About Linda S.

I have been with the library since 1996 and look forward to blogging for many years to come! I enjoy trivia, writing, reading, knitting, crocheting and other crafts. Also TALKING.... and sharing information. My blog has been perfect for me!

Did You Know? (Basket Edition)

Did you know baskets can be made from almost any flexible material?

In the book Art of the Basket by Bryan Sentance he talks about the different materials used in basket making: reeds, grasses, bark, rushes, rattan, bamboo etc. He also gives practical examples of some of the baskets that can be carried by hand or on the head or back. There are also good directions for some basket making techniques to use if you wanted to try it for yourself.

Basket weaving is probably one of the oldest arts in the world. I’m not even going to begin to try and figure out who did it first! I am amazed at all of the styles, colors and shapes baskets come in. Basketry in America by Kristin Schwain and Josephine Stealey starts out showing you traditional baskets and ends with a section on baskets as art which are truly spectacular!. Indian Baskets of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska by Alan Lobb shows the traditional baskets made and used for hundreds or thousands of years in the Pacific Northwest using local materials.

Tapestry Weaving Kristen Glasbrook by gives you step by step instructions for creating a tapestry. They include setting up the frame, winding the warp and all you need to know to weave the designs onto it. The weaving basics for tapestry also work for baskets.

You can go one step further and weave with beads and metal rings to make jewelry. Beadmaille by Cindy Thomas Pankopf makes it look easy. I know, I know – famous last words, but you won’t know unless you try!

Even birds’ nests are similar to a basket. Avian Architecture by Peter Goodfellow shows us how birds design, engineer and build their nests. Weaving techniques are used, and many nests look like baskets. There are many sketches of nests being built and kids will especially like seeing how the birds build their nests.

If you are a sports fan, perhaps your favorite basket is a basketball net. Balls! By Michael J Rosen is a very fun book with trivia about all kinds of sports balls, and some basic history to go with it. Basketball started in 1891 in a gymnasium in winter because it was too cold to play soccer or lacrosse. The bored boys used a peach basket and the game evolved from there.

I still think my favorite basket is an Easter basket with a chocolate bunny, but no matter what you want to carry, there is probably a basket designed for that!

Falling by T.J. Newman

First, a piece of advice: do not read Falling by T.J. Newman if you’re planning to fly soon. Unless you have nerves of steel!

Carrie and Bill are your average couple with two kids, son Scott and baby Elise. Bill is a pilot who ended up pressured by his boss to pick up an extra flight. They are happily married except Carrie is not so happy with him right now because he will miss Scott’s last ball game and pizza party that he had promised to attend.

Bill goes off and catches his flight. Everything goes according to plan: preflight checks, boarding and take-off. Meanwhile at home, the internet has been acting up and Carrie has Sam, an internet repairman, there to work on it. Suddenly, Sam has a gun out and Carrie and the children are captives.

In the cockpit, Bill’s laptop pings and he opens it to see a facetime call. He sees Carrie and Scott wearing black hoods and vests with explosives, as Sam holds a detonator in the background. He is told that the only way to save his family is to gas the passengers and crash the plane when they tell him to, or they will be killed. He is directed not to tell anyone what is going on or they will be instantly disintegrated.

Bill takes a chance and tells the head flight attendant, Jo, the situation so she can prepare the cabin. She texts her nephew who works for the FBI, but they don’t believe him. THIS is where the story got really interesting! At this point you think “there is no way this can get worse.” But it can, and it does. Then it gets even worse still.

I was on pins and needles with the suspense of what was going on. I couldn’t wait to get to the next chapter and then the next as events kept unfolding. In the beginning Bill had told Sam “I’m not going to crash this plane, and you’re not going to kill my family.” Keep turning those pages to find out how it all plays out. I’m sure you’ll be as surprised as I was!

This is a new book by this author, and she did an excellent job. I look forward to seeing what she’ll write next!

Did You Know? (Shoe Edition)

The oldest leather shoe known to archaeologists was found (in 2008) embedded in a pit of sheep droppings in a cave in Armenia and is around 5,500 years old, according to a report by the BBC?

Photo by Pinhasi R, Gasparian B, Areshian G, Zardaryan D, Smith A, et al.  PLoS ONE 5(6): e10984. CC BY 2.5

The so-called Areni-1 shoe is an example of early, basic footwear, which may have gone on to influence the development of other types of shoe design in the ancient world. According to LiveScience, anthropologists believe that humans started wearing shoes around 40,000 years ago, contributing to anatomical changes in human feet and limbs. However, we have very little idea of what these prehistoric shoes might have looked like.     

Investigating History Mysteries by Alex Woolf is about all the ways archeologists can find information about artifacts. He talks about carbon dating to test for the age of items, analyzing oxygen isotopes to tell what the weather was like, DNA sampling for identifying where a mummified body was from, and investigating insects and pollen samples for additional information regarding the surrounding areas.

You know those days when your shoes are pinching your toes and your feet are hurting? Shoes: A Brief History by Lucy Johnston and Linda Woolley will give you a new appreciation for how comfortable your shoes really are! In the 1600’s and 1700’s pointy shoes were very popular for men and women, and narrow raised heels could make walking difficult, uncomfortable, and very painful. There are many interesting pictures of shoes in a variety of styles and materials from as early as the 1400’s. 

Of course, shoes have been in stories for generations. Some very well-known fairy tales involving shoes are Puss in Boots, the Elves and the Shoemaker and Cinderella. Other stories are bound to become classics. I’m amazed how many times shoes can be the answer to a problem!

Set in the 1950’s, New Shoes by Susan Lynn Meyer, tells the story of cousins Ella Mae and Charlotte who open their own shoe store where African-Americans can try the shoes on. In Seamus’s Short Story by Heather Hartt-Sussman, Seamus is very short but discovers high heels to make him taller. But then he realizes that it’s not so bad being short after all. We also have the DVD Kinky Boots which is the story of Charlie who grew up in a shoe factory and Lola who grew up loving shoes. To help Charlie with the struggling family business, Lola helps him design shoes for cross dressers: “But Charlie learns that being different – just like walking in stiletto boots – isn’t always easy.”

There is only one thing I can think of that is comfier than a nice pair of slippers – – and that is to wear no shoes at all!  You can read Whole Body Barefoot by Katy Bowman or Barefoot Walking by Michael Sander and Jessica Lee to discover the pleasure of getting in touch with the earth.

Lastly, even though you can walk barefoot, my favorite kind of “barefoot” is Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa. Her cookbooks like Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust make it easy to prepare simple and elegant food, that you can eat with or without shoes!

Whisper Down The Lane

How many times does a lie need to be told before it becomes the truth? If more than one person tells it then it must be true, right? If it is a child and the lie is outrageous then it is has to be true because a child could never make something up like that would they?

Imagine a fib you told as a child. A little white lie. Now imagine it taking on a life of its own and you have no control over it. It consumes everyone around you.

This is what happened to Sean as a young boy in Whisper Down the Lane by Clay McLeod Chapman. He told his mom a fib, she told the authorities, who then told the school, who then told the other parents. The parents then asked their kids questions in such a way that the fib was planted in their minds and confirmed. Kids being kids, they wanted to please adults and tell them what they think they wanted to hear. The next thing you know people believed the lie and lives were ruined!

Fast forward many years. Richard starts working at an elementary school. The kids in his class are great. They have a classroom routine. Study, read a story and after lunch they have “circle time” and everyone naps. The children are happy and all are doing well.

It isn’t long before the routine gets broken and things take a turn for the worse. Richard finds a threatening note written in a child’s scrawl. The schools pet rabbit is killed. There are rumors around town and in the school about “devil worship.”

Soon Richard is under suspicion for something so terrible he can’t believe anyone would think of him, or anyone, doing such things. He especially can’t believe that the rest of the school staff are even considering he could have any part in it.

This book is a gripping story that could have been torn from the headlines. It filled me with fear to see how easily lies could be spread and that any one of us could bear the brunt of it. You’ll be reading late into the night to see what happens and how it will all end. Get your fingers in shape to turn these pages as fast as you can!

Did You Know? (Toilet Edition)

The flush toilet was invented in 1595 by John Harrington?

Without running water, his system wasn’t very popular. People have given plumber and engineer Thomas Crapper the credit, but it was Alexander Cummings who created the “s-bend” and modern flushing in 1775.

I found this information on pages 8 & 9 in The Technology Behind Everyday Appliances by Nicolas Brasch. This was a fun book, and I also learned that the screw as a fastener was invented about 300 years before the screwdriver!

You never know when you will have to do a little home repair on your toilet. Ultimate Guide: Plumbing by Merle Henkenius gives you step by step instructions for working on your toilet, sink, dishwasher, garbage disposal and much more. There are lots of ‘smart tips’ offered which can save you lots of money, trouble and even help you avoid calling a plumber.

Poop Happened! A History of the World from the Bottom Up by Sarah Able tells us that even the bible talks about excrement. In the book of Deuteronomy, God, through Moses, tells the Hebrews to carry a paddle (shovel) “and cover that what comest from thee.” The Romans were the first to build sewer systems and aqueducts and some of them are still in use today. Another interesting fact I learned is that the “powder room” really was a room for powdering wigs in the eighteenth century. There are lots of other very amusing facts in this book as well.

One of the most important issues involving toilets is the process of becoming potty trained! We have a large selection of books in our parenting section about this. The Complete Guide to Potty Training by Michelle D Swaney gives step by step techniques and ideas that will make the process much easier. We also have many other books to read to your child and DVD’s such as Potty Time that they can watch.

Kids especially love any kind of bathroom humor. It’s a Bird, it’s a Plane, it’s Toiletman! by Nancy Krulik is a very exciting tale that kids will love. You can read about another bathroom superhero in Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey. There are many different adventures that the kids will laugh about as they read, and some very nasty archenemies such as the purple potty people and bionic booger boy!

I’m always amazed to see the selection of reading material in people’s bathrooms. I know I do a good part of my reading there! It would be kind of ironic to read this in your lavatory: The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman. This work is an autobiography of Silverman’s life, and the adversities she overcame as a child being a bedwetter. I personally applaud her bravery for admitting such a thing. It cannot have been an easy secret to share with the world!

While working on this blog, I realized there is no shortage of material about this subject. I guess when ya gotta go, ya gotta go!  Just keep in mind the lovely indoor plumbing we have today, and how our ancestors had a much more difficult time getting their business done.

Did You Know? (Pearl Edition)

The world’s largest pearl weighing in at 14.1 pounds was discovered in a giant clam off the coast of the Philippines in 1939?

I found this on page 46 of The Secret Life of Clams by Anthony D. Fredericks. I always thought that only oysters made pearls.

But the author tells us about a kind of giant clam, Tridacna gigas, that grew the largest pearl: “The Pearl of Lao Tzu” which is privately owned and valued at $93 Million! He also tells us that clams were on earth about 510 million years ago and some of these oldest clam fossils were found in late Cretaceous rock in Kansas and had actually grown pearls.

Razor clams are native to the Pacific Northwest. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many times we dug clams when I was a child. My family loves clams and my mom cooked them so many ways. Razor Clams: Buried Treasure of the Pacific Northwest by David Berger shares similar stories of clamming with the family. He also shares many recipes that highlight these tasty critters. David doesn’t mention pearls, but I know in all of my time clamming, we never found any!

Many famous people loved pearls. Elizabeth Taylor owned a fantastic pearl, but it came from an oyster and previously belonged to Mary I of England, and then Elisabeth of France. Eleanor Roosevelt was famous for wearing her pearl necklaces as well. They were as smart looking on her as she was, and she was a strong and accomplished first lady. Eleanor Roosevelt: Fighter for Justice by Ilene Cooper has great stories about all the things she accomplished.

A completely different take on pearls are the Pearls Before Swine comics by Stephen Pastis. They are quite humorous, but not what one would necessarily call “pearls of wisdom.”

There are lots of mystery stories of stolen pearls and pearl necklaces. Geronimo Stilton stars in a fun series of books for kids. Cavemice, Paws off the Pearl is just one of many adventures that Geronimo and Thea Stilton have. Nancy Drew, The Thirteenth Pearl by Carolyn Keene has Nancy and her friends trying to find a stolen necklace.

Oysters: A Celebration in the Raw by Jeremy Sewall and Marion Lear Swaybill have done for the oyster what Anthony D Fredricks did for the clam. They show different varieties and explain the characteristics of each kind. If you are a fan of oysters, this will make you want to travel the world and try them all! They describe oysters like a fine wine with different hints of flavor depending on where they are from.

Lastly, don’t forget the rule of only eating oysters during a month with a “R” (September to April). This helps replenish oyster supplies by allowing their breeding in the summer and eating them in the cooler months gives them better flavor as well. But you can enjoy clams all year long!

Anxious People

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman is a story about – – a LOT of different things! All throughout the book you are told that this is a story about a bank robber, or a real estate agent, or a bridge, or a police officer, or a pregnant woman, or a hostage situation. Or a list of other things. Indeed, this was a great story about all of those things, but really, it wasn’t about any one of these people.

It is so interesting in life how no single item is the same for everyone. What may be my favorite aspect of something could very well be the part you hate the most about it. Things that are no big deal for me could be the most tragic thing to you. I guess what I’m saying is that everyone’s threshold for being anxious is different, and we must all remember to be patient with others.

Basically, in this book a bank gets robbed and the robber flees. In trying to escape, they run into an open house for an apartment that is up for sale and everyone attending gets held hostage. UNbasically, there are twists and turns to what should be a straightforward story.

I very much enjoyed this book! I adored the characters and their interactions with each other. I loved how there could still be a happy ending after such a traumatic event. Anyone who is a Fredrik Backman fan is sure to love it as well.

Did You Know? (Moon Edition)

In 1609 the Italian astronomer Galileo first pointed a telescope at the moon and noted that the orb had terrain including mountains, flat plains and craters? Therefore the moon was solid and it’s surface might be walked upon.

Galileo’s discovery is talked about on page 10 in the book Space Stations: the Art, Science and Reality of Working in Space by Gary Kitmacher, Ron Miller and Robert Pearlman.

Galileo is known as the father of modern physics – indeed, of modern science altogether. His discoveries were based on careful observations and ingenious experiments that contradicted conventional wisdom and the views of the church at the time. The new book Galileo and the Science Deniers by Mario Livio looks at Galileo’s theories and accomplishments, and how he arrived at them – as well as why they are relevant now. This is a must read if you love science!

Astronauts by Thomas K Adamson is a book for children that shows how astronauts work in space on a space station and walk on the moon. I used to imagine what it would be like to walk in space and now you can see exactly how it would be.

Imagine winning a chance to go to space! 172 hours on the Moon is a novel by Johan Harsted. Mia, Antoine, and Midori are selected by lottery to join experienced astronauts on a NASA mission to the once top-secret moon base, while an old astronaut in a nursing home tries to warn them of the danger there. Perhaps it will be a trip in a lifetime, literally.

There is a little treat we had while I was growing up nicknamed Moon Pies, but they were actually Whoopy Pies. Whoopie Pies by Viola Goren is full of recipes for a variety of flavors of these delicious snacks. They look like little planets on a platter!

We have all heard that the moon is made of cheese, but it is unknown where this saying started. There is a really cute song on the children’s CD Inside I Shine by Danny Weinkauf called “The Moon is Made of cheese.”

Moon is also a company that publishes travel guides. While you may not be able to take a vacation right now, you can plan a trip or watch a travel show and take a virtual trip… of course, you probably won’t need a guide if you are sitting in your living room. 

Finally, how can you talk about the moon without mentioning stars? Paper Stars by Karen-Marie Fabricius gives directions for origami, quilled and folded stars. You can make these and turn your house into the great outdoors on a starry night. The directions are well laid out and easy to follow. Enjoy!

Two New Book Reviews for You

The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths

A pensioner by the sea. What a way to spend retirement! It is something I know many of us long for.

Peggy is a happy retiree and spends her time watching everything that goes on – – and writing notes about it in her little journal: 7 people walking the beach (3 couples and a single) 4 people with dogs, how many cyclists, joggers etc.

She has a number of friends and neighbors that call on her to visit and they are murder mystery buffs. And I mean really, who doesn’t enjoy sitting around thinking of ways to bump people off? Peggy is even acquainted with a few authors that ask her for advice on killing people for their books, and they always give her an acknowledgement ‘This is for Peggy.’ Peggy also suspects she is being watched.

There is a dark spot in her history that not many people know about, however. Her friends Edwin, Natalka, and Benedict have all heard some stories about her time in Russia, but never realized they could be true.

So, when Peggy is found dead of natural causes, it is only understandable that her friends suspect foul play even though the police do not. When a postcard falls out of one of Peggy’s book that says “We are coming for you,” DS Harbinder Kaur from CID gets involved. Then an author Peggy had helped ends up murdered so DS Kaur decides to question the trio of friends. With an author’s event coming up, the trio decides to go and follow up on some clues.

I absolutely adored the bumbling investigation techniques in this book where everything gets solved and tied up in a big bow almost by accident! I also enjoyed the subtle clues and connections and trying to solve it myself before the characters (I did NOT solve this one). This was a fun book and a pretty fast read. I highly recommend it!

One Step to You by Federico Moccia

Babi is a popular girl from a well-to-do family. Step is your typical ‘bad boy’ on a motorcycle. Step first sees Babi when he pulls up next to her car while Babi’s dad drives her to high school. You can almost hear the zap as Step is instantly hit by Cupid’s arrow.

Babi has always been a well behaved, proper young woman….  Until Step convinces her to just go for one ride with him on his motorbike. She falls for him but doesn’t want to admit it to herself or anyone else.

There are no parents screaming at her to “keep away from that boy” because they have no idea the things she has been doing. Skipping school and sneaking out. Babi knows what she’s doing is wrong, and that being with Step is dangerous, but it’s LOVE! What can you do?

You have to read all the way to the last page to find out what they do…  you’ll never guess!

Did You Know? (Newt Edition)

That all newts are salamanders but not all salamanders are newts?

I found this information on the Facts About Newts page from the Live Science website.

Tree Frogs, Mud Puppies and other Amphibians by Daniel Gilpin is a good book for beginners interested in amphibians. It has a lot of very detailed pictures and fun ‘gross’ information.

The California newt and the rough-skinned newt excrete a toxin from their skin that can be deadly to humans or other animals. The toxin excreted by the California newt (Taricha torosa) is known as tetrodotoxin (TTX), the same neurotoxin found in pufferfish.

Pufferfish, also called blowfish, live in tropical waters. They are prepared as a delicacy called fugu in Japan. You need to have a special permit and training to prepare this potentially deadly dish. It is also illegal to serve to the Emperor of Japan, as one fish has enough poison to kill 30 adults. The Puffer Fish by Alicia Z. Klepeis tells us there are about 120 different kinds of pufferfish.

There are many other animals that can be toxic: spiders, snakes, jellyfish, bees, wasps, scorpions and even the platypus!  They can use their teeth, fangs, stingers, spines or spurs to introduce their venom into you. The book Venom by Marilyn Singer tells all about them.

Eye of Newt and Toe of Frog, Adder’s Fork and Lizard’s Leg by Marty Crump gives the lore and mythology of amphibians and reptiles. One well known example is the snake in the garden of Eden. Other examples would be the rod of Asclepius (the snake on a rod) used to represent the Western medical profession and the Caduceus (2 snakes entwined on a staff with wings) for commerce and negotiation and also used by the U.S. Army and some other medical organizations. For the play Macbeth Shakespeare wrote of three witches around a cauldron using animal parts as ingredients (see the title of this book) which spurred the world’s imagination.

If eye of newt and toe of frog are basic ingredients for witch’s brew, it makes me wonder where they get their ingredients? And what do they do with the rest of the newt? We have spell books at the library, to help you find out: Spells for Peace of Mind: How to Conjure Calm and Overcome Stress, Worry, and Anxiety by Cerridwen Greenleafor and The Big Book of Practical Spells: Everyday Magic that Works by Judika Illes use ingredients such as salt, candles, crystals, and a whole list of herbs.

Of course, stories about witches and wizards make for popular fiction reading as well. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is a prime example of that!  Another fun series is Bella Broomstick by Lou Kuenzler.

Newts make me think of Newton. Isaac Newton discovered the first law of motion: an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion. Isaac Newton and Physics for Kids by Kerry Logan Hollihan tells about Isaac Newtons’ life and discoveries with twenty-one science experiments kids can recreate. We have many other books about him such as Isaac Newton: The Asshole who Reinvented the Universe by Florian Freistetter who tells us that Newton wasn’t always a nice guy.

And while we are talking about Newton, THAT reminds me of Fig Newtons! They are a favorite “healthy” cookie. I mean, they have fruit, right? How bad can they be for you? A Fistful of Fig Newtons by Jean Shepherd – best known for his story/movie A Christmas Story where Ralphie Parker wants a BB gun – is a collection of short stories based on his life…. Like the cookies, just one won’t be enough. You’ll want to read the whole book!