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Monday, April 30, 2012

Theater Curtains

When I was a kid growing up in New York, there was a massive movie theater in town. I remember its heavy red velvet curtain that parted at the start of the afternoon's show. That theater, with its ornate decorations, has be cut up into pieces to form a mini-multiplex. Such a shame. I wonder what ever happened to the old curtain?

Except for that old curtain, I never really thought about theater curtains until I found an article on a rediscovered theater curtain in Deerfield. It is currently undergoing restoration. That article led me to a link to Curtains Without Borders, which is devoted to old painted theater curtains in town halls and other buildings, primarily in New England. I had vaguely heard about itinerant painters in New England who created such works, but I never realized that there were so many still in existence! Some of them are downright gorgeous!

Here's a little information about Curtains Without Borders:
Curtains Without Borders is a conservation project dedicated to documenting and preserving historic painted scenery. The painted curtains are found in town halls, grange halls, theaters and opera houses. They were created between 1890 and 1940, although on rare occasions, pieces painted after 1940 are also included in our inventories.


Vermont was the first state to pay attention to these reminders of a time when even the smallest village halls held local variety shows or school performances and many towns were visited by traveling troupes of players, opera companies, vaudeville singers, and itinerant musicians. Between 1880 and 1940, painted scenery (primarily roll drops, with a few "fly" scenes) was especially popular in northern New England and the upper Midwest. Unfortunately, many were discarded as they became worn and dirty, as tastes changed and as many theaters became movie houses. However, in Vermont, curtains were often bundled up with baling twine, stashed in ceiling crawl spaces or shoved under the stage. By bringing the scenery back into public view and giving it new life with stabilization of the fabric, paint and support systems, we hope to encourage the continued use of our cultural, social and political centers.

In 2008/2009, Curtains Without Borders and the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance collaborated on a survey to locate and document New Hampshire's collection of historic scenery. Over 140 pieces have now been documented.
I'm not often stumped in an attempt to tie a post to an item or items in our collection, but today I am! I'll just direct you to the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, and to the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance News [MAG NEW] in our magazine area.

Photo of the "Grand Drape" in Hillsborough courtesy Historic Hillsborough, New Hampshire. This site has a fascinating history of the curtain in the photo.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Poetry Friday--"Buttercups"

One of the best-ever anthologies of poetry for kids is Favorite Poems Old and New: Selected for Boys and Girls by Helen Ferris [J 821.08 FER]. The poems are a wide mix, with many by authors unknown to me--that's why it is always a delight to flip through the pages!

Our copy, was purchased back in 1986 and is really starting to show its age. Fortunately, it is still in readable shape.

For today I've chosen a poem by one of the writers I had no prior knowledge of, Wilfrid Thorley. It appears that there's not a whole lot available on Thorley (1878-1963), as evidenced by the sparse entry in Wikipedia.


There must be fairy miners
     Just underneath the mould,
Such wondrous quaint designers
     Who live in caves of gold.

They take the shining metals
     And beat them into shreds;
And mould them into petals,
     To make the flowers' heads.

Sometimes they melt the flowers
     To tiny seeds like pearls,
And store them up in bowers
     For little boys and girls.

And still a tiny fan turns
     Above a forge of gold,
To keep, with fairy lanterns,
     The world from growing old.

How sweet is that? Please head over now to visit Tabatha Yeatts for the last Poetry Friday Round-Up of National Poetry Month. I guarantee you won't be disappointed!

Photo by ressaure.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Invite the Queen to Tea

Happy National Princess Week! There's some downloadable princess stuff, including a tiara, courtesy of Target.

If you'd rather make a tiara from scratch, have we got a book for you--Crowns & Tiaras by Terri Judd [YA 745.5 JUD].

After creating your tiara, I'm sure you'll want to invite the Queen in for some tea:

O'Connor, Jane. Fancy Nancy Tea Parties. [JP OCO]

O'Connor, Sharon. Afternoon Tea Serenade: Recipes from Famous Tea Rooms, Classical Chamber Music. [641.53 OCO]

Pichney, Carole. How to Serve a Proper Victorian Tea: Using Antique China and Silver to Bring the Past to the Present. [641.53 PIC]

Spinelli, Eileen. Tea Party Today: Poems to Sip and Savor. [J 811 SPI]

Stuckey, Maggie. Country Tea Parties. [641.53 STU]

Tate, Lindsay. Teatime with Emma Buttersnap. [J TAT]

Ferguson, Sarah, Duchess of York. Tea for Ruby. [JP YOR]

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Indulge Your Inner Princess!

This week is National Princess Week! So here's your opportunity to indulge in all sorts of princessy glitter and bling and to perform good deeds--noblesse oblige.

Julie Andrews, the spokesperson for National Princess Week, advises princesses on "30 Ways to Celebrate National Princess Week," click here.

We have scads of princess books and videos in our children's room collection, including these ones:

Disney Princesses: Beauty Shines from Within. [J DVD PRI]

Casey, Jo. The Princess Encyclopedia. [J 791.4375 CAS]

Posner-Sanchez, Andrea. The Princess Word Book. [BB DIS]

Weinberg, Jennifer. What Is a Princess? [E WEI]

Not everyone is on the National Princess Week bandwagon, and for very good reasons. Click here to learn more. However, it took years and years before girls were freely allowed to revel in things that grabbed their imaginations, like tiaras and fairies, while boys were always encouraged in their pursuits of vehicles and monsters. Of course, corporations have found that girls' interests can be just as profitable, and now that the corporate push is on, people have begun to backpedal on the girly-girl issue.

Here's a little bit of royal advice: moderation in everything, please, and supply unlimited opportunities for all!

Photo courtesy Disney.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Diamond Jubilee

All you Anglophiles are in for a treat in June when Queen Elizabeth celebrates her "Diamond Jubilee"--60 years on the throne. The only other queen to celebrate such a long reign was Queen Victoria, who was queen from June 20, 1837 through January 22, 1901.

Queen Elizabeth has released to the public, Queen Victoria's Scrapbook, a fascinating online look into the life of Victoria.
Through documents from the Royal Archives, paintings and photographs from the Royal Collection, audio and film clips, learn about Queen Victoria's life and reign...
Check it out!

I was always intrigued by the idea that the solemn looking Queen Victoria had a family of nine children. How did she remain, at least to the camera, so unruffled? If your interests run in the same direction, make sure you pick up our copy of Victoria's Daughters by Jerrold M. Packard [920 PAC].

Image courtesy Library of Congress.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Preservation Week

April 22-28 is designated Preservation Week by the American Library Association and this year's theme is "Pass It On," as in making sure we preserve our personal and public history and collections so that we can pass it on to future generations.

Some items in our collection that may help you to preserve your history include:

Aug, Bobbie A. Vintage Quilts: Identifying, Collecting, Dating, Preserving & Valuing. [746.46 AUG]

Long, Jane S. Caring for Your Family Treasures: Heritage Preservation. [745.1 LON]

McClure, Rhonda R. Digitizing Your Family History: Easy Methods for Preserving Your Heirloom Documents, Photos, Home Movies and More in a Digital Format. [929.1 MCC]

Tuttle, Craig A. An Ounce of Preservation: A Guide to the Care of Papers and Photographs. [025.8 TUT]

We care about preserving our collection of books for our readers. Here's a cute video that makes the point in a rather light-hearted way:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Poetry Friday--Suggestion

Kurious Kitty is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-Up, as her alter-ego, Diane Mayr, at Random Noodling, so she's taking the day off from the library!

Once the Round-Up is completed, then it's off to the Massachusetts Poetry Festival taking place today, tomorrow, and Sunday in beautiful downtown Salem, MA. If you're a poet, or a poetry lover, then I'd suggest heading down to Salem and taking part in the festivities! There will be poems in unexpected places, if we're to believe the publicity claims! And don't miss Steve Almond's "Bad Poetry" session! It all sounds like fun!

If you see KK wandering around, say "hi!"

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Today with complex tools that can provide automatic facial recognition, then identifying people in photos taken in the 21st century may not be a problem. But, identifying people in older photos, say from the mid-1800s, is still hit or miss.

That's not to say it can't be done, as was brought home to me in a story on NPR's Morning Edition a week ago. "Unknown No More: Identifying A Civil War Soldier" detailed the sleuthing that was involved in finding a name to go with a face. Listen to the story here.

For those with an interest in old photographs we have these two books for you to look for: Collector's Guide to Early Photographs by O. Henry Mace [770 MAC] and
Care and Identification of 19th-Century Photographic Prints by James M. Reilly [770 REI].

Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Underground Railroad

The Windham Historical Society is meeting at the Library tonight and will be presenting Eleanor Strang with a talk and slideshow, "The Underground Railroad in New England: A Secret Network in the Years before the Civil War." The program begins at 7:00 pm and is free and open to the public.

The Underground Railroad has always been a subject of interest here in New England, and many an old home has been sold with the tag, "may have been a stop on the Underground Railroad."

Although not a major route on the Underground Railroad, New Hampshire did have a role. Several of the NH operatives are found in The Underground Railroad: An Encyclopedia of People, Places, and Operations by Mary Ellen Snodgrass [R 973.7115 SNO]. A booklet in the reference section, The Underground Railroad in New England [R 973.7 UND], lists the Pattee Homestead (formerly Mystery Hill, now known as America's Stonehenge) in Salem as a station!

We have many nonfiction books on the Underground Railroad in both the adult and children's collection. Look for them in the 973.7 and J 973.7 sections.

A recent picture book, Underground, by Shane Evans [JP EVA], is an award-winning title for the younger set. A Washington Post review stated, "The minimal text drums like a heartbeat. From terror to triumph, a perfect evocation for very young readers of what it means to escape from bondage."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Doesn't that look yummy? But what are those lightly browned rectangles? If I told you they were baked tofu would you go "eeeuuuu"? Have you tried tofu lately? Some of the firmer kinds of tofu make great meat substitutes. I often order General Gao's tofu, instead of chicken, when I go out to a Chinese restaurant, so I can vouch for its yumminess!

The picture above is from the PBS webpage Fresh Tastes: A Celebration of Food and Cooking, which has a simple recipe for baking tofu. The sauce used is full of spicy goodness.

If you find yourself intrigued about the possibilities of tofu, come borrow a new addition to our collection, Asian Tofu: Discover the Best, Make Your Own, and Cook It At Home by Andrea Quynhgiao Nguyen [641.65655 NGU].

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy Day, Will!

Last week I got an email announcement from UNH about a William Shakespeare 448th birthday celebration being held next Monday. In looking up Will's birthdate, I found that there is only the record of his baptism date, April 26, 1564. It's fair to assume that Will wasn't born that day, but was born some time before, still, we don't know his exact birthday, so, today's as good a day as any to celebrate.

Shakespeare books cover several shelves-worth of space in our library, and several shelves-worth of DVDs. The number for Shakespeare is 822.33.

Several years ago, we received a donation for the purchase of the "Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare," on DVD [DVD 822.33 SHA]. They are filmed theatrical performances produced by the BBC. In our "popular" DVD sections we have many of the Shakespeare plays that were produced for a general audience, such as Twelfth Night [DVD TWE], Henry V [DVD HEN] and Much Ado about Nothing [DVD MUC]. There are "based upon" productions such as West-Side Story [DVD WES] and Kiss Me Kate [DVD KIS]. And, if you don't have the patience to sit through a whole Shakespearean production, check out The Reduced Shakespeare Company's the Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [DVD RED].

There's plenty of Shakespeare for you at the Nesmith Library--perhaps enough to fill the next 448 years!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Poetry Friday--Renga

What is a renga? Here's part of the definition found at Poets.org from the American Academy of Poets:
Renga, meaning "linked poem," began over seven hundred years ago in Japan to encourage the collaborative composition of poems. Poets worked in pairs or small groups, taking turns composing the alternating three-line and two-line stanzas. Linked together, renga were often hundreds of lines long, though the favored length was a 36-line form called a kasen.

The definition concludes with: "The form has become a popular method for teaching students to write poetry while working together."
One of the books in our collection is an example of this "working together." It's Crossing State Lines: An American Renga (edited by Bob Holman and Carol Muske-Dukes) [811.6 CRO]. It is roughly in renga format, that is, there are some stanzas of three and two lines. Other parts take liberties with the form, which is quite okay since the purpose of the project to have poets work together rather than have them create a typical renga.

The book inspired another project amongst poets laureate from many states. The resulting work is "The World Keeps Turning To Light" a collaboration of 36 poets.

Our little state of New Hampshire is represented by three laureates--the current one, Walter Burns, and former ones, Marie Harris and Maxine Kumin. Although I shouldn't take any of the stanzas out of context, I am going to lift out Maxine Kumin's contribution for today's Poetry Friday offering. At #18, Kumin's stanza is right in the middle of the poem.

Audubon asked me so I counted:
ninety to a hundred finches on
their way to turning gold crowding
the feeders full of blackoil sun-
flower seeds; both kinds of nuthatches;
a few titmice; clots of chickadees;
woodpeckers: one hairy male;
one female downy; two sparrows
dipped in raspberry juice
all dispersed by a blue jay bombardier.

I'm a sucker for birds, so there was no complex decision-making for me in the selection of this one! You can read the complete work online on the America: Now and Here site.

The Poetry Friday Round-Up for this week is being held at Booktalking. See you there!

Photo by NCReedplayer.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dickens In Lowell

Everyone knows that Charles Dickens was a famous novelist whose popularity crossed the Atlantic. His works were, and are, appreciated in both England and America. Did you also know that Dickens was a great speaker who made appearances in the U.S., including locally? In 1842, in Lowell, Massachusetts, Dickens was a "rock star."
Not yet 30 when he first traveled to America, Dickens cut a romantic figure: long-haired and clean-shaven, with a taste for flashy clothing and jewelry, he looked like a Victorian rock star--and Americans quickly caught Dickensmania. Crowds lined the streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of him and snip off a lock of his hair or piece of bearskin jacket.

Feted at fancy dress balls and formal dinners, Dickens also made a point of touring American prisons, hospitals, mental institutions, orphanages—and, on a memorable February day, the model textile mills that had recently opened in Lowell, which offered a powerful contrast to the harsh conditions found in most English factories.
The Boott Gallery in Lowell has an exhibit (from which the quote and the graphic are borrowed) running until October 20, "Dickens and Massachusetts: A Tale of Power and Transformation." The Boott Gallery is in the Lowell National Historic Park.

Masterpiece is airing several Dickens' works this season. Earlier this month was Great Expectations [F DIC], and starting April 15 is The Mystery of Edwin Drood [F DIC].

Watch A Scene from The Mystery of Edwin Drood on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spring Pruning

Pruning bushes and trees, especially fruit-bearing ones, might be considered an art, but it is definitely an art when it comes to the creations like these:

There are more, including tree furniture, found on the site, Pooktre Tree Shapers.

You're not up to a pruning project of that magnitude, but you do want to keep your home landscaping plants in tiptop shape? Then, one of these might do the trick: The Pruning Book by Lee Reich [631.542 REI], or, Pruning Basics by David Squire [631.542 SQU].

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Let's Celebrate!

You may have already heard that April is National Poetry Month, and did you know that this week is National Library Week? I'd say that was cause for celebration, so head on down to the Nesmith Library and borrow a book of poetry!

It's never too early to start your kids on poetry. Most of us do it without even thinking about by reciting nursery rhymes and counting rhymes like "Five Little Monkeys."

J. Patrick Lewis, the current U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate, has some simple advice to offer to parents, "Children will not gravitate to poetry, poetry must be brought to them. Surround your home with as many books--and kinds--of poetry as you are able." My advice is to visit the library often and each time you come, borrow a different book of poetry to share!

If you're starting from the beginning, here are a few nursery and other rhyme books for the littlest listener:

Beaton, Clare. Playtime Rhymes for Little People. [J 398.8 BEA]

Collins, Heather. Out Came the Sun: A Day in Nursery Rhymes. [JP COL]

Jay, Alison. Red Green Blue: A First Book of Colors. [JP JAY]

Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes. [JP POC]

This Little Piggy Lap Songs, Finger Plays, Clapping Games, and Pantomime Rhymes. [J 398.8 THI]

Monday, April 09, 2012

New From the Museum of Fine Arts

Over the years the MFA has produced many excellent catalogs of their exhibits such as Monet in the 20th Century, "Published on the occasion of the exhibition held at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Sept. 20-Dec. 27, 1998," [759.4 MON]. Now, however, the MFA is venturing into cyberspace with an online catalog Paintings of the Americas.
Paintings of the Americas in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is the MFA’s first online catalogue dedicated to a specific area of the collection. It offers the rich information one might find in a printed catalogue while taking advantage of digital media’s unique capabilities.
The eleven chapters cover art from "New England Begins" through to contemporary art of "The Realist Tradition." It you can't make down to Boston to visit the MFA, then this catalog is next best thing!

If you travel, remember that the Library has a pass to the MFA made possible by the Friends of the Library of Windham (FLOW). You can book it online or give the Library a call at 432-7154.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Poetry Friday--Happy Easter!

In the last century when I was growing up, Easter was a time for spring coats, pretty straw hats, and patent leather shoes. No little girls went to church without such finery.

I was reminded of this as I browsed through an anthology called Michael Hague's Family Easter Treasury [J 808.8 MIC]. In it are Easter stories and poems, bible passages, and lots of old-fashioned-style color illustrations. One of the poems that caught my attention is "The Easter Parade" by William Jay Smith.
The Easter Parade

What shall I wear for the Easter Parade?
A dress that’s the color of marmalade
With a border embroidered in light blue cornflowers
Like the edge of a meadow after spring showers
And a matching hat round as a top you can spin
And elastic to hold it on under my chin
And brand-new shoes whiter than newly-poured cream
With heart-shaped, golden buckles that gleam;
And I’ll carry a small purse of butterfly blue
With a penny for me and a penny for you
To buy us both glasses of cold lemonade
When we walk, hand in hand, in the Easter Parade.

Easter morning at the White House, 1940, photo courtesy Library of Congress.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Go Green

The Windham High School "Go Green Club" will be holding a Go Green Fair and Farmer's Market on Saturday, 4/7, from 10:30 to 3:00. An article in the Windham Patch about the upcoming fair lists a number of the vendors and groups that will be attending the fair including the Windham Rail Trail Alliance, the Salem Farmer's Market, the Animal Rescue League, and a representative from the Windham Town Clean-up.

Besides the vendors and exhibits there will be raffles and a special showing of Disneynature: Earth (rated G).

Going green is a popular topic here at the library. Here are a few recent additions to our collection:

Bailey, Jacqui. What's the Point of Being Green? [J 333.72 BAI]

Caduto, Michael J. Catch the Wind, Harness the Sun. [J 333.794 CAD]

The Environmental Resource Handbook 2011/2012. [R 363.7 ENV 2011-2012]

Sid the Science Kid: Going, Going, Green! [J DVD SID]

Strange, Cordelia. Environmental Science & Protection: Keeping Our Planet Green. [YA 333.72 STR]

Underwood, Deborah. 101 Ways to Save the Planet. [YA 333.72 UND]

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Decorated Eggs

The display case right near our front door is full of decorated eggs from the collection of Cookie Santerre. We are happy to have this seasonal display available for you to enjoy.

To go along with the collection, we have several books on Easter eggs, which are especially popular this week! Look for The Easter Egg by Jan Brett [JP BRE], Rechenka's Eggs by Patricia Polacco [JP POL], or The Magic Babushka: An Original Russian Tale by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes [JP TIL] on display in the children's room.

For adults looking for new ways to decorate eggs, look for Easter Eggs--By the Dozens!: Fun and Creative Egg-Decorating Projects For All Ages! by Rhonda Massingham Hart [745.5944 HAR] or Decorating Eggs: Exquisite Designs with Wax and Dye by Jane Pollak [745.5944 POL].

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Great Expectations

If you're a fan of public television, you probably know that Masterpiece Classics is showing a version of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations. Part one was this past Sunday, and it concludes this coming Sunday. If you missed part one, check your tv schedule for repeat showings, or watch it online at PBS.

If you didn't read the novel in high school, borrow a copy of Great Expectations from us [F DIC or audio AB/CD DIC]. If its size dissuades you, 469 pages, then we even have it in graphic novel format, adapted by Jen Green [YA CX GRE], which condenses the novel into 160 illustrated pages!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Chicks, and Ducks, and Geese!

If our library is any indication, there has been a heightened interest of late in raising farm animals in New Hampshire. Not just farmers on small working farms, but backyard hobbyists are starting to keep ducks and pigs and other animals. Books such as Keep Chickens!: Tending Small Flocks in Cities, Suburbs, and Other Small Spaces by Barbara Kilarski [636.5 KIL] and Barnyard in Your Backyard: A Beginner's Guide to Raising Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Rabbits, Goats, Sheep, and Cows [636 BAR] provide easy-to-follow information on what is involved in animal husbandry on a small scale.

Easter is coming and this is usually the time when people start considering raising chickens, ducks, and geese, so that next year there will be plenty of fresh eggs to decorate! And speaking of decorated eggs, make sure you visit us to see the collection of eggs in our display case.