Little Heathens – a book for Mother’s Day

Little Heathens

Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish

The 80-something Kalish writes with simplicity and directness about growing up on an Iowa farm in the thirties. The details of meal preparation, crops and care of the farm animals are so specific they ring with authenticity.

Daily life is made vivid with the telling detail – the feel of grass on bare feet, a snack of new potatoes with a shaving of butter, or preparing dandelion greens after a long winter. She describes how the kids were assigned tasks such as gathering tomatoes, potatoes fresh from the garden, milk and butter from the cellar for dinner. Yet she doesn’t romanticize the work involved in preparing and cleaning up after three meals a day.

Read this with your mother, grandmother, or any older relative and share their memories of a way of life fast disappearing from our collective memory. Thank goodness for memoirists like Kalish.

To The Swift edited by Joe Drape

To the SwiftGlamour, tradition and, oh yeah, bourbon – what’s not to like about the Kentucky Derby? It’s also, of course, America’s premiere horse racing event and sets the stage for the Triple Crown (the Derby, the Preakness in two weeks and the Belmont three weeks after that)

Of the 40,000 Thoroughbred foals born in the United States each year, only 20 get to the Kentucky Derby. Only eleven horses have gone on to the win the Triple Crown. To the Swift chronicles the triumphs and heartbreaks, drama and hope of this beautiful and exciting sport. Heavily illustrated and filled with stories of not only the winners but those that came up short, this collection of stories from The New York Times combines original reporting with new essays on the sport.

Now, what was that about bourbon? The key ingredient for mint juleps of course! No traditional Kentucky Derby Party would be complete without them.

New DVDs for May at the Library

May 2nd

P.S. I LOVE YOU

Holly Kennedy ( Hilary Swank) is beautiful, smart and married to the love of her life – a passionate, funny, and impetuous Irishman named Gerry Kennedy ( Gerard Butler) . So when Gerry’s life is taken by an illness, it takes the life out of Holly. Before he died, Gerry wrote Holly a series of letters that will guide her, not only through her grief, but in rediscovering herself. The first message arrives on Holly’s 30th birthday in the form of a cake and a tape recording from Gerry, who proceeds to tell her to get out and “celebrate herself”. In the weeks and months that follow, more letters from Gerry are delivered in surprising ways, each sending her on a new adventure and each signing off in the same way; P.S. I Love You. With Gerry’s words as her guide, Holly embarks on a journey of rediscovery in a story about marriage, friendship and how a love so strong can turn the finality of death into a new beginning for life. … IMDb

May 13th

THE GREAT DEBATERS

“The Great Debaters” is a fictionalized account of a true story. In the early 1930s, in the Jim Crow South, a small, all black school in Marshall, Texas, called Wiley College produced a debate team of such skill and renown, they were invited to compete against the white college champions, an unprecedented event in its day. Mel Tolson (Denzel Washington) is the professor at Wiley College Texas who wants to encourage his students to have big dreams.

” The Great Debaters” is a story of self actualization, self-reliances and the triumph of the underdog. This is one of the year’s best films.” – Roger Ebert

May 20th

NATIONAL TREASURE 2 – BOOK OF SECRETS

National Treasure 2 is the follow up to the box-office hit National Treasure. Treasure hunter Ben Gates (Nicolas Gage) and his fellow treasure hunters (Justin Bartha and Diane Kruger) along with his parents ( Jon Voight and Helen Mirren) set forth to prove his great-great grandfather’s innocence. Ben’s ancestor has been implicated as a key conspirator in Abraham Lincoln’s death. Ben follows an international chain of clues that takes him on a chase from Paris to London and ultimately back to America and leads to the President of United States and the world’s most treasured secrets.

I found this movie fun. One and a half hours of action and suspense.

The Armchair Traveler – the American Southwest

American SouthwestLonging for immersion in the fragrant, dry heat of the desert southwest? Give one of these a try.

Skinwalkers by Tony Hillerman

The Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee series is set in the rugged canyons and high country of the Four Corners area. Hillerman’s attention to the small details of the desert landscape and immersion in Navajo culture are what make these enjoyable, as well as the evolving relationship of the two lawmen.

Desert Heat by J.A. Jance

Set in the Arizona desert, this series really gives you a feel for the small town and family life of Joanna Brady. The first in the series starts off with a shock – Joanna’s husband, a sheriff’s deputy, is shot and her comfortable life begins to crumble.

Blackening Song by Aimee and David Thurlo

Ella Clah works as a Navajo Nation’s Special Investigator on the Shiprock, New Mexico reservation. She personifies the conflict between Navajo culture and Western capitalism. The series gives an insider’s look into this unique law enforcement entity.

Open Season by C.J. Box

Game warden Joe Pickett patrols the stunning Wyoming wilderness – where there is a constant struggle between development and environmentalists. Pickett’s day-to-day work is always related to those larger issues. According to the author, Pickett “works hard and tries, sincerely, to do the ‘right thing.’ He doesn’t talk much. He’s human and real which means he sometimes screws up.”

This is How it Happened by Jo Barrett

This is How it Happened by Jo BarrettSometimes the only way to get over a guy is through revenge. And the more painful the ending of a relationship, the more elaborate the revenge. Madelaine spent four years with Carlton, financing his education, creating the ideas and energy behind their business, devoting everything to their relationship. When he dumped (and fired) her the only thing she could think about was getting back at him. This is How it Happened by Jo Barrett will have you laughing out loud as Maddy experiments with poisoned brownies, voodoo spells and hiring a hitman. Don’t worry, no blood is spilled, but everyone gets their due in the very satisfying end.

Things I Learned from Knitting (Whether I Wanted to or Not) by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Things I Learned from Knitting (Whether I Wanted to or Not) by Stephanie Pearl-McPheeThis little book is filled with essays on life lessons, often learned the hard way, as shown through the craft and art of knitting. Things I Learned from Knitting is sharp and funny, written with a dry sense of humor and underlined with truth and generosity. Stephanie, a self-described knitting humorist and philosopher, has been a long-time presence on the internet with her very popular blog where she’s known as the Yarn Harlot.

Examples of Stephanie’s observations that are true in life as well as knitting include:

-Babys grow

-Beginning is easy, continuing is hard

-Everything is better so long as it’s happening to someone else

-Idle hands are the devil’s workshop

She also includes a list of the health benefits of knitting, what to do if the airline won’t let you fly with your knitting needles and 5 reasons why knitting is better than video games, all delivered with tongue firmly in cheek.

Hardy Succulents by Gwen Kelaidis

Hardy SucculentsWant to try something a little different in your garden? Take a look at plants like cactus, yucca, sedums and echieverias; many of these low maintenance, exotic-seeming plants are surprisingly at home in our Zone 5 weather. It’s very likely that you’re already growing sedums – the ubiquitous “Autumn Joy” is lovely in the perennial garden year-round and the lowly hen-and-chicks make charming ground covers (they also make ideal house-warming presents; in some parts of Europe it was believed that when planted on the roof they would ward off lightening strikes) And you may be surprised to learn that Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa) is native to Iowa.

Gwen Kelaidis’ Hardy Succulents will open your eyes to the many forms, varieties and colors succulents come in, and will show you how to integrate them in your existing landscape. She also offers tips for how best to grow them, the best varieties for cold regions, and combinations for container gardens. Many gorgeous photos spotlight their graphic shapes which are both modern and timeless. Succulents are showing up more and more in nurseries; be sure to try a few – you may get hooked!

The Armchair Traveler – Oh, to be in England, Now That Spring is Here

EnglandThe land where Chick Lit was born is the next stop for AT.

The Goddess Rules by Clare Naylor

Kate Disney is an artist who lives in a garden shed. She begins to stand up for herself after becoming friends with an outrageous and funny actress/icon who lives in the main house. Kate herself is self-deprecating, but very honest and direct. She alternates, romantically, between scumbag Jake and the perfect Louis.

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

Through an hilarious series of misunderstandings and mis-communications, attorney Samantha Sweeting tries to pass herself off as a housekeeper for a nouveau riche couple in the country. She is as inept a cook as she was brilliant as a lawyer, but she transforms herself and finds romance with the gardener, who has aspirations of his own.

Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married by Marian Keyes

Singleton Lucy and where mates live it up in London, while looking for Mr. Right. In typical Keyes fashion, their blunt honesty is witty and true, yet she doesn’t shy away from darker issues like alcoholism.

Weekend in Paris by Robyn Sisman

Molly is sympathetically innocent and guileless. Fired from her first job, she takes a planned trip to Paris anyway, and undergoes complete immersion in French culture.

The English American by Alison Larkin

Pippa Dunn, born in the United States, was adopted by an upper class English couple. She never felt that she fit in; she is sloppy, creative and emotional and her aristocratically reserved parents are very different. She finds her birth mother in New York and discovers they are both artistic and similar in many ways. After living in the U.S. and meeting her birth parents and siblings, she comes to know herself, England and her adopted family in new ways.

Hot Fuzz

Hot Fuzz dvdA classical English village becomes the unlikely setting for this hilarious buddy cop movie. Nicholas Angel is too good at his job; he’s making the rest of the London police force look bad. So he’s shuttled off to a quiet country village, far from any action. Or is it? Angel puts his big city training to use and soon discovers that all is not as it seems in this idyllic setting. Hampered by bumbling local cops, a cast of eccentric characters and brick walls at every turn, Angel persists in doing his job.

Loaded with cultural references and poking fun at films of all genres including westerns, action and cop movies (the subtitles on the dvd will clue you in on a lot of them), you don’t need to “get” any of them to enjoy Hot Fuzz which stands on it’s own as fresh, surprising and funny. (Please note that this film has an R rating for language and some violence)

The Davenport library has movies – and television shows – of all kinds available for checkout. Be sure to stop by and browse through our dvd section soon!

Knitalong by Larissa Brown

Knitalong by Larissa BrownMost everyone that knits learned the skill from someone – a grandmother or beloved aunt, a friend or a helpful clerk at the local yarn store. Knitting seems to invite gathering together. Knitalong: celebrating the tradition of knitting together by Larissa Brown shows the many ways that knitters (and crocheters and spinners) connect from meeting at a local coffee shop for an hour to creating lively online communities.

(And by the way, if you’re a knitter (or crocheter or spinner) and you’re not on Ravelry yet, why? Stop whatever you’re doing right now and get your name on the invitation list. It’s an amazing database/community/resource for fiber enthusiasts. If you’re already a member, you understand my enthusiasm)

Some of the wide-ranging examples of community knitting shown in Knitalong include the Knitting Olympics, an online knitting challenge held during the Winter Olympics, knit cafes (cafes that encourage people to bring their knitting), Stitch n’ Pitch, where knitters knit during major league baseball games (the White Sox host knitters on August 6, the Cardinals on May 28), World Wide Knit in Public Day which is just what it sounds like (and is on June 14 this year) and knitting for charities (afghans for Afghans is just one example). Knitalongs also take the form of a group of people knitting the same pattern (called KALs); everyone shares tips and progress reports and cheer you along. The internet has been a boon to this simple craft; besides the phenomenon of Ravelry, there has been an explosion of knitting blogs where people share their craft and develop friendships from around the world.

Interested in joining other knitters for camaraderie and encouragement? Local knitters meet every Tuesday evening at 6:30pm at the Fairmount Street Library, next to the fireplace. Newcomers are always welcome!