Friday, December 30, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
From the Library: A Gift for All by Written by Jean Todesca and read by Charlotte Canelli
This is the “Season of Giving”. Whether you celebrate during the holidays or not, the town of Norwood has a gift for you. It is wrapped in granite and sits on Walpole Street, the Morrill Memorial Library.
Peek inside and you will see the gift of entertainment. The library offers books, movies, and music, but let’s takes a look beyond our materials.
Another surprise tucked behind each desk is the gift of friendship. We, the library staff members forge strong bonds with our patrons. We celebrate the arrival of a new baby and watch our young patrons grow. We enjoy wedding photos and lend a gentle ear through illness and death.
The library presents you with the gift of community. At our Children’s programs, parents, caregivers and kids get the chance to meet and develop friendships. Over the years, I’ve seen high school students who met at storytime still hanging out together. The library offers the First Thursday Book Club where patrons engage in lively discussions and enjoy each other’s company. The Adult Services Department presents lectures and movies where all are invited. Check our website for activities.
The Outreach Department provides you with the gift of belonging. If you are unable to come to the library due to special needs, illness or disability, home delivery can be provided. Please contact the Outreach Department at (781-769-0200).
The final gift that I’d like to present is the education. We provide databases for research including the Boston Globe and Consumer Reports. Are you curious about Norwood? The library houses the Norwood Historical Records. The Literacy Department and its volunteers provide instruction to help people improve their reading, writing and conversational English skills.
So, please come and unwrap your present. You will discover something amazing too!
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
This is the year of the mini-dessert. Or it has been for some time now. I visited a cupcake store in Falmouth this past year and had one of the best mouthfuls of cupcake I’ve ever had. Half of it consisted of frosting but man, was it good. My daughter served cupcakes as the official cake at her wedding last spring.
The cupcake craze might have only started a few years back but I’ve heard that it’s now over and I’ve wondered what will happen to all those wonderful cupcake stores.
A few shops have smartly named themselves Happy Cakes, Crumbs, Sweet Dreams or Cup of Cake. They aren’t stuck with the cupcake theme and they now sell other sweet and up-and-coming treats like cake pops, whoopie pies and macarons.
Macarons have been around for awhile but in this country we’ve apparently just discovered this haute dessert item. Bon Appétit says that the macaron is more sophisticated than the cupcake and it has “challenged the cupcake’s crown”. Who knew but I’ve heard from my Manhattan-working daughter that crispy and slightly moist macarons are all the rage in the more sophisticated places like New York, Paris and London.
Don’t confuse the macaron or buttercream/jam-filled confectionery that is commonly made with egg whites and ground almonds for the coconut macaroon although the spelling is actually the same in English for both. The French macarons are artificially colored in a wide variety of colors, mainly pastels. Some have fillings with added liqueurs. No one really knows who first invented them although they could have arrived in France with Catherine d’Medici of Italy.
Cake pops are another new adventure in desserts. If you eat only one, you might think you’ve saved yourself some calories but there are as many cake pop variations as there are cupcakes and they are covered in sugary coatings and treats. If you want to envision a cake pop, think “whimsically-decorated donut hole on a stick”. Cake pops can actually be baked in a donut hole baker and this saves on the time-consuming rolling and baking technique or the calorie-rich fried donut hole technique.
Is it a cake, is it a pie or is it a cookie? Well, it’s a whoopie pie! These aren’t new to us New Englanders and they might not be original to Massachusetts, either. Pennsylvania also lays claim to the whoopie pie but Maine is the only state that has claimed it as their official ‘state treat.’ When we made whoopie pies years ago, we dropped thick chocolate cake batter onto cookie sheets and they took on a life of their own while baking. It never mattered what shape they were when filled with a sweet, creamy mixture. Today there are official whoopie pie baking pans for sale which bake uniform round shapes. For the past six year, the “What the Fluff” festival has been held in Somerville, home to Fluff where it was created in 1916 and each year the whoopie pie is honored at the festival where a best whoopie pie award is given.
Maybe you’d like to try your hand at creating some of these sweet treats (and possibly prove to your family and friends that you know that cupcakes are oh-so-no-longer-trendy). Or perhaps you’d like to put your whoopie pie up for an award in Somerville next year. There are many cookbooks to help you make whoopie pies, cake pops, macarons and other bite-sized desserts.
The covers on some baking books make you want to visit a bakery on the spot or learn how to perfect the art! “Cake Pops: Tips, Tricks, and Recipes for More than 40 Irresistible Mini Treats” (2010) by Angie Dudley, “Bake Me, I’m Yours … Cake Pops” (2011) by Carolyn White, “Crazy For Cake Pops: 50 All-New Delicious and Adorable Creations” (2011) by Molly Bakes, and “Pop Bakery: 25 Recipes for Delicious Little Cakes on Sticks” (2011) by Clare O’Connell are four of those books. Cake pops can also be molded out of crumbled cake that is mixed with frosting. Some of the more intricately-decorated pops are not for the faint of heart but with these books and some practice you might want to go into business.
The macaron business is certainly a colorful world. You’ll need to learn to create a varied and extensive palette with food dyes and use these books for recipes: “Macarons” (2011) by Berengere Abraham, “Macarons: Authentic French Cookie Recipes from the MacarOn Café” (2011) by Cecile Cannone, “Mad About Macarons: Make Macarons Like the French!” (2010) by Jill Colonna, and “Les Petits Macarons: Colorful French Confections to Make at Home” (2011) by Kathryn Gordon.
Whoopie pies don’t always have to be chocolate as evidenced in the plethora of baking books reserved just for them. Here are only four: “Whoopie Pies: Dozen of Mix ‘em, Match ‘em, Eat ‘em Up Recipes” (2010) by Sarah Billingsley, “Whoopies! Fabulous Mix-and-Match Recipes for Whoopie Pies” (2011) by Susanna Tee, “Making Whoopies: the Official Whoopie Pie Book” (2010) by Nancy Griffin, and “The Whoopie Pie Book: 60 Irresistible Recipes for Cake Sandwiches Classic and New” (2011) by Claire Ptak. Red velvet whoopie pies. Pumpkin filled with cream cheese. Oatmeal filled with maple-bacon? The choices and combinations are endless.
Remember if our book is not available or if we don’t have a copy, you may request any book from any of the 42 Minuteman libraries online. Reference librarians can find the book at other libraries within Massachusetts or New England. If you need help finding a book at the Morrill Memorial Library or within the Minuteman Library Network, please call the Reference or Information desks (781-769-0200) or visit the library in person.
Monday, November 28, 2011
As my husband would say, it’s all about the birds and the bees. Okay, wait! Before you think that I’m revealing too much, we’re talking about Gerry Canelli’s hobbies. He has many of them, including photography, golf and wine. Yet both birds and bees are fun to talk or write about.
Soon after I met Gerry, I was introduced to his collection of carved wooden shorebirds lining the walls of his home. And, as you would guess, he had me at the Piping Plover.
I mean, there is something so endearing about a man who adores beautiful creatures, especially birds.
In May of last year, I wrote a From the Library column titled “Saving the World and Other Backyard Projects”. In it, I described Gerry’s first month as a beekeeper in 2010. Shortly after the column appeared, the several thousand bees in the hive multiplied to over sixty thousand. In the summer months our backyard hive was a buzzing frenzy of activity and an amazing adventure.
Clothed in his white beekeeper suit cinched at the ankles and wrists, Gerry tended his hive armed with a smoker, thick gloves and a netted bee hat. He began a blog and posted photos and videos of his bees in action. There were up-close and personal views of flying worker bees, pouches stuffed with mustard-yellow pollen. There were male drones twice the size of the female bees. And there was that fabulous queen.
A hive of 60,000-80,000 bees has only one queen. She is impregnated once by multiple drones but she remains fertile for life and lays up to 2000 eggs per day eight months of the year. She can live for 3-5 years.
The other female bees, or worker bees, live for only 6 weeks during the busy summer months and four to five months the rest of year. These worker bees take on important occupations. They clean house, dispose of the dead, guard the hive, build the honeycomb and nurse the young. Just 21 days into their careers, they begin to forage instead and to collect the pollen (food for the colony) and nectar (for honey) from up to eight miles away.
Nursing bees tend to the young in embryonic forms or as tiny, fully-formed baby bees. That summer Gerry shared amazingly clear photographs of the various first stages of the honeybee – first deposited in the cell as tiny as a broken grain of rice. Only days later it is plump and swollen, squeezed into every space of the cell. Soon, that larva is capped with wax to await development. This process takes about 21 days from egg to bee. (Queen bees take less and drones take longer.)
Gerry worked hard that first summer making sure the bees had water during the hottest August days. He peered out our window waiting for active flight after the first sun of the day had warmed up the sides of the wooden hive. Like a proud father he noted how many bees were still buzzing into the hive at sundown.
In late August 2010, Gerry took steps to fight off the dreaded Varroa mite – the scourge of honeybees. Yet, despite all of his dedication and hard work, sometime late in autumn Gerry lost his hive. It was a sad day when he finally realized that the hive had dwindled to a few thousand bees. It was most likely due to the loss of the queen – whether through accident, disease or parasite. We’ll never know. In the next couple of weeks in December the hive was empty of life.
A focused Gerry forged ahead this winter. Armed with more information, more supplies and a second hive, he installed two new crops of bees in our Norfolk backyard in early spring. Since April they have flourished under his loving care.
Mid-July we excitedly collected several pounds of delicious sweet amber. I was delighted to scrape aside the waxy comb and watch cups of honey drip in our kitchen. Later we harvested another twenty pounds. We are keeping our fingers crossed – in the last week of November, with mild and sunny days, the bees seem happy, active and ready for their winter rest.
No one quite knows what is happening to world’s honeybee population. Colony Collapse Disorder (or CCD) was is a phenomenon that only became known to the world of beekeeping during the years 1996 through 2006. It has become depressingly widespread in the five years since. It varies around the world, but on average 40% of honeybees hives don’t survive the year.
Various theories include the deadly spread of the Varroa mite or our reliance on poisonous pesticides. Additionally, genetically-modified crops may be to blame. More likely, it is a deadly combination of all of these. No one knows for sure.
What we do know is how rewarding it is to raise bees. There are even rooftop beekeeping associations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx where some beekeepers have to break the law to keep hives.
The documentary DVD, “Queen of the Sun: What the Bees Are Telling Us” (2011) will arrive at the library sometime in January and we hope to screen it for interested patrons. This “engaging, alarming and ultimately uplifting film weaves together a dramatic story that uncovers the problems and solutions” to this crisis in nature.
Another documentary DVD, “Vanishing of the Bees” (2010) is available now at the library. It chronicles the demise of the honeybee, the relationship to honeybee commercial ventures in this country and the struggle of those who rely on the honeybee for their livelihood. Most of all, it informs us that we are all in trouble if the honeybee does not find its way back to health.
Remember if our DVD is not available or if we don’t have a copy, you may request it from any of the 42 Minuteman libraries online. Reference librarians can find most items at other libraries within Massachusetts or New England. If you need help finding materials at the Morrill Memorial Library or within the Minuteman Library Network, please call the Reference or Information desks (781-769-0200) or visit the library in person.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
I came home from work the other night and was greeted by a stack of mail on the kitchen counter and various family members’ shoes, coats and bags strewn on the floor and chairs. It didn’t get much better when I stepped into the living room. Toys were scattered on the floor, the tables and the couch. Magazines, newspapers and books were in multiple piles around the room. I went to seek refuge in my bedroom. I turned on the light and saw clean clothes piled on the chair, waiting to be put away, and laundry piled on the floor, overflowing from the clothes hamper. I couldn’t relax. All of the stuff was not just cluttering my house, but it was also preventing my mind from relaxing. I had to take action, a different kind of action than what I’d pursued before. Usually, I run around picking up everything and putting it somewhere. I needed to solve this problem once and for all. I needed to get organized and stop the clutter from coming back.
I started thinking, “I’m a librarian. I organize and categorize things for a living. I can do this. I have the knowledge and the skills to make this happen. I just need to apply what I know from work to our lives at home.” However, it’s not just my stuff or myself in the house. My husband and son live, work and play there too. They also possess some impressive organization skills, having sorted their Lego bricks by size and color. We’ve established that we have what it takes and that we want to do this; but how do we get started?
We needed some fresh ideas for how we can turn this chaos into order. We’d much rather spend our time together doing fun things rather than wasting so much time straightening up the house. I decided to take a look at the resources available at the library. So much has been written on the subject of organizing.
I got so excited by looking through the books in the library, I checked out all of the ones listed below! My husband, son and I snuggled up with the books, with cups of coffee and hot chocolate and began to read about how we can work together to organize our stuff and enjoy more spare time.
While reading through the books, a common suggestion was for the reader to tackle different areas of clutter one at a time. Trying to tackle everything is overwhelming and makes it nearly impossible to achieve your goal. A few areas I needed to deal with were the kitchen, living room and bedrooms. I focused on specific issues in each of these rooms rather than attacking everything at once.
In the kitchen, I decided to address the mess of the daily mail and how it can occupy my entire kitchen table. In The Organized Life: Secrets of an expert organizer, Stephanie Denton suggests getting an inbox to store new mail so that it all goes in one compact space. The inbox should be in a convenient location when you walk in the door. When you open the mail, you should ‘move the papers in some way’ and don’t just put it back to deal with it later. You can create two piles: ‘keep’ and ‘discard.’ Immediately review the ‘keep’ pile of papers and file them.
Another tip I gathered from multiple sources, which helped address the coat, shoe and bag mess, was to assess our storage space and create storage where we needed it. For instance, our coat closet wasn’t doing us much good because it’s by the front door and we use the side door. I got a coat rack and a storage bench to use by the side door. Now, coats are hung up and bags and shoes are stored in a convenient spot.
I moved on to the living room. Toys were strewn about the floor and furniture. We assessed our toy storage and got a shelving unit with cubbies and different colored bins. Each bin now contains a particular type of toy: red for toy cars, blue for stuffed animals, yellow for games, etc. One suggestion I read about in Pretty Neat: the buttoned up way to get organized and let go of perfection was to make a game out of cleaning up the toys. We had a race to see who could pick up ten things the fastest. Once we had the ten things, we worked together to put each toy in its proper bin.
The bedroom was the next stop. Clothes were everywhere. In Unclutter Your Life In One Week, Erin Rooney Doland advises a complete review of your closet. Take everything out and look at each piece of clothing to determine if you should keep it. Does it fit? Is it flattering? Do you wear it? She also suggests asking a friend to help since a lot of us have an emotional attachment to clothes and it’s hard to make a decision. During the review, you create three piles: keep, purge and undecided, which you may take more time to think about whether or not you’ll keep those items. After reviewing the contents, look at the closet itself to see if you need to add lighting, shelves, hooks or other sorting solution. The hardest suggestion to follow is to only keep what you can store in the space you have. I’m still working on this one!
For some good tips and motivation to get started, take a look at some of the titles below:
- Lighten Up: Love what you have, have what you need, be happier with less, by Peter Walsh
- One Year to an Organized Life, by Regina Leeds
- The Organized Life: Secrets of an expert organizer, by Stephanie Denton
- Organizing for Life: Declutter your mind to declutter your world, by Sandra Felton
- Pretty Neat: the buttoned up way to get organized and let go of perfection, by Alicia Rockmore & Sarah Welch
- Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life: a four-step guide to getting unstuck, by Julie Morgenstern
- Unclutter Your Life in One Week, by Erin Rooney Doland
- Unstuff Your Life! Kick the clutter habit and completely organize your life for good, by Andrew J. Mellen
The library also has some great choices for children:
- Clean Up, Grumpy Bunny! By Justine Korman Fontes
- Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom, by Eric Wright
- I Don’t Want to Clean My Room and Other Poems about Chores, by Hope Vestergard
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Frogs and snails and puppy-dogs' tails. That's what little boys are made of.
Popular nursery rhyme
If anyone had looked into a crystal ball and told me that I would be raising a teenage boy in my sixth decade I would have certainly laughed. I’d have surely protested and said “Oh, no, no! I’ve already raised my family of girls, thank you very much.”
Mothering my daughters in the 80s and 90s was an absolute delight. Oh, our lives were fraught with ballet carpools, a zillion sleepovers, bad hair days and wardrobe meltdowns. However, if you ask me, it was all a delicious piece of cake.
Please understand. It wasn’t that I didn’t WANT sons. I just didn’t give birth to any.
And so, the story goes, I met my second husband, a widower raising his then eight-year old grandson in 2006. And that is how five years ago I embraced this little boy as my own and promised him my love forever.
He was sweet and sometimes kind and he was hurting from the death of two very important women in his life within two years – both his mother and his grandmother. He had an impish but genuine smile and an adorable sense of humor and he stole my heart. He had me, quite simply, at hello.
And so, the next year he turned nine and then he turned ten and I managed to like some of his movies and he managed to make room for me on the family room couch and trust me with the remote. He turned eleven and then twelve and I learned to find books he liked to read and he learned to like my homemade macaroni and cheese, fresh-baked bread and quiche.
Then he turned thirteen.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I delight in watching his friends make disgusting noises especially when they laugh at all the wrong jokes. After sleepovers I clean up their left-behind dishes and soft drink cans. I wait for please and thank yous which might never come.
I patiently wait for him to remove the ear buds from his ears so that we can talk. I listen to the busy signal endlessly when I try to call home. I stand in the hallway and smile when he practices his electric guitar. Loud.
Both his grandfather, Gerry, and I train him every day. We coax him to hold doors open for adults, to shake hands on greeting and we remind him to wash his hands, brush his teeth and change his underwear.
We are not always successful. But we are on our way. Most of all, we remember that our mission in life is to help raise a young, noisy and awkward boy into a compassionate, educated and gracious young man.
If you need help raising a boy, there are more than enough books out there. For those of us with a sense of humor there is “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Raising Boys” by Laurie and Barron Helgoe. The Helgoes were parents of teenage boys when they wrote the book. In a positive tone they discuss the issues of discipline, puberty, bullies and girls. The Everything Guides includes one on raising boys, “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Raising Boys: A Complete Handbook to Develop Confidence, Promote Self-Esteem and Improve Communication” by Cheryl Erwin.
Many of these books written about raising boys have a spiritual theme. Among them is serious reading with a light-hearted twist such as Rachel Balducci’s own experiences mothering five, count ‘em, five boys in “How Do You Tuck in a Superhero?: And Other Delightful Mysteries of Raising Boys.” In “Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys”, Stephen James and David Thomas (and fathers of five boys) explain the five stages of boys, including the explorer, lover, wanderer, individual and warrior.
Well-known psychologist, James Dobson (founder of Focus on the Family) wrote one of his books focused on raising boys, “Bringing up Boys: Practical Advice and Encouragement for Those Shaping the Next Generation of Men.”
Michael Gurian is the founder of the Gurian Institute where his research and professional consulting has been focused on developmental characteristics of gender differences of childhood. He positively focuses on those differences when raising either boys or girls. Among his twenty-five books is a trilogy written between 2005 and 2010 including “The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School and Life”, “The Wonder of Boys: What Parents, Mentors and Educators Can Do to Shape Boys into Exceptional Men” and “The Purpose of Boys: Helping Our Sons Find Meaning, Significance and Direction in Their Lives.”
In 1998 another clinical psychologist, William Pollack, wrote the bestseller “Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood” which gives parents practical advice on the emotional, psychological and physical needs of boys. In 2000 he added “Real Boys’ Voices”. In it, readers can hear boys “speak for themselves” and share their views on depression, girls, drug abuse, spirituality, school and parents among other things. In 2001 Pollack and Kathleen Cushman included a workbook which helps “crack the boy code.”
Other books to check out are “Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different – and How to Help them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men” by Steve Biddulph and Paul Stanish, “Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys” by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson, “It’s a Boy!: Your Son’s Development from Birth to Age 18” by Michael Thompson and Teresa Barker and “Boys Should Be Boys: Seven Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons” by Margaret J. Meeker.
Remember if our book is not available or if we don’t have a copy, you may request any book from any of the 42 Minuteman libraries online. Reference librarians can find the book at other libraries within Massachusetts or New England. If you need help finding a book at the Morrill Memorial Library or within the Minuteman Library Network, please call the Reference or Information desks (781-769-0200) or visit the library in person.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
I have never been the life of the party, but I have always been reasonably adept at socializing. A few good friends, hiking partners for sporadic weekend activities, and the occasional running partner kept me busy. When my daughter was born, my socializing shifted to her circle of friends and interests, and I found myself hanging out with horsewomen and barn mothers, and spending long weekends in tents at 4-H shows.
My daughter is older now, and prefers to get together with her friends without her mother’s interference. This shift in position has led me to take a look at my social life and upon quick inspection, I have realized that much has changed in 15 years.
To begin with, I am quite possibly the only person I know who doesn’t belong to a book group. I know of book groups that have been meeting for 15 years, book groups for young moms, empty nesters, widowers, and my personal favorite, a wine and chocolate book group. But I have never found the time, or allowed myself the time to join one. I am a book group wanna be, and as I took stock of my social status, it only got worse…much…much…worse.
According to anyone younger than I, social status is defined by the number of followers on ones’ choice of social networking sites. I decided to jump on board, and tried twitter first. My username had the word “book” in it, and my first post mentioned both the library and laundry in the scant 140 words. It was my first, and last, tweet.
Next up were blogs. I know of a woman who met her best friend on one of the first chat rooms 14 years ago. They were comparing their symptoms and stories of pregnancy, as both were expecting their first child around the same time. They had much in common, including the day that they went into labor and had their first child. Every year since, they have gotten together for a birthday celebration, not the kids, just the 2 of them, reminiscing about one of the most important days of their lives.
So I tried blogging, and encountered 2 substantial roadblocks. The first is; I don’t have much to say. Ever. I prefer to speak when I have something reasonably important to say, and felt the same about blogging. I wasn’t interested in sharing small details about a topic, and found that I really didn’t care what “Debbie in Scituate” felt about the topic, or what loveybear2 had to add. I know it sounds harsh, but I just...didn’t…care…
On to Facebook. Everyone who is anyone uses Facebook, right? Wrong. Although I have seen wonderful use of the technology, mostly keeping in touch with family members that are in far corners of the earth, or simply out of weekly visiting range. Seeing the immediate picture of the most recent grandchild, priceless. But to post the live birth online, tacky. My new motto: just because you can share it doesn’t mean you should.
My daughter has most recently begun to use Tumblr and had a quick suggestion for me: forget it, it’s too complicated. All of this is not to suggest that I am computer illiterate; I use computers all day at work, I download eBooks, cook from recipes off my iPhone, voraciously text and email, shop and bank online, plan my vacations, found my pets online, search for medical information, and have been saved by the maps app on my phone too many times to mention. I have even made it to the second level of Angry Birds! But socially, I am an online misfit; awkward and confused.
Driving home the other day, I heard an ad on the radio for an online dating site. The ad stated that 1 in 6 married couples met their spouse using an online dating service. As a recent divorcee, I was horrified. Let me try to explain it this way, when some dogs see a TV, they will bark at the image of another animal. But most dogs do not recognize the image as a real dog; there is no scent, no physical social cues, no meet and greet. If I were a dog, I would be in the second group, for me a photo of a person with text just isn’t the same as a real meeting, or a real date. Besides, we all know that the photo was taken 15 years ago when the person was in much better physical shape and still had hair. For now, I will stick with the supermarket on Friday nights, the bookstore on Saturdays, and museums on Sundays and I’ll see if the statistics are as good as online dating.
If you are interested in finding out more about social networking sites, I recommend the following books, all of which can be found at the library.
- I Love You, Let's Meet: Adventures in Online Dating by Virginia Vitzthum
- Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob by Lee Siegel.
- Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less From Each Other by Sherry Turkle.
- Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder by David Weinberger.
- What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly.
- You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier.
- Facebook for Dummies by Carolyn Abram and Leah Pearlman.
- Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser.
- The Digital Mom Handbook: How to Blog, Vlog, Tweet, and Facebook Your Way to a Dream Career at Home by Audrey McClelland and Colleen Padilla.
- How To Find a Job on Linkedin, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Other Social Networks by Brad and Debra Schepp.
- I'm on Facebook, Now What???: How to Get Personal, Business and Professional Value from Facebook by Jason Alba and Jesse Stay.
- Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, Universal Consciousness and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution by Jim Blascovich and Jeremy Bailenson.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Written by Khara Whitney-Marsh, a student at the Simmons College Graduate School of Library Science in Boston, who is interning at the Morrill Memorial Library this fall.
Alice Hoffman said that books are the only true magic, and I agree they are truly magic. But I must confess that I also love movies and have felt touched, even changed by their magic again and again.
The best explanation I’ve found for the effect movies can have was in an episode of “Northern Exposure.” Ed, the local movie buff, has been enlisted to create a film festival that will get
on the map. Leonard, a shaman played by Graham Greene, comes to town seeking the “healing stories” of white people. Though the townspeople are eager to assist him, the stories they bring range from Paul Bunyan and the Blue Ox to assorted urban myths, like the one about spiders nesting in a woman’s beehive hairdo. Leonard is confused by these fables that lack the healing properties of great mythology. Cicely, Alaska
Meanwhile, Ed has decided to dedicate his film festival to Orson Welles, but it has him so stressed he develops stomach problems. A discouraged Leonard wanders into the local movie house and finds Ed watching an old print of “Citizen Kane.” He notices that Ed is enthralled with the movie and appears to have totally forgotten his ailment.
Leonard asks and Ed says his stomach is better. Then he asks, “You’ve seen this movie a number of times?” Ed says, of course. “Yet you want to see it again. Why?” Ed replies, “It’s a great story, it’s beautiful. It’s fearless. You know that quote in the beginning where Kane says it might be fun to run a newspaper? Well, I think that’s the way Orson Welles approached this. It might be fun to make a movie. He didn’t know what he was doing and yet he did something that was perfect. Makes you think about what’s possible.”
Leonard ponders Ed’s words. “Maybe this is it,” he says. “White medicine. Movies. They say it’s magic. Seems to have cured you.”
If you also love healing stories that come to us through the medium of film, I would like to share a few small jewels that are available at Morrill Memorial Library or through the Minuteman Library Network.
Director Anthony Minghella’s first film, “Truly, Madly, Deeply” starring Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson, is a moving and funny take on a young, recently widowed woman who cannot find a way to leave her grief behind and begin again, until her husband’s ghost returns, along with several pals from unknown time periods, to help her do so.
Minghella later became famous for “The English Patient,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” and “
,” but he wrote this story for himself while he was also writing the Inspector Morse mysteries for the Cold Mountain BBC. Minghella wanted to see the sardonic, martini-dry Alan Rickman play a leading man just once. Professor Snape, we hardly knew ye. Available through Minuteman.
John Turturro is a virtuoso actor with a long list of credits, which include stand out performances in Coen Brothers movies, like “Oh, Brother Where Art Thou?” and “The Big Lebowski.” But he is also a multi-talented writer/director with several films under his belt.
Two of my favorites are “illuminata” and “Romance and Cigarettes.” Both films are beautifully crafted, brilliantly funny slices of strange and wonderful life. “Romance and Cigarettes” stars James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Christopher Walken, Mary Louise Parker, and Kate Winslett, among others. In this one, you want to see Christopher Walken’s Elvis impersonation. Did you know the Scary Guy is really a great song and dance man?
Walken does another turn in “Illuminata” as an Oscar Wildian theater critic trying to seduce rubber-faced Bill Irwin; Susan Sarandon chews up the scenery as an over-the hill Sarah Bernhardt wanna-be; and Rufus Sewell (“Zen” on Masterpiece Mystery) finds ways to make you adore the narcissistic leading man by playing him fearlessly. For a preview of “Illuminata” watch Turturro and Walken with Charlie Rose at http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/4149. Both movies available through Minuteman.
“The Station Agent” which stars Patricia Clarkson (“Goodnight and Good Luck”), along with Peter Drinklage and Bobby Cannavale, is about the gift of friendship and how it can get you through a lot, even when you never expected to find it. OK, I admit I had to see the movie for the line about librarians at the end, but it was everything that came before that I loved. Find it at Minuteman.
Finally, I wish everyone in the world could see “Snow Cake,” which is available here at Morrill Memorial Library. It stars Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver. Weaver, sans glamour and firepower, plays a high-functioning autistic woman who ultimately helps Rickman put his life back together. If you think it’s going to be mushy, think again. There’s a knife at the heart of this film that neatly slices yours open and lets in the most glorious light.
The Minuteman Library Network has the Masterpiece Mystery “Zen” and all 6 seasons of “Northern Exposure,” including the movie episode called “Rosebud” in the fifth season. Morrill Memorial Library also has “The English Patient,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “
,” “The Big Lebowski,” “Oh, Brother Where Art Thou?” “Good Night and Good Luck,” and “Citizen Kane.” Cold Mountain
Thursday, October 13, 2011
A survey was sent out recently asking which libraries in the Minuteman Library Network have microfilm/microfiche readers that patrons can use. I guess I’m just old fashioned but cannot imagine our library being without one. A lady the other day traveled to
As a true library geek in high school and college, I always loved going through the bound copies of the old Life, Time and Look magazines, lost in the stacks, so to speak. We still have a few magazines and newspapers bound here but we long ago lost the space to accommodate the “real” Norwood newspapers from 1888 on so we started having them microfilmed. Different staff members started indexing the newspaper on index cards in 1955 and it has been an ongoing project ever since. With the help of the Ernie Boch grant and part time work at the Reference Desk, we have been able to go back to the beginning and are now up to 1894! It is a tedious and time consuming job working with the microfilm on the computer but our indexer-in-chief, Shelby Warner, says she enjoys it.
As the microfilm machine is right next to the Reference Desk, we get to know some of the people using it. There have been many committed volunteers who have researched their local churches and schools, usually when preparing for a special anniversary, and have given us copies of the fruits of their labors. A really dedicated patron is writing a history of her church and has started with the microfilm from the beginning. She said she really enjoys it and will miss it when she finishes. She has researched local history through newspapers in
Before we moved back to our newly renovated library, Thomas Collins sat at an older, manual microfilm machine in a windowless room for hours compiling articles and obituaries of
Some representative memorable searches include:
-A grandfather looking up the newspaper article of his great play in a Norwood-Dedham High School Thanksgiving game in the ‘50s
-A woman with a ripped newspaper clipping of her parents’ wedding looking for the original picture for an anniversary celebration
-A lady in
-The Boy Scouts looking up the newspapers of their birth dates
For me, this is what makes a library a special place in the community—that it keeps available and accessible the history of the town and its citizens and the memories that they wish they had kept for themselves and their children.
We also have people who come from the military and schools using the reader because some records are on microfiche or microfilm and they do not have the equipment to read them. But overwhelmingly, much of the use of the microfilm reader is for looking up obituaries for genealogical purposes and weather stories because of automobile accident claims.
A woman called recently from a Boston foundation looking for a picture of Arthur Pingree, a minister at the Congregational Church in the 1920s, because she needs pictures of all the donors and he was one of them. We had old newspaper clippings with pictures and also articles on microfilm about him.
Some day, maybe our local newspapers on microfilm will be digitized and online. It would be a costly project. In the meantime, we are fortunate that recently we have been able to subscribe to the “Historical Boston Globe 1872-1979” an online database. This can be a great resource for
It’s a great time to be a researcher so come to our library and get lost in the microfilm of the old Norwood newspapers or go to the library’s website from home or in the library @ norwoodlibrary.org to access the “Historical Boston Globe 1872-1979” found under Databases for Research on the website.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
With autumn in full swing and with holidays descending on us, I am reminded of my repertoire of holiday films, those movies that warm my heart and tickle my funny bone.
One of my favorite movies of all-time is “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”, a comedy starring Steve Martin and John Candy. When the film was released in 1987, both of the actors were well-known comedians in their own right but neither was known a successful actor. Steve Martin was just 42 and John Candy was an even-younger 37. (Candy died in 1994 only seven years after the movie’s release.)
Yet “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” became one of the most critically-acclaimed movies of the 80s decade. Roger Ebert included it in his Great Movies Collection and Martin’s and Candy’s roles can probably be regarded as their best on film.
Martin plays Neal Page, a business man trying to get home by plane. Candy, as Del Griffith, is a bungling shower-ring salesman who inadvertently trips up everyone’s plans. Martin and Candy traverse the eastern United States desperately trying to get to Chicago for Thanksgiving and by movie’s end they’ve taken nearly every mode of transportation available, including a plane, a train and an automobile.
And just as you may have finally finished massaging the stitch in your side caused by laughing until you’ve cried, you are caught with a lump in your throat when are reminded what life is really all about.
And those happy thoughts bring me back to books so I’ve included some about trains, planes … and travel in automobiles.
“Conquering the Sky: The Secret Flights of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk” (2009) was written by Larry Tise. Oroville and Wilbur Wright were born four years apart in Dayton, Ohio and spent their lives as bachelors. They were in their thirties when they spent five years, under the radar, so to speak, experimenting with air flight and most especially, with the instruments to control that flight. Tise chronicles the critical eleven day period in 1908 when the brothers tried desperately to carry out their trials in secret. Somewhat unlike the 21st century, however, news traveled fast across the globe as the brothers scrambled to test their equipment and they made history at the same time.
In another book published in 2009, Jay Spencer begins much earlier than the Kitty Hawk trials in “The Airplane: How Ideas Gave Us Wings”. Sir George Cayley investigated flight in the last years of the 18th century and has been referred to as The Father of Aviation and Aerodynamics. Spencer includes not only complete history of the engineers and inventors involved but also of the machinery behind successful flight.
Another book about the race to give us faster and faster flight is “Jet Age: The Comet, the 707 and the Race the Shrink the World” (2010) by Sam Howe Verhovek. It includes the story of two jet aircraft, the British Comet and the Boeing 707 Jet Stratoliner, in a competition to provide jet travel across the Atlantic Ocean.
Railroads traversed the eastern part of the United States before the Civil War. Yet, there was no final connection to the west. Shortly before his death in 2002, historian Stephen Ambrose gave us “Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, 1863-1869” (2000). The newly-built Pacific Railroad finally connected San Francisco to Omaha and joined the railroad systems of the U.S.
The northerly route described in Ambrose’s book smacked of decisions that were made for political reasons rather than logical ones. A logical or practical route might have been in the southern part of the western U.S., a countryside free of snow. In “Rival Rails: The Race to Build America’s Greatest Transcontinental Railroad” (2011), American historian Walter Borneman tells the story of the two of the largest railroad companies, Southern Pacific and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe who ate bought up the smaller railroads in their contest to forcefully and vigorously build the southern route.
(For more, read “Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America” (2011) by Richard White.)
In 1935 a powerful hurricane destroyed the Florida East Coast Railway, an 153-mile rail line across the open ocean. It connected Florida’s east coast to Key West and it was built by Henry Flagler who began the project at the age of 74 years in 1905. Les Standiford chronicles the entire story in “Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean” (2002).
The railway to Key West was never rebuilt for many reasons and one of those was the rise of the interstate highway system. That story is portrayed by Earl Swift in “The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways” (2011).
The system of interstate highways in the United States has been attributed to President Eisenhower and is known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways which began in 1956 with the signing of the Federal Highway Aid Act and ended with the last leg of the journey thirty-five years later in 1991. Yet, Earl Swift tells a story that begins much earlier in the first part of the 20th century with a race-car driver who spread his enthusiasm for the Good Roads movement.
“Onramps and Overpasses: A Cultural History of Interstate Travel” (2009), written by Dianne Perrier, takes an exit from the fast-paced travel we have all made a part of our lives. Fast-food and service companies have made their name and their wealth right on our onramps and offramps. Many of our interstates are built right over the original paths that Americans in past centuries traveled and Perrier looks deeper than those modern logos and new American icons. Her stories include those of Davey Crockett and Horace Greeley.
For help finding these and other books at the Morrill Memorial Library or in the Minuteman Library Network catalog, call the Reference librarians (781-769-0200) or visit the library.