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!

Spring Cleaning

Welcome to SPRING!

What a crazy world we are living in right now! Schools and businesses closed, everyone social distancing themselves and staying home…. We are trying to stay healthy, but still needing to find something to keep ourselves occupied.

When I was growing up, and the long summer vacation had us all bored by July, we learned not to come to my mom and say “There’s nothing to do” because she would give us a chore: clean, dust, vacuum or whatever. Her imagination or list never ended… there was always something to do.

So for those of you stuck at home, it is spring and that means spring housecleaning! And, knowing you are stuck at home, you can begin by starting at the library website and checking out some eBooks from home!

To build some inspiration, I would start with The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room. Be sure to have the kids read this as well so they see the benefit of cleaning. You can make it fun, divide and write down chores into small tasks (dust end table in living room, wipe down counter in the bathroom, pick up clothes in the bedroom, wipe down windowsills) and then have everyone draw a chore. Make a contest out of it and see who can do the most slips in 2 hours.

Then, work your way into The Minimalist Home : a Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life to really clear out all the clutter in your home and get ready to deep clean. Be warned, this may take until fall if your house is anything like mine!

You may want to skip the decluttering for now and go straight to Feng Shui For Success : Simple Principles for a Healthy Home and Prosperous Business to start applying the four basic principles of Feng Shui and create an optimal home environment. Basic Principle #1: protect your back. Basic Principle #2: minimize sharp edges, points, and corners.  Basic Principle #3: incorporate images and materials from nature. Basic Principle #4: create balance between extremes.

When you have your home finished, you can even give YOU a spring cleaning with
Super Cleanse: Detox Your Body for Long-Lasting Health and Beauty.

But maybe you aren’t motivated enough to do any of these things. You can read about dusting in the novel Citizen Vince by Jess Walter. Here is a summary of the book: At 1:59 a.m. in Spokane, Washington–eight days before the 1980 presidential election–Vince Camden pockets his stash of stolen credit cards and drops by an all-night poker game before heading to his witness-protection job dusting crullers at Donut Make You Hungry. Along with a neurotic hooker girlfriend, this is the total sum of Vince’s new life. But when a familiar face shows up in town, Vince realizes his sordid past is still too close behind him. During the next unforgettable week, he’ll negotiate a coast-to-coast maze of obsessive cops, eager politicians, and assorted mobsters–only to find that redemption might exist, of all places, in the voting booth.

So, this is just one idea of what you can do while you are staying at home. Stay healthy, safe and occupied!

Saint X

Family. Sisters. An undying bond. We all think we know our families, but do we? Do we really?

I found myself asking these questions and more after reading Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin.

Seven-year-old Claire and her big sister Alison are on a family vacation with their parents to a beautiful Caribbean island resort. Alison is on break during her first year of college.

Of course, Claire idolizes her sister but doesn’t understand her aloofness and flirty behavior. Alison sneaks out at night and asks Claire to cover for her. She would do anything for her sister.

When Alison goes missing the family’s last night of vacation, Claire is put in a tough spot… continue to deny she knows anything or tell them she’s been covering for Alison all along. And when Alison is found dead, she is terrified to admit knowledge of anything.

As the mystery of Alison’s death unfolds, we find out about the people she had contact with: Edwin and Clive (Gogo to his friends) working at the resort, the blond boy from the beach on vacation with his family, the locals at Paulette’s bar where she had sneaked off to almost every night.

Fast forward years in the future, and Claire, now going by Emily, is living and working in New York. One-night, Clive (no longer Gogo) is her taxi driver. This opens a flood of memories for Emily and she decides one way or another that she will learn the truth of Alison’s death.

During her journey she realizes she didn’t really know her sister after all. After months of following and then getting to know Clive, she wonders if she wants to get the answers she was looking for, and if it will change anything.

Saint X is a beautifully written story of sisterly love and abandonment. I really enjoyed the path of Claire’s enlightenment and her realizations concerning herself and her sister.

Did You Know? (Mosquito Edition)

Mosquitos are more prone to bite someone who just ate a banana?

Also, mosquitos carrying malaria are more likely to be drawn to sweet tastes. I found this out from the book Why do Pandas do Handstands by August Brown on page 41.

Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart tells us that malaria has killed more people than all wars combined. Tests performed on mosquitoes found in amber from 30 million years ago have found they were already infected with malaria, so this disease predates humans.

We have a children’s music CD titled Wiggle Town that has a song called “Mosquito.” It is quite a catchy tune, the refrain goes “buzz, buzz, stick me, OW!” At least you won’t actually get bit listening to it!

Sometimes, things are even named mosquito. At the dawn of the 20th century, a man working in an office overlooking Elliot Bay saw the myriad of boats serving Puget Sound and said the activity looked like “a swarm of mosquitoes.” The name stuck, and thus, the ‘Mosquito Fleet’ was born. There were steamboats, launches, sternwheelers, sidewheelers, tow boats, passenger boats and boats with propellers or boilers along with many others. Mosquito Fleet of South Puget Sound by Jean Cammon Findlay and Robin Paterson is full of pictures of some of the vessels from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

If you are going to take your chances of getting mosquito bites by eating a banana, you may as well get some banana leaves too. You can make a scented leaf basket with dried banana (or other) leaves with the directions in Organic Crafts: 75 Earth-Friendly Art Activities by Kimberly Monaghan. Another fun leaf craft is to make ‘great green leaf prints’ by pounding them onto cloth. You can find the directions to do this in Berry Smudges and Leaf Prints by Ellen B. Senisi.

And lastly, you can make a soccer ball from banana leaves like Deo, a young boy in a refugee camp in Tanzania, whose family was forced to leave their home in the inspiring story The Banana-Leaf Ball by Katie Smith Milway.

Processed Cheese by Stephen Wright

Wow! Stephen Wright has a way with words!

People’s names: Graveyard, MisterMenu, Ambience, SideEffects, Carousel, Roulette, LemonChiffon, CarnyDoll, CyberLawn, CartWheel, and FancyPants

Places: House of Sweet Delay (perfume store), GutterBalm (makeup store), AlleyOops (clothing store), TooGoodForYou (the up-town shopping district), BurnishMe Island (vacation spot)

These are just a few examples of the unusual names of people and places in Wright’s new book Processed Cheese. They made it really fun to read.

Basically, the story starts with the character Graveyard walking home and a bag of money falling from the sky. He and his wife Ambience go on a spending spree (I mean really, wouldn’t you?) and eventually MisterMenu traces the bag of money his wife threw from his high-rise window to Graveyard and tries to get it back…

It was entertaining to see the lengths that MisterMenu went to try and get it back, and the extremes that Graveyard goes to avoid him.

Does he get the money back or not? You will have to read this astonishing book to find out!

Did You Know? (Seahorse Edition)

The seahorse is the only male animal that can get pregnant?

I found that interesting fact in Project Seahorse by Pamela S Turner on pages 13-15. I was delighted that there was so much information about seahorses in this book; as they have always been one of my favorites at the aquarium. Ms. Turner also tells us about the studies being done to help preserve seahorse populations.

Eric Carle’s book Mister Seahorse is beautifully written with wonderful artwork. It’s the story of Mister Seahorse with his pouch full of babies talking to all the other fish dads who are also taking care of their eggs until they hatch.

Seahorses and Sea Dragons by Mary Jo Rhodes and David Hall has a lot of information and pictures. I was surprised to learn that sea dragons are typically much larger and don’t have the pouch that sea horses do. Instead, sea dragons have a ‘brood patch’ that the eggs attach to.

There are seahorses and sea dragons with the most common difference between them being the longer nose of the sea dragon. You can use the books How to Draw Horses and Ponies by Peter Gray and Draw Dragons and Other Fantasy Beasts by Gary Spencer Millidge and James McKay to invent your own creatures!

Animal reproduction is a mysterious thing. Read more about how other animals take care of their offspring in My Encyclopedia of Baby Animals by Emmanuelle Figueras. You’ll find several examples of males that take care of their eggs: the midwife toad that carries the eggs on his back, the cardinal fish that carries them in his mouth, and the emperor penguin who protects the egg until it hatches, just to name a few!

And lastly, unless you can hold your breath a really long time (and shrink yourself!) I wouldn’t recommend trying to ride a seahorse, but, you can learn all about horses and how to ride them in The Complete Book of Horses: Breeds, Care, Riding, Saddlery: a Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Horse Breeds and Practical Riding Techniques with 1500 Photographs by Debbie Sly.

Did You Know? (Hippopotamus Edition)

That hippo ‘sweat’ is red-orange and acts as an antibiotic and sunscreen?

I found this information on page 20 of Hippopotamus by Patricia Whitehouse, part of the Read and Learn series. It states that hippos can get sunburned and they have a red oil on their skin to keep them from burning in the sun. In fact, this is not sweat, but a reddish oil that comes from glands all over their skin. It is commonly referred to as ‘blood sweat,’ even though it isn’t blood either.

Other animals have their own ways of protecting themselves from the sun. “Elephants will throw sand on their backs and on their head. They do that to keep them from getting sunburned and to keep bugs off,” says Tony Barthel, curator of the Elephant House and the Cheetah Conservation Station at Smithsonian’s National Zoo. “They also douse their young with sand. That is probably part of the teaching process,” he adds. “Not only are they taking care of their youngsters, but they are showing them that they need to do that.” Adult elephants will also create shade for their young by standing over them while they sleep. Rhinos and pigs wallow and coat themselves in mud, which protects them from the sun and helps to keep moisture in their skin.

It seems odd that hippos would have to keep moisture in their skin, since they spend so much time in the water, but they dry out very quickly on land. Also, they spend all that time in the water, and they can’t even swim! Hippos walk on the bottom and push off from the riverbed to come up to breathe. Hippos Can’t Swim by Laura Lyn DiSiena and Hannah Elliot is full of fun animal facts like that.

The Great Rift: Africa’s Greatest Story on DVD from BBC Earth has some phenomenal footage of hippos (and many other animals) in their natural habitats. An amazing show for the whole family.

No wonder hippos have ‘built in’ sunscreen. They live in Africa, where it is very hot and the sun blazes. Wouldn’t it be nice if we humans had that to? But humans need to apply their own sun screen. Heal Your Skin by Ava Shamban tell us about the best things for our skin. She explains the difference between sun screen and sun block, and about UVA and UVB rays as well as what the SPF ratings mean.

Sun is not the only worry that animals have. Saving the hippos and other large animals in Africa (specifically in Gorangosa Park) is something environmentalists have been working on for generations. White Man’s Game: Saving Animals, Rebuilding Eden, and Other Myths of Conservation in Africa by Stephanie Hanes probes the often troubling implications of well-meaning Western aid projects for animals. She demonstrates how there are few solutions without vexing consequences. Consequences that affect both people and animals directly.

Did You Know? (Banana Edition)

That botanically bananas are considered an herb?

I found this information on page 120 in the book The Story of Food. It is a very fun title about many of the common foods we eat. Touted as “an illustrated history of everything we eat,” there are old photos of harvesting, ad campaigns and artwork for most of the foods discussed.

Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World by Dan Koeppel tells us that the genetics of most of the bananas we eat are the same, and how the ‘banana belt’ came to be. He also writes about diseases that threaten banana crops and what is being done to solve the problems. There have been a lot of politics involved in the farming and shipping of this beloved fruit through the years!

For an easier read, The Biography of Bananas by Rachel Eagen has easy to understand facts with lots of pictures, telling you everything you ever wanted to know about bananas but were afraid to ask.

The Banana-Leaf Ball by Katie Smith Milway is an inspiring story about a boy name Deo and his family who are forced to leave their home. They become separated and Deo ends up in a refugee camp in Tanzania. Playing soccer joins the children of the camp together, and Deo teaches the other boys to make banana leaf (soccer) balls.

Even though the banana is an herb, I wasn’t able to find it listed in any of our herb books. Perhaps because it will not grow here. The Encyclopedia of Herbs by Arthur O. Tucker and Thomas DeBaggio lists over 500 types of herbs, uses for them (edible, medicinal etc.), and growing tips. There are sketches of many of the plants as well.

Lastly, an herb you can’t eat, drink or use as medicine…. Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass is available at the library on our streaming Hoopla music, or we have several of his CDs. I’m sure, even though you may think you have never heard of the band, as soon as you listen to their music you’ll say “Oh! I’ve heard that before!” Perhaps, you were even eating a banana at the time!