Did You Know? (Brick Edition)

That the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway is nicknamed the Brickyard?

The Speedway was originally paved with more than 3 million bricks in 1909. I found this in the DK Smithsonian book Drive on page 63. It says on the cover “the definitive history of driving,” and that pretty much says it all. There are pictures of every car imaginable, the making and racing of automobiles, early advertisements and even renditions of possible future cars. We even learn that the first speed limit was 4 mph, and some of the first vehicles had a whopping 12hp engine!

Assuming the bricks were 6-inch in length, 3,000,000 million bricks laid end to end would reach 284.09 miles or the equivalent of the distance from Newark, NJ to Buffalo, NY. With the Indianapolis speedway being 2.5 miles long, this would be about 113 ½ laps altogether.

Nowadays, when you say ‘bricks’ the first thing people think of is Lego bricks. The eBook A Million Little Bricks by Sarah Herman talks about the Lego company’s history and the phenomenon of this amazing and popular toy. She reminisces about old Lego sets and talks about the new sets available. Beautiful Lego by Mike Doyle has some of the most amazing Lego figures, buildings and characters I have ever seen! This is definitely art, and worth checking out just to see the creativity.

The Taj Mahal is a building complex that is truly artistic. Construction started in 1632 and was completed over an 11-year period. They used white and black marble (bricks and blocks) with inlays of precious stones and intricately carved marble flowers. The book The Taj Mahal by Lesley Dutemple is part of the series Great Building Feats that shows a variety of different structures and the building techniques used to make them.

The feature film The Last Brickmaker in America shows what the art of brickmaking used to be. In this heartwarming movie, starring Sidney Poitier, he teaches a young troubled boy his craft, and the pride of making something worthwhile. You don’t have to make your own bricks, but you can do your own building with bricks with the assistance of the book Masonry Homeowner Survival Guide. It shows how to prep an area, measure what supplies you need, and shows the techniques that will make you look like a master.

Lastly, one thing I always think of when thinking ‘bricks’ is the Pink Floyd song “Brick in the wall”. We have this on CD so “brick on!” OK, that doesn’t have the same ring to it as “rock on”, but you get the idea.

Did You Know? (Doll Edition)

Raggedy Ann and Andy were first made in 1915, and their creator then went on to write 25 books about them starting in 1918?

I found this information in the Warman’s Companion Collectible Dolls by Dawn Herlocher. Johnny Gruelle was the original creator and his family made the dolls. They eventually sold the rights, and the dolls have been made by many other companies since then, but they are still around.

We have quite a few of the Raggedy Ann and Andy books by Johnny Gruelle. Hooray for Reading, Old Friends, New Friends and School Day Adventure are just a few of them.  My Raggedy Ann doll and I enjoyed these books when I was little.

Raggedy Ann and Andy are great dolls for younger children, with their soft bodies and candy hearts. You can make your own soft dolls using the patterns in Topsy-Turvy Knitted Dolls by Sarah Keen. They have a doll on one end, flip the dress up and there is a different doll on the other. One of them is Red Riding Hood/Big Bad Wolf. They are so cute!

I think after these, young children progress to Barbie dolls. The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: a Doll’s History and Her Impact on Us by Tanya Lee Stone tells how Ruth Handler and her husband Elliot started the company Mattel. They first made jewelry and furniture, then made doll house furniture with scraps before moving on to making Barbie Dolls and marketing other toys.

Older children enjoy doll houses and miniature furniture. Making Dolls’ House Furniture by Patricia King is full of hundreds of small miniatures and complete directions for making the pieces using things that are upcycled and probably just laying around your house. Making Doll’s House Miniatures with Polymer Clay shows how to shape clay into many pieces that would be great furnishings. Both of these would work for dioramas as well.

Another very popular ‘rag doll’ is the breed of ragdoll cat. The Encyclopedia of Cat Breeds by J. Anne Helgren tells an interesting story of how the breed was created and genetically altered in a secret government experiment. If you are looking for a pet cat, this would be a great reference book as it tells about each cat breeds’ activity levels, docility, health, compatibility and other pertinent information.

My mother used to dress her cat up in baby clothes and push it up and down the street in her little doll stroller! Whether you are playing with a doll or your cat, you can rest assured there have been generations of children, and some adults, doing this for centuries. The oldest doll discovered is from 4500 years ago. This rare discovery of pre-historic toys was made at the Itkol II burial ground in the Republic of Khakassia, southern Siberia.

Did You Know? Roller Skate Edition

Roller skates were invented in 1760 by John Joseph Merlin (a young Belgian) who put wheels on his shoes to impress people at a masquerade party? Ice skates had already been around for quite a while, so watching people glide along on the ice probably gave Melin the idea.

I found this information in the Worldbook Encyclopedia 2020 edition entry on roller skates. It also tells us that there are three kinds of roller skates: quad skates with 4 wheels, in-line skates with the 4 wheels in a line, and clamp-on skates which were the original type. Competitive roller skating is common in the areas of artistic skating, speed skating and roller hockey.

One type of speed skating is roller derby, which definitely has its own artistic flair! Rollergirls: the Story of Flat Track Derby by Felicia Graham, Melissa Joulwan and Dennis Darling is all about the making of a new roller derby league: The Texas Rollergirls. The story is told mostly in photographs, but it is plain to see their passion and determination.

Adding edges to ice skates was invented by the Dutch in the 13th or 14th century. Ice skates then cut into the ice instead of gliding on top of it. These ice skates were made of steel, with sharpened edges on the bottom to aid movement. The earliest ice skating happened in southern Finland more than 4,000 years ago. This was done to save time and energy during winter journeys.

The fundamental construction of modern ice skates has stayed largely the same since then, although differing greatly in the details: particularly in the method of binding and the shape and construction of the steel blades. In the Netherlands, ice skating was considered proper for all classes of people, as shown in many paintings from the time.

The book Ice Skating School by Naia Bray-Moffatt gives excellent directions and photographs of many of the basic skating techniques. A lot of the directions could be used for roller skating as well, especially if using rollerblades.

BUT – there is a fourth kind of skate! You can see these at an aquarium. They are members of the Chondrichthyan family which include more than 70 species of stingrays. The Stingray by Miriam J Gross has detailed information about these mysterious creatures.

Now, back to that masquerade party – – Imagine the surprise on people’s faces as our John Joseph Merlin rolled in and the spectacle that his outfit must have made! I imagine that was exactly what he wanted to happen.

Someone else that always set out to make a statement was Wladziu Valentino Liberace. The book Liberace Extravaganza by Connie Solomon and Jan Jewell shows you full color photographs of a lot of the costumes he wore, with close-up photos of the beaded work on them. Some of these suits were worth $24,000 or more.

We have a wide selection of books that will make it easy for you to plan your next costume for a masquerade ball or other fancy dress occasion. Start planning now and you can make a grand entrance as well!

Did You Know? (Owl and Snake Edition)

Eastern Screech Owls will keep blind snakes in their nests to ‘babysit’ while parents are away gathering food?

The owls in these nests with snakes seem to be healthier than owls from non-snake nests; it is believed this is because the snakes eat insects in the nest that may harm the babies. I found this information on page 88 of North American Owls by Paul A. Johnsgard. What a highly detailed book! It tells about the many different kinds of owls, their sizes, territories, nesting habits, where to find them and on and on.

There are two families of blind snakes: the Leptotyphlops with about 80 species that have teeth only on the lower jaw and have un-toothed maxillary bones fused solidly to their head, and the Typhlopidae with maxillary bones that are toothed and not fused to the skull with about 160 species. I doubt the owls care which of the families of snakes they have. Guide and Reference to the Snakes of Western North America by R. D. Bartlett and Patricia P. Bartlett has pictures of many of these blind snakes. They spend most of their time underground and look remarkably like worms.

This type of mutually beneficial interaction is called a symbiotic relationship. There are many types of these relationships. Mycorrhizal Planet by Michael Phillips tells how plants have photosynthate sugars to offer mycorrhizal fungi, which can’t access carbon. The fungi in turn assists the plant by facilitating the uptake of mineral nutrients and water.

Weird Friends: Unlikely Allies in the Animal Kingdom by Jose Aruego and Arianne Dewey is an excellent book for children explaining symbiosis and has many examples of different animals helping each other. Natural Attraction: a Field Guide to Friends, Frenemies, and Other Symbiotic Animal Relationships by Iris Gottlieb goes one step further and shows not only symbiosis, but parasitism and commensalism as well. This book has nice pictures of animal pairs along with explanations of who is gaining what in each relationship.

The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear is not about a symbiotic relationship, but true love! They sail away together and get married on a tropical beach. It was originally published in 1871. It is truly an example of how love stories never go out of style. We have many other book series with pairs of animals. A few of them are The Elephant and Piggy books, Hondo and Fabian and Frog and Toad series. While symbiosis is a mutual benefit, friendship is probably the best benefit anyone can ever have!

Did You Know? (Cats Edition)

That cats cannot taste sweets?

This fact is on page 40 of Why Pandas Do Handstands and other Curious Truths about Animals by August Brown. Kids will love this book with so many fun animal facts. I guarantee that adults will also find out things they never knew.

While cats can’t taste sweets… they can taste catnip! Besides being used for cat toys, catnip was used by humans as a tea before tea from China became popular. It is also used to soothe headaches and calm upset stomachs, reduce fevers and scalp irritations. Smithsonian Handbooks: Herbs by Lesley Bremness tells about other uses for it as well.

A lot of people think that cats love a ‘saucer-full of milk’ when in fact, while they may like it, most cats are lactose intolerant and it causes diarrhea. Animal Planet: Senior Cats by Sheila Webster Bonham, Ph.D. advises that if your cat likes dairy, and it’s o.k. with your veterinarian, a small saucer of cream is a better infrequent treat since cream doesn’t contain as much lactose as milk. Dr. Bonham also talks about how cat teeth are designed to grasp prey and shear off chunks of meat. Also their digestive track processes meat efficiently and has trouble processing raw vegetables.

The Ultimate Pet Health Guide by Gary Richter, M.S., and D.V.M. is an excellent guide to the benefits and drawbacks of putting your cat or dog on a raw diet. It also has a whole chapter about glandular therapy, along with chapters about holistic and herbal medicines which humans have been using for centuries.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So, enjoy your sweets, but don’t share them with your pets – no matter how bad they think they want it. But do go ahead and wad that wrapper up and toss it for your kitty to attack!

Did You Know? (Cashew Edition)

That cashews grow on the bottom of a cashew apple, and are related to poison ivy?

Cashew nuts are actually the seeds of the ‘cashew apple’ – a Brazilian evergreen tree with bright orange fruit. I found this on page 405 of 1900 Ingredients by Christine Ingram. Cashews are never sold in the shell because they have to undergo extensive heating to remove them from their shells.

Wikipedia tells us that “the seed (drupe) is surrounded by a double shell containing an allergenic phenolic resin, anacardic acid, a potent skin irritant chemically related to the better-known allergenic oil urushiol which is also a toxin found in the related poison ivy.”

Fancy Nancy: Poison Ivy Expert by Jane O’Connor is a darling story about poor Nancy getting into poison ivy while picking flowers. Nancy’s neighbor gives her a cream made from jewelweed to help soothe her itch. Jewelweed has long been used for this as a natural cure.

The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants by Lytton John Musselman and Harold J. Wiggins has a chapter about identifying poison oak, ivy and sumac along with pictures so you DON’T end up eating or touching them! It also tells us that mangoes and pistachios are related to cashews.

Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins is a fun tale told to a man in the park (eating a peanut butter sandwich: chunky peanut butter, by the way) by a very old squirrel that can speak! He tells the stories of squirrels travelling on the buzz paths, and having great adventures. He states that ‘nuts to you’ is a classic squirrel greeting, meaning all manner of things, but mostly good luck.

As vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise, cooking with cashews and other nuts is getting more and more popular. VBQ the Ultimate Vegan Barbecue by Nadine Horn and Jorg Mayer has recipes using cashews for a pesto, sour cream and an aioli spread. This Cheese is Nuts by Julie Piatt has lots of cashew cheese choices. So, go nuts with these recipes, and “nuts to you!”

Did You Know? (Patchouli Edition)

In using essential oils, you should never diffuse patchouli oils (and some others) because they are too strong and can irritate your skin and/or mucous membranes?

I found this fact in Essential Oils Every Day by Hope Gillerman on page 85. There are also many essential oils that shouldn’t be used with or near children under 5 for the same reason. This is a very interesting book that gives good directions for the use of dozens of essential oils.

The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy lists 66 ways that patchouli can be used. Some people think it was only used by hippies in the past, but it has also been used as a pest repellent and for the conditions of paralysis, constipation, hepatitis and spina bifida. If I could only have one book about oils, this is the one I would pick. It includes step by step directions for distilling and preparing your own oils as well information about their many different uses.

Perfume by Lizzie Ostrom has information about almost every perfume ever made. Just looking at the names of the perfumes in this book brought to mind the people I’ve known who have worn them, as well as the ads that were in magazines and on television at the time. Avon was one of the first to market to young girls with their ‘pretty peach perfume’ in a bottle with a squeezy peach lid. Ms. Ostrom also tells us that patchouli leaves are exported to the West packed in with fine cashmere shawls to deter moths and also give Indian shawls their characteristic fragrance.

There can sometimes be many chemicals added to products with essential oils in the process of making perfumes, creams, and lotions. Also, when an item is labelled ‘fragrance free’ that usually means they haven’t added fragrance . . . BUT ‘fragrance free’ and ‘scent free’ are two entirely different things! Many people are very sensitive to the fragrances and scents of these items and care should be taken in using them.

Slow Death by Rubber Duck and Toxin Toxout both by Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith talk about all the chemicals in different products, whether added or naturally occurring. For example, on page 42 of Slow Death by Rubber Duck we are told that because of nonexistent labelling requirements in North America (except for some chemicals in California), phthalates are almost never listed as an ingredient in products that contain them. ‘Fragrance’ and ‘parfum are often code words indicating some phthalate content. Toxin Toxout gives tips and advice for getting rid of the toxins already acquired by the body.

The way things smell can be very different from person to person but imagine if your olfactory senses were as sensitive as a dog. Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior and Happiness by Gary Weitzman DVM, MPH, and CAWA tells us that dogs ‘see’ the world with scents. This is especially evident during tracking events for dogs. During a trial, dogs are on a leash as they follow a pre-laid scent trail across a field in different environments. Dogs’ sensitive sniffers are also used to smell diseases and illnesses such as cancers, as well as bombs, drugs, mealy bugs and toxic products to name just a few. Read Being a Dog: Following the Dog into a World of Smell by Alexandra Horowitz to find out more about all the amazing things their noses can do!

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.

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!

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.