18 July 2012

@ The Library - Summer Reading Crafts for Adults

It's been another busy couple weeks at the library! Summer Reading is underway, with both an Adult and Youth Program available. I have never overseen summer reading before, and taking on the adult program was challenging and fun at the same time.

I definitely believe in not "recreating the wheel". There has been an Adult Summer Reading Program at my library for a few years, and I did not want to change it entirely - but I did want to make some changes to the events, which was introducing crafts.
I admit it - I like to make things. I am a knitter, always loved art projects when I was younger, and I completely support the notion of "Why should kids have all the fun?" Of course, I didn't want to overlap with the Youth Department, so I went to the internet for inspiration, mainly Pinterest

If you haven't used Pinterest for inspiration in any part of your life, go take a look. I have my own set of boards, but know that libraries are starting to use them for collection highlights. Our library system, MLS, has a set of pin for the MA 2012 Summer Library Program, which is where I found my idea for Glow Jars. The Collaborative Summer Reading Program, which MA is part of, had resources for adult programs and I was inspired to try out lavender sachets.

We had the Glow Jar craft a couple weeks ago. Supplies were simple: clean glass jars of different sizes (having a dishwasher at home, along with Goo Gone, made this easy), glow in the dark paint (from the local big box store) and paint brushes.

The jars were a combination of ones already being saved down in the Youth Department and ones I had collected at home.

My sign - with a couple of samples I made. One I splattered the paint inside with the paintbrush, the other I painted in patches.

We had about a dozen patrons drop-in for this event, which being the first adult craft, I count as a success! This afternoon is the lavender sachet craft, so I will let you know about that next week.

11 July 2012

Review: The Taken by Vicki Pettersson

The Book:

Griffin Shaw was a P.I. back in the day -- fifty years ago. Now, he's an angel who has been helping souls cross over to the Everlast. Griffin is forced back into a mortal body to bring the soul of one Katherine Craig over, due to his interference with her friend Nic Rockwell. Yet Griffin has skirted the rules long enough to know that the gorgeous journalist may just be able to figure out the one case he never solved: who killed him and his wife? Protecting Kit may be more than this gumshoe can handle, especially with his growing attraction to her and the forces working to stop them.

The Yarn:

Those who are thinking "oh, another fallen angel story" should think again: this book has all the elements of a hard-boiled mystery, layered with urban fantasy. The Taken introduces Griffin Shaw, a "Centurion" angel who assists souls that died violent deaths into the Everlast -- or wherever else they may be going. Fifty years ago Shaw met his own untimely demise in Las Vegas and has been trying to figure out who killed him, along with his wife, Evie, while safely - if not always kindly - guiding souls to their own everafter.

This time his actions with journalist Nicole Rockwell change Fate, which earns him a ride back into mortality and back to Sin City, along with the task of bringing Katherine Craig's soul over before he can have his wings back. Kit is a rockabilly gal working at her family newspaper and never expected that her best friend would be killed while investigating a prostitution ring. With her sleuthing sights set on finding her friend's killer, Kit and Griffin team up, discover a conspiracy far larger than they expected, and find themselves targeted by souls both mortal and not.

There is just something about this book: its genre-bending premise should please both mystery and fantasy enthusiasts. The added details of Kit's rockabilly lifestyle bring an interesting twist to the developing personalities, especially because Griffin was actually alive and in his prime during that time.  Both characters are smart, and a little damaged, and all the more believable with their stubborn focus on the cases at hand. While some of the angel-born vs. bred trope is a little over the top, Pettersson envisions a Heaven that seems as complicated as life on Earth. I was drawn into the plots, both the immediate one and those hinted to come.

As I noted in my last Pettersson review, I was not as pleased with the ending of her last series as I could have been; those who wanted a smoothly wrapped-up ending didn't get it with Joanna and her story. It was raw and real and made me shake my head and wonder "Is this it?" Pettersson is just the kind of writer that will leave strings dangling, but that tendency will certainly keep me waiting for the next in this series.

The Ink:

Title: The Taken (Celestial Blues, #1)
Author: Vicki Pettersson
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Date: July 2012
Read: Library Trade Paperback 

09 July 2012

Everything's Coming Up Veggies

Sadly, part of moving back to western Massachusetts meant giving up my garden beds I had created and used the last couple of years. I am still renting, but now in a duplex and I have not been able to address any sort of planting over the last months, except to place my various houseplants out on the shared porch.

However, I am very lucky to have a girlfriend who owns her own place, and graciously gave up side yard space to veggies! I admit I had been eyeing the space as it gets great sun through the day. We both agreed that raised beds would be best, and since we weren't sure where we wanted to start, we would start small.

Really. This time I meant it.

Look, it takes a lot of dirt, people. Yards and yards of it. I swear. This is not even all of it. 

We decided to cut out the sod, which was moved to other areas in yard that were grass-deficient. We also stacked two kits together, to give us a raised bed that was 4 ft. x 4 ft. by about 14 inches deep.

These kits were easy to put together, and stacked like Lincoln Logs.

All complete with soil, manure and compost that was already accessible.

Then it was time to decide what we would actually use to plant this season. We finally decided on tomatoes, basil, and jalapenos. We like to make salsa and use basil and tomatoes on a regular basis, so it was a pretty easy decision.

In they went! We went with standard Genovese Basil, jalapenos and four kinds of tomatoes. We did San Marazano Paste and Brandywine for full-size and Supersweet 100s and Black Cherry tomatoes.

Needless to say, with the sun and heat they have been thriving! I am so, so happy. While the initial cost for the soil was a large investment, the rate of growth has been worth it. We have had to do little for pest control, only one application of neem oil about two weeks after they went in. The surface leaves are still a bit chewed, but no major outbreaks.

This is how they look as of yesterday. I have not had plants that have done so well in my previous years of gardening. We are already making plans for next year, like knowing the tomatoes will need their own bed. There is only four of them, but we still crowded them a bit.

The San Marazanos are adorable with their shape. These are supposed to be great paste tomatoes, and will add them to our canning endeavors the next few weeks.

The cherry tomatoes are coming along well too! I am not as much of a tomato snacker, but we definitely have kids that are.

Jalapenos ahoy! These actually mature to red, but we are thinking of pulling some now to try out. Guacamole anyone?

02 July 2012

@ The Library

So, I have now been in my new town and new job for almost three months. When I decided to take the job as a library director, I knew that I could be setting myself up for a lot of things I was not expecting. I have a diverse enough background - my librarian path has covered cataloging, acquisitions, reference, circ desk, technology, digitization, ereaders and ebooks, my other experience in finance, bookkeeping, municipal work, and book retail helps for sure. 

There has been a lot of administration - budget, meetings, scheduling, mail, invoices, vendors - tasks I have not had to deal with a lot before, but are now mine on a daily basis. Some days I feel like I do not get up from my desk, but I have been able to work the desks (upstairs on the main adult level and downstairs in the Youth Department) and start seeing some of the regular faces that come in. However, there have been some interesting and unique things I have worked on also.

So, let's take a look at some of the things I have done since I started...

While I admit I am a wannabe beekeeper, this is not the route I was planning on going with it.

The library has had carpenter bees up in the eaves for the last few years, so when my custodian said he would spray before the library opened, I came to help. Of course, I had to suit up to protect myself!

I also replaced the flush valve on the running staff toilet my first week in. No, I didn't take pictures of that.

My library has very limited display space, but I really wanted to find a place to highlight titles each month, beyond the New Titles Bookshelf. So, I moved a printer cartridge recycling bin, found a rolling cart that wasn't being used, and bingo - instant (and portable) display space. We highlighted gardening titles to start, but also had a display for Ray Bradbury, and now it holds titles for the Adult Summer Reading Program.

I have ideas - big picture, pie-in-the-sky ideas - but I have tried to spend the last weeks getting to know my staff, the patrons, and make sure we all feel we are on stable ground before moving forward. These people have been here longer than me, and they know the library inside and out. I need to learn from them as much as they will look to me for support and guidance.

And they will get it for a whole next year, as I signed my new contract last night! :)