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Lewis and Clark mapped many geographic and geologic features on their expedition. They drew a picture of most and labelled them with a name. Sometimes they phonetically spelled the Native American names as best they could. Some were named after the physical properties of the feature...such as Beaverhead Rock. And many were named to “honor” 19th century political figures or members of the Corps.

The Missouri Breaks reminded Meriwether Lewis of an ancient city. Despite appreciating the rugged beauty, the Corps also suffered from holes in their moccasins created by flint fragments found at the bottom of the white cliffs.

Photo of Moccasin

The Great Falls on the Missouri River was an incredible impediment for the Corp of Discovery. It took almost a month for the explorers to portage around this amazing group of five waterfalls.

Aerial Photo Great Falls

Lolo Hot Springs was visited both on the way west and back east. The springs provided a rare opportunity for a warm bath, but only on the return trip. They didn't have time to stop for a bath on the way to the Bitterroots. Today the hot springs bears no resemblance to the 19th century site.

Pompey’s Tower or Pillar was named after Toussaint Charbonneau and Sacagawea’s toddler son Jean-Baptist Charbonneau who had acquired the nickname “Pomp” or “Little Pomp”.

Pompey's Tower

Before crossing the Bitterroots, the Corps made camp at a place now called Traveler's Rest. Most of their time was spent hunting for food for the difficult mountain crossing. Traveler's Rest is the only archaeolgically verified campsite from the expedition. 

The Corps had to trek across the Bitterroot Mountains, a northern section of the Rockies, late in the season. It was a miserable journey which they just barely survived. They were probably too miserable from cold and fatigue to enjoy the breathtaking views.

As the very hungry Corps descended from the Bitterroot Mountains they spied grasslands of the Weippe Prairie. The prairie was named by the Nez Perce Indians—Weippe is their word for “very old place”.

Photo Weippe Prairie

Five different Cascade Range volcanos were seen by the Corps in the Northwest. Some of them were on a map given to them by explorer George Vancouver.

Celilo Falls in the Columbia River Gorge was a spectacular feature on the Willamette River and its history is quite controversial to the present day. Many people would like to see the Falls re-appear.

I’ve described just a handful of the thousands of geographic and geological sites described by the Expedition. It might be a fun project to map them and  several more from each state on the trail. When you look at photos of the Expeditions 's trail, you can easily see the enormous physical obstacles they overcame to accomplish the challenge they received from President Jefferson. 

 

Folks in my family came to Oregon in, on and around covered wagons, part of the great migration that brought about 400,000 people across the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains to occupy the land that they thought was available up and down the West Coast. (There were people living here already, it turned out.) My indirect ancestor on my mom's side (something like great-great-uncle, I believe) was Ezra Meeker.

photo of Ezra Meeker

Meeker came out via covered wagon, and then after a very busy life of business, planting hops, founding a town and going to the Klondike in gold rush days, noticed that now, in the early 20th century, people were forgetting about the Oregon Trail. He opted to do something about that. Ezra mounted an expedition - at age 71 - to travel the trail backwards, by ox-drawn wagon, to raise awareness for the trail's preservation. He succeeded, and kept going, eventually reaching New York and Washington DC, meeting with President Teddy Roosevelt. He eventually crossed the country by wagon, train, automobile and airplane and managed to place (or have placed) hundreds of Oregon Trail markers. You can read more about him and his trips in his journals, available in physical form or online.

 A New American Adventure book jacket
So? 
 
So, the Oregon Trail is well-known. And, people are still doing this kind of pilgrimage. Well, at least a couple of guys.
 
Meet Rinker Buck (and his brother Nick). In 2011, they traveled the Trail by wagon, the first people to do that in more than a century. They stuck to the original ruts as much as modern highways and civilization would allow and crossed from Missouri to Oregon with three donkeys and a Jack Russell terrier named Olive Oyl. Nick was a practical sort, with horse-driving skills, carpentry experience and a fix-it mentality. Rinker brought a shoe-shine kit and a pasta steamer. The book he wrote about their adventure, The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey, tells why they dropped everything and traveled the trail for four months. It tells about the Odd Couple-like relationship of the brothers, and the wagon vacation with their father that inspired their own trip. And it is a look at middle America from the slow lane, small-town hospitality, river crossings, and lots of places with no cell phone reception.  Ezra Meeker would be proud.

 

Original photo: Alyssa L. MillerFinally -- a reason to celebrate insomnia.

The Egyptians are famous for their hieroglyphics, which is writing using pictures to represent sounds and ideas. The Egyptians weren’t the only ones though to use symbols to record information. Pictograms, ideographs, and phonoglyphs are all forms of writing used by ancient Mesoamericans. Often the Maya used all three to write one document. What are these writing forms?

 
A pictogram or pictograph is a symbol to represent an object or idea. Here’s an example
falling rocks road sign
An ideograph is a symbol to represent an whole word, for example ‘%’ for percent and ‘&’ for and.
A phonoglyph or phonogram represents a sound
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Ancient writings have been found on pottery, painted murals, carved rock, and paper which the Aztecs and Mayan made from bark. Paper was important enough to be used by the Aztec papermakers to pay their taxes and the paper was then used by the government tax collectors, lawyers, and more. Early writings recorded city and ruler histories, family trees of important people, wars, accounts of what someone owned, astronomy and religion. (American Indian Contributions to the World: Science and Technology by Emory Dean Keoke)

Take a look at this video about Mayan hieroglyphics and then check out the Think Deeper section from TED-Ed for more information.

The Maya had about 800 symbols for writing, according to an article Maya Glyphs. Seven hundred of those symbols represented whole words with the remaining 100 being syllable signs used to spell out a word syllable by syllable.

You can also find more information from articles: Maya Writing and the Calendar (Calliope, Feb. 1999) and Early Maya Writing, Science News for Kids Jan 2006. The World Book Student edition also has articles about hieroglypics, pictograms, writing system, history of the alphabet, Maya communication and learning, and Aztec language. You'll need your Multnomah County Library card to use it if you're outside the library.

Don't forget to ask a librarian if you need more help.

 

 

Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? book jacketOur guest blogger is Memo. Memo works at the Central Library. Besides reading history and literature about Latinos, workers, and immigrants, he enjoys re-reading the great literary works of nineteenth and twentieth-century realist writers.

Raymond Carver’s tales offer portraits of run-of-the-mill Americans living in unexciting monotonous places.  His characters are mostly working-class whites, residing in small-town America where life is plain and ordinary.  There is nothing special going on in their social environment, and the daily routines of the characters are fairly monotonous.  The simplicity of their world makes their constant preoccupations for the basic needs in life dull.  Their strengths and flaws, even between those who have stable lives and those who do not, share similar features, in part because their vigor and imperfections are the products of the same banal world.

However, there is more than meets the eye in these representations of the mundane.  Carver portrays a realism that is humane, complex, and universal.  His fictional characters such Earl and Doreen Ober in “They’re Not Your Husband” and Del Frazer in “Dummy” are not only sketches of ordinary people living uneventful lives, they are portraits of working-class Americans whose lives were and are overlooked in favor of ones that express exceptionalism. 

If you enjoy the works of realist writers, you will appreciate the literary representations of plain folks in Raymond Carver’s Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?, Cathedral, and Where I’m Calling From.  His ability to dig deep into the daily and simple worlds of the ordinary Americans puts his fictitious universe at odds with triumphal post-World War II Americana. 

Picture file drawer - costume

Fashion designers, stylists, and makers! Perhaps you find inspiration in browsing images of fashion from times past, and you want to go a little deeper than the same top hits that everyone else can find on a Google image search. Perhaps you like the feel of paper. You probably know that you can page through old issues of magazines such as Vogue at the library, and of course we have many excellent books on vintage fashion. But did you know that we have files upon files of image inspiration for your projects?

In the Picture File Collection at Central Library, there are many folders containing clippings of women’s fashions: at least one for each year from 1900-2005. And that’s just a fraction of the files with subjects related to clothing! Other files contain examples of traditional dress around the world, children’s clothing, men’s fashions, school uniforms, and accessories such as spectacles, shoes, and underwear. One file is all about men's coiffure, including beards. Another focuses entirely on the American "Pioneer Mother" style of dress. There's a file for Norse (Viking) costume, one for the stock pantomime characters Pierre & Pierrot, and another for Scottish tartans. There is a folder of swimwear clippings for each decade in the twentieth century... and so on! The files in the Picture File Collection are assigned library subject headings and subheadings, much like books and other library materials. The library subject heading that encompasses these fashion clippings is Costume, with subheadings like Costume - 20th c. - 1963.

Women's fashion clippings 1963

1963 is an excellent year for women’s fashion, I think. There’s sophistication and grace, and also the Tweter (a sweater for two, which apparently was invented by novelist Beth Gutcheon)!

If this piques your interest, you might be interested to know that following the many Picture Files with the heading Costume come the folders with these headings: Couples, Courthouses, Covered Wagons, Crete, Crime, Croatia, Crowds, Cuba, Curaçao, Custom Houses & Ellis Island (buildings), Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Dairies, Dams, Dancing, Day Care Centers, Demonstrations, Denmark, Deserts, Design, Devils, Disabilities, Domes, Dominican Republic, Drawings, Driftwood….

The many file drawers that contain the Picture File Collection are in a staff-only area of the library. To access the Picture Files, and to browse a traditional library card catalog file of the subject headings, please visit the reference desk at the Art & Music room on the third floor of Central Library. Images from the Picture File Collection can be checked out, too - up to 50 individual clippings. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about this unique and historical collection!

 

Recently I decided to see if I could up the number of books I finished in a year if I moved the books that were well reviewed to the top of my reading list.  I know it takes me longer to finish a book that's only just barely good enough not to put down than it does to finish a top-notch page-turner of a book.

Uprooted book jacketTwo well-reviewed titles I've finished recently are Uprooted by Naomi Novik and A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly.  Uprooted is a charming fairy tale about Agnieszka, a peasant girl in a humble village on the edge of a corrupted Wood.  The village is kept safe by the Dragon who asks only that a girl of his choice from one of his dependent villages enter his service every ten years.  At the end of her term of service, she is let go with a fine fat pouch of silver coins for her time.  But the girls are never the same after and they always leave their village homes.  Agnieszka never thinks that she'll be the chosen one....
A Criminal Magic book jacket
A Criminal Magic is about a 1920s America where prohibition doesn’t ban alcohol; instead it bans sorcerer's "shine".  Sorcerers can bottle their shine which gives an incredible and addictive high, but the shine loses its power after only a single day.  After prohibition begins, shine distribution falls to mobsters - the same as alcohol did in the real1920s world.  Joan is a sweet young orphaned sorceress from the back woods who only wants to earn money and look after her little sister and her cousin. Alex is a Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a scandal in his past who is forced to go undercover into the world of "shine" dens.  Both are forced to confront all the unpleasant realities of the world they find themselves in.  It's early in the year but I can already tell you that A Criminal Magic will be in my top ten titles for the year.

If you are looking at a title in the newer version of the catalog (Bibliocommons), scroll down past the title information to "Opinions" then look for "From the critics" to see professionally published reviews.  In the classic catalog, click on the cover picture for the book (you'll need allow new windows to pop up) and any published reviews will be available in the new window.  I found these two titles as delightful as the reviews promised and finished both in short order since I didn't want to put either one down!

Part of the joy of reading The Improbability of Love was that it was like revisiting the art history classes I loved in college. Author Hannah Rothschild clearly knows the art world, and it was such a pleasure to learn about the mechanics of that world, the kinds of characters that populate it, and the art itself. I learned to keep my iPad close by so I could look up paintings and statues that were mentioned, and all that beauty became part of my experience of the book.

In this novel, a young woman impulsively buys a painting that’s been moldering in a London junk shop for decades. It winds up being an important (imaginary) painting by Watteau, a (non-imaginary) French painter from the eighteenth century- a Rococo painting, featuring attractive people in nice outfits in an outdoor setting. There’s a bit of romance as well as a family secret that is very dark indeed. The painting itself is one of the narrators, telling us about its long, fascinating history, from Madame Pompadour's boudoir to dark days in Nazi Germany. 

Treat yourself and read this book. Then take a look at my list of fiction about art and artists.
 

If you hear “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” in my apartment, you’d know that rice was cooking. That’s the song my rice cooker plays when I hit the “start” button. I like planning my meals around rice and these past few months I’ve found some star accompaniments: short rib kare-kare, Visayan roast chicken, and garlic shrimp. (Most of these recipes are available online in some form or another, but I encourage you to check out the books too.) Here’s what I made:

Asian-American book jacket1.  Short Rib Kare-Kare from Asian-American by Dale Talde: Kare kare, as slightly reinvented by Talde, is a decadent Filipino pot roast in a savory coconut milk and peanut sauce. Talde labelled the recipe with a "Filipino advisory explicit flavor" warning, noting that it was "too funky for most white people" probably due to the shrimp paste ingredient. I’ll just say that my boyfriend loved kare kare and creatively used it later in sandwiches and burritos. (Note: if you can’t find boneless short ribs, feel free to substitute with another cut ideal for slow cooking.)

2.  Visayan Roast Chicken with Lemon Grass from The Cooking of Indonesia and the Philippines by Ghillie Başan: This roast chicken is a riff on Filipino barbequeCooking of Indonesia and the Philippines book jacket flavors. Here, the whole chicken is rubbed in a heavenly spice paste containing garlic, ginger, lemongrass, soy sauce, brown sugar, and lemon. I love that the recipe has you make roasted sweet potato fries as a bonus “one pot” side dish. (Note: Ignore the temperature and time directions and roast this chicken at 425 °F for 35 minutes breast side up, flip it, and roast for 20 minutes or until the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 °F.)

3.  Ms. Vo Thi Huong’s Garlic Shrimp from Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes by Peter Meehan: Just a few words: best souvenir from Vietnam ever. Here, the shrimp is quickly stir fried in an amazing combination of garlic, shallots, green onion, Sriracha, Kewpie mayo, and soy sauce. Much like many of the recipes in the book, the garlic shrimp was super easy to make.

These recipes are perfect for people who like Southeast Asian flavors and want to feel proud of themselves in the kitchen. I’m all about kitchen victories. Are there any recipes that you’d recommend to me? Please let me know in the comments!

I can’t get enough of some authors that I love. I also try to slowly savor authors I discover. I don’t read all their books in one fell swoop: I read one every couple months. I am on my third book by Rainbow Rowell: Carry On. I love how Rowell writes about contemporary life, people, class issues and love through her adult and teen fiction.

There’s a reason she’s a best seller. She can tell a love story. I am haunted by the amazing and awkward love story of Eleanor and Park. I want to reread Fangirl which alludes to the romance between Baz and Simon in Carry On. Fangirl has its own marvelous, slow paced romance but I don’t want to give anything away.

I grew up working class: my father was a surveyor’s aide, and my mother was a part time key punch operator. The worries of Rowell’s working class characters really resonate with me. For instance, Eleanor worries about clean clothes with her small wardrobe, and Simon just wants enough to eat like many growing teens. These details add to the realistic aspects of the world she is building. She nails it without rubbing it in your face.

I’m so happy to find another author to love! Have you found any new authors to love lately?

newsradio cover

It was a dark and drizzly night in Portland, Oregon...

Thanks to the magic of Roku, the hilarious and irreverent Newsradio was on my television. Nothing could have been better. Then, out of the elevator, arrived the cast of Mr. Show.

Mic dropped. Laughs ensued.

During the 90s and early 00s a collective of writers and comedians produced a body of work featuring each other in one form or another. However, when shows like this aired, the internet was merely a buffering baby - finding and watching these shows was not a click away. Well worn VHS tapes and personal retelling after a ten mile uphill walk through the snow filled the gap until the current overabundance of content was available. 

 

Haven’t seen the Kids, Bluths, or the Party Down crew in a while? Check out this list and say hello!

Spring 2016 teen booksSpring 2016 kids booksAh, spring break! In my memories of childhood, it was always filled with chocolate Easter eggs and lots of time to read the stack of good books I’d just checked out from my local library. In honor of those memories, I’ve gathered up a crop of new books for kids and teens that I want to read over the upcoming spring weeks that are bound to be cool and rainy.  I might just have to buy a bag of chocolate to go with them!

Check out the kids’ stack here and the teen stack here.

The Library is Like Falling Into HeavenVolunteer Carla Lang

by Sarah Binns

Carla Lang is one of those people with whom you can start talking about books and look up from your conversation to find two hours have passed without your knowledge. The phrase “voracious reader” can be overused, but in Carla's case it is true. It’s a lifelong trait: “When I was growing up my dream was to be locked away in the library. As long as there was a store nearby,” she adds, pragmatically.

Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Carla later drove her VW bus all the way to Alaska - and stayed for forty years. When she and her husband moved to Nome in the early '70s, the local library association was little more than a women's social club. “Over a period of a few years we transformed into a working association with an eye toward a true lending library that was funded by the city,” she explains. Through their efforts, library funding was eventually secured, and Nome's Kegoayah Kozga Public Library continues to this day.

Shortly after Carla and her husband moved from Nome to an apartment above the Sellwood Library in 2006, she noticed a sign soliciting volunteers. She started as a paging list volunteer in 2007, pulling items that patrons have put on hold. On her inaugural day, Carla was dismayed to locate only a few of the books on the 100-book list. “It turns out it was the previous day's list!” she laughs. She says the paging list is “the ultimate Easter egg hunt” and intends to go on doing this task.

Carla also volunteers with Words on Wheels, a Library Outreach Services program which delivers books to those unable to go to the library. She's been with some of her patrons for two years now and still enjoys bringing them book suggestions. When it comes to the library and reading, Carla says, “It's like falling into heaven. I never mind waiting in lines because I always have a book with me. As long as I have a book, I'm fine.”


A Few Facts About Carla

Home library: Sellwood Library

Currently reading: The Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson

Books that made you laugh or cry: Dave Barry's books make her laugh; “I try to avoid books that make me cry,” she says, "but The Art of Racing in the Rain was one that did."

Most influential book: Probably Lord of the Rings; “I always go back to it, I've read it at least 14 times.”

Guilty pleasure: “All books are guilty pleasures! But probably my science fiction.”

Favorite book from childhood: Little Women, Uncle Tom's Cabin, “and a story about a young girl in the Revolutionary War that I can't remember the title of!”

Favorite section to browse: New books, graphic novels, and staff picks

E-reader or paper books: Paper, though e-books are a nice option when on the go.

Favorite place to read: In bed in the morning with a cup of coffee or a chair in her apartment loft with good light.

Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! Read last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

¡Usted lo puede leer en inglés también!
 

Multnomah County Library's Lucky Day service includes books for kids, teens and adults.  Lucky Day copies are available for spontaneous use and are not subject to hold queues.  Nobody can place holds on these items; it's first come, first served.  That means you might not have to wait at all for the most popular new titles!  You never know what you might find at your neighborhood library - it just might be your Lucky Day!

Thing Explainer book jacketHow do you explain something? If you are telling someone how to do something and they don’t understand, what do you do? Do you repeat what you just said hoping that repetition will help? Or do you come up with a new way to explain it. If you find a new way to say it, you are a much better explainer.

One book that made me think about this is Randall Munroe’s Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words. He set up a challenge for himself to explain things like a Saturn V rocket and weather maps using the 1000 most common words in the English language. This is hard because you can’t use words like rocket, Saturn, weather or thousand. He had to find a new way to explain everything.

The Saturn V became the US Space Team’s Up Goer Five. Weather maps are Cloud Maps. Complicated things have to be described in very simple ways to get by using only the ten hundred most common words. Reading this book will bring clarity and new understanding to complicated things you may or may not have understood before. This is a fun and very cool book.

If you want a challenge, try to explain something such as your job or a hobby using Munroe’s XKCD Simple Writer which only allows you to use the 1000 most common words.

For a short read you could finish over a cup of coffee, try Carlos Fuentes's Aura. You can also read it in Spanish!

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