Sunday, February 27, 2011

Someone's in the Kitchen with Fido

Charlotte Canelli is library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.
“Don’t ever feed human food to your dog!” It has always amused me when I read or hear that advice. Rubbish, I say! What, for goodness sake, did dogs eat in previous centuries before the advent of manufactured food in cans and bags?
Of course we hope that the family meal is not “shared” with your dog. No one likes a begging dog or one who perches at the table or eats from the counters. Dining in the same room with a canine can be equally unappetizing. My grandson Colin refuses to eat his breakfast while listening to our four-legged friend slurp hers. I don’t blame him because her manners are atrocious!

However, a well-balanced meal of “people food” can be healthy and even beneficial for your pet.

When my beautiful Boxer came to live with me in 2005, she was a sickly, skinny creature less than four months old. Had I known … famous last words, of course … that Boxer Colitis is deadly I might not have taken on such a tragic project. She very nearly died on me several times. Unfortunately, veterinarians at Tufts Animal Hospital suggested expensive procedures that promised nothing more than successful or unsuccessful canine research for the institution.

As a single, working woman I had several disadvantages. I simply couldn’t afford more of the costly hospitalizations at Tufts nor did I have the luxury of spending 24 hours a day trying to nurse her to health.

She was as cute-as-a-button. My Boxer pup had won me over as her champion within a few short weeks. I simply knew that I could not have her euthanized and so I took a radical approach. I enlisted the help of a terrific holistic vet, a caring and loving doggie daycare enterprise (Happy Tails in Franklin) and the kitchen in my own home.

It was obvious that the expensive, “scientifically-engineered” canned food was hindering my puppy’s improvement. Desperately, I turned to my grocery stores and their produce bins, meat counter and dairy aisles. I began with a simple diet of cooked rice, sweet potatoes and ground beef. Over the weeks and months I slowly added scrambled eggs, oatmeal and barley. Our holistic vet suggested the additions of yogurt and cottage cheese for calcium.

In the end it took more than two years and a proverbial village of humans to save this lovely animal. She simply wouldn’t have survived without a crew of over twenty dedicated staff at the doggie day care and with the caring veterinary professionals and their help. That village soon included my husband–to-be and his grandson who love our four-footed friend as much as I do. She greets our grandson on his way in the door each day and she is the buddy who craves playtime with my husband each night. Her tail wags crazily as I make her breakfast each morning and she is our delight.

So … if you are thinking I’m a bit crazy to cook for my dog you need to know that I’m not alone. Others have done the same and have even written the book, so to speak.

”Real Food for Dogs: 50 Vet-Approved Recipes to Please the Canine Gastronome” has an irresistible cover and cute illustrations but it also has some great recipes. Arden Moore is not a veterinarian but he includes plenty of food that stocks everyone’s shelves and refrigerators.

“Throw Me a Bone: 50 Healthy, Canine-Taste-Tested Recipes for Snacks, Meals and Treats” is rather surprisingly written by canine Cooper Gillespie as told to his companion, Susan Orleans. (Orlean is the celebrated author of the “Orchid Thief.”)

“Grrrrowlicious Food for Hungry Dogs” by Jamie Young includes recipes for Cheese and Bacon Cookies, Meatballs and Fried Rice. Young asserts that you’ll be stealing food from your dog’s dish!

In “The Everything Cooking for Dogs Book: 150 Quick and Healthy Recipes Your Dog Will Love” Lisa Fortunato promises recipes without salt, sugar, trans fats or preservatives. In actuality, none of those bad things appear in any dog food recipes. Health abounds and we can all take lessons from these cookbooks.

If you’re looking for treats you might try Stephanie Mehanna’s “PupSnacks: 35 Delicious and Healthy Recipes to Bark Home About”. Throwing a birthday bash for your pet? Check out “The Good Treats Cookbook for Dogs: 50 Home-Cooked Treats for Special Occasions Plus Everything You Need to Know to Throw a Dog Party!” by Barbara Burg. Involve the kids in the fun with “Cool Pet Treats: Easy Recipes for Kids to Bake” by Pam Price.

You don’t have dogs in your family? Well Andi Brown’s “The Whole Pet Diet: Eight Weeks to Great Health for Dogs and Cats” and “The Natural Pet Food Cookbook: Healthful Recipes for Dogs and Cats” by Wendy Nan Rees include the felines along with the canines.

If you’re not convinced that homemade food can help your pet be sure to read Mark Poveromo’s “To Your Dog’s Health!: Canine Nutrition and Recent Trends With the Pet Food Industry”, Michael Fox’s “Not Fit For a Dog!: The Truth About Manufactured Dog and Cat Food” or Marion Nestle’s “Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog.”

Over the course of this sweet dog’s first two years, her digestive tract was healed of Colitis. Today, she is nearly six years old and she is the picture of health. We spend a mere hour each week cooking up her special recipe and store it in our refrigerator to use three times a day. We add a handful of quality dry dog food at dinnertime for “crunch”. Oh, and we always add a few special snacks for a special dog.

For help searching in the Minuteman catalog for these titles or for placing requests for books, please visit the Morrill Memorial Library, call the Reference librarians (781-769-0200) or visit the Minuteman Library Catalog on our website,

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Hallmark Holiday

April Cushing is the Adult Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read April's entire column this week in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.
Valentine’s Day has, mercifully, come and gone. Not my finest hour. A veteran of more than a half century of this holiday, I proved it’s still possible to completely miss the point. In case you’re wondering, there is a connection to the Morrill Memorial Library here, however tenuous, which I promise I’ll get to.

To cut to the chase (if, like me, you love idioms, check out I’m Not Hanging Noodles On Your Ears: and Other Intriguing Idioms from Around the World (call #418 Bhalla), I was the victim of a Bad Valentine. After a routine Saturday at the Reference Desk, breaking for a convivial lunch at Conrad’s where my colleagues and I shared funny stories from our previous marriages, I reflected on my blessings: the library printer was fixed, the 1040 instruction booklets had finally arrived, I had successfully put two posts on our new website and gone to the gym. While I haven’t dropped a pound I’m pleased to report I can now pedal four miles without wanting to puke. Life was good.

Arriving home to answer Cupid’s call I found my significant other marinating steak tips and breaking open the Malbec. Two envelopes leaned suggestively against a vase of long-stemmed red roses. I tore open the first one—a cute card from Duffy, our favorite canine companion. (I’d gotten him the same one.) Smiling, I reached for the second envelope.

At the risk of violating copyright law I’ll quote here: “Sometimes I wonder why I put up with you…” A tiny red flag was starting to flutter but I soldiered on.

“…Oh yeah, now I remember, you put up with me!”

Just in case I’d missed something I reread it, silently.

I’ve known this man since our kids were in nursery school together—i.e. a long time. Since we’ve been a couple for several of those years it’s probably safe to say the initial bloom is off the rose. Even so, I was a little taken aback. Make that momentarily speechless.

“Of all the romantic, lovey-dovey cards at CVS you chose this one?” I hated the way I sounded but couldn’t help myself. Whether sappy or sexy, Valentine’s Day is all about schlock, right?

“I thought it was funny,” he replied lamely.

“Which part would that be?” I asked.

Without burdening you with the rest of the exchange, suffice to say the candlelit dinner never came off. I grabbed the leash, the flashlight and the dog, clearly the only resident male capable of picking a proper Valentine.

There’s nothing like a brisk march around the block to put things in perspective. Realizing how unfairly I’d behaved, I tucked my tail between my legs and prepared to apologize. Preferably over those chocolate-covered strawberries I’d seen in the fridge. Only my not-so-funny valentine wasn’t yet in the mood to make up. The fact that the floral arrangement was conspicuously absent was my first hint.

After reading the same paragraph three times in The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (FICTION O’Farrell), I tried again. Expecting to find my loved one pretending to watch some grim show about predators in the wild but feeling terrible, I tiptoed into the TV room. He was cracking up at Steve Carell in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” (DVD Forty FEATURE FILM).

Fast forward two days to February 14. We’re at Legal C Bar for dinner with my 86-year-old mother—I know, dumb move. The wait is too long, the music too loud, the lighting too low and I’m praying my pomegranate lemon drop martini arrives soon when I spot a large red envelope. I’ll spare you the details, but it was about as gaudy as they get.

“What utter schmaltz,” my mother declares.

I love every word, especially the handwritten note: “This is what I really meant. I love you, honey.”

When my college-age daughter called later I recited the first card to her, from memory. She started laughing. “It’s true, Mom, he does put up with you.” Gee, thanks.

“And you put up with him. That’s what relationships are all about. Besides, it’s just a stupid card. Think about all the nice things he does for you.” She’s 20, for chrissake ( Since when did she get so savvy about this stuff?

For further clarification on the subject I invite you to check out Fight Less, Love More: 5-Minute Conversations to Change Your Relationship without Blowing Up or Giving In by Laurie Puhn, Harvard-trained family law attorney and couples mediator (646.78 PUHN). “Learn how to identify bad verbal habits, short-circuit arguments, prevent overreactions (who, me?) and orchestrate the perfect apology, all in less time than it takes to have another fight.” Where the heck was this a week ago? Her sensible message is Stop Keeping Score and Start Loving More.

I can’t speak for you, but since I skimmed through the book last night I can honestly say we haven’t had a single blow-up. When my beloved told his buddy about our Valentine’s Day debacle his response was, “that’s why you’re so good for each other. You each have a lot of warts but you love each other in spite of them.”

Hallmark sentiments aside, isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is all about?

Monday, February 14, 2011

In Love with Penguins

Charlotte Canelli is library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read her column each Thursday in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

The penguin exhibit at the New England Aquarium is one of my favorite places. I could spend hours watching them. They are chatty, loyal, energetic and annoying and well, they are a lot like most of my friends.

On our trip to Atlanta two years ago we made sure not to miss the penguins at the Georgia Aquarium. There you view them through glass bubbles – nearly face-to-face.

It seems everyone loves penguins these days. When we found out our daughter’s fiance had a fascination with penguins as a child we began to find penguin-themed tchotchkes everywhere we looked. But while he gets at least one penguin in his stocking each year, we’ve been careful not to overdo. After all, we want him to join our family.

What I didn’t know about penguins until recently is that some can be loud, some can be fickle and all can be smelly. And they are very much at risk in the world, specifically off the coast of South Africa.

In 1910 it is estimated that there were 1.5 million penguins living off the South African coast. In the century since then commercial fishing has forced penguins to forage farther afield in an ocean polluted by the shipping industry. Additionally, for years humans removed precious penguin guano, or their nesting material, from the islands off the coast. Also, for years penguin eggs were removed and sold as a delicacy (until it became unlawful.)

Today, only 10% of the African penguin population remains.

In the forty years between 1966 and 2006 nearly fifty tankers have been damaged or have sunk off the coast of South Africa. Fifteen of these ships have caused major oil spills. Each of those spills has devastated some portion of the penguin population.

In 1994 a tanker named the Apollo Sea sank. The spill from that tragedy oiled about 10,000 penguins, half of which were lost.

In 2000 the MV Treasure, an iron ore tanker, sank between the Robben and Dassen islands. Nearly 40,000 penguins, in the midst of their breeding cycle, were affected. In the end 19,000 of the birds were cleaned and another 20,000 were temporarily moved out of danger.

41% of the world’s African penguin population was contaminated in that one oil spill. One tanker. 75,000 African penguins.

“The Great Penguin Rescue: 40,000 Penguins, a Devastating Oil Spill, and the Inspiring Story of the World’s Largest Animal Rescue” by Dyan deNapoli tells the story of their liberation.

This book, as they say, had me at “hello.” The very first chapter describes a penguin’s fight for survival from the moment his amazing coat of feathers comes in contact with oil from a tanker spill through his struggle for survival. It is a devastating read but a compelling one.

A penguin-educator and author, deNapoli got her start as a volunteer and intern at the New England Aquarium in the 1990s. She wasn’t always obsessed with penguins; she was more of a dolphin fanatic most of her childhood and young adulthood. Her parents gave her a special thirtieth birthday adventure in 1992 and she spent four weeks on an Earthwatch expedition in Hawaii where she chose to work with her favorite creature, dolphins.

Very soon after arriving home from her quest, deNapoli enrolled at Mount Ida College in Newton to pursue a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. She ended up at the NE Aquarium on an internship where 35 African penguins and 25 Rockhopper penguins changed her life.

In 2000, deNapoli was working as a staff member of the Penguin Department at the NE Aquarium when the call for help was sounded in June of 2000. The MV Treasure had spilled 1,300 gallons of oil off the coast of Cape Town. Within hours of the spill, experts volunteered from around the world and they arrived at a train repair warehouse in Cape Town to participate in one of the biggest rescue and rehab operations on the planet.

The rescue efforts were overseen by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds. Organized in 1968, SANCCOB has rescued over 85,000 seabirds in the past 47 years.

deNapoli spent three months in Cape Town helping to rehabilitate the birds and reintroduce them to their wild environment. Today, she lives on the north shore and spends her time educating children and adults about this awesome African bird.

“Fraser’s Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antartica” by Fen Montaigne (2010) chronicles another type of penguin, the Adelie species. Author Montaigne spent five months with scientist Bill Fraser on the harsh and austere northwestern Antarctica peninsula. Climate change is affecting Antarctica faster than any other place on Earth and Fraser has seen it firsthand since he arrived there in 1974 to study the continent. Like dominos, the species in this part of the world are falling prey to the changes that global warming has brought. The Adelie penguin’s feeding grounds are diminishing and the Gentoo penguins are becoming the dominant species.

If you’d like to educate the youngest generations, those that will make the differences in years to come, there are many children’s books describing the lives and plight of penguins. For help searching in the Minuteman catalog for these titles or for placing requests for books, please visit the Morrill Memorial Library, call the Reference librarians (781-769-0200) or visit the Minuteman Library Catalog on our website,

Monday, February 7, 2011


Charlotte Canelli is library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read her column each Thursday in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Unfortunately for everyone the Morrill Memorial Library has been closed several days this winter. While we make every attempt to stay open on snowy days we sometimes close in the best interest of our patrons and our staff. Icy roads or quickly-accumulating snow are two conditions which make for this determination because it simply isn’t always possible to keep our parking lot and walks safe.

Believe it or not, the online “know-it-all” Wikipedia already lists this month’s recent storm on February 2 as “The Ground Hog Day Blizzard of 2011”. The storm affected five provinces of Canada, a huge chunk of the United States and Northern Mexico.

By definition a blizzard is a snow storm with high winds and diminished visibility lasting three hours or more. Definitions aside, we know that a blizzard is a storm that cripples our snowplowing capabilities or the ability of the buses to get to school. It’s the kind of snow that causes a nightmare of a commute and one that takes hours to creep a few miles.

Besides their devastating effects, these mega-storms can be lucrative for snow blower sales, for handyman work and for the chiropractic business. They also make headlines, baby booms and good stories.

And so, February 2 was a snow day for both me and my 12-year old grandson. It was a perfect day to introduce Colin to one of my favorite movies, Ground Hog Day. That movie never ceases to make me smile and chuckle, to believe in romance and to marvel in brilliance of actor Bill Murray.

Screenwriters aren’t the only talented writers who use blizzards to their best advantage. Journalist-turned bestselling author Jon Katz included one is his story about a dog in “Rose in a Storm” (2010). Rose is a hard-working sheep dog who, in the midst of an epic blizzard, helps save a farm and every creature that lives there.

Another bestselling author, Richard Paul Evans, set his latest book, “Promise Me”, in the middle of a Christmas Day blizzard. He included all the elements – a widow, a sick child and the perfect stranger she runs into in a 7-eleven in the midst of a raging winter storm. These essentials also converge in Barbara Delinsky’s 2010 novel “Montana Man.” Single mom, infant daughter, handsome stranger. And a blizzard, of course.

It seems romance abounds in the middle of blizzards. In “Winter Lodge” by Susan Wiggs, Jenny Majesky is trapped with the local police chief in the middle of a crippling snowstorm. In “Chill Factor” Lilly Martin is stuck in a remote cabin with a handsome stranger unable to leave. Author Sandra Brown sets a scene where roads are impassable and Lilly has nowhere to go but spend time with the handsome stranger. Why the problem? He is the primary suspect in the disappearance of five local women.

Diana Palmer includes two stories in “The Winter Man.” In one of them, “Sutton’s Way”, we find a single dad, a beautiful city woman and a ranch. Oh yes, and the blizzard.

If you are looking for a realistic story, however, you can find one quite comical one in Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods” in which the author writes of his attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail. One humorous chapter recounts the time when Bryson got caught hiking in a blizzard with his friend Katz. After the storm they woke to “the kind of stillness that makes you sit up and take your bearings.”

In “Ten Hours Until Dawn: the True Story of a Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do”, local author and Franklin resident Michael Tougias details the story of that small boat and its crew during the 1978 blizzard that assaulted the Massachusetts coast. Tougias reports the tragedy and the failed mission of the Can Do to assist two other boats. It sank only miles from the shore.

I was living in California at the time of the Massachusetts Blizzard of 1978 but I feel as if I lived through it due to the stories of my family and friends living here. Recollections of peaceful walks down the middle of the streets, cars abandoned on Route 128, high tides and pounding surf made memories for several generations of New Englanders. Michael Dukakis wrote the introduction to Alan R. Earl’s “Greater Boston’s Blizzard of 1978”. The book is illustrated with over 200 photographs and readers can relive the storm or experience it for the first time.

The Boston Globe published “Great New England Storms of the 20th Century”, edited by Janice Page. The book not only includes the infamous blizzard of ’78 but also the 1938 hurricane, devastating floods of 1936 and the “Perfect Storm” of 1991.

Larry B. Pletcher writes of the blizzard of 1888 which occurred nearly a century earlier before the one in 1978. Pletcher writes about other disasters such as Lizzy Borden, the Curse of the Bambino and the Cocoanut Grove Fire in his book, “It Happened in Massachusetts”.

Several more very complete accounts have been written about the 1888 blizzard commonly referred to as the School Children’s Blizzard. “Blizzard! The 1888 Whiteout” by Jacqueline A. Ball is one of them. Another is “Blizzard: The Storm that Changed America” by Jim Murphy. Murphy is the author of other wonderful books for middle-school readers such as “The Great Fire”. “American Epidemic”, “The Boys’ War”, and the “Long Road to Gettysburg, I often suggest reading non-fiction written for younger audiences and Murphy’s books are fine examples.

An adult version of the epic tragedy is “The Schoolchildren’s Blizzard” by Donald B. Lemke. This devastating prairie snowstorm killed hundreds of newly-arrived settlers in the western plains among them children who had walked to school that morning of January 12, 1888 without coats and gloves because the weather was very mild. Without much warning the storm approached and the rest, as they say, is the history of the deadliest blizzard to hit the American heartland.

For help searching in the Minuteman catalog for these titles or for placing requests for books, please visit the Morrill Memorial Library, call the Reference librarians (781-769-0200) or visit the Minuteman Library Catalog on our website,

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers

Margot Sullivan is a retired Adult Services Librarian who still works part-time as a Reference Librarian and leads two popular book discussion groups. Read Margot Sullivan's in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Abraham Lincoln is my very favorite president! Why- you might ask? One reason is that I was born on his birthday, February 12th! I always thought that day along with Washington’s birthday should also be a national holiday for him, of course, not me! The few times I have been to Washington D.C. my first destination is the Lincoln Memorial to contemplate a most remarkable man in our nation’s history. He guided this country through the divisive Civil War and his Proclamation Emancipation ending slavery is one of our most sacred documents. The library has a huge selection of materials on Abe Lincoln, his wife Mary Todd Lincoln, his family, the Civil War and his assassination. Three titles I highly recommend are Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals: the political genius of Abraham Lincoln” (973.7092), David Herbert Donald’s Pulitzer Prize biography “Lincoln” (B Lincoln), and Philip Kunhardt’s “Lincoln: an illustrated biography” (B Lincoln). I especially enjoy the last recommendation as photographs often can tell a story better than words!

Truthfully I thought I knew a lot about Abe Lincoln but just this year became aware of a real event in his life regarding his whiskers. Grace Bedell, an eleven year old child from Westfield, New York, wrote a letter to Mr. Lincoln part of which reads “if you will let your whiskers grow I will try and get the rest of them (her brothers) to vote for you. You would look a great deal better for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you”. Grace mails the letter hoping that Mr. Lincoln would answer and he did! A. Lincoln responds in part “As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affection if I were to begin now?” Abe Lincoln won the election and traveling to Washington stops in New York and Grace sees his whiskers. A wonderful picture book entitled “Mr. Lincoln’s Whiskers” by Karen Winnick is in the biography section of the children’s room! A facsimile of Grace’s letter is on the back pages of the book. The majority of the photos we see of Abraham Lincoln have his “whiskers”.

While researching material on Abe Lincoln for a cable show I came across the slender volume “Lincoln at Home: Two Glimpses of Abraham Lincoln’s Family Life” by David Herbert Donald. (B, Lincoln) and learned another wonderful snippet about Abe Lincoln in the White House! First of all Americans were trying to get use to children in the White House. Lincoln’s boys were active and venturesome. They especially loved two small goats Nanko and Nannie who were allowed around on the grounds and tended to destroy the gardens. But they also had the run of the White House! Mischievous Tad harnessed Nanko to a chair and gleefully interrupted a reception in the East Room as Nanko pulled him around on a sled in and out of the hoop skirts! Later Abraham writes to his wife Mary that “Nanny” disappeared probably much to the gardeners delight. I enjoyed reading about these antics of the children. I imagine Mary Lincoln had her hands full! Come to the library and read about Abraham Lincoln.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln!