My weather page has an “alert me when it rains” tab. I suppose I could click on it to sign up for their ground-breaking IT IS RAINING! announcements, but what, pray tell, happened to looking out the window?


Thunder storms are still rather traumatic experiences for my kids. The other day, while we were sitting at the table eating our lunch of fried potatoes and eggs and sausage, the wind picked up and the kids promptly froze, tense and watching.

“I saw a scar of lightening!” my daughter yelped.

That night we had more storms. I was reading to the kids when a boom of thunder caused me to involuntarily scream. Which is a really bad thing to do when your kids are borderline neurotic. So we all huddled even closer, some of the kids under blankets, and I continued to read, except that my kids kept interrupting to tell me things like, “It lightninged and my skin yanked!” and, “My tummy almost flew out!”


Upon hearing that his PA cousins were moving to TN, my older son said, “What? All our cousins are going to be extinct!”


At supper, I asked my husband, “What’s your biggest regret?”

“Marrying you!” the kids promptly chorused.

And then my older daughter piped up. “I know your biggest regret! Having us!”

Except she said “garet” instead of “regret” and we all busted up laughing.


A child’s no good, very bad day had deteriorated into a full-blown sob-and-bellow fest. Reasoning was pointless, so I sat down and took notes.

(While reading the following quotes, wail the phrases at the top of your lungs. You get bonus points for crocodile tears.)

(Also, keep in mind that this is a very small sampling. Yes, you may feel sorry for me.)

1. “You hardly ever feed me and every single day it gets hotter and hotter and that’s why I want to go to the swimming pool!”

2. “I only need one person in my family!” (“Who?” I asked.) “ME!” the child bellowed. “With two brothers and one sister, that’s complicated!”

3. “I’ve been waiting for so many things for my birthday which I’ll never ever get!”

4. “There are so many places that I’ve never gone to! Or that I’ve gone to and want to go back to!”

5. “I’m never able to do what I want and it’s no fair!”


And now, it’s my turn to rant:

I have a beef with the library and it is this: when I, The Patron, mess up, I pay money. But when they, The Library, mess up, I still pay money.


Recent scenario: I have a ton of books checked out and I faithfully call in to renew them because I certainly don’t want to risk getting smacked with a fine and each time that I call—and I do this for the maximum renewal times because we checked out half the library and it’s taking us a long time to read them all—they tell me that the books have all been renewed and I believe them but then when I finally return (almost) all the books and arrive at the counter with the other half of the library’s books, they say, Oops, it looks like one of the renewals, like, FOR AN ENTIRE CYCLE, didn’t actually go through and you owe us 24 dollars. This, my friends, is baaaaad.

There are other times when the library messes up and I-The-Patron get the brunt. Like the times (about 4-6 times each year) when they tell us that we have lost one of their books so we scour the house and turn the furniture upside down and reorganize the bookshelves and then I call them up and say in a wee small voice, Could you see if it’s maybe on the shelf? and a few seconds later the person comes back on the line and says, Yep, it’s right here, and I am half happy with relief and half mad with rage BECAUSE I HAD TO SUFFER THROUGH A FREAKIN’ BOOK TORNADO FOR NOTHING AND THEY DIDN’T EVEN APOLOGIZE!

Here’s an idea. Maybe, in the cases when the library messes up, the patron could get an account credit, a we-are-sorry-we-falsely-accused-you-and-stressed-you-out-for-eight-days-and-so-at-15-cents-a-day-you-now-have-a-credit-for-1.20.  Wouldn’t that be nice?*

Or, maybe they could implement a tier system! Frequent patrons, the heaviest-and-most-faithful-users-of-books, could apply for a gold membership card (or some such snazzy thing) and its accompanying higher levels of grace, trust, and librarian-patron comradery.

Please note: I do not mind paying fines when they are mine. (I mean, I mind, but I’m a big girl and can take responsibility and learn from my mistakes and remember to renew my books on time in the future. Most times, anyway.)

Also, please note: perhaps these mess-ups are due to faulty computer systems? Perhaps all libraries struggle with this?

Then again, maybe there are some whiz libraries who have figured out how not to treat their patrons unfairly. Perhaps those libraries would be happy to share the enlightenment? Pretty please? With sugar on top?

Also, also, please note (i.e. PPS): Our library has some wonderfully friendly and helpful librarians, and for them I am grateful.

*My girlfriend’s brilliant idea, not mine.


One final note: the latest Kitchen Chronicles.

This same time, years previous: in my kitchen and barn, whole wheat zucchini bread (it’s the best ever), homemade shampoo and conditioner, braised cabbage, salvation’s chocolate chip cookies


  • Starr

    When I was in college, I got a bill for $300 for three books that a library worker had failed to check in properly when I returned them. They wouldn't let me register for school because of this issue, so I ended up bringing up the tears and begging for help finding the books inside the library. They found one and then told me the rest were probably there, too, so the debt would be forgiven. It was so stressful.

    But then of course there's the book I had from the library in middle school that was 3 years overdue and I never got a fine for it ever. Guess I had to have a problem later on to maintain balance in the universe.

  • Anonymous

    Wish I could find you a copy of the letter I once sent to your library system. In it I believe I mentioned shredding my card and making a donation to my own county's library for double the amount the other had (wrongly) charged me. The library assured me that all errors would be corrected and that I'd hear back from them soon. Never heard a thing. It kills me that sometimes the online renewals don't work Any programmer with rudimentary skills can make a reliable library renewal system.

    So, this will make you sick, but here's what you SHOULD be getting. My own county's library emails me when books are due, after which I have 7 days in which to return them (or renew online). I order piles of books from the other libraries in the county and they arrive at my branch within a day or two — they email me about that, too. The folks there will also always tell you (again, automatically) when the grace period is over and you're beginning to accumulate a fine. They will extend renewal times almost indefinitely when I can't find a book, waive fines several times a year if you bring in canned goods for their food drive, and never make you feel like a poo. If they make a rare mistake (like reshelving a book I returned but they didn't scan in properly) they never charge me, removing any other fines, and are nicely apologetic. And for some reason, even if the fine is large (and it nearly never is) they only let me write a check for five bucks or something.

    As a result, I am totally loyal to them. -MAC

  • Kris

    This whole library business is strange. We've never had these same type of problems at MRL, and we have certainly had many books out and many overdue. My older daughter keeps track of her own multitude of books, and while initially she always renewed on time, lately she has often forgotten to renew online or by calling. So we duly make our "donations" and hope for a better memory the next time.

  • Margo

    I do like my library and they've never messed up my renewals the way you described. I do all my library business online – I LOVE it. If someone mentions a book I think I want to read, I scoot over to the website and see if it's in the library, then I put it on hold, and then I get an email reminding me when my books are due and when the held items come in. LOVE. (I have my library card number memorized!)We also live very close to our library, so I can, in theory, return my books promptly. I usually owe them some kind of fine and considering how the funding keeps getting cut, I don't mind. I would be furious if I was asked to pay fines unfairly the way you are.

    I love that you took notes from the tantrum – must remember that. I would dearly love to wail it out, but that would bring my kids running and I'm not sure I could explain what the heck I'm doing. And I DO GET TIRED of explaining.

    • Jennifer Jo

      What makes it worse is that the person who was checking me out was the same person that I had talked with on the phone to renew the books and she didn't remember any overdue books. Yet, because the computer said it, she couldn't do anything about it.

  • Kathy ~ Artful Accents

    You should go to the Broadway library. Nothing but nice and helpful there. (Now won't I be shocked if you say that's where you go!!)

  • Suburban Correspondent

    I'm still distracted by your calling in to renew the books. Isn't the system online yet down there?

    • Jennifer Jo

      Yes, but I'm vintage-ly inclined. (And actually, they warned me that sometimes the online system doesn't work either—we're always to double-check when we renew online. So if they know that, why aren't THEY double-checking, too?)

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