Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November is just about gone! Here comes December!

     Today when I got to work, I looked at the calendar and cringed.  Yep!  Cringed! 
     It's the last of November...one day away from the end of the month.  That means the very next day is December 1st and I'm just not ready for December!
     December means Christmas shopping in busy stores, everyone pushing and shoving, struggling for the perfect gift for the person they're thinking about.  It means spending lots of money all at one time and paying them off all at one time.  Really, really hard to do in this day's economy.
     December means decorating the outside of my palace, putting up the wreaths, the bows, the balls, the snowflakes.  All that stuff!   AH!  But I don't decorate inside my palace, because of the cat who thinks she's a dog and chews on everything.  So, that's a blessing in disguise.
     December means Christmas parties.  So far, I have three this year to attend.  And when I attend one, I have to bring some food.  Well, I've simplified that...I'm bringing to each party the same thing, a veggie tray with artichoke/spinach dip, and hope that some is left over to take home for munching on in front of the TV.
     December means food, like I said, and lots of folks have BIG spreads to plan, buy, and cook for.  Mine this year will be small and that means everyone has to bring a dish.  Yea!  Cause I'm getting to where I hate to cook.  Too bad I hate to eat, huh?  That must mean December brings on the weight, too.  One more thing to grip about, I guess.
     Do I sound like Scrooge?  Well, it sounds like it.  Sorry about that.
     There are a few good things about December, now that I think harder.
     One would be all the great Christmas shows on TV.  And this year I just happen to have a new TV.  I graduated from my 13-inch (which for years I thought was a 19-inch) all the way up to a 32-inch!  Talk about feeling like I'm right there!  Ah, yes.  I'm looking forward to the Christmas shows, in what will seem to me like I'm sitting in my own personal theater.
     Two will be the time off around Christmas that we have each year.  I feel privileged to work in an organization where we have two weeks off at Christmas.  That doesn't help our patrons much, when they depend on the computers for school work or job searching.  But it does help with our slowly dwindling library funds.  I mean, we do save on electricity, heat, water, etc. some.  Hopefully, it all balances out.
     Three will be that I'll have time to read while I'm well.  Couldn't do that while I was sick, remember?  And I am reading three books all at one time right now.  But I need to start collecting the books I want to take home with me to read during the Christmas holidays.
     In fact, we just put on our recommendation shelf the first of our Christmas book selections for you to enjoy.
     We have The Fat Man audio book by Ken Harmon.  You can listen while you cook!  It's a story about Gumdrop Coal, one of Santa's original elves, who wanted revenge because he was fired from his longtime job as captain of the Coal Patrol.  When the parent of one of the Naughty kids gets killed, Gumdrop has to find out who framed him.  This is a "holly jolly" read that will cause you to hoot with laughter.
     For all of you who love "politically correct" stuff, we have Politically Correct Holiday Stories by James Finn Garner.  The author has taken the liberty of revising and improving some familiar holiday tales, such as "The Night Before Christmas," "Frosty the Snowman," and "The Nutcracker," among a few others.  Tongue-in-cheek is required, you know.
     For our romance-story lovers, we have two books on the shelf.  Texas Christmas Grooms by Pamela Griffin and Vickie McDonough tells two tales about Texas Rangers who try their hands at matchmaking.  Now, I've never heard of Texas Ranger matchmakers, but these are cute little Christmas stories that make you wonder if the two grooms will be lassoed in time for Christmas weddings. 
     The second book is by a favorite author, Joan Medlicott, the author of The Ladies of Covington.  Her book A Covington Christmas makes you wonder if the five couples, who thought they were married for a long time and find out they haven't been married at all, actually get re-married on Christmas Eve, when last-minute obstacles threaten to stop their big weddings.  They need a miracle!  Do they get it?  You'll have to read this one to find out.
     There are lots more reasons to like December.  I just remembered the gorgeous Christmas lights over the courthouse square and surrounding streets.   Also, there are lots of great Christmas movies now, like The Muppets, Hugo, and even Happy Feet Two (well, it has snow in it).  And in a couple of weeks some friends and I will go to the Thomasville, Georgia "Victorian Christmas."
    And just to prove that I'm not a Scrooge, we're putting up our December displays here in the library for you to enjoy.  That will certainly get all of us in the mood for a festive holiday season.  Come check us out.  After all, December only lasts for 31 days!   But remember, we'll be closed for half of that time.  (That sounded like a Scrooge ending, after all.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all!

     This is from the Land of the South to all of you in other parts of the United States and other areas around the world.  We know you're there, because we've seen you in our stats and know where you're viewing from.  That's why I just had to include "y'all" in my greeting. 
     And as for the "Land of the South," I mean South Georgia in the southern part of the United States.  Right now, that's about as far south as I want to go.
      Our library will be closing this afternoon at 5:30 for the Thanksgiving holidays.  We'll be closed until Monday, the 27th, a short but nice little time off for those of us who work here.  This is when I usually wonder where everyone who comes here to use the computers and sit a few hours in our reading area will be on Thanksgiving Day. 
     I'll have family with me on Thanksgiving Day...all the way from across town and from Gainesville, Florida.  Not a real whole lot of travel going on there.
     We'll share good food and good times with each other for the day.  Then they will leave and go back to their jobs the next day, while I'm able to stay home and enjoy my "whatevers"!
     I know many of you do not celebrate the same holidays we do here in the United States.  But I want you to know that on my Thanksgiving Day, I'll be thinking of you, no matter where you are.  And there's no way I could list all of you to give special thanks for.  There are just too many.
     So, even if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you'll be happy and free and have a good meal in your belly.
     From me to you...happy thanksgiving, y'all!

Monday, November 21, 2011

So! What do YOU do when you're sick?

     This past week has not been nice!  That's to put it mildly!  Allergies and sinus problems abound amongst my friends and coworkers.  One is also out with gallbladder surgery (how did that get in there?).  But to have an allergic reaction to the medicine that's supposed to be helping you get well...WELL!
     What did I do while I was sick for a week?  Not what you think.
     You know how we always say, "Oh, if I got sick, I'd be able to read all those good books I've been stocking up on my bookshelves"?  That didn't work for me.  I had two books I'd been reading for the past week...Women Who Run With Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Estes and The Joe Grey Cat Mysteries by Shirley Rousseau Murphy...and I thought I'd read them.  But that didn't really work out.  Headaches don't help your eyesight!
     And waiting on my bookshelf is the Sally Goldenbaum series of Seaside Knitters...Death by Cashmere (book one) and The Wedding Shawl (book five).  I have one through four at home; book five is here in our library.  I've read the first one and am excited about reading the others.  But NO.  The old headache and stomach problems kept me in bed...in the dark...hoping the crud would eventually disappear.
     A little TV, a little food (like yogurt and water, and chicken noodle soup and a vanilla malt brought by a friend) did little to make the misery go away.  I stared at my bookshelves, remembering that lovely thought...oh, if I got sick, I'd be able to read all those good books I've been stocking up on my bookshelves.  Oh, woe is me!  that didn't work out at all.  And the food brought on the worst problems of all, which you don't want to hear about, simply because of the allergic reaction to the medicine.
     That's when I had to go back to square one...a different medicine.  You know, sometimes you just have to feel worse in order to feel better.  And I did.
     Did I want to listen to a good story on audio books?  No.  My brain hurt, just like the rest of me did.  Even the soothing music I usually put on while napping didn't help.  Just silence, please.
     Finally, the good medicine kicked in.  The headache went away, as did the other problems associated with the allergic reaction.  The eyesight cleared up, food was tasting good again, the coughing and sniffling (did I mention those earlier?) began to clear up.  And an interest in looking at book pages began to appear.  The energy level was low and the house was dirty, but all that makes for reading time...in order to better recouperate, I told myself.
     Did I pick up Women Who Run With Wolves?  No.  Or The Joe Grey Cat Mysteries?  No.  Or the Seaside Knitters?  No.
     I treated myself to a new book....  I told my friend to bring me a new book from the library.  She called from the library to say, "Which one?"
     Ann Rivers Siddons' new book Burnt Mountain is about "the way love can shape our lives - and the things we keep from those who know us best."  It takes place not only in Atlanta but in the North Carolina mountains, over a period of many years, and deals with first love, first heartbreak, tragic death, and great expectations.
     Nicholas Sparks' new book The Best of Me also takes place in North Carolina and is a love story about a young couple from opposite sides of the track, who meet 25 years later at the funeral of their "mentor who once gave shelter to their high school romance" and realize everything they thought they knew about him, themselves, and the dreams they held dear was not as it seemed.
     Terry Kay's new book is The Greats of Cuttercane.  These are the stories of people born in Cuttercane, Georgia, who earned minor celebrity from the townsfolk's highest praise: "He (she) is something else, ain't he (she)?"  Only Terry Kay can tell a tall tale like all those who try to outdo one another.  Written with humor, these are the stories shared daily in cafes and other gathering spots in rural communities in the South.
     OK, which one did I pick?  All I can tell you is that I'm so glad I'm feeling better!  It's pitiful when you don't even feel like reading a good book.  I can't imagine ever NOT reading.  But if that time should come, I know I'll have a stack of audio books close by.
     As for the three new books mentioned, when you come to the library to select your next book, see which one is missing.  I'll have that one.  You can have the other two.
     And I sure hope you feel like reading the next time you're sick.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Browsing for Thanksgiving dinner

     Last Friday I took myself to the new farmers' market here in Moultrie.  It used to be called Bill's, but now it's called Packer Produce.  I just wanted to see what it looked like, since it's being managed by some different people.  When I got inside the newly enclosed, air conditioned building, I must say I was impressed.
     This is not an advertisement for Packer Produce.  It's my lead-in to tell you about my browsing for Thanksgiving dinner.
     I did buy some bananas, lemons, and sweet potatoes, however.  And I know where I'll get my cranberries and carrots and radishes and other veggies for my veggie plate with dip.
     Anyhow, what I really want to say is, around this time of year I get the bug to do some serious cooking.  Maybe it's the change in the weather.  Maybe it's the time of year when all the really good tasting foods, many that we have only once a year, appear on our tables.
     I know I'm going to make vegetable soup and my Mama's stew recipe.  I plan to start that right after Thanksgiving.
     But I started thinking about what I'd like to have for Thanksgiving dinner, that wonderful big meal of Thanksgiving Day, the one that gives you lots of leftovers for the rest of the week and into the weekend.
     And what better place to find what I would like to have but right here at the Moultrie-Colquitt County Library in the cookbook section...section 641.5.
     The first book I picked up is The Market Place, a Collection of Recipes by the Augusta Jr. Woman's Club.  I plan to have their "Cocktail Meatballs" for my appetizer.  That's on page 14 of the cookbook.  It's the  recipe that uses chili sauce and a jar of grape jelly to simmer the meatballs in.  Yummy!
     I also plan to have a veggie plate with dip.  I found some tasty suggestions in the Carol Arnel Greenberg cookbook, The Day Before Cookbook.   I can prepare all the veggies the day before: clean, slice, and cut them, and make the dip ahead of time.  Even bought a nice new platter to put everything on.
     Of course, there are those who would like to put their whole meal in a slow cooker and be done with it.  Lora Brody has a book titled Slow Cooker Cooking.  She's the author of The Kitchen Survival Guide (just my kind of book).  But in her slow cooker book, she has a recipe for Chicken Merlot with Mushrooms that sounds devine!  It's with skinless chicken thighs and just a little (1/4 cup of) Merlot (or any dry red wine).   Throw all the stuff in the pot and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 3-1/2 to 4 hours.  And wal-LA! It's all done!  And yummy too!  That's on page 122, in case you're interested.
     But I have to tell you, the most fabulous cookbook to just look at (the pictures alone will make you want to cook something) is Ina Garten's book, Barefoot Contessa at Home.   Lovely big pictures to make you drool!  And if you're not a ham or turky person for Thanksgiving, you should look at page 109, the recipe for rib-eye steaks with cornmeal-fried onion rings.  Or the chicken with goat cheese and basil (you could get your goat cheese from Sweet Grass Dairy in Thomasville - this is not an advertisement for Sweet Grass either).  Or (and this one might be mine) Eli's Asian Salmon.  This is so scrumptious looking!  Bigger than yummy!
     That brings me to the last cookbook I picked up...Julia Child's book, Julia's Casual Dinners.  This is for all of you who like turkey for Thanksgiving, and have a big family to enjoy it.  Julia has a Buffet for 19 with all the recipes to make your dinner a huge success.  How about this: Oysters on the Half Shell, Turkey Orloff (turkey breast scallopini gratineed with mushrooms, onions, rice, and cheese), Fresh Green Beans with Watercress and Tomatoes, Oil and Lemon Dressing, and French Bread.  Her dessert is a Jamaican Ice Cream Goblet.  And she even suggests the wines!
     No, I lied...that wasn't my last cookbook.  I also picked up Christmas with Paula Deen.  It's a little book chocked full of recipes and stories from Paula's favorite holiday.  After all, Christmas is right around the corner.  Thanksgiving is just for practice.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An evening with Janisse Ray at the library

     Yesterday while visiting with my neighbor, I told her we were going to have Janisse Ray at the library again and invited her to come hear Janisse talk about her new book.
     After telling her that the reading and book signing would be on Tuesday, November 8th, at 6:30 p.m. at the library, my neighbor said, "Who is Janisse Ray?"
     Silly me!  I assumed that everyone in Georgia who reads knows who Janisse Ray is!  Maybe even if they don't read.  Maybe if they like birds and rivers and longleaf forests; things like that.
     Janisse Ray is a writer, naturalist and activist, who has written four books of literary nonfiction and a collection of poetry.  She lives on a farm in southern Georgia and is an organic gardener, seedsaver, tender of farm animals, and a slow-food cook.  She lectures widely on nature, community, agriculture, wildness, sustainability and the politics of wholeness.
     She has a whole list of titles, including a doctorate from Unity College in Maine, and is on the faculty of Chatham University's low-residency MFA program.
     I've read all her books, but the one I've loved the best is Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, her memoir about growing up in a junkyard in the ruined longleaf pine ecosystem of the Southeast.  Besides being a plea to protect and restore the glorious pine flatwoods of the South, the book looks hard at family, mental illness, proverty, and fundamentalist religion.  Anne Raver of The New York Times said of Janisse Ray, "The forests of the South find their Rachel Carson."
     Ray has also written Wild Card Quilt: Taking a Chance on Home, about a rural community, as well as Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land, the story of a 750,000-acre wildland corridor between south Georgia and north Florida.
     Her new book, Drifting into Darien, a Personal and Natural History of the Altamaha River explores Ray's lifelong relationship with the river, which is located in southeast Georgia. 
     The first part of the book chronicles a paddling trip along the entire length of the Altamaha, from where it begins at the confluence of the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers to where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean near the town of Darien.
     In the second part of the book, Ray writes about many facets of the Altamaha's ecological significance and some of the threats to its remarkable biodiversity.  The Altamaha, which has been the focus of decades of conservation effort by the Nature conservancy, is the largest free-flowing, intact water system on the Atlantic coast and is home to more than 120 rare and endangered species.
     Janisee Ray is a spirited woman, who lives a life she loves and loves to share her concern for our environment.  During her last visit to the library, she drew a crowd of over 200 people.
     This is an event you won't want to miss.  Plan to join us on Tuesday, November 8th, at 6:30 p.m. in the adult reading area for "An Evening with Janisse Ray."  You won't be disappointed.
     For more information about Janisse Ray, visit www.janisseray.weebly.com.