Friday, May 14, 2021

Glorious Friday

 What a beautiful day in the neighborhood!  I was even able to have a meeting outside in the comfort of our Adirondack chairs.  Progress is being made on the painting and staining by Chris Wardell's great team.  There was a little bit of normal in the air, though we continue to note that more people seem to be opting for curbside pickup than visiting the library.  We will probably begin to open up a bit more in June if the covid numbers continue to be so good in Hopkinton and elsewhere.  

Inez McDermott's art talk last night was excellent, though I wish that more people had been able to attend.  If you're interested in checking it out, it was recorded and there is a link up on our website.  Next week is the book discussion of Jerald Walker's "How to make a Slave" on Thursday at noon and 7pm, facilitated by Dr. Dottie Morris from Keene State.  Copies of the book (it is a quick, accessible read) are still available for $5/copy or for loan!!  We understand that people are zoomed out and some have reported fatigue with the subject matter, but it is important and we can but try.

This afternoon I went to check out the library's story walk out behind the Slusser Center.  At the moment it is being shared by the school district for a display of artwork created by Kim Emerson's students from Harold Martin and Maple Street.  Kudos to her for this excellent project.  Students looked at the artwork of a variety of important artists and then created their own versions of the work.  It is vibrant, rich and varied and worth being a destination if you're looking for a walk  Full marks to Kim for including so many women artists in the mix.  That doesn't always happen and it was nice to see Sonia Delaunay, Faith Ringold, Helen Frankenthaler, Georgia O'Keeffe etc. in the mix.

Lovely weekend to all.  The weather looks promising...dvd

Monday, May 10, 2021

garden bounty

 Well, I suppose that there are some compensations for this long, cool, gray Spring we've been having.  The daffodils have stuck around for longer than usual and it's tough to complain about that.

and the greenhouse has been yielding amazing greens.  First there was this:

then, this, cooked down, the innards of a green slab pie:
and then this partially consumed bit of deliciousness.  Really good!!

Meanwhile, I just finished the new Russell Banks "Foregone" a novel about a narcissistic, seriously flawed, but always interesting documentary film maker.  A friend complained that she didn't like the main character, so wasn't pleased with the book.  I think if I gave up on books whose main characters were less than likable, that might leave few books to read.  I actually think that he would have been great as a companion over a beer.  Though surely not as a spouse, but I've got that one covered.  Also listening to Dickens' "Martin Chuzzlewitt" and am thoroughly enjoying it.  Interesting finding that Hoopla has a pretty decent collection of Dickens, while Overdrive has fairly few...Part of Overdrive's mission is to collect what is current and popular, thus I am finding myself turning increasingly to Hoopla.  Karen thinks I should be signing these, so here goes:  Donna

Friday, May 7, 2021

friday felicitations

 A red letter day!  I walked to work for the first time in probably more than a year, not fast but without grinding pain.  So maybe it was worth it.  And what the heck does "red letter day" mean?  I had to google it...Now here's a fun fact!

This comes from the practise of marking the dates of church festivals on calendars in red. ... The term came into wider use in 1549 when the first Book of Common Prayer included a calendar with holy days marked in red ink; for example, Annunciation (Lady Day), 25th March, was designated in the book as a red-letter day.

Today Leigh and I were reviewing the Parent Collection (did you know we have one??!)  It is our collection on child development, child rearing, education, recommended activities etc.  We are trying to make it more accessible/user friendly and I decided to refer to our friend Dewey for some guidance, which is often good for a laugh.  It didn't disappoint. We are increasingly using something often referred to as "Dewey Lite" though I really hate that spelling.  In looking in the 300s where many education books are, I found this extraordinary juxtaposition:

394.266 Christmas

394.909 Cannabilism-History

395 Etiquette

These three are actually right next to each other in "NonFiction Catalog," one of those tools that librarians rely upon, though I sometimes wonder why.  This is clearly an opportunity to offer guidelines on good table manners when eating your holiday gingerbread man.  

And finally, I can't resist sharing some Mouse pics.  We were wondering what happened to all of Elena's hair ties...Mouse's favorite toy...

Just look how innocent she is, trying to pretend she's compost for the garden...

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

hip hip hooray

 It's been quite a while.  The dominating theme since late March has been a hip replacement.  They say that the best form of flattery is imitation.  Both of my sisters have had BOTH hips replaced, so I had to have one as well.  Thankfully, only one at this stage.  for those of you who are curious, this is the inside look!  Looks like something I should be able to pull out of my hip if I'm ever challenged to a sword fight.  All is remarkably well in that regard...

Mostly today I wanted to put a plug in for our upcoming Hopkinton READS! programs.  Hope that some of you would like to be part of this initiative, a partnership between the school district, library and Keene State.  "How to Make a Slave" is a quick, accessible read. The book  is a bracing and often humorous examination by one of America's most acclaimed essayists of what it is to grow, parent, write, and exist as a black American male. Walker refuses to lull his readers; instead his missives urge them to do better as they consider, through his eyes, how to be a good citizen, how to be a good father, how to live, and how to love.

A bargain at $5, thanks to GOBI (YBP Library Services here in town) and the library's foundation, or even more of a bargain if you just borrow it.  The first program up is an art talk with Prof. Inez McDermott on black artists responses to social challenges (Thursday May 13th 7pm via zoom).  We have had Inez speak on several other occasions and she is terrific.  The book discussions will be facilitated by Dr. Dottie Morris from Keene State and those will take place the following Thursday May 20th at noon and 7pm.  Email for info on how to access the events or call 746-3663..  

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Tuesday this and that

 I've spent the last couple of months reading almost solely books delving into black America, from Deacon King Kong (McBride), to the essays of Jerald Walker How to Make a Slave, Transcendent Kingdom (Gyasi)The Vanishing Half (Bennett) , Real Life  (Brandon Taylor), Jack (Robinson) some James Baldwin.  This wasn't even entirely intentional and all are recommended. There are just some excellent books on this theme that have recently been published and they've cropped up and somehow it has just felt right to be reading these authors delving into complicated subject matter in such different ways at this time.

.But suddenly I seem to be turning to Chinese Americans as two books have popped up on my reserve list.  I'm currently reading "My Year Abroad" by Chang-rae Lee, which is seeming promising about a Chinese American college student's foray into a perhaps unsavory adventure abroad, with a sketchy but brilliant co-conspirator.  And sitting in front of me waiting to be read is Charles Yu's "Interior Chinatown" which was a PBS NewsHour monthly selection. Seems very strange that these two should have hit my shelf together.  I'll let you know.  Interior Chinatown won the 2020 National Book Award. Our catalog says One of the funniest books of the year. . . . A delicious, ambitious Hollywood satire." --The Washington Post  From the infinitely inventive author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, a deeply personal novel about race, pop culture, immigration, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play.

And now for something completely different...we have been getting some good eating from the greenhouse, though the temperature fluctuations have been giving my husband fits.  It is March in NH after all, but the greenhouse has added a new dimension.  the greens are absolutely delicious and radishes and carrots are coming up!!  

Monday, March 15, 2021

Pi Day

 Yesterday was Pi Day. For those who delight in numbers and pay attention to such things: 3.14, or Pi, is a mathematical constant, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Thus 3/14 is Pi Day and a day to make a pie.  It was so cold, I was also happy to have the oven on.  It was my first foray into a recipe from the 2020 book  "Pie Academy" which my husband gave me for Christmas.  I've been reading through it, but hadn't actually baked anything yet.  (this book is also in the library's collection--I highly recommend it).  I made an apple cranberry walnut pie with an oatmeal crumb topping.  It was pretty amazing, if I do say so myself, with a complexity of flavor that I don't think I've ever quite achieved in an apple pie before.  It was sweetened with only 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of maple syrup and flavored with lemon, orange peel, cinnamon and clove.  Really good.  I guess not so photogenic though...

Plans are afoot for a new round of Hopkinton READS! in partnership with the school district and the Office of Diversity and Multiculturalism at Keene State.  We'll be reading a book of essays "How to Make a Slave" by Jerald Walker.  Very readable, insightful and often funny.  Books will be for sale and loan at the library starting tomorrow.  We've got some great programming planned, with a kick off discussion framing the programming to come with Dottie Morris, VP for Diversity and Inclusion at Keene State on Thursday March 25th at 7pm via Zoom.  Stay tuned for details.  

"These extraordinarily candid essays crackle with humor and dramatic tension. Jerald Walker is one of the most gifted essayists of our time."  (Robert Atwan, series editor, The Best American Essays)

Monday, March 8, 2021

Good things in small packages

 We have a new display up in the table top cabinet in the library.  It is worth coming to see in person.  Once again, our own Barb Diaz did the assembly, using miniatures from Leigh Maynard's collection and some of her own. Each of the four "rooms" (actually including one garden) is filled with exquisite tiny things from tea kettles to books, dainty foods and even a dog and his newly destroyed newspaper.  The rooms are separated by storybook walls. Also on display are books on miniatures and dollhouses and such, which can be borrowed.  Even if whimsy isn't your cup of tea, it will be a challenge not to be charmed by what is on view.  The display just makes me smile.  Leigh and Barb put it together to promote our "Tiny Room Challenge" --see below and below that some images of the display that hardly do them justice!  Come visit!  And channel Virginia Woolf and create a room of your own.

Monday, March 1, 2021

March madness

 Boy was it March-y out there today.  Gray and bone-chilling although it was in the 40s. How is that?  I want to share a great obit with you for an amazing person you've likely never heard of:  Milford Graves.  The obit states "he wasn't a drummer exclusively...he was also a botanist, acupuncturist, martial artist, impresario, college professor, visual artist and student of the human heartbeat." It's like George Washington Carver meets Buckaroo Banzai.  When this comparison came to me, I wanted to look into GWC a bit more and was amazed to be reminded about what a trail blazer he was.  Like Graves, he was also a musician, but is known for his ground breaking research on plant science and soil rotation.  Some fun facts from the History Channel website: 

In the last two decades of his life, Carver lived as a minor celebrity but his focus was always on helping people. He traveled the South to promote racial harmony, and he traveled to India to discuss nutrition in developing nations with Mahatma GandhiUp until the year of his death, he also released bulletins for the public (44 bulletins between 1898 and 1943). Some of the bulletins reported on research findings but many others were more practical in nature and included cultivation information for farmers, science for teachers and recipes for housewives.

And who is Buckaroo Banzai, you many ask?  He is a character in a minor cult classic "The adventures of Buckaroo Banzai"  If you have any taste for science fiction and spoofs thereon, this one's for you.  We have it at the library.  It stars Peter Weller, with amazingly riotous performances by John Lithgow and Jeff Goldblum.  From IMDB:  Adventurer, brain surgeon, rock musician Buckaroo Banzai and his crime-fighting team, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, must stop evil alien invaders from the eighth dimension who are planning to conquer Earth.  

What's not to like???  
Ok, this was an odd post, but as I noted, it's March.  

Friday, February 26, 2021

happy friday

 I see that the NYT has chosen it's ten best books of 2020.  I'm relieved to have read some of them and others are on my list.  Hamnet and Deacon King Kong are on there., both favorites.  I'm planning to read The Vanishing Half, but it has a wait list (though actually we have a large print version of it as well, which people have declined to borrow (fearing that if they take it, it will come with a gray wig, cane and dentures).  I'm not at all troubled by LP, indeed it's a bit of a relief for old eyes and remarkably enough, despite what one might expect, they really aren't more weighty than regular print.  I'm also curious about "Homeland Elegies" (Akhtar) and "A Children's Bible",(Millet) both on the list.  So much to read...I am just finishing up "Shuggie Bain" (Douglas Stuart) which has become an addictive read with endearing, incredibly flawed characters in hardscrabble Glasgow.  If they make it into a movie, it will need subtitles.  It's not a happy book, but it is so icily clear and warm at the same time.  I am truly terrible at writing about the books I'm reading.  Maybe I need more practice.  

Also wanted to put a plug in for our Covid Call for Art if you haven't seen it.  Spread the word

Thursday, February 18, 2021

A day in the life

 the morning started with a lovely yoga practice with the library staff via zoom, led by Lisa Garside from Ohana Yoga.  An excellent way to kick into gear.  Then there was book ordering, always a pleasure and then phone calls, including a long one with Paula, the head of the Recreation Department.  We are both struggling with what summer programming might look like and how best to serve the community while keeping people safe.  We would also like to find a way to partner, if possible.  Then there was a zoom meeting with representatives from the school district, Gordon Crouch from First Church and  Keene State faculty, including Dottie Morris, the VP for Diversity and Inclusion.  We are planning a community wide discussion about social justice and culturally responsive work, using a "community read" of Jerald Walker's "How to Make a Slave" (a finalist for the national book award last year) as a springboard for discussion.  The multi-layered program will have its kick off event on Thursday March 25th at 7pm via zoom.  Stay tuned.  We expect challenging but important conversation.  Then there was Governor Sununu's weekly press conference.  Covid numbers continue to go in the right direction and that's very good news.  He still urges mask wearing and social distancing, but perhaps we can allow ourselves to believe that we are turning a corner..  

I finished "Nick" by Michael Farris Smith, which tells the pre-Gatsby story of Nick Carraway.  It is largely his harrowing experience in WWI, torn relationships and ambivalence about how to justify the war.  It continues on to a period of escape post war in New Orleans, full of atmosphere and tawdriness and well drawn characters.  Only at the very end do we meet a Nick who is barely recognizable as the narrator of Great Gatsby.  It was a grimmish read and I confess I chose it because of the accolades on the back cover by Richard Russo, Jeffrey Lent and Robert Olen Butler.  Still I kept with it and was pulled into the story and the characters.  It made me pull Gatsby off the shelves.  It's been a long time.  A quick read of early pages reintroduces Nick, but I can't say I quite believed that the tortured Nick of the new book is the same one we encounter in West Egg, NY.  I may revisit the novel to see how/whether it connects. Clearly, I'm a bit haunted by Nick...

Now I'm reading "Shuggie Bain" by Stuart Douglas, a first novel that won last year's Booker Prize.  I'm pretty hooked with the immersion into grim Glasgow.  But I think I'm going to be on the lookout for something a bit more uplifting for my next read.  Suggestions welcome.  

I'm going to be off for a few days.  Heading home to the cat...she likes to help me with the crossword.