Monday, May 29, 2006

The Best Driving

is on small highways.

It is said that there are alot of antique places on Red Arrow Highway, a local route that roughly paralells I94. So, having some free time, and a desire to be aimless, we decided to drive Red Arrow today, looking for antique shops. Even though I was certain they'd be closed on Memorial Day. There weren't that many antiques places, and they were, indeed, all closed.

But look, this is what we got to do: drive through at least five small towns: Paw Paw, Lawrence, Hartford, Watervliet, and Coloma. I saw dilapidaed barns galore. I don't know why, but I love dilapidated barns. I found out all sorts of weird things: There are not one, but two flea markets outside of Paw Paw. Hartford is full of mexican resteraunts, there are about half a dozen little Chinese joints in Paw-Paw, about thirty little bars and pubs up and down red arrow highway (and at least that many churces), two local history museums, there's a drive-in theater all the way out over by Hartford, and a hippie-pants ice cream shop in Watervliet. I had blue moon ice cream at Mollie's turnaround. And I probably got all that mixed up and put everything in the wrong place.

Small highways are never as faceless as the Interstates. You see people, and funny little businesses, and the texture of places. Sometimes places on the little highways have so much texture they look like they're about to fall down.

There's stuff on backroads. I like looking at other people's stuff.

As we were passing one patchy little homestead on the side of the road, I said to Ruby: "That house is next to the definition of ramshackle in the dictionary." And after a pause, I said, "This is the part of the movie where the car breaks down and we get eaten by inbred, radioactive rednecks, isn't it?"

Luckily, it wasn't, 'cause Poppy is too darling to be anybody's appetizer.

We met my sister in Paw-Paw, nearly by accident. Towards the beginning of the trip, she called to say she was on I-94 on her way out of state, and wanted to drop in. Oops. But we were going parallel in the same direction, so I gave her directions to the McDonalds in Paw Paw, and we hung around for a bit. Life on the move.

I am supposed to go swim, now, I think.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Stumbling around

A coworker found this, and showed it to me, and I laughed off and on for days. I think it is even funnier posted to my blog. I hope it doesn't draw a cease and desist letter. This is fair use, right?

In any case, one of the real, unadulerated pleasures of working in an actual public library building is serendipity. I can't tell you how empty hours I've wasted pouring over folklore dictionaries looking for odd little tales, how many patrons with interesting names I've run across, and how many off little facts I've run down for people. Really, I can't tell you. I forget all my good stories as soon as they happen.

But happen they do. Libraries are one of those cultural lint traps, where all sorts of curiosities end up. If you work in them for long enough, they stick to you, and you become a kind of curiosity.

Case in point, the friends of the St. Agnes branch of the New York Public created a display of things that they'd found in donated books: photos, money, airplane tickets. You'd be surprised what people use as bookmarks, and it was always interesting to see what funny little bits of marginalia they'd collected. I liked poking through tiny bits of other people's lives exposed.

I found this in a donated book a couple of days ago. I like it alot. It has sheep in it.

Lastly, something I do on the desk when I am zoned beyond belief is blogsurf. If you go to, there is a running ticker of recently updated blogs.

I've made a game out of it, a sort of endurance test: how many random blogs can you look at before you find something truly horrible or really wonderful.

Today, I found quite possibly the most aimlessly belligerant blog on the web. Many blogs are about loathing, but they loathe someone.

This chick,
ferinstance, loathes everyone she thinks God's on the outs with.

But I dunno. I can't figure if that first guy is being funny or not. He's so perfectly deadpan. If he's not, I think he's a serial killer waiting to happen, and were I a chick, in the UK, I would be so very afraid.

But I'm not. Now lets see how many times I go back to his blog before I have to poke out my eyes with a stick.

Come to think of it, I can't figure out if shelleytherepublican is being funny or not. She reads like a Landover stereotype.