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The letter D in ornamental scripto you like beautiful scenery? Beer? Constant, simmering warfare? Then you need to visit Anglo-Saxon England!Cover of Hild by Nicola Griffith

I fell in love with this setting after reading Nicola Griffith’s recent novel, Hild. It follows the coming-of-age of a young girl named Hild, the seer to Edwin Overking, an Anglisc lord in the early 7th century. She is continually called upon to predict the future of her kingdom, with the constant threat of death should she ever guess wrong.

Hild is a beautifully written book, with characters that take up residence in your mind, but it was the setting that really blew me away. Anglo-Saxon England is a combination of cultures: there are the ruling Anglo-Saxons who began migrating from Germany and Denmark in the 4th centuries, but there are also the Irish, the Welsh, the Picts, and the Christian missionaries. There are ruins of the Roman civilization that had only recently spread across the island. The people speak multiple languages, and they worship multiple gods.

Of course I can’t actually visit England circa 1,400 years ago (although someday I would like to visit the land that it has become!) but there are plenty of books to take me there. Here are some of the best reads that I could find for booking a longship voyage back through time to the England of the Anglisc.

With spring just around the corner, my mind just naturally turns to two things -- birds and music!

Picture of Exotic birdsComposers have long been inspired by nature and probably nothing has provided more inspiration than the music of bird calls and songs. There are countless instances of the sounds of birds being imitated in music -- The forest bird in Wagner's Siegfried, The cry of the falcon in Richard Strauss' Die Frau ohne Schatten, or the cuckoo in Beethoven's sixth symphony, to name just a few. But what I'm talking about here are pieces that are completely about birds.

Like the birds that inspire the music, the pieces come in all shapes and sizes. They can be small, like El colibri (The hummingbird) -- written for solo guitar by the Argentine composer Julio Sagreras -- which runs just over a minute. They can be large like French composer Olivier Messiaen's Catalogue d'oiseaux -- a suite for piano which takes about 2 1/2 hours when played in its entirety. Or they can be moderate in size, like Italian composer Ottorino Respighi's The Birds (Gli uccelli) -- perhaps the most famous bird music of all time.

My personal favorite? It has to be Exotic Birds (Oiseaux exotiques) -- again by the bird-obsessed Olivier Messiaen. Written for chamber orchestra and running about 15 minutes in length, it's noisy, colorful, and chaotic -- pretty much what you might expect from a large gathering of winged creatures! You can get a good taste by watching the sampling in the video below.

And for recordings available from the library, check these out!

support groupsAs some smart person once observed, looking for work is work, darn hard work.  And the pay stinks.  It's a process full of frustration and disappointment, which makes keeping the focus and motivation necessary for a good outcome difficult.  But you don't have to go it alone.  The Portland/Multnomah County area is full of people in the same boat as you, willing and able to offer their comradery, support and advice to help you through these trying times.  I recently sat in on one such group, the Job Finders Support Group, which meets at the Capitol Hill branch, noon to 3pm every Friday.  I was greeted warmly by a bunch of very together people who were happy to share their experiences with job applications, networking events, social media, the latest job search-related apps, company research, interview strategies - in short, they were on top of all different aspects of the job search game and very encouraging and supportive of each other.  It is facilitated by local author Cleon Cox and he lists many other local support groups and other job seeking resources on his website.  Another source of support in the east county area is the Job Seekers Support Group which meets at Gresham Library at 1:30pm on Tuesdays. Finally, an option in your job search arsonal is the job fair, where employers vie for the attention of prospective employees like you - the State of Oregon website lists job fairs and events in the area

Need help finding more job resources? Let us help!

Call out to all you Conspiracy Theorists (yes, all y'all on the down low too). Here's a great follow-up to Santa Olivia by Jacquelyn Carey.

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!

Imagine a world where a spell of forgetfulness sits like a fog over everything, rendering the past incomprehensible; where an ancient knight in rusted armour swears to defeat a dragon; where two people set out on a quest through a country divided by clan loyalties and war.

The surprise is that I am not talking about George R.R. Martin or Tolkien, but Kazuo Ishiguro, the author of The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go.

Ishiguro sets The Buried Giant in an age of decline. The idealistic reign of King Arthur is a distant memory and chivalry is, if not dead, then mostly gone. An elderly couple makes their way across a ravaged landscape on a quest to reclaim something important but long forgotten. Though Axl and Beatrice are old, they are naive, having subsisted in a hovel in the ground with their fellow villagers for as far back as they can remember, which is not very far. Their journey is one of children in a strange world, wide-eyed at the ways of outsiders. As they travel, bits and pieces of their past lives come back to them. These memories fortify them sometimes, and burden them at others.

Ishiguro has crafted an odd and beautiful combination of adventure and psychological drama. It's also a study of love, forgetfulness and forgiveness, companionship and death. It's Joseph Campbell's the hero's journey redone in a totally unexpected way. This book will very likely find its way to my top picks for 2015.

 tips

The Oregon Department of Justice Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection Section offers these  top ten consumer tips to protect yourself and your family:

1. Become educated. Informed consumers are smart consumers. Visit oregonconsumer.gov to learn more about consumer protection in general, and visit onguardonline.gov to learn how to be safe, secure and responsible online.

2. Join the Scam Alert Network. Sign up online at oregonconsumer.gov to be notified of new scams, fraud and other consumer threats.

3. Reduce junk mail. Call 1-888- 567-8688 or register online at optoutprescreen.com to reduce offers of credit and insurance. You can also opt out of receiving unsolicited mail from many other companies by registering with the Mail Preference Service online at dmachoice.org and paying $1.

4. Check out the business before you buy. Call the Oregon Department of Justice at 1-877-877-9392 or search Be InfORmed, an online database at oregonconsumer.gov, to research complaints and resolutions. You should also confirm the business’s physical address and phone number in case you have questions or problems.

5. Reduce telemarketing calls. The National Do Not Call Registry allows you to block most telemarketers, who should not call your number once it has been on the registry for 31 days. If they do, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Register online at donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 from the number you want to register.

6. Understand that wiring money is like sending cash. Con artists often insist that people wire money, especially overseas, because it’s nearly impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money. Do not wire money to:

• Someone who claims he or she wants to hire you.

• Sellers who insist on wire transfers for payment.

• Someone who claims to be a relative or friend in trouble and wants to keep it a secret from the family.

7. Order your free annual credit report. Visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 to order a free credit report and review it for errors.

8. Read the fine print. Read contracts in full and make sure you understand the terms before you sign. Be suspicious of promises made by salespersons that differ from the written terms and make sure you get a copy of the signed contract for your files.

9. Sleep on it. Sales pitches that offer discounts if you “sign now” are often scams. Legitimate businesses will usually give you the same deal later.

10. Report fraud. If you think you have been a victim of fraud, call the Oregon Department of Justice at 1-877-877-9392 and request a complaint form be mailed to you or visit tinyurl.com/ORcomplaintform to file a complaint online.

Stay informed and stay safe--and share these tips with family, neighbors, and friends across the state to help them become smarter consumers as well.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Contributed by Jenny W. with the help of the Oregon Department of Justice.

Click here for "Don't be a victim--prevent financial fraud! (Part 1)

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum says, “Every year, thieves and con artists cheat thousands of Oregonians out of their hard-earned money and valuable personal information. I need your help to stop the fraud before it starts and alert others so they can avoid becoming victims.”

Fortunately, the Oregon Department of Justice can help us become savvy consumers. Check the website at www.oregonconsumer.gov, or call the Consumer Hotline 1-877-9392, or e-mail help@oregonconsumer.gov.

You can:

  • Learn how to protect yourself from scams and fraud.

  • Request written materials be mailed to you.

  • Ask a question about a business or learn how to file a complaint against one.

  • Sign up for the Scam Alert Network

  • Search BeInfORmed, a database of consumer complaints.

  • Ask questions about:

    • automobile sales

    • credit/debt

    • home repair

    • retail sales

    • services

    • internet sales

    • fraud

    • real estate

    • telemarketing

    • home solicitations

Stay informed and stay safe--and share these tips with family, neighbors, and friends across the state to help them become smarter consumers as well.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Contributed by Jenny W. with the help of the Oregon Department of Justice.

Click here for "Don't be a victim--prevent financial fraud! (Part 2)

Black History Month: More Than Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. This marks the end of our month long journey of learning and exploration. We hope you enjoyed and learned facts about Black History Month that you didn't previously know. Thank you for joining us!

Aasha Benton

February 28, 2015

Painting by Aasha Benton

Aasha's story goes a bit like this. She graduates from college in 2012 and moves back to her hometown right here in Portland, Oregon. She discovers a love for art. So, she begins to paint. Taking inspiration from various periods in Black history and soul music, she creates incredible, yet simple, works. Her paintings are fun, colorful, serious and obtainable. Best of all? You can check them out here!

Further Exploration: http://artbyaasha.tumblr.com/

Available at Multnomah County Library: http://multcolib.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1299586068

 

 

Do you stay up at night wondering how much longer the North Korean government can survive or how much their average citizen knows about the world beyond their borders? I do.

It’s not that it's unusual for my reading habits to snowball into mini research projects. The perfect puff pastry, Mormon fundamentalism, abstract expressionists- they’ve all occupied months of my life. But who would want to read deeply about a loathsome totalitarian state with an abhorrent human rights record and a comically absurd dynasty of dictators?  Well I would for one and certainly I'm not alone. Whether you're interested in global issues, survivor stories or political satire that crosses over into reality, when it comes to North Korea, there are countless avenues to explore.

If like me, you're curious to understand what life is like in one of the world's most closed off countries, start with Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick.  Her book follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years, providing an extraordinarily comprehensive view of the country and a great meshing of politics and history with moving personal stories.  It also happens to come highly recommended by David Sedaris.

Looking for a little more insight into the Kim family regime? Check out A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress and A Young Dictator’s Rise to Power. It's a first book by film producer Paul Fischer and among the most suspenseful true life thrillers I’ve ever read.  Long as it is, the title only begins to suggest the unbelievable journey this surreal story takes you on. 

Curious to know more? Check out this list for more recommended books and documentaries to further your understanding of North Korea.

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