Local Libraries, Books and the Guerrilla Librarian

The QuipperyIn ‘The Alphabet and Good Intentions’ I explained the rather unique book filing system that our local librarians use. On occasion, this drives me to distraction – so last week I kind of refiled all the John Grisham’s. Now his books are in two locations instead of four.

I suppose I could ask to be a volunteer at this library, but I’ve met a few of the other volunteers, and they are not a very flexible group of women, (either in the way they run the library, or in their ability to reach to the top and bottom shelves – they are quite a bit older than me…).  I have decided I am much more suited to being a guerrilla librarian.

I found other references to just this kind of activity: “…Maxwell had also found a vocation of sorts, unpaid but satisfying, even addicting. He moved library books.” Though the author of this story isn’t stated, the blog post with the rest of the story is here, and it is quite fun:  Swiss Army Librarian.

Have you ever been a Guerrilla Librarian?


Time and My Clock Walls – So Late So Soon

The QuipperyHow time has changed!  When I was young, a clock had hands and you learned how to ‘tell time’. We had only a few clocks in our house. One was in the kitchen, and I suppose there was an alarm clock for my parental units (but I don’t remember ever hearing it ring.) I didn’t really pay attention to what time is was. Grown-ups did that for me. I just did what they told me to do when they told me to do it – mostly. If no one was telling me where to be or what to do, I let the sun and a rumble in my stomach guide me.

Today we are surrounded by clocks. They reside in every conceivable appliance. This has a cost though – a microwave oven can consume more electricity powering its digital clock than it does heating food! Of course, most wall clocks are battery powered – but  how much do you spend on batteries in a year?

How many clocks do you have to reset when Daylight Saving’s Time rolls around? The Car Guy says we have more than 20 clocks at The Red House! I’ve been making it easier for him to find many of those clocks. I’ve gathered them up and put them onto “Clock Walls”. The only downside to this is that Segal’s Law comes into play – Margy with one clock thinks she knows what time it is. Margy with two clocks is not quite sure.

There are fast clocks, there are slow clocks, there is one clock that is broken and it is only right twice a day…

This wall of clocks is ‘Memories Time’ – one clock is a gift from a daughter, one that The Car Guy’s dad made, one from the Middle East, one we saved from the flood at the cabin, one from a good friend, and one that a craftsman made from a slab of wood.

This week, the WordPress Photo Challenge is Time.

Housework is Exercise – Get Dusting!

The 1998 poem “Dust If You Must” by Rose Milligan is going around the internet again. It starts with:

Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Of course, painting and writing and pondering are quite sedentary activities. Cleaning is almost as good as going to the gym! An hour of sitting only burns 34 calories. An hour of vacuuming burns 170 calories. An hour of food preparation and cooking uses only 68 calories. An hour of dusting and tidying burns 136 calories!

It’s all in the attitude — housework is exercise. Slim your way to a clean home, clean your way to a slim body!
-Terri Guillemets –

When I first got a macro lens and was discovering all sorts of interesting ‘little’ things, I got a closer look at the dust on a table top.

Where did that dust come from, and what might it be made of? According to several sites I went to, dust comes in from the outdoors as particles on our shoes, or blown in by air movement. It can include dirt, pollen, mold spores, auto exhaust, fertilizer chemicals and residue from burning fossil fuels, to name just a few things. Clouds of dust can travel immense distances – so microbes, bacteria and virus like particles can arrive at your house without having to carry a passport from the foreign country that dispatched them.

Indoor sources of dust can include dried food particles (and the insects that feed on this), decaying particles of carpet, bedding and furniture, skin flakes (and the dust mites that feed on them), and dander off pets. Dust also includes chemicals that are used for a multitude of things, including flame retardants in furniture and pillows.

Dust enters our bodies either by breathing it in, or ingesting it. For people with NO significant allergies or asthma, normal dust may not pose a risk. Dust that can be dangerous is usually associated with particular products and/or occupations (asbestos, coal, silica, cement, grain, woodworking, etc.)

An individual’s tolerance for dust in their home is often simply a matter of personal preference. I don’t have an aversion to dusting and cleaning, so here at The Red House my Swiffer Duster and I breeze through a single room in about 2 minutes. I think the house smells better when I am done, and I like the look of a clean surface.

I am disappointed by those non-cleaning folks who choose to denigrate both the task of cleaning and the people who do that work. Adjectives like ‘clean freak’ and ‘uptight’ are used to describe people with clean homes, while ‘easygoing’, ‘laid back’ and ‘dust bunny’ are used for people at the other end of the spectrum.

The QuipperyOne blogger justified their dirty home by saying, “A dirty house says that the family that lives in it has more important things to do than clean!”

Really? What is more important than teaching the members of a family that the very essence of living is the cycle of doing things, then cleaning things. We paint a picture, then we clean our brushes. We bake a cake, then wash the dishes. We plant a seed, then clean our tools. We exercise, then wash our clothes. Why wouldn’t the family also vacuum the floors after they track in dirt?

Outside our homes, how would we feel without The Cleaners? Would we feel good about our workplaces if they were never cleaned? Would we check into a hotel room that still had dirty sheets and a disgusting bathroom? Would we enjoy our library or our community park if no one ever picked up the trash?

Your turn – Does the cleanliness of your home affect the way you feel?

Big Plans for a New Year – More Renos!

In ancient times, a summary of our past year might have been reported thus:

And so it was that the quiet husband and his overly talkative wife were together in a compact carriage for three full days on a trip that would transport them from the far southern state of the USA to the Canadian province of their birth. On the first morning, the man was finally able to break into the conversation, and he said, “We have been fortunate this year to have been blessed by Ye Olde Insurance Company who partially compensated us for our losses in last years flood. I think we should spend that windfall on another water related issue that I have long thought we should address—leaking eavestroughs at the Red House.”

Christmas 2014And his wife said, “Perhaps we could also get the fascia boards and soffits fixed too.” And  with that said, she spent many hours thinking out loud about colours and materials.

And so they drove on and eventually the quiet man broke in again. “I believe I have concluded an agreement with men more skilled than me to put up my ‘more than modestly sized metal shed’”. And his wife replied, “Do we have enough loonies to pay the contractor?” And the  man replied, “Yes, we do. We will use the insurance payout from the ‘one in a hundred year flood’ that our ark did not survive.” And the wife thought, “Perhaps I wasn’t aware of how large that insurance payout was…”

On the third day of the journey, the man said to his wife, “This summer I will paint the window trim, and we will both paint the house.” And the wife said nothing, for she was not enthusiastic about painting.

And it came to pass that when the man and his wife at last reached home, they discovered that a swarm of ungulates had descended on the pastures closest to their house and eaten everything that was green and everything that might have been green if it had been May or June instead of April.

And the woman said unto her husband, “I think the windfall should be spent on fixing the fence so that the hungry hoards don’t spoil my pasture ever again.”

Soon the man had secured a contractor to replace the eavestrough. And the wife asked the contractor about the fascia boards and soffits and the contractor said, “Your wish is my command… you should probably replace the shingles on the roof too.”

On the second week back in the land of snow, the husband realized how many lifetimes it would take him to paint the window trim and the house, and so he summoned a painter. By and by, the roofer, the shed contractor, the fencer and the painter were hard at work and, since no renovation is ever as it seems, an asphalt crew was needed too.

For 81 days tradesmen came and went and music of dubious merit rang from all around, as earnest young men with boom boxes laboured to make the home like new again.

At long last, all but a few items were complete, and the man and his wife were pleased with the transformation. And the wife smiled as her husband pored over the books of records to figure out how to pay for having spent the windfall many times over.


In the land of eternal sunshine and scorpions and snakes, another house was being renewed. The same man and wife entrusted the initially simple job to a talented young contractor. It came to pass that this house also had some hidden deficiencies….

The project proceeded in as timely a manner as possible when 10 change orders occur. After 8 months of labor by earnest tradesman whose music was also of dubious merit, the job was nearly complete. And the husband again pored over those books of records and cursed the day he had taken on the task of ‘keeper of the household budget.’

The End

PS: I started drawing something other than stickmen too, as you can see from my Christmas Card above.

How was your year? Got your Christmas cards in the mail yet?

How to Make a Simple Nutella Dessert

There are many Nutella Desserts, but none is simpler than this!

Ingredients: 1 jar Nutella hazelnut spread

Equipment: 2 extraction tools – a spoon and a rubber spatula


1. Open the lid of the jar.

2. Use your spoon (size optional) to scoop out the Nutella.

3. Put the spoonful of product directly into your mouth. Enjoy! Repeat until your conscience tells you to quit, or you don’t feel so good any more.

4. Switch to the rubber spatula when the jar is nearly empty.

Nutrition: Nutella has NO artificial colors or preservatives and is a source of Fiber, Calcium and Iron. It does, however contain oodles of sugar and saturated fat.

Conclusion: I really like Nutella, but because foods like this are going to migrate directly to my hips, I agree with the following observation:

Nuts just take up space where chocolate ought to be.
– Author Unknown –

Do you stock Nutella in your pantry? What is your favourite way of eating it?

WestJet Christmas Miracle – Real-time Giving (Video)

Part of a WestJet flight attendant’s arrival announcement: “We’d like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you’ll think of WestJet Airways.”

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus – but he wears a blue suit, not a red one! Watch how Santa and his WestJet Elves put the magic back into Christmas:

WestJet Airlines was founded in 1996 by a team of Calgary entrepreneurs as a western Canadian regional carrier with three aircraft flying to five cities. Today, WestJet is Canada’s leading high-value, low-fare airline offering scheduled service to more than 80 destinations in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. They lead in the ‘fun factor’ category too!

Beery Best of Canada – Molson Canadian Beer Fridge (Video)

Happy Canada Day to Canadians everywhere!

Savage Chickens beer

The website ‘Beer Canada’ mentions these statistics about beer:

Canada has many competitive advantages in making world class beers: proximity to malt barley, large fresh water supply, educated workforce and more than 10 million local beer drinkers.


Per capita consumption of Canadian and imported beer was 63.34 litres per person based on total population. At the provincial level, consumption is highest in Newfoundland at 77.32 litres per person. Beer is Canada’s most popular adult beverage and the Canadian beer industry continues to hold an impressive environmental record. On average 99% of beer bottles were returned in 2015.

Alberta Flooding – Cabin For Sale


  • one cabin in Hidden Valley. Completely renovated in 2005. Last seen on Antelope Street. Must be moved as lease will not be renewed.
  • Exterior amenities include one trampoline, numerous pieces of lawn furniture, fire pit, and several garden sheds – maybe.
  • Also possibly one hot tub, assuming the electrical cord that kept it tethered in the yard during the last flood does the same job this time.
  • Located off site are two golf carts, one gasoline and one electric. Last seen with several hundred or so similar vehicles near the Club House. Easy to identify – one is red and one is blue.
439-Deck cabin back
Back of our cabin after the flood

Alberta Flooding – Four Hours to Evacuate at the Cabin

June 20, 2013: The mighty Bow River is flooding. The Cabin and Golf Resort at Hidden Valley on the Siksika Reserve  is in danger of being inundated.

We left the cabin at Hidden Valley at about 11:30 PM (June 20) and were safely home several hours later. We had loaded our little travel trailer with as much stuff from the cabin as we had time to pack in the 4 or so hours we had to evacuate. The rest of the stuff – we either moved  to the loft, or simply put up onto the top of the cabinets in the kitchen.

No time to think much about what to haul away and what to leave. No time to take any last pictures. No time to say good-bye to anyone. Just get loaded up and out of there so that we didn’t block the route of all the other trucks and trailers that were trying to load and get out. The evacuation siren was going continuously. Unsettling.

We saw many people with big utility trailers loading up furniture and appliances. For them, these places were not just a summer cabin, they were where they lived all summer. For  a few, including some of the members of the Siksika Nation, it was their full time home. For the Siksika Nation, it was a source of revenue and employment.

The Car Guy’s sister and her husband hauled as much stuff as they could onto high ground on the other side of the river. In the morning we will head out to where they are and help them move their travel trailer, cargo trailer and motorcycles – someplace. The cabin was to be their home for six months of the year – they just recently sold their home in Calgary.

The lady we had bought the cabin from came over and asked if she could see the cabin for one last time. They had rebuilt the cabin after the flood in 2005, and she was obviously very upset that it was going to flood one last time. “This sunroom,” she said. “I had this built with the inheritance I got when a family member died. Did you enjoy using it?”

I replied, yes, very much – I’ll miss it a lot. (She and her husband had driven down from Edmonton to help the people next door evacuate.)

We didn’t even have time to sandbag as we did in 2011. There didn’t seem to be any point. The river is expected to be that much higher than previously. (See The Angry River in 2011.)

On the way home last night, we stopped in Strathmore for gas and to catch our breath. I asked The Car Guy if he had remembered to pack The Weather Stone. I had put it on the picnic table. He said yes,  he had packed it. Odd what things are the most important when you believe you are going to lose everything that is left behind.

This will be the end of the Hidden Valley Resort, I expect. This was to be our last summer there, then we would pack up what we could and move out.  I guess the River will move us out instead.

Of course, we are just 300 of the families that are affected. There are many more people here in Siksika Nation who have also had to evacuate, and of course there are all the other families upstream who have already had their homes flooded or destroyed.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada leaves us with this one last thought: “It’s important to take preventative action against flooding because damage caused by overland flooding is not covered by home insurance policies anywhere in Canada.”  (Short of not living within miles of a stream or river, there isn’t much preventative action you can take that stops water from coming in where you don’t want it – or so it seems to me.)

June 21, morning: We drove back out to the cabin and were told we had about 20 minutes to get anything else we wanted. The gas company came around and turned off all the gas. We quickly threw our last treasures into the back of the truck and left. The bridge was packed with members of the Siksika Nation who had come to watch the raging waters.

We drove to the top of the hill where many of the cabin owners and members of the Siksika Nation had assembled in the parking lot of the beautiful Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park.  The Park’s lookout platform gave us an unobstructed view of the Bow River and Hidden Valley. We stood and talked for several hours as we watched the river rise. The immense power of water – it was terrifying and mesmerizing. We reluctantly headed for home before the water spilled over the berm.

June 21, 7:45 PM: The berm has been breached (near the west end, I believe). The water has flowed over the berm in many other places including the gate by the bridge. The only remaining question is, what will be the high water mark this time?

I think most cabin owners can show you a high water mark on a window or a wall of their cabin. It is like a badge of honour. “The water came up to here in 1995, and here in 2005. But we rebuilt.” The high water mark of 2013. There will be one on each and every cabin that survives, but there will not likely be a third round of rebuilding.

June 21, 9:30 PM: The Car Guy’s sister, still camped up on the hill overlooking Hidden Valley writes: ” The river, the lake, the first hole and the beach have merged. But the red truck on the 1st fairway looks like it is still dry! And a small river is flowing from back water/mechanical gate into the Bow. We are the river now! If you are coming tomorrow to view from the Historical Park, bring DEET! Lots of it!”