Friday, July 21, 2017

Catching Air

Catching Air

Juvenile nonfiction
Trigger warning: creationists might find this review
offensive. Just saying.
"High in a pine tree in Southeast Asia, a Draco lizard searches
for ants to eat. As it swivels its head...
...and stares into the eyes of a deadly paradise tree snake.
The snake lunges!
The Draco leaps out into space. With the ground a hundred feet below,
death seems certain."
But the splat never happens. The creature spreads its ribs and
skin folds into wing like structures and manages to glide away, land
on a safer tree, and resume its task of noshing on ants. It is one of
the fascinating creatures Sneed B. Collard III introduces readers to
in Catching Air: Taking the Leap with Gliding Animals.
(If the author's name seems familiar, we enjoyed his Hopping
Ahead of Climate Change back in May. I was thrilled to see his latest
offering out so soon.)
In addition to the lucky lizzard, you're going to meet a variety
of varmints from all over the world including:
The flying squirrels (I had some as pets once; they are velvet soft)
that can glide 150 feet when a predator is closing in;
The adorable Australian sugar gliders that are actually marsupials,
related to less than cute American possums;
And even gliding frogs, snakes, and fish.
How do they do it? Collard very capably explains the
evolutionary adaptations that endow them with this very useful
talent. Did you know that gliding mammals left fossil remains 125
million years ago? Bet you can't guess what modern day species has
taken up the habit.
Can you believe Collard is the author of over 80 juvenile
science books? I'd say any volume with his name on it would be well
worth reading.
On a personal note, I had the most wonderful night last night!!! The
visiting African scholars are in Maine for six weeks. They are
leaders in their repective countries, very intelligent, thoughtful,
sociable, and great dancers. I was very fortunate to snag an invite
to a dinner and dance in their honor. The meal was delish! Their
company was wonderful. And the hours of dancing were total bliss!!!
I live for nights like that!!!
Cliffhanger: as I post this Joey cat is at Veazie Vet getting his
summer shave and check up. He gets what they call the lion trim.
Everypart of him except head, legs, and stub tail is shaved. He will
be much more comfortable as we move into the humid dog days. He's
still adorable. I'm expecting his check up to go well. But you never
know...
I'll update you in my next post.
A great big shout out goes out to our visiting scholars and all who
host them and coordinate their program and Joey's vet practice.
jules hathaway


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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sea Otters

Sea Otters

Juvenile nonfiction
On a very fortunate June day I found not one, but two new books
about sea otters. Both have scads of adorable photographs of these oh
so cute marine mammals. Both also are fonts of intriguing
information. Either or both would make a hit with future scientists
and vetenarians and animal loving kids.
In the wild sea otters have a fairly long period of dependence
on their mothers. If one becomes separated as a helpless baby, he/she
is in trouble deep unless a human rescuer comes along. It takes a
team with a lot of special skills to save a young sea otter's life.
In her Sea Otter Rescue, Suzi Eszterhas takes readers behind the
scenes at the wildlife hospital at the Alaska SeaLife Center for a
look at all that must done to prepare orphaned sea otter pups for
eventual return to the wild (for those who can) or a forever home like
Seattle Aquarium.
Patricia Newman's Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators That Saved An
Ecosystem portrays a real life science mystery. Elkhorn Slough, a
California coastal inlet has strong healthy seagrass. This phenomenon
raised the curiosity of Brent Hughes, a marine biologist. Normally
farm fertilizer run off supports the proliferation of algae that kills
off seagrass.
So what was going right?
Seagrass helps local ecosystems and the planet by calming
erosive currents and waves, serving as a nursery for young marine
creatures, keeps toxic contaminants out of the oceans, and removes
carbon from the atmosphere. Perhaps learning the key element that was
protecting Elkhorn Slough seagrass would lead improving other estuaries.
Perhaps some of the youngsters picking up these books will go on
to become wildlife rescuers or marine biologists. You never know.
On a personal note, yesterday I donated blood and hung out at the
canteen talking to other donors to see if any got dizzy and needed
help. Then I did what I could at community garden which was mostly
making people happy to see me. Harvesting made me too dizzy. Being
most social gardener has its perks. Today I am resting and writing at
home because my Thursday will be huge even by my standards.
A great big shout out goes out to my fellow donors and gardeners.
jules hathaway


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Monday, July 17, 2017

Daring Dogs

Daring Dogs

Picture books
"Then, one icy January day, there came an icy knock on Seppala's
door.
'Diptheria,' the man's voice cut through the freezing wind. 'A
young boy...it is so contagious that in two weeks it could wipe out
everyone here in Nome!' He tried to catch his breath. 'Anchorage has
an antitoxin that can stop it, but the train from Anchorage only goes
as far as Nenana.'
Nenana was 600 miles from Nome."
I know we're months from winter snow and sleet. In my mind,
however, there are no often seasons for exciting animal stories. So
when I found three of Robert Blake's Iditarod related stories at the
Orono Public Library, I scooped the up to share with you.
The first Iditarod was a matter of public health life or death.
The year was 1925. The dreaded disease diptheria had arrived in Nome,
Alaska. Anchorage had an antitoxin. Even with a train and a sled dog
team the life saving medicine would still be 300 miles away. A relay
team was needed for the last leg of the trip...under the harshest
weather conditions possible. Togo, from which the lead quote for this
review was excerpted tells that harrowing tale.
Akiak is a story of persistance that would impress even
Elizabeth Warren.
"It was Iditarod Race Day. 1,151 miles of wind, snow, and
rugged trail lay ahead, from Anchorage to Nome. Akiak had led the
team through seven races and knew the trail better than any dog. She
had brought them in fifth, third, and second, but had never won. She
was ten years old now. This was her last chance. Now, they must win."
You know what they say about the best laid plans of men and
mice...and dogs. On the fourth day of the race, with her team in
second place, Akiak had to be pulled because of an injury. She was to
be flown out, but she had other ideas that involved eluding the humans
and getting back on the trail to join them...a lone, injured dog
without the human support system crucial for such a grueling effort.
Painter and Ugly conveys a beautiful lesson on friendship.
Champion sled dogs, Painter and Ugly, are inseperable best friends.
One day, instead of their boy, a man takes the animals from their off
season summer home. Painter is put on a Junior Iditarod team with
strange dogs and no sign of his chum.
But he has no intentions of giving up his search for Ugly.
You know, in the upcoming wiltingly hot and muggy dog days of
August, these fine books may carry a welcome hint of crisp coolness.
On a personal note, I had a wonderful Sunday. Katie and Jacob were up
for a wedding. They, Brian and Amber, Eugene and I had a picnic at
Webster park. The weather was picnic perfect. We spent wonderful
hours together. After Eugene and I went for a drive. At a yard sale
I got 3 hoodies for $1.50 including a vivid tie dye Rainforest Cafe
one. I'll wear it often. Each time it will bring back precious picnic
memories.
A great big shout out goes out to the wonderful family Eugene and I
started almost 28 years ago when we got married.
jules hathaway



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Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Dead Bird

The Dead Bird

Picture book
My children went through a period where they made me the
preacher for a series of funerals that took place on the then empty
(now with a trailor on it--I hope the owners don't dig deeply) lot
next door. We buried everything from a pet clam (yep, clam) to a
snake that was run over (I was tasked with picking that one up). If
you have youngsters you may very well have been asked to help with the
proper disposal of a goldfish and. (Don't even think of the toilet
unless you sneak out and buy an identical replacement.)
It's how kids process concepts. And they will incorporate what
they perceive of their world (even what we try to shield them from)
into their daily life. No one got this better than Margaret Wise
Brown. Luckily for today's parents, her The Dead Bird has been
reissued with lovely illustrations by Christian Robinson.
Some children encounter a dead bird.
"The children were very sorry that the bird was dead. But they were
glad they had found it, because now they could dig a grave in the
woods and bury it. They could even have a funeral and sing to it the
way grown-up people did when someone died."
Everything they do is careful and thoughtful, digging a hole, wrapping
the bird in ferns and flowers, singing, providing a stone, and
planting flowers around it.
If you have young children, they are bound to encounter death
before you are ready for them to, especially if you share your abode
with animal companions. (Hint: goldfish are a very bad choice). The
Dead Bird is a wonderful read aloud for stimulating discussion and
validating feelings. It's a must acquire for public and school
libraries.
Lynn Plourde, author of Maxi's Secrets, made an insightful
observation about reader response to her book. Only adult readers
expressed anger in regard to Maxi's death. (Mea culpa). Child
readers acknowledged the sadness of the event and shared stories of
the pets they had lost.
Kids, it seems, can understand and cope with a lot more than we
give them credit for.
On a personal note, I will be cutting church tomorrow for the most
wonderful reason--a family picnic. Katie is in the neighborhood for a
friend's wedding. So we'll all get together tomorrow in Webster
Park. I didn't know about this til yesterday. You'd better believe
I'm on cloud nine!
A great big shout out goes to my wonderful family!
jules hathaway




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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Village Of Immigrants

Village Of Immigrants

Adult nonfiction
"Greenport is not far from towns where hostility to recent
arrivals is the norm. By contrast, however, it is relatively
peaceful. I decided to channel my general curiosity into a particular
investigation: how twenty-first-century immigrants in this village
were faring in the ambiguous atmosphere of current immigration
policy. What interested me most was the ecology of a small town
undergoing demographic transformation, the interplay of lives and
their surroundings..."
Diana R. Gordon, author of Village Of Immigrants: Latinos In An
Emerging America had taught a PhD level class on American Immigration
Policy twice before she experienced professional discomfort. She felt
that she didn't understand enough about the practical implications of
this policy for either native born or immigrants. "I could not
illuminate for my students the daily details that would have turned
the history and theory of my classes into rich reality."
Gordon moved to Greenport on New York's Long Island. A third of
its 3,000 full time residents (as opposed to second home summer
visitors) were immigrants, mostly from Latin America. Many were
undocumented, unable to obtain more than low income and/or seasonal
work. Although many homeowners and owners of businesses like
restuarants depended on them for cheap labor, there were concerns that
they would make the village a less desirable place in which to live.
Gordon delved into every facet of immigrant life: the schools,
the health care system, places of residence, work opportunities, and
encounters with law enforcement. She found that although her subjects
had better lives than they would have experienced in their countries
of origin, they still faced formidable challenges.
Gordon's format makes for a lively and informative read. Her
first chapters offer up historical bacground to set the scene. The
remainder of her chapters are paired, one on a particular facet of
life followed by a personal narrative, illustrative of the points
covered. For example, the chapter on housing is followed by one on
the struggle of Sofia to keep a roof over her family's head.
Village Of Immigrants beautifully conveys the human dimension
and "rich reality" she had regretted not being able to give her
students. This insightful book is a must read for all wishing to cope
constructively with the changing demographics that are changing
America into a nation where non Hispanic whites will soon be in the
minority.
On a personal note, the community garden is coming along beautifully.
Tuesday was the first day we distributed veggies to our people who
were delighted. We'd worked for weeks to make that possible. This
year we gardeners get live music while we work. The concerts that
used to be over in Webster Park are now in back of the library. Fun
work, friends, refreshments, and live music! Who can ask for more?
I'm scheduled to donate blood next Tuesday. I'm betting all the
organic spinach I'm eating is keeping my blood rich in iron.
A great big shout out goes out to my community garden family and the
musicians who provided us with such fine musical entertainment.
jules hathaway


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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

How to Be a Grown Up

How to Be a Grown Up

YA/Adult nonfiction
"I remember, as a kid, wanting so badly to be a 'grown up.' I
couldn't wait till I was an adult, because once I was, I was
convinced, I'd be free. I would buy myself any toy I liked on the
spot. No one could tell me what to eat, so I could stuff myself with
junk food. I would decide which tv shows were 'appropriate' for me to
watch. I would do my homework if and when I felt like it, and no one
would ever make me clean up my room. Bottom line: I'd do what I
liked, and I would be happy.
So, here I am, and so are you. We've arrived; we are officially
adults. Chronological adults who are free to live our lives any way we
want to. Right? Well sort of..."
Stacey Kaiser, author of How to Be a Grown Up: The Ten Secret
Skills Everyone Needs to Know discovered it isn't all that easy in
today's world. She also discovered that lots of people are mired in
lives that don't feel right or satisfying but are no more able to make
the changes that would make them happier than they were in their "As
long as you're under my roof, you'll play by my rules." days. So she
decided to help them achieve a more empowering skill set. That's what
the book is about.
The ten areas explore the skills needed to be "fully loaded
grown up". They make a lot of sense: communication, dealing with
circumstances beyond your control, friendships, romance, image,
financial responsibility, work, addiction, time management, and
flexibility. What makes this book one of the better ones on the
topic, however, is that Kaiser, a licensed psychotherapist, realizes
that people must take into account her readers are not tabala rasas.
Baggage, voices in our head, and other complexities color our feelings
and actions in any of the arenas. The first step has to be an
awareness of them and an exorcising of harmful ones.
Let's look at work. My earliest experiences were
entrepreneurial in nature: selling night crawlers, collecting
returnable bottles, running errands, odd jobs, animal and eventually
child sitting. Thanks to my dad, I was also a successful card shark.
A one night take of $75.00, for example, neatly supplemented my 35
cent a week allowance. As an adult my biggest work decision, made as
rationally as possible after 16 hours of labor and an emergency C
section and while under the influence of morphine, was to be a stay at
home mom. The transition back to the work world turned out to be
quite complex due to what I want out of work: meaning, purpose, and
community. I was determined not to settle for retail Hell, the
default option many women take after decades of child raising.
Volunteering gave me the knowledge that working with college students
is what makes my heart sing. So I am applying for the masters program
that will enable me to do that. At the same time I am seeking a part
time day job that will let me earn some money until I get with the
program.
Other steps involve building on and moving beyond this
awareness. There's a lot of good, solid advice. If you're an adult
who has areas of life dissatisfaction or an older teen eager to get to
the next life phase, How to Be a Grown Up can be a very profitable read.
On a personal note, yesterday I took a big step by interviewing for a
cashier job at Hannaford. I am a big fan of their corporate ethics so
I didn't feel like a hypocrite applying there. I think it went well.
We'll have to see.
Interviews don't scare me. That's a gift from my school committee
during crisis times days. After facing packed auditoriums of scared,
angry people with often the rudest waiting for the mic, one person who
hasn't already judged me as scum of the earth (and won't slander me on
the Internet the next day) can't help seeming relatively benign.
A great big shout out goes out to Hannaford and other companies for
whom corporate ethics are fundamental, rather than calculated window
dressing.
jules hathaway


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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Go The Fuck To Sleep

Go The Fuck To Sleep
You Have To Fucking Eat

Picture books for parents
"The cats nestle close to their kittens.
The lambs have lain down with the sheep.
You're cozy and warm in your bed, my dear.
Please go the fuck to sleep."
I adored each of my children from the first in utero stirrings
of life. I thought they were the most beautiful, smart, totally
delightful infants that had ever graced the Earth with their
presence. I also experienced moments when I wished they'd come with
owners' manuals, particularly in regard to sleeping habits. When I
was up to three kids, with a newborn partying at night and his older
sisters needing my presence during the day, I experienced an
overwhelming fatigue no amount of coffee could remediate. Opening my
eyes, gritty with sleepy dust, became a major achievement.
A lot of you have been there. If the issue was not close to
universal in our society, nearly every issue of parenting magazines
wouldn't have a how to solve piece. Even if your kids are fully
functioning adults you haven't forgotten. That's why Adam Mansbach's
Go The Fuck To Sleep is such a relief. The man expresses and
legitimizes what gazillions of us have experienced.
A child is not complying with a dad's desire to hit the sack.
Every stall in the book is being attempted: another story, a drink of
water followed by a potty trip, a missing stuffed animal... By the
time the child has dozed off (temporarily, it turns out) and the dad
is ready for adult entertainment, mom is out for the count.
The sequel, You Have To Fucking Eat, addresses another very
common perrenial parenting problem. The children pictured in the book
demand food at all hours, but find what'd placed in front of them
unacceptable. They suddenly loathe what they've previously craved.
Carefully packed school lunches come back untouched.
On the last two page spread a father is tucking a lovely little
girl into bed.
"I'm pretty sure that you're malnourished
And scurvied. My failure's complete.
But on the bright side, maybe this is the night
You'll go the fuck to sleep."
The text is sweetly rhyming. The kids and animals pictured are
adorable. But this is NOT, I repeat NOT, a book to read to one's
offspring unless they have grown up and been fruitful and multiplied
and are looking a little bleary eyed and rough around the edges.
Then they very much need the reassuring message: been there,
done that, survived.
On a personal note, without kids to keep me awake, my pet peeve sleep
stealer is heat and humidity. I love cool night breezes and their
soporific properties. I used to sleep in a small tent on muggy
nights. Now if it's too hot in the bedroom I adjourn to my studio
with its perfectly placed windows, sleep like a cat, and wake up
refreshed.
A great big shout out to all struggling with children's sleeping
habits with a reminder that this too shall pass.


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