It’s been hard to concentrate lately. I know that many people also are feeling this way right now. I’m even (sniff sniff) having a hard time reading. So, for some escape this week, and for lots and lots and lots of laughs, I’ve been streaming NBC’s Superstore, starring America Ferrera. The quirky characters on this multi-season sitcom are coworkers at Cloud 9, a big box store, where hi-jinx ensue on the regular. This show just might help you stop missing your coworkers whileworking from home.
What else am I watching? Birds! We are an advanced-beginner bird-watching household. We have our dog-eared guide book and hurry each other to the window to see something new.
Ducks. Hummingbirds (Yes, they are back even with this snow!). Orioles. Nuthatches. I know these birds have always been in (or migrating through) my yard, but it feels like I am seeing them with new eyes. This shutdown has provided me with an opportunity to be present, it slows me down when I feel restless and uncertain and helps me appreciate what is around me– my backyard, my pets, my family. To be comforted by the familiar, and to be open to viewing the familiar in a new light are starting to feel like gifts.
I see more birds because I am looking more, which takes time. I know that eventually everything will bounce back and return to a new version of normal, but I aim to hold on a bit to the good stuff I’ve learned from this. When life picks its pace back up, I plan to keep taking the time to take time.
Despite the recent snow (sigh) it really is Spring, a season that brings out all sorts of newly created flora and fauna. Spring also reminds everything that went into hibernation it’s time to wake up! While it isn’t really news to anyone, this year -being inside at home so much- I realized this includes house spiders! ugh. I’m working very hard to embrace the challenge of living peaceably with these multi-legged, fast-moving arthropods. (It would help a lot if they would stop running across the ceiling or hiding in the bathroom…¯\_(ツ)_/¯) So, what have you learned about your house this Spring?
As I give my new spider frens plenty of space, I’m also attempting to grow an avocado tree from a seed! I’m mid-week two and no roots yet but we’re in the early stages… oh, the hope! In-between refilling the water and moving Ava Cado to the warmest spots around the kitchen I’m enjoying some upbeat songs on Freegal, the Library’s new ad-free music service -all you need is your Rocky River library card and pin number to start streaming music! Check out the different genres and why not try making your own playlist – enjoy!
Last week, I interrupted our regularly scheduling blogging with a post about Book Harbor, RRPL’s personalized book recommendation service. Today, I am resuming my deep dive into making & crafting, with a little book recommendation thrown in – it’s a combo offering!
Spring has sprung and I am busy making my garden sing! I have a shady backyard and a sunny front – and I usually alternate years – one year I work a lot on the front – the next, the back. Well, this year it’s been a backyard effort – a shady, woodland type garden filled with a mix of native plants and non-native shade lovers. Last week, I took a trip to Wilmot, Ohio to the Wilderness Center, where I picked up some native plants that I had ordered in advance. I had never heard of the Wilderness Center, until an internet search brought up their plant sale. It’s a lovely area, surrounded by farms and rolling hills. I will definitely make a trip back there to visit their Interpretive Center and trails when things open up again. I bought Pennsylvania Sedge and Black Cohosh for the back garden and milkweed, liatris and rattlesnake master (such a great name) for the front. I’ve lived in my house for almost 25 years and my garden is, and will always be, a work in progress, but I love it.
I’ve also been making food – constantly it seems. I’m a member of Fresh Fork Market and we received chicken backs this week to make stock; so I threw them in a pot with some onions, carrots, celery, garlic and thyme (that I recently planted) and it’s simmering away right now, filling the house with an aroma that’s driving the dog a little crazy – delicious. I like to have to figure out how to cook whatever ends up in my weekly share – to cook seasonally and with whatever you have on hand instead of running to the store. I’ve also been dipping into cookbook/memoirs that I love to revisit. Ruth Reichl’s Save Me the Plums is a memoir of her time after the magazine Gourmet folded, complete with seasonal recipes. Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, is filled with reflection and humor. And of course, check out If I Can Cook/You Know God Can: African American Food Memories, Meditations, and Recipesby playwright Ntozake Shange, who weaves together historical/sociological knowledge with personal experience of people, places and food.
Ok – onto Book Harbor! Please send us your requests at firstname.lastname@example.org.
8-year-old Abigail’s favorite books are Harry Potter, the Who Was Series, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. Shannon, one of our talented Adult Reference Librarians, responded:
My first recommendation would be Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede, which is the first book in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles series. It features magic, humor, and strong female characters. A princess decides that she doesn’t want to marry any of the princes who ask for her hand, so she goes to live with the dragons. I loved this series as a kid (and still do!) She could also try Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. It’s a lot like Harry Potter, but with a lot more snark. Artemis Fowl is a 12-year-old genius who kidnaps a fairy for ransom so that he can restore his family’s fortune. Third, she could try The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi, which is the first book in the Spiderwick Chronicles. In this one, two children go to stay with their great aunt in the countryside and discover a world of fantastical creatures.
I’ve been making great usage of both Hoopla and Overdrive over the past couple weeks to satisfy my reading appetite, but have also taken this time at home as an opportunity to pick up some titles in my home library that I’ve never read. Scroll on for some of my just finished and currently in progress reads.
Oh how I loved this book! This memorizing horror-fantasy- historical fiction-thriller novel grabbed me and wouldn’t let me put it down until I knew all it’s twisty secrets. Set in colonial New England, readers are led along by one seemingly innocent young woman who finds herself lost in the woods after berry-picking for her husband and son. Her wanderings bring her to meet other women in the woods and it quickly becomes clear not all is as it seems and the truth is hard to discern. Highly recommended if you enjoyed the 2015 film The Witch, or The Familiarsby Stacey Halls. Available through OverDrive.
This dark retelling of the Snow White fairy tale, by one of my all-time favorite authors, flips the classic story in a fresh and chilling way. Snow, Glass, Apples is narrated by the stepmother, who is actually quite good, and who must protect herself and her kingdom from the King’s monstrous daughter- Snow White. Beautifully illustrated and written, any fan of Gaiman or fairy tales will want to pick this up. Winner of the 2020 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel. Available through Hoopla.
I started reading this a while back and never finished it- probably because I had began this book while on my honeymoon in Hawaii and it’s not really a “beach read” sort of book. But! I am picking it back up and so far it is quite a curious, witty, and weird (perhaps even a bit romantic) mash-up of literary fiction and some magical realism. I think this time around I will finish this! Available through OverDrive.
The great Margaret Atwood tweeted this book was a combination, among other things, of the Witches of Eastwick and Mean Girls, so I was sold. I’ve only just begun this dark and funny novel but am very excited to see where it goes! Available through OverDrive.
This heartwarming graphic novel is a first-hand account of the unlikely friendship that blossomed between a home nurse and her 84- year old patient stricken with Alzheimer’s, Josephine. Humor and laughter bring the two together, and readers will enjoy this story of human connection. The story takes place in Paris, but it’s critiques of an overloaded healthcare system and the frustrations of geriatric care easily translate to American healthcare and makes for a story that many can relate to. Available through Hoopla.
What is everyone else reading at home? I hope you have read some fabulous books and that perhaps one of my titles will spark your interest for your next digital checkout. Happy reading and stay safe!
A is for All the Feelings. I’ve talked a lot about anxiety in general and how it has effected me specifically. I think we’ve reached a point in all of this that most people are well aware that we are feeling stress and anxiety, so I am changing this week’s A. Story time. Working from home has really drawn attention to just how bad my home home internet service is, so I decided to take advantage of a different company’s new customer offer. I placed my order and the company sent me the equipment. I felt very proud of myself for managing this basic task. I woke up Tuesday ready to set it all up. I disconnected the old modem. I unpacked the new one, feeling determination that quickly turned to anger and despair. I didn’t have the needed cable outlet! Feeling stupid that I didn’t know I needed cable, I made a quick call to customer service and the kindest woman dispatched a technician. Relief. I reconnected the old modem, only to discover it didn’t work. So, there I was, in a house with 2 internet companies, 2 different modems, and ZERO internet. I spent the next three hours waiting for help to arrive. I spiraled through ALL THE FEELINGS. I FELT them ALL. I walked myself to the ledge and then talked my own self off. My internet was finally installed, but I wasn’t up and running yet…I needed a router. Sigh. Being an adult is stupid and hard. Curbside pick up at Target. The internet ordeal that began at 11 am was about to finally end…9 hours later. Wrong. Which leads me to this week’s B.
B is for Breakdowns. Yup. I was finally defeated by a wireless router. What should have been a simple installation became my own personal hell. After an hour of trying and failing, of unplugging and restarting, of factory resets, of watching videos and reading all the help articles, I admitted defeat. I gave up. I sat on the couch and disolved into angry, self-pitying tears. I cried over a router. I cried because I had such a first-world problem that I couldn’t solve. I cried because I had a day full of ALL THE FEELINGS. For someone who likes to keep all the feelings deep inside, feeling them is shocking! If you have read this far, you might be nodding along, feeling all your own feelings. Or you might, like me, be wondering what this has to do with the library. Bare with me. I am about to make it sort of connect.
C is for Connecting. We are going through something. We are all feeling all the feelings at any given moment. My colleagues and I have been working on mourning the loss of our exciting summer plans for the public. We have had to completely switch gears. We have had to make tough decision about what programs to completely abandon and which ones to rework for our new virtual reality. Prior to all of this I was part of a team working to put on the library’s first ever mini-con. RiverCon 2020 was going to be AWESOME! Last week we had a team meeting. We felt all the feelings together and then got to work reimaging our program. I am proud of what we came up with and I so happy that Ms Nicole’s RiverCon 2020 is still going to happen. Details will be forthcoming, but for right now I can tell you that virtual RiverCon will include interviews with comic creators and experts, an at-home cosplay activity, comic recommedations for readers of all ages and a virtual superhero storytime with Ms. Amanda. Finally, we are working on bringing RiverCon directly to you! On May 16 you can register for a RiverCon@Home kit, full of fun crafts, comic resources and hopefully some cool comic swag. Save the date and register here. We are all working hard behind the scenes and from our make-shift home offices to stay connected with our patrons. We are adapting and thinking outside the box and we are excited about what we are coming up with. Stay with us. We are here for you. We are all in this together.
No, I wasn’t on jury duty, but I’ve recently been to court–Henry VIII’s court, that is! I’ve just read The Mirror and the Lightby Hilary Mantel, a novel I’ve waited eight years for. This novel closes Mantel’s historical fiction trilogy, depicting the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII, ultimately leading to Cromwell’s execution. (Now, now, don’t be mad. It’s not a spoiler, that’s an actual fact!) Mantel’s Cromwell is a dynamic, believable and sympathetic character. Readers will love him as he commits despicable acts, root for him even as he is doomed. She won Man Booker Awards for her first two in the series (Wolf Hall, 2009 and Bring Up the Bodies, 2012) and her latest is a satisfying and poignant conclusion. Oh, but it is 754 pages. Beyond worth reading for this fan, but if you wanted the DVD or streaming version, you’ve lucked out. It (sort of) exists.
Wolf Hall is the British television of the first two books in the trilogy and was broadcast on PBS Masterpiece in April 2015, winning a Golden Globe for Best Miniseries or Television Film. Starring Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, Damian Lewis as Henry VIII, and Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn, this six part series is beautifully acted, darkly lit, and filmed with incredible attention to period detail and faithfulness to the books. I’m hoping they’ll adapt book three!
Politics, murder, backstabbing and family drama–Cromwell’s life was full of it and his story provides a fascinating escape. Sure the history is dark, the characters are doomed, and we know how it will end, but I dare you to look away.
We’re firmly into Spring now and the sun is coming out so much more often -it’s fabulous! Although Fall will always be my favorite season (warm days/crisp evening air, s’mores, the leaves as they turn beautiful colors), but also very happy to have the sunshine and open windows we can enjoy now. (Downside? Pollen. so. much. pollen. sigh…)
So this week maybe we’ll have the chance to be outside a little more -maybe listening to an audiobook like Crazy Rich Asians or podcast like Flash Forward while taking a walk, or calling a friend while we sit in the sun. Doesn’t that sound nice? (I might add a scoop of ice cream in there -cone or bowl- but that’s me ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )
Once you’re in for the evening and you’re looking for something to watch, I can say Victorian Slum House, the 1900s on hoopla is a series worth spending some quality time with! I’ve really enjoyed the previous series PBS has created, from Frontier House to The 1940s House, sending everyday modern people back in time to experience the daily life of that time period. As these volunteers get caught up in their new world so do viewers and soon it feels like we’re all in it together… (and reminds me how lucky I am to live in a time and place where indoor plumbing is the norm)!
Today, while I continue some serious Spring cleaning, I’m going to start listening to Wisdom From a Humble Jellyfish by Rani Shah and update you my progress next week!
Be kind to yourself and enjoy that extra Vitamin D shining down!