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Will Manley, in booklist, Jan 1&15, 2010:

"It’s been blissful. For about the last 10 years, the number of “libraries are dead” articles appearing in professional journals has greatly diminished. But now that we are in the middle of the Great Recession, the gloom-and-doom articles are back. There is a big irony here. While more and more commentators have proclaimed the death of—take your pick—libraries, books, or reading, the number of patrons using libraries has been on the rise.
Is there another profession in the world that is as self-abusive as librarianship? Do other professionals beat themselves up as much as librarians? Do plumbers hold conferences about the future of plumbing? Do janitors fret about the development of robotic vacuum cleaners? Do taxi drivers whine that light-rail lines will put them out of business? Why are librarians so pessimistic when their libraries have never been more popular with the public?"

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This is a tricky one.
Sarah and I are doing a medieval-Spanish-Jewish themed feast as a fundraiser for our synagogue.
For various reasons, we're doing it on Sunday November 14.
This is in Maywood NJ.
All the cooking has to be done in the Synagogue kitchen because we keep dairy kosher for the synagogue. We'll be pre-cooking Saturday night and cooking Sunday.
If any of my friends list can help out, I would really appreciate it-- and would feed you for free, of course!

The feast menu is:

A Medieval Spanish Feast

Take a trip back to the time of the Convivencia between Jews, Muslims and Christians in Iberia.
This served dinner will include a wide variety of pareve and milcheg dishes known in Castile and Catalonia, including typical Jewish cooking of the time.

50 seats available. $40/person for adults*, $10/under 13, free for children under 5.
*Remember, this is a fundraiser.

Lemon syrup drink
Clarea de agua
Plain Water
Wine by donation

First Service
Bread (Challah; made in-shul if possible)
Figs in the French style (stewed in wine)
Soft cheese
Dressed sallat of green herbs
Carrots carved into sticks
Vermillioned eggs (cooked with onionskin)
Mustard sauce with red grapes
Cumin Sauce

Second Service
Salmon in Casserole: salmon, bitter orange juice, pine nuts, mint, marjoram, almonds, saffron
Chickpeas with onion and honey
Spinach de Nola
Noodles with cheese for the kids (Potaje de Fideos)

Third Service
Food for angels (sweet ricotta cheese)
Quince Paste
Pizzelles (Wafer Cookies)
Grapes/Fruit as available.


Aug. 31st, 2010 01:24 pm
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Reading "The Pastons and their England" makes someone's comment yesterday about 'bucolic peace' in period even funnier.
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I forgot to mention-- at Pennsic I picked up a copy of John Harvey's Mediaeval Gardens. At 20% off $200, it was a steal, really. I now own the two standard *must-have* texts for medieval gardening-- this one and Frank Crisp's Medieval Gardens. Yay!
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Karin Margarita Frei, Ina Vanden Berghe, Robert Frei, Ulla Mannering, Henriette Lyngstrom, "Removal of natural organic dyes from wool-implications for ancient textile provenance studies," Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 37, Issue 9, September 2010, Pages 2136-2145, ISSN 0305-4403, DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2010.02.012.
Keywords: Ancient textiles; Organic dyestuff; Strontium isotopes; Wool; Provenance


Ancient wool textiles recovered from archaeological sites are in many cases originally dyed with natural organic dyestuffs from vegetable sources. These include among others woad (Isatis tinctoria L.), weld (Reseda luteola L.), and madder (Rubia tinctorum L.). These dyestuffs could be a threat to the use of the strontium isotopic system as a tracer for provenance studies of ancient wool, because they could potentially contaminate the signature of the textile's raw material. We present a novel method which allows for efficient removal of organic dyestuffs in wool prior to strontium isotopic analysis. Our method is based on an oxidative release of the dyestuff constituents by ammonium peroxodisulfate [(NH4)2S2O8] solution, combined with hydrofluoric acid (HF) that has shown to effectively remove/dissolve adhering dust micro-particles. Our multi-analytical results show that such a pretreatment is capable of removing >98% of the originally present organic dyestuffs without significantly destroying the wool structure. The strontium isotopic ratios of the residual wool fraction after the application of the pretreatment are sensitive to the origin and, therefore, can be used as tracers for the provenance of the raw material. We propose to apply this method to ancient wool textiles in which positive identification of organic dyestuff constituents by High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) was made.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
My officemate just came across this recipe:

4 cups rubbing alcohol
4 teaspoons glycerine


book diss

May. 5th, 2010 09:01 pm
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Quirky Kids: Understanding and Helping Your Child Who Doesn't Fit In- When to Worry and When Not to Worry

I picked this up hoping for some insights into a bright, sociable girl who, approaching adolescence, is suddenly struggling with fitting in and social skills.
Unfortunately for me, "quirky" here is really a way of saying "possibly hovering at the edge of the autism spectrum". I didn't finish it, but it could very well be useful for those working with kids displaying such tendencies.
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Still Life with Chickens: Starting Over in a House by the Sea,
Catherine Goldhammer

I love slice of life memoirs, and after our recent move and house work, there was something about reading someone else's moving story that appealed. Goldhammer did not disappoint, though in a slight, quiet and cozy way. After a congenial divorce from her daughter's father, Goldhammer needs to sell the overlarge, expensive house in a town more upper class than she's comfortable with, and find an affordable, livable alternative that she and her daughter can accept. To bribe her daughter through the transition, Goldhammer agreed to starting a small backyard chicken flock. The resulting tribulations of moving from one, long-time residence, into a house-that-needs work, fixing the house, getting along with the new neighbors, and trying to stay afloat in life resonated with me, even if I didn't have the kind of financial backstop Goldhammer did. The terrors of chick-sitting, the perils of remodelling and of building chicken tractors, and a legal struggle with a nearby absentee landlord made for good storytelling. Excellent for the golden hours of an early summer evening.
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Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, by Randy O. Frost & Gail Steketee.

Fascinating read. Though this book's subtitle promises a sort of cultural or self-analysis, it's really more of a social science profile of a psychological problem. Of course, it begins with the story of the famously hoarding Collyer brothers. However, the author(s), doing clinical psychological work and research on hoarding, go on to present profiles and treatment approaches that are much more up to date. These profiles are the serious side of TV shows like Hoarders. Interviewing people who self-identified as hoarders or victims of crippling clutter, the authors build a portrait of the perfectionist, indecisive, anxious and overwhelmed-- and sometimes OCD-- people they worked with, and the techniques of talking them through their sorting that sometimes worked, sometimes didn't. For those who struggle with their own and other people's clutter, this is an eye-opening, sometimes reassuring, and sometimes challenging book. I couldn't put it down.

Three useful concepts: that hoarders tend toward the perfectionist/indecisive as well as OCD; that hoarders need to practice discarding things and gauging their level of discomfort over time; and the 'non-shopping' trip.


Apr. 12th, 2010 11:49 pm
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It says *something* about me that I was trying to remember who it was who had posted on their LJ about making silk robes for clerypersons at their ... convent... and then I realized I was remembering part of the plot of In this House of Brede...

I'm not sure *what* it says about me, but definitely *something*.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Miss B. was just finishing a book, and I knew she'd be casting about for something new, so I handed her Mister Monday by Garth Nix. (Ok, I'd suggested it before, but she had taken it to Florida and then left it in a knapsack with a decaying lunch; it was now aired out enough and I'd re-read it.) She said she'd read it next. A little while later, I saw her reading (something) and asked her how she liked Mister Monday. "Oh, I haven't started it yet." So, was she planning to read it? "Not until you've suggested it to me three or four more times... like I always do." Yes, I know she was kidding, but after having to routinely steal back books I was *IN THE MIDDLE OF READING* from her, having her say she'd try something and then not... I realized I had been bashing my head against the way in frustration.

Bleah. I give up. I told her that a) I wasn't going to recommend any more books and b) she was no longer allowed to borrow my library books. If she wanted to read books, she'd have to pick them out and check them out herself. She could go back to "reading that drivel like "Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dear Dumb Diary" for all I cared.

Of course, the first thing that happened was that she snagged-- and had removed from her-- one of my requested library books (Cabinet of Wonders); and then her father pointed out that she'd LOVE another one that I got out. Since I'd finished it, we went back to the library and returned it while I got my other requests-- and she asked the circ staff to pull Dussie from the to-be-reshelved truck so she could check it out.

How long will I hold out? I said, Until I forget. So, until I slip up and recommend something to her, she's just stuck. *smile*

Onward and upward to the reviews.

Dussie. Nancy Springer
I happen to love Nancy Springer's work to begin with, but this slight novel is still well-handled, while playing on the Greek Myth trend popular these days. It's only when 13-year-old Dussie wakes up with a head full of snakes the day after getting her first period that she learns that her mother is in fact one of the Gorgon sisters, and Dussie herself is half-immortal. Dussie reacts in a perfectly reasonable adolescent fashion, mad at her mother and unwilling to talk to her. That the turban her mother always wears conceals a coif of vipers is bad enough, but unlike Dussie, her mother doesn't hear her own snakes talking-- and doesn't believe Dussie does. Once Dussie tries to leave the house with facial-mudded snakes disguised as dredlocks, things get worse. A visit to "The Sisterhood" suggests there may be a way out, and a kindly acquaintance might also help... but Dussie herself makes the final choices.

Cabinet of Wonders, Marie Rutkoski
Oooh! Steampunk with some humor for tweens, set in Bohemia, with complications, magic, and the usual appurtenances. Petra Kronos and her magical metal spider Astrophil are appalled when her father is returned from the capital minus his eyes-- the prince's 'thanks' for creating the most beautiful, magical clock ever. Eventually, Petra sets out to do something about it. (Compare to the tween fantasy The Blue Shoe: A Tale of Thievery, Villainy, Sorcery, and Shoes by Roderick Townley for a completely different treatment of some similar plot elements, and a male protagonist.) Well written, with sympathetic characters, a magical-steampunk storyline that is internally consistent, and a minimal and light touch on pubescent 'learning experiences'. The author's love for Bohemia shines through-- fans of Eva Ibbotson's Star of Kazan will find a similar worldsetting touch here. In a lot of ways, this is a classic hero's journey (with family rescue) fairy tale, with classic Eastern European elements. But who can resist Astrophil, or fail to like plucky (i.e., brave but not thinking things through, followed by dogged persistence) Petra? It remains to be seen whether sequels will be as good.
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"Geologists on the whole are inconsistent drivers. When a roadcut presents itself, they tend to lurch and weave. To them, the roadcut is a portal, a fragment of a regional story, a proscenium arch that leads their imaginations into the earth and through the surrounding terrain....
'If I'm going to drive safely, I can't do geology.'"

-- John McPhee, Basin and Range, p. 10-11.

For Izzy

Mar. 17th, 2010 10:00 pm
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Robin McKinley's blog is having a guest post on Soapmaking, with lovely pictures:
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
I'm not sure where I heard about Beverly Nichols' gardening books... such as Down the Garden Path and Merry Hall, but I did get my mitts on one and began reading it just when a little bit of arch post-war gay country gardener would do me the best good.

Nichols, a bachelor, in search of his perfect and last home with garden, buys basically a mansion in post-war (WWII) England, whose 5 acre grounds have much potential. He moves in with his two cats and devoted manservant (in the hired staff sense, my dear, this was published in the 1950s for general consumption!) begins plotting the garden, recruits friends and laborers to help with removing what's wrong, and slowly gains the trust of his gardener, a brilliant agriculturist who has been there more than 40 years and is disinclined to alter the plans of the previous 40 years worth of families. He also spars with Miss Emily, a rather encroaching neighbor, and Our Rose, a rather artsy floral designer, living in the neighborhood.

If you're familiar with Angela Thirkell*, there is a certain amount ofThirkell's reckless small scale politics to it, plus a rather extravagant archness as well as a genuine love of gardening. It was transparently obvious to the modern reader that Nichols was as gay as a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide, and his plans for the garden immediately called to mind Wade Rouse: "The first thing that gay men must do when they move to the country is rearrange the woods" (At least in the city someone would hear me scream). Some of his prose is purple, he would be embarrassed posthumously to see how much has become quaint and twee, and he's a class snob and a misogynist of the first order, but he clearly loved his garden, had as sense of humor about it and wrote beautifully about it.

* I do find myself wondering if Thirkell ever pilloried Nichols in her novels... there are a number of characters that might have been based on him.
bunnyjadwiga: (Default)
Ok, I'm baffled.
The synagogue is very into doing the dinner, but wants to put it off until fall and do some other stuff leading up to it, which is fine by me.

But someone pointed out that people don't want to go to something where their children won't eat anything on the menu. I understand that, of course; we struggle with it all the time, especially at the synagogue, which keeps kosher, specifically kosher dairy-- so vegetarian and dairy stuff is ok, fish is ok, but no meat.

Miss B. will eat noodles and cheese, which I put on the menu, and olives.
But I'm baffled as to what else to offer for picky eaters.

I know most will eat cheese pizza (we could have some kosher pizza ordered in?) but if they won't eat cheesze noodles... Chicken nuggets, hamburgers, hot dogs are out, of course.

In the SCA, one provides basic finger foods and we manage-- I suppose we could put out some fruit.

Suggestions, anyone?
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The Death-Defying Pepper Roux. Geraldine McCaughrean.
This slight but death-defying YA adventure has overtones of Le Miserables mixed with Sid Fleischman. Le Pauvre, as his family calls him, has lived his entire life under the shadow of his Aunt's vision that he will die before he is 14. On his 14th birthday, he finally breaks away from home and ends up pursuing a number of wildly divergent and mishap prone careers, taking on several different identities, helped by the fact that "people see what they want to see" but always feeling the fearsome pursuit of saints and angels on his back, come to claim him. Adults will quickly suspect what a kindly if eccentric mentor finally tells Pepper at the end of the book, but the breakneck adventures and the oddly poignant characters and writing will keep you reading.

Goblin Baby. Berlie Doherty.
This first chapter book is a cuddly retelling of the classic theme: older sibling rescues younger sibling stolen by the fairies. Not very substantive, but with a few deft touches. Nice line drawings, too.

The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance. Glenn Dakin.
Subtitled The Candle Man, this is another YA adventure, more than a little reminiscent of Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book crossed with Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos. The usual orphan child raised by sinister caretakers, devoid of all human contact; but when he is rescued, things begin to go strangely. For fans of youth gaslamp fantasy. Would adapt beautifully into a videogame. :)


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