Sunday, February 26, 2012

Week Nine - 43 to Go

Best Leonard in years. Female antagonists bring out Givens’ good manners. Read this one slowly so as to enjoy every delicious word.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Extra Yarn

Annabelle, the dexterous heroine of Barnett and Klassen’s “Extra Yarn,” inhabits a monochrome world of grays and browns until she finds a box of brightly colored yarn in the snow. When the rainbow sweater she knits herself is a distraction at her humdrum school, she promises to knit sweaters for the whole class. “Impossible,” her teacher says. “You can’t.”

But Annabelle does, and the magical box of yarn just won’t run out, even after she knits sweaters for everyone in town, and then for the local animals and buildings. Klassen’s illustrations are the most absorbing part of this tale, wrapping Annabelle’s sooty, snowy town in mottled color and texture as her knitting progresses.

Alas, the story’s central conflict — the interference of a greedy archduke who appears out of nowhere to demand the yarn for himself — feels out of place, as the theme of creativity trumping negativity was already pleasing on its own. The second act also raises more questions than it answers. For example, it’s unclear why the archduke wants the yarn.

Plant a Kiss

This very girly tale about a “Little Miss” who plants a kiss pairs the best-selling author Rosenthal (“Little Pea,” “Duck! Rabbit!”) and the award-winning illustrator Reynolds (“Ish,” the Judy Moody series) for the first time, with great success. Splashes of sparkle adorn the pages as the seedling kiss causes “doubt” and a “pout” before it sprouts and spreads in a cheery wash of yellow and pink. Rosenthal’s and Reynolds’s straightforward and gently humorous sensibilities are well matched in this story about love beyond the boundaries of parent and child.

And what child doesn’t like a page sprinkled in glitter?

A Boy Called Dickens

This story  concentrates entirely on the Dickens' time at Warren’s, the blacking factory, where 12-year-old Dickens went to work making shoe polish to support his family. The book follows Dickens’ daily routines and traversal of the city. Hopkinson proposes that during this time Dickens was dreaming the stories which became his novels.

Week Eight - 44 to Go

Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom take us through the whole life of Charles Dickens. Culling the biographical literature on Dickens, the authors tell of incidents involving Dickens with all sorts of striking detail.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Week Seven - 45 to Go

In this police procedural Hennessey and Yellich take on the devil in his guise as the "False Knight". Turnbull turns his writing up a notch.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Samite - Musician - In Concert

The doors of the Irene A. Bisgrove Community Theatre were opened by a coed at exactly 10:50 AM. An audience of 75 quickly took their seats throughout the auditorium. English Professor Howard Nelson speaking from center stage and explained the Robert H. Brunell Visiting Scholar in the Humanities program at Cayuga Community College. Nelson then proceeded to introduce the 2012 Brunell Visiting Scholar Samite Mulondo.

The Uganda native picked up an electric thumb organ and began to play.

Since the audience seem to be sitting on their emotions, Samite told them when listening to African music it was alright to move one's head and clap one's hands. Using a call and response technique Samite got the crowd to loosen up.

Choosing a kalimba, an African thumb piano, Samite explained that it was very, very old. Also, it had been autographed by Paul Simon. Samite joked that this kalimba was his retirement.

Pleased with the crowd attentiveness Samite played a new instrument for the first time in public.

The concert came to an end with the audience dancing and clapping in the aisles.

This afternoon at 2 PM Samite will speak at the opening of his photography exhibition in the Cayuga Community College Library.

Samite - Photographer - Photo Exhibition

Samite Mulondo

The semicircle of folding chairs filled quickly as the 2 o'clock opening of the Samite photo exhibition neared. After a greeting from college officials and an introduction by Howard Nelson. Samite sat in a tall library chair and addressed the audience. Behind him were several of his photographs.

Samite began by pointing to three photos of young African boys. These young boys have been terrorized. Some have been made into boy soldiers. For many the only home they know is a refuge camp. In his description of the boys' lives, Samite put forth an unyielding attitude that these kids deserve a second chance. It is this attitude that prompted Samite to bring his music to Africa's refugee camps.

Visiting a school Samite gave an instrument to the school principal. Although he could not play it, the students found his attempt amusing.

Standing in front of his photo of a waterfall, Samite admitted his phobia to water. He does not swim. Nevertheless bravely in stood in the water and took this photo. For him the photo represents life. In life there is calmness or smoothness than a rough patch followed by a smoothness which often we can not see.

According to Samite the fishermen's song would bounced across the waters. Samite noted that the blue lake, the blue background, and the blue sky is natural coloring not enhanced by PhotoShop.

Samite told that there are less than 700 mountain gorillas left. Humans are destroying their habitat. Hunters kill them for food. Trophy hunters take their hands as trophies. Using ranger escorts Samite visited a family of mountain gorillas. One observation that Samite made was how the gorillas both old and young are fascinated by their digits.

This morning at 11 AM Samite gave a music concert in the Irene A. Bisgrove Community Theatre.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Making a Friend

By Alison McGhee.
Illustrated by Marc Rosenthal.

With the sparest text and softest watercolors, McGhee and Rosenthal lovingly evoke the pleasures of the season’s first snow. A red-capped boy makes a snowman, giving him pebble eyes, a carrot nose and, finally, his own red hat to wear. When the snow melts, the snowman doesn’t really disappear: he is in the falling water, the rain on the ocean and the fog. He is always with the boy and will always come back in this tender paean to cold weather and enduring friendship.

A simple story - Boys builds snowman - Snowman melts - The first snow - Boys builds snowman again. McGhee blends in the phrase, "What you love will always be with you", to give the story new meaning.

Over and Under the Snow

By Kate Messner.
Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal.
 As a girl and her father cross-country ski in a snowy wood, a “secret kingdom” of burrowed animals busy themselves beneath their feet. Various clues awaken the girl to the intricacies of this unseen habitat: “An oval of melted snow tells the story of a good night’s sleep.” Messner packs much information into the serene wintry landscape, beautifully captured in Neal’s stunning retro-style illustrations. Calm, lovely and richly informative.

A good winter read before taking that snowy walk in the woods.

Snowy Owl

As the old Scotsman Alexander Hislop once said, "The third time's lucky. "

On two previous attempts the Snowy Owl that has taken up residence at the NY Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls was a no show. But this morning at 9:15 AM drove the the outer driveway of the campus and pulled into the parking area south of the maintenance building. There it was sitting in the bleachers.

After watching the Snowy for several minutes drove the road that leads to the soccer fields. This location provided a better view and my presence did not seem to bother the owl. After awhile the owl took flight and perched in a tree along the hedgerow. There three Crows began to harass the owl. The owl acting nonchalant eventually flew off into the farm field west of the hedgerow.

Packing up to leave two maintenance men pulled up. Tim and Jim asked if I had gotten a good look at their visitor. They were enthused that the Snowy Owl has made the campus a birding destination. Referred them to the recent NYT article, Bird-Watcher Revel in Unusual Spike in Snowy Owl Sightings.

One birder mentioned that there was evidence of the Snowy Owl's sitting on the bleachers. True enough.

This was a life bird for me. Look forward to returning to view the Snowy Owl again before the bird heads north.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Week Six - 46 to Go

The mystery is did Michael Crichton really contributed to this book. This novel is about as believable as the Walt Disney Pictures comedy film, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Unfortunately MICRO was not as entertaining.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Birding - Monteuma

South Spring Pool

This week there was a Snowy Owl reported to be on the campus of the New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls. Drove over this morning. Using the paved driveway circled around the perimeter of the campus. Stopped at the bleachers on the west side of the maintenance building. No Snowy. Continuing on down and through the State Park came upon Wolfy’s Restaurant of which Rusty has spoken highly. Cayuga Lake was teeming with Canada Geese and Mallards.

Pulled into the South Spring Pool parking lot around 9:20 AM. There was some open water to the north but there were no birds.

Drove into May's Point and continued over the bridge. In the bushes at the school bus turn-around were 15 House Sparrows. A Downy Woodpecker flew in for a quick look before departing for the canal. A lone American Crow and a single Ring-bill Gull flew overhead as I was leaving.
 House Sparrow (F)

With the exception of 2 Chickadees and 3 House Sparrows at the Dead End, Van Spoor Road was barren.

The Muckrace drew a crowd of 110 Canada Geese. Noticed several were banded. A select group paraded across the ice for me.
 Band on left leg?

Martens Tract had no visitors today but a person of royalty may have been there recently.
Lost Leopard Slipper

At the Noga Blind Canada Geese way back and cattails up close.

Floating on Crusoe Creek were 35 Canada Geese. A flock of Canada Geese heading North caused the floaters to take flight.

Another fun day in birding. One thing about Canada Geese and Sparrows they stand still for you. 

Also in birding you can always count on your friends. On its usual McDonald Road telephone pole waiting for my return home was the Red-tail Hawk. After acknowledging my presence it left its perch and flew into the woods where 3 Crows tried unsuccessfully to harass it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

1st Day February 2012

Wednesday February 1, 2012

Casey Park

The Hilton Garden Inn

Emerson Park

Hoopes Park

Cayuga College Trail

Emerson Park - "Cud"dly Cow

Cayuga College Trail - Mallards

Charlie Parker Played be bop - Chris Raschka

Chris Raschka provides children a sense of jazz music without playing a note.

Raschka captures another side of Charlie Parker when he pictures Parker looking at a trombone and scratching his head.