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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tomorrow's New Year's Eve--Are You Ready?

For many, New Year's Eve is an excuse to indulge in all things alcoholic. If you're hosting a party and really want to wow people, why not prepare a new cocktail or two? We have several bar tending guides including Bartending for Dummies by Ray Foley [641.874 FOL], which should fit your cocktail mixing needs.

This weekend, thanks to an NPR story, I discovered the Museum of the American Cocktail. I don't drink cocktails, but I still enjoyed browsing the museum's site, and seeing some of the paraphernalia used in making a cocktail party a success. The picture below took me by surprise since the pink elephant glasses were ones that I had seen in my home when I was young!

from The Museum of the American Cocktail

To set the mood at your party, borrow songstress Jo Stafford's album, Cocktail Hour [CD FEMALE VOCALIST STA], and look for Martha Stewart's party guide, Entertaining [642 STE] for menus and decorating ideas.

The library will be closed New Year's eve and New Year's day. We will open again on Friday at 9:00 AM. Have a safe holiday! Peace to all.

For Jane, Whose E-mail is Not Working

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Monday, December 29, 2008

What Did You Read in 2008?

Last Friday's Wall Street Journal had an opinion piece by Karl Rove that revealed an on-going contest between Rove and George Bush--who could read the most books.

Rove tells us this about our outgoing prez:
He reads instead of watching TV. He reads on Air Force One and to relax and because he's curious.
In its third year, Rove is once again ahead in the contest. Here are some of the books that he says President Bush has read in 2008. You can tackle his reading list by checking our shelves for these titles:

Atkinson, Rick. Day of Battle. [940.54 ATK]

Grant, U.S. Personal Memoirs. [B GRA]

Halberstam, David. The Coldest Winter. [951.904 HAL]

McPherson, James M. Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief. [973.7092 MCP]

Meacham, Jon. American Lion. [B JAC]

So, what have you read this year? You can't use "I'm too busy to read," as an excuse. Look what our president has done, and he's got to be a lot busier than you!

To keep track of the books you read, you might want to use the old-fashioned write-in-a-notebook method, or, you can explore one of the book related social networking sites such as Shelfari.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


As we go through the holidays, it might be a good time to think about the way we eat. The amount, and type, of food we consume in the U.S. would be shocking to most people in other nations, but sadly, our food habits are spreading around the world!

Click here for a chart entitled "Diet for a Small Planet" by Alexandra Spunt. Spunt begins:
The world may be shrinking but we're all getting bigger. See how globalization is affecting the way we all eat--for better or for (mostly) worse.
You may want to consider changing the way you eat, but if you do, you'd better discuss it with your kids first--they've grown up on fast food and abundance, and might not understand why you'd want to change.

A good way to get the discussion going is to borrow a book called What the World Eats, photographed by Peter Menzel, written by Faith D'Aluisio [J 641.3 MEN]. The photos present a clear picture of what families around the world eat in a week. The text provides information such as a comparison of the amount of money each family spends. For example, the Patkars, a family of four in India spent (in equivalent U.S. dollars) $39.27 for their week's worth of food while the three American families shown spent $159.18, $341.98, and $242.48! Other features of the book are recipes, fast facts about the countries, and charts.

If your kids balk at giving up fast foods, borrow one of these and share a few of the facts you'll discover within their pages:

Critser, Greg. Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World. [362.1 CRI]

Sanna, Ellyn. America's Unhealthy Lifestyle: Supersize It! [616.398 SAN]

Schlosser, Eric. Chew on This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food. [YA 394.12 SCH]

Sorry, I didn't mean to put a damper on your holiday feast! Enjoy yourself this week, and next, and consider making changes in the new year!

Please note: the library will be closed starting tomorrow, 12/24, and will reopen again at 9:00 AM on 12/29. Happy Holidays to you all!

Monday, December 22, 2008

One More Reason to Love Cats

As if you'd need another reason! But, here's an article about a group of cats in Misiones, Argentina that kept a baby alive by caring for it.
Policewoman Alicia Lorena Lindgvist discovered the child by a canal in the Christ King district of the city.

She said: "I was walking and noticed a gang of cats sitting very close together. It is unusual to see so many like that so I went for a closer look and that's where I saw him. The boy was lying at the bottom of a gutter. There were all these cats on top of him licking him because he was really dirty.

"When I walked over they became really protective and spat at me. They were keeping the boy warm while he slept."

The officer, who noticed scraps of food near the boy, added: "The cats knew he was fragile and needed protecting."
Interesting story, huh?

The article compared the one-year-old to Kipling's character, Mowgli, from The Jungle Books. We have a nicely illustrated selection of stories called The Jungle Book: The Mowgli Stories in our children's section [J KIP], if you want to refresh your memory.

We also have several fictional works on feral children in our adult and young adult sections, including,

Carbone, Elisa. The Pack. [YA CAR]

Kelleher, Victor. Dogboy. [YA KEL]


O'Connell, Carol. Stone Angel. [MYS OCO]

Rosoff, Meg. What I Was. [AB/CD ROS]

Friday, December 19, 2008

Poetry Friday--W.S. Merwin

We hear so little poetry being read aloud that it's become a real treat to hear it done on the radio. It was particularly nice on Tuesday when I heard Fresh Air's Terry Gross interview poet W.S. Merwin.

Besides hearing Merwin read his poetry aloud, the memories of his family were touching, and none more than the memory of one of his dogs. This dog had lost its eyesight completely and Merwin came to see his pet's adaptiveness as a model for strength of character.

Here is from a seasonally appropriate poem called "The Cold before the Moonrise," from the collection Migration: New and Selected Poems [811.54 MER]:
It is too simple to turn to the sound
Of frost stirring among its
Stars like an animal asleep
In the winter night
And say I was born far from home
If there is a place where this is the language may
It be my country

Stay warm!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Turn on the radio this week and all you hear are reports of a major Ponzi scheme that has bilked hundreds of investors.

I'm not an investor, nor am I interested in finance (need I say I'm not rich?), but I am interested in the human aspect of swindlers and their willing victims. Last night on All Things Considered, writer Nomi Prins explored the psychology behind Bernard Madoff and his investment management business.

And who is this Ponzi guy who gave his name to the scheme? It just so happens we have a biography on Mr. Ponzi called Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend by Mitchell Zuckhoff [B PON].

The Wall Street Journal's opinion pages had a piece about a Ponzi scheme that dates back to the 1880s, even before Mr. Ponzi! One of that scheme's big-name investors was none other than former president U.S. Grant!

It seems that investors never learn! Is it any wonder why this little Biblical phrase is so oft repeated--"For the love of money is the root of all evil."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Want to Impress a Date?

Tell him/her that you read! This is the conclusion of a British writer, Caroline Gammell, in her article in the Independent Men 'lie about books they have read to impress on dates'.

The conclusion would have been more satisfying to me if the list of things people say they read, included some specific books.

Of the lists of 10 items, only one (and it appears on both lists) is a named book--Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela [B MAN]. What an odd choice! Mandela's autobiography came out in the U.S. in 1994!

I think that if some guy told me he was reading Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights [F BRO] or Stitch 'N Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook by Debbie Stoller [746.462 STO], I'd be impressed, but VERY suspicious. I'll have to get back to you about what title would REALLY impress me if someone of the opposite sex read (and enjoyed) it!

What book would impress you if a date were carrying a copy around? Let us know in the comments section below.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Santa Claus on the Big Screen

Boy, do we have Santa and Christmas covered when it comes to the big screen (actually the big screen has been shrunk for your tv screen)--from old classics, to some relatively new films.

I'll start with my favorite, Elf [DVD ELF] starring Will Farrell. I resisted seeing this one for a long time because I'm not a big Will Farrell fan, but once I watched it, I was hooked! Farrell is appropriately clueless as the human who is raised as an elf in the North Pole. The soundtrack for the film is one of my favorite Christmas CDs [CD SOUNDTRACK ELF]--"Santa Claus's Party," is running through my head right now!

I guess I'm a sucker for Christmas movies, because I also like The Santa Clause [VIDEO SAN], and that one's about as cornball as you can get!

We must own every film version of the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol [DVD CHR, VIDEO CHR, or DVD SCR], including the Mr. Magoo [J DVD MRM] and Muppet [J DVD MUP, J VIDEO MUP] versions.

Don't forget to look for Miracle on 34th Street [DVD MIR] starring a very young Natalie Wood.

We have plenty more holiday films for you to borrow--come down and browse our shelves!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Library is Open

So if you know anyone who is still without power, direct them to the library where we have a lovely warm building, the internet, and lots of reading material to keep them busy!

The photos below show the upside of Friday's ice storm--the glistening beauty of a world covered in ice! For the downside, check out the news on WMUR, NHPR, or, the reports from Public Service of NH. NHPR is collecting the stories of those affected by the storm, so if you'd like to share, click here.

If you've ever wondered how plants and animals survive the cold, your questions may be answered in these:

Dahl, Michael. Cold, Colder, Coldest: Animals That Adapt to Cold Weather. [JP DAH]

Davies, Nicola. Extreme Animals: The Toughest Creatures on Earth. [J 590 DAV]

Stokes, Donald W. A Guide to Nature in Winter: Northeast and North Central North America. [574.5 STO]

Stay warm!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Poetry Friday--Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker was a complicated woman--one of great intelligence, wit, and sorrow.

I'm going to share the last two lines of Parker's "Inventory" with you.
Three be the things I shall have till I die:
Laughter and hope and a sock in the eye.
They could easily apply to life in 2008, don't you think? We can laugh, we can hope, but somehow or other, we'll always get that sock in the eye.

The whole poem can be found in The Collected Poetry of Dorothy Parker [811.54 PAR], or The Portable Dorothy Parker [818 PAR]. Read the introduction to The Portable Dorothy Parker, by Brendan Gill, for an explanation of Parker's work and popularity back in the 1920s and 30s.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Camouflage--More Than Just a Fashion Statement

I'm sure you've seen any number of kids running around in military camouflage patterned shirts and pants. And how about the tiny toddler girls in their pink camouflage? It makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Human uses of camouflage pattern aside, camouflage in animals is a fascinating topic to study. An article, "Revealed: Secrets of the Camouflage Masters," from the New York Times earlier this year tells of the lowly cuttlefish and its methods of camouflage. The video included on the webpage is a look at some of the work going on at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA.

We have quite a number of camouflage books in our children's room collection. Here are a few (including one in poetry form!):

Helman, Andrea. Hide and Seek: Nature's Best Vanishing Acts. [J 591.472 HEL]

O'Hare, Jeff. Searchin' Safari: Looking for Camouflaged Creatures. [J 591.4 OHA]

Schwartz, David M. Camouflaged Animals Concealed--and Revealed: Ear-Tickling Poems. [J 591.472 SCH]

Smith, Penny. Animal Hide and Seek. [E HEL]

[You wouldn't think that I would post more than once about cephalopods, but I have! Click here for a previous post about giant squid.]

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pride is Catching

I heard about the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment unit being invited to march in the inaugural parade on January 20, and by virtue of my being a New Englander, felt a sense of pride.

The 54th Massachusetts was the all black (except for its officers) Civil War unit that was made famous by the film Glory [DVD GLO]. The film stars Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, and Matthew Broderick.

If you've ever been to the Boston Common, then you've probably seen the regiment memorialized in the bronze sculpture (photo above) by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The sculpture is known as the Shaw Memorial, after the white officer who headed up the regiment, but in viewing it, the reliefs of the black soldiers are the most striking and I've always thought of it as the 54th Mass memorial.

For more information about the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers, borrow Peter Burchard's book, One Gallant Rush: Robert Gould Shaw and His Brave Black Regiment [973.7415 BUR], or from our children's room, Undying Glory: The Story of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment by Clinton Cox [J 973.7 COX].

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Holiday Music

I just want to give everyone a heads up about our holiday concert coming up next week on December 18 at 7:00 pm. The English Handbell Choir of the First Congregational Church of Pelham are back by popular demand to perform seasonal favorites. Due to the amount of space required by the Choir and an audience, the performance will take place in our magazine area. Mark your calendar and join us for a delightful evening!

The Handbell Choir has a CD of their music that you may wish to borrow some time: n.SPIRE.d [CD RELIGIOUS NSP]. For other holiday music check out our CD HOLIDAY section and look for these:

Belafonte, Harry. Christmas. [CD HOLIDAY BEL]

Brightman, Sarah. A Winter Symphony. [CD HOLIDAY BRI]

Crosby, Bing. White Christmas. [CD HOLIDAY CRO]

Guaraldi, Vince. A Charlie Brown Christmas. [CD HOLIDAY GUA]

Klezmatics. Woody Guthrie's Happy Joyous Hanuka. [CD HOLIDAY KLE]

Taylor, James. James Taylor at Christmas. [CD HOLIDAY TAY]

Windham Community Bands. Holiday Dreams. [CD HOLIDAY WIN]

Monday, December 08, 2008


About 6 months or so ago, someone told me about www.pandora.com, an on-line customizable radio station. I went to the site, registered, and then promptly forgot about the whole thing until yesterday when I received an email from Pandora about holiday music. I explored the site extensively since it was Sunday and I had no plans for the day. Am I glad I did! I was in heaven all day long setting up radio stations with my favorite music.

Briefly, what you do is plug in the name of a group (or even a song). A "radio station" is set up that includes other songs by the group, and music from artists whose music is within the same "genre." For example, I set up a Squirrel Nut Zippers radio station. Besides music from the SNZ, I get songs from Madeleine Peyroux, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and Ella Fitzgerald.

I can minimize the screen and listen to the music all day long! And, the best part--it's free! If I mind the occasional ad for Polish vodka (or other sponsor) that may appear on the side of the screen, I can pony up a few bucks and pay for ad-free music, but since I'm listening and not really reading the screen, the ads don't bother me.

There are other features on the site like a blog, information about the groups or the albums that are being played, etc. I encourage you to check it out!

Speaking of freebies, the CDs at the library are always free for the borrowing! If I weren't familiar with Madeleine Peyroux, and had heard her on my "Squirrel Nut Zippers station" and liked her music, I could have come to the library and found that we had 3 of her CDs in our collection:



Half the Perfect World. [CD JAZZ PEY]

Of course we don't have everything, but you might be surprised by what we do have in our collection. (Alas, no Squirrel Nut Zippers--yet!)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Poetry Friday--My American Heritage

We have a rather old book (1949) of prose and poetry, entitled My American Heritage, edited by Marguerite Henry [810.8 HEN]. I hesitate to weed it, because for me, it represents a look at the way Americans viewed their history and culture in the post WW II period. It's social history that you don't find anywhere else.

Amongst its pages are poems by the American greats, Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman, as well as work by long forgotten, but once famous, poets such as Samuel Woodworth ("The Old Oaken Bucket") and George Pope Morris ("Woodman Spare That Tree").

There are works by writers whose names are vaguely familiar, such as Elizabeth Coatsworth and Sara Teasdale.

One of those vaguely familiar names is Joel Chandler Harris. Harris is probably remembered for the folk stories he collected under the character name, Uncle Remus.

Here is a short poem from Harris, that despite its age (Harris died 100 years ago this past July), holds true for any writer worth his/her salt.


When you've got a thing to say,
Say it! Don't take half a day.
When your tale's got little in it,
Crowd the whole thing in a minute!
Life is short--a fleeting vapor--
Don't you fill the whole blamed paper
With a tale which, at a pinch,
Could be cornered in an inch!
Boil her down until she simmers,
Polish her until she glimmers.

Visit Mommy's Favorite Children's Books for links to other Poetry Friday posts.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

'Tis the Season for...Cookies!

I love cookies. Cake is nice every once in a while, but cookies should be indulged in on a daily basis! So, as far as I'm concerned, you couldn't give a nicer gift than a tin/bag of cookies.

Cookies are a favorite amongst cookbook writers, too. If you look in our catalog under the subject heading, "Cookies," you come up with at least 16 books. We have two devoted exclusively to Christmas cookies:

Christmas Cookies. [641.5686 CHR]

Hansen, Liv. Christmas Cookies from the Whimsical Bakehouse. [641.8654 HAN] (Isn't that an intriguing title? What makes a bakehouse "whimsical"?)

Cookie recipes appear in most other cookbooks, too. I don't know of a single cultural group that doesn't have some sort of cookie associated with it.

This time of year cookies are featured in many home magazines. I was browsing through the December issue of Real Simple: Life/Home/Body/Soul [MAG REA] and found a recipe that appealed to me, "Ginger Chocolate-Chip Bars." Doesn't that sound good?

Photo by Stuck in Customs

Speaking of ginger, why not make a gingerbread house for yourself or with your kids. We have several books that show you how, including NH resident, Jennifer Ericsson's book, Gingerbread Houses for Kids [J 641.5 ERI].

Thanks to Carolyn for alerting me to the Food Network's, "Twelve Days of Cookies." Today is day 4 and features sandwich cookies by Giada DeLaurentiis. And, if you're a real cookie fan, sign up for the cookie newsletter!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Holiday Treats

Photo by Matthew Bietz

As promised, I will talk today about gifts from your kitchen. I'll start with the all-time favorite holiday gift--fruitcake. Fruitcakes come in two forms--edible, and inedible! Hopefully, one of the recipes in these books will be a winner for you and your gift recipient.

The first place I looked was in Joy of Cooking, the 75th anniversary edition, by Irma S. Rombauer [641.5 ROM].
Many people feel that these cakes improve greatly with age, though not everyone agrees. When they are well saturated with alcoholic liquors, which raise the spirits and keep down mold, and are buried in powdered sugar in tightly closed tins, they have been reported to be enjoyed as long as twenty-five years after baking.
Whoa! Remember, "enjoyed" is a completely relative term! Joy of Cooking has two vastly different fruitcakes, one is light, "Fruitcake Cockaigne," and the other dark, "Dark Fruitcake." My preference would be the light cake because besides the candied fruit, it has nuts and coconut.

Heritage Cook Book (Better Homes and Gardens [641.5 HER] also has two fruitcakes--"Poor Man's" and "Very Best." "Poor Man's Fruitcake" is a simple recipe without any candied fruit at all--raisins are the only fruit listed. Since it is an old recipe, the shortening in the ingredients is lard. I'm sure butter could be substituted. "Very Best Fruitcake" contains every kind of candied fruit, plus is wrapped in wine or brandy soaked cheesecloth and aged for a brief period of time. If you're thinking of making a "Very Best Fruitcake," you still have time to make and "age" your cake before the holiday.

So far, of the books I looked at, Ken Haedrich's Country Baking: Simple Home Baking with Wholesome Grains and the Pick of the Harvest [641.71 HAE] has the most interesting fruitcake recipes--"Dark and Moist Cranberry Nut," and "Ricotta." The first is a variation of "Pumpkin Molasses Cake," which includes cranberries, raisins, apricots, and dates, plus, apple cider! Yum! "Ricotta" is a light variety with pineapple, golden raisins, and coconut. Double yum!

Nearly every general recipe book will have a recipe for fruitcake, the above three are only a small sample! There's enough time between now and Christmas to make several and decide for yourself which is the best!


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Time's Running Out

If you're thinking about making your holiday gifts this year, time is running out! That's not to say you can't start today or even next weekend. The thing to do is keep your gifts simple.

Speaking of the weekend...we have the Encyclopedia of Projects for the Weekend Crafter [745.5 ENC]. The Encyclopedia has projects in papercraft, metal embossing, quilting, and more! One delightful gift would be the "Nesting Collage Trays." You needn't make a set, one would be fine for me! The trays are designed so that you can change out the tray's decorations whenever you'd like something new. Intrigued? The project is on pp. 75-77.

Other simple craft projects for the home decorator can be found in Painted Whimsies: Decorative Accents for the Home and Garden [745.723 FER] by Jennifer Ferguson, and Pam Archer's Fast, Fun, and Easy Home Accents: 15 Fabric Projects to Decorate Any Space [746 ARC].

Don't forget gifts from your kitchen. I'll address this subject tomorrow when I have a little more time! (It's 7:40 pm already--where does the day go?)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Seeing Stars

Several years ago, in August, I was up in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont in the town of Glover. At night I was astounded by the crisp blackness of the sky, and by the incredible number of stars. There had to be twice as many as I could see down here!

Remember when living in Southern NH meant you lived in the "country"? No more. Now, there are even fewer stars to see with all the light pollution coming from malls, parking lots, stadiums, amusement parks, car dealership spotlights.

I rejoiced a little when I read of Bar Harbor, Maine that recently passed a light ordinance to preserve the night sky for viewing! Click on this link and take a look at the accompanying photo. Had you ever seen the Milky Way before? Isn't it awesome?

Some clear evening, hurry down to the library and borrow Chet Raymo's 365 Starry Nights: An Introduction to Astronomy for Every Night of the Year [523.8 RAY]. Here's part of the entry for today, December 1:
In the northeast Capella broods watchfully over her kids. Seeing these stars again reminds us of the brilliance of winter constellations, and whets our appetite for returning once more to the stars of January.

I suppose if the stars get completely blocked from view here in Windham, we'll still have the many astronomy books in our collection to pore through. Look for them in the 520s in both our adult and children's rooms.

And, each day you can visit the Astronomy Picture of the Day page on the NASA site for a look at the cosmos like you've never seen before!