and better things, so we decided to split the route and split the money.
It was a large route covering a lot of ground.  The boy, Ian, walked with us the first day showing us each house and explaining where people wanted their papers dropped off.  Once a month we were expected to knock on each customer's door and collect the monthly fees.  We were also supposed to try to get new subscribers, if we could.  Ian had always carried all the newspapers himself, but Sharleen and I each found our half-load quite heavy. Ugh.  'What did I get myself into?', I thought.

Once the route was ours we had to decide how two girls should do the work of one boy.  If we'd been smart, we would have split up and walked through half the route each, but we were not smart - we were gabby - so we walked the whole route together and alternated delivering papers.  Idiots!
We lived in a small town.  In the 70s not many people locked their doors at night, and certainly none did in the day time.  Most people wanted the paper on the front porch, some in the mailbox, and some through the mail slot in the front door.  One lady, however, wanted her paper delivered to her dishwasher!
Ian showed us where to open the back door, take two steps inside the kitchen, and place the newspaper on top of the portable dishwasher (one of those affairs on wheels with a faux wooden top).  We were incredulous!  We don't knock?  We walk right in?
'Yup', said Ian. 
Nearly every day the lady of that house was home, in her kitchen, and she would nod and smile as I tiptoed in and put the newspaper down. Then I backed out, pulling the door closed as I went.

Once a month, as I said, we had to collect money.  I was glad we were together for this part, since I was still a gawky-shy-nerd, despite ascension to junior high school. We also tried knocking on doors to get other people to subscribe, but the most success we had was to get one man to commit to taking the paper every second day, if we could find someone else to alternate with him.  We never did.

One day while collecting, I was bitten by, of all dogs, a dachshund.  I had stepped into the front hallway of one house, invited in by the lady while she went to get her money.  I was just standing there and her little dog leaped up and bit the meaty part of my hand at the base of my thumb.  I was much too shy to say anything, so I hid my bleeding hand from the lady and reached with my left hand to take the money.  When I got home later that day my mom was furious, and called the lady to ask if the dog's rabies shots were up to date. 
I was mortified. Of course the lady didn't know what had happened and thought my mom was crazy.  Explanations were given and the next day that lady demanded to see my hand, and then apologized when it was clear that I'd been bitten.  "Why didn't you say anything?", she said, exasperated.  I couldn't explain;  I was too embarrassed.

Another day while collecting, we saw a boy from school. This boy, Ray, had red hair, pale eyelashes that fluttered a lot, and a lisp.  I knew he was an outcast at school, and that people called him names.  I didn't really know what 'fag' meant; someone said that Ray 'liked' boys, whatever that meant. Did he want to kiss boys? (I honestly could not imagine what else was possible - those were innocent times.)
  I do remember being surprised when he opened the door, and then thinking that of course he had to live somewhere, and then I wondered about his family and if they knew that their son was called names at school. He asked us what we wanted and then rolled his eyes and went off somewhere in the house to get the money.  I heard him saying in that TONE with that LISP, that the newspaper girls were here for their money. I also remember thinking that if he didn't lisp, and roll his eyes and be so, so, WHATEVER, then people might not make fun of him.
What did I know?  Did I think he wanted to be different?  That he enjoyed being called names, being shoved in the hallway, having no friends?
I thought about Ray as I walked home.  We didn't discuss it, but I remember thinking that if he was that way in his own home, then maybe he couldn't be any other way.  He was that way everywhere at all times.  He couldn't help but be who he was, even if it meant being an outcast at school. 
Now THAT was a bit of a revelation. 
(I, on the other hand, was learning to be all sorts of different people - whatever got me the most approval in any given situation.)

I don't remember how long I lasted at that job. I know at some point the $36.00 per month, split between us, wasn't enough to keep me interested in slogging through the route 6 days a week, and that when I decided to quit, Sharleen (who had asthma, but a lot more determination than I had) decided to do the route herself.
My second job, paying $18.00 per month, taught me to budget my money, taught me to knock on stranger's doors and even go inside, taught me that dachshunds were not to be trusted, and taught me that people are what they are. Even if it hurts.

Friday, February 3, 2012

My First Job

Inspired by Friko, I've decided to do a series on all the jobs I've had.  Most are normal, some a little unusual, but I bet if you think about it you've had some unusual jobs too.  This wasn't one of them, or maybe it was......

Like many girls my first paid work was babysitting.  I had it easy - my customers were the next door neighbours, and their one child was always already in his crib when I arrived to babysit.  Basically I was paid to watch TV and eat ice-cream.  Their house, unlike mine, was immaculate.  I never saw any evidence of toys - they were always picked up and put away somewhere by the time I arrived.  The little boy would sometimes wake up - I would hear a small cry, and I'd go into his room, which always seemed really warm, and he would sit or stand up in his crib and look at me.  As my eyes adjusted to the darkness I could see him in his little yellow or blue sleeper, looking at me.  He usually wasn't quite awake, and I would stay and look at him until he lay down and went back to sleep.  If he seemed to be really awake I would wind up a little musical toy that was attached to the side of the crib and he'd lie down almost immediately.  I found out later that his mom always wound up that toy when she put him to bed, so he'd been conditioned to know that it was time to sleep.  I never once changed a diaper, never held him, rocked him, or had to clean up a mess.

These neighbours had a dog, named Rua.  She was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, similar in size and breed to a pit bull.  She never intentionally did me any harm, and I felt safe having her there in the house with me, but she was so eager to be loved that if I made eye contact she would see that as a signal to jump up and put her paws on me as high as she could.  Because she was  nearly 40 pounds of sheer muscle, and I was tiny, this would knock me over, and I would be licked and stepped on nearly to death. As long as I didn't make eye contact everything was fine.  One day when I came over to babysit, Rua was sitting on a towel in the living room.  Mrs. Neighbour told me that Rua was 'in heat' and that she would have to sit on the towel all evening.  I took this to mean that Rua had her period!  Huh? I'm sure I turned 6 shades of red when I figured it out.
Whenever Rua wanted to stand up and wander away I had to tell her to go back to the towel, and good girl that she was, back she'd go, looking abashed and resigned all at once.  I wonder if she had cramps? I think that was my hardest session of babysitting at that house.

When my eyes grew tired of staring at the TV and not staring at the dog I'd go to the freezer, find the ice-cream (it was always vanilla) and root around in the cupboards for something to jazz it up with.  Invariably this was Roger's Golden Corn Syrup.  I'd pour a completely outrageous amount of the sticky stuff over the ice-cream and as it cooled it got to be kind of chewy.  I'd stuff my face with that  (thin as a rail back then I hadn't even heard of dieting), leave the dish in the sink, and go back to the TV.  At that point in my life I had not been trained to clean up after myself (and I struggle with that to this day).

The most exciting part of the evening came when the the neighbours came home.  I wore glasses to watch TV, but never in public, and never outside (though I should have - I missed a lot, and was horrible at sports when I couldn't see...).  I was embarrassed to wear those ugly things!  Anyway, Mr. neighbour knew that I would have my glasses on to watch TV and he loved to tease me, so he and his wife would park the car in the driveway and sneak up to the front door, quietly turn the key and then BURST in, to see me snatching the glasses off my face in great consternation.  'Almost caught you!' Mr. neighbour would shout.  And I would shrivel a bit more into the couch and wait to get paid.
I was horribly shy and gawky, and a late bloomer to boot. I don't think the word 'nerd' had been invented yet, but when it was I fit the bill.

The very first time these neighbours asked me to babysit I was 12 or 13.  They offered me 50 cents per hour and I countered with 35.  See? What a nerd.  I think they ended up paying me the 50 cents per hour under the guise of giving me a tip.  At the end of the evening Mr. Neighbour (after scaring the bejeepers out of me) would walk me home.  Even though my house was 15 feet away from his house he would walk me down his driveway, along the front of his lawn, along the front of my lawn, up my driveway, and right to the door.  We never cut across his lawn; other than his shoes during lawn mowing, human shoes were not allowed to touch that lawn.

My first job paid me a princely 50 cents (give or take) per hour, and taught me absolutely nothing except not to make eye contact with a bull terrier, and not to relax with my glasses on.  When it came close to time for Mr. and Mrs. Neighbour to come home I actually sat with my hands gripping the sides of the eyeglass frame, ready to whip them off at the sound of the key in the door.
When I grow old and demented, and have to go and live behind locked doors in the old folks home, the staff are going to wonder why I throw my glasses off every time they come in to change my diaper.
Speaking of diapers, since I never had to do it while babysitting, the first time I ever changed a diaper myself was the day I gave birth to my own daughter when I was 26.  The nurse showed me how.  I didn't make eye contact with her, either.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Kitchen View

I love my kitchen.  Before we did this renovation there was only solid wall here.  Now we look out to the ravine every day and usually see birds and squirrels, or the occasional raccoon or coyote.
Even when no animals are about, the evergreens are lovely, to me.
The view has been a little different lately, but just as nice. 
(Click to enlarge)

Remember the 'I Spy' books? I could write one of my own here, based on counter top clutter:
I spy some onions, a blender, a cup, a cutting board, cookbook, a towel hanging up.
A mixer, a some lemons, a sugar bowl too, a poinsettia, and plenty to do!

Some butter, and syrup, a small pepper mill, a shiny round teapot that's steeping here still.
Some hand soap, and look at that tiny pink square, my ipod, the 'nano' provides music there. 

Up above are some bird houses, beer steins, a bowl, a rooster and hen, must I fill every hole?
I'm almost done naming; don't go away yet, the corner displays mom's old canister set.
Enough clutter-rhyming for now. I could go on and on....
The rain has started.  The view will be different tomorrow.