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Monday, June 30, 2008

Writing Obituaries

Here's an unusual topic for a library blog: obituary writing. I guess there's a real skill involved in writing a good one. I wouldn't know, since I haven't reached the stage in life where the obits are the first thing I read each day. Those who write them gathered together a few weeks ago in Little Las Vegas, New Mexico for the 10th Great Obituary Writers' International Conference, appropriately titled "From Here to Eternity!" The conference was reported on in an newspaper article, but the bulk of it dealt with notable obituary writing. Maybe it's just me, but none of the obituaries struck me as particularly notable. What was notable, however, is the eccentricity of the subjects of the obits. If you're writing about someone who was a little odd, you'd expect an obituary to reflect it, wouldn't you?

Now you're probably saying to yourself, "How's she going to relate THIS to the library's collection?" Fear not, gentle reader, we have the topic covered! First there are the works of fiction: The Obituary Writer by Porter Shreve [F SHR].
Gordie Hatch is twenty-two, charmingly naive, and certain that his first job as a writer for the St. Louis Independent's obituary page will be a stepping stone to a crackerjack career in journalism.
A Few Corrections by Brad Leithauser [F LEI] starts off with an error-riddled obituary.

And don't forget to check out Carl Hiaasen's Basket Case [F HIA]
Once a hotshot investigative reporter, Jack Tagger now bangs out obituaries for a South Florida daily, "plotting to resurrect my newspaper career by yoking my byline to some famous stiff."
Then there are the nonfiction titles: If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska by Heather Lende [979.82 LEN]. Lende explains how she writes her obituaries
I spend as much time as I can researching a life but, with a weekly deadline, invariably I'm talking with friends and family heartbreakingly close to the death. Often within a day or two. Mostly I just listen. The details I need for the obituary are usually given right away, but the visit lasts much longer. By the time I'm ready to write, I know a lot about the person, and their friends and family. Much more than we'll ever print in the paper.
This book, however is much more than a recounting of Alaska's dead, it's the story of small town life in a harsh environment. Despite everything, the author says, "This is our home now, and I have a feeling it always will be."

The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries by Marilyn Johnson [070.449 JOH]. The title says it all!

If you want to read more, head back to the conference website link above and click on "Great Obits" or "Obit News."

Did you ever imagine there'd be so many obituary-themed books on our shelves?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Poetry Friday--Crocodiles on the Brain

Truly, this is an odd week. How many times do you find more than one article about crocodiles in any given week? The Independent ran another one this morning: A Crocodile Goes into a Bar, So the Drinkers Snap It Up. How can anyone resist reading an story with a headline like that?

So, in honor of crocodiles, I'm going to treat you to poems about the toothly reptiles. The first is by Ogden Nash. I happened to use part of it in my quote blog yesterday, so please forgive the repeat:


I give you now Professor Twist,
A conscientious scientist,
Trustees exclaimed, "He never bungles!"
And sent him off to distant jungles.
Camped on a tropic riverside,
One day he missed his loving bride.
She had, the guide informed him later,
Been eaten by an alligator.
Professor Twist could not but smile.
"You mean," he said, "a crocodile."

Here's another by Lewis Carroll found in Poems of Lewis Carroll [821.8 CAR]:


How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!

And finally, some lyrics from one of my favorite songs:


Never smile at a crocodile
No, you can't get friendly with a crocodile
Don't be taken in by his welcome grin
He's imagining how well you'd fit within his skin.

Borrow the film Peter Pan to see it masterfully performed by Cyril Ritchard [J VIDEO PET], or look for the original Broadway cast album [CD BROADWAY PET]

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Crocodilly Summer

Yesterday our summer reading program, "G'day for Reading," kicked off with a well-attended registration party (see pictures here). Australia is this year's theme, but what besides kangaroos do you think of when the word "Australia" is mentioned? Crocodile Dundee? The Crocodile Hunter? Crocodiles? Yes!

So, in honor of our summer reading program, I'd like to mention a few items for adults to look at to get them in the crocodilly spirit:

Crocodile Dundee
. [DVD CRO] "When a fearless Australian crocodile hunter arrives in New York under the guidance of a beautiful and tenacious reporter, it's culture shock all around."

The Crocodile Hunter. [650 CRO] This set of VHS tapes features the late Steve Irwin in three episodes of his Animal Planet program, "Steve's Story," "Steve's Most Dangerous Adventures," and "Greatest Crocodile Captures."

Irwin, Steve, and Terri Irwin. The Crocodile Hunter: The Incredible Life of Steve and Terri Irwin. [920 IRW]

Rue, Leonard Lee, III. Alligators and Crocodiles: A Portrait of the Animal World. [597.98 RUE] "A photographic celebration of alligators and crocodiles, providing information about the characteristic differences between the two species, their feeding and breeding traits, and the truth about crocodilians as maneaters."

Just this week, I read an article about crocodile hatchlings that you won't want to miss--especially the photos!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dash Americans

America is truly a welcoming place and we should rejoice in the opportunities afforded us to learn about the many cultures that make up this country of ours. Recently, on Weekend Edition Saturday, Scott Simon interviewed Firoozeh Dumas, author of the new book, Laughing Without an Accent: Adventures of an Iranian American, at Home and Abroad [on order]. She spoke about her family, including her father and uncles' penchant for wearing velour--funny stuff. Dumas also wrote Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America [B DUM]. When our monthly book discussion group was still meeting, this was one of the titles we read. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and found it a highly discussable title.

The fill-in-the-blank-American experience has always been fodder for writers of both nonfiction and fiction. Here are a few titles that cover several of the different dash Americans:

Chang, Pang-Mei Natasha. Bound Feet and Western Dress. [305.42 CHA]

Ciresi, Rita. Sometimes I Dream in Italian. [F CIR]

Danticat, Edwidge. Behind the Mountains. [J DAN]

MacDonald, Michael Patrick. All Souls: A Family Story from Southie. [B MAC]

Maillard, Keith. The Clarinet Polka. [F MAI]

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tasha Tudor--Children's Illustrator Extraordinaire

This is turning out to be a rather sad month. Yesterday I found out that Vermont illustrator, Tasha Tudor, died last week at the age of 92. Tudor was a free-spirited individual who preferred life as it would have been lived in the 19th century. Her illustrations for dozens of children's books were, to use a cliche that is completely appropriate to her work, perfectly charming.

Take a look at her work as described by an expert on the PBS show, Antiques Roadshow:

Learn more about Tudor by visiting her family website, or borrowing The Private World of Tasha Tudor [B TUD]. We also have a lovely book in our reference section, by William John Hare, Tasha Tudor: The Direction of Her Dreams [R 920 HAR], for you to spend a leisurely afternoon perusing. Borrow a few of her children's books to share with your kids, or look forward to a trip to Vermont to visit her museum (the museum is still in the planning stages).

Monday, June 23, 2008

Defender of the Constitution

You've probably heard about the passing of comedian, George Carlin. You may think it's an exaggeration to call him a defender of the Constitution, but that's how I think of him. By challenging the laws against "obscene" language, he got people talking about freedom of speech and the Constitution. He continued to perform his routine, "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television," despite being subjected to arrest. The man had guts and a deep conviction in Americans' rights to protest.

It is best to watch him perform--

Second best would be to listen to him, which you can do by borrowing his When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? [AB/CD 818 CAR]. You can, of course, read his When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?, Brain Droppings, or Napalm & Silly Putty [all 818 CAR], but it's not quite the same as hearing or seeing him perform!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Poetry Friday--Summer's Here!

At 7:59 this evening, spring will bow out and summer will walk in. For the kids in town, summer has already started since school is now officially over for the year. You can revisit the summers of your youth by reading Lemonade Sun and Other Summer Poems by Rebecca Kai Dotlich [J 811.54 DOT]. Here's a poem of summer's uniquely refreshing beverage:

We pour
its liquid sweetness
from a tall
glass pitcher,
on frosty squares
of ice,
lemon light
and slightly tart,
we gulp its gold--
licking our lips
with summer.

Other summer poems for kids can be found in Douglas Florian's Summersaults: Poems and Paintings [J 811 FLO]. Florian includes a number of poems with movement expressed through the layout of the words on the page. The poem, "Fireflies," brings to mind the erratic flickering flight of bioluminescent insects. Check it out!

Have a great summer everyone!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Something to Climb On

Two days ago I posted a piece about climbing clematis.

Today I figured I would provide you with some options for crafting something for the flowering beauties to climb on. This is a good time of year for working on outdoor projects--you can do your sawing and hammering (and swearing) outside where you won't bother the family! Here are a few books to look for:

Long, Jim. Making Bentwood Trellises, Arbors, Gates and Fences. [684.1 LON]

Mailboxes: 20 Unique Step-by-Step Projects. [684.1 MAI]

Miller, Marcianne. Making Arbors and Trellises: 25 Practical and Decorative Projects for Your Garden. [684.1 MIL]

Sheldon, Kathy. Garden Walls, Fences, and Hedges. [717 SHE]

Stiles, David. Garden Retreats: A Build-It-Yourself Guide. [681.1 STI]

Once you've managed the skills used in some of the smaller projects, you may wish to tackle outdoor furniture!

Cameron, Brenda. Making Bent Willow Furniture. [684.1 CAM]

After that you can sit down, relax, and watch your clematis grow!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What A Way to End the Day!

Yesterday was one of those days. Miserable. Everything seemed to rub me the wrong way. I was in a peevish mood. It made for a tiring day--being on the edge of anger all day long is draining. I was planning on going to bed and getting a good night's sleep and putting all the peevishness behind me. But then...

I turned on game 6 of the NBA finals. The first quarter was a nice back and forth between the Celtics and the Lakers, but once the second quarter began it was ALL OVER for LA. What a game! The Celtics were HOT! More than hot--VOLCANIC!

I'm sure you've heard how they won the 2008 championship title by a remarkable 39 points! Ray Allen alone had 7--SEVEN--three-pointers! Kevin Garnett had 14 rebounds! It was marvelous! A job well done! I even stayed awake for the awarding of the trophy and the naming of the MVP--Paul Pierce. The joy was obvious and I was happy to be a part of it, even though I was on the other side of the tv screen!

A new History of the Boston Celtics will have to be written to replace the one by John Nichols that is currently in our collection [J 796.323 NIC]. And now that there will be a new banner (the 17th) hanging in the rafters, Peter May's book, The Last Banner: The Story of the 1985-86 Celtics, the NBA's Greatest Team of All Time [796.323 MAY], is obsolete.

Yesterday turned out to be a great day! And today, I don't have a peevish bone in my body!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Climbing Clematis

photo by iowa spirit walker

I took a walk around my neighborhood the other day and was surprised to see a flowering climbing clematis already crawling up and over a mailbox. I was under the mistaken impression that clematis bloomed later in the season. (I'm under the mistaken impression about a lot of things!) If I were a gardener, I'd plant lots of different colored clematis--there are hundreds of varieties--and have them climbing over all sorts of trellises.

According to the experts at Ohio State University, "Clematis have a reputation for being difficult to grow, however, like any other plant, if their needs can be met by the site and proper care, they will thrive." To learn more about this perennial borrow A Creative Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Clematis by Nicholas Hall [635.9333 HAL]. Or, visit the American Clematis Society website. The photos section has some beautiful pictures!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Recycling--It Ain't Just for Bottles and Cans

A recent article spoke about the way people have given up the sewing and repair of clothes. For most, it is easier to buy a new shirt than it is to replace a button on a shirt. We can't really be blamed when stores are selling clothing so cheaply. It is almost foolish to pay full price for any article of clothing--wait a week and it'll be on sale--or better yet, on clearance.

The article mentioned above tells of a woman who teaches others to reuse clothes to make fashionable wearables.
"Customising your own clothes is creative and satisfying, as you feel you've produced something that is completely yours. Consuming is dull," says Wicks.

Being creative is a nice idea. And what's the worse that can happen? If your efforts aren't wearable, you can throw the created item away--that's where it was headed anyway, wasn't it? If you want to give recycling garments a go, look for these fun books:

Meyrich. Elissa. Rip It!: How to Deconstruct and Reconstruct the Clothes of Your Dreams. [YA 646.404 MEY]

Nicolay, Megan. Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt. [YA 646.404 NIC]

Rannels, Melissa. Subversive Seamster: Transform Thrift Store Threads into Street Couture. [YA 646.404 RAN]

Webber, Carmen. Denim Mania: 25 Stylish Ways to Transform Your Jeans. [YA 687.1 WEB]

If you'd like to see some restyled garments, take a look at this website.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Poetry Friday--Animated Poetry

I'm away today at a conference at UNH, but I thought I'd leave you this little video animation of former U.S. Poet Laureate, Billy Collins' poem, "The Country." Collins, himself, is reading the poem.

Look for Billy Collins' Nine Horses: Poems [811 COL] the next time you visit. It contains, "The Country" and other equally delightful poems!

Thursday, June 12, 2008


A big welcome to one of our newest American citizens, David Ortiz. You may know Ortiz by his other name, Big Papi.

Yesterday Ortiz took an Oath of Citizenship at a ceremony at the JFK Library.

Do you know what is in the Oath of Citizenship? Here's the text:
I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;

that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic;

that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;

that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law;

that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law;

that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and

that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

Becoming a U.S. citizen requires passing a test. Here's a sample of the types of questions a prospective citizen would be required to answer correctly:

  • How many states are there in the Union (the United States)?

  • How many changes, or amendments, are there to the Constitution?

  • For how long do we elect each Senator?

  • Who becomes President if both the President and Vice President die?

  • What was the 49th state added to our Union (the United States)?

  • In what year was the Constitution written?

  • How many times may a Senator or Congressman be re-elected?

  • For more information about citizenship go to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. Or, better yet, go to the library shelves and browse the 323.6 section.

    To learn more about our newest citizen Red Sox slugger, borrow Big Papi: My Story of Big Dreams and Big Hits [B ORT].

    Congratulations Mr. Ortiz. We're proud of you!

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008

    Upcoming Kids' Flick

    I'm looking forward to the upcoming film Where the Wild Things Are, based upon the modern classic picture book of the same name by Maurice Sendak [JP SEN].

    Spike Jonze, director of Being John Malkovich, and a gazillion music videos, is the the director. Jonze, along with author Dave Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius [B EGG]) wrote the script.

    The film is due out in the fall. Until then, why not read the original book, and a few other works by Sendak such as Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months [JP SEN GREEN DOT], or In the Night Kitchen [JP SEN]. Borrow the animated Where the Wild Things Are--And Other Maurice Sendak Stories [J DVD WHE] and enjoy its simplicity before the full length feature movie is released.

    Oh, and one more thing, Karen O of the group Yeah Yeah Yeahs is supposedly writing the music for the movie. An odd choice, I think, except for the fact that she wears some pretty "wild" outfits and, is Jonze's girlfriend. If you want to judge for yourself if her music might fit, listen to Show Your Bones [CD ROCK YEA].

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008

    Think Cool Thoughts!

    With today's temps hovering around 100 degrees, it's time to settle down in some nice air-conditioned place (like the library), and read a "cool" book!

    Here are a few titles to pick from:

    Brockmeier, Kevin. The Brief History of the Dead. [F BRO]
    Laura Byrd is trapped in an Antarctic research station, her supplies are running low, her radio finds only static, and the power is failing. With little choice, Laura sets out across the ice to look for help, but time is running out.

    Marshall, James Vance. White-Out. [F MAR]
    The only survivor of a secret World War II British naval mission to Antarctica struggles for life and sanity in this harshest of environments.

    McCaughrean, Geraldine. The White Darkness: A Novel. [YA MCC]
    Taken to Antarctica by the man she thinks of as her uncle for what she believes to be a vacation, Symone--a troubled fourteen-year-old--discovers that he is dangerously obsessed with seeking Symmes's Hole, an opening that supposedly leads into the center of a hollow Earth.

    Patterson, James. Maximum Ride: The Final Warning. [YA PAT]
    While on a mission to Antarctica to save the world from global warming, fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride and the other members of the Flock--a band of genetically modified children who can fly--are pursued by their creator, the Uber-Director, who wants to auction them off to the highest bidder.
    Robinson, Kim Stanley. Antarctica. [SF STA]
    A group of radical environmentalists struggles to find a way to save the natural beauty of Antarctica from the politicians who are fighting for control of its natural resources.

    Monday, June 09, 2008

    A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That--June 2008

    A bunch of things to mention briefly today:

    At 10:30 there was already a line for the book sale.

    1. The F.L.O.W. Strawberry Festival and Book Fair was held on Saturday and by all accounts was an overwhelming success! Many thanks to the Friends of the Library for continuing this annual community program.

      At the library's summer reading program craft table, kids decorate a boomerang.

      Crikey! It's Steve Irwin promoting the summer reading program.

    2. Shameless self-promotion! I'm a part of a group of children's writers called The Write Sisters. Last month, our first cooperative effort, Women of Granite: 25 New Hampshire Women You Should Know [being processed], was released. Most of The Write Sisters are teachers or librarians. From years of working with children we were able to identify a need and fill it. If you've ever had to help a 4th grade girl find a biography on a famous NH woman, you've realized there's a lack of suitable materials--until now.

      The book is published by a local publisher, Apprentice Shop Books. On Friday, the NH Center for the Book named it the book of the week!

    3. I viewed a most frightening documentary recently, The Future of Food. It covers the topic of genetically modified foods. To read more about the topic borrow Alan McHughen's Pandora's Picnic Basket: the Potential and Hazards of Genetically Modified Foods [363.19 MCG] from our collection.

    Friday, June 06, 2008

    Poetry Friday--Poetry as Punishment!

    A while ago, I read about the vandalism that took place at the Robert Frost home in Vermont. The perps were apprehended and brought before a judge. The judge decided that the juveniles involved should be required to take classes in Frost's poetry "as part of their punishment."

    Poetry as punishment? Not a good idea. Most kids already think a class in poetry is tantamount to punishment! This will hammer it home.

    Poor Robert Frost. He must be rolling over in his grave.

    I know the judge's heart was in the right place. If the kids were taught Frost's poetic legacy, and could relate to his humanity, then perhaps they'd understand the gravity of their misbehavior.


    The professor who taught the classes, Jay Parini, seems to think the course was of value, as a recent interview on NPR reveals.

    Who knows?

    Here's a little of Frost's poem, "The Vindictives" that I think fits well with the punishment theme,
    'The best way to hate is the worst.
    'Tis to find what the hated need,
    Never mind of what actual worth,
    And wipe that out of the earth.
    Let them die of unsatisfied greed,
    Of unsatisfied love of display,
    Of unsatisfied love of the high,
    Unvulgar, unsoiled, and ideal.
    Let their trappings be taken away.
    Let them suffer starvation and die
    Of being brought down to the real.'

    Read the whole poem in any of these books: Frost: Collected Poems, Prose, & Plays, A Further Range, The Road Not Taken: A Selection of Robert Frost's Poems, all in [811 FRO]

    Thursday, June 05, 2008

    Slowing Down

    It's not going to happen. With a world competing to satisfy the public's demand for instant gratification, the days of slowing-down-and-taking-your-time are probably gone. That does not stop some from making an attempt to get us to give up our quest for quicker-and-easier solutions to everything. Yesterday I read an article in The Independent, called Peel an Orange, and Other Things Britons Won't Do. It appears that the citizens of the U.K.oranges are eating fewer oranges simply because they are difficult to peel!
    Compared with the easy-peel, lighter-weight satsuma and tangerine, the noble orange is considered too big, too messy and too inconvenient to denude with your human fingers.

    A spokesman for Fruitmann, importer and exporter of fruits, explained that consumers just don't feel it's worth the bother taking the skin off an orange (let alone taking the pith). "A recent study," he said, "showed that we spend only 15 minutes eating lunch in the UK on average."

    How sad is that? The taste of a juicy sweet orange can't be beat, and certainly no tangerine can compare to it as far as I'm concerned!

    If you really must do everything in a hurry, we have many, many items to help you along.

    Carmindy. The 5 Minute Face: The Quick & Easy Makeup Guide for Every Woman. [646.72 CAR]

    Cruise, Jorge. 8 Minutes in the Morning for Extra Easy Weight Loss. [613.712 CRU]

    Goldberg, Philip. Over 1,000 Quick & Easy Pain Remedies from Little Ouches to Big Aches. [616 GOL]

    Novak, Jamie. 1000 Best Quick and Easy Organizing Secrets. [648.8 NOV]

    Silberg, Jackie. 500 Five Minute Games: Quick and Easy Activities for 3-6 Year Olds. [372.5 SIL]

    As this small sampling proves, there are instructions for making everything in your life quicker and easier to accomplish. At this rate, we could reduce our actual work time to 10 minutes max per day!

    Wednesday, June 04, 2008


    I'm cheating today and lifting an idea from the online book trade newsletter, Shelf Awareness. They mentioned a Library of Congress website called, NLS Other Writings: Say How? A Pronunciation Guide to Names of Public Figures.

    I wish I had known about this site a long time ago! I can't tell you how many times I've had a "discussion" about author J.K. Rowling's name! And, just yesterday I was asked how to pronounce another writer's name, and I had no clue! (By the way, Rowling rhymes with bowling.)

    So, I'm going to slide right into a short list of works by writers whose names some people have difficulty with:

    Brzezinski, Zbigniew. The Choice: Domination or Leadership. [327.73 BRZ]

    D'Aulaire, Ingre. Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths. [J 292 DAU]

    DePaola, Tomie. 26 Fairmont Avenue. [J B DEP]

    Goethe, Johann Wolfgang. Faust. [832 GOE]

    Hajdu, David. Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña. [920 HAJ]

    Hey, I never promised that every posting would be witty and insightful!

    Tuesday, June 03, 2008

    Keep Your Mind Occupied While Your Fingers Are Flying

    Are you a knitter? What do you do while your fingers are knitting and purling? May I suggest listening to an audio book? We have a gazillion! You knitters may be interested in these items we just added to our collection:

    Feitelson, Ann. The Art of Fair Isle Knitting. [AB/CD 746.32 FEI]
    Ann Feitelson applies ardent dedication to her research. She leads readers through the history of Fair Isle knitting to an examination of the style's techniques, explicating not only the unique colorways and patterns, but such valuable details as ways to hold the yarn.

    Knitting Memories: Reflections on the Knitter's Life. [AB/CD 746.432 KNI]
    Sometimes it is a cherished knitted item that starts a story, sometimes the quest for another skein of the perfect yarn, and sometimes the way knitting is worked into a memory. There's a reason a "yarn" might be a tale or a thread, drawing us along - as these knitters do with their stories of the knitter’s art...Each story in this wonderful collection focuses on one of the best parts of the knitting tradition - making a gift for someone special, or receiving a gift, or cherishing a gift that has been handed down through the generations.

    MacDonald, Anne L. No Idle Hands: The Social History of American History. [AB/CD 746.432 MAC]
    An historian and lifelong knitter, Anne Macdonald now expertly guides readers on a revealing tour of the history of knitting in America. In No Idle Hands Macdonald considers how the necessity -- and the pleasure -- of knitting has shaped women's lives.

    Here is the Colonial woman for whom idleness was a sin and her Victorian counterpart, who enjoyed the pleasure of knitting while visiting with friends; the war wife eager to provide her man with warmth and comfort, and the modern woman busy creating fashionable handknits for herself and her family. Macdonald examines each phase of American history and gives us a clear and compelling look at life, then and now. And through it all, we see how knitting has played an important part in the way society has viewed women -- and how women have viewed themselves.

    Rutt, Richard. A History of Hand Knitting. [AB/CD 746.432 RUT]
    ...provides a full history of hand knitting by tracing the development and refinement of the craft. With special attention to the social aspects of knitting, it examines the changes in tools and techniques within different regions. Examined in detail are the history of European knitting before 1500, knitting in Britain from Henry VIII to the Commonwealth, from the Restoration to 1835, during the 19th century, and during World War I and after. Further explorations consider local traditions in the British Isles, knitting as practiced east of the Adriatic, and developments in the Americas.

    Stoller, Debbie. Stitch 'N Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook. [AB/CD 746.432 STO]
    In Stitch 'n Bitch, Debbie Stoller-founder of the first Stitch 'n Bitch knitting group in New York City-covers every aspect of knitting and the knitting-together lifestyle: the how-to, the when-to, the what-to, the why-to. Writing with wit and attitude (The Knitty-Gritty, Blocking for Blockheads), she explains the different types of needles and yarns (and sheep, too) and all the techniques from basic to fancy, knit to purl to cast-off.

    These audiobooks have been produced by a new company from Maine, Knitting Out Loud, which is devoted to stories connected to the age-old art of knitting. If you have a knitting story you would like to share, visit the website at www.knittingoutloud.com. To read more about this start-up company, click here.

    Monday, June 02, 2008


    Our rhododendrons have burst forth in bloom this week! They are gorgeous, although the photos don't do them justice due to the brightness of the sun (not that I'm complaining on this beautiful day).

    The name rhododendron comes from the Greek, rhodon = rose, and dendron = tree. According to Mervyn Kessell, in his book, Rhododendrons and Azaleas [635.9336 KES],
    Rhododendron is probably the largest of all the genera of woody plants, containing in the region of 770 species, although this does not take into account subspecies and naturally occurring varieties.

    I did not realize that rhododendrons are a member of the heath family. The heath family also includes blueberries and cranberries! And azaleas. Most azalea blossoms have faded, except for the ones in the shade at the front of the library, one of which you can see here.

    Borrow Botanica's Trees and Shrubs [635.9 BOT] to learn about, and see photos of, flowering shrubs including rhodis. For even more specific information and photos, go to the American Rhododendron Society's website. They claim to have over 900 images!

    Come July, take a trip to Fitzwilliam to Rhododendron State Park. The park has 16 acres of Rhododendron maximum, which are in bloom around mid-July.