Happy Birthday Maria O’Neill

There are some dates which stick in your head and today will always be Maria O’Neill’s birthday. It was practically the first thing I thought of when jumped out of bed this morning, apart from wondering what exactly the kids were up to in the lounge room.

Maria O’Neill would have been my best friend at primary school at St Mary’s, Ararat. She was the oldest of five (she had two sisters and two brothers), which was a fairly standard-sized family in Ararat in the 1970s.She was very fair, had lots of freckles, a gap between her two front teeth, and was a fast runner- well she was faster than I was at any rate. She could also play the piano and liked to read.

When we went to secondary school, we were placed in different classes and the friendship was never quite the same after that. I lost touch with her when I moved to Geelong in the 1980s, but through a mutual friend, I found out she had studied hospital records management and had been working in Alice Springs.

It’s funny how there are some things about a friend which can stay with you long after they have been in your life.

Wherever she is, I hope she is having a happy birthday.

So much to tell you…

Have you ever been asked “So, what’s happening with you?” and your mind goes completely blank?Are you left floundering, and all that comes out of your mouth is “ahhhh, ummm, not much…”? Do you then realise after the conversation has ended that there was heaps you could have said, had your brain and your mouth moved out of first gear?

This is a regular, and unfortunate occurrence with me in real life, and it appears to have also happened with my blog. Looking at a blinking cursor for the past couple of days, I was at a sudden loss for something to say.

Of course this hasn’t been helped by the fact I have been busy at work, and that I have been reading more books which has taken time away from the computer. There are however, some milestones which have happened that are kinda exciting…

Miss BG turned four, with a party. She received lots of lovely presents and is set to take the baking world by storm with her array of cupcake paraphenalia and aprons, or open a toystore specialising in My little Pony and Barbies.

Master BG is beginning to read to himself for fun, and decided to do add-ups for fun on the weekend- another geek in the making :). He is probably another reason why I am spending a bit less time on the computer as he is agitating for a bit more time on the computer. He enjoys playing maths puzzles on the PC with his dad and Poptropica with me. It’s amazing to sit with him and see him nut out logic and maths problems on the computer.

Mr BG’s genealogy bug is in remission, but as spring has sprung, his thoughts have turned to outside. Our next major purchase will most likely be a lawnmower to go with the lawn we laid in autumn, and we are talking about getting some paving done. I also picked up for him a very nice green check Ralph Lauren short sleeved shirt from the Salvo’s in Bourke Street on Monday for $8.00 in very good condition.

As for me, well…um…I’m sure there was something, apart from reading, mending, laundry, cooking, drawing, going to the gym, being a taxi driver, kid-wrangling, organising stuff, watching DVDs of Jonny Cash and The Gilmore Girls (a guilty pleasure)…

Actually, there is something lovely which happened yesterday. The wonderful Sally from Sally Sets Forth, gave me a lovely shout out from her blog yesterday. It is somewhat inspiring to be an inspiration to someone, especially when I haven’t blogged in over a week :).

Sally is also doing a survey on Twitter for Professional Development and Career Progression. It is aimed at library staff, so please take a look at the survey and fill it out.

And if I think of anything else to say, I’ll let you know, sooner rather than later!

Being thankful

Five weeks ago, we were very lucky to be invited to a Thanksgiving dinner by a family whose husband is an American expatriate.

We were a varied group whose number included neighbours, people from work, from the local community garden and fellow American expatriates.

The dinner was a traditional turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, greens and corn bread, with apple pie, pumpkin pie and ice cream for dessert.

Before the meal we were asked to say what we were thankful for. My response was I was thankful for the kids in keeping me grounded. I was also thankful, in that they behaved very well and played very well with the younger children present.

As Christmas passes and the New Year approaches, I’m thankful for other things…

I am thankful for Twitter and Facebook, which has allowed me to remain in contact with old friends and make new friends. A Secret Santa was organised via Twitter, and the blogeverydayinjune, 1pic1thoughtinaugust and blog12daysofxmas were all organised through Twitter as well.

I am thankful for my blog. I love the outlet of writing and enjoy thinking about what to write in my head, jotting down notes, and typing a few words, before being interrupted by world war three emanating from the lounge room.

I am thankful for my blog’s readers, for your comments and support during my moments of feeling blah.

I am thankful for my lovely friends, both online and those I see, for making me laugh and cry.

I am thankful for my family, for being there when I need them.

I am thankful for my lovely Mr BG, for his honesty and love and for his ability to pick the perfect Christmas presents- a ghost tour of the Daylesford Convent, Body Shop gift set, a set of matroyshka measuring cups and a re-release of the first Duran Duran album, with bonus tracks and DVD.

Happy New Year


Thanks for all the fish

I’m back at work after my two week break or me holiday, and glad to be back amongst my colleagues and undertaking a couple of reference inquiries for my clients. I’m listening to the future of libraries podcast on Radio National featuring Ian McShane and Kathryn Greenhill, and have updated my quarterly statistics, because it’s the end of June.

And I realise, it’s the end of #blogeverydayofjune!It’s been challenging, but fun coming up with fresh ideas; I have learned to love memes :), and to enjoy the discipline of writing every day.

I’ve had immense fun reading posts from people whom I know through Twitter, have met fleetingly at VALA, or have seen present. It has become a great way to connect with other librarians and read and engage in lively discussions about the profession. It has also provided us an insight into our personal lives, our interests and the contents of our handbags.

I’ve learned about the myriad of e-readers that people are using and their respective advantages and disadvantages; what people are reading and planning to read according to the piles of books beside their bed; people’s bookshelves; people’s cats, dogs, and chooks and people’s big and little people in their lives.

I’ve been amazed by the creativity of the bloggers involved, whether it be crochet, pottery, cross stitch or photography, and I’ve been heartened by the passion for libraries and librarianship displayed in the posts.

I’m off to put the kettle on and curl up in front of the telly with Mr BG for my Wednesday fix of Spicks and Specks.


I call on you my friend

Yesterday I caught up with V, whom I have known since 1985, which would make it 25 years (eek!). She came into the city with her little boy who’s nearly 18 months, and we caught up with news on family, work, partners and kids.

Our friendship has evolved from single girls at uni, to coupledom, marriage, divorce, partnering and family making. She’s a constant friend in a shifting world.

And in other news…family Bookgrrl are off on a semi-annual roadtrip to South Gippsland this weekend, to catch up with my adorable in-laws and attend an MS fundraiser walk in support of a family friend who is an MS sufferer. Bags are packed, clothes laid out and all that needs to be done is toothbrushes packed and the blog posted- and it has!

Have a lovely weekend and see you tomorrow!

bookgrrl’s manifesto

One of the reasons why I started this blog was I had something to say, and PS had suggested at lunch “you should start a blog”. By 4pm I had signed up and completed my first post. I can procrastinate with the best of them, but once my mind is set to something, it will get done.

That was a year ago. My blog is a year old- huzzah!

Why my name bookgrrl? It wasn’t my first choice. There were other names I would have preferred, but they had already been taken by other librarians who had taken to blogging with gusto with the 23 things project, then promptly abandoned said blog when the project had finished. This makes me question the whole purpose of getting librarians to undertake these activities that they have no patent interest in whatsoever, but that’s another story.

Bookgrrl is bookish, but was also a reference to the grrl music I knew and loved in the early 90s. I can sometimes be loud and angry and grumpy and the grr appealed to me!

My blog has been my soapbox. I think initially, it was to be more about libraries, and I remember thinking I wouldn’t mention my family, and keep it professional. Yet they started creeping in, as did other interests such as music, my studies, my hobbies and my friends…

It is always nice to see other bloggers display a human side in their professional blogs. I recently started reading Livia Labate’s blog on Information Architecture, because she posted of her love for Concrete Blonde, which I adored 20 years ago.Another good blog is The World’s Strongest Librarian, which deals with the personal and the professional, and is incredibly inspiring.

Looking at my tags, I like to talk about

  • my children- they’re a joy, incredibly funny and are such wonderful little people. They are also exhausting, demanding and noisy. I can imagine life without them- quieter, less sleep-deprived, less laughter, and somewhat emptier.
  • being a librarian- I love my job. It’s part of who I am, and I love the concept of information being free for all. I love my little people to bits, but there are times when I want to be more than just a mum. Getting out of the house reminds me that I am an individual with an intellect. At the same time though, I am more than a librarian, which is what I want my blog to show.
  • my friends- they’re another joy, who make me laugh when I’m feeling grumpy, who listen, send me songs, photos, stories and books.
  • Ballarat-  I have lived here for six years and I am still discovering its hidden treasures. I love walks around the lake, golden leafy streets, and being able to walk to the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker supermarket. I am not so fussed about the cold weather, and I feel like an outsider sometimes, because my family haven’t lived here for three generations, but it’s my home.
  • Melbourne- is my ‘bit on the side’ to which I escape. I probably do view it through rose-tinted glasses, but I don’t really care!

So basically, I won’t be ‘on message’, or be exclusively this or that. I’ll simply be me, bookgrrl, or Steph.


Bookgrrl’s FAQ

What did you do on the weekend?

The circus was in town and we took the kids to a matinee on the Saturday. They had never been before and the only time I had ever been was as a seven year old.

It’s probably not everybody’s choice of activity and I am fully aware of the moral issues surrounding performing animals. The majority of the circus performance was based on the skill, dexterity  and strength of very talented artists.

There were no performing lions or tigers or elephants, but ducks, ponies and cows (had to be seen to be believed!). The gymnasts and clowns enthralled the kids, and while Mr BG was captivated by the flexibility of the female gymnasts, the upper body strength of one male performer impressed me. Such muscles…

Sunday saw us attend the long-awaited engagement party of @jenelle and @travelerbill who arrived from New York the day before. We were there 20 minutes. Master and Miss BG saw fit to act like a couple of clowns and before you could say ‘Don’t try this at home’ there were tears. It was lovely to see Jenelle and give her a big hug though!

How is Miss BG’s toilet training going?

Currently in hiatus. While my little girl is keen to not wear her nappy, she is less keen to use the array of facilities available to her. A couple of days after cleaning up all sorts of messes have resulted in the decision to wait until she has more sense and I have more patience.

What am I reading at the moment?

I should be saying my textbooks for uni, but it’s actually the latest Jodi Picoult House Rules. I know she writes to a formula (troubled teen, a crime committed or situation which requires a courtroom confrontation, a handsome detective and attractive mother/lawyer/judge), but I like them.

Besides, it would be rude NOT to read it as a) it was bought by the collections librarian at my request and b) there is a Jodi Picoult book club at work. The club may be just the two of us, but it’s a club and we get together to discuss it at morning tea. So there.

Come and play, everything’s A-OK

I am very thankful Sesame Street won’t be pulled off the air. It is one of two shows that I enjoyed as a child that my two children also enjoy (The other is Play School, which I still find enjoyable for some of the male presenters…:)).

The ACMA ruled that a scene involving  three year old fairy in training Abby Cadabby did not breach its G classification. The scene, which had Abby using a wand to perform a spell and ask help from her mum when the spell backfired, was deemed to have low sense of threat or menace and was justified by context.
The ruling was in response to a written complaint which believed the scene contained witchcraft and was “totally inappropriate for the target age group”. Abby is a fairy, not a witch, who is pink and purple. As a disclaimer, she is also one of Miss BG’s favourite Sesame characters. It would make me chuckle that someone found the time, after watching this, to compose a letter of complaint to the ABC and then to ACMA were it not for the fact that I am still GOBSMACKED that people think like this!

I am thankful that I am day 5 into my Febfast commitment and I am still ‘dry’. I can buy a day off the no-alcohol challenge for $25, but I will hold off until I really need it.

I am thankful for friends who cheer me up no end when I am tired and prone to navel-gazing.

I am thankful it’s the end of the week and while the weekend is full with swimming and family commitments, I’ll have two hours to myself at the hairdressers while I have cups of tea made for me, read glossy magazines and have my scalp massaged. Ahhh, bliss….

Labour of Love

Lynn, my Maternal Child Health Nurse, used to emphasise the need to read, then she would check herself and say, “But you’re a librarian, so I don’t need to go on!” (With two bibliophiles as parents,  and a house with books everywhere, there is no escape for the young’uns.) No, but it’s nice to know that there are health professionals out there to emphasise to parents that reading is essential for little people.

It’s not just words and pictures on a page, but the language spoken, the rhymes, the metre of the words, the rise and fall of the voice. It’s how children learn how to speak, articulate and argue. It’s fun and for some parents, one of the few chances they will get to spend with their children. A banker friend of Mr BG’s who lives in Sydney gets home at 7.30pm just in time to read to his 7 and 9 year old daughters before they go to bed. They’re currently half-way through the Harry Potter series, and for the girls, one of the best parts of the day.

It’s fun to see the love for reading being instilled in your children. One of the loveliest memories I have as Miss BG as a baby is seeing her big brother ‘read’ The Hungry Little Caterpillar to her while she lay on her rug :).

Age-inappropriate literature– reading books before you are ready for them can make you realise how much living you need to do before you can understand them. I read Tess of the D’Arbevilles when I was 12, not knowing what the word seduced meant- I found out soon enough :). And I would have to confess to reading Jackie Collins a couple of years later in Year 10- very educational for a girl who was going to am Catholic girl’s school!

After reading this article though, it made me realise that I should have read Catcher in the Rye before I became an adult- it didn’t seem as relevant as it would have been if I were a disaffected 16 year old…

Impression, Sunrise

Impressions of today

  • Elderly man at Ballarat Station in shorts, sandals and socks. First thoughts were: English tourist or just badly dressed?
  • Friendly and helpful assistant at Coles at Melbourne Central- nice way to start the day!
  • Lunch with PS at Postal Hall, catching up on Christmas and New Year shenanigans.
  • Four year old girls dressed as Ballerinas in pink after having gone to see Angelina Ballerina (I know this because I read the what’s on and in anticipation of a similar fixation to appear in Miss BG, who can act like a prima ballerina at times…)
  • Pregnant ladies, some aglow, some looking quite weary. I spent summer 2005 in my third trimester with Master BG, so my sympathies go out to you ladies. (NB- am definitely NOT clucky!)
  • Couples, either holding hands, arms around waists or even just a protective hand on the back while crossing the street. Not overt Public Displays of Affection, but nice to see. Appealed to my romantic touchy-feely side. (Am thinking I may need to pull out “Love Actually” tonight…)
  • Lack of cafes open round Treasury Precinct- prevented from my 3pm caffeine fix- gah!
  • Sunny sky out my window

Lots of reasons to smile about today.