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!

Night Train

Parts of Night Train by David Quantick really scared me… in that “this-has-got-to-be-a-dream-why-can’t-I-wake-up” kind of way. Other times I just felt claustrophobic. Maybe that’s because it’s how the main character feels when she wakes up alone in a moving train car.

Her name is Garland – according to the name tag on her jumpsuit. But she doesn’t remember anything. There is no way off the train, it just keeps speeding along. The windows won’t break, and there are no escape hatches.

After Garland travels through a few cars she meets Banks, a different kind of ‘person.’ Banks has no memory of his life before the train either, but he’s been there for quite a while. Garland convinces him they must get to the front of the train and stop it. As they travel together from car to car to car, they find that each one is completely different, and surprising.

I found myself holding my breath as they opened each door, especially since some of the doors locked behind them. Sometimes Banks and Garland come across a situation that brings a glimmer of remembrance about their actual selves, and we realize that their trip to the front of the train is a fight with their own personal issues.

This is a must read because there are moments in our lives when we realize that things are perceived differently from what they really are. I kept thinking “what would I do if this were me?” So, come join the adventure as Garland and Banks make their way to the front of the train, and see for yourself how it ends!

Did You Know? (Wagon Edition)

The ‘little red wagon’ was invented in 1917?

I found this information in the book Radio Flyer by Robert Pasin. New to America in 1914, Anthony Pasin studied English and worked many jobs. His struggle reminded me of this quote:

Before I came to America, I thought the streets were paved with gold. When I came here, I learned three things: The streets were not paved in gold, the streets weren’t paved at all, and I was expected to pave them.

attributed to an anonymous emigrant, Immigration Museum at Ellis Island

Anthony worked hard and in 1917 made his first wagon from wood to haul his tools to his job. Soon, he had orders from neighbors and friends. Inevitably he was not able to keep up with the demand. Soon he began pressing them out of steel, and eventually was making scooters, tricycles and wheelbarrows as well. There were more little red wagons built than station wagons!

Yesterday’s station wagons were like the minivans of today. Everyone had one. They were just the ticket for a family road trip vacation. You load up the car, kids and a cooler full of sandwiches and Viola! Perfect family vacation!

But there are always exceptions as Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Long Haul by Jeff Kinney shows us.

Catalog summary: Their journey starts off full of promise, then quickly takes several wrong turns. Gas station bathrooms, crazed seagulls, a fender bender, and a runaway pig—not exactly Greg Heffley’s idea of a good time. But even the worst road trip can turn into an adventure—and this is one the Heffleys won’t soon forget.

Another good story about a road trip is American Road Trip by Patrick Flores-Scott.

Catalog summary: With a strong family, the best friend a guy could ask for, and a budding romance with the girl of his dreams, life shows promise for Teodoro “T” Avila. But he takes some hard hits the summer before senior year when his nearly perfect brother, Manny, returns from a tour in Iraq with a devastating case of PTSD. In a desperate effort to save Manny from himself and pull their family back together, T’s fiery sister, Xochitl, hoodwinks her brothers into a cathartic road trip. Told through T’s honest voice, this is a candid exploration of mental illness, socioeconomic pressures, and the many inescapable highs and lows that come with growing up—including falling in love.

The inspiration behind Anthony’s small wagons created to pull tools were the wagons that crossed the prairies. Wagon trains began making their way west in the 1820’s. Obviously the wagons were much bigger than the little red ones, but this was where his vision began.

Woman on the American Frontier by William Worthington Fowler talks about the early days of pioneers and wagon trains. It was certainly an exciting time in history. You could also read Custer’s Trials: a Life on the Frontier of a New America by T.J. Stiles. This book gives us an inside look at the time period and the things that happened in the new ‘wild west.’

No matter what you read, I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane. I hope it brought back memories of your own escapades with your, or the neighbor kid’s, little red wagon, as well as your own family vacation road trip horror stories.

Feeling Lonely?

Stuck at home and lonely. That’s where a lot of us are right now! Let’s be sure not to confuse alone with lonely. Some people are perfectly happy to be alone to work on what they want. Many avoid being lonely by talking to friends on the phone or through Facebook, Zoom or whichever technology they may be using. Sone others, however, can be in a houseful of people and still feel socially isolated and desperate for human interactions that are outside of their family circle.

Hopefully, you are not alone and have family in the house with you and the ability to “be” with your friends.

Of course, being stuck indoors with family can also be annoying! I think everyone should have their own private space set aside where they can take time out from the world. Perhaps your bedroom with the door shut or even hang out in the laundry room or bathroom. Now may also be the time to institute a ‘quiet hour’ where everyone either naps or sits individually with a book or craft.

I have been looking at Creativebug, which is in our online resources, and have seen a lot of family friendly crafts that are easy to do with stuff you have lying around the house. There was an especially easy weaving project where all you need is some leftover bits of yarn and a piece of thin cardboard from the recycling bin to get you started.

Perhaps you have a yard you can sit in and enjoy. Why not have fun with your family and start a small vegetable or flower garden? Ask Ciscoe: Your Gardening Questions Answered by Ciscoe Morris is a great resource to get you started, and Small Garden Style by Jennifer Blaise Kramer will give you great ideas for making use of the smallest garden spaces such as patios or your deck. Early spring is the perfect time to start a garden. You may also want to see if there is a community garden in your neighborhood or a vacant lot that could become one.

While you may not be able to take a vacation right now, you can enjoy planning a trip. We have many Lonely Planet Travel Guides in ebook format to explore. Pretend you are going to Fiji, the South Pacific, Paris or Berlin! Or you can watch a show on Kanopy and take a virtual trip. On the tab ‘sciences’ under ‘zoology’ there are a number of shows about animals from all over the world. And of course, you won’t need a travel guide if you are sitting in your living room!

No matter what you find to do, it is good to remember that this is all temporary. You may even look back on it eventually and say “remember when we were all stuck at home? I kind of miss that.” Stay safe and healthy!

Did You Know? (Depression Edition)

People often use the term depression to describe the sad or discouraged mood that results from an emotionally distressing event?

Events such as a natural disaster, a serious illness, or death of a loved one all qualify. People may also say they feel depressed at certain times, such as during the holidays (holiday blues) or on the anniversary of a loved one’s death. However, such feelings do not usually represent a disorder.

Usually, these feelings are temporary, lasting days rather than weeks or months, and occur in waves that tend to be tied to thoughts or reminders of the distressing event (such as the coronavirus). Also, these feelings do not substantially interfere with functioning for any length of time. I found this information in the Merck Manual on the Everett Public Library Research Databases page.

Chances are high that you are not currently suffering from depression, but boredom.

Puzzles of all kinds are a great way to keep boredom at bay. You really don’t need a book, just grab any puzzle book and do a word search, acrostics or crossword puzzle either alone or with a friend. My mom and grandma were always on the phone doing crosswords together…. LONG before social distancing!

Of course, jigsaw puzzles are always popular as well. They are kind of like magnets…. Set one up in the corner of the room, and everyone in the family is drawn to it. Next thing you know, the whole family is all sitting around working together! If you don’t have the space for that, there are multiple jigsaw apps that you can do and even download your own pictures to and have them become the puzzle.

If you suspect that you may actually be suffering from depression, we have several different streaming videos you can watch. This one helps you identify depression and this one deals with living with depression. These may help you to know if you need to seek professional help, and perhaps treatment. Both are available on our streaming service Kanopy.

While you are checking to see if you have depression, you may as well read The Psychopath Test: a Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson (on Overdrive) and see if you are a psychopath as well! There is a checklist of 20 questions that are graded and determine your score or likelihood of being one. This may not be an exact way of telling, because a lot of the characteristics that make up a great leader score high on the checklist. I always thought I was fairly normal until taking it. Who knew?!

There is depression, and then there was The Great Depression. I looked at Culturegrams on the Research Databases page. I wish we had this resource when I was in school. You can look at states, countries or provinces and find out everything about them: populations, imports/exports, and events that happened there. I just selected “United states”, typed in “the great depression” and I learned how a lot of the different states were affected during the Great Depression between 1927 and 1930.

For example: Alaska – “Like the rest of the country, Alaska suffered during the Great Depression. President Franklin Roosevelt wanted to help people get a new start, so the federal government organized work programs to provide jobs. The government sponsored a program to help more than 200 families from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota move to Alaska. These settlers were sold land at a low price so that they could have a place to live and farm. The program had mixed results.”

Anyway, hopefully we will all be able to go back to our normal lives soon, and once again we will be too busy to be bored or depressed! Also, let’s hope this COVID setback doesn’t start another “great depression.” In the meantime, puzzle, craft, write a new novel or whatever it takes to take your mind off things. Our databases have Creativebug, Tumblebooks and many others to keep your mind occupied!

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.