Blogs

"Mom! I had a scary dream and now there's a scary noise!" (This from the child who sleeps with a giant plush albino python named Night Demon, aka Deathy.)
 
The clock reads 3:33 a.m. as I blearily think of horror movies and hope the walls aren't oozing. In Child the Younger's room, I sit next to his bed and prepare to activate my supermom extrasensory bat hearing to detect the noise. It turns out I can hear it just fine, no bats necessary. It is high-pitched and repeats steadily, something between a squeak and a wheeze. Sort of what I imagine a bat might sound like, drunk and asleep in front of a tiny bat television.
 
The noise is originating from the large cage in the hallway which houses our three pet rats. The Girls (as we refer to them collectively) are piled together inside their fleecy hammock, asleep.
 
They are snoring.
 
Blerg! I have all manner of Liz Lemon expletives for them as I reach in and gently jostle their bed to interrupt the noise. They poke their little faces out in my direction and blink their sleepy eyes at me, showily yawning in a ratty version of "What the what?"
 
By the hammer of Thor, after all this middle-of-the-night waking and yawning and walls that are decidedly not oozing (thank Thor), we all deserve some good movies that will not inspire another sleepless night. Something to wake us up, pick us up, make us believe in a future with much stronger coffee but not so strong as to induce nasty heart palpitations. Here are the movies of dreams gone right and wrong that have earned my attention lately:
 
First Position: Six serious young ballet dancers from five continents participate in the Youth America Grand Prix, a prestigious competition that could transform their lives overnight. Follow the progress of some amazing and talented children and teens as they compete with eyes wide open for places in the high-stakes international world of professional ballet. Even if you don't care one bit about ballet, the stories of these dedicated kids and their families will mesmerize you.
 
Mariachi High: This program documents a year in the life of Mariachi Halcon, a top-ranked competitive high school mariachi band in the rural ranching town of Zapata, Texas. These passionate teens and their devoted teacher will make you want to cheer as they pursue excellence and find strength in themselves and each other.
 
The Queen of Versailles: The riches to rags story of a billionaire and his wife seeking to build the largest house in the United States until the economic downturn flips the family fortune. Show up for the schadenfreude, stay tuned for the unexpected bits of compassion and insight that lend a surprising balance to what should be (and, yes, mostly is) an unmitigated train wreck of greed.
 
Dream away.

Has your child asked you “Where do babies come from?” yet?  Are you prepared to answer that question?  I was a bit unprepared when my 4 year old son asked me recently.  He saw a woman nursing her baby at the swimming pool and ever since then he has been fascinated by the human body.  I felt that I was only able to give him a cursory answer, which spurred me to check out the library for books.  I found some to read to him and others to help me answer his questions the best I could.  If you have found yourself in this situation with your child or are just preparing for it ahead of time, please check out the attached list for some books I found to help me.  Good luck addressing what can be a touchy topic for parents.

Did you know that librarians are experts at making book recommendations? Our library staff have compiled lists of great books for everyone in the family - on many subjects.

If you want more information, or a personal recommendation, ask a librarian online or at your local library.

I spent most of last year reading non-fiction books for teens as a member of a booklist committee.  It was interesting and, for the most part, enjoyable. I learned a whole lot about the Titanic, Steve Jobs, the Civil Rights movement and rufa Red Knots, among many other topics.  When I finished up my work in late January, I started casting about for books written for adults, and found some new titles on the Lucky Day shelf.  
 
In Me Before You  by Jojo Moyes, Louisa loses her waitressing job when the 'Buttered Bun' closes and has a heck of a time finding a new one that doesn't involve dead chickens or tricking old people into buying something they don't need.  So when a job opening appears for a daytime companion to a thirty-something quadriplegic man, she decides to apply. It's a six month appointment, so if things don't go well, at least she knows it's only for a short time.  Will is not particularly easy to get along with, but as the weeks go by, they develop a quirky kind of relationship and suddenly six months seems like much too little time.  A publisher's representative told me that this was the best book she'd read in a while and although I'm not sure it will be the best book that I will read in 2013, it was a pretty good start.
 
I feel like I'm pretty aware of what's forthcoming in the publishing world, so I was a bit surprised to find two books on the Lucky Day shelves that I hadn't heard of, especially because they were by authors I usually enjoy.  Maeve Binchy died in July 2012, so presumably A Week in Winter is her last book, unless, like V.C. Andrews, she'll be writing from the grave.  It's classic Binchy with a wide cast of characters coming together for a week at a newly opened seaside hotel.  Each chapter tells the story of one of the guests, and all the stories dovetail at Stone House Hotel.  
 
Anne Lamott's latest foray into faith and spirituality is Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers.  It's slight in pages, but large in spiritual concepts, although I felt like I'd heard pretty much the same thing in Lamott's previous books.  Still, I can never hear too often how people struggle with big challenges and still manage with a little help from their friends, including the "big entity upstairs", especially when it's dished out with Anne Lamott's signature humor and humanity.
 
If you're hankering after something new, check out the Lucky Day shelves.  You might be surprised at what you'll find!

Before working for a new company or starting on a new career path, a little research goes a long way to helping you find the right match. Here are some resources to get you started:

Many new amateur house historians find determining their home's historic period and style to be a challenging task. You can usually find the date your house was built by looking it up in PortlandMaps or contacting your local County Assessor's office, but figuring out what it might have looked like when it was new can be difficult!

Once you've looked through a few guides to historic periods in architecture, try looking at some of these resources to get a more detailed idea of how houses were designed and decorated in the past:

  • Mail order house plans and design catalogs [blog post].  List of websites featuring scans of late 19th and early-mid 20th century house plan catalogs.  People used these catalogs to shop for a new house -- they either bought the plans and had a builder construct them, or bought a house kit, which came with plans and all the materials (neat, right?). 
  • Floor plan books [reading list]. Reprints of house plan catalogs, simliar to the ones featured in the blog post above, which you can check out from the library!
  • Using old magazines to identify house styles [blog post].  Guide to researching house-style and architectural history information in the library's collection of old (and new!) magazines.
  • Color scheme & design books [reading list]. Books focusing on the history of paint colors and color design of the late 19th and early-mid 20th century.

  Questions? Ask the Librarian.

A teacher from a childcare center recently contacted me for some library resources. She was looking for few board books, a picture book or two, a music CD, and a few rhymes with interesting content for infants and toddlers, all related to the same theme. My immediate thought was Multnomah County Library’s collection of Storytime It’s in the Bags. We have 20 themed bags for toddlers (ages 18 mths—3 yrs) and another 21 bags for preschool-aged children (3—6 years). Each bag centers on a theme and contains five books, a small toy, game, puzzle or music CD related to the theme, and an activity sheet. The sheet has a couple of rhymes or games to play with children to extend the theme, as well as some tips for sharing books with children to effectively help them gain the skills they need to become successful readers. These bags are perfect for busy childcare teachers, family childcare providers and parents who want to share thematic materials with the little ones in their care. The Storytime bags are a popular resource and they are available on the shelves in some MCL locations. The easiest way to get your hands on these bags is to look through the toddler and preschool bag lists and place holds on the ones you would like to share with the kids in your life.

MCL also has bags for infants and their caregivers (0-6 months, 6-12 months and 12-18 months). Another new set of resources are the Bolsitas de Cuentos, which are themed bags with books in Spanish and bilingual English/Spanish. The Cuentos bags contain books appropriate for children 0-5 years old, and are fun for Spanish-speaking families and families who are working at being bilingual.

I went to see The Hobbit ...twice... on the opening weekend. If you've read my other Embarrassment of Riches entries you may have guessed that I am the target audience for that movie. Having read The Hobbit for the first time as a little girl I was reminded of other adventure stories I first read long ago.  

Robin Mckinley's The Blue Sword and its prequel The Hero and the Crown were Newbery honor and Newbery medal books. Though they were

written for children, they have appeal for adults looking for a light read. Much like The Hobbit they remind me of fairy tales. They could really begin "...Once upon a time" and both are set in a land where dragons and magic were once widespread but now have faded. In both of Mckinley's books the female lead saves the kingdom and just happens to find true love along the way. Both feature strong female characters and horses, ensuring a warm place in my heart for them as a child and a permanent spot on the shelves of my personal collection. 

Peter Beagle wrote two other favorites: The Last Unicorn and Two Hearts (which can be found in The Line Between). In these books all the characters are searching for something. The unicorn wants to join the rest of her kind, the prince wants to find love and so on. Two Hearts won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novelette. Don't read it without a tissue or three close to hand if you are prone to sniffling over a book.  (Since my husband doesn't read this blog I'll say that it brought a tear even to his eye....)

 

 

 

I finished reading my first novel of 2013 and I'm pretty proud of myself. (I won't bother confessing how much of the reading took place in 2012. Just be happy for me.) It's quite of feat for someone who lately gets to read a maximum two pages before being called to referee a fight over the last of the Nutella, or to star in the latest episode of Mom Cleans Up Cat Barf--Again!, or to read to someone before they go to bed. Child the Younger is learning to read, so bedtime stories have lately strayed from a variety of fun picture books to Green Eggs and Ham for the twenty-ninth time. I heartily endorse reading 

this loudly and with a British accent (think overwrought Shakespearean monologue) if you don't mind a small child pummeling you with his Ninja Fists of Annoyance as you do this. I promise, you too, will marvel at the wonder of green eggs and ham. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. And you can eat them here or there.

The novel I managed to finish is State of Wonder  by Ann Patchett.  It was that gift that every fiction reader hopes for - characters made real in an unforgettable story with luminous writing.  Marina Singh is a pharmaceutical researcher sent from Minnesota to Brazil and into the depths of the Amazon rain forest. Her mission is to uncover the fate of her research partner, Anders Eckman, and a team of drug-developing scientists led by Marina's former mentor, Annick Swenson, who has been largely uncommunicative with the drug company for two years. It is a story filled with poison arrows, devouring snakes, lost luggage and scientific miracles. Marina's journey into the jungle is one of finding herself and facing our collective human dilemma: how to co-exist with both unimaginable beauty and unfathomable loss. The plot is a seductive and wildly entertaining fever dream and the ending may haunt you for days. I have just checked out the audio CD to listen to while I do dishes at night because I cannot bear to leave the story behind just yet.
 
In that same amazing realm of biology, I would recommend the NOVA program Kings of Camouflage. This exploration of cuttlefish was absolutely fascinating, especially if you are already appreciative of cephalopods with the intelligence and dexterity to, say, unscrew the lid of that almost empty jar of Nutella you recently confiscated from your children and plan to scrape clean with your own tentacles while watching the premier of Downton Abbey after said children are asleep. Cuttlefish have enormous brains the shape of a donut, green blood, and the highest intelligence of any invertebrate. They flawlessly mimic their surroundings with the color and texture of their skin in seconds. Watch them hypnotize their prey, think their way through laboratory mazes, and attempt to match the artificial background of a checkerboard. 
 
Wonderful.

Is it going to snow? Will we beat the record for most days of rain? What was the high temperature on February 28, 2010? This page includes great resources to answer all of those questions, and more.

Forecasts and Observations

Weather Records

Weather Trends

Looking for resources on global warming?

Weather History

Extreme Weather

World Weather

 

 

Storytime is most rewarding when you find just the right song and book that can captivate a child’s attention, elicit laughter and bring out joy from having so much fun!

The following songs and book, with the theme Fingers and Toes, have proven to do all three for me in actual storytimes at Multnomah County Library.

This mini storytime also incorporate Talking, Singing, Reading and Playing - four of the five activities to prepare your child for reading.

Start out by waving and wiggling your fingers and count them one by one. Your child may already be mimicking your actions by this point, otherwise encourage him/her to do the same. Once all fingers are wiggling start singing the Finger Family song and do the actions accordingly:

 

Finger family’s up (wiggle fingers up in the air)

And finger family’s down (wiggle fingers down)

Finger family’s dancing all the around the town (wave and wiggle fingers all around)

Dance them on your shoulders (wiggle fingers on shoulders)

Dance them on your head (wiggle fingers on head)

Dance them on your knees (wiggle fingers on knees)

And tuck them into bed (quickly, move wiggling fingers and tuck them into underarms – left hand into right underarm and vice versa)

Barbara Allyn copyright SOCAN

 

Here’s a great video of the song created by the King County Library System

 

Finger Family

Now, hold out those hands and you can even play peek-a-boo (an activity that is always a hit with babies and toddlers!)

Tell your child that in addition to fingers we also have toes. If you can be bare foot bring out those toes, wiggle them and count them too. Then sing one of my favorite songs, Everybody Knows I Love My Toes and point to each body part accordingly:

Everybody knows I love my toes

Everybody knows I love my toes

I love my eyes, my ears, my mouth & my nose

And everybody knows I love my toes

You can use this song to sing about other body parts that you and your child also love, i.e. tummy, elbow, etc.

A lovely and fun book that ties the Fingers and Toes theme together is Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox. Add your own style and pizzazz as you read together and the fun will naturally emerge.

Requests to repeat the songs or book is a reflection of how much your child enjoys storytime with you so feel free to "sing/read it again" as many times as you like!

From an observant, slightly snotty, artistic,

dramatic hat designer comes this story of an escape from Hitler's Vienna. The human emotions are very real, though not always admirable. 

I felt like I was right there inside the story, eating in elegant cafes and attending fashion shows in Paris; and after Hitler's tanks rolled into Austria, plotting to leave Vienna; and staying awake nights, planning and scheming to bring elderly parents to the safety of London. I even envisioned the nightly German bombing raids beginning and then the trip down to the shelters.  
 
A story of courage, perseverance and resourcefulness,  Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler is a glimpse into one woman's extraordinary survival during World War II.
 
Published in 1984 as a self-published edition, Trudi Kanter's memoir of her life as a hat designer was soon out of print and nearly forgotten until Virago Press edited and republished it. Virago Press has been unable to trace the copyright holder and "would be pleased to hear from anyone with any further information." 

Are you a hiker, tracker, or hunter?  If so, you've probably used the United States Geological Survey (USGS) maps in your outdoor activities.

They are nice, big maps showing lots of topographical detail, physical characteristics of the land, and the names of roads and communities and bodies of water. Sometimes they're called "topo maps," "7.5 minute maps" or "7.5 minute quadrangles" (because they show 7.5 minutes of lattitude/longitude). You can visit Central Library's map room (on the third floor) and consult the library's collection of USGS maps for the western states.  If you want your own copy, you can usually buy them in outdoor-oriented sporting goods stores.

But did you know that the entire collection of USGS maps, for the whole country, are now available free online? Here's how to get to the USGS topo maps online:

Start at the Map Locator & Downloader (you can browse to this site from the main USGS website: www.usgs.gov > Map Locator & Downloader).

This tool allows you to find maps with a simple search for a place name. For example, if you are looking for maps of the area near Waldport on the Oregon Coast, just type waldport into the search box and click the "Go" button.

Now you'll see a map of the Waldport area.  The map has a grid superimposed on it, with the names of the different USGS maps in each square of the grid.  And, there is a red marker in the part of the grid marked "Waldport." Click on this marker and a little popup shows the maps that are available for that spot.

(If the red marker isn't in quite the right part of the map, click on the map in the spot you want and you'll get a new marker, which will pop up a list of maps for that area.)

To download a nice, high-definition pdf of the map you want, just click on the link that shows the file size. (In the case of the 2011 Waldport 7.5 minute map, the link says "18.1 MB.")

You'll see other maps in the popup list -- older maps and maps that cover a larger area.  And there is usually a link to related maps that focus on topics like mineral resources, elevation, hazards, etc.

 

  Questions? Ask the Librarian.

Have fun browsing and downloading maps from the USGS, and share your observations in the comments!

 

How to search the new Library Catalog for music:
Top | Authors | Authors with Common NamesTitles | Keywords


Multnomah County Library has the largest collection for music of any public library in Oregon, and is one of the largest on the West Coast. This guide shows you how to find music books, scores, CDs and DVDs in the new Library Catalog, including:

  • scores with piano accompaniment on CD
  • DVDs to learn musical instruments or singing
  • complete works and indexes of major composers
  • 33,000+ music scores for beginners to professional musicians

Choose the catalog version you prefer: Bibliocommons(New Catalog) | Classic Catalog

In the Multnomah County Library network of libraries, Central Library has the largest collection of books, music scores, CDs, DVDs and videos. Request delivery to the Neighborhood Library that is most convenient for you.


Ask a Question:
Looking for something specific? Contact us.

I’m pretty sure

that each and every one of us has odd culinary preferences that we only indulge when we’re alone. I often make a never-the-same-twice dish that very loosely resembles fried rice, created from various leftovers and my lazy determination to only dirty one pan; I indulge my sweet tooth with impromptu desserts made of various combos of peanut butter, honey, chocolate chips and raw oats. When I cook for myself I am both less thoughtful and more inventive than when I cook for others.

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone (edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler) is an irresistible window into the many different ways we approach cooking for and eating by ourselves. “A is for Dining Alone ...and so am I, if a choice must be made between most people I know and myself,” M.F.K. Fisher admits, as she writes about learning to make and serve herself delicious meals; other writers talk about the ritual of dining out alone. Steve Almond, on the other hand, hones his cooking skills only “in the abject hope that people would spend time with me if I put good things in their mouths;” Rattawut Lapcharoensap laments that recreating the meals of his native Thailand can “reinforce rather than eradicate feelings of dislocation and homesickness” when there’s no one to share them with him.  Some people talk about the joys of eating the same meal day after day without any diminished pleasure:  Ann Patchett admits happily eating Saltine crackers for dinner many nights in a row; Jeremy Jackson finds comfort in black beans and cornbread; Phoebe Nobles proudly eats asparagus every day for two months. And while Erin Ergenbright admits that dining alone feels wrong to her, Holly Hughes, a mother of three, fantasizes about the delicious meals she would eat if she only had to cook for herself. Writers proudly include their recipes for everything from Yellowfin Tuna with Heirloom Tomatoes to White-on-White Lunch For When No One is Looking.

I have read this collection three times now, and each time I am once again comforted and amused by all of the ways we find sustenance when no one is watching. As Laurie Colwin says in the first essay, “People lie when you ask them what they eat when they are alone. A salad, they tell you. But when you persist, they confess to peanut butter and bacon sandwiches deep fried and eaten with hot sauce, or spaghetti with butter and grape jam.”

So what do you eat when you are alone, really?

*From the essay “Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant” by Laurie Colwin.

You may have heard a rumor that your house was "bought by mail order."  What does that mean, you might wonder?  Or you might have noticed that there are twins of your house dotted around your neighborhood.  Were all those twins built by the same company? 

It might be that your house was built from a mail-order plan -- or it could be that your house was bought fom a mail-order company that supplied the plans and a complete set of building materials cut to size and ready to assemble.   Mail-order houses like these are the ancestors of modern manufactured homes, but they were built on-site by carpenters using traditional techniques, just like architect-designed houses of the same historical period. 

The websites below showcase archives of house plans from mail-order home companies. They show exterior views of each house (some in color), floor plans, and prices.  Since most mail-order house companies also sold a multitude of cabinetry, fancy trim, plumbing and lighting fixtures, and furniture, you can sometimes get an idea for popular interior design of the period as well.

I should also remind you, the library has books with old mail-order floor plans in them too!  Check out the great list below for some examples. 

Questions? Ask the Librarian!  We'd be glad to offer you some personalized help with your research project.

More and more services online requires an email address - don't have one or want to get a new one for job applications? There are lots of free email services to choose from - take a look at reviews from Consumer Search and About.com to see which free email service works best for you - maybe you need unlimited storage or maybe you want service that offers additional features like a place to store your documents or chat integration. Try one or try them all - they're free! Here's some help for the top two free email services at the moment:

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by

Timothy Egan

Just finished it this morning and find myself in the sweet afterglow of my favorite book of the year. My thoughts haven't become solid matter yet and I blather on to friends the random, out-of-order pieces that come tumbling out.

I knew almost nothing about Edward Curtis. I knew a tiny bit about the history of photography. And pretty much all I knew about Native Americans came from my limited education on the Iroquois Confederacy, the result of my Western New York roots. I am blown away by something on almost every single page of this book.

It is glorious, velvety-rich history, fascinating in its details. Clearly, Egan had some amazing access to primary sources, including the Mazamas, the Rainier Club in Seattle where Curtis lived for years, the papers of Edmond S. Meany, and on and on. There are photos in the book but you'll want to see more.

The book is held gently in the hands of the first and last chapters. How did Egan do it? Make them paired so perfectly together, about two completely different people, the subject and the photographer, yet one and the same at the end of their lives? Astounding.

If you were to give one book this year as a holiday gift to the nonfiction reader in your life, you should give this one. Then get your game face on for next year, because you will have a reputation to uphold. 

You are your child’s first teacher and your home is where your child begins to learn.

It’s never too early or too late to help your child develop language and other early literacy skills. Here are five daily practices to follow to get children ready to read:

Talking

Children learn language and other early literacy skills by listening to their parents and others talk. As children hear spoken language, they learn new words and what they mean. They learn about the world around them and important general knowledge. This will help children understand the meaning of what they read.

  • Make sure your child has lots of opportunities to talk with you, not just listen to you talk.
  • Respond to what your child says and extend the conversation. “Yes we did see a truck like that last week. It’s called a bulldozer.”
  • Stretch your child’s vocabulary. Repeat what your child says and use new words. “You want a banana? That’s a very healthy choice.”
  • If English isn’t your first language, speak to your child in the language you know best. This allows you to explain things more fluently so your child will learn more

Singing

Songs are a wonderful way to learn about language. Singing also slows down language so children can hear the different sounds that make up words. This helps when children begin to read printed language.

  • Sing the alphabet song to learn about letters.
  • Sing nursery rhymes so children hear the different sounds in words
  • Clap along to the rhythms in songs so children hear the syllables in words.

Reading

Reading together - shared reading - is the single most important way to help children get ready to read. Reading together increases vocabulary and general knowledge. It helps children learn how print looks and how books work. Shared reading also helps children develop an interest in reading. Children who enjoy being read to are more likely to want to learn to read themselves.

  • Read every day.
  • Make shared reading interactive. Before you begin a book, look at the cover and predict what the book is about. Have your child turn the book’s pages. Ask questions as you read and listen to what your child says. When you finish the book, ask your child to retell the story.
  • Use books to help teach new words. Books can teach less common words, words that children may not hear in everyday conversation.

Writing

Reading and writing go together. Both represent spoken language and communicate information. Children can learn pre-reading skills through writing activities.

  • Writing begins with scribbles and other marks. Encourage this by providing many opportunities to draw and write.
  • Children can sign their name to drawings, which helps them understand that print represents words. As they practice eye-hand coordination and develop their hand muscles, children can begin to write the letters in their names.
  • Talk to your children about what they draw and write captions or stories together. This helps make a connection between spoken and printed language.

Playing

Children learn a lot about language through play. Play helps children think symbolically, so they understand that spoken and written words can stand for real objects and experiences. Play also helps children express themselves and put thoughts into words.

  • Give your child plenty of playtime. Some of the best kinds of play are unstructured, when children can use their imaginations and create stories about what they’re doing.
  • Encourage dramatic play. When children make up stories using puppets or stuffed animals, they develop important narrative skills. This helps children understand that stories and books have a beginning, middle and end.
  • Pretend to read a book. Have your child tell you a story based on the pictures in a book. Or ask your child to “read” a book you’ve read together many times and tell you the story. This develops vocabulary and other language skills.

Look for future blogs with fun things to do that incorporate these activities for you and your child.

Simply stuffing face at the 600+ food carts in P-town is enough for me, but not so for many of you. No, some of you actually want to run one of these things!

If you’re ready to become one of the peas in a cart pod, first you’ll need to do some research about permits, licenses, business plans, outfitting a cart and the like.

Here is a handy list of links and books to get you started....

Start-up Support:

How to Open a Food Cart in Portland
Advice and Experience from a Food Cart Owner
Food Cartology Report - Trends and Impacts

Permits and Permissions:

Mobile Food Unit Operation Guide (Oregon DHS)
Mobile Food Unit Licensing and Inspection  (MultCo Health Dept.)
Vending Carts on Private Property (Portland Bureau of Development)
Vending Cart Types and Permits (Portland Bureau of Development) 

Buying the Cart:

Northwest Mobile Kitchens
CateringTruck.com
Used Vending.com
Festivals and Shows Equipment Sellers

Buying Supplies:

Rose's Equipment
Cash & Carry

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