The Pig Did It

Looking for a fun summer read? Try The Pig Did It by Joseph Caldwell.

This hilarious tale takes place on the lovely Emerald Isle. The main character, creative writing teacher Aaron McCloud, travels to County Kerry, Ireland, to immerse himself in self-pity following an unrequited love. He stays with his Aunt Kitty who happens to be a very successful author herself. She specializes in re-writing or “correcting” old literary classics. (You really don’t want to know what she’s done with Oliver Twist).

On his first day there, Aaron’s bus encounters an overturned truck with pigs running amok. In an effort to impress the attractive swineherd, Lolly McKeever, Aaron attempts to catch one of them. Though unsuccessful, the pig decides he likes Aaron, and literally follows him home. Before they can return him to his rightful owner (even though Lolly won’t claim the animal belongs to her) the pig digs up Kitty’s garden, thereby revealing the skeleton of the missing Declan Tovey. Who killed him? Well, Aunt Kitty accuses Lolly of the crime, Lolly accuses Kieran Sweeney, and Aaron suspects his Aunt — thus beginning this comedy of errors. At times the main characters seem to be speaking in soliloquies, but I guess they’ve all just kissed the Blarney Stone a time or two. This is a quick read (less than 200 pages), an enjoyable romp, and the first part of a planned trilogy. Catch it while you can.

Photographing Your Family by Joel Sartore

Summer means lots of opportunities for getting together with family – reunions, barbeques, vacations. Today’s small, simple-to-use cameras make it easy to capture the moments, big and small. Joel Sartore’s Photographing Your Family is a great place to find information not just on how to use your camera, but how to take great pictures.

One of the terrific things about this book is that Sartore has wonderful ideas for getting photos of the everyday events – a sleeping child, cookies being baked, time spent at the park or museum. Get in close, try different angles and work at capturing the personality of the person. Great photos are not stiff, formally posed portraits but the spontaneous snapshots of life in action.

Also included are tips that won’t overwhelm you on editing your images, pointers on composition, and ideas for storing and displaying your masterpieces. Because every day should be a day worth remembering.

Omaha Steaks The Great American Grilling Book

The Great American Grilling BookFinally! Warmer weather! Time to fire up the grill and cook some meat! Omaha Steaks The Great American Grilling Book is just the book to get you started (and salivating!) The emphasis here is on – duh – beef, but there are also loads of recipes for pork, chicken, lamb, fish and seafood. A whole chapter is devoted to gourmet burgers and kabobs. Vegies also get their share of attention as well as starters, rubs, sauces and marinades; there’s even a section on desserts.

No more excuses for the same old burgers and chicken – try something new!

Decoration Day

PeoniesTo many people, the last Monday in May signals the unofficial start of the summer season, but its origin is somewhat more serious. First observed to honor the fallen soldiers of the Civil War, Memorial Day has evolved to honor all men and women who have died in military service. Its original name, Decoration Day, reflects the purpose of the day – to decorate, with flags and flowers, the graves of soldiers and family.

I still remember tagging along with my grandparents as they would load up the car with clippers, trowels, jugs of water and pots of geraniums and drive to two or three tiny rural cemeteries where various members of the family have been buried. Memorial Day was an ideal time to neaten up the gravesite, add some colorful flowers and take a few minutes to remember. Many of the graves in these old cemeteries were decorated with plantings of iris and peonies. In fact, peonies used to be called Decoration Day flowers, they are such reliable late May bloomers.

Peonies are easy to add to any garden, big or small. They’re beautiful, fragrant, easy to grow, virtually care free. And they have the added bonus of making excellent cut flowers. Find out more about the breathtaking variety available and get lots of ideas of how to add them to your landscape in Peonies by Pamela McGeorge which is loaded with beautiful photos and excellent advice. (And no, ants aren’t a problem with peonies. Don’t get me started!)

Now, let’s get on with summer!

New DVD’s for June at the Library

Bucket List – Corprate billionaire Edward Cole and working class mechanic Carter Chambers have nothing in common except for their terminal illnesses. While sharing a hospital room together, they decide to leave it and do all the things they have ever wanted to do before they die according to their bucket list. In the process, both of them heal each other, become unlikely friends, and ultimately find the joy in life. IMDB

The Other Boleyn Girl – A sumptuous and sensual tale of intrigue, romance and betrayal set against the backdrop of a defining moment in European history: two beautiful sisters, Anne and Mary Boleyn, driven by their family’s blind ambition, compete for the love of the handsome and passionate King Henry VIII. IMDB

Tell Me Where it Hurts by Nick Trout

Follow Dr Trout as he describes what might happen during one of his days, complied from 25 years of experience as a veternary surgeon, as he treats pets and their owners. Part social worker, part psychologist, part magician, Dr Trout treats his patients with humor, compassion and skill.

While these stories are a mix of funny and heartbreaking, Trout also touches on several of important issues facing the industry including the cost of pet care, what’s best for the animal and the inevitable decision of when to say good-bye. Pet owners everywhere will wish they could call Dr Trout for information, advice and a good story.

Your Brain on Cubs edited by Dan Gordon

Your Brain on CubsDon’t look now, folks but the Cubs are at the top of their division! There seems to be a good mix of hitting, fielding and pitching…..but can it last? Or is a June Swoon on the way?

Cub fans have been waiting 100 years for a World Series crown. What keeps them hanging on and coming back? It certainly can’t be the imaginative and forward-thinking ownership, or the flawless management (on field or corporate). And while we’ve seen some greats – Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg – we’ve also suffered through years of mediocrity. Your Brain on Cubs explains the role the brain plays, not just with the swing of emotions, but with many parts of watching and playing sports. And although these findings apply to fans and players of all teams not just Cubs fans, we do offer a unique look at loyalty and “just wait till next year” attitude.

One day our loyalty will be rewarded, might as well be this year!

National Boat Safety Week, May 17-23

National Safe Boating Week, May 17-23

Time to get that boat out of dry dock? When you do, take some time to make certain it’s safe to operate. Also, educate all potential pilots as to standard safety procedures. Sometimes, in all the excitement of getting into the water, these can easily be overlooked. Let’s make the Mississippi and other area waterways safer for all boaters. Then, have some fun out there!

Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America

On Monday, May 12th, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), raided Agriprocessors Inc., a slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa. This was not only the largest ICE raid in Iowa, but in fact the largest single-site enforcement operation of it’s kind in the country. The over 300 detainees include Guatemalans, Mexicans, Israelis and Ukrainians. While this story has been widely reported in the local media, little has been said about Agriprocessors Inc., other than that it’s the largest kosher meat packing plant in the country.

Although not a new book, Stephen Bloom’s, Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America, is an especially timely read that explains much about what is occurring in the small northeastern Iowa town. In 1987 a Brooklyn butcher purchased an abandoned slaughterhouse just outside the city limits of Postville. The town of about 1500 people had become economically stagnant so they welcomed the opportunity for new business growth, and saw little concern that the new operators of this plant were Lubavitchers, ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews. By 1996, Postville, which had hardly ever had any Jews, now had more rabbis per capita than any other city in the U.S. The success of the plant also brought an onslaught of immigrant workers to the area. Relations between the the Midwestern Lutherans, who dominated Postville, and the Lubavitchers, who traditionally live and work within their own closely knit community, soon broke down.

Bloom, a University of Iowa journalism professor weaves the story of this small divided town into his own search for cultural and religious identity. He does an excellent job of exploring what it means to be an American, the limits of diversity and community, and the nature of community. In light of Monday’s raid, Bloom’s work provides an insightful history of Postville and Agriprocessors Inc.

The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift

how-to-eat-supper.jpgAs a devoted fan of NPRs The Splendid Table, I was anxiously awaiting this cookbook. I must admit at first glance I was slightly disappointed because I didn’t see lots of food pictures. It took almost no time though for me to fall in love with How to Eat Supper.

As loyal listeners know, Lynne and Sally share an immense curiosity about all things food. Like the show, this book goes far beyond the recipe to include history, techniques, references, and great stories. There is also a “Building the Library” blurb every few pages that suggests other great cookbooks. Some wonderful quotes about food and eating from a diverse group of people, the likes of Henry David Thoreau to Miss Piggy are also included.

Even though the categories of recipes run the usual gamut of salads to sweets, the individual recipes themselves are far from the normal supper fare. Not to worry though, even novice cooks will find that these are things that they can cook.

I’m going to try the Pan Crisped Deviled Eggs. Let me know what recipe you try!