Monday, December 27, 2010

Rice to Iraq and A Response from the Radical Middle

More from the Wayback Machine:

January 30, 2003

Today I got the following spam email:


RICE TO IRAQ

There is a grassroots campaign underway to protest war in Iraq in a simple, but potentially powerful way.

Place 1/2 cup uncooked rice in a small plastic bag (a snack-size bag or sandwich bag works fine). Squeeze out excess air and seal the bag. Wrap it in a piece of paper on which you have written:

"If your enemies are hungry, feed them. Romans 12:20. Please send this rice to the people of Iraq; do not attack them."

Place the paper and bag of rice in an envelope (either a letter-sized or padded mailing envelope--both are the same cost to mail) and address them to:

President George Bush
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500


Attach $1.06 in postage. (Three 37-cent stamps equal $1.11.)

Drop this in the mail TODAY. It is important to act NOW so that President Bush gets the letters ASAP.

In order for this protest to be effective, there must be hundreds of thousands of such rice deliveries to the White House. We can do this if you each forward this message to your friends and family.

There is a positive history of this protest! In the 1950s, Fellowship of Reconciliation began a similar protest, which is credited with influencing President Eisenhower against attacking China. Read on:

"In the mid-1950s, the pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation, learning of famine in the Chinese mainland, launched a 'Feed Thine Enemy' campaign. Members and friends mailed thousands of little bags of rice to the White House with a tag quoting the Bible, "If thine enemy hunger, feed him." As far as anyone knew for more than ten years, the campaign was an abject failure. The President did not acknowledge receipt of the bags publicly; certainly, no rice was ever sent to China.

"What nonviolent activists only learned a decade later was that the campaign played a significant, perhaps even determining role in preventing nuclear war. Twice while the campaign was on, President Eisenhower met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to consider U.S. options in the conflict with China over two islands, Quemoy and Matsu. The generals twice recommended the use of nuclear weapons.

President Eisenhower each time turned to his aide and asked how many little bags of rice had come in. When told they numbered in the tens of thousands, Eisenhower told the generals that as long as so many Americans were expressing active interest in having the U.S. feed the Chinese, he certainly wasn't going to consider using nuclear weapons against them."

From: People Power: Applying Nonviolence Theory by David H. Albert, p.43, New Society, 19.




And my response because I just couldn't help myself, that's the way I am:

RICE TO IRAQ - A RESPONSE FROM THE RADICAL MIDDLE

While rice producers across the nation would applaud this idea, I can see three serious drawbacks with the plan.

1.) If you send rice in a regular mailing envelope, chances are that it will not reach Washington, D.C. Somewhere along the way automated mail handling equipment will chew that sucker up into shreds, dropping rice grains into the moving parts of the machine causing it to seize up and halt. If this happens in post offices across the U.S., it could be construed as a terrorist attack on one of the nation's vital communications pipelines. The shredded rice will of course leave a white, powdery residue on the machine. Anthrax abatement teams will be dispatched to clean it all up costing the Postal Service millions of dollars thus causing the price of stamps to increase.

2.) Of the padded envelopes that actually do reach the president, most if not all will have a white, powdery residue in the bottom of the baggie due to the disintegration of a few of the grains of rice. The FBI, CIA, Secret Service, and the Director of Homeland Security will conduct a raid on your house for sending anthrax to the president. They will spirit you off in the middle of the night to some super-secret military prison and hold you for six months while inefficient government labs test thousands of little rice baggies with white, powdery residue. While your terrified children wonder where their mommies and daddies are, the government will investigate every aspect of your life from your dog's vaccination records to your granny's knickers to your 1954 income tax return.

3.) Iraqis do not eat rice. It's against their religion.

If you really wish to protest a war with Iraq, do not weenie out and merely send ten thousand baggies of foodstuffs to Washington....send ten thousand people. A protest march on Washington would get much more media attention and you would be far less likely to be arrested for your efforts. If your job or family obligations prevent you from taking a trip to Washington at this time, send me the $1.06 that you would have otherwise spent on postage. I'll be glad to go in your place once enough funds arrive. D.C. is beautiful in the spring when the cherry trees bloom. I'll go then.

Speck,
Americans for Safe Granny Knickers, Inc.
Lower Arkansas, USA

Monday, December 20, 2010

Bustin' Bricks Fer Jesus

More from the Wayback Machine, circa 2005:

I have been cackling about this all day. The hot cultural excitement here in Our Town this week is the big "Bustin' Bricks fer Jesus" show over at one of our largest mainstream Protestant churches. It has been going on every night this week and has been heavily advertised on the local television station.

From the ads it appears to be a cross between a Jim and Tammy Fay Baker Demon Castin' show and a Hulk Hogan/World Wrestling Federation gala. Hot, oily, muscled wrestlers clad only in a pair of tiny Speedos karate chop bricks, boards and slabs of ice....then do a little witnessin' fer Je-HE-sus. I break up in hysterics when the ads come on. "Yew might be a redneck if....the WWF rassles at yer church."

I happened to have the TV muted and a Moody Blues album playing when one of these ads came on tonight. I nearly wet my pants in laughter when, at the exact moment the ad came on, the song "Isn't Life Strange" started. It was the perfect soundtrack for the ad.

I live for the delicious irony of the absurd.




"The world is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel."
-- Horace Walpole (1717-1797), Letters

Monday, December 13, 2010

Great Obits - The One Who Needs Me Most

Deleva S., age 81, went home to be with the Lord on Friday. Beloved wife, mother of four, grandmother of six and great-grandmother of nine. Member of the Assembly of God Church, she was known for her strong Christian faith and gentle love for all. She always made the welfare of her children her number one priority.

When asked which child she loved the most, her reply would be, "the one who needs me most."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I Grow Old and Other Stuff

More from the Wayback Machine:

Oh, and by the way, that's a reference to Peabody's Improbably History, with Peabody the dog and his pet boy, Sherman, not the Internet archive thingy. The Internet archive thingy was named by a bunch of geeky cartoon-watching Baby Boomers who spent their formative years trying to produce an actual Wayback Machine.




Sent: Wednesday, December 18, 2002 5:36 AM
Subject: I Grow Old and Other Stuff

Dear Yahoos,

There are times that I get bits and pieces of stuff stuck in my brain that won't go away. They swirl around and around, never congealing yet never fading. Sometimes I've just gotta poop 'em out to get rid of them so I can start a new cerebral belly button lint collection. Tonight I am fully dilated. My brain is full. I gotta poop a little.

---------------------------------------------------

Yesterday two newly hired Patient Care Techs appeared in my department. Since my boss went Christmas shopping, I had to give them the "Welcome to the Department" speech and tour and fill out all the initial paperwork. They sat primly on the other side of my desk with their 19-year-old freshly scrubbed little faces and puppy dog eyes, answering my hundred questions with "Yes ma'am" and "No ma'am."

Somewhere around the third "Yes ma'am" it hit me that I was old enough to be their mother. I looked up at them and, looking in their eyes, realized that to them I must seem like an antique. In that instant I could almost hear my wrinkles forming. My brain keeps telling me I'm just 22.

This morning I fixed my hair as I got ready for work. I admired it in the mirror. It was looking pretty nice...no frizzies, curling under nicely, very shiny and healthy. Then I put on my glasses. There on my right temple was the biggest gray skunk stripe you ever saw. (sigh) I gotta get me some Miss Clairol.

I was reminded of a verse an old college professor quoted all the time:

I grow old...I grow old...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

(from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot)

Doc and I became friends about five years after I graduated. He had a scandalous reputation both at the university and in the community mainly because he bucked the administration and bedded most of their daughters. He was an independent thinker and had an off-the-wall opinion about everything. I loved that. He was a character.

After his third divorce he decided to adopt the bohemian lifestyle and set up housekeeping in a ratty old trailer on the banks of the river. His door was always open and something from his garden was always cooking on the stove. Any time day or night there would be an odd mixture of folks hanging around. They would range from his students to other professors, to the mayor or the chief of police. You never knew who you would encounter at Doc's. He would hold court from his piano bench, cigarette in his wildly waving hand, imparting the wisdom of the ages on his gathered audience in a beat poet, coffeehouse style. All that was missing was the beret.

In the summer we would wade out into the middle of the river and set up a card table and lawn chairs. We would play spades sitting in the waist-high water. People floating down the river on tubes and rafts would stop and chat for awhile then float away. After we were thoroughly waterlogged, we would go back up the hill and eat whatever was cooking on the stove. He cooked green beans all day until they wilted. Hubby always wants me to cook wilted green beans that way now.

For reasons I'll never fathom, he hooked up with one of the faculty's daughters and married her. She got him to clean up the ratty trailer and take a shower a little more often. They were an odd couple. They built a beautiful house on a bluff overlooking the lake. Just a few years after it was completed Doc died from cancer. I'll miss him.




Current day, current hour...my jeans are rolled up just past my ankles. Dammit!!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

NOT a Baby Person

More goodies from Wayback Machine:

Sent: Thursday, October 03, 2002 2:05 AM
Subject: The Daily Dribble 10-02-02

Dear Family,

I guess I'm the last holdout and have to tell about my life. I've been working far more than I want to, four to five days a week. I almost got overtime on my last paycheck. Yuck!

It's a big joke in the Nursery that I am NOT a baby person*. Everybody knows that I avoid babies at all costs and they tease me about it all the time.

Well today Beverly, one of the Nursery nurses, made me hold a baby because everybody else was busy. I nearly had a cow. She said "Here, hold this kid" and thrust him at me and almost let go. I started freaking out because I had no idea how to hold a baby and figured the kid would get dropped in the transfer process.

She pulled him back up just a little when she saw my panic and said "Calm down, it's OK. Take a deep breath..... Now, are you right-handed or left-handed? OK then, you need to hold him this way." She made sure I had a good grip on him before she let go. I think I would have been calmer if she had handed me a large poisonous lizard.

I don't think I was holding him in the most advantageous position but I was too scared to readjust. He seemed to be stuck out there on the end of my boobs. I know this is where a baby belongs, but it just didn't seem natural. I finally got the courage to ease him down below my boobs, but he disappeared from view. I pulled him back up on top but he was right under my nose. I realized then that babies smell funny.

I also noticed he had thick hair all over his forehead and looked like a werewolf. Why is it again that people think these creatures are cute???? I finally figured out that I could work him in *between* my boobs so he was sitting kinda upright. That seemed to be the best position for both of us and I relaxed a little bit.

It was about this time that the other Nursery nurses discovered me and stood and gawked as though I had grown three heads. I guess my ashen face and sweaty brow were quite a sight to behold. I probably had that "deer-in-the-headlights" look.

After the initial shock of seeing me holding a baby, they just stood there laughing and pointing, those turds. Nobody offered to take him from me. The little monster started making poopy, burpy, spitty noises and I yelled at Beverly to come get this kid.

After she took him I bolted out the back door. It was a bad day. I can deal with babies as long as they have four legs and fur. These nekkid hairless-ape babies are a whole 'nuther story.

Love,
Speck

---------------------------------
*Not a baby person.....
I was traumatized at the age of 13 when Nana told me I couldn't hold Billy Joe Jr. the Christchild (my nephew) because I would infect him with Teenage Plague or something. She told me I had to wear a surgical mask if I wanted to go into the same room with him. I figured holding babies just wasn't worth all that. I've never wanted to hold one since.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Brain Candy - Fire from Water

Yes, we know it sounds hard to believe, but a man in Erie, Pennsylvania, has apparently managed to set fire to a vial of salt water with a self-built radio frequency generator. When John Kanzius tried to desalinate seawater with a device he had created to (supposedly) treat cancer, he found he could keep the water burning like a candle as long as it was exposed to the proper frequencies.

Not surprisingly, many in the scientific community initially dismissed Kanzius’ claim as a hoax. However, when Rustum Roy - a professor of chemistry at Penn State University - took him up on the challenge and attempted to recreate the experiment, he was amazed to see that it actually worked. And, no, there were no tricks to it either (or electrodes, as many thought).

According to Roy, the salt water itself isn’t actually burning - what happens is that the radio frequency helps weaken the bonds holding together the water’s constituents, releasing the bound hydrogen which burns when exposed to the frequency’s energy field. At a temperature of around 3,000°F, the flame reflects a tremendous energy output, Roy explained.

Roy, who deems the discovery “the most remarkable in water science in 100 years,” will now take up further research with the Departments of Energy and Defense to investigate its potential applications as a source of alternative energy. “We will get our ideas together and check this out and see where it leads. The potential is huge,” he said.

Now we’re talking clean energy.

Source:
A blog that has been deleted as of 12-03-2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Speck's Bible Collection

I am not a Bible scholar by any stretch of the imagination. Whenever I have a question about some Bible quote I have to ask my Bible-toting Baptist sister to look it up in her concordance. I came across this old email cleaning out my files tonight. Truly amazing stuff.




Sent: Monday, December 09, 2002 11:05 PM
Subject: Speck's Bible Collection

NeNe wrote:
>I'm wondering if you have Bibles of all the denominations you mentioned in researching "Partridge in a Pear Tree" or whatever the name is.

Gnat straining is what I was researching.

Yes I have all those bibles and more.

1.) Methodist version, 1946, embossed with my name, presented to me when I was confirmed into the Methodist church, August 31, 1969.

2.) Church of England version #1, 1947, white with zipper closure and embossed with my name, presented to me by Mammaw at high school graduation, May 26, 1979.

3.) Missionary Baptist version, 1977, presented to me by the St. Jimmy Goad Missionary Baptist church at my baptism-by-dunking on Sunday, April 24, 1988.

If St. Peter is of the Baptist persuasion and at the Pearly Gates asks me if I was
"saved", I can tell him yes 'cuz it says so right there in my Bible. There is a written attestation by Bro. Billy Bob Meyers that I was "Saved Thursday night, April 21, 1988." I just noticed this was written on the first page when I was searching for the copyright date last night.

On a tangential note, "saved" is an interesting term to use in regards to a person. My first thought is that I have lots of newspaper articles that I've "saved" and stuck in various places. If I have been saved, I wonder where in the files God stuck me? Inquiring minds want to know.

4.) Church of England version #2, 1970, found in the bottom of a box of books purchased at an estate sale for $5 in 1999. The box had three old high school yearbooks in it, and some dude offered me $2 each for them. I got a box of books and $1. It was a good day.

5.) Catholic version, 1999, actually, the Catholic Serendipity Bible for Personal and Small Group Study, the only Catholic Bible sold by the Baptist Bookstore.

6.) The Infancy Gospels of James and Thomas by Ronald F. Hock, "The Scholars Bible", 1995, that got edited out of the big Bible somewhere along the way.

I seem to acquire a new bible every 10 years or so. Now, if I would just
*read* any of them.....

Love,
Your "Heathern" Daughter,
Speck

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Creatures of the Night

December 18, 2002

Last night I was out on the front porch around midnight. It was a warm, still night, rather unusual for December. It was the kind of night that makes me want to do something wild.

There is a huge oak tree in the neighbor's front yard and just beyond it an orange streetlight. It silhouettes the tree in a weird, permanently Halloween kind of way. I'm used to seeing bats flipperating under the tree. I enjoy watching their erratic flapping and I'm also happy knowing that they are gulping down twice their weight in mosquitoes. Bats are a Good Thing.

Last night out of the corner of my eye I saw something *big* swoop down and land in a tree just beyond the oak. It scared me to death, this big flying night creature. I knew it wasn't a bat, I caught a glimpse of individual flight feathers. What was so eerie was that it was deathly silent. Not a single sound. It didn't even rustle the crispy leaves still clinging to the tree branches.

I finally came to the conclusion that it must be an owl. I wouldn't think my neighborhood would be a very hospitable owl habitat; too much light and activity. I couldn't resist the silly urge to make a "Whoo-whoo-whoo" sound. Yeah, right. An owl is really gonna come to a human making a stupid whoo-whoo sound. But, truth is stranger than fiction and the owl flew over to a branch in the Halloween oak that was nearest to me, about 40 feet away.

I continued making a soft whoo-whoo sound and I could see him cock his head from side to side trying to zero in on the sound. After a minute or so he decided I wasn't worth his attention and took flight in total silence. He was magnificent. There is magic in the night and all those early to bed, early to rise people miss out on some good stuff.

I like being a creature of the night. There is a different flavor and rhythm to the night. Life seems to be distilled down to its essence; there is no extraneous fluff to have to deal with. Day dwellers, upon encountering one another, feel compelled to acknowledge the other's presence with a "Howya doin'" or some other pleasantry. Creatures of the night merely make eye contact, respect each other's privacy and go on about their night business. There is a community of sorts among creatures of the night, but an arm's length community, valuing solitude and silence. I like that. I think I would have made a good vampire.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tape Gun in the Bathroom

Hubby and I have been married almost 30 years. There are times when he asks questions of me he knows he probably shouldn't, but just can't help himself. Times, for instance, when I get quiet but he can see the wheels turning in my brain.

He knows I'm mentally chewing on something big and wants to know what that "big" involves. Namely, does it involve something he has done wrong or some project I want him to do? He's always on the alert for those kinda "bigs." Should he prepare himself for an ass-chewing or a trip to Home Depot? He wants to know.

More often than not my ponderings have nothing to do with him. I give him the long-married secret code reply that sets his mind at ease: "You don't really want to know." When we were younger he would press further, not satisfied with that answer so I would tell him what was on my mind. His eyes would glaze over and realize my original answer was succinctly accurate...he *really* didn't want to know.

The long-winded answer might include my ponderings on the metallurgy used in war-time coin minting, technologies of ancient Egypt, constructing woodworking jigs, and how all that relates back to wind turbines in west Texas. Yeah, you get the picture. Nobody wants to know that. But that's what I'm pondering at the time he asks.

Now that he is older and wiser, he takes the "You don't want to know" answer at face value. He also has learned I don't bother to ponder on ass chewings or fix-it requests. I just blurt those out the minute they pop in my head. But he still likes to check from time to time. Things may have changed when he wasn't lookin'.

The other day, he just couldn't help himself. He had to ask one of those questions.

He emerged from the bathroom with our tape gun in hand. It's a big honkin' tape gun; industrial handle, 400 yards of heavy-duty packing tape, and a Serious Business tape cutter that will take off a finger if you aren't careful. His voice has a quizzical timbre as he yells across the house to me....

"Honey, why is the tape gun in the bathroom????"

There is a long pause here on my part as I consider my answer. This is one of those "You don't really want to know" situations. It involves a long explanation about a Bad Hair Day which I imagine will lead to even more questions. None of those questions are worth asking or answering in the great scheme of things because the need for the tape gun in the bathroom has long passed and I just forgot to put it back in the drawer and they used tin in wartime pennies and wind-driven turbines in west Texas aren't yet fiscally practical because of start up costs versus the energy produced and the ancient Egyptians had some technology involving light bulbs with electric eels to light the dark insides of their tombs why can't Texans figure out that same technology and he does *not* want to know any of that.....

So there is a lengthy pause. I finally yell back:

"Sometimes ya just gotta tape stuff in there."

There is a long pause on his part as he considers my answer. While I didn't use the secret code words "You don't really want to know," he is quickly translating my response and decides that's what it means. He is also momentarily considering how a tape gun in the bathroom might have anything to do with the life cycle of cicadas, Aztec pottery shards, the manufacture of pink attic insulation, or something else he can't quite fathom.

He appreciates the fact I spared him from any of that explanation and groks that he is not in trouble nor is he required to break out the toolbox. Satisfied that all is right with the world and that he should let any sleeping dogs lie, he replies simply and quietly:

"I understand."

Smart man.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Traumas at the Library Check-out Desk

I got my hot button pressed today. Had to rant and rave, take a trip down memory lane, and investigate a few rabbit trails along the way. Get a cup of coffee and settle in, this is gonna take a while.

Karen Blados blogged that her first-grade son, "The Punk," was all excited because he had checked out a "chapter book" from the library. There was a substitute librarian on duty at the time who didn't know first-graders weren't allowed to get books from the yellow section.

Well bully for him! I hope he sneaks over to the yellow section every time he's in there. I hope he can manage to tote out stacks and stacks of chapter books that are supposedly too advanced for him. Because if a kid has a burning desire to read a chapter book, he shouldn't be limited to Fuzzy Bunny's Adventures in ten pages with more pictures than words.

Yep, this is a big ol' hot button for me...The Yellow Section Restriction. Brought back a particularly hateful memory which I've never forgotten or forgiven. Trailing on its heels was another library moment as a little kid that turned out OK, and another which happened just recently. Childhood traumas are not easily forgotten it seems.

Let's start this story at the beginning, shall we? Nana, my sister, is twelve years older. She was born a teacher and I was her star pupil and teaching guinea pig. She instilled in me a love of reading. She would bring me the good stuff, Newberry Award winners like Charlotte's Web and Dr. Doolittle, and a mystery series with five kids, The Happy Hollisters. (Yes, I remember this like it was yesterday, are you impressed Nana?) I sucked them up like a sponge. Thank you Nana!

My real passion for reading started somewhere around the third grade. That's when I became too nearsighted to see the world beyond the length of my arm. I could live out my childhood adventures in the pages of books. I read everything I could get my hands on. Our house was full of books and I was free to read anything I wanted. Mother probably didn't realize I was reading Valley of the Dolls at age eleven, but it kept me out of her hair and that was fine with her.

Nana and Pris (the middle sister) brought home their worn out high school Literature books the school was replacing. From those I got my first taste of Sherlock Holmes in The Adventure of the Speckled Band. I also got bits of Pygmalion, Cheaper by the Dozen, The Ransom of Red Chief, and other great classics. I read those Lit books cover to cover at least three times.

I also discovered a cache of the complete Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series in a dusty corner of the church basement. Every Wednesday after choir practice I'd get three and return them Sunday morning. Took me about a year to read through the whole collection.

On Saturday morning Mom did the grocery shopping. She didn't want to lug me through the grocery store so she dropped me at the library and picked me up when she finished. I had about 40 minutes to snatch up a week's worth of reading material, somewhere in the neighborhood of ten to twelve books. That would last me from Saturday to Wednesday until I got to choir practice.

Suffice it to say I was an avid reader and read well beyond my grade level. One of the first "adult" books I was allowed to buy was Shakespeare's Four Tragedies: Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Hamlet. (It's still in my bookcase to this day.) I was in elementary school at the time. I was looking for something a little meatier to read. I chose well. Shakespeare is a bit meaty for a grade-schooler. I remember Mom raising an eyebrow and asking if I rillyrilly wanted *that* book. I said yes. She shrugged her shoulders and paid for it which is very unlike my Mother now that I think about it. I guess she figured if I wanted to try to tackle Shakespeare it was worth the 60 cents.

So, that's my background on books and reading. Now we get to the nasty memory.

Third grade, class trip to the library. The school library is one small room. Low bookcases under the windows for Grades 1-3, tall cases on the opposite wall for Grades 4-6. Every person in the class gets to check out a book to take back to the classroom for the week. The books stay on a reading table and we can read any of them after we finish our work. I always finish early and snatch up a book. Had the whole pile read in a matter of days. By the time I reached third grade I had read most of the books in the Grade 1-3 section.

This particular library trip I'm searching in vain for fresh reading material. I realize I've either read everything at my level, or what I haven't read is below my level. I need to hurry and pick something because time is running out. I turn to the big stacks on the other side of the room. Ah ha! Big books, chapter books, books I won't finish in fifteen minutes. Fantastic! I wander over and gaze in wonderment at all the marvelous books in front of me, scanning the titles, trying to decide on just one.

Then the evil librarian catches me in The Forbidden Zone.

"Hey! You can't be over there! You have to get a book from this section!" she snarls, pointing at the low bookcases.

"But I've read all those books. They're all to simple." I reply.

"It doesn't matter. You can't have a book from over there. Pick one from over here...and hurry up about it."

So, frustrated, I walk to the low bookcases and grab whatever my hand lands on. What I really wanted to do was scream, "Look bitch, I'm slogging my way through a high school Lit book at home and you are forcing me to take Fuzzy Ducky's Bathtime? Are you crazy???" But I was only eight and didn't have adequate vocabulary at the time.

"This one. I'll take this one," handing it to her to check out for me.

"You didn't even look at it!" she says, accusing me of being a smart-ass with her glare.

"It doesn't matter. I won't read it anyway. It's too simple."

She checks it out to me, still glaring, and I'm almost in tears. I want more than anything to read, but I want a big book, one with chapters and no pictures, one that will entertain and enlighten for longer than 15 minutes. But that's forbidden just because I'm in third grade, not fourth grade.

I hated that woman from that day forward. She was the librarian, someone who is supposed to nurture and encourage a child's love for reading and books, not smash it flat with stoopid rules. I thought she should be fired. When I read her obit in the hometown paper I had a satisfied smirk for the rest of the day. Good riddance.

Fast forward a year or two. Saturday morning county library/grocery trip. I have collected my dozen or so books for the week and go to the checkout counter. I'm barely tall enough to see over the top. I set my stash on the counter along with my library card as I have done for weeks and weeks and weeks. The lady at the counter (new, not the librarian) peers over the counter at me and says, "Oh, little girl, you can't check out all these books. There's a three-book limit."

"But, but, but, I always check out this many."

"There's a limit, only three a day."

"But I'll finish three by this afternoon!" I say, my bottom lip quivering and tears welling in my eyes imagining a week with no books to read.

The new lady, who is actually very nice about it all, sees my panic and tries to explain again. I try to explain again to her.

"But, but, but, I get this many every week. I always get this many. Look at my card!"

By this time Miss Baker, the librarian, steps out from the office to see about the commotion. (Yes, at our quiet little county library this would be considered a commotion.) The nice lady explains to her, pointing at my mountain of books, that I'm over the limit.

Miss Baker is something like second cousin once removed to my father and is approaching a hunnert years old. She is the quintessential old-maid librarian who has devoted her entire life to books, the library, and her library patrons. She has checked me out every Saturday for most of my life and has never batted an eye at my carnivorous reading habit. That's why I was clueless about the three-book limit.

Miss Baker adjusts her bi-focals (complete with the little chain that clips on the earpieces and goes around her neck, draping across the shoulders of her ancient cardigan) and peers over the counter at me. Then she smiles a little smile. She turns to the nice lady and says, "It's OK, I know her. She can check out all she wants."

Tears of joy, tears of relief. I got my books but not without some much remembered trauma. I sniffled all the way home.

Fast forward lots and lots of decades to a year ago. I'm at the community college library checking out four art and drawing books.

Nice lady at the counter says, "I'm sorry, but there's a three-book limit."

Just for an instant I am that little girl at the county library again and I get an adrenalin rush of panic. My eyes moisten in an involuntary reaction. My lower lip runs out just a smidge. The library check-out trauma I had as a child has bubbled once again to the surface. Somebody with stoopid rules is trying to restrict my access to books. I know kindly old Miss Baker will not be here to rescue me this time.

But I relax when I realize I'm a big girl now. The three-book limit is not a problem. I probably won't finish three before the due date anyway. I can come back and get more books any time I want. I have a car and can drive myself. Life is good.

I think about Miss Baker as I hand over one to go back to the stacks. Kids need more librarians like her, somebody who understands that just because you are little it doesn't mean your brain is; somebody who understands that sometimes three books just ain't enough, and that they need to have more words than pictures.

Maybe The Punk found his Miss Baker today in the substitute librarian when she let him check out his chapter book from the yellow section. I hope so.