Jan's Column 2017
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We are just past Labor Day and already the weather seems autumnal. The nights are crisp, the days (mostly) dry, the crops are finishing, some trees are starting to change colors, and the birds are flocking up. Often as not, the week that school gets back in session and fully underway, we get a week of really hot weather. So far, it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. About two weeks ago my tomato plants (in big porch pots) started dying back. It always seems to me, with tomatoes particularly, once a lot of fruit is set, the foliage starts dying back and then it becomes a race between new foliage, the fruit ripening and the foliage dying off. At this point, dying off is winning. I have a nice set of mostly sticks with dozens and dozens of cherry tomatoes ripening in the sun. Flocks of red-winged black birds have started to assemble. These flocks aren’t as big as they’ll get before the big migration south, but it’s a start. It’s an indication that the year is turning towards fall. Families of geese are taking practice flights in formation as are the double-crested cormorants along the Mississippi. The world seems to be gearing up in preparation of the next season, but it also seems to be slowing down as the days get shorter so there’s more time to sit in side and relax and perhaps read! September is National Library Card Sign-up Month, so if you don’t have a card, stop on down and we’ll get you one. Then you can check out some of the fascinating books listed below. Enjoy!
Here we sit on the 31st of August, or September Eve, I suppose. The beginning of September brings, of course, Labor Day, which is immediately followed by the start of school. But today, August 31st is the last day of “Be Kind to Human Kind Week”. There is still time to celebrate. Just find a human being and be kind to them. Easy peasy! The last full weekend of August is International Bat Night. Bat Night has taken place every year since 1997 in more than 30 countries on the last full weekend of August. Its purpose is to pass on information to the public about the way bats live and their needs with presentations, and importance ecologically. It is also National Matchmaker Day which celebrates those well-intentioned people who want to set you up with this really nice girl or boy that they think would just be perfect for you. It is also National Trail Mix Day. Celebrating this day only requires you to open up a package and eat the trail mix blend of your choice. The most unusual day to celebrate this August 31st is National Diatomaceous Earth Day. Here is a quote about the day from the blog at EP minerals.com : Most people know of diatomaceous earth because it's used to filter beer or wine, for swimming pools, or for its insecticide properties to control insects around homes or in gardens. Biologists know about diatoms, the single-celled plants that form diatomaceous earth, because they are truly the lungs of the earth, in that they produce about ¾ of the world’s new oxygen supply. Materials scientists know about diatom skeletons (called frustules), the tiny, intricate porous opal structures because they are known to be the strongest naturally-occurring substances.” So, now you know. But, I’m not exactly sure how you would celebrate the day. Perhaps by reading one of the new book titles listed below. Enjoy!
Was the solar eclipse good for you? Was it everything you expected? Was the weather even conducive to viewing (writing this at noon on Sunday, August 20th the forecast – depending on the news channel- is mostly cloudy with a 40 to 60 percent chance of thunderstorms.)? The hoopla surrounding this event and the search for eclipses-viewing glasses complete with reports of purported shipments arriving at various locations around the Madison area, reminds me of the Beanie Baby craze of the 1990s. And who can forget the 1983 holiday season spent standing in line to get a Cabbage Patch doll for your beloved offspring? The eclipse and the resulting demand for safe eyewear created a good example of supply-and-demand economics. We had a program about the eclipse at the end of June and bought 20 pairs of glasses for about $16. So that’s like eighty cents a \piece. Fast forward to this past week and a pair of the same glasses was going for $9.99. There was very low supply (no one anticipated the amount of interest there would be in this eclipse) and very high demand – a real sellers’ market. Isn’t the free market swell? If you did manage to snag a pair of glasses, put them away in a safe place. The next total eclipse in the continental United States will be April 4th, 2024 and its path goes through northern Indiana and Michigan (not too far a drive).August 12, 2045 has a total eclipse going from coast to coast but further south. But, if you can manage to stay alive until September 14th, 2099 there will be a solar eclipse with the path of totality right around Madison, WI. While you’re waiting for the next solar eclipse or whatever you might be waiting for, you will find some new books listed below to help you while away the time. Enjoy!
Here it is. The 17th of August. The 229th day of the year. 129 days until Christmas (eve). And there’s not a whole lot happening. It’s a slow time of year when the vacations are being squeezed in before the ramping up for the start of school starts. The days are getting shorter and cooler – am I the only one who thinks the ditches are filled with September wildflowers already? Today does however have some interesting celebrations associated with it. For instance it is Baby Boomer Recognition Day (I guess if you see one and recognize them say “hi”). It is Balloon Airmail Day (not sure that comes up much anymore as a means of transport, but back in 1859 this was a marvel.). It is National Thrift Shop Day – how to celebrate is obvious. Go and shop. And it is Black Cat Appreciation Day (as opposed to “Black Cat Day “which is celebrated on October 27th). Make your black cat feel appreciated in whatever way works for your cat. Perhaps by serving it some vanilla custard. That way you can celebrate National Vanilla Custard Day as well. That’s about all I know about August 17th. Below you will find a list of the new books that arrived at the library recently. Kick back, put your feet up, check out one of these book, read, and most of all, enjoy!
The Summer Library Program is over. All the books have been counted and all the pages read have been added up. I can now give you all of the amazing numbers about how many people read how many books! I have been reporting the number of pages read in concrete terms every year by converting the number of pages read into inches, then converting those inches into miles, and then plotting those miles on a map. Since I have been doing this annually for enough years for this to have become a tradition, and since I’m wise enough not to tamper with a fine tradition, here goes!
This year 425 people participated. Those participants managed to read 1,169,500 pages. Now, on to the calculations which begin with this question: “If you laid all the pages of the books that were read end-to-end how many miles would they stretch?” The average size of a page is 9 inches tall which gives us (1,169,500 times 9” or 10,525,500 inches—(always show your work if you want to receive full credit.)). Then we take those inches and divide by 12 to give us 877,125 feet and then divide by 5,280 to give us 166.1 miles. And, voilà! If you laid all the pages read during the Summer Reading Program end to end and drove east on I-90 and I-294 you would end up at the Swap-O-Rama Flea Markets in Alsip, IL. Or heading north and west on I-90 you’d end up about a mile west of Fremont, MN. Any way you look at it, a whole lot of reading was done this summer! Congratulations to all the Summer Library program participants.
Now, if you haven’t worn your eyes out yet, below you will find some new book titles. Enjoy!
For us here at the library, now that the Harry Potter Birthday party is past and the Summer Reading Program has finished too, the summer is pretty much over. Sure, some of us still have vacations to look forward to, but the big summer push is over and now we are catching our collective breaths before gearing up for the back-to-school push. The back-to-school ads started appearing right around the 4th of July—another indicator that summer is winding down. I probably mentioned this near the summer solstice but I will mention it again here. Since that longest day of the year on (or about) June 21st we have been losing daylight. In fact from that day to this, we have lost 33 minutes of daylight in the morning and 25 minutes in the evening. And the dawn chorus is pretty much just a couple of cardinals yelling “Look at me! Look at me!” or “This is mine! This is mine!” even though no one else seems to care. The days indeed, are dwindling. But while the warmth and daylight persist, there are many things to celebrate. For instance, today is National Watermelon Day as well as National Grab Some Nuts Day. I suppose you could combine these two national days by removing the seeds from your slice of watermelon and replacing them with say, pistachios or almonds. It is also National Psychic Week – but you already knew that, right? August 1st through the 5th is National Bargain Hunting Week and you all know that the best place to hunt for a bargain is at your local public library. We have bargains on books, magazines, dvds, cds, computers, wi-fi, and so much more. And it’s all free. Can’t find a better bargain than that! Below you’ll find a sampling of titles of new books that recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!
Today is the preantepenultimate (and yes, this really is a word) day before the library’s big, annual Harry Potter Birthday party on Monday, July 31st. This means that library staff is in the final stages of preparation and set-up design and in the early stages of panic. Yes. That was me in the grocery store over the weekend buying ridiculous quantities of club soda and butterscotch, pretzel rods and frosting, napkins and cups. Those of you who have attended these festivities before know that the seltzer and butterscotch are the fixin’s for my version of “butter beer” and that the pretzel rods and frosting make a rather magical wand when festooned with sprinkles and a bit of magic (and you can eat the wand too. How cool is that?). This year the party will be preceded by an appearance of Doctor Venom and his bizarre beasts. The show starts at 1 p.m. and the “normal” party starts at 2 p.m. Come for the program and stay for the party! There will be cake. While waiting for this magical day to arrive, below you will find some of the new titles that have arrived at the library to help you while away the time. Enjoy!
Eleven days and counting. Eleven days until the Summer Reading Program ends. Eleven days until the Harry Potter Birthday party. It’s still not too late to sign up for the reading program. The books you’ve read this summer count. You just need to enter the titles into the account you create online. Those books will earn you dragon dollars. If you’re in the teen category – or know someone who is – our teen librarian has challenged teens and the library staff to a friendly little competition. If the teens read more books than library staff does during the Summer Reading Program, then the teens get to do something to the teen librarian that involves whipped cream, a plate or pie, and her face. (I’m still trying to figure out what the incentive is for library staff to read as much as they can.). As of the weekend of July, 15-16th, there were 414 participants in the reading program. Joining is a trending thing so be one of the trendsetters and signup now. Go to the library’s webpage at: www.deforestlibrary.org . There is a large banner near the top of the page that says “Join the Summer Reading Program: Build a Better World”. Click on that link and choose your age group and create your account. Then, if you read any of the books below, or anything else, just record the title and you are now part of the program. Enjoy!
I know it is hard to believe, but on Monday, July 17th we shall arrive at the mid-point of summer. That is if you define summer as that period of time between Memorial Day and Labor Day. There are 98 days between those dates and July 17th is the 49th day. It is particularly hard to believe that there is still more than half of summer left, especially because we here at the library are already doing the countdown to the big Harry Potter Birthday party on July 31st. That is only 18 days away. Not only is July 31st Harry Potter’s birthday, it is also the end of the Summer Library Program. Eighteen days is still plenty of time to sign up, read some books, record them on your online record, and earn some dragon dollars. Those dollars can be spent in the library’s store or may be donated to one of three charities – the DeForest Area Needs Network, the Dane County Humane Society, or the DeForest Area Public Library Endowment--. I will personally convert those donated dragon dollars to “real” dollars So since you’re reading anyway, why not earn a few dragon dollars and either spend them on yourself (You know you deserve to treat yourself once in a while) or donate them to a charity. To tempt you to read hard during the next 18 days you will find a list of some of the new books that have arrived at the library recently. Enjoy!
Having rolled past the 4th of July, we are now more than a third of the way through the summer – if you consider summer to be that expanse of warm to hot days that occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day. This year there are 98 days from those “bookend” holidays and Independence Day fell on the 36th day after the beginning of summer. Our Summer Reading Program which runs from Memorial Day to Harry Potter’s Birthday (July 31st). The program is of shorter duration, so at this point we are more than halfway through. This means that there is still plenty of time to sign up and participate. You can sign up online and add books that way too. There are challenges to take, dragon dollars to win, and programs to attend. Check out the library’s website for signup details. This past Tuesday we celebrated the 241st anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. On July 4th, the Continental Congress approved the final draft of the document, formalizing what had already been decided on July 2nd. That congress hired John Dunlap to print 200 copies of the Declaration to be distributed throughout the colonies. He delivered 200 copies, now known as the Dunlap Broadsides, on July 5th. On July 6th, the Pennsylvania Evening Post became the first newspaper to reprint the whole Declaration. Publishers, printers, and newspapers were there at the birth of this nation. Reading and having access to information should also be celebrated when we think about the 4th of July. Some of the new books that arrived this past week are listed below to help you celebrate. Enjoy!
Today, June 29th, besides being the “eve” of my mother’s 105th birthday (May she rest in peace.) also has a number of national celebration days associated with. This is National Almond Buttercrunch Day – think of toffee covered with chocolate then sprinkled with almonds. It is also National Bomb Pop Day. Bomb pops are those red, white, and blue popsicles which were purportedly invented in Kansas City, Missouri in 1955. It is also National Waffle Iron Day which celebrates the means to create waffles. Apparently waffle irons were used in the 14th Century in the Low Countries. Cooking waffles over an open fire sounds very challenging to a person who just mastered the automated waffle maker used at various motel/hotel chains. Early waffle irons had coats of arms and religious symbols. In 1918 the electric waffle iron was available. There’s a story about the Nike trainer and a waffle iron. Bill Bowerman, was looking for a shoe surface that would be light weight and grip a surface well. He was eating waffles for breakfast one morning and it dawned on him that the waffle pattern would be perfect. And the rest, they say is history. My first pair of running shoes was Nike’s waffle trainers. Who knew their inspiration came from the humble waffle iron? (Good thing the Bowerman’s had the grid pattern waffle iron and not hearts, or Mickey Mouse or the Death Star.) The final national day celebrated today is National Handshake Day, which is pretty self-explanatory. So, eat some almond butter crunch, have a Bomb pop, make and eat a waffle, and shake somebody’s hand. Not necessarily in that order. You can always celebrate any national day, or really any day, by reading a good book. Below are a few samples for you to peruse. Enjoy!
One of the problems with writing this weekly column is that I am writing it days before the publication date and sometimes, when I’m putting exciting and interesting information in this part of this, well, I fail to look far enough ahead. I fail to turn the page on the weekly calendar as it were or scroll ahead if you’re digitally inclined. So today, the things I will be reporting on shall have already happened. The summer solstice occurred on June 20th at 11:24 p.m. which means among other things that the days will begin getting incrementally shorter and summer is about to heat up. It was also the date we choose to launch the library’s app. Yes. We are firmly entrenched in the digital age now. This app (available for Android and Apple) lets you check the catalog with a powerful search engine, place holds, renew items, see what events are happening at the library, and use our databases (such as Mango so now you can learn a foreign language on your phone). You can connect to Overdrive through this app as well, read magazines, and even connect to the Summer Reading Program, or with us on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. It is so cool and right on your phone! On June 20th we launched our app by inviting people to come in for an app (appetizer) and to learn about our app – DAPL Portal. Imagine if you will that you are noshing on an appetizer (think cheese and crackers) and go to Google Play or Apple and search for “DAPL Portal” – you’ll know you’ve found the correct app because it has our library dragon on it. Download (It’s free!) it and try it out. Why, you might even try putting holds on some of the tittles listed below. Enjoy!
This past weekend, if the weather forecasts hold true, summer shall have arrived, and arrived like it really means it. This is all occurring before summer officially arrives. That will be on June 20th at 11:24 p.m. (I for one, will not be awake to witness that). Generally, the heat and humidity don’t usually arrive until after the solstice and often holds off until July. Heat waves are perfect opportunities to stay indoors and read. If you want to read in air-conditioned comfort, spend some time in the library and read. If you are racking up the pages read, join the Summer Reading Program – go to the library’s website and click on your age group, answer a few questions, and start logging all that you read. Stay cool! And enjoy some of the new books that arrived at the library during this past week.
The weather lately has certainly been conducive to staying inside, under some kind of blanket (if you are like me and refuse to turn the heat on after a certain date on the calendar), and reading. The upcoming weather forecast doesn’t look all that warm or all that sunny either. But you know how things just sometimes sort of work out? Well, by happy coincidence, we have just gotten a number of shipments of books with works by many bestselling authors at the same time the weather doesn’t look all that good. Getting in some spring training on reading will also get your eyes and page-turning or page-flicking fingers in shape for the Summer Library Program (also known as the Summer Reading Program) which begins on May 30th, the day after Memorial Day – which is this coming Monday for those of you who, like me, may have lost track of where we are in the calendar. Summer Reading will be more online, more interactive, and easier for you to keep track of your reading. Watch our website or follow us on FaceBook for more details. Below you will find some of the new titles by bestselling authors. Guess which author listed below had a pre-publication run of half a million books? That would be David Baldacci. So best place a hold on that one because the demand will be very high. Enjoy!
April showers are pretty good at bringing forth May flowers. April showers are also good for library attendance. There’s nothing like wet, dreary weather to drive people to the library looking for entertainment of some sort, be it books, or dvds, music, or magazines. In fact April showers are excellent for checking out cakes pans and using the old stove to add a little warmth and coziness to a cold, damp, spring day. But May. What can I say about the month of May? Rogers and Hammerstein called it “The lusty month of May, that lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray”. Not that I think people are going “blissfully astray” although that is a lovely image to contemplate; however, I do know folks aren’t coming into the library. The weather in May, in Wisconsin, is just to durn good to stay indoors and the days are getting so much longer, it’s still light out when the library closes. So why would you give up daylight, sunshine, and balmy breezes? I can’t think of but one or two reasons and those are to pick up your holds or to see one of the interesting, informative, and entertaining programs at the library. So if spring fever has you spending most of your waking hours outdoors, remember books are soporific (at times not so much, if it’s really good or really frightening) and should be part of your wind down routine before you go to sleep. Below are some of the new titles that arrived at the library this week. Enjoy!
May 11th (today) is rather a boring day when it comes to national holidays. There are only two. National Foam Rolling Day – I think you are supposed to be rolling on basically a large foam Cheeto that is about three feet long and six inches in diameter. It’s supposed to give you a bit of a massage. And National Twilight Zone Day. The first episode aired on October 1st, 1959 so why this day? Nobody knows. That’s it for the day. But it is May and spring is here in all its glory. Since I have nothing more interesting to tell you about this day, let me give you a few bits of May history and weather lore. The May full moon for some Native American tribes is The Flower Moon, The Corn Planting Moon, or the Milk Moon. The Anglo-Saxon name for this month was Tri-Milchi or three milks because the grass was so lush you could milk the cows three times a day. “A cold May is kindly and fills the barn finely.” “A wet May brings a big load of hay.” “Mist in May and heat in June makes harvest come right soon.” The May we’ve had so far, based on the above lore, looks like it will be ushering in huge crops. There are many books by popular authors being published now, some as part of the spring lists, and some anticipating the summer beach books. Below is a sampling of some of the new titles that have been arriving. When one of those cold, misty May days arrives and you don’t really want to be outside, then grab one of these fascinating titles. The time is almost always right to curl up with a good book. Enjoy!
You may or may not recall that this year we celebrated National Library Week for an extra week. We did the extended play version for a very good reason. A very good reason aside from the fact that, I mean, really, is it possible to celebrate public libraries too much? Public libraries are, after all, preservers of history and culture, bastions of life-long learning, foundational to the idea of democracy itself, and a very cool and hip place to hang out. But getting back on the train of thought I just derailed myself from, we extended our National Library Week celebration to allow those of you who were playing our Library Bingo game time enough to get a bingo, or for those of you with pluck and determination, a blackout card. Thanks to the Friends of the DeForest Area Public Library we were able to offer the fabulous prize of a fifty and a hundred dollar Amazon card for winners chosen randomly from the entries in the bingo or blackout categories. I am happy to say that 137 people finished a bingo or blacked out a card and made it to the drawings. The winner in the bingo category was Kaylee Rausch and in the blackout category, Cory Ann Butcher won. I have been told by participants and staff alike that the bingo game was a blast and they learned things about the library they hadn’t known. (And yes. It’s true. Blow me down, but you can learn Pirate (and dozens of other more traditional languages) on Mango, an online resource we subscribe to.).
Below you will find some of the new books that arrived during the past week at your library. Enjoy!
Ah Spring! I believe it is finally here at last. For the past few weeks we have been doing the two-steps-forward-and-one-step backward flirtation. But this past weekend, even with a little frost on the rooftops Saturday morning, some pretty strong indicators of spring’s arrival were blatantly out there for the whole world to see. The dandelions are in bloom, and aren’t they a brilliant yellow this time of year on the lush green of new grass. And then there is the grass. Many yards were being mowed. Motorcycles were being ridden and the drop-top cars were also driving around. The willow trees are all yellow and chartreuse and the other trees are catching quickly with the early-bird willows and throwing pollen into the air as quickly as they can as they unfurl their leaves. The ornamental trees are all covered in pink or white flowers and the lilacs are this close (imagine a space between my finger and thumb of about half an inch) to blooming. The tulips and daffodils and crocus have been up for a while now and more perennials are popping up almost daily to join in the spring bouquet. As you may or may not recall, back on February 2nd , Booky, the library’s prognosticating badger, predicted an early spring (unlike the groundhogs Jimmy (Sun Prairie) and Phil (Punxsutawney, PA who both saw their shadows and predicted a longer winter) and I think Booky was right again this year. You can also tell that spring has arrived by the paucity of cars in parking lots around town over the weekend. Everyone is out enjoying the weather! Even the nicest weeks of spring weather often include a rainy day and what better thing is there to do on such a day than to curl of with a good book. Some new book titles are listed below for your consideration. Enjoy!
National Library Week has been and gone, but the Library Bingo game begun last week continues on throughout this week. Remember! Complete a bingo and you can enter that card in a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card; if you black out your card you can enter that card in a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card. You can enter more than once! Thanks to the Friends of the DeForest Area Public Library for supplying the prizes for these drawings. The bingo contest ends on April 22nd at 5 p.m. So you still have time to get your card blacked out or to get a few more bingos and get those cards entered in the drawings. Mathematically, the more entries you have, the better your odds of winning.
Speaking of April 22nd, this is the day that Earth Day is celebrated. As many Wisconsinites know, the idea for Earth Day was that of Gaylord Nelson, the United States Senator from Wisconsin who tapped into the energy of the war protests of the 1960s to find common cause among myriad groups. These groups that were protesting everything from oil spills to pollution to toxic waste to the extinction of wildlife and loss of wilderness united on Earth Day that first Earth Day – April 20th, 1970 -- to talk about how to protect the environment. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Celebrate Earth Day by walking or bicycling to the library to hand in your bingo card(s), check out a book, magazine, dvd, cd, etc. Libraries have been reusing and recycling long before it was trendy. Here are some new book titles that you can borrow. Who knew you would be doing such a green thing? Enjoy!
There is nothing special that happened today. Battles were waged and lost and won. Things were invented – like Teflon in 1938 (which is why today is National Teflon Day) and Twinkies in 1930. Sports records were set and overturned. Award shows happened and awards were won. Lots of things happened in the course of recorded history but nothing that interesting or fun. Today is National Caramel Popcorn Day and Student Athlete Day and Tartan Day and Sorry Charlie Day (a day named after that cartoon tuna named Charlie who was rejected by Starkist) – it’s purportedly a day to reflect on the times in your life when you’ve been rejected and think about the lessons you have learned. See what I mean? April 6th is sort of blah. However, April 6th this year is only two days before the annual Midwest Crane Count on April 8th which is always pretty exciting: the being up before dawn cracks; the fresh air; the solitude; the dawn chorus; and the virtuous feeling of being out and about and gathering data in a good cause. April 6th is also only three days from the start of this year’s National Library Week – things can’t get much more exciting than this at your local public library. Stop by and see what fabulous things we have planned to celebrate public libraries. This celebration might include cake and the chance to win a cool prize. Come to the library early during the week (if you want cake) and often to improve your chances to win the cool prize. Or, you might just want to check out one of the new books that arrived this week at the library. Enjoy!
I am writing this from an undisclosed place in Kearney, Nebraska on what shall be last weekend. As many of you know, I make an annual pilgrimage to see the Sandhill crane migration through the North American central flyway. Usually, I go in February. This year an ice storm canceled that trip and pushed the trip forward into March. This is a good thing since there are many, many more cranes in March than in February; and a not so good thing because there are many, many more people (with cameras, spotting scopes, and tripods parked along the sides of the roads and, oftentimes in them). The Crane Trust does an aerial flyover to estimate the crane population. The latest number was 406,000 on March 8th but large numbers fly in every day. To give you an idea of how many cranes we’re talking about, I spotted a large roost of cranes on cornfields along a gravel country road. I checked the odometer and the congregating crane roost was a mile long. Now if, on average, the roost is fifty cranes deep and you divide your count into ten foot wide bands that gives you 528 bands in a mile times 50 cranes each for a total of 26,400 cranes in that roost alone. The numbers and the noise are truly astonishing. There really are cranes to the left of you; cranes to the right of you; cranes in front of you and behind you; and then of course you have the cranes above you as well. Usually, there are cranes in Wisconsin when I return from this pilgrimage. This year there were cranes in our neck of the woods by the third week of February. They are already starting to settle on their nesting grounds. If you need an excuse to get out in nature and watch a sunrise and do some citizen science, the Midwest Crane Count is coming up the 8th of April. And speaking of getting out into nature, our first book title this week addresses the benefits that nature can provide. There is also a whole parcel of other books listed below for your reading pleasure as well. Enjoy!
I’m writing this on a very windy March-coming-in-like-a-lion February 12th, which is, as you know Lincoln’s birthday. We won’t be celebrating President’s Day until the third Monday of the month which this year is February 20th. I was bashing around the internet trying to find some fascinating facts about President’s day to beguile you with before you move on the “books section” of this literary miscellany. Come to find out that Presidents’ Day is subtitles “Washington’s Birthday” – who knew? Certainly not me! Also come to find out that although Lincoln’s birthday, February 12, was never a federal holiday, nearly half of the state governments have officially renamed their Washington's Birthday observances as "Presidents' Day", "Washington and Lincoln Day", or other such designations. Come to also find out that Washington was born on February 11th, 1731 but because Britain and its colonies, of which we were one, still used the Julian calendar until 1752 when they joined the rest of the world and started using the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar added 11 days and the British civil year began on March 25th not January 1st , all of which meant that suddenly when George Washington was 21 or 22 depending on which calendar you’re using he was born on February 22nd, 1732. Now that you have way too much information about a holiday that is still upcoming, I will refer to all the new book titles available at your library. You will note that coincidentally the first non-fiction selection this week just happens to be about George Washington. Enjoy!
For those of you who don’t follow the library on FaceBook (And if you don’t, why don’t you?) you missed Booky the library badger’s Ground Hog Day prediction. Booky to all the weather-lore available to badgers and whispered a prediction in Brian’s ear. It went something like this: “There is no shadow to be cast, an early spring is my forecast.” Of course the accuracy of prediction is only as good as the accuracy of the translation. We will have to wait and see if this was a good translation. The birds are starting to behave as if spring is just around the corner. Cardinals have started singing in the dawns early light. The chickadees are singing their “phoebe” song which is a change from their usual, “chick a dee, dee, dee”. Blue jays and crows are chasing each other as the time to start reconnecting with one’s mate and finding a nesting site draws nearer. There is a pair of great horned owls (I am identifying the birds based solely their calls) in my neighborhood who are talking a lot to each other during the early evening and early morning hours. This hardy couple should be sitting on eggs any day now. Great horned owls begin breeding from January on. By the time the rest of the birds in the neighborhood return, owlets will be ready to test their wings. All of which is a reminder that even in the darkest, coldest days of winter, life is going on. Another reminder is the narcissus plants – hidden away in a paper bag in my basement—was putting out sprouts when I checked them on Groundhog Day. They’ve grown about 3 inches since I planted them that day. And if you need one more sign that spring is on its way, books from the publisher’s Spring Lists have started to arrive. Enjoy!
The publication date of this is February 2nd, which, is Groundhog Day, and as all weather wonks believe, what happens this day is the best prognosticator (Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge.) as to how much longer we shall have to wait until spring appears on the scene. We all know about Punxsutawney Phil and his weather predicting abilities. Phil and his descendants have been making predictions in Pennsylvania for well over a century and their familial track record is none to good. According to Stormfax (a website that collects weather lore and other things to do with weather), and I quote. ”As of 2016, Punxsutawney Phil has made 129 predictions, with an early spring (no shadow) predicted 18 times (15.0%). As of 2016 the predictions have proven correct 39% of the time”. There are a ton of prognosticating rodents out and about on February 2nd. Twenty-two are listed in Wikipedia’s article on groundhogs. A Canadian study of 13 cities over thirty to forty years found a 37% accuracy rate. Not too good a track record unless you just go with the opposite of the prediction. The library’s prognosticating animal, Booky the Badger, is not a rodent. In fact, Taxidea taxus, the American Badger, is an omnivore that lives in open grasslands and literally eats groundhogs as well as mice, squirrels, and other delicacies. Booky’s first prediction was in 2015 and so far, Booky has been batting a thousand (Sure it’s only been two predictions but 100% accuracy is still 100% accuracy.). The unfortunate thing about Groundhog Day this year is that it falls after the newspaper is published; too late for Booky to make a prediction in print. But you can check out our website where that prediction will be posted for all to see. More winter or less winter, it’s still a great time to read. Below are some of the new books that arrived at the library recently. Enjoy!
This morning I opened the porch door to let the cats out. The porch is totally snow-free and the little tree that has its topmost branches waving in the breeze at about 4 feet above the porch rail was filled with chickadees. The chickadees were hopping around energetically. It was 42 degrees and the birds didn’t need to spend all their calories keeping warm. It seemed as if, even in the cloudy, foggy gloom, that these little birds were feeling their oats; starting to think about spring; starting to think about staking out some territory; starting to think about finding a mate. They were singing their chick-a-dee songs and buzzing at each other as if it were high spring – which we all know it is not. We all know this January thaw is only an illusion that draws us in and gives us hope that the days will be brighter, longer, and warmer again. We all know that temperatures will drop and snow will fall from the sky once more. Sometimes I think knowing this limits our capacity to enjoy what is; to be in the moment and let the moment be enough. Those handful of chickadees certainly do know how to live in the moment and enjoy the warmth and energy a drab day in January has given them. So do the geese taking wing and making a ruckus and the little flocks of migratory song birds that have ventured this far north to scope things out. Reading is one of those activities that can center you in what you’re reading and puts you in the moment of what you’re reading about. Now, I’m not sure if any of the books listed below will perform that function for you, but if these don’t we have thousands more. Enjoy!
We are dead-bang, smack dab in the middle of the coldest week of the year—based on statistical averages—in the Madison, Wisconsin area. I believe this is true based on personal observation as well. I attend a conference in Milwaukee yearly during the third week of January and I remember many mornings looking at the big, digital display thermometer on one of the buildings in downtown Milwaukee and seeing temperatures below zero. Of course, the thing with averages is that they are just that. So for all the many years I recall below zero temperatures during this week, there are other years – such as this current one—when the temperatures are downright balmy and rain is being predicted, not snow. The old weather lore is that as the days lengthen, the cold strengthens. Since the beginning of the year we have gained 19 minutes of daylight in the afternoon and 5 minutes in the morning. So the days are definitely lengthening. It won’t be long until it’s time to start thinking about planting seeds and getting your hands in the dirt. To attend Garden Expo which I believe is coming up in February (10-12th) and get inspired for the planting season. In the meantime, there are plenty of new books – both fiction and non-fiction—to get you through these coldest days of winter. We also have many gardening books to help you count down to spring. Enjoy!
Today is the 12th day of the year. How are your resolutions holding up? Probably as well as the temperatures. There’s an old, weather-lore, saying that as the days lengthen the cold strengthens; that has held true this past week. Yesterday, January 11th, was National Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friends Day. I know, I know. It’s hard to believe all the national days and celebrations there are out there. Given the weather we generally experience in January, it would be darn near impossible to splash a puddle until well into the next month (or more). Today is National Marzipan Day as well as National Curried Chicken Day (not sure if you are supposed to eat curried chicken or feed your chicken curry today). The next few days hold many wonders not only is tomorrow, Friday the 13th, it is also National Blame Someone Else Day (which always falls on the first Friday the 13th in the year. It is also National Rubber Ducky Day. National Dress Up Your Pet Day is January 14th and – I know we’re all looking forward to this day – January 16th is National Nothing Day as well as National Fig Newton Day. As you can see, even with the cold weather that accompanies January and the start of a new year, there are lots of things to celebrate. Let’s toast to those celebratory days with a good book! Below you will find a sampling of some of the new books that have arrived at the library this week. Enjoy!
Here we are in the New Year. I hope you had a jolly celebration and wish you and your kith and kin joy, peace, and prosperity in 2017. I don’t know if you have noticed, but I certainly have, the days are getting longer. Since December 28th, we’ve pretty much been gaining an hour of daylight at sunset and have not lost any more time at sunrise. The sun has been rising at 7:29 since the 28th and will do so until the 9th when we gain a minute of daylight on the sunrise end as well as at sunset. In the darkest throes of winter, i.e. early December, sunset was at 4:22. Today’s sunset is at 4:37 which is a gain of 15 minutes, and for me at least, it is noticeable. Being a creature of habit and working fairly regular hours, I got acclimated to going home when it was dark. The dark is coming later, so I’m leaving later, which means I’m still going home in the dark (you’ll notice wherever I was going with that analogy just totally got sidetracked or derailed by factual details). The point I was trying to make is that the days are getting longer which is a very nice thing and lets us start the year with the hope and optimism that more light generates. One thing you can count on in the books released in January by the publishers is that there will be a lot of diet books and self-improvement books. Today’s offerings include only a couple of that ilk, but be warned, more will be coming to help you with all those resolutions you made at the turn of the year. Enjoy!