Friday, April 24, 2015

Rainy Day Blues

Are you tired of the rain?  I sure am. Judging by the definition Lisa put up on the Library Facebook page today, she is too.  
 

Our yards are a mess and neither of us has been able to do much in our gardens this spring.  The overcast, cloudy weather is just dreary.  We constantly feel like we need a nap!  And although we tell ourselves we shouldn't complain, that we will wish for the rain in July and August, we're just plain tired of it!  We're ready for some sunshine!

There is one benefit to all this rain, though.  More time to read!  I've been catching up on some old favorites, reading a few new releases, and adding to my classics list.  I recently read The Scarlet Pimpernel for the first time.  It was an enjoyable adventure, with fascinating characters.   I'm surprised that I had never run across it before.  Now, I have started a new release in the Youth section of the library, Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan.  I'm not exactly sure how to describe the book, but I'm finding it to be interesting.  It follows the journey of a harmonica through the lives of several people.  I'm only about a third of the way through, but I've already experienced some of the rise to power of Hitler in Pre-WWII Germany.  I believe the next section will take me to the Great Depression in the U.S. during the 1930's.  I'm not sure how it will all tie together yet, but I'm looking forward to finding out. 

What are you doing to beat the rainy day blues?  Have you discovered any new reads? 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tom’s Two Cents : Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee



Once in a while I discover a really great biographer, and since biography is one of my favorite genres and literature was one of my majors in college, I'm always gratified to find a true literary biographer.  Hermione Lee is one, for sure.  A professor of English Lit at Oxford, she recently won the Man Booker Prize for Biography (the British equivalent of the Pulitzer) for her bio of British writer Penelope Fitzgerald, and that one is only her latest.  Previous sorties into the lives and works of Willa Cather, Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, and Philip Roth have also been received with acclaim.  The one I just finished on Wharton proved to be immensely satisfying and rewarding on a number of levels.

Edith Wharton is not an author whose name runs glibly off the popular tongue.  She is a throwback to another time and another age, the latter being the so-called Gilded Age of old New York society:  her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Age of Innocence," published in 1920 and made into a brilliant film by Martin Scorcese about twenty years ago, is a case in point.  Other of her novels (she was also prolific in the short story form) include "The House of Mirth," "The Custom of the Country," and the grim New England masterwork that shows a very different side of her talent, "Ethan Frome."  But always front and center in her work is the abiding ( and often suffocating) influence of society upon the individuals it produces.  The enduring theme of her work seems to say, "Defy society's conventions and be damned, or at the very least be denied some elementary part of yourself."
 
Edith Wharton was herself a product of the very society she often condemned.   Born into a wealthy, aristocratic family in upper New York State, she was the only girl of a father who died young and a mother who tried to mould her into a figure she relentlessly refused to fit into.  Married at an early age to an older man she had nothing in common with but wealth and respectability, she spent most of her life seeking intellectual and cultural outlets from other gentlemen, including the now not-so-famous American ex-patriate author, Henry James.  In her own day she was as noted for her extensive travel as her writing--at a time when automobiles were still quite new, she drove all over the Continent, especially France and Italy, with an entourage of men, servants and dogs--and of course a chauffeur!  Finally she settled in France, where during WWI she threw herself into the French war effort,  establishing homes and hospitals for orphaned children and tubercular patients.  After the War she was awarded the French Prix de Guerre for her service to the nation.

It's a long book, but a very worthwhile one, about a woman who seemed to have it all, but most assuredly did not.  Yet she rose above her personal life issues to create an enduring body of literary work, virtually the first American woman outside of Emily Dickinson and Willa Cather to do so.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Poet's Perch : Young and Old by Charles Kingsley

Young and Old
 
 
 
When all the world is young, lad,
And all the trees are green;
And every goose a swan, lad,
And every lass a queen;
Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
And round the world away;
Young blood must have its course, lad,
And every dog his day.
 
When all the world is old, lad,
And all the trees are brown;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
And all the wheels run down;
Creep home, and take your place there,
The spent and maimed among:
God grant you find one face there,
You loved when all was young.
 
Charles Kingsley

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Woodwork Display

In your visits to the library you  may have noticed that we have a display case where we show collections and artwork of community members.  Recently we have been displaying a small part of Tommy Allison's toy soldier collection.  It was a great hit with small boys, although they wanted to take the display out and play with it! 

Our newest display is a showcase of the woodworking talent of Chance's step-father, Frankie Broom. 

 
The pieces are quiet intricate.  He uses plyboard, softboard, and oak of 1/4 inch thick or less. 
 
 

Chance says that Mr.  Broom prints out his patterns from the internet and uses a scroll saw to complete the projects.


 
I am certainly impressed with his skill.  Come on in and see them for yourself!!


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

GIVEAWAY!

***Judy Case and Karen Louton are our winners! Congratulations!***


To celebrate spring, we are giving away these two sturdy canvas tote bags.


Each one is stuffed to the brim with books, movies, and audio books.  Each one also contains a Friends of the Library travel mug!


The smaller bag is geared towards young adults, while the larger is for adults.  We will draw two names and the first name drawn will get to choose their prize. 

How do you win?  By commenting on this blog, liking or commenting on the post on Instagram, or liking or commenting on the Facebook post.  There are links to our Instagram and Facebook pages at the top of this blog. 

Winners will be announced on April 17th!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Computer Classes at the Library

Every spring and fall, the Franklin County Library offers computer classes.  The spring classes are basic skills classes and the fall ones move into a little more advanced or specialized skills.

 


This spring the demand for the basics class was so high that we have added an additional daytime session.  It begins tomorrow at 1:00 and if you or someone you know needs basic computer skills there is still space in the class.

We would also like to know what classes you would be interested in taking.  Is there a skill you need to learn? Specific software you need to use?  A device you are curious about?  What additional classes can we offer that would help you?

Let us know!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Chance's Corner: Disney Vacation Part 2

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Disney's Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios) is a reflection of a Hollywood that was and never has been. The palm-lined streets, vintage cars, and Art Deco architecture set against the iconic backdrop of the Grauman's Chinese Theater all reflect the Golden Age of Hollywood.

It's the smallest park at the Walt Disney World Resort, but it still packs a serious punch with Aerosmith's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster that shoots off from 0 to 57 mph in 2.8 seconds and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror which drops you down 13 stories to your certain doom (to Rod Serling's delight)!

 
Not your thing? Don't worry, there's much lighter fare such as The Great Movie Ride that puts you in the middle of your favorite classic movie scenes and plenty of shows such as a Broadway-caliber production of Beauty and the Beast, a zany 4-D Muppets show, and the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular!
 
If you eat at just one place at The Walt Disney World Resort, it needs to be the 50's Prime Time Café. The setting takes you all the way back to the days when The Donna Reed Show was a hit... the 50's (obviously)! The best part, though, is that your servers turn out to be your long lost family members. This year we had Cousin John and he was an absolute delight. Hilarious! And be warned, there are a few rules you better follow in Momma's Kitchen. Kids set the table! Don't put your elbows on the table! Eat all your vegetables!  No Sass! If you break those rules, you'll end up getting into some pretty funny trouble.


The 50's Prime Time Café.
 

For promotional purposes, the carriage from the new Cinderella movie was on display.

Grauman's Chinese Theater

 
 
Disney's Animal Kingdom
 
The Animal Kingdom got off to a bumpy start in 1998. Animal's rights groups were calling foul, animals were dying, and Florida was literally on fire. I actually remember the thick smoke rolling across the highway from the nearby wildfire. But a lot has changed since then, and the Animal Kingdom has shaken off it's "expensive zoo" image (Natazu!) and is still growing and developing into something better.
 

The Tree of Life has several different animals carved into the side of it.
 
What's the highlight of the park? Expedition Everest. It's the newest fake mountain range in the Florida swampland and it's a real doozy. You ride a train up into the mountains, ignoring the local legend of an angry yeti, and find yourself facing a track ripped to shreds. What can you do? Oh, just find yourself rollicking at high speeds backwards. Yes, backwards! In the process you find out that the legend of the yeti is more than just some story.
 



















Well, that's just barely scratching the surface of my vacation, and even though it's always sad to leave the place where dreams come true,  I know that Mickey Mouse will always keep his promise.
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tom's Two Cents: A Year of Cinderella

At my advanced age, I've managed to see three versions of the fairy-tale "Cinderella" in the last six months.  First, at the Metropolitan Opera, streamed live to Dallas and Texarkana, Rossini's early 19th century version, "Cenerentola," then Sondheim's musical film "Into the Woods," and now the Disney/Kenneth Branaugh full-length film, starring Lily James, Cate Blanchette, Helena Bonham-Carter, and a host of others in an enchanting, visually glorious re-telling of the famous tale.



This version begins with a kind of prologue to where the tale usually begins.  Rather than confronting Cinderella in rags by the kitchen fireplace, the audience learns the back story of her birth and childhood, a sublime upbringing from infancy in the arms and safety of a doting mother and father.  Of course harsh reality intrudes when Cinderella's mother dies, her father re-marries a greedy, selfish and social climbing widow with two goofy daughters, and subsequently dies abroad, leaving Cinderella at the mercy of her adopted family.

In this version her only true friends are the birds and beasts of the farmyard and the woods, including some adorable mice who live in the house, eat crumbs and cheese and keep Cinderella company.  (Yes these are Disney computerized mice, who just may be the best actors in the show, along with a white duck, who rivals TV's Aflac!).  But when Cinderella saves a stag in the woods and meets a dreamy Prince, her life is changed forever.

Of course you know the rest of the story, which is told in the most lush and extravagantly beautiful terms ever, especially the magical special effects created to transform the pumpkin, etc. into a golden coach and four.  Its disintegration, along with its horses, driver, and footmen, at the stroke of midnight, displays a brilliant sense of comic and visual timing.  And perhaps the most heartwarming theme reiterated throughout is not the traditional message that "they all lived happily ever after," but the advice proclaimed throughout the story: "Be kind and have courage," and hopefully all will turn out all right!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Poet's Perch : Pippa's Song by Robert Browning

Pippa's Song
 
The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearl'd;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven -
All's right with the world!
 
Robert Browning

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Marvelous Monday! : Egg Drop

For this experiment, I set up a glass of water with a pie plate on top.  On top of that I centered the cardboard from a roll of toilet paper directly above the water and balanced a raw egg on top.


 

Now for the fun part!  The object of this exercise is to get the egg into the glass of water, without breaking it, by removing the plate and the cardboard.  This is done by giving the plate, and only the plate, a good whack!

video

We did have a few misses... 



This is an experiment that can definitely be tried at home - just be sure to use non-breakable plates and glasses - and make sure that someone in your house wasn't going to use the eggs to make a cake!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Chance's Corner: Disney Vacation Part 1

Some of you may have noticed my absence during the Spring Break. Where was I? Well, only at "The Happiest Place on Earth" AKA Walt Disney World! I've been going to Disney World for many, many, many years and it never grows old because the parks are always evolving and changing with new rides and attractions. I never seem to grow old, either.

I could probably write an entire book about my latest Disney vacation, but I shall try to keep this post as short as possible by covering the highlights of each park. Here we go!

The Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom is the central park that started the Disney World empire in 1971. It's a place the young and young at heart can experience the bygone era of Main Street USA all the way to the future possibilities of Tomorowland. To some it may seem like a kiddie park, but as Mary Poppins says "pish posh!"

Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.
Big Thunder Mountain
Florida may just be a swamp, but The Magic Kingdom is home to three very famous mountains: Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Space Mountain. All three are very unique and very fun, but Big Thunder Mountain is perhaps my favorite of the three.

Graves at The Haunted Mansion
My other favorite attraction at The Magic Kingdom is The Haunted Mansion. It's a slow-moving tour through a home full of 999 grim-grinning ghosts... but there's room for a thousand. Bwahahahaha! The best part is meeting up with a trio of hitchhiking ghosts that promise to follow you home. You actually see them sitting right next to you! Pretty spooky, huh?

Me attempting to remove The Sword in the Stone.






















EPCOT

The Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT) was originally envisioned by Walt Disney as a progressive community of the future. Unfortunately, he died before his vision could come to life, so a theme park devoted to technology and the future was built in its place in 1982. EPCOT is by far my favorite park out of all four of them. I guess it's the nerd in me.

Spaceship Earth
My favorite ride there? Well, sure there are some pretty neat thrill rides such as Mission Space and Test Track, but I have a real sweet spot for Spaceship Earth. Known by many as "The Big Ball" or "The Golf Ball", Spaceship Earth is a slow-moving, educational ride that winds all the way up to the top of "The Big Ball". Lifelike animatronics demonstrate how art, communication and technology has developed from the time of the caveman, to the Renaissance, to the printing press, and all the way to the invention of computers and beyond.

The coolest thing about EPCOT is the prominent use of new and developing technology. Castmembers (Disney employees) ride along on Segways, robots water the plants, Roomba-like robots mow the grass, and years before it was actually a thing, I was once able to try out what would become Google Glass.

A castmember "painted" Mickey on the ground with water!
Once you're done with what's known as the Futureworld side of EPCOT, there is a whole other part of the park to tackle called The World Showcase. It could be described as a permanent world's fair. I say that it's the best (and safest) way to travel. You can travel to locals such as Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Morocco, France, The United Kingdom and Canada to experience their culture through the local cuisine and merchandise.

For example, in Japan there is a place that has oysters guaranteed to have a pearl inside of them. You don't know what size pearl you'll get, so you just pick any oyster you want and hope for the best. I chose one of the bigger oysters and when the assistant cut it open a 7 1/4 mm sized pearl popped out. Jackpot! The girl behind me picked an oyster that had two pearls in it!

I always get a giggle when the family splits up and we have to call each other. It's usually like:

"Hey! Where are you?"

"I'm in Germany, where are you?"

"Italy. We're moving on, though. Meet us in Morocco in five minutes for a blue raspberry slushee."

Only at Disney!
A "Moroccan" blue raspberry slushee.

Grass growing on a roof in Norway.
Pearls from oysters in Japan.



Well, I tried not to gush too much, but it happened anyway. So, there will have to be a Part 2! Look forward to a trip to Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom.
                                                       

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Julie's Journal : R2-D2

Over Spring Break, Chance went to Disney World.  I'm sure he's going to write a blog post about his trip and his many adventures soon!
 
He brought back souvenirs for us, and in addition to a Goofy pen and a notepad with the Mickey Mouse head on it, he brought me a metal model of R2-D2. 

The problem is that it comes in pieces - lots of pieces - to put together.
 

The kit specifies ages 14+ because of sharp edges and teenie-tiny pieces!
 

 
 

The sheets were very hard to photograph because they are so reflective.  You can see a reflection of my ipad as I tried to photograph them if you look closely.


The instructions are crazy, too!

 
It's hard to see in this picture, but they are on a legal sized sheet of paper and are VERY detailed.  I have only finished step 4 of 33!
 
This is what I have so far....
 
 
 
This is what he's supposed to look like when he's finished...
 

 
You'll have to come in and see if I manage to complete him!  

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Kid's Tablets!

As part of the grant we received from the Edge Initiative, we have replaced our two kid's computers with ipads! You may remember that the computers we had for the kids were constantly out of order, leading to frustration for both the kids and us.

 
 We have loaded all sorts of kid friendly apps onto the ipads!

 
Lilly Ann has been testing all the apps the last few days!  She gave us lots of good suggestions about which ones to get. 
 

Bring your kids down to play!