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Monthly Archives: December 2011

So long Elevensies

I planned to make Thursdays my day to update and then I neglected doing that this week.

I’ll try and get a post up before the weekend is out but it’s highly unlikely as grocery shopping, bathroom demolition, and being social for the New Year are in our future.

So instead, I’ll just leave 2011 with a few quick words of gratitude: Thank you for reading this year fall!

Many thanks to Katie-bread for suggesting I start writing about the Jade House in the first place. It is entirely possible that I have rediscovered my love of writing because of this project.

Thanks to everyone for commenting (Dad, Monica, Laura and the new people of the Internet). It’s nice to know that I’m not just sitting here and talking to myself as though I were still telling stories in the backyard.

My parting shot for 2011 is just to share a lovely Internet video asking about your New Year’s Eve plans.

That is all.


Shoveling Our Way to a White Christmas

It looks like we’ll have a white Christmas in our part of Colorado this year. Good old Mother Nature dropped a good foot of snow on us last night and it’s not likely to melt much by this weekend.

Growing up in Virginia, the concept of a white Christmas was really only something Bing Crosby sang about. I guess I dreamed about it too, it just didn’t ever do me much good to ask Santa Claus for snow. I remember one year when we got flurries, and another when we had enough to make a tiny snowman using pretty much all the snow in the backyard. My folks let me pack it into a Tupperware and put it in the freezer so that we’d have snow for the following year. I think I was in college before they found it and released it back into the wild.

My big winter memories come from shoveling snow. Or rather, watching my dad shovel snow. Apparently, when I was still in diapers, my sister, our poodle and I used to sit on the couch and just stare out at my dad shoveling. Later, I’d bundle up and sit on my sled in the front yard while Dad in his green Army jacket would soldier away at our fabulously long sidewalk. We lived on the corner and as if that weren’t enough shoveling, he’d also clear the gutter in front of our house and then go over and shovel our elderly neighbor’s walk as well.

Virginia snow usually happens in January or February and then it’s this slushy awful, ice on the bottom kind of snow.

Colorado on the other hand takes its snow seriously. Here, the snow tends toward the light and powdery variety even if you only live on the plains like we do. Also, it can start as early as October.

Not everyone in this state skis or snowboards, a fact to which my Wagner family are a testament. However, there are other things you can do in the snow. Like shoveling and meeting your neighbors for the first time.

The Jade House is on the corner and the sidewalk along the side of the house just seems to stretch on and on when the snow comes up to your knees. However, today I met our neighbor who lives behind us. We met her briefly, when we first came to look at the house and now after talking to her I learned that we would have met her sooner had we done more in the yard this fall.

Our neighborhood is an older one, as far as the suburbs go at least, and she had some fine memories about winter in our neighborhood. Such as the fact that a helicopter landed in the street the day her youngest daughter was born because of the snow that year and the fact that they couldn’t get to the hospital any other way.

In closing, here’s a shot of the cats inspecting our petite Christmas tree. Have a happy and warm holiday weekend!


The Girl With the Cardboard Sign or Why I’m Thankful

Tonight, on my way home from putting in 9 hours at the garage, I swung by Kroger to pick up a few groceries. Somehow we managed to not move our bottle of soy sauce from the old place. Soy sauce is a funny thing – it lingers as little packets in the fridge and becomes a part of your daily awareness long after the last time you had Chinese takeout.

We needed some for the casserole I was making for dinner tonight but since I wasn’t really in a big rush, I called up my dad and chatted with him for a bit while sitting in the parking lot. We talked politics, we talked cooking, we talked about the goofy things Sonic and Leo were up to. And while we talked I watched this girl standing at the entrance to the shopping center parking lot with a cardboard sign. She looked to be about my age with a burgundy jacket and a small backpack. Wooly hat. Jeans. Homeless.

Every single person leaving the lot drove past her. Like a soy sauce packet, no one seemed to pay any attention to the girl with the sign. Normally, I’m that person. Normally, I drive past folks with their signs, maybe glancing to see what they have scrawled on the cardboard in dark letters.

Tonight though, I didn’t drive by. Instead I walked up to her and asked her if I could get her something hot for dinner from the deli. At first I don’t think she believed me. She hedged and when I mentioned I was going to get some macaroni for myself she said ravioli would be good. If they had soup though, she’d really like some chili.

So I bought her dinner. A bowl of Stampede Steak Chili, a 32 oz. jug of orange juice and a chocolate peppermint bark snowman because no one wants chili breath all night long.

She thanked me and said God bless.

I wanted to tell her not to worry about it. That I was going home to make dinner for my husband in our messy kitchen. That I just finished talking to my dad on the phone and that both my parents love me and have always lifted me up. That I have a job that pays quite well given my level of experience.

Instead, I wished her a good night and told her I hoped she’d stay warm.

While leaving Kroger and cradling the chili I walked past the Salvation Army guy with his bucket. The sign above it said: “Doing the Most Good.” I didn’t leave any change in the bucket though. They’ve been out there every day since Thanksgiving and I question how much good loose change can do when there are more active ways of effecting change.

No, buying the girl with the sign dinner won’t change her life. But it could do the most good in her life for just today. And I’m okay with that.


Living the Library Loca: Reflections on Leaving a Job

On Sunday I will quit my first job where I’m actually sad to leave.

I’m not going anywhere really. Just quitting because it’s time. And also because working full-time at the garage, plus Sundays at the library, add to that the Jade House and I’m just slowly wearing myself down. I’ve never really allowed myself the luxury to not be completely overloaded. This will be different.

Libraries (and in effect, librarians) have always held a warm fuzzy place in my heart. From the narrow, short shelves from my childhood memories of Central, to working as a volunteer at Bull Run, I have long considered librarians as the mighty guardians of the written word.

When I embarked on my quarter-life crisis I vaguely considered pursuing my master’s degree in library science in order to join this esteemed crowd. I nixed that idea though when I learned that my-kind-of-sort-of-not-really-little brother Ben said, “I don’t see Manda as a librarian.”

And in the way that only little brothers can be right, he was.

I started work at our community/campus library during my first fall semester at community college and suddenly I had a much better understanding of what it means to be a librarian. Never mind the fact that we don’t sell anything. Working at a library is a customer service job just like everything else. It’s an exchange of goods and services. Shiny, awesome, for FREE books all the time goods. But still, goods and services.

You still have people who will never be happy with how you do your job. And even when people are faced with fines that they should have known would eventually catch up to them, folks still manage to complain about the price.

I’ve enjoyed my time working there, but I honestly don’t have the long-term temperament to be a librarian. I forget to use my inside voice. I have fines just like everyone else. I babble incoherently at patrons when I get excited about something they’re checking out. All in all, I’m a very flawed librarian/clerk-person.

Before the lights go on

I do, however, have some all-time favorite moments:

  • Like helping Deaf patrons and at least being able to sign, “You’re welcome.”
  • Like finding a first-edition copy of Theodore Roosevelt’s “African Game Trails” in our stacks (and then being completely enraged when it goes missing).
  • Like being in the library before in opens.

Yep. It’s the simple things.

That’s why when I received this link to fabulous library tribute art, I geeked out a little bit. It seems Scottish library patrons also share my joy at the institution of free knowledge. Really that’s the reason behind this post, to share that link. And I guess to start putting words to what it means to close this chapter of my life.