Tag Archives: Kaarin

I’ll give you something to whine about!

I’m cold, I’m tired and I’m hungry.  It seems that I am in the mood to whine lately, and there’s just nothing to be done about it.  Or is there?  Perhaps it’s time to read about people who have it, or had it, worse than I do.  Let’s see how this works…

Strength in What RemainsStrength in What Remains, by Tracy Kidder (who is coming to the Drue Heinz Lectures this month, by the way!).  This is the story of Deo, who lives in a tiny village in Burundi.  He wants nothing more than to be a doctor, so somehow he gets to medical school.  Once he gets there, though, the violence in Rwanda spills over to Burundi, and he’s forced to run for his life.  From there, he manages to get to New York City, where he has to learn to survive all over again, since he speaks no English, has no contacts and only $200 in his pocket. 

My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor.  She’s doing well now, of course, but Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist at Harvard, woke up one morning to find herself having a stroke.  It took her eight years to recover from a complete state of no identity and non-functionality.

The Center Cannot HoldThe Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, by Elyn R. Saks.  The brain of a schizophrenic tells its owner all sorts of things, often scary, violent and nonsensical.  Imagine having that going on in your head while you’re trying to go to law school and you’ll have a sense of what life is like with what can be a debilitating mental illness.

Ten Thousand Joys & Ten Thousand SorrowsTen Thousand Joys & Ten Thousand Sorrows:  A Couple’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s, by Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle.  It’s hard to say who has a more difficult time with a disease like Alzheimers, the patient or the caregiver.  For Ms. Hoblitzelle and her husband, who is diagnosed at the age of 72, it’s a chance to put all their understandings of psychology and meditation into practice.

I Remember RunningI Remember Running:  The Year I Got Everything I Ever Wanted – and ALS, by Darcy Wakefield.  Living with a terminal illness like Lou Gehrig’s disease could be such a downer – serious whine potential.  Yet so many quotes from this book sum up Darcy Wakefield’s attitude, such as “The real truth of my ALS is that it takes daily acts of courage to get up, live the day fully, be grateful for what I have, and to find the humor and grace and the pleasure, yes, pleasure, in not being able to clip my own nails.”

Best Seat in the HouseThe Best Seat in the House:  How I Woke Up One Tuesday and Was Paralyzed for Life, by Allen Rucker. Another title that tells you most of the story, but you’ve got to read it to get the full benefit of Allen Rucker’s humor, such as his idea for a daily flip calendar for people who are paralyzed, “flip” being the operative word.

To tell you the truth, I actually feel better.  Not so much because I’m glad that I don’t have a physical or mental disease, but that I’m grateful that there are folks out there who have had tough rows to hoe and were still willing to share their inspiring stories with me. You never know, though, when I will slip again and start whining.  What would you suggest to get me out of it?

-Kaarin

Leave a comment on today’s post for a chance at today’s prize in the 29 Gifts giveaway.  Daily winners will be contacted by e-mail.

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Chocolate. It even feels good to say it. Chocolate.

In the throes of winter, I think there is nothing better than a delicious cup of hot cocoa.  Of course, I like hot chocolate in the fall, too, and spring, and I’ve been known to drink it in the summer, as well.  Of course, hot cocoa isn’t always available when you need it (need being the operative word).  Sometimes ice cream is your only option, or cupcakes, or cookies, or truffles.  And sometimes you just have to break out the unsweetened stuff and bake a cake with it.  I have heard that you can use chocolate in savory dishes, as well, although I’m not sure I see the point.  Nonetheless, it’s good to have so many ways to enjoy this year-round treat!

If you love chocolate as much as I do, you may want to check out one of these:

The Healing Powers of Chocolate The Healing Powers of Chocolate, by Cal Orey.  It’s a health food.  Really.    

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The Chocolate Wars Chocolate Wars: The 150-year Rivalry Between the World’s Greatest Chocolate Makers, by Deborah Cadbury.  Chocolate and intrigue, what more could you want?  

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Bitter Chocolate Bitter Chocolate: The Dark Side of the World’s Most Seductive Sweet, by Carol Off.  Where does your chocolate come from? 

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Milton S. Hershey Milton S. Hershey: The Chocolate King.  A home-state chocolate story.  

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The Seven Sins of Chocolate Seven Sins of Chocolate, by Laurent Schott. Okay, so is it healthy or sinful?

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As always with chocolate, I could keep going much longer than appropriate… 

-Kaarin

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9 more days…

… until we kick off the Winter Read-a-Thon!

What is the Winter Read-a-Thon, you ask?  The Winter Read-a-Thon is like a walk-a-thon, but instead of walking on one day in the summer, you raise money for the collections at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh by reading as much as you can for six weeks of winter! Register in person or drop off your online registration confirmation and $5 registration fee, and get your pledge packet and a handy, dandy bookmark clock. 

Your handy, dandy bookmark clock

Get your friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors to pledge you — they can pledge by the hour, or a single amount for the whole six weeks. Then you read, read, read between January 8th and February 19th. If you get hourly pledges, keep track of how much time you spend reading, and collect your pledges when the reading period is over. Turn them in by March 7 and collect a prize! You may even qualify for your own, customized READ poster!

Where do you begin?  At one of our kick-off parties, going on all around the city. At the Main Library, you can come to hear four different authors read from their work, curl up and read in one of our comfy reading chairs, talk to other readers, enjoy a cup of cocoa and win cool prizes! Or you can head to Beechview, Squirrel Hill, Mt. Washington, the Hill District, Woods Run, or West End to join in the city-wide community “Read In.”  Can’t make it on the 8th? Head to Lawrenceville on the 15th, or attend one of these other events.  This reading celebration goes on for 6 whole weeks!

Any time you come to a reading event or a book discussion, it counts as reading, as does reading blogs, newspapers and magazines, reading to your kids or grandkids, and listening to audiobooks. Don’t know what to read?  Our librarians can give you a personal recommendation, or you can browse our many lists of suggestions!

Really, it’s the easiest, and coziest, fundraiser ever, and all the money you raise helps us buy more books and other reading materials for you! How else would you rather spend these dark, cold winter months?

– Kaarin

 

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gratitude

Many years ago, I learned how annoying it was to some people when other people asked them what they were thankful for on Thanksgiving.  If you are one of those annoyed people, you might want to stop reading now. Really.  Go away. Click the little X in the top right hand corner. Because I am breaking out my gratitude list, and it is full of cute, happy, sweet, and positive things that will either make your heart sing, or make it blacker.

I am thankful for:

Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong, by Jen Yates.  I don’t think I’m the only one who is glad that cake exists, and that there are people who decorate them, even people who make mistakes. …………………………………………………………………………………..
Regretsy: Where DIY Meets WTF, by April Winchell.  I’m a fan of etsy, too, but to know that there are people who express their creativity despite themselves makes me feel proud to be human. ……………………………………………………………………………………….  ……………………………..

Four Word Film Reviews, by Benj Clews and Michael Onesi.  I am grateful to anyone who keeps an opinion to four words or fewer.   …………………………………………………………………………… 

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I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar: A Collection of Egregious Errors, Disconcerting Bloopers, and Other Linguistic Slip-ups, by Sharon Eliza Nichols.  What wud I do witout peeple hu cot my misteaks?

Of course, what gratitude list would be complete without friends, family and library patrons? And since you’ve read this far, I know you know that love is what makes it all worthwhile.

-Kaarin

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Great Gershwin for Everyone

If you haven’t already been there, you have just a few days left to explore the Gershwin in Print exhibit featured in the Gallery at Main during October.  Curated by Greg Suriano, author of Gershwin in His Time, the exhibit features a wonderful collection of Gershwin memorabilia and sheet music covers.

 

To make the exhibit even more exciting, the music will “go live” this Sunday, October 31st, at 2pm in the Quiet Reading Room of the Main Library in Oakland.  Mike Plaskett, co-host of the WDUQ-radio program “Rhythm Sweet and Hot,” will lead a musical group that includes Doug Starr on keyboards, Lou Schreiber on clarinet, and vocals by Emily Collins and Mr. Plaskett.  Mr. Suriano will provide commentary on the songs, featuring many of the composer’s finest compositions performed from the original 1920s-30s sheet music.  You may find yourself singing along to “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “Someone To Watch Over Me,” “I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’,” or “‘S Wonderful.”

After that, you may want to explore the library’s own sheet music collections, which are filled with such treasures as “Gateway Polka,” “In Wilkinsburg,” “Dear Old Westinghouse,” and “Wake up America! A toast to the death knell of Prohibition.”

We hope to see you at this entertaining and enjoyable event!

-Kaarin

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The People’s University

As you probably know, the library is the place for lifelong learning.  No matter the topic, we keep you informed via our resources and programs. 

We are very pleased to announce a new lecture series that starts this Saturday, October 2, with a program that may be familiar to you.  If you have enjoyed attending our Armchair Travels program in the past, we hope you will be interested in this new series.  The People’s University will include informative travelogues – this Saturday’s will featured China’s Yangtze River and its beautiful gorges – as well as free lectures on history, the arts, community organizations, author visits and much, much more. 

The program will be held on Saturday afternoons at 3:00 PM in the Quiet Reading Room on the First Floor of the Main Library. Here is a schedule for the fall:

October 2
Armchair Travels: China’s Yangtze River

October 16:
Community Connection: The Peace Corps in Latin America

November 6:
Listening to Jazz

December 4:
Observations on Nazi Book Burnings and American Censorship

We hope you’ll come out for these free, enlightening, and edifying programs!

-Kaarin

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Today’s post is brought to you by the color yellow.

The truth of the matter is that I am obsessed with the color combination of blue and yellow.  It lifts my spirits, touches something deep inside me, and makes me happy.  However, I’ve already done a blue post, so now it’s yellow’s turn!

Dreaming in Yellow, by Flickr user Cesar R.

Yellow Wave, by Flickr user 8#X

Yellow Multitude, by Flickr user racineur

lemon on pink, by Flickr user Miss Muffin

We’ve got songs! Listen to Yellow Submarine, Big Yellow Taxi, Follow the Yellow Brick Road, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Yellow, Yellow Ledbetter, or Mellow Yellow.

We’ve got sickness!  Try Yellow Fever: A Deadly Disease Poised to Kill Again, by James L. Dickerson, or The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic that Shaped Our History, by Molly Caldwell Crosby.

How about bugsCeramics? A big, beautiful national park?  You can’t go wrong with a cookbook by Christopher Kimball, The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook.  And speaking of food, you can explore lemons or corn – or go bananas!

And speaking of going bananas, I think it’s time to end this post!

-Kaarin

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what’s the matter, are you chicken?

When I was in eighth grade, my stepdad spotted a chicken on the side of the highway not far from where we lived. We pulled over, and he picked her up and brought her back to the car. He has a special whistle he uses with birds, and so he whistled to her and cuddled her as we drove home. It happened that we had a little pen in the back yard, so we named her Abigail and she lived back there for a few months before something or someone took off with her head. We figured she had at least a little reprieve before her untimely demise, since she was probably on her way to the supermarket shelf when she fell off the truck. Nonetheless, she was a sweet little bird, and had she been able to lay eggs, I would have been even sadder to lose her.

If you think you might like to have chickens in your back yard, we have a variety of resources to check out.  My family’s chicken arrived rather serendipitously, but you might like to choose which breed you want and learn something about chicken care before you start out.  Joining a group of like-minded people might also be helpful, especially in keeping up with local ordinances.

Photo by mazaletel

Aren't they cute?

 -Kaarin

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Going home again.

Re-reading.  I know people do it all the time.  “I loved it so much, I read it over and over again!”  they tell me.  Some of my favorite people in the world do it.  “Yes, it’s sad that one of your favorite authors died, and they’ll never write another new novel again, but there’s always re-reading,” they say.  My true confession of the day:  I can’t re-read.  Least of all, my favorite books.

I wasn’t always this way.  I spent all of eighth grade reading S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders over and over and over again.  I mixed in Rumble Fish and Tex, but really, it was all Outsiders all the time.  Particularly in the hallways at school, between classes, when I walked with the book in front of my face so I wouldn’t have to look at anyone.

I think the re-reading aversion started when I re-read The Little Leftover Witch, by Florence Laughlin, as an adult.  This was my favorite book in the third grade, and remains one of them, despite the re-reading experience.  The story of a grumpy little witch who becomes a sweet little girl through the love of a kind family.  Re-reading the book as an adult hit my anti-conformist buttons in such a way that I felt embarrassed for ever having treasured the book so much.  Nonetheless, as I look at it now, I appreciate the spirit of hopefulness that I saw in the story, especially as it’s counter-balanced by another childhood favorite called Konrad, about a little boy who changes from factory-made perfect to naughty and normal.  Again, at that age, I needed to have the hope that people could transform like that.

The thing is, I savor so much the feeling of reading a book for the first time.  It’s like love at first sight.  Middlesex, another one of my all time favorites (finally, an adult book!), is a perfect example.  For me, the story was about a person finding his identity in the very confusing situation of being born a hermaphrodite, then being raised as a girl.  I don’t want to re-read it and find out that it’s got any other themes.  I know it does; but I just want it to remain the book I fell in love with many years ago. 

Eat, Pray, Love is another example.  As I read it, I was deeply touched by the descriptions of spiritual practices in the ashram.  I actually bought the book so that I could lend it to friends, something I rarely do.  Since then, I have seen more critical reviews and realized that gosh, not everybody loved that book!  The last thing I want to do is go back and re-read it.  What if I suddenly see the flaws in the object of my adoration?  No, I can’t handle it.  Although I will go see the movie.

The sad part is that lately I’ve noticed a disinclination even to read the same authors again!  I am fighting it, successfully enough to have enjoyed Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity while on vacation last month, despite that I had already read A Long Way Down a few years ago.  But it’s tough with so many new books coming out all the time.

The funny thing is that as I write this post, I find these attitudes I carry shifting and changing already. Out of curiosity, I picked up Nothing Remains the Same:  Rereading and Remembering, by Wendy Lesser.  In the first chapter, she talks about re-reading The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James. 

I cared less, this time through, about what decisions Isabel made than about how and why she made them.  And this, in turn, gave me far more patience with the length and complexity of James’s sentences. . . . whereas I used to be tempted to skip ahead, I now wanted to saunter through the commas, linger at the semicolons, and take small contemplative breaks at the periods.  The book was much better than I had remembered it.  More to the point, I was a much better reader of it.  Both pleasure and understanding came more easily to me.

Perhaps that transformation I read about all those years ago is still possible.

-Kaarin

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What to do in the off season

You know you’ve been wondering what to do until football season starts … now you have it. 

One of the many treasures you’ll find among our craft books is:  ……………………………………………………………………………………
Rosey Grier's Needlepoint for MenRosey Grier's Needlepoint for Men, Back Cover

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Rosey says it all on the back cover:

“Rosey Grier, immortalized in needlepoint – and by my own hands to boot! If anyone would have told me that I would go from football to needlepoint, I would have laughed in their face. In fact, the whole thing started as a joke, but it’s turned into one of the most enjoyable and satisfying things I’ve ever done. I try to turn other guys on to needlepoint wherever I go – from the dude sitting next to me on a plane to the guy working behind the scenes on a movie set. ‘Smile all you want,’ I tell them, ‘but if you try it once, you’ll keep on coming back for more’, and that’s the truth brother.”

I’m convinced, are you?

-Kaarin

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