Thursday, February 11, 2016

Chance's Corner: Spectre Review

Cue that James Bond Theme! The 24th installment in the 007 canon, Spectre, has been released on DVD and Blu-ray this week. 24 Bond films, can you believe it?

Spectre marks the official return of evil organization SPECTRE, which stands for Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion. The organization has been lurking in the shadows since Casino Royale, but thanks to the studio re-acquiring the rights, Bond and company can finally utter its real name (and resurrect a notorious villain).

Spectre starts off strong with a traditional, exciting opening sequence. Bond is sent careening through the air in an out of control helicopter during the Day of the Dead festivities in Mexico City. It's some real edge-of-your seat stuff. Sam Smith's contributed theme "Written on the Wall", while emotional and vulnerable, is a little "eh" to me. It feels like an Adele re-hash.

Daniel Craig, into his fourth 007 outing, is still full of youth and can pack a serious punch. He's the most physical Bond there has ever been. The infamous Bond Girls are played by Léa Seydoux and Monica Bellucci. Léa is the main love interest, and she can handle herself. Monica, the oldest woman to play a Bond Girl, is seriously under-used. She's merely a sacrificial lamb, without the sacrifice. The villain is (unsurprisingly) expertly played by Christoph Waltz, but he feels under-used as well. The evil plot is a little murky, and he just gnaws on the scenery instead of chewing it.

Interlinking the past three Craig films together, Spectre tries to bring the viewer an overall resolution to the Craig-era, but it only manages to feel like a set-up to something much bigger. Bond just can't drive off into the sunset and never pull another trigger. He's tried it before in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (even married!), and obviously that did not turn out well (e.g. the bullet hole above).

Overall, Spectre is still a strong addition to the Bond universe and well worth a watch. Spectre is available now at the Franklin County Library!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Marvelous Mondays! : Butter

Although we don't post pictures every week, Marvelous Mondays! are still going strong.  Yesterday we made butter.  We poured heavy cream into two glass jars and shook it for about 10 minutes.

The kids didn't realize just how long 10 minutes actually is!  When we opened up the jars, we had a good amount of butter.

We had some crackers and everyone was game to try the butter we made. 

They all said that it wasn't quite like store butter, but they seemed to like it.  Everyone came back for seconds!

If you want to get in on the fun, we meet every Monday that school is in session at 4:15.  We do science experiments, crafts, and whatever other fun activities we can dream up.  We'd love to have you!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Julie's Journal: Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce

It's been awhile, but occasionally I like to post a recipe.  This one is from a newish cookbook in the library's collection. 

If you're not familiar with The Pioneer Woman, she has risen to fame in the last few years.  She started out simply writing a blog for her family and friends, which led to her posting recipes, and now she is the host of a Food Network show on Saturday mornings.  "Dinnertime" is her fourth cookbook.  Saturday evening, I decided to give the Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce a try.  I was hoping it would be similar to chicken I had had once at a friend's house and I wasn't disappointed.  (My changes are in italics.) 

4 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
3 whole Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 cup Brandy (or White Wine If Preferred) (I actually used chicken broth)
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Grainy Mustard
1/4 cup (to 1/2) Heavy Cream
1/4 cup (to 1/2) Chicken Broth
Salt And Pepper, to taste

Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise so that you have eight smaller, thinner chicken cutlets. Salt and pepper both sides.

Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook cutlets on both sides until nice and golden brown and cooked through. Remove chicken from the skillet and keep on a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic to the pan and saute it for a minute, stirring to make sure it won't burn. Next pour in the brandy (or wine if using)
(or chicken broth) being careful if cooking over an open flame. Then just let the sauce bubble up and cook until it's reduced by half.

Throw in the mustards and stir to combine, then pour in the cream. Stir in chicken broth, adding more if the sauce seems too thick. 
(I didn't need any chicken broth at this point.  Maybe I didn't let it cook down enough in the last step.)  Taste sauce and adjust whatever you think it needs. Add chicken breasts back to the pan, nestling them into the sauce. Allow sauce to cook for another few minutes, shaking the pan if needed to move things around.

I cut the chicken up into bite-sized pieces on plates, and then spooned the sauce over them.  Served with green beans and a pasta salad, the chicken made a nice meal.  My husband really liked it too, which is always a plus!  There are several more recipes in this cookbook that I want to try.  If you try this chicken let me know how it turns out!

Find the recipe on The Pioneer Woman's website :

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Julie's Journal : On Overdue Collection

My last two days have been taken up with working on overdue items.  Overdue collection is one of those library tasks that no one wants to talk about.  It's not particularly fun and people can get upset when we approach them about their overdue items.  I thought I would give a quick overview of our process.

Once a month (theoretically - sometimes not quite as often) we print out a list of all the items that we show are overdue.  We divide up the list and go all over the library looking for those items.  Occasionally we will find something that was returned, but somehow missed being checked back in on the computer before being re-shelved.  Those items get checked back in and any associated fines are erased.  We take the list that is remaining and send letters out to the patrons who have the items checked out.  The first month, a patron gets a reminder; the second month, a second notice; the third month, a final letter.  Most items get returned at the reminder or second notice stage and we never advance to the final letter.  If, after the final letter has been sent, we still have not received our items back, we send the account over to City Hall where they go through their own process to retrieve the items or payment for them. 

Now, you may be asking, "What's the big deal?".  Why does it matter if one patron doesn't bring an item back?  There are several reasons that overdue collection is important.  The most important one to my logical, mathematical brain is simply economics.  I ran the overdue report today and the value of the 253 items that are currently overdue is $4,426.54.  That amount is about 1/3 of our yearly book budget.  If we had to replace all the overdue items, the number of new materials we would be able to purchase for the library would be significantly reduced.  Since we are dedicated to bringing as much new and up-to-date material as possible to the library, we really don't want to have to spend money purchasing older items again.  We also want to be able to meet demand, and it is not fun to have a patron request an item and have to tell them that it was due 6 months ago and hasn't been returned. 

We love our patrons, and we understand that sometimes life happens.  We hope they understand when we send a friendly reminder about returning items! 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Chance's Corner: #JesusTakeTheStone

Late last Friday (Jan. 22nd), I was sitting back, relaxing and watching an early-access digital copy of Spectre. James Bond was racing down the streets of Rome, attempting to escape the clutches of the big, brutish henchman named Mr. Hinx, and suddenly... a sharp pain struck me in my lower left back. I rose from my seat and nearly collapsed in the floor. I have a very high tolerance of pain, but this time tears were shed as I wallowed. I knew 007 couldn't even save me.

A Kidney Stone
I was taken to the ER in Mount Pleasant, where I sat in the waiting room for two hours in agony. I started divvying out my personal possessions to my loved ones as I took my dying breaths, until, finally, I was called back. I had a CT scan done, had some blood taken, gave a urine sample and was hooked up to an IV. As the last hydrating drips entered my veins, the doctor entered the room with a solemn face and hit me with the facts. I had a kidney stone (a built-up calcium deposit) ripping the lining from the tube between my kidney and the bladder to shreds. Luckily, it was almost to my bladder, and I was promised the pain would end very soon. 

After sitting and sleeping in the fetal position for three days, the pain has finally subsided. I'm a little sore and drowsy from the painkillers, but my appetite is back and I'm feeling much, much better. I'm not going to be participating in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janerio this year, though.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tom's Two Cents: The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald

Who is Penelope Fitzgerald?  You don't know?  Well I didn't either until sometime last year, when I became acquainted with her biographer, Hermione Lee, who is president of Wolfson College, Oxford, England, and a distinguished writer and teacher herself.  Born in 1916 in England, Fitzgerald spent most of her life as a wife, mother and teacher.  She began writing in her sixties and published nine novels, three biographies, and numerous essays and reviews.  Fairly late in her short career, she moved from the traditional to the historical novel, writing four such, one set in Florence, Italy, one in Russia, one in Cambridge, England, and the final one, "The Blue Flower," set in Saxony, Germany, in the late 18th century. 

"The Blue Flower" is the story of a short period in the youth of the young German poet-philosopher, Fritz Von Hardenburg, later known as the poet Novalis, and his courtship of a young girl, Sophie, whom he falls madly in love with, when he meets her (she is only 12) in her mother and stepfather's home.  We follow only a few years in his life as he attends multiple colleges, starts to train for a position as director of salt mines, and waits for his bride-to-be to grow up to a "marrying age" of fourteen or fifteen!  (I am reminded of my great grandmother, Eliza Minerva Webb Killingsworth,  married at fourteen and a widow with five children at twenty-one, who it was said, cried that she was an "old woman"!  Remember Scarlett O'Hara's famous consignment to widowhood at the ripe old age of 16?).  Lest you immediately draw the conclusion that this is a "they lived happily ever after" kind of story, it, like my great grandmother’s, is not.

Fitzgerald has her hand metaphorically on the pulse of life, and in this work at least she seems drawn to both its tragedy and comedy.  Family life especially appeals to her, and her insights into those dynamics are both delightful and heartrending.  Witness the opening chapter of the book, entitled "Washday," (each of the short fifty-five chapters has its own title, as in most novels of the 18th-19th centuries), in which a visitor to the Hardenburgs arrives unannounced to witness a panorama of bedding and underclothes floating from upper story windows into the waiting baskets of the servants below!  Sophie herself is a semi-charming, adolescent nitwit, whom no one can quite understand why Fritz has fallen in love with.  Sound familiar?  Well, there surely is a ring of contemporary truth in this old-fashioned story, and Fitzgerald has surely found it.

Fitzgerald also practices what Robert Frost would call "the art of omission," so one must be ever prepared to read between the lines.  This is a short book, as were all her novels, less than 250 pages.  Written in her eighties, "The Blue Flower" was also her last work and her only big American success, thanks to her American publisher, Houghton Mifflin.  Hermione Lee, her superb biographer, describes her as giving "a misleading impression in public of a mild, absent-minded old lady... [but] she wrote in a quiet voice, slipping unpredictably between comedy and darkness."

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

New Books!

If you come into the library today you'll see us hard at work, putting new books in the system. 

Some of the titles are:

Strong and Kind
Paula Deen Cuts the Fat
The Only Pirate at the Party
Pete the Cat's Groovy Guide to Love
Owl Diaries
Lenny & Lucy
The Bitter Season
.... and many more!

We expect another shipment today, so check back over the next few days for more titles!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Chance's Corner: The Passing of Alan Rickman

The news washed over me like a wave this morning and knocked me to the ground. Alan Rickman, age 69, died from cancer. My first thought was, is this just another cruel viral death hoax? As I checked more and more news outlets, I knew that it was the truth. Actual tears leaked from my eyes.

Beginning his career on stage and in a few made-for-television movies, Rickman skyrocketed to fame playing the unforgettable villain Hans Gruber in Die Hard. Audiences across the world were introduced to his signature charm and accent, an accent that puts him in the same prestigious league as James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman and Christopher Walken.

Throughout the years, Rickman went on to star in Quigley Down Under, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Galaxy Quest, but the role he'll most definitely be remembered for is Professor Snape in all eight Harry Potter movies. He played mean and slimy to perfection, but in the end he made your heart ache with sorrow.

Alan Rickman was a tremendous actor that will truly be missed.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Poet's Perch: Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Tom's Two Cents: Charles Dickens' Bleak House

Hovering on the edge of Dickens' late, mature works, "Bleak House" is not a novel for the casual reader or the faint hearted.  It is very long--over 800 pages--there are many, many characters, with multiple plot lines, most intersecting, but not all.  It is, among other things, a murder mystery, but the murder takes place far into the book, so far that a pure mystery fan would have long since fallen by the wayside before he or she got there.  Written in monthly installments for a periodical that Dickens owned and managed, it was very successful in its time and has since come to be judged critically as one of his finest.

That said, I yearned for the earlier days of "David Copperfield" and "Great Expectations," where characters like young David and Pip were immensely accessible, and others, like Miss Haversham and Aunt Betsy Trotwood, were towering in their eccentricity.  "Bleak House," of course, is not a coming-of-age novel.  It treats the legal, moral, and social conditions of its time with powerful accuracy, and, as always with Dickens, addresses the poor and downtrodden with empathy, sympathy and immense compassion.

The major thrust of the story involves a legal entanglement of a will that has been tied up so long in the courts that there seems little chance of its ever unraveling.  But unravel it finally does, and to the detriment of almost everyone involved, including the aristocratic Lady Dedlock, whose early pregnancy out of wedlock later brings her to the brink of ruin.  The other side of that tragic coin, Lady Dedlock's illegitimate daughter, Esther Summerson, manages not only to survive her mother's disgrace, but ultimately to find happiness in marriage to an upright Doctor and children of her own.  Set amidst the broad social panorama of mid-19th century London, "Bleak House" brilliantly captures that time and place.

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 : Bookish Resolutions

Entering a new year always seems to symbolize new beginnings and new opportunities to reach our goals.  If you are a librarian, some of those goals are bookish in nature.

Our book resolutions are as follows:

Lisa:  To read more biographies. 

Julie:  To finish the book challenges mentioned here

Chance:  To read his pile of To-Be-Read books and to succeed in selling a screenplay.

Debbie:  To venture into new genres in her reading.

Christian:  To discover 10 new-to-her authors and to read at least 100 books over the year.

Tom:  To read more books to the end. 

Do you have any book resolutions/goals for the new year?  Let us know in the comments!  We can help you reach your goals!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Goodreads and Bookish Quotes

Are you a member of Goodreads?  If you aren't, you really should sign up.  It is a website of all things bookish.  You can keep track of the books you've read, read and write book reviews, find new recommendations, connect with authors and like minded readers, and just generally lose yourself in the world of books! 

Goodreads also has a bookish blog, found here.  Yesterday's post was a list of ten quotes that had inspired people on Goodreads this year.  #8, #5, and #3 are particularly good.

#8.  "Don't wait for a light to appear at the end of the tunnel, stride down there and light the bloody thing yourself." Sara Henderson (Quote of the Day for September 15)

Don't sit around waiting for something to happen.  If you want something, get out and work towards making it happen.

#5 "Sleep is good, he said, and books are better." George R.R. Martin (Quote of the Day for August 6)

No explanation needed!

#3 "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." Dr. Seuss (Quote of the Day for March 2)

We've all heard this quote by Dr. Seuss, but it's worth repeating over and over and over.  And over. 

What are your favorite book quotes?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas!

The Library will be closed

Thursday, December 24th


Sunday, December 27th.

We will reopen

Monday, December 28th

We hope you have a happy and blessed Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Poets Perch: Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
    And wild and sweet
    The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
    Had rolled along
    The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
    A voice, a chime,
    A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
    And with the sound
    The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
    And made forlorn
    The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
    “For hate is strong,
    And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow