The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

30 July 2012

St. Joseph takes the wheel...err...the tire

The air pump is no stranger to me.  The driver side rear tire of my car has had a slow leak for a long time.  Years, actually.  I've gotten quite proficient at finding the right angle to force air into the tire, rather than letting it out. A new injection of air would keep the tire inflated for a couple of months or so, depending on the amount and kind of driving I did.

Late last week I noticed the tire was soft, so I stopped at a service station on my way home to re-inflate it. Mom and I did a fair amount of driving this weekend, including bits that could be considered off-road, because, frankly, there was no road to speak of - it had been scraped down for resurfacing. It (the car and how it handled) began to feel a little funny to me as we neared home - it was louder than usual as well.  Sunday evening as we drove out for dinner, I noticed the car felt almost reluctant to move forward, and certainly was louder - floppier sounding - than usual.  It wasn't until we left the restaurant, however, that I saw why: that slow leak had turned into a full-on deluge of escaping air.  The tire was flat.

One quick inflation later and we were able to get home, but I knew the morning could bring with it the unwelcome indication that the tire would need to be replaced.  A quick Google search tracked down a repair shop conveniently placed in easy distance of both home and work - just in case it would be needed.

Needed it was.  The morning sun revealed a sadly deflated rear tire.  On my way to the shop, I prayed for St. Joseph's help.  Money is tight, pay day doesn't come till the end of the week but the rent is due.  Please make this possible, in some way, for $150.  I should be able to manage $150.

The car was left in the capable hands of a very nice man two blocks from work, who later telephoned the library to tell me he could give me two good used tires for $100 plus tax - repair wasn't possible as I had picked up two nails, one of which had torn through the side wall.  I don't know what that means, but doesn't it sound painful?  And thank you St. Joseph. for bringing it in under budget!  So I approved the work, telling the nice man to go ahead with the replacement work.

Under the hot noon sun, I walked over during my lunch break to pick up the car.  The nice man took on that tone that doctors and mechanics use when they mean to prepare you for some bad news.  "You may have noticed," he began, and went on to point out a shiny bit on the one wheel that hadn't been there before.  The nut or the lug or something was seized as it had been poorly installed the last time, so they'd had to basically tear it apart and put a new one on, involving the taking off and putting back on of the brakes.

The total of parts, labour, and tax?  $146 and change.  I had enough left to buy a large steeped tea and just slip in under the $150 I'd asked for this morning.

The moral of this story is:  God hears and answers our prayers.  And St. Joseph is a powerful intercessor!  When you pray for something, be very sure about what you're asking for, because you will be taken at your word.

27 July 2012

From your librarian

Dear library patron,

Be kind to your librarian, she works hard, responds to diverse and pressing demands, didn’t sleep well the night before, and just found out her secret stash of chocolate has been discovered.

When you would like her help to book computer time, don’t grunt in the direction of the work stations, tossing your card on the desk, but speak your request out loud. Saying please works wonders. A smile takes it right over the edge – at this point she would be willing to share her chocolate with you.

When you are waiting your turn for her attention, don’t tap your foot impatiently while she helps the seven year old boy figure out which is the Captain Underpants book he hasn’t yet read – and then proceed to lay out your life story before asking where the computer games are while three people wait their turn behind you. She doesn’t need to know about your plantar warts, and she will always, always side with the adorable seven year old boy.

When she announces the library is closing in five minutes, she means it. It’s been a long, chocolate-less day in which she has directed 27 people to the washrooms, shown 13 little people where the graphic novels are, explained to 9 irate mothers that the children’s computers are first come first served, and walked about 17 miles between the stacks and her desk. Now is not the time to register for the summer reading program and then find the urgently needed book on the future of English as the global language for that report due tomorrow. The library always closes at 8 on a Tuesday night folks, and no, you are not special enough for us to ‘just this once’ keep everything going for an extra 15 minutes.

If you ask for her help, hovering over her shoulder, offering suggestions isn’t really helping.

Your friendly librarian doesn’t know every author, so be understanding when she has to look up the name of the obscure fella who writes about mice having tea parties in iambic pentameter. She will also need some time to discover in which of Spencer Tracy’s movies does he call a boy ‘little fish’. She may also not know the name of that book your Aunt Phyllis enjoyed so much. You know, the one with the blue cover? She is not a tax specialist, a social networking guru, a technical savant, or a meteorologist. She does, however, delight in finding answers and helping people find what they’re looking for. What you are seeing, up close and personal, is the very human means by which she does her job. And sometimes, though it pains her to say so, the answer is “No, we don’t have the entire collection of Welcome back Kotter on dvd.

Best regards,
Librarian Tess

24 July 2012

Of books of books

Working in a public library affords the opportunity to meet many interesting people.  By interesting, I mean "interesting" with a wink and a nudge. Most of them are harmless though, and we rarely have to call for police backup.

And sometimes we meet people who truly are interesting. Like the teacher who had promised herself when she finally retired she would read all the books that she wanted.  And she has! In the past six years she has read nearly 900 books, each one recorded in a lovely little notebook with a brief synopsis, what she thought of it, the date she finished it, where she got the book from. In the back she has neatly glued in reviews for books she'd like to read next. She was a delight to talk to - someone who has a passion for reading without any snobbery about the literary merit of the books she tracks in her notebook. Wouldn't it be interesting to read on its own? What a glimpse into a person's life, to see what they read day by day, their thoughts and feelings, where they were at the time and so on. I think she should publish it.

Here comes my inner geek: that little notebook made me so happy!  First of all, it was pretty: of a size to fit perfectly in the hand, well designed spirals that functioned properly (you'll have to read elsewhere to understand my feelings toward badly bound books - especially spiral bound ones  - that fall apart) with a simple black and white sketch of an elegant cat on the cover.  Second, and most importantly, it was tidy and organized without being fussy or overwhelming. Heavenly!

It just might be time to go notebook shopping.

09 July 2012

Of candy stores and, well, books

Can you imagine what it is like for a lover of books to work in a library?  How giddy-making it is to have all those volumes filled with words, ideas, information right there, free for the taking. There are rows upon rows of just cookbooks, for pity's sake, let alone books about travel, or biographies, or learning a new language, or, if such things take your fancy, programing in C++ (whatever that may be, that section of the library has a fair bit of real estate).

And that is only one floor!  There is a whole other devoted to fiction of all sorts, hard covered, paper backed, large printed, spoken on CD, or new fangled e format. (Please, please don't tell me you've embraced the noxious e-reader) (And why is everything 'e' this and 'i' that these days?)

Before I undertook to work at this library, I challenged myself to buy no new books until I had finally read all the unread volumes already sitting on my shelves. I foresaw a year of Dante and Von Hildebrand, Cervantes and Newman.  And I mean to read them, I really do.  I meant it when I bought them, and I mean it now.

However.  I now work in a candy store - which is what a library is to a bookworm. I've gone right to the source, my supplier, the pusher of my addiction. Every single day I am in that building, I find yet another book I just have to bring home with me or at the very least put on a list of books to remember for later.  For when I don't have anything to read. (HA!)

The trouble is, my eyes are bigger than my bookshelves. There is only so much room, even for borrowed books.  And only so much time.  Even a librarian must eventually bring them back.

Here are two of the most recent books that followed me home:

The Touch by Randall Wallace, screenwriter of Braveheart. This was a beautiful, simple story of faith, hope, and love in the life of a doctor in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was a physical attraction at first, as I was drawn to the books small stature; it fits perfectly into my hands, and feels like an intimate, comfortable read.  There are many wonderful passages dealing with God, and the roles of faith, hope, and love in our lives. The first I came across told me just what kind of book this was:
" I don't need to understand. Nobody does. There are only two things anyone must know: there is a God, and that God loves us. That is all we need to know."
Right there on the shelf, for anyone to stumble on and read for themselves, is this One Great Truth. Imagine the gems waiting in other books!

The Shoemaker's Wife
The second I want to share with you, for a different reason (though it too, has Catholic overtones) is from one of my favourite contemporary authors, Adriana Trigiani, titled The Shoemaker's Wife.

Isn't it a beautiful looking book? Even if I didn't know her writing, this book would have tempted me to lift it off the shelf. I would have forgiven it not being terribly well written for its cover alone.  But Adriana Trigiani is a fine writer of interesting, light hearted stories about Italian Americans. Though they take place in different times and different places, there is nearly always a taste of Italy involved, and the characters at the very least culturally Catholic.  I've only just begun, and am savouring the pages.

I'll get to Dante next.  Really.

06 July 2012

Of beauty, bridges, and butterflies

The Millau Viaduct Bridge in France is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.  It takes my breath away, and I have that butterfly feeling in my stomach. I hope to return to France one day, specifically to see this in person.  What a thrill to drive a car over this magnificent structure.

From some angles it looks like a series of sails, while from other perspectives the masts above and below the roadway look like reflections in water.

We have been given the gift of creativity. In this case, what man has made perfectly and respectfully enhances what God has made.

03 July 2012

Of doubt and trust - yesterday, today, and forever

Today is the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle. Thomas the Doubter; he who didn't believe; the one who needed to see for himself.

I haven't looked into it, but perhaps Tess means Doubter in Aramaic or ancient Hebrew.  I've certainly had my moments of needing to touch and see for myself before believing.

Trust is a big issue, isn't it?  In his homily on Sunday, Father gave me a way of understanding that trust really is simple, with the right perspective. It came through these words: God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

God is always with us, though our circumstances change.  God is God whether we get a raise or lose our job; have a baby or endure a hurricane.

When we experience strife, it is easy to doubt, to question, to fear. The thing is, God is no different in the midst of difficulty than He was before it began, or from how He will be when it has passed.  His providential care for us is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. His desire for our salvation is likewise the same. What does change is my willingness to trust Him because times are tough, or I've become lukewarm. I saw myself as a swimmer floundering in difficult waters - thrashing and struggling so hard I don't realize Assistance is right there. He is always right there.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever ~ Hebrews 13:8

Of shoes and the feet that go in them

Yes, this is another shoe story.  Have you ever considered how important good shoes are?  And by 'good' I don't mean 'cute', but actual good, supportive, functional, non-pinching, non-blister inducing shoes. A person's emotional and physical well-being depends on the quality of their shoes.

My standard for shoes used to lean heavily toward the cuteness factor (I immediately rule out high heels, because a tottering, clunking, woman is never cute). I got away with such low expectations because I wore them from the car to the desk; from the desk to the car - and every now and then to the coffee shop.  The longest I'd have to stand in them was during the standing bits at Mass.

These days I'm in a whole other ballpark. I walk to work as often as possible (ie. the humidity factor is below frizz levels) and while there, spend much of the day on my feet, on cement floors. By the end of the day, my feet and legs are aching. I've never understood why women were so big on having their feet massaged, but let me tell you, I'd give anything for a foot rub some nights.

As my aching feet are also extremely ticklish, I've concluded my best bet is to find a pair of really good shoes - shoes that are walkable and standable,and yet still look at least a little cute. I am not going to spend my days in Crocs or 'Stocks.

Telling my sister of my quest we recently toured the local mall.  With two of the smallest Peanuts with us.  Imagine, if you will, shopping for shoes with a 4 year old and a 5 year old.  Boys. In small, crowded, decidedly not boy-friendly shops. After enjoying the experience in the first three stores (oh, why do I do this to myself?) by the time we got to the fourth, I tried on an uninspiring, not very comfortable pair and decided they 'would do'.  I knew, even then, it was the wrong decision.

For two weeks now, I have been trying to find time in my schedule to head up to the next nearest town - 45 minutes down the road - to return The Shoes That Were a Bad Idea.  I went once, to discover the store was closed.  I will go again today after work. I no longer expect to find the perfect pair of cute yet functional shoes. Maybe I should invest in a foot massager.

01 July 2012

It's Canada eh

Happy 145, Canada.