Thursday, August 28, 2008

Upcoming Blog name change

After this blog gets reviewed by the Twenty Three Things on a Stick Powers-That-Be I'm going to change it to a more general blog, and the new name will be Cleery's Alley (at least that's the plan, if no one else has taken it). My screen name has been Cleery since about 1996, an homage to a character in one of my favorite children's books, Magic in the Alley by Mary Calhoun.
Man, I loved that book as a kid. I reread it about every season. It is hard to find now. But, a few years ago, I tracked it down through an out of print book service and grabbed up a copy of my very own. If you like children's literature and fantasy, you should read it, you really should. If your library doesn't own it, you can get it through interlibrary loan. If you're in the Twin Cities, guess what, Minneapolis libraries have it!
Now, I shall tempt you. This is from memory at this point, so excuse any errors :) Cleery is a skinny, mysterious girl (age 11?), who likes to poke around alley junk shops hoping to find something interesting. One day in a shop, she finds a carved box, with a secret latch, that contains... magic? She tests out the ingredients on a conveniently located stuffed crow, and gets a big surprise. The outcome is that Cleery, her best friend Knobs and Crow get to enjoy a strange summer of magic. They meet a ghost, a mermaid, and a truly awful scarecrow, among others. I wanted to be Cleery, lucky, brave, non-conformist Cleery. And I loved Crow. I still love Crow.
So, Ms. Calhoun, in the crazy unlikelyhood that you should read this, please consider it a big, fat valentine. You gave young me many happy hours.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Adventurous Eating

Cartoon by Natalie Dee:
I got this from Librarian DOA and Floating Lush:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating (I don't know how to cross out, so I'll write them in red).

I don't eat meat anymore (since 1990) and I'm a picky eater, so we'll see.

1. Venison (as a child)
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak Tartare (no meat!)
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters (not a pleasant experience)
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel (and deeply regretted it)
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (not even when I ate meat)
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin (I'm missing something here, because all I could find named this is clay)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs (and I've always been sorry)
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail (gross)
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom ( I don't know what this is)
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake (although in a fairy tale if you eat the white snake you can understand animal language...that might be tempting)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Eat Pray Love and The Willoughbys

Look, I read an actual adult book! Alright, it's a bestseller and the author's been on Oprah, and it could've been a letdown, but I have to say that I loved reading Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I expected to be interested in the travel and spiritual aspects of the book, but I wasn't expecting Ms. Gilbert to be so funny and likeable. I frequently laughed out loud when reading. It also made me think about my life and things that I could do to get more out of it. I made a little list in my journal after I finished the book. I've been to Italy, and don't dream of Indonesia, but India has appeal. If I can't get to India immediately for spiritual retreat, then that's okay, because I'm planning to go to a weekend meditation retreat right here in Minnesota. So, I finished my reading inspired.

Here's what Gilbert has to say about her reader's adulation (my word, not hers) of her travels:

On a completely different note, another book I recently enjoyed is The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry. I listened to the complete but brief audio version read by Artie Johnson of Laugh-In fame (can you remember this show? I can). It was fun! It is what I hoped the Lemony Snicket books would be like, but weren't, at least for me.
If you have read or will read a great number of gentle "old-fashioned" children's books, then you will be tickled by this affectionate parody of the type. Like my co-librarian Carol (see
I grew up reading favorites like Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield, Edward Eager's books, E. Nesbit's books and the ones Lowry herself mentions in The Willoughbys: James and the Giant Peach, Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, etc.
With this vicarious background filled with tragic accidents, plucky orphans, villainous relatives and more (See how Snicket/Handler took a page from this book to write his series?), I couldn't help but love Lowry's would-be orphans: bossy but golden-hearted Tim, the Barnabys, aka twins A & B, and the youngest, winsome confidence-free Jane. Lowry whips up a plot that ends happily, as an old-fashioned story should, and is peppered with melancholy tycoons, foreign postmasters, nanny super cooks and giggling abandoned babies on the way.
I hope it gives you a kick too, and as yet another Barnaby in the story says in his flawless :) German: "Schlee you later, alligatorplatz!"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Here are some results from our Gock workshop in July. What an easy craft! Just provide tube socks, yarn, felt, fabric and notions, and people go to town creating.

Gocks by Librarians: Kalla's alter ego
Matilda and me

Gocks by Teens:


Monday, August 18, 2008

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

I recently finished listening to Before I Die and I think that it was excellently written and performed. Sixteen year old Tessa is dying of Leukemia, and so in order to get the most out of what time she's got left, she makes a list of things that she wants to do, beginning with experiencing sex. Some of these things get her in trouble, but they help her cope. Tessa deals with not only her own fears and feelings, but also those of her friends and family. Her best friend Zoe is by turns angry at her and bored with her, her dad is protective and her mom has kept herself almost completely unaware of the particulars of Tessa's condition.
British (?) reader Charlotte Parry believably voices the characters and differentiates them well.
The story is emotional and touching, but not maudlin. I tend to avoid books in which the main character is dying, but I had heard such positive buzz about this that I was willing to try it and I liked Tessa very much. See if you do, too.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Cleery Superhero!

Here is me (AKA Cleery) as a superhero, courtesy of HeroMachine:

Making this was very fun, and in truth she looks much more like me than my cute but skinny little "plus size" Yahoo avatar (apart from the huge hands and feet). I'd rather have a book in her hand than a staff, but that wasn't an option, and maybe if her staff is game she can magic one up! I also immortalized my former faithful library rat JoJo as her mighty companion.

When I worked at the Prescott Public Library in Prescott, AZ,

JoJo and his brother Smores were very sweet and lovable pets in our children's section. Jo was a fuzzy grey Dumbo rat (the official term for extra large ears) with a curly Rex coat. The kids named our ratties in a contest, and the boys lived in a birdcage on the Children's desk during the week, and at home with me on our days off. Rats actually make very good library pets. They should not bite, they stay awake when you are around and they can be taught to do tricks!

JoJo and Smores were handled every day by eager kids and their grown ups. They attracted pet lovers of all kinds to my desk. So, here's a big kiss to them, and Jo, I hope you enjoy saving the world with Cleery!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Library reptile visit

Handsome Skink in his log
Pudgy the Uromastyx
Buttercup and me
Smile, Buttercup!


In July, we were lucky enough to have a visit from Mike Burpee and the Reptile Experience.

The kids loved it and I did too. Carol (Has Her Nose in a Book) wasn't such a fan, but she was a good sport and ran things nobly. Mike and his mom brought Buttercup, the beautiful albino python, Fluffy the tortoise, a blue tongue Skink, an Uromastyx and more snakes and lizards. The nice little Skink gave me a "kiss" on the nose. If you're a librarian and you want reptile entertainment, I recommend Mike and crew!

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