Tag Archives: cranky people

Snapshot of a Salt Spring Saturday

IMG_2853 - Version 2

Sometimes the stereotypes all seem to be true. I just read through the Salt Spring Exchange’s events for today and had to shake my head. Bookended by development and tourism, we have early morning meditation, a group cleanse and detox, a multi-media art show from the Centre for Loving Inquiry, a local referendum vote that has everyone riled up (re. the new proposed fire hall), the Saturday Market, and places to take in branches and exchange leaves.

And apparently nothing to do in the evening, on a Saturday night.

Ah Salt Spring! I must go now and take my daughter and her friends to yoga… and while they’re there I’ll sit at the library and read angry letters to the editor in the Driftwood. Or not.

See the original Exchange post here.


Laid-back Friendly Saltspring

DSC08096 - Version 2Considering they’re living in an island paradise, I’m always amazed at how CRANKY Saltspringers are.

Library Love

I came across this last week and it made me nostalgic for the grand old Toronto Public Library system: Ten Reasons to Love the TPL. I worked for the TPL for a while – in the cataloguing department but also in a very busy branch for a few months – and got a bit of an inside look at a very complex organization. I was working there the ominous year that the boss’s title was quietly changed from “Head Librarian” to “CEO”, which sent a chill throughout the organization. The TPL is not without its inefficiencies, errors and information gaps, employee tribulations and politics, but the biggest strain on the system always came from the fact that it is so well-used by SO many people. And the biggest headache has always come from governments prowling about the periphery hunting for cost-cutting measures. It’s a never-ending struggle to keep services available, but the bookish folk of Hogtown are always ready to jump into the fray, armed with their petitions and placards, with Margaret Atwood sounding the charge…

The Runnymede Branch of the Toronto Public Lib...

Runnymede Branch of the TPL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The reason the protests usually succeed is that the TPL works and is depended upon and loved by so many. The branches are numerous, from tiny friendly places to grander historic buildings. I lived in many different neighbourhoods and always found a library relatively close by. I could place holds for any title in the vast holdings and have it delivered to my own wee branch around the corner, a feature that I positively adored. And one of my favourite (geeky) ways to spend a day was to head to the Toronto Reference Library to do research, abetted by the truly lovely staff there. I miss it all so!

English: Toronto Reference Library

Toronto Reference Library (Wikipedia)

In my new home on the island, I am incredibly lucky to have a brand new library facility, so new it positively sparkles. And to my utter disbelief, it seems that this gorgeous building has aroused some amount of “I’m agin’ it!” from the anti-whatever-is-going crowd here. The building is too big, too showy. We don’t need anything that large. It doesn’t match the bank across the road. Can’t we just go back to the old library, cramped and decrepit, with the leaking roof?

Reading letters to the editor moaning about our unnecessary “rolls royce library” makes my blood pressure sky rocket, so I won’t go into this issue much further, save to say that the nay-sayers seem to have forgotten about the existence of children on the island. Even if there wasn’t a single adult who used the library, the mere fact that there are children here warrants the best and most excellent library we can possibly build.

Saltspring Library (photo credit John Cameraon)

Saltspring Library (photo credit John Cameron)

And when you build a large library, with awe-inspiring architecture and a spacious, serene interior, what message does that pass on to the following generations?

Reading is important.

Books and knowledge are valued in our community.

Take a look at these – 11 Beautiful Libraries From Around the World – and tell me you don’t get that message from these buildings!

I can tell you, you wouldn’t get an iota of opposition to a new library – any new library – from the embattled library patrons* of Toronto, be it Rolls Royce or Studebaker.

*I prefer the old term “patrons” to the new one that was brought in when the Head Librarian morphed into a CEO: “customers”

Step 19: Get Boxes. Repeat.

I thought this was a no-brainer: the best boxes bar none for packing books are liquor boxes. Strong, durable, and not too big. (I’ve had movers thank me specifically for not putting books in big, too-heavy boxes.) The larger liquor stores have stacks of them by the front wall and I always thought I was doing them a favour by taking a few off their hands.

Until I was scolded by a fretful store manager, who limited me to three boxes from the wall-full he was straightening.

Is this commonplace? Is this a Toronto thing? Whenever I asked if I could take boxes before, the cashier gave me a “of course, what are you even asking for?” look.

New box strategy: visit liquor stores on weekends, when manager isn’t working.

Step 18: Survive the Yard Sale

It was two days ago and I’m still recuperating. A bitterly cold day, with rain just ending at 7 a.m., whereupon I lurched into action hauling stuff outside.  People began showing up right at 8 and I was scrambling for the next 4 hours. Sometimes it’s hard to do things like this as a one-man band.

A whirlwind of activity. Two hours later I was still remembering stuff I forgot to bring out. Wanted to shut it down at 11:00, as planned, but people just kept straggling in. Finally staggered inside at about 12:30, frozen and sore all over.

End result – made a couple hundred dollars, cleared a fair amount of space in garage. Generally should have charged more for things, but of course I didn’t have time to pre-price anything, and I’m kind of a soft touch when it comes to pricing on the fly. And I’m an absolute and total failure when it comes to haggling.

Oh well, the most important thing was to get rid of stuff. And hopefully make a few happy matches of item to buyer. Example: the three girls, roommates outfitting a new apartment, who excitedly picked up my retro coffee table and side table. Or the little girl clutching the princess jigsaw puzzle. Or the couple from a few doors down, first-time pregnant, who picked out Goodnight Moon and a wee pair of hockey skates.

Or the older fellow who wanted to see my drafting table because he makes birdhouses and his wife is getting annoyed at him using her kitchen table for his workspace. (He didn’t end up buying it, because it wasn’t made of wood, but he did pick up an armful of file folders.)

I ain't payin' more than a nickel!

The people who made the day a drag, on the other hand, were those ones who arrived scowling, frowned at everything they saw, and gasped in disbelief and dismay when I told them the price. The worst was the old guy who actually laughed in my face when I asked for $2 for a hanging garage-style worklight. So unpleasant! So rude! So disappointing!

There were, thankfully, lots of people who chatted and smiled and joked with me as they looked over everything, and didn’t approach the whole exercise as some kind of cut-throat showdown.

Anyhow, it’s over.

P.S.  The surprises: Not even broke college girls will so much as look at a massive old tv. (it ended up on the curb for free and still didn’t disappear!)  Plus: Nobody needs martini glasses?? Are they passé or something?

And Toronto: Grrrrrrr

So 2 days after my blissful Toronto afternoon (see previous post) I get treated to the opposite. After walking my daughter to school I was putting up posters for our yard sale – sparingly, I might add, only one per block or so – and an older lady working on her garden yells at me not to plaster the neighbourhood with them. I replied that I was just putting one up for the whole block, and after pretending to listen to me she merely repeated her tirade and suggested I not put up any more on the block. Which I had just said I wasn’t going to do. Grr.

There are ways to request things of others in words and tone that are friendly and respectful, but few people in this city seem to possess this skill. (Somehow I feel that she’s the same person who wrote this letter to the neighbourhood newspaper.)

I don’t know why I let incidents like this get me down, but I am so overwhelmed with things to do these days that it doesn’t take much to deflate me.