Tag Archives: From the Library – A Weekly Column

Desperate for Dexter – by Charlotte Canelli

Charlotte Canelli is library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin this week.

The first television I remember was black and white and very large. Its convex and shiny grey screen was surrounded by a wooden console and it sported two rabbit ears and several knobs the size of tiny tea cups. I have photographs of my older brother and I sitting transfixed in front of that screen when we were very young.

My family had strict viewing habits and so, during childhood I managed to miss much of what was televised. Like most typical American families we all watched together. After dinner on weeknights we watched Walter Cronkite. On Sunday nights we watched Ed Sullivan. On the off-chance I spent a day home sick I watched Romper Room with my younger brothers. An occasional treat was watching Jack Bailey’s Queen for the Day or Bill Cullen’s The Price is Right at my mother’s side.

My family didn’t watch many sitcoms or serialized television. It was simple. There was one television in the household and my father preferred war movies and westerns. Being a girl and a pacifist, I didn’t relate to war, guns, bows or arrows. I turned to more interesting things like sewing and reading and organizing my fabrics and bookshelves instead.

You might say that I missed out on an entire generation of American culture as it aired on neighboring television screens. Oh, I admit I found ways to sneak in an episode of Dobie Gillis or I Love Lucy somehow. I mean, I did manage to grow up normal. I often sat glued to my girlfriends’ sets like any deprived child would. In their homes I watched enough of The Fugitive and Flipper to satiate my appetite. But there are still huge gaps in my cultural education.

What was left out were most serialized TV shows. My philosophy is simple. If I can’t watch an entire series from first to last I simply do not want to watch at all. I guess it was a leftover from childhood when I experienced a TV land that seemed so out-of-sync.

It’s left me in the dark. At least a dark that has no trace of the glow of a TV screen.

So, now, how in the heck did I get mixed up with Dexter? At least Dexter: Seasons One through Four.

Sometime last spring I decided I was just too far out-of-the-loop. I was tired of missing out on all the great references to Charlotte on Sex in the City or to Jon Hamm, the handsome Mad Man. I asked this of my entire group of Facebook friends: “If you had to watch one series, which would it be?”

If you want to feel loved on Facebook, try this approach. Your cup will runneth over. Who knew there were so many series out there to follow? Who knew everybody else was watching them but me? Who knew so many people were so passionate about television!

Dexter was the number one suggestion. (If you know anything about Dexter you might wonder about my friends, by the way.) Dexter is also based on a book, “Darkly Dreaming Dexter” by Jeff Lindsay.

I took the bait and I got hooked. Luckily, most past seasons of all television shows (cable and otherwise) are available on DVD. There are many options for viewing. Premium cable channels offer them “on demand”. Netflix allows immediate streaming of some past seasons.

Best of all, most of them are available at your local library. Libraries in the Minuteman Library Network carry an impressive array of television series that are often available right on the shelf of your library or after a short wait once you’ve made the request. April Cushing, the Adult Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library has been trying to purchase the best and most-requested for our library. It’s impossible to keep up with all of them all but we try our best.

Given all of these viewing options, however, I found out the hard way that there is always a catch. Now that I’ve completed watching the first four seasons on DVD, I’ve found that Dexter’s clever producers have conspired against me. The fifth season (aired this past year) will not be released on DVD until this August right before the sixth season of Dexter is scheduled to be run on Showtime.

And so, I’m Desperate for Dexter. I’ve complained bitterly to friends and family who helped to get me hooked. “Oh, we understand,” they’ve all admitted. “But,” they cheerfully add, “this is the perfect time to get hooked on yet another series!” Oh great.

While I await the release of Dexter, Season Five (August 2011) I’m ready to ask my friends for a next suggestion. “But, please,” I’ll beg, “make sure all the seasons have already been released on DVD so that I can request them from my library!”

For help searching in the Minuteman catalog for these titles or for placing requests for all library materials including DVDs and television series, please visit the Morrill Memorial Library, call the Reference librarians (781-769-0200) or visit the Minuteman Library Catalog on our website, www.norwoodlibrary.org.

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Someone’s in the Kitchen with Fido – by Charlotte Canelli

Charlotte Canelli is library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin this week.

“Don’t ever feed human food to your dog!” It has always amused me when I read or hear that advice. Rubbish, I say! What, for goodness sake, did dogs eat in previous centuries before the advent of manufactured food in cans and bags?
Of course we hope that the family meal is not “shared” with your dog. No one likes a begging dog or one who perches at the table or eats from the counters. Dining in the same room with a canine can be equally unappetizing. My grandson Colin refuses to eat his breakfast while listening to our four-legged friend slurp hers. I don’t blame him because her manners are atrocious!

However, a well-balanced meal of “people food” can be healthy and even beneficial for your pet.

When my beautiful Boxer came to live with me in 2005, she was a sickly, skinny creature less than four months old. Had I known … famous last words, of course … that Boxer Colitis is deadly I might not have taken on such a tragic project. She very nearly died on me several times. Unfortunately, veterinarians at Tufts Animal Hospital suggested expensive procedures that promised nothing more than successful or unsuccessful canine research for the institution.

As a single, working woman I had several disadvantages. I simply couldn’t afford more of the costly hospitalizations at Tufts nor did I have the luxury of spending 24 hours a day trying to nurse her to health.

She was as cute-as-a-button. My Boxer pup had won me over as her champion within a few short weeks. I simply knew that I could not have her euthanized and so I took a radical approach. I enlisted the help of a terrific holistic vet, a caring and loving doggie daycare enterprise (Happy Tails in Franklin) and the kitchen in my own home.

It was obvious that the expensive, “scientifically-engineered” canned food was hindering my puppy’s improvement. Desperately, I turned to my grocery stores and their produce bins, meat counter and dairy aisles. I began with a simple diet of cooked rice, sweet potatoes and ground beef. Over the weeks and months I slowly added scrambled eggs, oatmeal and barley. Our holistic vet suggested the additions of yogurt and cottage cheese for calcium.

In the end it took more than two years and a proverbial village of humans to save this lovely animal. She simply wouldn’t have survived without a crew of over twenty dedicated staff at the doggie day care and with the caring veterinary professionals and their help. That village soon included my husband–to-be and his grandson who love our four-footed friend as much as I do. She greets our grandson on his way in the door each day and she is the buddy who craves playtime with my husband each night. Her tail wags crazily as I make her breakfast each morning and she is our delight.

So … if you are thinking I’m a bit crazy to cook for my dog you need to know that I’m not alone. Others have done the same and have even written the book, so to speak.

”Real Food for Dogs: 50 Vet-Approved Recipes to Please the Canine Gastronome” has an irresistible cover and cute illustrations but it also has some great recipes. Arden Moore is not a veterinarian but he includes plenty of food that stocks everyone’s shelves and refrigerators.

“Throw Me a Bone: 50 Healthy, Canine-Taste-Tested Recipes for Snacks, Meals and Treats” is rather surprisingly written by canine Cooper Gillespie as told to his companion, Susan Orleans. (Orlean is the celebrated author of the “Orchid Thief.”)

“Grrrrowlicious Food for Hungry Dogs” by Jamie Young includes recipes for Cheese and Bacon Cookies, Meatballs and Fried Rice. Young asserts that you’ll be stealing food from your dog’s dish!

In “The Everything Cooking for Dogs Book: 150 Quick and Healthy Recipes Your Dog Will Love” Lisa Fortunato promises recipes without salt, sugar, trans fats or preservatives. In actuality, none of those bad things appear in any dog food recipes. Health abounds and we can all take lessons from these cookbooks.

If you’re looking for treats you might try Stephanie Mehanna’s “PupSnacks: 35 Delicious and Healthy Recipes to Bark Home About”. Throwing a birthday bash for your pet? Check out “The Good Treats Cookbook for Dogs: 50 Home-Cooked Treats for Special Occasions Plus Everything You Need to Know to Throw a Dog Party!” by Barbara Burg. Involve the kids in the fun with “Cool Pet Treats: Easy Recipes for Kids to Bake” by Pam Price.

You don’t have dogs in your family? Well Andi Brown’s “The Whole Pet Diet: Eight Weeks to Great Health for Dogs and Cats” and “The Natural Pet Food Cookbook: Healthful Recipes for Dogs and Cats” by Wendy Nan Rees include the felines along with the canines.

If you’re not convinced that homemade food can help your pet be sure to read Mark Poveromo’s “To Your Dog’s Health!: Canine Nutrition and Recent Trends With the Pet Food Industry”, Michael Fox’s “Not Fit For a Dog!: The Truth About Manufactured Dog and Cat Food” or Marion Nestle’s “Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog.”

Over the course of this sweet dog’s first two years, her digestive tract was healed of Colitis. Today, she is nearly six years old and she is the picture of health. We spend a mere hour each week cooking up her special recipe and store it in our refrigerator to use three times a day. We add a handful of quality dry dog food at dinnertime for “crunch”. Oh, and we always add a few special snacks for a special dog.

For help searching in the Minuteman catalog for these titles or for placing requests for books, please visit the Morrill Memorial Library, call the Reference librarians (781-769-0200) or visit the Minuteman Library Catalog on our website, www.norwoodlibrary.org.

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A Hallmark Holiday – by April Cushing

April Cushing is the Adult Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read April’s entire column this week in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Valentine’s Day has, mercifully, come and gone. Not my finest hour. A veteran of more than a half century of this holiday, I proved it’s still possible to completely miss the point. In case you’re wondering, there is a connection to the Morrill Memorial Library here, however tenuous, which I promise I’ll get to.

To cut to the chase (if, like me, you love idioms, check out I’m Not Hanging Noodles On Your Ears: and Other Intriguing Idioms from Around the World (call #418 Bhalla), I was the victim of a Bad Valentine. After a routine Saturday at the Reference Desk, breaking for a convivial lunch at Conrad’s where my colleagues and I shared funny stories from our previous marriages, I reflected on my blessings: the library printer was fixed, the 1040 instruction booklets had finally arrived, I had successfully put two posts on our new website and gone to the gym. While I haven’t dropped a pound I’m pleased to report I can now pedal four miles without wanting to puke. Life was good.
Arriving home to answer Cupid’s call I found my significant other marinating steak tips and breaking open the Malbec. Two envelopes leaned suggestively against a vase of long-stemmed red roses. I tore open the first one—a cute card from Duffy, our favorite canine companion. (I’d gotten him the same one.) Smiling, I reached for the second envelope.
At the risk of violating copyright law I’ll quote here: “Sometimes I wonder why I put up with you…” A tiny red flag was starting to flutter but I soldiered on.
“…Oh yeah, now I remember, you put up with me!”
Just in case I’d missed something I reread it, silently.
I’ve known this man since our kids were in nursery school together—i.e. a long time. Since we’ve been a couple for several of those years it’s probably safe to say the initial bloom is off the rose. Even so, I was a little taken aback. Make that momentarily speechless.
“Of all the romantic, lovey-dovey cards at CVS you chose this one?” I hated the way I sounded but couldn’t help myself. Whether sappy or sexy, Valentine’s Day is all about schlock, right?
“I thought it was funny,” he replied lamely.
“Which part would that be?” I asked.
Without burdening you with the rest of the exchange, suffice to say the candlelit dinner never came off. I grabbed the leash, the flashlight and the dog, clearly the only resident male capable of picking a proper Valentine.
There’s nothing like a brisk march around the block to put things in perspective. Realizing how unfairly I’d behaved, I tucked my tail between my legs and prepared to apologize. Preferably over those chocolate-covered strawberries I’d seen in the fridge. Only my not-so-funny valentine wasn’t yet in the mood to make up. The fact that the floral arrangement was conspicuously absent was my first hint.
After reading the same paragraph three times in The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (FICTION O’Farrell), I tried again. Expecting to find my loved one pretending to watch some grim show about predators in the wild but feeling terrible, I tiptoed into the TV room. He was cracking up at Steve Carell in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” (DVD Forty FEATURE FILM).
Fast forward two days to February 14. We’re at Legal C Bar for dinner with my 86-year-old mother—I know, dumb move. The wait is too long, the music too loud, the lighting too low and I’m praying my pomegranate lemon drop martini arrives soon when I spot a large red envelope. I’ll spare you the details, but it was about as gaudy as they get.
“What utter schmaltz,” my mother declares.
I love every word, especially the handwritten note: “This is what I really meant. I love you, honey.”
When my college-age daughter called later I recited the first card to her, from memory. She started laughing. “It’s true, Mom, he does put up with you.” Gee, thanks.
“And you put up with him. That’s what relationships are all about. Besides, it’s just a stupid card. Think about all the nice things he does for you.” She’s 20, for chrissake (www.urbandictionary.com). Since when did she get so savvy about this stuff?
For further clarification on the subject I invite you to check out Fight Less, Love More: 5-Minute Conversations to Change Your Relationship without Blowing Up or Giving In by Laurie Puhn, Harvard-trained family law attorney and couples mediator (646.78 PUHN). “Learn how to identify bad verbal habits, short-circuit arguments, prevent overreactions (who, me?) and orchestrate the perfect apology, all in less time than it takes to have another fight.” Where the heck was this a week ago? Her sensible message is Stop Keeping Score and Start Loving More.

I can’t speak for you, but since I skimmed through the book last night I can honestly say we haven’t had a single blow-up. When my beloved told his buddy about our Valentine’s Day debacle his response was, “that’s why you’re so good for each other. You each have a lot of warts but you love each other in spite of them.”
Hallmark sentiments aside, isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is all about?

Read the archives columns in the From the Library Column here.

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In Love with Penguins – by Charlotte Canelli

Charlotte Canelli is library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read her column each Thursday in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

The penguin exhibit at the New England Aquarium is one of my favorite places. I could spend hours watching them. They are chatty, loyal, energetic and annoying and well, they are a lot like most of my friends.

On our trip to Atlanta two years ago we made sure not to miss the penguins at the Georgia Aquarium. There you view them through glass bubbles – nearly face-to-face.

It seems everyone loves penguins these days. When we found out our daughter’s fiance had a fascination with penguins as a child we began to find penguin-themed tchotchkes everywhere we looked. But while he gets at least one penguin in his stocking each year, we’ve been careful not to overdo. After all, we want him to join our family.

What I didn’t know about penguins until recently is that some can be loud, some can be fickle and all can be smelly. And they are very much at risk in the world, specifically off the coast of South Africa.

In 1910 it is estimated that there were 1.5 million penguins living off the South African coast. In the century since then commercial fishing has forced penguins to forage farther afield in an ocean polluted by the shipping industry. Additionally, for years humans removed precious penguin guano, or their nesting material, from the islands off the coast. Also, for years penguin eggs were removed and sold as a delicacy (until it became unlawful.)

Today, only 10% of the African penguin population remains.

In the forty years between 1966 and 2006 nearly fifty tankers have been damaged or have sunk off the coast of South Africa. Fifteen of these ships have caused major oil spills. Each of those spills has devastated some portion of the penguin population.

In 1994 a tanker named the Apollo Sea sank. The spill from that tragedy oiled about 10,000 penguins, half of which were lost.

In 2000 the MV Treasure, an iron ore tanker, sank between the Robben and Dassen islands. Nearly 40,000 penguins, in the midst of their breeding cycle, were affected. In the end 19,000 of the birds were cleaned and another 20,000 were temporarily moved out of danger.

41% of the world’s African penguin population was contaminated in that one oil spill. One tanker. 75,000 African penguins.

“The Great Penguin Rescue: 40,000 Penguins, a Devastating Oil Spill, and the Inspiring Story of the World’s Largest Animal Rescue” by Dyan deNapoli tells the story of their liberation.

This book, as they say, had me at “hello.” The very first chapter describes a penguin’s fight for survival from the moment his amazing coat of feathers comes in contact with oil from a tanker spill through his struggle for survival. It is a devastating read but a compelling one.

A penguin-educator and author, deNapoli got her start as a volunteer and intern at the New England Aquarium in the 1990s. She wasn’t always obsessed with penguins; she was more of a dolphin fanatic most of her childhood and young adulthood. Her parents gave her a special thirtieth birthday adventure in 1992 and she spent four weeks on an Earthwatch expedition in Hawaii where she chose to work with her favorite creature, dolphins.

Very soon after arriving home from her quest, deNapoli enrolled at Mount Ida College in Newton to pursue a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. She ended up at the NE Aquarium on an internship where 35 African penguins and 25 Rockhopper penguins changed her life.

In 2000, deNapoli was working as a staff member of the Penguin Department at the NE Aquarium when the call for help was sounded in June of 2000. The MV Treasure had spilled 1,300 gallons of oil off the coast of Cape Town. Within hours of the spill, experts volunteered from around the world and they arrived at a train repair warehouse in Cape Town to participate in one of the biggest rescue and rehab operations on the planet.

The rescue efforts were overseen by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds. Organized in 1968, SANCCOB has rescued over 85,000 seabirds in the past 47 years.

deNapoli spent three months in Cape Town helping to rehabilitate the birds and reintroduce them to their wild environment. Today, she lives on the north shore and spends her time educating children and adults about this awesome African bird.

“Fraser’s Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antartica” by Fen Montaigne (2010) chronicles another type of penguin, the Adelie species. Author Montaigne spent five months with scientist Bill Fraser on the harsh and austere northwestern Antarctica peninsula. Climate change is affecting Antarctica faster than any other place on Earth and Fraser has seen it firsthand since he arrived there in 1974 to study the continent. Like dominos, the species in this part of the world are falling prey to the changes that global warming has brought. The Adelie penguin’s feeding grounds are diminishing and the Gentoo penguins are becoming the dominant species.

If you’d like to educate the youngest generations, those that will make the differences in years to come, there are many children’s books describing the lives and plight of penguins. For help searching in the Minuteman catalog for these titles or for placing requests for books, please visit the Morrill Memorial Library, call the Reference librarians (781-769-0200) or visit the Minuteman Library Catalog on our website, www.norwoodlibrary.org.

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