Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas-y Things

There's only 7 days left until Christmas!  To get into the Christmas mood, I conducted another survey here at the library, this one on everybody's Christmas traditions.  All the library staff participated, along with Kristin, our seasonal employee, and Tom Wilkinson of our Tom's Two Cents column.
I asked when everyone decorated for Christmas.  Kristin was the only one who said that her family decorated before Thanksgiving.  The rest of us all waited at least until the day after Thanksgiving.  The group was split on whether a real or fake tree is best.  Tom, Kristin, and Debbie all love real trees, while Lisa, Chance and I have to have fake trees due to allergies.   
Favorite Christmas Carol?
Lisa:  I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Casting Crowns
Julie: What Child is This?
Chance:  O' Holy Night
Debbie:  White Christmas
Kristin:  Silent Night
Tom:  Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming
Favorite Christmas Movie?
Lisa:  Little Drummer Boy
Julie:  A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Chance:  Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story
Debbie:  A Charlie Brown Christmas
Kristin:  Elf
Tom:  A Charlie Brown Christmas
Favorite Childhood Holiday Memory?
Lisa:  "When my Daddy got my mother a brand new cab tractor for Christmas"
Julie:  "My sister would sleep in my room on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning we would go climb in bed with mom and dad early in the morning.  We had to wait until Daddy got up and built a fire in the fireplace and then we could go peak around the corner to see if Santa had eaten the milk and cookies we had left out."
Chance:  "I have a lot of special memories revolving around Santa Claus. Every Christmas Eve he would actually call me to make double-sure I was a good boy before making his delivery. Think that's cool? One year my parent's accidently left our video camera on during the night and we caught Santa putting out gifts on film! Also, I heard Santa stomping around up on the roof."
Debbie:  "Waking up on Christmas morning to see what Santa had left for us.
Kristin:  "Playing with Barbie ornaments under the Christmas tree."
Tom:  "Finding a big Teddy under the tree (6 yrs old)"
What does Christmas mean to you?
Lisa:  "Not the presents under the tree, but being in the presence of my Savior.  The day we celebrate the greatest gift of all - Jesus Christ."
Julie:  "Celebrating Jesus - unfathomable love."
Chance:  "It's a time of giving and sharing."
Debbie:  "family, friends, and the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ!"

Kristin:  "A time to visit family."
Tom:  "Hope."

The Franklin County Library wishes you a very
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Marvelous Monday! : Will it Float?

Have you seen the bit on The Late Show with David Letterman called Will it Float?  Well, we did our own version here at the library!  I gathered as much stuff as I could think of, and the kids took turns guessing whether the items would sink or float and tossing them in the water.

I had a wax candle, assorted balls (including a bowling ball!), an apple, oranges (both peeled and unpeeled), a lemon, a lime, wood and metal items, packing foam, tin foil, a pumice stone, assorted plastic items, two kinds of soap, and regular and diet soda. 
The kids were pretty good at guessing what would float and what would sink.  The peeled orange sank, while the orange with peel floated; the regular sodas sank, while the diet soda floated.  Although I had read that a bowling ball would float, ours sank like a rock!  You can't believe everything you read on the internet!
The object of Will it Float? of course, is to learn about density.  I'm not sure how much of that got across to the kids, but we sure had a lot of fun!
This was the last Marvelous Monday for the year.  We will start up again on January 5th, when the kids go back to school. 


Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Cooking

I spent the weekend, as I'm sure many of you did, gearing up for Christmas.  As part of my preparations, I am putting together plates of goodies for the men in my husband's family.  I went ahead and put together a few things this weekend that freeze well.  When I get ready to put the plates together, all I'll have to do is thaw the things I've already made!

Molasses Sugar Cookies
¾ cup shortening, melted and cooled
1 cup sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups sifted flour
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
Add sugar, egg, and molasses to melted shortening.  Beat well.  Sift flour, soda, spices, and salt.  Add to shortening mixture.  Mix well.  Chill.  Form into 1” balls and roll in sugar.  Bake at 375˚ for 8-10 minutes.
Cappuccino Mini Muffins
2 cups flour
¾ cup sugar
2 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 scant Tbsp. instant coffee granules
½ cup butter, melted
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line muffin cups with liners or spray with no-stick spray.  Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt to a large mixing bowl and combine.  In a separate bowl, add the instant coffee to the milk and combine until the coffee has dissolved.  Add the butter, egg, and vanilla and combine.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring just until combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips. 
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.  Bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool for five minutes in muffin tins, then move to a wire cooling rack.
*Both of these recipes came from a tried and true source : my mom!  I plan to add some peanut brittle and peppermint bark to the plates the day before Christmas. 
What are your favorite recipes for Christmas? 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Robert Frost

A few weeks ago, when I polled library staff about their reading habits, I asked about a favorite poet.  Several of us mentioned Robert Frost.  We are all familiar with the poem The Road Not Taken, but Frost has many other good poems.  I've picked just a few of his shorter poems to share here.

Good Hours
I had for my winter evening walk -
No one at all with whom to talk,
But I had the cottages in a row
Up to their shining eyes in snow.
And I thought I had the folk within:
I had the sounds of a violin;
I had a glimpse through curtain laces
Of youthful forms and youthful faces.
I had such company outward bound.
I went till there were no cottages found.
I turned and repented, but coming back
I saw no window but that was black.
Over the snow my creaking feet
Disturbed the slumbering village street
Like profanation, by your leave,
At ten o'clock of a winter eve.
A Time to Talk
When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.
Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great,
And would suffice
The library has five of Mr. Frost's books available for checkout.  I am considering putting up a poem every month or so as an addition to this blog.  What do you think?

Source:  "Robert Frost : Selected Poems", 2011, Fall River Press

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tom's Two Cents: Three Bios Sum Up the American Theatre in the 20th Century

The new biography of Tennessee Williams by John Lahr ("Tennessee Williams: Mad Pleasures of the Flesh") turned me back to Martin Gottfried's bio of Arthur Miller, published in 2003, and the massive (964pp) bio of Eugene O'Neill by Arthur and Barbara Gelb, published over fifty years ago, in 1962.  Together they sum up the story of the American Theatre in the 20th century, as well as it can be, into its last quarter.  Williams was its lyrical heart, Miller its probing intellect, and O'Neill its long suffering soul.  From 1920 to 1970 they turned the American Theatre from vaudeville, musical, and revue into drama of the highest order.

The Gelb biography of O'Neill is a massive achievement, definitive in every respect.  If it has been superseded, I suspect that can be only in the interpretation of O'Neill's plays, which he began writing in the teens and first achieved major recognition for in 1920, with the production in New York of his first full length play, "Beyond the Horizon," a play that so astounded O'Neill's actor-father, James, that he asked his son, "Are you trying to send your audience home to commit suicide?"  For over fifty years, James O'Neill had entertained and enthralled American audiences with his vehicle play, "The Count of Monte Cristo," based on the swashbuckling French novel by Alexander Dumas.  It was an era that exulted in entertainment, especially on Broadway, where extravaganzas like the Ziegfield Follies flourished.  Only Shakespearean tragedy, plays like "Hamlet" or "Julius Caesar," with high profile actors like John Barrymore, could hope for successful runs.  So, when O'Neill burst upon the scene with a true American tragedy (he was literally five years before Dreiser's "An American Tragedy"), the Theatre in America was turned upside down.

Nourished in the teens by a group of semi-professional actors in Provincetown, Mass. known as the Provincetown Players, O'Neill cut his professional teeth on the one-act play and emerged on Broadway as a fully adult playwright, giving audiences what they had seldom, if ever, had before.  Surprisingly, they lapped it up.  The same decade (the 20's) that produced the Follies, Noel Coward's brittle comedies, and the re-birth of the American musical  in Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's "Showboat" also unveiled serious and thought-provoking plays of O'Neill such as "The Emperor Jones," "Desire Under the Elms," "Strange Interlude," "The Great God Brown," and "Mourning Becomes Electra."  The American Theatre had never seen anything quite like it before or since.  Not only O'Neill, but a host of new dramatists like Sydney Howard, Elmer Rice, and Thornton Wilder emerged out of this same burgeoning period.  In many respects, the 20's and the 30's, despite the Crash and the Depression, were the Golden Age of American Drama.

By the end of this period O'Neill had won three Pulitzers and the Nobel Prize for Literature, being only the second American to do so.  Regrettably by 1940 a reversal of Fate had relegated O'Neill to near the bottom of a distinguished heap.  In deteriorating health, beset with personal and financial problems, and over- extending himself with ambitious, half-written cycles of as many as eleven plays, he was all but finished as a writer.  It remained for two young "upstarts" named Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller to revive the American Theatre in the 40's and 50's.

(Next time: Williams and Miller, O'Neill's successors)

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Have you every used a Cricut?

A Cricut is an electronic die-cutting machine.  Franklin County Library owns one and we use it often.  We used it for the words on the ceiling and wall in the vault and for the quote on the wall upstairs in the end room.  They are also very popular for use in scrapbooking and other paper type projects.

Cricuts are very versatile in that the letters and shapes can be cut out in 24 different sizes.  However, a Cricut requires the use of cartridges, and the cartridges can get expensive.  The cartridges contain various fonts and shapes depending on their theme. 

We have decided to put our collection of cartridges on the shelf for public use.  Cartridges can be checked out for 1 week and patrons can check out two at a time.  There will be a $1.00/day charge for any items returned late.  They will be checked out with the cartridge, keypad overlay and instruction manual.  They must be returned with all the items.   We have 30 cartridges to choose from.

If you have a Cricut, come on in and peruse our collection of cartridges.  We can save you the money of buying your own and greatly expand the cartridges you have to choose from for your project!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Tree Decorations

Well, it's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is behind us.  Did you have a good holiday?  I certainly enjoyed mine. 

Now, it's on to Christmas.  We finally have our tree up here at the library.  Isn't Lilly Ann a great model?

We will be selling paper stars to decorate the tree with.  The stars will cost $1.00 a piece and you can write a message, a wish, or a dedication on the back.  The proceeds from the stars will benefit the Friends of the Franklin County Library.

Come on in and help us decorate our tree!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Movies!

Chance spent the morning today putting new movies on the shelf!

There are new Christmas movies for the whole family, new Captain America and X-Men movies, and several new releases such as Jersey Boys, 22 Jump Street, Planes : Fire & Rescue and If I Stay.

I plan on taking a couple home myself!  Come on in and see what we have.  We are now checking out movies for 7 days.  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Brain Teasers

I recently put a brain teaser on the desk above my computer for patrons to work on. 

It is simply a spiky ball in a cage and the object is to remove the ball from the cage.  Friday afternoon, the Minter family came in after school and got to competing over who could be the youngest person to complete the puzzle.

First, Erik (13) finished the puzzle.  Then Ben (11) was able to complete it.

Since they finished the first puzzle, I gave them a second one.  The object of this one is to get the wooden square inside the hollow square by sliding the pieces around without lifting anything up.  While the boys were trying to figure it out, I noticed that their little sister Alea (8) was watching everything intently.  (I'm sorry if I spelled your name wrong!)  I asked her if she wanted to try the spiky ball puzzle and she nodded.  Everyone was astounded when she finished it in record time, officially becoming the youngest person to complete it!  So, we let her try the wooden puzzle, and again she beat her older brothers all to pieces, finishing in record time! 



I had a third puzzle, a cube with a maze on all sides, but none of the kids were able to figure it out. 

The puzzles were given to me by my mom, who buys them for us at Christmas time to figure out on Christmas day.  Since we had so much fun with the puzzles, over the weekend I asked her if she had any more.  Well, of course she did!  So now I have 5 more puzzles that I know how to do, and 6 that I don't.  There are a variety of difficulty levels 

If you are looking for a challenge, come on by.  You can be the first person to solve all the brain teasers! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I Opened a Book

I Opened a Book
I opened a book and in I strode.
Now nobody can find me.
I've left my chair, my house, my road,
My town and my world behind me.
I'm wearing the cloak, I've slipped on the ring,
I've swallowed the magic potion.
I've fought with a dragon, dined with a king
And dived in a bottomless ocean.
I opened a book and made some friends.
I shared their tears and laughter
And followed their road with its bumps and bends
To the happily ever after.
I finished my book and out I came.
The cloak can no longer hide me.
My chair and my house are just the same,
But I have a book inside me.
--Julia Donaldson

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Julie's Journal : The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

In the weeks leading up to Halloween, I saw several recommendations for good ghost stories.  Now, I'm not normally a big reader of ghost stories, but I kept seeing The Haunting of Hill House come up as a must read - a classic of the genre.  After reading several reviews and discovering that it has been adapted for film twice since its publication in 1959, I decided to give it a try. 

The story centers around Eleanor Vance.  A woman of 32, she has spent the last eleven years of her life caring for her mother.  After her mother passes away, she is at loose ends and jumps at an invitation to spend a few days at Hill House seeking out psychic phenomena.  After an idyllic drive, Eleanor arrives at the house and is immediately repulsed.  She feels an overwhelming urge to flee, but decides she is simply being a scaredy-cat and makes herself stay.  When she meets the other female guest, Theodora, she feels more comfortable.  With the arrival of the doctor researching the house, and Luke, a member of the family that owns the house, their party is complete. 

The horror of the story is that the reader never really knows the nature of the evil in the house.  There is no question that there is something evil there, but whether the evil is the house itself or something residing inside is a mystery.  The house itself becomes a malevolent character in the story.  Told from Eleanor's point of view, the reader is forced to follow along as the house (or its supernatural resident) drives her, rather quickly, into madness.  Maybe her years of isolation with her mother made her more susceptible than the others?  Maybe she was already precariously close to madness, and the house just helped her along?  I think both factors contributed to her inability to resist the forces of Hill House.

I enjoyed The Haunting of Hill House.  It was not what I was expecting from a book labeled "horror".  There was an overriding sense of doom, but it wasn't so dark as to give me nightmares.  I found myself thinking about Eleanor long after I had finished the book.  Her motivations are never completely clear, which fuels in part the speculation about why she descended into insanity so easily. 

Jackson wrote several novels and short stories.  Her other well-known story is the short story The Lottery.  It is commonly read by high school students and I remember reading it myself.  Both The Haunting of Hill House and The Lottery are worth taking the time to read. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Just for fun!

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I had the news on in the background and they were talking about a bus that has been fitted with a jet engine and can reach speeds up to 350 miles per hour.  Then they showed the bus racing an airplane!  Paul Stender of Indy Boys, Inc. is the builder and driver of the bus.  He said that he wanted to encourage kids to get out and tinker with machines and experiment and see what worked and what didn't.  He also has a "Jets are Hot, Drugs are Not!" slogan painted on his bus.  The video below is the airplane vs. bus race.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Marvelous Mondays! : Sand Art

Yesterday was another Marvelous Monday here at the library.  My mom, Ellen Eggleston, donated colored sand and bottles for sand art.  The kids had fun making different patterns of colored sand in their bottles.

The finished products turned out really well.
Hailey Kirkman and Trinity Bogue
Max Lester
Seth Smithey
Hannah Smithey's bottle in progress.
Even the table was pretty after everybody was done!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Chance found a friend at Trick or Treat on the Square

Most of the library staff dressed up today as librarians!  Exciting right? 

Chance decided to be different though.  He dressed up as one of the Hamsters from the Kia Soul commercials!

Chance even presented Tom Wilkinson (of our Tom's Two Cents column) with a copy of his book as a hamster!

Now it just remains to be seen if Chance can function while wearing the hamster head!