Tag Archives: library

Home Away from Home

train time

Train ride! 

We had a wonderful road trip to Illinois this weekend. The fun included: a visit to the La Crosse children’s museum; an old-fashioned ice cream parlor; a KOA cabin with bunkbeds, a jumping pad, and a pool; a commuter train ride, lunch, and library exploration with family; a dinner date with friends one night; a sprinkler and pool play date the next morning; and sweet Phip’s first birthday party. Truly, it was a wonderful getaway.

It was just as wonderful to arrive home last night. “We’re finally in the right town!” Zoe said as we pulled into Saint James. “Go to Daddy!” Leo said. And we were, and we did, and it was very good.

I always like to hear what the stand out moments are for my kids after a trip. Here is Zoe’s: Continue reading

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Filed under Book Report, Your Moment of Zoe

Minnesota Nice: Litchfield Video

A possum and a movie camera 1943

I have always loved video rental stores.

Okay, maybe not always.  But ever since my sister, my best friend, and I were old enough to walk from our house to Linden Video, where we rented the same three videos over and over while pretending that all three of us were sisters (“What does our Mom want us to get?  Do you think our Mom will like this one?”), I have been a Video Store Fan.

There’s just something satisfying about the physical act of browsing, of walking through the store and seeing which covers catch your eye.  There’s something decadent about a place whose sole function is to provide movies that you’ll watch in the comfort of your home, and also the candy to eat while you do it.

Despite my professed video store love, however, I had probably not set foot in one for at least five years.  (Even before we had Netflix, we had the public library, which is like a magical free video store that will also order other movies for you, and all you have to do is wait a while for them to come and then return them on time.  But anyway.)

What changed?  Litchfield Video!  The local video store recently moved to within two blocks of our house.  They also put a sign out front advertising their weeknight special: every movie is 99 cents after 5 PM.

Well.  I love a deal.  I love convenience.  And, I love an outing.  So on Valentine’s Day, Mike, Zoe, and I hit the video store on our way home from preschool.  It’s a very small place with a very impressive number of DVDs, plus a great selection of VHS tapes for sale.  We chose a movie (okay, chose a movie–Moneyball at last!), gave the nice people a dollar, and were on our way.

Thank you, Litchfield Video, for bringing me back to the rental experience of my youth.

Maid to Order

This was definitely one of the three movies we rented over and over.


Filed under Minnesota Nice

Library Love

Books, books, books!

Have I mentioned lately that I love the library, both generally and specifically?

These days Zoe and I often hit the Litchfield Library twice a week, once for toddler time and once for pre-school story hour (pro tip: they are very similar, and they are very fun).  I forgot that the library would be closed on Veteran’s Day, which led to tears in the parking lot and plaintive wails of, “I want to dance at the library!”

The library is an awesome place to dance to the music of Jim Gill.  It is also an awesome place, of course, to get a ton of books.  Check out that impressive stack of them!  I am slightly daunted, but the discerning reader will notice that these are mostly mystery novels and / or young adult novels, so I should make it through the pile fairly quickly.

Thank you, Litchfield Library, for being so great.  And thank you, thank you, thank you  for being open this Friday and having pre-school story hour.

I have a feeling we’re going to need a dance break.

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Filed under Book Report, Minnesota Nice, Thankful Hearts

Book Report: Two Christies

Update: When I say “Dorothy Parker” below, I of course mean to say “Dorothy Sayers”.  I adore them both, but as far as I know, Dorothy Parker did not actually write any mystery novels.  

Besides the obvious necessities, I wasn’t sure what to bring on my last trip to Chicago.  What would be useful or comforting to me and my family before, during, and after my dad’s big surgery?

The answer, I decided, was leftover Halloween candy and mystery novels.  And by mystery novels, I mean Dorothy Parker and / or Agatha Christie.  It turns out I have read all the Dorothy Parker to be had at the Litchfield library, but the supply of Dame Agatha is far from exhausted.  She wrote a few books, didn’t she?

So, I chose two Christies, based on their slim size and the reasonably firm conviction that I had not yet read them.  (Pro Tip: If you want to feel clever, accidentally reread a good mystery and see how quickly you seem to solve it.)  These are the books I chose:

The Man in the Brown Suit First Edition Cover 1924.jpg                      

As it happens, The Man in the Brown Suit is Christie’s fourth novel; Elephants Can Remember is her second to last.  And may I say, what a difference 48 years make.

Elephants Can Remember has the elements of a good mystery: super sleuth Hercule Poirot, sassy mystery writer Ariadne Oliver, twins, insanity, India, and four wigs (described at great length).

Unfortunately, the amount of action could have fit easily into a short story.  A very short story.  If you have seen Il Trovatore, it is kind of like that: a long time ago, Something Happened, and soon, Something Will Happen.  But in the course of the story itself, Nothing Happens.

I mean, truly, nothing.  It is a whole book of people talking about things that happened twenty years before.  The other main topics of conversation are: (a) it is very tiring to be a famous writer, and (b) mothers of adopted children are not trustworthy and are not real mothers.  (Pro Tip: I’m pretty sure only one of those statements is true.)

Luckily, I read the disappointing novel first.  Because then!  Then, I read the delightful romantic thriller The Man in the Brown Suit, in which many things happen.  I will not spoil it for you, because I really do recommend it, if you like 1920s adventure stories with a plucky heroine, a South African setting, diamonds, secret identities, trains, ships, waterfalls, and romantic lines like these:

“I said nothing.  I laughed.  And yet I knew that the danger was real.  Just at that moment he hated me.  But I knew that I loved the danger, loved the feeling of his hands on my throat.  That I would not have exchanged that moment for any other moment in my life.”

Egads.  That was one of the moments where I had my doubts about our fair Anne (as I have said, I’m for Austen, not Bronte).  There is also the moment where she describes someone as “the kind of woman who deserved to die.”  As they say in these parts: holy buckets.

So, yes, there are some questionable attitudes, and some of the plot twists are silly, but it is still a joy to read.   I bet your local library has a copy.  Check it out!

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Can’t Quite Call Him Herb

Look what I got this week!

A Journey of Grace: The Formation of a Leader and a Church

It’s the autobiography of Herb Chilstrom, the first presiding bishop of the ELCA.  He is also a Litchfield native–in fact, he was baptized at Beckville.  I keep trying to convince people that this is a big deal, but mostly they just shrug and say, “He’s my third cousin.”  (Pro tip: “Prophets are not without honor except in their own country and in their own house.”–Jesus, the ultimate pro tip giver)

Well, Bishop Chilstrom was at the Litchfield Library Thursday (he emailed me about it personally, if you must know), looking very sharp in a gray suit and signing copies of his new book.  And guess what?  “If there’s a profit,” he says the money will go to LSTC for a New Testament chair.  Take that, Other Seminaries!  Not that it’s a contest or anything, but we totally won.

Herb (I’m trying it out) also talked a little about how wonderful it is to have lots of time to read.  He’s not preparing sermons or writing another book; he’s just learning and exploring.  Always learning.  For a church that this week tries to remember it is always reforming, I think this is a good message, too.


Filed under Ministry Matters

Dressing Down

My heart sank as Zoe and I got out of the car at the library today.  Getting out of the car in front of us were Snow White, a hippie, and a superhero.  Getting out of the car next to us were Buzz Lightyear and Woody.

“Were they supposed to wear their costumes today?” I asked Buzz and Woody’s mom.

“Well, they could if they wanted to,” she graciously answered.

Zoe noticed (“I’m not wearing my costume!”) but was not upset (“I’ve got my shirt on!” she proudly told the librarian).  I, on the other hand, was crushed.

Seriously, you guys.  I was thisclose to dashing back home and grabbing Zoe’s bumblebee costume.  It’s partly that I love Halloween and dressing up, but mostly it’s that I don’t want my kid to be left out.  And I certainly don’t want my kid to be left out because I missed the wear-your-costume-to-story-hour memo.  (Pro Tip: Never skip story hour right before Halloween.  Apparently.)

Thankfully, those five kids were actually the only ones wearing costumes.  Also thankfully, the other moms and grandmas had clearly not gotten the memo either, so we all felt like bad parents together.

Solidarity, my friends.  That’s what it’s all about.


Filed under Your Moment of Zoe