Cambrian: Slice of Life

Over-due vacation

This is an open letter to the Cambria Public Library:

Dear librarians:

Mea culpa, mea culpa.

If you examine our library records, I’m sure you’ll find our checked-out books are rarely overdue ... not necessarily because we’re so organized, but because we try to take good care of things we borrow, and your Black-Gold online system has made it so easy to renew!

We’re proudly dedicated library users, and are thrilled at the prospect of your newer, larger facility. Nothing will ever replace a library, just as nothing can take the place of a good newspaper.

Right now between us, Husband Richard and I have checked out more than three dozen books, audio books and CDs, and we have read or listened to, or are reading and enjoying, them all. The selection is as eclectic as we are: Melanie Travis’ dog-show mysteries, photo books, Beach Boys Christmas music, books on writing and philosophy, “The Elements of Story,” two Janet Evanovich books on CD, songs from “Ragtime,” a guide to “Fondues and Hot Dips,” Josh Groban’s soaring voice on “Noel” and much more.

But even the best of intentions can go awry. And at this moment on Jan. 4, most of those items are overdue.

We’re so embarrassed. See our downcast eyes, woeful expressions and the blush on our cheeks?

We do try to never be late returning books, especially the newer ones that we can only check out for a week. We know others are waiting in the wings to take them home and enjoy the stories as we did. We don’t want to delay their pleasure.

However, before Christmas as we were packing and getting ready in a pre-holiday-vacation flurry, we carefully set aside any library items that would need to be returned before we got back from our 12-day trip.

We’d turn them in on our way out of town, I said proudly to Husband Richard, ignoring the skeptical expression on his face.

On departure morning, we flung into the van boxes of gifts, our suitcases, a pillow or two, an ice-chest full of homemade chocolate truffles, cameras, heavier-than-usual coats (it was cold in Northern California!) and so much more.

Sometime during all that, we also packed the library bag. Not a good move. It should have gone in last, onto Husband Richard’s lap. I think you can see where this is going.

As we were leaving for the library, when I checked for the book bag, I couldn’t find it. It wasn’t anywhere around the perimeter of the packed stack. It wasn’t on top. Oh, Lordy. That meant it was in the middle somewhere. And, because we had started off on our trip later than we’d planned, there was no spare time left in which to dig for the bag and deliver its contents.

So we also packed some hefty guilt with us on our vacation.

I felt most mortified about temporarily thwarting the desires of those who want to read “Royal Flush,” with its seven-day checkout. And what about the mysteries with Christmas titles? We had thought they’d be fun to read during the holiday season, as indeed some of them were.

But if the book bag hadn’t dived down into the middle of our stuff, I rationalized, other people could have enjoyed them in a timely manner, rather than in the depths of mid-January or the middle of a hot spell in June. (That’s right, Kathe, blame the poor, helpless book bag. For shame.)

Other people may have been waiting anxiously for their chance to hear Christmas music on the CDs we had borrowed when we couldn’t find our own… which had been safely boxed up in March and stashed somewhere as we moved. The CDs were probably hiding. I envisioned them snickering alongside my also-missing Christmas jewelry and those ugly Santa sweaters I can’t bear to discard.

So, dragging the books and CDs along for the 1,000-mile round-trip, we headed for our own personal “Twelve Days of Christmas,” with four granddaughters, three big dogs, two guinea pigs (and two parents) and a houseful of chaotic merriment.

We’re so sorry, dear library folks. The books may not be back on time, but they’re very well traveled.