Mar 23, 2014

Here's To Fifteen Passenger Vans.

I have realized that I simply must pay tribute to our big, white, 15 passenger van. I had no idea how I would miss it so. This week we sold it. Not an easy feat to sell a fifteen passenger van. Our driveway feels so empty now. We bought that van because of the arrival of child number seven way back in 2002. I fought the inevitable owning of a fifteen passenger van long and hard. I was determined that there was another car with nine seats option. But there was not. And despite all the teasing I got for being so little and driving such a big car. And despite all the gas guzzling comments I got. And in spite of all the strange looks I would get when I happened to be driving it around all alone... I miss it. I have never had a bond with a car before. I have never had so many things happen in a car I owned before. And even though we have not driven it very much in the past three years it was nice to always know it was there. Such a comforting presence.

The memories stored in that van are without number. It has been to so many states... from Oregon, to Massachusetts, to Texas, to Georgia, to Canada and so many in between.We put over 250,000 miles on this car. It has carried so many car loads of youth on their way to a church dance or a special activity. Women on their way to a 10 K run in Vermont. Trips to Ikea. At least three years of driving Ragnar runners. Loads of supplies for Trek.

How many past birthday parties of the Baird children were able to happen at fun locations because I could fit 15 in my car?
How many families we had piled into that van to take them on hikes with us, or to New York City with us, or to see caves, or the beach?
How easy it was to just throw a huge old Christmas tree in the back, two couches a friend gave us in Kansas, a load of lumber for a friends house, friends furniture, or bricks for my walkway?
How many Baird children got car sick in that car?
How many Baird children pried the windows open on the side doors because they locked the keys in it?How many Baird children learned to drive in that car?
How many car loads of moms and their babies car seats did that big white van carry to numerous fun destinations?
How many Baird children had tantrums in that van?
How many children have climbed on top of it and taken silly pictures?
How many conversations were started at gas stations or in parking lots because of this van?

I remember watching my oldest child drive down the road in Indiana in that van the day he got his drivers licence. I loved that when I came out of a store I could always see where I parked since it was so big and tall. I loved that we could fit a big cooler between the front seats. There was hardly ever in fighting about seats in that car. Always enough to go around. I always knew where to find non parking garage parking in big cities since the van was too tall for parking garages.

It was not the most comfortable ride that is one thing for sure. It was not the best sound system in the land that is another for sure. The body had acquired some rust throughout the years. Miriam had had an altercation with a pole at the gas station with it. I had had an altercation with the red pole at the mcdonalds drive through with it. Someone rear ended us on the ohio turnpike. All sorts of battle scars. The stickers of our family in the back window had long since faded. The NRA sticker and the Mitt Romney sticker hung on for dear life on the back windows.

There was a freedom that came with always knowing I never had to worry about not having enough room in my car. I will miss that freedom. So many great conversations were had in that car. As I sat in it a few days before it was gone I know it sounds dramatic but I could feel those conversations swirling all around me. Life has moved on. Four Baird children are gone. Gas guzzling is no longer in. And mom and dad Baird are getting a divorce.

So here is to everyone who got the chance to ride in the Baird's big white van. Maybe we should have a moment of silence? :) I know that despite it's flaws we all had some good times in that van.

Mar 21, 2014

Emceeing

I have always loved to sing. I have way too many memories of me singing....
 outside,
 in the bathroom (apparently with my parents listening outside the door),
 in the playroom to my dolls,
 in the car,
 laying on the living room floor with the Sesame Street Fever record playing,
 to my dad while he played the piano,
 on my way to take the trash out to the garage in the dark,
 in church with my siblings
 in church with my friend Heather Johnson,


 I was always sure I was going to be a famous singer. I could see it all very clearly in my head doesn't that mean it will happen? When I was a kid my siblings were outside taking care of their respective farm animals for their 4-H projects and I was inside singing along with my parents Barbara Streisand records. ( this was long before I knew her political views :) Or I was playing the piano and singing. Or singing along with John Denver. Imagine my joy when I discovered that if I put both hands over my ears I could hear my own voice while I sang? :) Yeah, Dr Dre has nothing on my headphones from the late 70's :)

 I had a solo in a choir concert in 7th grade in California and I thought I was well on my way to the Grammy's. When I made it to high school in Washington I joined all the choirs I could. There was a jazz choir you had to try out for and I did. I recognize now that my voice was not a jazz choir kind of voice but back then it was a little bit crushing to not get in to the jazz choir. I did not understand. I think my choir teacher recognized something and he offered me the job of being the jazz choir pianist. I was thrilled. Although, I recognize now that I was not a jazz pianist either. I am a classical kind of girl, not a drop of doo wop or improvising in me....anywhere. I am a "follow the rules"..."play exactly what is written on the page" kind of girl. None of that just hanging out in someone's garage and "jammin" for me :) But strangely my jazz choir teacher never made me feel like I was not the best jazz choir pianist the world had ever seen. I recognize now that I surely factored heavily into the difficulty of the songs the choir teacher chose that year. I would not hesitate to say I surely brought them down. Thankfully I never knew that until now. And I can totes handle that information now.

I deeply appreciate my choir teacher for looking out for me. How easy would it have been to have been frustrated with me? How easy would it have been to scold me? How easy it would have been to kindly ask me to leave? I was a self centered high schooler that never thought about what was really going on. I loved my years in choir at the high school. They shaped me in so many ways.

 Okay, so the point of all this musing is that next week I am heading back to my high school in good old Snohomish. My choir teacher retired a few years ago and every year since he retired he puts on a benefit concert to raise money for a scholarship that he gives to a student that will continue in music into college. I have always wanted to attend this yearly concert. Every year something gets in the way that makes it so I can not get back to Snohomish. But this year I made it happen. And as soon as I got that plane ticket I contacted my choir teacher to let him know that finally I was really and truly coming. I was so tired of telling him every year that I was not coming. I told him if he had anything for me to do to help with the concert I would love to help out. I am a "help out" kind of girl. I was assuming to myself that he could give me something like making brownies or emptying the trash cans, or maybe throwing up a few decorations? You know something like that....

He emailed me back and said he was sure he would have something for me to do. And before I knew it it was a few days later and he had called me and asked me to emcee his concert. Yeah, no buying a box from the store and making brownies. I am not sure why I said yes. I am so incredibly nervous. I have googled what an emcee does and it is a huge responsibility. Emcee's set the mood for events. They carry the audience. They lift and build anticipation....they are catalyst...bridge...star maker. You take your good emcees for granted and you always remember the bad ones. Yeah, it is so much like making and bringing brownies.

I have spent the last few months fretting about finding the right dress to wear on stage...fretting about what I need to know....fretting about what a nobody I am to be doing this. Fretting because I will probably learn something from this. Fretting because yet again someone seems to see something I do not see. Fretting about tights versus no tights. Fretting about.....oh, wait that's all :)

When Mr Castro asked I casually mentioned to him....um, I have 4 chickens and seven kids...just in case he forgot what my identifiers were :) He did not seem bothered. I keep waiting for him to change his mind and I am totally okay with him doing some mind changing but he only has 10 days now... he needs to hurry :)

I have a feeling he is yet again teaching me something. It seems as I have been going though what I have been going through these last few years I have been, for the most part, surrounded by people that see me clearly and what me to recognize who I am. My cheerleaders.

So wish me luck and remember this post when I am taking selfies with famous people while emceeing the Academy Awards :)

Mar 4, 2014

Do You Like Emotionally Heart Wrenching With Deep Messages Much?


I have two words for you Hyao Miyazaki. Do you know who he is? I wish I could remember when I first learned about Hyao Miyazaki. I have a feeling it was one of my sisters who taught me about him. Or it could have been my daughter Madeline. Or maybe I have always known about him :) His movies leave such an impression on me I feel like I should have remembered when I first became aware of him.

Nevertheless, my very best friend Hyao makes the most amazing movies. He is one of Japan's greatest animation directors. Think Disney but the Japanese version. His films mesmerize me....some more than others. The music is always perfect. The animation is always so beautiful you want to jump into the movie and feel the grass, or fly, or smell the smells, or touch the ocean. The stories are so compelling. We own quite a few of his movies. Spirited Away....Princess Mononoke...Whisper of The Heart....The Secret World of Arrietty...Kiki's Delivery Service...Howls Moving Castle....Ponyo...My Neighbor Totoro, Castle in The Sky just to name a few.

There is a certain mood that I often want to be in and when I want to be in this, "longing for the simple..soaring...mellow...appreciative of nature" mood I know it is imperative that I watch a Miyazaki film. (Oh come on you know which movies will totally put you in which moods....admit it :) I was fascinated to learn the other day that his movies make my kids feel the same way. Natalie brought me one of his movies that she wanted to watch the other day and she declared to me that she loves the way it feels when she watches his movies. She did not know how to articulate much past that but she knew they made her feel a certain way. The music is always haunting and flowing and perfect. The colors are so rich and true. There is often a hint of an innocent but very sweet romance. The main, proactive, get things done, empowered character in his films is almost always a girl. She almost ALWAYS a cause to fight for. Often an environmental one. I am not a tree hugger so that is not why I love these movies but if you are into that sort of thing many of these movies will make your tree hugging heart swell.

My favorites are Whisper of The Heart, Up on Poppy Hill and Kiki's Delivery Service....oh and The Secret of Arietty...wait, and Howl's Moving Castle. Yeah, it is easier for me to tell you which ones I do not like than which ones are my favorite.

 Ponyo is one of my least favorites. I have a huge unreasonable fear of water flooding. And Ponyo has water and flooding and it is very unsettling to me because when I have bad dreams they always involve me being in a car that is trying to drive through water. Analyze me if you must. It probably means I was meant to be much richer than I am ....you know "wading" through money :) Also, the main character Ponyo feels a little bratty to me.

The other day I was wandering in Costco...very bad idea...the words wandering and Costco should never ever go together. Anyway I found myself in the dvd section and wouldn't you know it there were several rows of Miyazaki films that were $7.00 off making them $11.99 apiece. I looked and I touched but I did not buy. But about two weeks later I was there with my Natalie and she and I looked again and made a pile of the ones we really wanted. A sweet middle aged Japanese man was looking at them too and he started a conversation with me about the wonderfulness of the films. He told me My Neighbor Totoro was a really good one and so I picked it up and before I knew it I had three Miyazaki films in my shopping cart. Costco is so evil. I had every intention of putting them back but then I got to the front of the store I saw the sweet Japanese man and just knew he would see me put My Neighbor Totoro back and I could not do it so I bought all three.

I hope I am telling you about something that you already know about. But if you have never heard about Miyazaki films I beg you to go check one out from the library (like that plug for the library :) And give them a chance. They are not available to stream on Netflix but they are available to get on dvd through Netflix. I am trying to get my hands on his latest one that got nominated for an Academy Award....The Wind Rises.

Mar 1, 2014

At The Job.

So I need to tell you about a most intriguing quote I found the other day. But in order to tell you about "the quote" I have this need to tell you how I found it and in order to tell you that I finally get to tell you about my new job that I started the end of January.

Two nights a week and every other Saturday I have a job. It is not at a public library it is at an academic library and yes, they are different. Academic libraries organize their books by the library of congress numbers. Public libraries use dewey. Academic libraries can hold onto your grades and transcripts and basically your whole entire life if necessary if you owe fines to them. Public libraries...yeah, not so much. College kids use the academic libraries to study in, use the computer in, print things off in, meet in groups in, research in, and flirt in. The public uses public libraries to check out mountains of dvd's for free and of course, books and they bring their kids to programs at and use the computers too. Public libraries are often the center of the community. In academic libraries they are all about teaching you how to do all things library for yourself...empowering you. In public libraries we pretty much do it ALL for you :) Can I tell you how many cute little old people I place holds for? :) I had no idea of all the differences between the two types of libraries. And I was a little sad when the realization hit me that my job at the academic library would not be as busy as my job at the public library.

I love the drive to my job. I mean my...commute? :) It is a beautiful drive. I can listen to whatever music I want the whole way. The college I work at is placed rather perfectly. When you drive in to the college you know immediately how big the campus is and where everything is. It is all built into a hill so when you pull your car in you are at the top of a hill looking across and down at the college. So in one sweeping glance you can see everything. The road to the college is in a circle so the college is at twelve o'clock and the road you enter on is at six o'clock. The road starts at the top of the hill and then goes down in a valley and then climbs up again all the while going in a circle. There are tons of stairs on the campus since the buildings start at the bottom of the hill and progress up. I wish I could explain it better. If we were talking face to face I would draw you a great picture and then you would know....actually if we were face to face I would just take you for a drive in my car and show you! It really is a beautiful setting. Although I do wish the campus buildings had more character...but I will live :)

I love seeing people. I love helping people.I am a people kind of girl. But the truth of the matter is since I happen to only work evenings and some Saturdays I do not see many people. But it's okay, I have a desk :) When I was little my cousin Dori and I used to play "desk." We were always heading to play office/secretary but it always ended up simply being about setting up our desks. We would set up large cutting boards on the floor and use all sorts of our Grandma's earthly posessions to decorate our desks. I do not get to decorate this desk. But I do set my water bottle on it and keep the sticky notes close by. There are two computers I log myself into just in case I get to check out books to someone, collect their fines, or check a few books in. I have yet to place a hold on a book for someone....I miss doing that but I am supposed to teach these college kids how to do that themselves. I have a little notepad that sits by me that I am supposed to make tally marks on for the phone calls I answer and the patrons I help and how many people are studying at the tables.

 There are four floors in the library. I sit at the very front desk when you first come in. I am supposed to be an information ninja :) People will ask me all sorts of questions....many non library related. There is a reference librarian upstairs but we really do not get to hang out since they are in charge of helping the students with all the computers and such upstairs and I am in charge of the downstairs.

When I come into the library on the weeknights my time overlaps a little with the "daytime" people so I get a small "visit with people" fix before they all leave me to the utter and complete silence that is and always will be an academic library.

What do I do with the silence? Well I have read all the "rules and procedures" books on the desk....twice. I have browsed through all the brochures about the college courses offered. Behind the desk are several shelves with course reserves from the teachers for the students and I browse through those....well never the algebra and calculus ones but everything else is very interesting.

One night I chose all the seeds I wanted to buy in my seed catalog and wrote them all down very neatly with a super sharp pencil in my book filled with blank paper for me to write in about my life.

One night I placed way too many holds on books, dvd's, and cd's for me on my library account.

There are glass windows all along the wall facing the hallway so I stare out those windows watching people walk by.One night when I was staring out those windows I noticed a board on the wall in the hallway that listed people's names on it and the room number they worked in and I noticed a J. Baird....it caught my attention and I wondered and then I realized oh dear that is me. I work here about 14 hours a week and my name made the library employee board. It looks so official in those little white movable letters on the black board. I feel a little bit like I have not earned it as I sit there languishing at my desk. I keep meaning to take a picture of my name so you can all see it.

Some nights I read a book like David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell or Longbourn by Jo Baker. But I feel so guilty doing that at work...even though there is nothing going on and they encouraged me to bring a book it just feels weird to get paid to read.

Sometimes I make notes in my journal about things I want to do or things I am thinking about.

I get a fifteen minute break and that is when I eat my carrots, my piece of string cheese, and my granola bar.,,,okay and check Facebook :)

But the best part of the whole evening. The part I make myself wait until six o'clock for is that I get to read the newspapers. I always start with my favorite, The Wall Street Journal. Then I move on to The New York Times and then The Boston Globe and sometimes I even get time for the USA Today. I love every single minute of that and I am grateful I have this job so I can read these newspapers that I could only dream of subscribing to and getting delivered to my house.

And that finally brings us to "the quote." I was reading an article in the Sunday edition of the New York Times by this lady named Monica Wesolowska. It was a great article about her life and marriage and what she had learned and observed in it so far. Near the end of the article she says, "to write you just need to pay enough attention to your life." I had a big ah-ha moment when I read this. It is really is true if you pay enough attention to things around you and your life within these things that is all you need to be able to write. It has been in the back of my mind ever since I read it on Thursday night and I have been trying to notice if I am good at paying attention to my life and noticing details. I think I am now but there have been way too many years that I have not paid attention. It is like something woke me up and now I am aware. So I guess that means I must write :)