Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Joy of Cooking Gadgets

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte's column in the January 9, 2020 edition of the Transcript & Bulletin.

While I received several beloved small kitchen appliances for shower and wedding gifts nearly a half-century ago, most of them were resigned to the graveyard for kitchen gadgets over the years. I abandoned the electric can opener decades ago, along with the electric wok and labor-intensive turn-the-crank ice cream maker. If one of my small appliances was left abandoned in the cabinet above the refrigerator, or to the garage shelf behind the holiday décor, it was out of sight and out of mind. Those items never made the trip on the many moving vans as our family drove or flew to our new home. If it did get packed for the move, it may have stayed packed. Mice and spiders found cozy homes in tangled cords or Teflon coatings, and entire boxes were tossed into dumpsters in eventual cleanouts.

There are, of course, those favorite kitchen gadgets that I adore and use often. In the 1970s, I served my sister-in-law Minute rice for dinner. She was the daughter of Japanese-Hawaiian parents, and she promptly she gifted me with a Panasonic rice cooker that Christmas.  (Rice, after all, is a sacred dish to be cooked properly!) I've cherished that cooker for nearly fifty years, and amazingly, it still works perfectly after hundreds of uses.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

An Unconventional Spin on Holiday Films

Lydia Sampson is the Assistant Director/Technical Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read her column in the Jan 2, 2020 issue of the Transcript & Bulletin.

With another Christmas gone by and the New Year approaching I’ve just about finished my annual tradition of binge-watching holiday movies. Ever since childhood I’ve associated the month of December and its corresponding onslaught of decorations, carols and cookies with a television set airing non-stop seasonal programming. As I’ve gotten older, though, my tastes have changed.
Once upon a time we didn’t have Netflix or Hulu or DVRs. Before then we didn’t have DVDs or cable television, or even VHS tapes. During my childhood we had no option but to scour the (print) TV guide that came with the Sunday newspaper and keep track of when Christmas specials would air. I could hardly contain my excitement anticipating the animated How the Grinch Stole ChristmasA Charlie Brown Christmas, and Frosty the Snowman. My absolute favorites, though, came out of the Rankin/Bass stop-motion studio and included Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (featuring Bumble the abominable snowman) and The Year Without a Santa Claus (featuring the brothers Heat Miser and Snow Miser).

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Women Who Drew My Childhood

Nicole Guerra-Coon is the Assistant Children’s Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, MA. Look for her column in the December 26, 2019 edition of the Transcript & Bulletin.

When I was about three or four years old, my parents took me to my first movie in a theater - Disney’s “Snow White.” They weren’t sure if I would be able to sit still, or if I would be overwhelmed by the darkness or the sound. But I sat there, completely entranced, for the entire film.  Only when it ended and the lights came up, did I start to sob.  My parents were startled, and as they ushered me out of the theater, they kept reassuring me, “It was just a movie! The witch isn’t real!” But as I sobbed through the parking lot, the adults within earshot burst into laughter as I choked out “I…just...didn’t want end!”

This is a memory that has stayed with me, and I have always thought about it through the lense of storytelling and its universal power.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

A Year in Reading

Kate Tigue is the Head of Youth Services at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the December 12, 2019 edition of the Transcript and Bulletin. 

I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions. I find them a little depressing, knowing I’ll likely never keep them.  I don’t know what it is about the word “resolution” but it has such a negative connotation for me that I always avoid them. I prefer to set goals. Having goals sounds way more positive to me than making resolutions. Goals are things you can work toward, resolutions are things you have to keep.

I am a member of GoodReads, a social media centered around books and reading. When I first joined, I primarily used GoodReads as a way to keep track of the books I’ve read and the titles I wanted to read. But several years ago, GoodReads start challenging it users to a yearly reading goal in January of the new year. Participants can set the number of books they wish to finish reading by the end of December and a member’s homepage will track their progress toward their goal. I’ve set a goal every year since this feature was introduced and mostly met them. This year, I was very ambitious and hoped to read 25 books. I might fall a few short of that goal as I’ve only read 22 and December is halfway over!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Florida's Carl Hiaasen

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte's column in the December 5, 2019 edition of the Transcript & Bulletin.

Carl Hiassen wrote the little book, Assume the Worst (2018), as the "graduation speech you'll never hear." He wrote it to his son, Quinn, upon his commencement from high school that year.  The advice as far as Hiaasen is concerned is meant for anyone. It might be a bit too honest, and perhaps a tad pessimistic, for many of us. Hiaasen argues against some of the favorite adages we hear all the time, like "Live Each Day As If It's Your Last" and "If You Set Your Mind to It, You Can Be Anything You Want to Be."  His conflict with these sentiments? If you lived every day like it was your last, you'd undoubtedly be broke, irrelevant, and possibly in prison. And can you really be the next Willy Mays or Bill Gates? Probably not. Hiassen's adage? "Self-delusion is no virtue."

Hiaasen proclaims that it's more important to "figure out what you're good at and get better at it." Or, more simplistically and realistically, "live each day as if your rent is due tomorrow."

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Who's Right About Rights?

Lydia Sampson is the Assistant Director/Technical Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read her column in the November 28, 2019 issue of the Transcript & Bulletin.

Imagine working at your job, at the library, police station or Town Hall, for instance, and seeing a few strangers walk in with video cameras and iPhones pointed at you. They don’t identify themselves, but ask for your name and title. They speak calmly, but decline to answer when you ask for their names and the nature of their business. In fact, they inform you that they do not need to answer, and that they have the right to film you, a public employee, and the building, a public space.

How do you react? Do you debate their rights and yours, or the Constitution itself? Do you demand that they stop filming, or kick them out, or threaten to call security? Do you smile or scowl? Think carefully, because all of this footage may appear on YouTube and go viral.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Ties That Bond

Librarian April Cushing is head of Adult and Information Services at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column published in the November 21, 2019 issue of the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.

I never thought I’d end up marrying my former best friend’s husband. 

In their Halloween class picture, our preschoolers are standing side-by-side dressed as Batman and a ballerina. I have photos of their son giving my youngest a bottle, and of our six kids hanging out in the hot tub at Sugarloaf while the guys played golf. Over the years my friend and I logged countless hours confiding in and commiserating with each other. When both our marriages went south, I found myself looking at Batman’s dad in a whole new light. And, evidently, vice versa.

But how to break the news to someone with whom you’ve shared everything from babies to book groups that you’re about to take sharing to a whole new level? I knew she had moved on romantically so there was no residual torch-holding, but still.

Heart pounding, I finally just blurted it out over the phone and braced for the backlash.

“That’s great, I’m so happy for you! I always thought you and Brad would be good together.” Whoa.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Living the College Dream

Nancy Ling is the Outreach Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Nancy’s column in the November 14, 2019 issue of the Transcript and Bulletin.

Open any website, turn on any television, and you will see the latest updates regarding the SAT scandal, dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.” According to an article by Natalie Hope McDonald, “About 50 people (including more than 30 parents) have been indicted by the U.S. Attorney in what could become the biggest bribery scandal in college history.”  The story is hard to ignore because of the involvement of Hollywood stars like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin but, as a mother of two teenagers, I find it upsetting on many levels.

For example, a slew of questions come to mind:
How much pressure have we put on our kids these days? How unfair is the college admission process, economically and racially? What must students accomplish in order to get into college?

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Food for the Soul from the Biggest Little Farm

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte's column in the November 7, 2019 edition of the Transcript & Bulletin.

I stumbled upon this year's must-see documentary, The Biggest Little Farm. Perhaps it was a teaser trailer online or a review I read somewhere.  I'm a documentary enthusiast, so I was more than thrilled to find the award-winning gem.
          I instantly fell for the story of Apricot Lane Farm. The documentary begins with hand-drawn animation - John and Molly and their marriage, hopes and dreams that actually revolved around their annoying yet loveable blue-eyed dog, Todd. Their love of Todd, a rescue who would not stop barking when he was left alone, reminded me of the love I've had for my own dogs. It didn't surprise me at all, as the documentary starts, that John and Molly chose to move away from Los Angeles and purchase a farm so that Todd could be with them all day long.
          John and Molly found a 213-acre farm only 40 miles north of LA for sale and purchased it with help from a family investor. Initial video footage in the documentary reveals a dry and barren wasteland with abandoned beehives, unproductive land, and fruitless and dying trees. With the advice of a farming mentor, the miracle of nature, and their absolute perseverance, Molly and John built Apricot Lane Farm into a thriving, biodynamic business. The film's cinematography takes your breath away. The captivating animals break or sooth your heart. Yet it's the documentary's clear messages –  heed Mother Nature and work with the land and be patient – that will inspire everyone.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Books Norwood Can’t Wait to Recommend

Liz Reed is an Adult and Information Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Liz’s column in the October 31, 2019 issue of the Transcript and Bulletin.

Here in New England, Daylight Saving Time ends at 2:00 am on Sunday, November 3, 2019. Before we turn in for the evening on Saturday, November 2, we will set our clocks back by one hour to “fall back.” While this will gain us some extra daylight in the morning, soon we’ll all likely be leaving our workday and walking out into nighttime. And while we’re still likely to get a few more warm sunny days, for most of us this is the time of year we start doing more indoor activities. Many of us bookworms look forward to cozying up with a pile of good books through the chill dark nights ahead.

As such, I thought this turning point in the year would be a perfect time to offer some recommendations for good books. But you don’t have to take my word for it: these recommendations come straight from other Norwood readers.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Food Fight with a Poltergeist

Brian DeFelice is the Technology Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read his column in the October 24, 2019 edition of the Transcript & Bulletin.

My friends and I were all sitting at a rustic old table, drinking Guinness, and listening to the band that was playing at the Charlemont Inn’s restaurant stage. The Inn was located in Charlemont, Mass., a quaint little town of just around 1,000+ residents or so. The Inn was built in 1787, and had allegedly housed some distinguished guests like Mark Twain and President Calvin Coolidge. The place was packed that night, not only because of the good food and music, but also because many tourists stayed at the inn to recharge from a day of hiking, biking, and sightseeing along the Mohawk trail. My friends and I, well, we were doing a different, more unusual type of sight seeing…

Thursday, October 17, 2019

An Evening with Spirits

Norma Logan is the Literacy Coordinator at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read Norma Logan's column in the October 17, 2019 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

For Mothers’ Day this year, my daughter invited me to go with her and her girlfriend to see the local well known psychic medium, Maureen Hancock, later in May.   I had never been to a psychic medium, but my daughter had been a few times and was quite taken with Maureen.  I was skeptical of the powers that mediums profess to have, but it sounded like a fun evening.

My daughter suggested that I read Maureen’s autobiography, “The Medium Next Door: Adventures of a Real Life Ghost Whisperer”, and I did read most of it before the evening of the performance.    Maureen is from Massachusetts and continues to live here.  The references to Boston area locales were familiar and interesting.   The story of her life is intriguing but often sad from birth on.  She certainly has had challenges in her lifetime including a severe childhood illness and a near fatal car accident.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Unimaginable

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte's column in the October 10, 2019 edition of the Transcript & Bulletin.

           This week on October 9, it is the thirty-eighth anniversary of my daughter's death. I recognize that it can be an unsettling sentence to read. It is shocking for me to write, as well.

           Coleen was my firstborn, a daughter born early due to a congenital heart condition that no one suspected until just weeks before her birth. At the time, my ex-husband and I lived outside San Francisco. Two days after New Year's Day, I was rushed to the University of California-SF Medical Center to await an unknown future. It was new territory for all of us - her father, and I, and our baby. Coleen was born on January 21, 1980, five weeks earlier than her due date.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Friends Forever: In Life and In Picture Books

Kate Tigue is the Head of Youth Services at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the October 3, 2019 edition of the Transcript and Bulletin. 

At this busy time in my life, I’m starting to realize the true importance of friendship even though I have never had less time to devote to it. My closest group of friends are three women who I’ve known since I was six years old. We’re fortunate enough to have weathered many storms together, even though we’ve been physically separated for over 20 years. After we left our beloved Catholic K-8 school, we all attended different high schools and colleges. I moved away from my hometown in New York to permanently settle here in suburban Boston. Another woman in our group moved to Pennsylvania. Yet thanks to modern technology and social media, we’ve kept in touch and are closer than ever as support one another on the journey of motherhood.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

Lydia Sampson is the Assistant Director/Technical Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read her column in the September 26, 2019 issue of the Transcript & Bulletin.

In three days I depart for Ghana, bound for a rural village with no running water or internet access, to work on a construction project for two weeks. I acquired my mosquito net, anti-malaria meds, and a large packet of pre-departure materials. This is how I plan to spend my annual “vacation,” and right now I’m questioning my sanity.

The first time I ever left North America, I ventured to Duran, Ecuador on a high school volunteering trip. My Catholic school had a partnership there and groups visited annually to help out in schools and a soup kitchen, and embed themselves in the local community. In retrospect, we didn’t accomplish much of anything, but the value lay in exposure to the reality of life and hardship in a developing country. As a teenager, it opened my eyes to water and electricity shortages, unsanitary conditions, infant mortality, and other struggles experienced by the warm and welcoming people we met. Perhaps the experience sparked my interest in travel to off-the-beaten-track regions, and service abroad.