Posted by: vmlay | October 1, 2008

Love of Libraries and Irish Ancestors

I have been taking Alex and Mac to various libraries since they were babies.  I remember my Grandmother taking me to libraries when I was quite young and my fascination with them has never dimmed — so many books, so many possibilities!  I wasn’t sure that this passion was going to transfer very well to my children, however.  Alex seemed to prefer to play with the various toys and stuffed animals that are now prevalant in every children’s section.  When I would suggest she pick out books she seemed uninterested, even though she enjoyed books a great deal at home.  And Mac, well, Mac liked the toys as well but would throw dramatically awe-inspiring tantrums when it was time to leave.  I stopped taking him to libraries for a while to avoid the stares and raised eyebrows that always accompanied his stringent protests.

Happily, Mac has calmed down (he’s still a ball of pure energy but the hysteria is much less common) and while they both enjoy the toys still they also now pick out books (and videos) to bring home.  So we have made going to the library a weekly event.   So last night after dinner we packed up and headed up to Cliff Cave, the library I went to as a child.  We have a small library right near the entrance to our subdivision and we go there also, but I love to take them up to Cliff Cave if only for the memories on my part.  I still clearly recall the day that Cliff Cave opened — my Grandparents and I went to the Grand Opening — it was so exciting because I finally had a library much closer to where we lived.  I even remember checking out a book about horses that day, I could probably pull up the title if I sat here and thought about it for a while.  I was at the library almost every Saturday — I know, I had no social life.  I was terribly shy and I lived in the worlds I read about in books.  It was a wonderful escape and, actually, it still is 🙂

We enjoyed our library visit last night.  Alex and Mac each picked out three books and a one video.  I picked out a book as well, although I really shouldn’t check out more books until I finish what is already stacked up at home!  But I love the feeling of having a stack of books just waiting to be read — it’s like a security blanket 🙂  Alex and I talked last night when we got home about how stories can take you anywhere you want to go — a book and your imagination and your set for adventures.   But really you don’t even need a book as Alex is always quick to remind me, imagination alone can work just fine — it always amazes me when she actually remembers things that I’ve told her — she actually listens to me sometimes 🙂  Alex has always had a love of stories, she creates them with impressive ease, creating plots and characters and weaving in details.  She is a born storyteller.  We tell stories in the car and when we go on walks, she dictates stories for me to write down, and tells me the stories from her dreams.  She loves family stories and I oblige her with tales about her great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents (from Ireland).  She knows her favorite ones by heart already and corrects me if I go astray in the telling!

Speaking of stories, this morning I saw this in a Yahoo group that I am subscribed to and I really liked it.  It reminds me of the many times my Grandmother said that our Irish relatives were all tinkers, ditch diggers and horse thieves 🙂 She was very proud of her Irish heritage but she certainly never glossed over the realities.

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Voices of Irish Tinkers:

“If you ask: What’s the time? do you have the time?, people do be vexed and they stare at you with their
calculations as if you were riding about in a painted dream on the old horse & cart.  We have black teeth but we dream just the same as the people that live in houses.  Just to be born on the side of the road is to go down in disrepect.  I know a man went down in Australia and he came back in Ireland as a tinker but they still had no respect for him…”

“When I was small and went for water up the ditch where my Mammy sent me I saw the houses, standing up high over the hills and trees, some of them. I often thought betimes to meself I wonder why we’re sitting outside waiting for to go inside. Mammy brought me inside houses with her when she went every Thursday . Sometimes they’d sprinkle holy water on us and sometimes they’d harm us with a few hard knocks and curse us passing…”

“Betimes it do be peaceful on the road. I get a queer feeling when I do hear the goats scratching on the bark of the trees and they hop around in the branches and they rock the caravan of an evening & I lean out & tell
them get off heifer, get off rooster, get off, get off, and don’t be rocking the old caravan. The wind does have the best job in doing that. There’s no need for you to scratch me ears out with your midnight goings on.”

— Excerpts of conversation from ” Irish Tinkers,” Wiedel & O’Fearadhaigh

Speaking of our Irish ancestors, we went searching for my great-grandparents burial site last year.  Annie Finnegan was born in Cavan County, Ireland and came to the United States as a young woman.  She married William Rueweller in New York.  Her daughter, Mary Rose, was my grandmother who raised me from the age of three.  There are many stories in our family about Annie and William and their travels (William was a career soldier).  Here is the headstone which Alex and I searched for quite a while to find:

Alex was actually really excited to find the gravesite of her great-great-grandparents — more then I would have thought.  She loves cemetaries (I know, that sounds strange, but I’ve always loved exploring cemetaries, especially the older ones that have the wonderful headstones, and Alex loves to tag along).  She picked flowers to put on their gravesite which I thought was really sweet:

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Books and Songs: We had a fresh batch of library books to choose from for last night’s reading, always a fun prospect.  Alex brought in Grumpy Cat about a cat who is very grumpy (because he is actually very lonely) until he (reluctantly) makes a new friend — a cute orange kitten.  And then he’s no longer a grumpy cat — at least not very often 🙂  It’s a very sweet story and Alex pointed out that it was really nice of Grumpy Cat to save the kitten even though he wasn’t sure he wanted the kitten to hang around annoying him — a nice lesson snuck in there about friendship and caring for others.  Mac wanted to read Oswald’s Camping Trip.  He used to enjoy the show Oswald when he was younger and still likes to read the books occasionally.  I must say that Henry is the most pessimistic penguin in the world!  Mac really liked the end of the story when Oswald and his friends end up camping inside because it rains (as Henry keeps insisting it will).  Mac (and Alex too) love to set up “tents” by putting blankets or sheets over chairs and Mac pointed out that Oswald really liked his tent too.

Mac and I snuggled and discussed tents (I promised we’d put up a “tent” this weekend) and going to Goddard (the preschool he goes to three days a week).  His best friend is McCain.  It’s so cute, every morning he and McCain show off their underwear to each other — “Look, I’m wearing Spiderman today, what do you have!” The joys of being potty trained 🙂

Alex fell asleep early again so I retreated to the couch to read some more of Brisingr which is dragging for me a bit but I keep pressing on, I’m determined to finish it this week or know why!

And one last tidbit — the university I work at (Washington University) is hosting the VP debate tomorrow — so it’s really hectic around here this week.  Lots of excitement 🙂

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