Mountlake Terrace Library Blog

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Roller Derby at the Library

This coming Saturday, February 6th, visitors to the Mountlake Terrace Library are in for a real treat. We will be having some of the stars from the Jet City Rollergirls making a visit and talking about the exciting world of roller derby! Think you have what it takes to be a rollergirl? Come meet some of the beautiful and bruised, tough and speedy Jet City Rollergirls and learn about how to roll like a pro. Topics covered will include basic skills needed, communication, gear and how derby works!

Check out some of their action here:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What I Know For Sure

Oprah has her "What I know for sure" segments on her show and a column in her magazine, "O," where she shares what she knows for sure and asks other famous folks to share what they know for sure.

She didn't ask me, but I also have my list of

"What I know for sure."

1. Poodles are the best dogs.

When someone asks me what kind of dogs I have, and I tell them I have poodles, I see the look of disappointment (or is it pity?) in their eyes.

Poodles get a bad rap.

It is probably because of their hair cut which makes them look like lightweights (and actually there is a reason why poodles are cut that way - and here it is). Or perhaps because some have been bred to be small arm candy for poor pet owners, who carry them around and permit them to be yappy and piddly.

But the truth of the matter is, poodles exemplify everything you would want in a dog. They are the smartest breed, they are devoted companions, and they don't shed.

And they can guard you like the best of them.


2. "The Hurt Locker" will win the Academy Award this year for Best Picture and its director, Kathryn Bigelow, will win for Best Director, thus becoming the first woman ever to win a Best Director Award.

Funny that I should say that, too, since I am more of a "Love, Actually" type than a war movie lover. But "The Hurt Locker" is an original, compelling take on the Iraq War. It follows a group of men who are part of an elite bomb squad unit in a "you are there" way. The acting is superb and it is the most timely, provocative, and intense film to come along in a long time.

3. It really does rain in Seattle.

That may be a strange thing for me to have to state, but before I moved here from California, I really thought that the whole thing about how much it rained in Seattle was a Seattle-based conspiracy to keep Californians from moving here. Every single time I had visited in the past, the weather was fantastic, even in February. Well, after 15 straight days of rain, I give...

4. No one cares about figure skating anymore.

Including me.

Oh, I hang in there a bit to see how some of the old favorites are doing. But TV doesn't even cover the events on mainstream channels anymore - you have to really look for them.

Now that Michelle Kwan is no longer competing, it is just not the same. Michelle paid her dues and should have won the gold at the Olympics on two different occasions. Both times she was beaten by two upstarts who had nothing going for them except one triple triple. When she lost to Tara Lipinski (who?) I remember Michelle, sitting in the "Kiss and Cry" area, turning to her coach and saying, "But I did seven triples."

Michelle, you were robbed and I miss you.

(And don't get me started on child actresses who win an Academy Award for their first performance. When a ten-year-old Tatum O'Neill beats Sylvia Sidney or an 11-year-old Anna Paquin beats Emma Thompson, something is very wrong.)

But I digress. My interest in skating could be piqued again if only Dick Button would return. Without him as commentator, it "ain't" the same. His dry comments dripped with understatement, like "Oh, dear, that was unfortunate," when someone would fall.


5. If you want to join a gym, join in March because no one will be there.

Whenever people make New Year's Resolutions to lose weight, they flock to the gym in January to sign up for gym memberships. The gyms are packed in January and possibly into February, but by March everyone has given up and the gyms are empty again.

6. British television is superior to American TV.

If it wasn't, we wouldn't be stealing so many of their ideas.

I can't believe how many television shows we have poached from the Brits. It started with "All in the Family," "Sanford and Son" and "Three's Company" and continued with "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?," "American Idol," "The Office," "Trading Spaces," "What Not to Wear," "Life on Mars," "America's Got Talent" and it goes on and on.

Here is a longer list.

And don't forget that all of the programs shown on Masterpiece Theatre are British.

Now Simon Cowell is leaving "American Idol" to bring over his own show - The X Factor,
and I am predicting now that it will outdo "American Idol" (I've seen it and it's a cracker!).
Yes, when in the U.K. you have to put up with the inevitable cricket match and some of their shows are to American taste probably the equivalent of watching paint dry, but overall, their programming is diverse, intelligent and high quality.

7. I should read a book instead of watching reality television.

So now I contradict myself.

I know I was just talking about intelligent and high quality programming, but give me an episode of The Real World, The Bachelor or Tough Love and I can't help myself.

8. When you go to a restaurant, they will try to seat you at the worst table.

Somebody has to sit there, I guess, but it's not going to be me.

Here is a tip: When you arrive at the restaurant, scan the room for server stations (and they are getting sneakier about this), busy walkways, entrances and exits and the kitchen, and select a table far from any of those distractions. You will thank me.

9. Everything is not on the Internet.

When I am at the information desk, I can't tell you how many times someone will ask a difficult question and then say, "Well, can't you look it up on the Internet?"

I will concede that since the advent of the Internet, librarians can certainly find the answers to many questions much more quickly than we used to, but if something is not free in "real life," it's not likely to be free on the Internet. There is a huge amount of information that is not available to the casual user of the Internet.

That is why Sno-Isle Libraries provides premium databases that include information that would not be free to the web surfer. There is everything from car repair information to newspapers from other countries to medical information to business data.
Check it out.

10. Libraries are good value for your tax dollars.

We all pay taxes for police and fire protection, but fortunately, most of us will never have to make use of those services. Likewise, we only interact with other city, county and state services, such as the Department of Licensing or City Hall sporadically. We pay for all of those services whether we need to make use of them or not.
But the library is open morning, afternoon and evening, some as many as 63 hours per week. If you come in, we welcome you and your family with free materials to meet a wealth of information needs, computers, and programs for children, teens and adults.
You can ask us anything. If you call or email us, a human being will respond immediately. And if it is the middle of the night, you can chat with a real live librarian or request that items be held for you through our web site.
If you just want a quiet place to study or a place to meet your neighbor, we are here.

Libraries are all about quality of life and the freedom to have access to the information you need.

And we are always happy to see you.

Now how many tax supported agencies can boast about that?

If you are not a regular library user, come in and see what all the excitement is about.

Well, those are the things I know for sure.

I am not Oprah, but now I invite you to share what you know for sure.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

10 Things To Do If You Are Bored

With the dark dreary winter days upon us, it is easy to fall into a rut and get bored.

Here are some ideas to get you out of your rut.

1. Watch bullriding on TV.

No, I am serious. I discovered bullriding while flipping channels during an insomnia attack. Man vs. bull. I don't like animal exploitation, but in this case, the bull usually wins. A recent show had instant replays of the cowboy being bucked, tossed, and gored with the commentator saying, "That's why we watch! For moments like these." Wow. And what about those clowns? When singer Jewel married Ty Murray, I actually knew who he was.

2. Read a book.

Duh. I guess with my being a librarian, that's a no-brainer. But with our busy lifestyles, it is easy to feel we don't have time to read. But pick up a good book and say goodbye to not only boredom, but loneliness as well. My Mother used to say, "If you read, you will never be lonely."

Here are some books recommended by Sno-Isle staff.

Click Here

3. Read a book to someone else.

My mother used to spend Mondays doing her ironing down in our basement. Believe it or not, she really liked ironing, but she was down there at the foot of the stairs with no radio, no TV, no IPod - just ironing and looking out the basement window. Sometimes I would sit at the piano upstairs and sing show tunes for her from my Easy Piano Selections books of songs from South Pacific and Carousel. But more often I would sit on the stairs and read to her. I read Little Women and countless other classics. It is a wonderful memory. You can make some wonderful memories for yourself by reading to someone in a nursing home or reading to your child every night or bringing your little one to our monthly Family Night at the Library "Reading with Rover" program, where young readers can read to loving, laid-back canines. Our next one is January 20th at 7pm.

4. Go for a walk in Seattle.

We live in and near one of the most beautiful cities in the United States.
Seattle has been voted "Most Livable City" countless times.
When boredom hits, explore the wonders of Seattle on foot.

Here are a few good guides:

Nature Walks In and Around Seattle

Urban Walks

Walking Seattle

My idea of heaven is walking around the residential part of Capitol Hill
(16th and 17th streets are favorites), admiring the architecture, picking my favorites, and capping off the day with a nosh at the Volunteer Park Cafe or an eatery in Belltown, such as the new Tilikum Place Cafe.

5. Make a list of what you like about your significant others...

and then give it to them. It will make their day.

6. Write a letter.

Yes, you heard me. I did not say send a text or an email or post on Facebook. I said write a letter. Remember when we used to look forward to the mail and go to the mailbox and how happy we would be if there was a letter for us? I fear the art of correspondence has died as electronic communication has taken over. But I guarantee you this...hand write a letter to someone and you will, not only feel good about yourself, but you will probably get a wonderful response. In 2008, I decided that instead of sending the usual holiday cards highlighting all of the accomplishments of my family (alright, bragging), I decided to write to each recipient and tell him or her what they meant to my life. So often we mean to do something like that and then it is too late. So my New Year's resolution ever since has been to write letters.

7. Go to open houses.

C'mon, admit it. You know you are just dying of curiosity about your neighbor's decorating abilities. This is a chance to check them out, as well as reassuring yourself that your house has to be worth more than theirs.

8. Cook.

When I am bored, I whip out the old cookbooks and cook two or three things I have wanted to try. You not only are occupied for an afternoon, but you have dinner out of the way and leftovers for the week. If you are really ambitious, you could start a progressive dinner group.

9. People watch.

There is nothing cozier than your favorite coffee house, and nothing more engrossing than trying to figure out whether the older man and much younger girl in the corner are dating or if the woman sitting next to you with the green hair and doggie bedroom slippers meant to go out like that. Counting how many people order a nonfat, sugar free latte with no whip is also fun.

10. Volunteer

Whether it's helping out at the Food Bank, visiting a lonely senior living alone in a nursing home or volunteering at the library, there is no better cure for boredom than helping others.

What are your cures for boredom?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Book Buddies - Kids and Teens Reading Together

At the Mountlake Terrace Library we are excited to once again offer one of our favorite programs: Book Buddies.

Second and third grade kids who are finding reading challenging get together with wonderful teen volunteers to practice their skills, and hopefully develop a positive association with reading.

Last summer we had 15 pairs, and the feedback was wonderful. Both kids and teens requested that we offer it not just in summer, but during the school year too. So we are giving it a go for Winter 2010.

Teens who are interested in volunteering need to pick up applications at the Mountlake Terrace Library as soon as possible. The deadline for signing ups is January 13th, and we will be having a mandatory training on Monday January 25th at 4pm. So far we have 6 teens...and can only accept as many kids as we have qualified volunteers, so if you know a great teen who can do this, please tell them about the program.

Parents can sign up their kids (2nd and 3rd grade only, please) any time, but space is limited. Parents must commit to bringing their child to at least six of the eight sessions, which will take place Monday afternoons February 1st to March 29th (with a break on February 15th for Presidents Day) at 4pm.

Much thanks to the Friends of the Mountlake Terrrace Library for supporting this terrific program!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

WhatI l Learned on My Winter Vacation, or What the Guidebooks Don't Tell You

After 28 years of celebrating the holidays with children, we found ourselves alone, as each of our children celebrated with their inlaws and prospective inlaws in other parts of the country.

So we decided to go away for the holidays and cheer ourselves up in Paris.

Have you heard the expression, "Best laid plans of mice and men...?"

Here is what I assumed and here is the reality.

Listen and learn.

Assumption #1. No one would want to fly on Christmas Day and, if they did, it would be a festive atmosphere.

Reality Check: The plane was not only full, it was agonizingly full, with crying babies and snoring seat mates.
And festive? Not one person expressed cheer for the holidays. It was business as usual.
What I learned: Christmas Day is a popular day to fly. Avoid at all costs.

Assumption #2. We would have Paris to ourselves, because it's winter and the holidays.

Reality Check: There were more tourists in Paris than you could imagine there would be even in July. Everyone from New York City to Timbuktu was there -- and they brought their kids!
What I Learned: Avoid Paris at all costs after the holidays unless you like crowds.

Assumption #3. Parisiennes are unfriendly to us Americans.

Reality Check: Americans are unfriendly to other Americans.
What I learned: Actually the Parisiennes bent over backward to be friendly. But when sitting cheek to jowl with other Americans in cramped bistros, not a one acknowledged each other with a friendly, "Where are you from?" It took an Italian on the train ride back from Versailles to strike up a conversation. Had a nice chat. As an aside, he told us he had been all over the world, but never to America despite having relatives there. He said he didn't feel the need to actually go to America, because there were so many American television shows in Italy. I cringe to think of what shows are exported to Italy that portray living in the U.S. On our television in Paris we were treated to German MTV which played endless episodes of Next.

Assumption #4. Parisiennes will make fun of you if you try to speak French.

Reality Check: Not so. However, as soon as it becomes apparent to them that your attempt at speaking French is pathetic, they will launch into impeccable English just to show off. But wouldn't you? If you can speak the other person's language better than the other person can speak yours, wouldn't you want to bypass all of the stumbling and gibberish that might ensue?
What I learned: It is de rigeur to say "Bon Jour" and "Au Revoir" when interacting with Parisians. And if you feel you can make yourself understood, I am sure they will look kindly on it. But don't be surprised when they launch into English, slang and all.

Assumption #5. A museum pass lets you bypass the lines.

Reality Check: Sorry, Rick(Steves).
Not so. Everyone is wise to the museum pass now, so the line for people WITH TICKETS was longer than the line to GET tickets. Minimum one hour to get into the D'Orsay and Versailles. Went to the D'Orsay.
Skipped Versailles.
What I learned: Even with the museum pass, go early or expect to wait. And you might not get to see everything you are expecting to see. When I asked the guard at the D'Orsay, "Ou est Whistler's Mother?" he politely explained in English, that she had been sent away on loan, because how else were they to make money?

Assumption #6. Musuems will be open on the days the guidebooks say they are open.

Reality Check: After a frustrating day of waiting in line to get into some museums (WITH our museum pass!), we decided to go to the Picasso Museum, which was a long 10 Metro stops away. But it was later in the day, so we thought we had a good shot at not having to wait long. We arrive...Closed until 2012. It had been closed since August. My 2010 Fodor's made no note of that. However, I will give Rick Steves credit. His 2010 Paris guide does mention that, but did we take that one with us? No. Checked it when I got home.
What I Learned: Don't leave guidebooks at home.

Assumption #7. The French are well-dressed.

Reality Check: Well, mostly. The women wear impossibly high heels and seem to navigate the cobblestoned streets just fine, and everyone, but everyone wears a stylish scarf. But the current fashion seems to include puffy jackets of all lengths and colors that look like quilted Hefty Bags. Not a fan.
What I learned: I looked more Parisienne than the Parisiennes with my long black faux fur coat and stylish scarf. On more than one occasion, I was asked by French people for directions. Sadly, I had to say, "Je suis desole, je ne pas parle Francais."

Assumption #8. Eat at the restaurants recommended in the guidebooks.

Reality Check: Good luck.
We were using Fodor's 24 Great Walks in Paris , and walk #1 ended up at Angelina's Tea Room on the Rue de Rivoli. Line.
Walk #2 ended at L'As du Falafel in the Marais. Really long line.
Walk #3 ended up at La Mere Catherine in Monmartre. Packed.
What I learned: You will do just as well taking some chances on your own. We had fresh oysters in a bistro on the Rue Cler shucked right outside the restaurant door. We had our New Year's dinner in a lovely restaurant upstairs overlooking the Ecole Militaire - La Terrasse - and ate a banana and Nutella crepe prepared streetside on the Rue des Rosiers.

Assumption #9. Ringing in the New Year with the locals at the Eiffel Tower will be a memorable moment.

Reality Check: Not if you stand on the wrong side of the tower. Who knew the light show was only on the Seine side? As midnight approached, no countdown ( "Dix, Neuf, Huit, Sept..") and then all we got was the usual LED lights that go off every hour every day. Huh? We were underwhelmed until we went back to our room and saw it on TV. We were standing on the wrong side! When we went over to the Pont D'Alma to pay homage to Princess Diana (she died in the tunnel going under that bridge), we should have stayed there with the people roasting chestnuts and selling cheap champage. That was a prime spot -- but we assumed we could see fine on the other side which was closer to our hotel. And did the guidebooks warn us about this? No! Rick Steves even addresses New Year's Eve, but does not say, "Be sure to stand on the Seine side." And there weren't even any fireworks.
What I learned: Don't assume. You know what they say about that.

Assumption #10. Enhanced airport security will make you feel safer.

Reality Check: On New Year's Day, after going through "regular" security, as we were getting ready to board, we had to go through another security check point where all of our carry-on luggage was gone through. The French equivalent of a TSA worker confisgated my aspirin, mascara and small container of hair mousse. She wanted to take my hot rollers, until I convinced her there was no gel in them. She made me eat one of my Icebreaker Sours
in front of her to make sure they were not explosives. And when she looked suspiciously at my Mme. de Sevigne chocolates, I screamed "Nooooo". Actually, I didn't scream no, (she was too scary), but I must have looked so visibly upset that she put them back. After all of that, we then had to remove our shoes and outerwear again, we were patted down and wanded, and by then, I was really scared. Maybe they know something about this flight to Seattle that we don't? Boarding took 2 hours. Happy New Year.
What I learned: After the Christmas Day incident with the makeshift bomb on the Northwest Flight to Detroit, flying into the U.S. from abroad has gone to a whole new level. If you take carry-ons, pack carefully if you want your reentry to go smoothly.

Despite the fact that guidebooks can be fallible, I don't want you to think I am completely down on them. I am not. Without them, we would never have known about the Place Des Vosges or found the Rue Cler or the Place De Furstenberg
-- all gems.

So here is my advice, for what it's worth.

Do you homework, but as Rick Steves advises, then let yourself get lost.

Here are some good guidebooks available through your favorite Sno-Isle Branch Library.

Fodor's Guides

Rick Steves Guides

Moon Handbooks

Frommer's Guides

Rough Guides

Now I would like to hear your travel tips!