Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I have to park where?

I just had one of the happiest inconveniences ever:

I couldn't find a parking spot at the library!

I couldn't believe it! I pulled into the lot behind the library and there wasn't a spot to be had! I decided to continue down the alley to the next street to find a spot to park. I pulled into a spot on the street and walked down the alley with other folks who were doing the same thing I was! I was thrilled! The library lot was FULL! Now, granted, the library lot probably only holds maybe 25-30 cars, but I'm still just grinning ear to ear at the thought of it.

Maybe I should back up a little bit. My love of books and libraries goes back to some of my earliest memories. I remember going to the Washburn library all the time when I was little. I'm sure I wore my library card out. I was definitely a bookish kid - I spent many nights under my blankets with a flashlight, reading well past my bedtime hoping my folks wouldn't notice. (Of course they noticed, however, 9 times out of 10 they let me keep reading.) Anyhow, I had gotten out of the habit of going to the library when I was in high school. This continued through college and law school. I read very little for fun during those years. I already had so much to read for school that I couldn't bring myself to spend even more time reading once my assignments were done. I did start working at Barnes & Noble at age 18, which has continued on and off for the subsequent 12 years, which allowed me to at least be around books, even though I didn't have much time to read any of them. [Kind of like that Twilight Zone episode where the guy didn't have time to read and then the end of the world comes and he all the time he wants and then his glasses break so he can't see. Well, maybe it's not quite like that, but it made me think of it. The Twilight Zone - what a creepy show that was. I digress.]

So when I moved back in with Grandpa a couple of weeks ago I made the conscious decision to go get a new library card so I can read for fun again. I hadn't had a card since . . . well . . . probably Jr. High. I can't even remember when I had used it last and that card is long gone. And I figured that it was time to meet and greet the new East Lake library.

The East Lake library just re-opened after major renovations. The library has been at that location on Lake Street for as long as I remember. Before it's makeover it wasn't exactly the prettiest library you've ever seen. Picture a stack of dull and drab cinder blocks -- not the classic red brick of many other older Minneapolis libraries. The library needed an overhaul - it sorely needed a cosmetic and technological upgrade. The library was built in the mid to late 1970s I think, and it hadn't changed much since. About a year ago they closed the library and started the renovations. It re-opened to the public a couple of months ago. In it's current form it is in a word, fantastic.

It's light, it's airy, there are huge windows with lots of natural light. There are computers aplenty. There is a fun kids section, there is a public meeting room. There is easy check-out, helpful librarians, community and library events - it's everything that it should be. And obviously I'm not the only one who has noticed because I HAD TO PARK A BLOCK AWAY!! You always hear about declining use of libraries and, in turn, decreases in funding for libraries. It just made my heart smile to know that here, in the middle of this wonderfully diverse, inner-city neighborhood there was such overwhelming demand for the library and what it has to offer.

I couldn't find a parking spot at the library. It's the kind of thing that just makes you think that for one shining moment, the world is alright.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The simple joy of kitchen appliances

I was trying to think of what I wanted to post today, but was coming up empty. I decided that I'd go to my MySpace blog and post one of my entries from my time in Oklahoma. (Yes, I know that's cheating.) To set the stage, at this point I had been in Oklahoma for about three weeks.

Originally posted April 26, 2007
Original Title: Domesticity, thy name is Katherine

I'm sitting here waiting for Lowe's to deliver a new range/oven and I'm a little embarassed about how excited I am about it. Who knew that new appliances could bring so much happiness? Zac currently has an old, 1970s double-oven in his kitchen. I'm sure it was originial with the house, which was built sometime in that decade. For those that aren't familiar with a double-oven, it has a smaller oven on top and a larger standard-sized oven on the bottom and it's all one large piece. I traditionally really like double-ovens because I can bake a pan of brownies or bars in the smaller, upper oven without the wasting space or energy heating the much larger bottom oven. Zac's double-oven, however, has caused me nothing but grief since I first starting visiting.

I've had a seriously disfunctional relationship with it going back to the first pan of brownies that I burned in it. I keep thinking that it's going to change, that it will work like I want it to, but NO. It continues to piss me off and make me want to pull my hair out in fits of rage. So it's not exactly breakin' my heart to see the thing being replaced. The main problem appears to be something with the thermostat in the ovens. The first time I tried to bake brownies, I turned the knob to 350 (or whatever the instructions said) and let it preheat. I tossed the brownies in and set the timer for 20 minutes because the instructions said 25-30 minutes. I figured this would be the safest route. So when the buzzer went off I walked back into the kitchen (I had been outside) and all of a sudden I thought, "What's that smell? Oh, $hit! The brownies are burning!" I pull open the oven and look at the thermometer that Zac has in the oven. Though I had set the knob to 350, the oven read almost 425!!

So I'm sitting there with a pan of burnt brownies, feeling vaguely like I was starring in an episode of I Love Lucy. I was half tempted to whine, "Oh, Ricky!" Ever since then I've made a conscious effort to monitor the thermometer when I'm trying to bake instead of relying on the knobs. But even that has proved to be pointless. I'll get the temp to 325 or so and then turn the knob an eency weency bit up to try and get it up to 350 and 10 minutes later it's 450!!! For crying out loud! It's gotten worse the more I've used the oven since I've been here the last three weeks. One of the things that I've been doing to kill time during the day (when I'm taking a break from the job hunt) is bake. Banana bread/muffins, brownies, Mississippi Mud Cake, pie, etc. I actually really like baking. And Zac seems to like having goodies around the house. So when I was complaining about the oven this last time around, Zac said we should go get a new oven. I have to say, I have a little bit of guilt, thinking that somehow I manipulated him into doing this, but at the same time that guy is so stubborn and bull-headed that I don't think I could convince him to do anything he didn't want to. Besides, he said, he had been thinking of getting a new one for awhile.

He doesn't particularly like the exposed electric coil style of range and a newer stove might make the house more marketable. So we went to Lowe's and got a new oven/range this past weekend. They should be here within the hour to deliver it. I'm stoked! I'm debating what I should bake first. It's a convection oven so I'm thrilled at the thought at more even baking and faster to boot. I'm also kind of excited about the range surface. I grew up with gas and while I think I still like that better, this range is one of those that has a flat cooking surface and there's no place for the food to fall down inside the coils. It should be a breeze to clean up. OMG, I sound like an ad for Frigidaire!! Maybe I should go out and buy one of those Donna Reed dresses, find an apron and make a pot roast!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A new (blog hosting) day has dawned

I blame Heidi. This is all her fault.

She started a blog and suddenly I found myself missing writing in my journal. (I journal on and off, with an acutal pen in an actual book. Ink on paper?!? Shocking, I know!) I never wrote as regularly as I would have liked, but there have been enough entries over the years to have some sort of documentation of my life. Plenty of them are overly-dramatic. I have a flair for the overly-dramatic . . .

Anyhow, Heidi got a blog, and soon I followed suit. Up until now my entries have been confined to the universe of MySpace, making them off limits to some. Heidi was on blogspot and so was my best friend from high school, Heather, so guess what I did? I hopped on the blogspot train. I'm an internet leming apparently.

So what do I have to offer the blogging world? Not much. I don't profess to be the funniest, wittiest, most insightful writer ever. I don't even claim to be interesting. I just like to write. And frankly, I can type faster than I can write in a book. And there's less hand cramping. You don't have to stop periodically and shake the death-grip out of your hand. Oh! And that obnoxious callous that forms on your finger when you write too much. I hate that! It's so unattractive on a hand. The one I had has all but disappeared now that I'm out of school and not taking copius amounts of notes on a daily basis. Ugh. You should have seen it when I was in school. Yuck-o-lah.

So before I start anything of substance (hah!) I need to give a quick blogspot promotion to my girls who have come before me:

My girl, Heidi:


My girl, Heather:


I read them. I love them. You should too.

So, welcome to my world. I hope you find it worth your attention.