Wednesday, December 30, 2009

You're Never Too Old!

The New York Times recently profiled a 94-year-old woman, Carmen Herrera, who is only now making a name for herself as an artist! Good for her!



We all remember Grandma Moses who was in her late 70s before being discovered. We have three biographies of her in our children's room [J B MOS]. She certainly is a model for children with her stick-to-itiveness.

Other people serve as models for adults. The Delany sisters, Sarah and Bessie, were two women who wrote a book, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years [920 DEL] after their 100th birthdays! When Bessie passed away, Sarah wrote On My Own at 107: Reflections on Life without Bessie [920 DEL].

George Dawson learned to read when he was 98! He wrote about his feat in Life is So Good [B DAW], at the ripe old age of 102!

So, as we move into the new year, remember, you're never too old!

The library will be closed Thursday and Friday, 12/31-1/01. See you next year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

Photo by JavierVazquez

"Time flies..." is what is known as a proverb, and a proverb is defined as "a condensed but memorable saying embodying some important fact of experience that is taken as true by many people." Most people think of this particular expression as a truism, I know that I do.

NPR's All Things Considered had a story about a researcher at University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis who studied whether "changing" time had any effect on the participants' perception of the task as being fun. It seems that it did! Those who were tricked into believing that time had flown by, perceived a task as being more fun. It remains to be seen if the research has any practical application, but, anything that makes a tedious or unpleasant task seem like fun might be worth pursuing!

James Gleick has written a book called Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything [529 GLE]. Gleick says,
We humans have chosen speed and we thrive on it--more than we generally admit. Our ability to work fast and play fast gives us power. It thrills us.
With the new year upon us, I wonder what Father Time thinks about all this business about perception of time?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Queen Victoria

Did you happen to see last week's program on WGBH, Timewatch? It was all about Queen Victoria's childhood and the events that led to her ascension to the throne. (Timewatch is a BBC program, if you go to the BBC page, there is a clip from the program, as well as links to related material.)

Also last week, a new film was released, The Young Victoria, which deals with her early life as queen, and her marriage to Prince Albert. Surprisingly, the film is being produced by Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York. You can read about Sarah Ferguson's involvement in the film by clicking here.

I guess it's about time we delved into Victoria's early love life--her later love life was filmed in a 1997 movie, Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown [VIDEO HER]. It
explores the relationship between the long widowed Queen Victoria and John Brown, her Scottish servant. This friendship scandalized not only Queen Victoria's family, but members of the British government.
I suppose that 10 years from now, someone will release a film about Victoria's middle years!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Man in Red--Part 3

Have you heard the story of the Flying Santa, a Santa who delivers mail to lighthouses by airplanes? There seems to have been several people known as the Flying Santa over the years. The story of the first Flying Santa can be found at FlyingSanta.com.

From Famous Lighthouse of America by Edward Rowe Snow

The Boston historian and writer, Edward Rowe Snow, was one of the Flying Santas who delivered packages to New England area lighthouses. He wrote about his flights in his 1955 book, Famous Lighthouses of America [387.155 SNO]. Snow explained that one of the questions he was often asked was, "How do you hit your target?" He answered,
For good bombing in years past, I have cut a little wooden door in the fuselage of the plane on the starboard side, and find that it serves its purpose well. Coming in low over the reservation, I wait until I can see the lighthouse slipping up toward me. Then I let the package drop just before the light flashes by, and the angle of approach allows the bundle to hit the target nineteen times out of twenty.
Isn't it nice that Santa always finds a way! Have a great holiday. See you next week!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Man in Red--Part 2

So, the excitement is building, you're getting the cookies and milk ready, how do you know if the man is red is on schedule? You use the Official NORAD Santa Tracker!



In case you've forgotten, NORAD is the North American Aerospace Defense Command, "a bi-national United States and Canadian organization charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America." They know their stuff, so they're the go-to people for keeping track of Santa.

Make sure you visit the Santa Tracker with the kids and let them "visit" Santa's Village to see how the preparations are going.

And, afterwards, for some hokey Christmas viewing, borrow The Santa Clause with Tim Allen [DVD SAN]. (We also have The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Man in Red

The man in red is gearing up for his round-the-world trip this Thursday night. You know all about him, but perhaps your children don't have a complete picture of who and what he is. The November/December issue of Faces: People, Places, and Cultures magazine [J MAG FAC] has devoted the whole issue to Santa, "The Many Faces of Santa Claus." It is fascinating reading even for adults. Did you know that in Latvia Santa is called, "Christmas Pop," while in Italy, he's not a man at all--the gift-bringer is an old woman known as "La Befana."

Photo by Lincolnian


We have several works of fiction in both our children's and adult collections. On the adult shelves you'll find The Autobiography of Santa Claus "as told to Jeff Guinn" [F GUI], and its follow-up The Great Santa Search "as told to Jeff Guinn by Santa Claus himself" [F GUI]. On display in the children's room is The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by Julie Lane [J LAN], along with a gazillion other Santa books.

Come back tomorrow for more about the man in red.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Poetry Friday--St. Nicholas




The Family Read-Aloud Christmas Treasury selected by Alice Low and illustrated by Marc Brown [J 394.2663 LOW] contains stories, as well as poems, old and new.

One of the poems, "Merry Christmas," is from St. Nicholas Magazine and was published in the January 1897 issue:


M for the Music, merry and clear;
E for the Eve, the crown of the year;
R for the Romping of bright girls and boys;
R for the Reindeer that bring them the toys;
Y for the Yule log softly aglow.

C for the Cold of the sky and the snow;
H for the Hearth where they hang up the hose;
R for the Reel which the old folks propose;
I for the Icicles seen the the pane;
S for the Sleigh bells, with the tinkling refrain;
T for the Tree with gifts all abloom;
M for the Mistletoe hung in the room;
A for the Anthems we all love to hear;
S for St. Nicholas--joy of the year!

Most of the poem is understandable by 21st century kids, with the exception of "Hearth where they hang up the hose." The kids I know probably have no idea what a hearth is, and even if they did, they'd probably wonder why someone would hang a garden hose on it!

St. Nicholas Magazine was published from 1873 to 1941--a phenomenally long run for a magazine. Illustrators included the renowned Arthur Rackham and Howard Pyle. Writers, many of whom got their start with St. Nicholas, included Rudyard Kipling, James Whitcomb Riley, Bret Harte, Eudora Welty, Sterling North, and Rachel Lyman Field. For a taste of the magazine's offerings, you can read a copy of the January 1878 issue, here.

This week's Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted by Susan Taylor Brown.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Remembering

The Boston Globe online has put together a slideshow of famous people who have passed away over the past year.

It took quite a while to go through the slideshow of the year--we lost some truly notable people like artist, Andrew Wyeth, writer, John Updike, tv actress, Bea Arthur, baseball player, Dom DiMaggio, actor, Karl Malden, former Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, tv newsman, Walter Cronkite, dancer, Merce Cunningham, former president of the Philippines, Corazon Aquino, film director, John Hughes, guitarist Les Paul, senator, Edward Kennedy, scientist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Norman Borlaug. Wow!

Read books by, or about them, such as Edward Kennedy's True Compass: A Memoir [B KEN], John Updike's Endpoint and Other Poems [811.54 UPD], or The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship by David Halberstam [796.357 HAL], which chronicles Dom DiMaggio and his Red Sox buddies.

Watch them in films such as On the Waterfront [DVD ON] and The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara [DVD 973.92 FOG].





Listen to them or their music on CDs such as America Made World Played [CD PAU], a tribute album to Les Paul.

The important thing is to remember them and their contributions!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Visual Art "Seen" Without Sight


I read a fascinating article, "Taking in Turner to Cezanne through the Tonalities Experience" about an art museum that is making paintings available to blind people. Say, what? How can blind people "see" a painting? Through music!
The compositions were based on the writings of Louis-Bertrand Castel, a 19th century French mathematician who believed there is a natural relationship between colors and musical notes. In his system, for example, blue is C, and green is D.

The project, called the Tonalities Experience, is the brainchild of Barre Hunt O’Neill, a local painter, actress and jewelry designer with no musical training.

"Color, that’s my bag—just delving into the colors and studying the relationship," she said. "This takes everything that I’ve ever done and applies it—even the glint of jewelry is in this."
The show, at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY, also pairs paintings with haiku. What a great idea!

Why not borrow the set, Great Artists of the Western World [709.2 GRE], and browse through it's 9 volumes (v. 10 is an index)? Try to imagine music that would bring the art alive to someone with no or limited vision.

If you'd like to try your hand at writing haiku, Haiku, by Patricia Donegan, found in our children's section [J 372.623 DON], is one of the best books available for teaching this poetic form.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blogs to Books

The most famous writer to have moved from a blog to a book deal is Julie Powell, author the immensely popular Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, and Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living [B POW].

A recent entry into the blog to book genre is the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, whose book is The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl [641.59766 DRU]. Ree fell in love with a rancher and moved away from her city home to become a modern-day pioneer woman. You can read her colorful postings at The Pioneer Woman.

Anyone can turn a blog into a book to share with friends/relatives by doing a Google search on "blog into books" and you will end up with dozen of places that will bind your blog postings into a book. Unfortunately, landing a publishing contract is not as easy or I would have done it a long time ago!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Move Over Jane Austen!

Over the past few years, there has been a renewed interest in Jane Austen and her books. We've seen new works of fiction about Austen, such as Syrie James's The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen [F JAM] and Laurie Rigler's Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict [F RIG].

The Guardian now reports,
The Brontës are back in fashion--with a bit of help from Bella Swan. New films of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre will shoot next spring, and a script about the teenage fantasies of the four Brontë siblings is in the works.

The film-makers are piggybacking off the success of the Twilight saga, which has sparked a renewed enthusiasm among financiers for gothic romance; the Brontes in particular. Wuthering Heights is one of Twilight heroine Bella Swan's favourite books, frequently referenced in the third episode Eclipse, whose storyline is inspired by Emily Bronte's only novel.
So, before the rush gets too hectic, borrow our Bronte sisters' novels. They are found in our fiction section, as is Syrie James's newest novel, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte. We also have Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights in audio [AB/CD BRO]

Friday, December 11, 2009

Poetry Friday--"Eden, Then and Now"


In 2002, Ruth Stone won the National Book Award for her book of poetry, In the Next Galaxy [811.54 STO].

One of the poems that stood out for me is "Eden, Then and Now." Excuse me for taking this out of the middle of the poem, but it strikes me as capturing the economic situation today:
One morning in the midst of plenty,
there were folks out of context,
who were living on nothing.
Some slept in shacks
on the banks of the river.
This phenomenon investors said
would pass away.

Read the rest here.
Ruth Stone was born in 1915, so I'm sure she has seen many instances of history repeating itself. It's nice that she was able to capture history in poetry and to reinforce the old adage, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

The Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted at Random Noodling.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas at the Movies

I mentioned The Muppets Christmas Carol [J DVD MUP] yesterday, and I have occasion to mention it again as one of my favorite Christmas movies.

My other favorite is Elf starring Will Ferrell, which I blogged about last year at this time (link in next paragraph).

This past week I indulged in some made-for-tv movies. Big mistake--tired, predictable plots and characters were the best part of the two productions I watched! I'd recommend you stay away from the tv and borrow some of our movie classics. And speaking of classics, one film critic, S.T. VanAirsdale, doesn't think much of contemporary Christmas films, and is looking for a new Christmas classic. Read his opinion piece here.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Rhapsodic Fun



To listen to the original "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen, look for their Greatest Hits [CD ROCK QUE].

To enjoy more Muppet madness, look for these, all J DVD MUP:

The Muppet Christmas Carol.

The Muppet Movie.

The Muppet Show (seasons 1, 2, or 3).

Muppet Treasure Island.

Muppets from Space.

The Muppets Take Manhattan.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Snow!

Photo by Bacon sandwich

I was so surprised to wake up Sunday morning and find that almost six inches of snow had fallen overnight. I figured we'd get a dusting, but I hadn't expected to have to spend 20 minutes scraping off my car! It's much too early!

But, no matter when they come, snow and ice storms sure are pretty! You can capture the beauty through a photograph, but don't forget you can also paint, make a collage, or write a poem.

In our art section, we have a book called Painting the Effects of Weather: Sunshine, Shadows, Clouds, Snow, Ice, Mist, Wind, Fog, Rain, Seasons and Light by Patricia Seligman [751.4 SEL]. Seligman says,
Anyone who has tried to capture on paper or canvas the speed of racing clouds, the sparkle of sunlight, or the iridescent blue of a summer sky, will know how difficult it can be. The Weather, in all its guises, is not an easy subject to paint, but it has to be one of the most exciting and inspiring, not only for the landscape artist but for painters of almost all subjects and in all styles.
You may want to look for the picture book version of Robert Frost's poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. It's stunningly illustrated by Susan Jeffers [J 811.52 FRO].

Here's a shorter poem by Frost that delights me, I hope it does you, too.
DUST OF SNOW

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
Found in Frost: Selected Poems, Prose and Plays [811 FRO]

Monday, December 07, 2009

A Reluctant Spy

In an interview on Here & Now, YA author Anthony Horowitz described his character, Alex Rider, as "a reluctant spy" and "quite an ordinary kid."

The fictional Alex is 14 years old and the youngest MI6 agent in Britain's Secret Intelligence Service. He became a spy only after his uncle Ian, an agent, was killed. Alex Rider's adventures cover eight books. The first book in the series is Stormbreaker [YA HOR], and Crocodile Tears is the latest.

The interview with Horowitz is interesting in the way he explains his use of violence and death in the series. It's worth listening to, especially since he has nice things to say about librarians!

The "Alex Rider Adventure" series is popular with teen readers and might be a good holiday gift for any hard-to-please young men on your list.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Poetry Friday--Rita Dove


Rita Dove is a former U.S. Poet Laureate (1993-1995) and the winner of many awards. When she was named Poet Laureate in 1993, she had just turned 41. Dove had the distinction of being both the youngest, and the first African-American, Laureate!

When her appointment was announced, Librarian of Congress, James Billington referred to her as, "an outstanding representative of a new and richly variegated generation of American poets."

We have in our collection, two books by Dove, Selected Poems [811 DOV], and On the Bus with Rosa Parks [811 DOV].

The following poem is found in Selected Poems:
Flirtation

After all, there’s no need
to say anything

at first. An orange, peeled
and quartered, flares

like a tulip on a wedgewood plate
Anything can happen.

Outside the sun
has rolled up her rugs

and night strewn salt
across the sky. My heart

is humming a tune
I haven’t heard in years!

Quiet’s cool flesh—
let’s sniff and eat it.

There are ways
to make of the moment

a topiary
so the pleasure’s in

walking through.
The Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted by Elaine at Wild Rose Reader. Be sure to stop by.

Photo © by Fred Viebahn. Copied, with permission, from Rita Dove's homepage at http://www.people.virginia.edu/~rfd4b/.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Gently Used


Gently used books make great gifts, especially if money is tight. The Friends of the Library of Windham (FLOW), besides holding their annual book sale at their Strawberry Festival in June, have an ongoing sale opposite the Library's check-out desk. They have it festively decorated for the holidays as you can see from the photos.

When I checked the offerings for sale, these titles in hardcover caught my eye:

A Christmas Treasury of Yuletide Stories and Poems.

Gold, Rozanne. Christmas 1-2-3: Three Ingredient Holiday Recipes.

Howe, Katherine. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane.

Jackson, Lisa. Shiver.

Miller, Linda Lael. The Man from Stone Creek.

Parker, Robert B. Spare Change.

Reichs, Kathy. Bones to Ashes.


There are plenty of paperback books, too, and for children there are picture books and chapter books galore.

Happy shopping, and remember, FLOW provides financial support to the library "to pursue opportunities and acquisitions beyond the scope of the library budget"--it's a win-win situation!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Hot Toddies

With the recent flu pandemic, I've heard the term "hot toddy" mentioned as a treatment. I'm not sure a hot toddy has any medicinal properties other than if you drink enough of them, you'll feel no pain. This is from a chapter entitled "Molecule as Medicine" in the book Alcohol: The World's Favorite Drug by Griffith Edwards [641.2 EDW], "Whisky is a popular remedy for the common cold, and who would dare question the strictly medical motivations which cause the poor sniffing sufferer to pour a hot toddy?"

There is a brief history of hot toddies found in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America [R 641.3 OXF]
The hot toddy hails from eighteenth-century Scotland, where a similar mixture of spirits (namely malt whiskey), hot water, sugar or honey, and lemon, plus spices, such as nutmeg, cinnamon, cloved, or mace, was touted as a cure for colds--although it's application was, not surprisingly, far more general.
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America lists Christopher B. O'Hara's book, Hot Toddies: Mulled Wine, Buttered Rum, Spiced Cider, and Other Soul-Warming Winter Drinks [641.87 OHA], as a reference and calls it a "definitive collection of recipes."


The author of Hot Toddies suggests that,
Taking the time to make an old-fashioned punch, or making eggnog from scratch rather than purchasing it at the supermarket, can bring warmth and fun to a casual get-together or make a holiday party truly special.
Not only will it make your party festive, it'll make the cold or flu season a little less miserable!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

I Guess You'd Have to be a Librarian to Really Appreciate This

The daily library comic, Unshelved, sponsors a "Pimp My Bookcart" competition each year. The winners for 2009 were recently announced. Check them out here.

My favorite, "Baa Baa Book Sheep," only received a runner-up award! Boo!

Courtesy www.unshelved.com


A book like JoAnn Bortles' The Custom Painting Ideas Book [629.287 BOR] probably has plenty of ideas to get us started on our own Nesmith Library bookcart "pimping." And the people from Monster Garage give us a few good tips, too, in their How to Customize Damn Near Everything [629.287 HOW]. If we enter next year's contest it will contain some reference to bacon. Those who know our director know why.