Preschool Pirating

Have we all gone stir crazy yet?

Imagine if you were on a 17th century ship, with nothing around you but ocean for three months – or six months. Sure, you didn’t have bored kids fighting over whose turn it is with the TV, or a toddler screaming that Tickle Me Elmo is out of batteries again, but eventually that parrot is going to look pretty tasty when all you’ve had to eat is wormy hardtack and stale beer. If you’ve ever been to the Charles P. Morgan at Mystic Seaport, or the Mayflower up in Plymouth, Mass, or Old Ironsides in Boston proper, you know that those ships are pretty tiny on a ten minute walk-through. Now cram them with fifty people for three months, and suddenly your 1500 square foot house doesn’t seem so bad. At least you’re not seasick.

Pirates, whether illegal or privateers working for King and Country, were often violent men – and a few women – who were not very nice. But legends and lore get romanticized, and pirates – whether Captain Hook, Jack Sparrow, Long John Silver, or Blackbeard himself, and kids are attracted to each other the way ants love sugar. Fancy hats, eye patches, wooden legs, cannons, swords, boats, and treasure – how cool is that?

When a new dog-proof garbage can arrived in a box larger than my three year old, it became her favorite toy of the month, and for one of the weeks we turned it into a pirate ship. Anything that keeps a bored three year old busy for a week deserves to be bronzed. We hung a garden flag from a broom handle for a sail, used a brass fastener to make a spinning wheel, dug out costumes from the older kids, watched a lot of preschool pirate videos and read a lot of pirate books. I drew a simple outline map of our living room and taught her to read maps by placing candy in various places as treasure, and marking X on the map. By the third candy, she was proficient on her own. Then we built our finale.

Using balloons, some Cheshire Herald strips, and a little watered down Elmer’s Glue, we made some cannon balls, and then painted them the next day. Then we built our cannon. The cannon balls were about 5 ½ inches, too big for a standard paper tube. But they worked just perfectly for a paint can! So we scavanged a paint can from the garage, which, thankfully, had only an inch of dried paint in the bottom. And these new-fangled plastic paint cans? The paint doesn’t stick! A few taps and peels, and all that dead paint came falling right out. A quick rinse, and we were good. I cut the bottom off with my Ginsu knife (a product that has lived up to every claim ever made on it – thirty years later it still cuts fences AND tomatoes, and plastic paint cans). I strung a piece of waistband elastic across the hole, held tight by Gorilla Tape, and we had our cannon. It was tricky getting the right angle, but pull the elastic back far enough with the cannon ball sitting on it, and we could get the ball to shoot four or five feet, which is plenty inside a house.

We won Preschool Zoom that week.

So scrounge your house, and see what you can come up with! With warmer weather, try staking out a ship outside with lawn chairs or wooden pallets.  Anything that keeps a kid busy and sparks some interest is a good thing – and they just might learn something.  And by the way, Saturday September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day – check out these awesome stories to get you in the pirate mindset:

Pirate’s Perfect Pet        Pirates Go to School               Peter Pan   

Pirates Past Noon           Pinkalicious and the Pirates

Pirates Don’t Take Baths        No Pirates Allowed, Said Library Lou

Pirates Don’t Change Diapers        Sea Queens:  Women Pirates Around the World

  Treasure Island      Pirates of the Caribbean     Jake and the Never Land Pirates 

Rules for Living a Bookish Life

Bookworm tips from our Teen Librarian (and voracious reader), Kelley:

Book lover, bookworm, bookhound, bibliophile, reader, no matter how you phrase it, that’s me. I read every spare moment I can scrounge, and I’ll read pretty much anything –  the back of cereal boxes will do if there’s nothing else available. It makes me happy to spread a love of reading- I drop breadcrumbs connecting books and readers everywhere I go. I do this for my job as a librarian, of course, but it goes further than that for me- my whole life is enriched by books and reading. I live a bookish life, and I highly recommend it. Interested? Here’s how I do it:

RULES FOR LIVING A BOOKISH LIFE

1. Read, read, read – and read widely. Carry a book or eReader everywhere with you. Don’t ever be ashamed of what interests you. Just read!

2. Don’t continue reading books you don’t enjoy.  Life is too short, and there are too many other books out there. Quit books with reckless abandon.

3. Give yourself permission to read non-linearly, and don’t read every word of a book just to say you did. Skip chapters, jump around- you decide if what you get out of a book is sufficient or enjoyable.

4. Read just one book or multiple books at a time, and don’t feel obligated to “speed read”. Feel free to linger on passages that strike you as interesting or mean something to you.

5. Reconsider books you didn’t enjoy in the past. Time never stands still, and your attitude and life experiences are always changing and evolving.

6. Don’t worry about having more unread books than read ones. They remind us that we still have much to learn. That in life, there is always the next thing to discover.

7. Make use of your local library, and collect book recommendations everywhere. Ask people for their favorite books. Check bibliographies, look for references to books in other books.

8. Give yourself permission to re-read books you enjoyed in the past. You’ll probably remember things you had forgotten or notice things you never did before.

9. Don’t treat books as sacred (unless they are borrowed). Fold the corners, write and sketch in the margins. It’s the story that is sacred, not the container.

10. Break these rules! Don’t let me, or anyone else, tell you how to read. Find what’s right for you, stick to it- and enjoy.

After waxing all philosophical about books and reading, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least take the time to offer up some suggestions for a selection of interesting new(ish) books from a variety of genres- click on the titles to learn more and hopefully you’ll discover a new literary love. And remember- there’s no wrong way to read. As long as we’re learning, enjoying, and expanding our minds, we can only get better and better.

 

 

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library (virtually) in September

We’ve reached the 6-month mark of providing virtual programming, if you can believe it. Though we’d all rather be together in the library for programs, we’re committed to providing services in the safest way possible for our patrons and staff alike.  For now, that means meeting online. September is typically a light programming month, as staff recovers and regroups after a busy summer of programs, but we still have something going on each week, check it out:

Support Through Meditation – Weekly Zoom Event

Tuesdays starting September 8, 2:00 – 3:00pm

This introductory meditation class is geared towards helping you through these anxious and challenging times. You will learn various meditation techniques that you will practice in session and guidance to perform meditation on your own. Presenter Tia Mandrozos will explain the purpose of meditation and interact with the participants to provide the help needed and to address specific concerns. There are 8 scheduled sessions in September and October, please register via the Event Calendar for each session you wish to attend.

Digital Photo Organizing

Thursday, September 17, 2020, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Are your digital images and videos scattered over various devices and in different locations? Do you struggle to find your most important images?  This class will review the difference between backup and sync, tips on how to consolidate your images & videos into one manageable library so you can easily access, share and backup your most important memories.  Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link on the day of the program to join the event.

Simplifying the Financial Aid Process

Wednesday, September 30, 2020, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Jennifer Philips’ seminar will provide parents and students with tips on securing the best possible financial aid package from the college of their choice. Jennifer will describe the best student loans, grants and scholarships available, explain the critical financial aid forms and deadlines and the various components of a financial aid offer, describe how to best compare and appeal offers in extenuating circumstances, and provide tips on how to address the gap between tuition and financial aid. Please register in advance, registered participants will receive a Zoom meeting link on the day of the program.

Virtual Books Over Coffee: Next Year in Havana

Wednesday, September 30, 2020, 12:00 – 1:30pm

Want to engage in great discussions about books? Meet new people? Join us for an adult monthly book club program called Books Over Coffee. We will meet over Zoom for our Sept. meeting. This month’s book is Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton. Please register in advance, registered participants will receive a Zoom meeting link on the day of the program.

Kids Cook Dinner: Southwest Quesadillas (Ages 7-14)

Wednesday, September 30, 2020, 4:00 – 5:00pm

Spend some quality time with your children in the kitchen while encouraging them to try new foods! An instructor from Food Explorers, will show you how to prepare southwest quesadillas with guacamole (optional)! Best for ages 7-14.  Registration is required, and the list of ingredients can be found on the Event Calendar page.

 

Outside Book Groups meeting this month:

Murder by the Book Mystery Book Club: The Seven-Per-Cent Solution

Wednesday, September 16, 2020, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Do you like to read and talk about mysteries? Then join this monthly book discussion for fresh perspectives, new authors and a friendly atmosphere! This month’s discussion is on The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer.   A best-seller when it came out in 1974, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution is a pastiche about Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud. Who can imagine a more exciting team?! Explore why this bestseller made history and, as a bonus, learn how to write a pastiche. Learn more and register online here.

Art Book Discussion: Strapless

Friday, September 18, 2020, 11:00am – 12:30pm

Do you love to read? And love art? Let’s discuss! This  monthly book club meets on the third Friday of each month from 11am to 12:30pm.  This month’s discussion is on the book Strapless by Deborah Davis. Learn more and register online here. (We are hoping to host the September meeting in-person at Mixville Park under the shade trees. If weather and other factors cooperate, we invite you to bring your own chair and join us in a socially-distanced outdoor setting.  Should conditions not prevail, keep an eye out for an emailed notice of a meeting via Zoom or a postponed meeting date.)

 

My Coronavirus Garden

From our Deputy Director Deb, who is is also our gardening expert:

Late last summer I visited the Charlotte Rhoades Park Butterfly Garden in Southwest Harbor, Maine. Full of color from both the flowers and the many butterflies it was designed to support, this garden was an inspiration. I thought of it often in the ensuring months but a major gardening project seemed like more than I would be able to manage at this point in my life.

The came the coronavirus. Remember March when the state shut down? Then there was April with empty shelves and Governors Cuomo and Lamont’s daily news briefings. May didn’t bring a lot of relief. It was starting to seem obvious that we would be in this situation for the long haul. I needed to do something positive and thought again about the Charlotte Rhoades garden. Maybe this would be the year to pull this off. To plan a garden is to plan for the future, a future that exists outside of the news cycle. The world was a mess and I couldn’t do anything about it, but I could create a garden that would support and nurture the wildlife in my small corner of the world.

Each night for weeks I fell asleep thinking about plants and butterflies and birds. If I started to worry about the coronavirus, I turned my thoughts instead to the Jersey Tea shrub I had just ordered. Or those beautiful fall-blooming asters that would be covered with bees and butterflies come September and October. Or the big clumps of Verbena bonariensis I planned to scatter throughout my garden.

I read books and looked at websites about creating pollinator gardens and sketched out a plan for an irregularly shaped garden about 50 feet long and between 12 and 20 feet wide. There was an existing spruce and 2 shrubs from an earlier planting scheme. And I wanted to incorporate a number of plants from another garden. A 50-foot garden may sound large but it wasn’t nearly big enough for the dozens of plants that I wanted to include. I made list after list. And then crossed out most of the plants on the lists until I had a workable plan. At this point, it was late April and time to get busy.

There were challenges, as there are with any garden. My location was a sandy hillside next to our driveway that turned out to have been a town dumping ground for road sand and hunks of old macadam from long–ago repaving projects. We had to remove the sand and junk from the planting area for each shrub or perennial (there were dozens) and replace it with decent topsoil. This was hard work! Luckily for me (though not for him), my 28-year-old son was stuck at home and was willing to help. He did most of the heavy excavating and moving of soil, alI I had to do was plant, mulch, weed and water. Months later, my garden is taking shape. It has been full of bees in all shapes and sizes as well as butterflies. As I write this, a flock of goldfinches is busy pulling the seeds out of the fading liatris and coneflowers. And I am busy thinking about how to improve the bloom sequence and plant variety in the garden. As any gardener knows, a garden is never completed.

Want to plant your own wildlife garden? There are many wonderful resources online. Check out the website for the Xerces Society for information and plant lists. American Beauties Native Plants, a wholesale nursery partially located in Connecticut, also has great plant lists.

Many of our area nurseries carry native plants such as coneflowers, liatris, asters and goldenrods. Some natives can be more difficult to find. Natureworks, the organic nursery in Northford, had a great selection of milkweeds and asters earlier in the season. Their website also offers lots of excellent information on gardening to support pollinators and butterflies. If you can’t find the plants you need locally, try Prairie Moon Nursery in Minnesota. They have been around for 40 years and supply over 700 North American species.

Consider joining a local gardening club. Members are knowledgeable and experienced gardeners who are happy to share their experience. Many clubs offer a wide range of educational programs. Cheshire has 2 garden clubs, the Cheshire Garden Club and the Suburban Garden Club.

Gardening has benefits beyond improving the beauty and utility of your yard. Check out this recent New Yorker article on the therapeutic power of gardening.

The library has numerous books on planning gardens for pollinators, butterflies and birds. Search the catalog using keywords such as “pollinators”, “native plants”, “xeriscaping”and “gardening for birds” .

Here are a few :

 

The Pollinator Victory Garden : win the war on pollinator decline with ecological gardening : how to attract and support bees, beetles, butterflies, bats, and other pollinators by Kim Eierman

100 Plants to Feed the Bees : provide a healthy habitat to help pollinators thrive by the Xerces Society

The Wildlife-friendly Vegetable Gardener : how to grow food in harmony with nature by Tammi Hartung

Native Plants for New England Gardens by Mark Richardson

Attracting Birds and Butterflies : how to plant a backyard habitat to attract winged wildlife by Barbara Ellis

Garden Secrets for Attracting Birds : a bird-by-bird guide to favored plants by Rachael Lanicci

The National Wildlife Federation’s Guide to Gardening for Wildlife : how to create a beautiful backyard habitat for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife by Craig Tufts and Peter Loewer

For inspiration and specific suggestions for what you can do in your own yard to support wildlife (hint: it involves planting more natives), read Douglas Tallamy’s books Bringing Nature Home and Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard.

Summer Love: 11 Great New Romances to Read This Summer

From debut authors making a splash to new books by favorite authors,  here are some romances to fall in love with this summer!

Beach Read by Emily Henry. A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Dance Away With Me by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Seeking refuge in a Tennessee mountain town to recover from heartbreak, a young widow and midwife bonds with an enigmatic artist, a helpless infant and a passel of curious teens in a small and suspicious community.

Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas. Determined to marry for love, Lady Cassandra Ravenel resists the advances of compelling railroad magnate Tom Severin, who takes advantage of a situation that nearly destroys Cassandra’s reputation.

Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory. Going against her better judgement, LA lawyer Olivia Monroe secretly starts dating a hotshot junior senator until their romance is made public and her life falls under intense media scrutiny, jeopardizing everything.

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall. With his rock-star dad making a comeback, Luc’s back in the public eye. To clean up his image, he needs to be seen in a nice, normal “relationship”…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating…

Daring and the Duke by Sarah Maclean. When she is reconciled with the man who betrayed her, who will go to any lengths to win her back, fiercely independent Grace Condry, who has spent a lifetime running from her past, vows to take revenge on this man she once loved.

Hideaway by Nora Roberts. Years after escaping a kidnapper with the help of a young man, a Hollywood hopeful pursues healing in Ireland before she is compelled to return to Los Angeles, where she encounters unexpected opportunities in love and vengeance.

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner. When her career is threatened by a red-carpet photo that appears to have romantic undertones, a Hollywood showrunner and her female assistant are targeted by paparazzi before realizing their actual feelings for each other.

Someone to Romance by Mary Balogh. Forced to consider an arranged marriage in spite of her disdain for the ton, Lady Jessica is brazenly courted by the heir to a mysterious fortune who declares his intentions to marry her upon their first encounter.

Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams.  A sequel to The Bromance Book Club finds restaurant employee Liv Papandreas fired for reporting sexual harassment before teaming up with Bromance Book Club member Braden Mack to turn the tables on an abusive celebrity chef.

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon. When a live tweet of a horrific date reveals the unscrupulous dealings of an internet catfisher, three duped women make a pact to invest in themselves for six months, prompting one to pursue a dream career.

 

 

Have you read a great romance this summer? Share it in the comments!