Monday, September 6, 2010

Times change....

In November 1986 I remember getting ready to check out at Busy Fingers, a craft store in Sanford. I had gone there to buy some yarn to make a baby blanket. At the register was a copy of "Leisure Arts" magazine featuring a fabulous picture of a Santa Claus in something called "cross stitch." I had seen this type of needlework before, but never really paid any attention to it. Well, this Santa so intrigued me that I just had to buy the magazine. I took it home and within the week was at the local dime store to buy fabric and the nearly 40 colors of floss needed to start this project. I followed the directions and within the next several months, I had completed and framed the project. Then it was on to the following year's Santa and a multitude of projects after that. I was totally hooked. Cross stitch had become a passion.

In 1988 a friend of mine introduced me to the local Embroiderers Guild group. From the moment I walked in I was warmly greeted and felt right at home. This only fed my passion and brought me many new very dear friends. As the years passed, I tried many more forms of embroidery. Not all of my efforts were successful but my enthusiasm never waned. I became very involved and then some in the Guild. I was chair of the local group, became president of the Maine chapter, was New England Region Director, and served on the national board. I took classes locally and at national seminars. I dreamed of owning a stitching shop or running needlework seminars on my own. I was always looking for more time or a place to put in one more stitch.

I could never get enough stitching in - either the actual act of it or reading about it. I went on a tear buying projects and books. My needlework library has well over 1,000 books and shelves of magazines. I have more projects both started and "in the box" than I would ever have time to finish - even if I stitched 24/7 for years and years.

Now, sadly enough, that passion has burned itself out. I really have no desire to stitch. I can't tell you when I last had a needle in my hand. My stitching bag gathers dust next to the couch. I agreed to be a pilot stitcher for a new EGA class earlier this year and had to bow out. I just couldn't make myself stitch. I did change careers a few years ago and am working just about full-time. That could have something to do with it, but I don't think so.

I still hope to get back to stitching at some point. Right now I fill my need to be creative with knitting. I have a gazillion knitting projects that I'm either working on or intend to do. I'm taking classes, sneaking in a few rows whenever I can, reading and buying knitting magazines and books on a regular basis. I'm definitely not as passionate about knitting as I was about embroidery, but I certainly am enjoying myself. I keep my memberships in EGA, the American Needpoint Guild, and Embroidery Canada as a life member of each group. I still keep up with what's going on with my state EGA chapter and EGA's online chapter. I think about my stitching friends and miss them. But for now, it's k1, yo, k2t, yo..............

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thoughts on reading......

So much of my life revolves around books and that's pretty much the way it's always been. A couple of the first books I remember toting around with me were "Poppy," a book about a fairy, and a Latin/English dictionary. (Don't ask me why about the last one. I didn't get to study Latin until high school. I just liked that book!) I read a lot and loved going to the library. What a treat that always was. Fortunately for me, since I'm now a librarian, going to the library is a daily treat.

Although I did read a lot, it was not always the best. I loved series - The Bobsey Twins, Honey Bunch, The Happy Hollisters, Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, Donna Parker, etc. I may have missed out on reading a lot of the classics, but I enjoyed what I read.

Until I went to library school, I pretty much read in a narrow range. I may not have read series so much any more, but I did have my favorite authors - Joanna Trollope, Elizabeth Berg, etc. My classes required me to read well beyond that range. What a great gift. I took a Young Adult class that really stretched me. Three of the best books I've read came out of that class - Lois Lowry's "The Giver," "Monster" by Walter Dean Myers, and "The House of the Scorpion" by Nancy Farmer. Then in another great class we read a large number of books covering a very wide range of topics/genre - romance, thriller, detective, books "that made an impact," Christian fiction, non-fiction, etc. It was a great challenge that I really enjoyed.

Now, my book groups keep me reaching outside my range. The group at the Library alternates between fiction and non-fiction. The Facebook group reads an eclectic mix. Some of the best books from these efforts include "Lying Awake" by Mark Salzman, "The House on Mango Street" by Sandra Cisneros, and "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett." I probably would not have read any of these books had it not been for my book groups.

I look at the pile of books next to my bed and in my office and marvel at both how much I've read and how much I still have to read (definitely more of the latter). I can now carry a load of books with me wherever I go thanks to my Kindle. And, there are times when I cram in every little bit of reading that I can - even in line at the grocery store!

What a great gift reading is. With so many books and so little time, I don't get to enjoy it as much as I'd like, but I know that it's always there for me. So, now it's time to hit the books.

If you'd like to see what I've been reading over the last few years, take a look at my page on LibraryThing. Look for Irishwasherwoman. What good (or bad) reads do we have in common?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Getting better with age......

Last night provided us with an incredible concert experience - Carole King and James Taylor at the TD Garden in Boston. A birthday and 25th anniversary celebration that will long be remembered. Their performance proved that some things just get better with age. Going to see them live was like uncorking a bottle of fine wine that had been aged to perfection.

There is so much to say about the concert - JT and CK themselves, the playlist, the technology, the crowd, dinner in the North End, and an easy drive down and back. I purchased the tickets on a very cold day back in January and then had to wait until Bobby's birthday in March to unveil the surprise. We also decided to make this part of my birthday and our 25th wedding anniversary celebrations.
We got to Boston in record time, giving us plenty of time for a nice dinner in the North End. After walking up and down Hanover Street for awhile and not being able to decide, we consulted with the guys at the Hanover St. firehouse and were told that Lo Conte's over on Salem Street would be our best bet. The whole area was really hopping, so we expected to have to wait awhile for a table, but we lucked out. Even if we had had to wait it would have been worth it. Since I had been sick the night before and wasn't too sure of myself, I had a lovely dish of penne with chicken and pink sauce. Bobby made out like a bandit finding all of his favorite seafood in a steaming dish of calamari, clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops, crab, and pasta in a white wine sauce. Excellent wine, too! When we left there was quite a waiting line. Thanks, Mr. Fireman, for the great recommendation.

We got back to The Garden in plenty of time. The concert started a bit late, which was good because at 7:30 there were still lots of empty seats. Well, the hall filled up, the concert got underway, and there was no turning back. Carole opened up with "So Far Away" and set the tone for the evening. Hardly a hit was missed during the nearly 2 and a half hour show. The said that when they first put the playlist together for the tour they ended up with nearly 6 hours of music. They did a great job in whittling that down.

What struck me most about the whole experience is what an incredible voice CK has. The clarity, range, energy, and power of her voice could never be captured in a recording. When she did "Natural Woman" the place was absolutely rocking. As I've been saying all day, "Aretha, eat your heart out!" Carole's enthusiasm and James' humble humor added a lot to the experience. Song, after song, after song brought back such great memories of how their music has made an impression on me over the years. Freshman year at SMC was the height of "Tapestry." I loved going to Mass at St. Ed's at ND at 11 o'clock on Sunday nights where many a time we sang "You've Got a Friend." It was fun when they added local flavor to the lyrics. The crowd just ate it all up...myself included.

The musicians and back up singers were fabulous. I guess if you have the same band that you had when you first did your gig 40 years ago says a lot. The newbies were a perfect fit. I guess that you can tell that this was a concert of a lifetime.

Next up???? Trace Adkins and Toby Keith in September at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA. Now that, I'm sure, will also be one for the ages............

Monday, April 19, 2010

Patriots' Day

This is a holiday that should be celebrated nationally, not just in Maine, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin. This is the day that basically commemorates the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Without the men and women who supported all the efforts of those committed to freedom, where would we be today? Thanks to those whose names we know so well - Patrick Henry, John Paul Jones, Paul Revere, Nathan Hale - and those who remain unknown to so many of us. It's been 235 years and we are still a grateful nation. Just wish all Americans had a chance to remember and celebrate your sacrifices.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Meaning and Importance of Libraries - Part IV (August 1907)

The final speaker at the dedicatory exercises in 1907 was Prof. Henry L. Chapman of Bowdoin College. His full remarks weren't printed in the article, but he is quoted as saying, "On this day when you have met for the purpose of dedicating this library, the grateful recipients and the generous giver are equally to be congratulated. A library is wholly benevolent; free and impartial in its ministrations; the young and the old, the rich and the poor, the sad and the light-hearted, the strong and the infirm, adherents of all political and religious faiths, may all enjoy its privileges.

When we enter the library we may well feel a touch of humility and reverence, as when we go into a company of select people. They wait with modest and quiet dignity to hold converse with us. A library is very democratic, and though in life they may have been unapproachable, hedged about my conventions, the authors now stand side by side on the shelves. Plato by Mr. Dooley, John Milton and John Bunyan together and Shakespeare is not supercilious to Mother Goose. They dwell together without question of precedence. Here is gathered a company of the wisest and wittiest of men you could pick out in a thousand years, and the thoughts which they did not uncover to their bosom friends are written out to us, the strangers of another age.

There is no more notable characteristic of community life than the multiplication of libraries.

If we go back to the boyhood of Benjamin Franklin we may compare the poverty of the eighteenth century with the wealth of the twentieth. Such a thing as a circulating library was unknown in the country. Today the most interesting map of Massachusetts is that that exhibits the boundary lines of the cities and with the boundaries pictures of the public libraries, and there is not a city or town in Massachusetts that does not possess a library.

It is not personal caprice, but a deep seated conviction, that has led men to give so generously of their fortunes to build libraries, leaving the maintenance to those who will reap the benefit of them...It is the office of the library to mark as far as possible the line between good literature and that that is not good. It can hardly be doubted, however, that any book, so far as it leads the mind out of its ordinary thought, is of real service to the reader, even if it be not of the highest order. It cannot be doubted that some novels are of real merit, but instead of snatching at the newest novels we should be content to read those which have outlived the clamor of the advertisers. Scott, Hawthorne, Dickens, Jane Austen, Thackeray, George Eliot - no one can ever be ashamed of being found in their company. The will serve as touchstones to test the quality of the lesser ones. He who knows Shakespeare, Motley, Milton - will not be easily be beguiled into accepting that which is not good. In the choice of books to read we may follow that simple rule of selecting the books we like the best. If we are not interested we shall not open our minds, and if we do not open our minds then we shall take in no new ideas. The thing to aim at is to cultivate a taste for the best, and it certainly can be cultivated by those who desire it.

The library which we dedicate today will surely be an object of pride to the community, as well as a minister of good. The books will be friends to you, to enrich and make your lives serene and happy."

The Kennebunk Free Library is as impressive today as it was back then. It is a valuable asset to the entire community. I am very proud to not only claim it as my home town library, but also as the place where I got my start as a librarian. Thank you, Mr. Parsons, for your generous gift and to all those who have come after you to support the library, keeping it strong and vibrant.

The Meaning and Importance of Libraries - Part III (August 1907)

Mr. Henry E. Andrews accepted the keys on behalf of the library trustees and addressed those gathered for the celebration as follows: On behalf of the trustees of the Kennebunk Free Library Association of Kennebunk, I receive these keys - the token of the possession of the building which Mr. George Parsons has generously caused to be erected and now freely gives into their keeping for the use and advantage of this community.

It is a munificent gift, and a gift opportune, enduring, humane. He provides, in the very heart of the township, a new and an adequate habitation for a high enterprise. He advances a project which, in earlier years, public-spirited men, whose memory we honor, conceived and inaugurated for the public welfare. Their hope has been justified, their expectation exceeded. By the timely bestowal of this building, he prospers their project a hundred fold. A structure so substantial not only promotes, it perpetuates, the institution on which, with the church, as on a foundation four-square and firm, rests our common human good. Farther into the future than we can look, this structure will safeguard the treasures of books which we have accumulated and will engage after generations to add to them. Its influence will be as pervasive as it is permanent, as catholic as it is constant. Carlyle only uttered the conviction of mankind at large when he said, 'The founding of a library is one of the quietest things we can do with regard to results. It is one of the greatest things, but there is nothing I know of at bottom more important.' With regard to results, it is no less important to further than to found a library; and sir, the building which Mr. Parsons gives us today, enlarges and enhances the operation of that subtle force issuing from wise books to inspire the individual, and to mould the community. If its adequacy, its order, its perfected equipment, in its dignity and beauty, it offers to every citizen of the town a wider opportunity, a more gracious and suasive invitation, a higher incentive, to seek self-development and civic betterment, than the past has offered. Its very presence is a symbol. It appeals to a higher mood than the mood of every day. It stands apart from our factories and shops in a contrast that suggests the contrast between the literature of all times and the periodical of the hour. It witnesses the deep satisfaction of art. It speaks, even to the hurried passer-by, some words of an unusual languages, such as, in the fine phrase of Thoreau, 'are raised above the trivialness of the street to be perpetual suggestions and provocations.' Thus in itself it is educative, and prepares the mind for the pursuit of culture. In and of itself it points the quiet , withdrawn ways to wisdom and understanding. By the visible example of its own excellence it incites us to walk in those ways.

To establish here in our midst an influence that tends unchangingly to enrich the individual life, unceasingly to refine public taste, unwaveringly to lift up our intellectual ideals, and to guide our communal progress towards that 'wider and wiser humanity' which shone in the vision of Lowell as the goal of Democracy, that is an act in the highest, the truest, sense humane; and for his disinterested act, for his gift, for his abiding benefaction, I beg, sir, that you will carry to Mr. Parsons the heartfelt and lasting gratitude of all his fellow-citizens in this town." (York County Coast Star, August 2, 1907)

Words from a hundred years ago with a very modern context. Although today it's about more than just the books, the public library brings to each and every community a connection to the entire world.

The Meaning and Importance of Libraries - Part II (August 1907)

Following the introduction was the presentation of the keys. The Rev. John Parsons spoke as follows: "A French writer recently said that if the work of some fifty men of distinction in the varied life of the nation were to be removed, the prime moving forces of culture and civilization would be lost. This statement is both just and striking, and its essential truth is applicable to other nations. These men of genius have their power in virtue of their special endowments: some of them have keen intellectual insight; some, delicate sensitiveness of temperament; and others, unusual force of character.

The results of their work are perpetuated in books, and books are gathered into libraries. The mission of a library is manifold. When we enter the doors, we come first, upon the newspaper rack with the daily papers giving a kaleidoscopic view of current events; destruction of property through fire and storm; breaks in the stock market; records of crime; disasters and loss of human life. On the tables we find magazines to keep us in touch with investigations of deeper interest: politics, scientific discovery and invention, and the problems of general social welfare. But when we enter the alcoves we get, as nowhere else, light on the profoundest questions of life, its origin and destiny. From natural history we learn of the epochs of the earth; from political history, of the important changes in governments and dynasties; from biography, of the characters of gifted men. Here also we find the works of literature: drama, delineating the hidden springs of action; romance, charming and kindling the imagination; poetry, purifying and ennobling the soul. Here are volumes on science to reveal to us the secrets of nature; on morals, to show us a safe pathway amid the dangers of life; and on religion, to lighten up the future.

The library is, therefore, an institution of greatest social importance. It joins with church and school, and exercises prominent influence in forming a distinct and elevated social tone.

Individuals pass away, but a library with its social tone endures from generation to generation. At the same time, this continuity is not like that of the recurring historical anniversary, or that of the monument erected on the battlefield; for these simply repeat unchanged the lesson from year to year; whereas the library moves on from year to year receiving contributions from each new generation. Every reader in a library, therefore, stands at focal point. He gathers there all the influences of the past and present. Men in early ages built monuments and established thrones, but time has destroyed them; but the man who put forth a great thought and embodied it in language created that which is imperishable. Plato and Aristotle wrote for Athenians, but their influence has lasted on down to the present. Plato has done his greatest work for Christians; into the most intimate thoughts of some of them he enters today; and the logical method of Aristotle ruled scientific thinking for two thousand years. Homer and Virgil sang for the men of their own time, but the echoes linger still. What a great spiritual heritage has the English people in the dramas of Shakespeare, the epics of Milton, and the songs of Burns! Thus the reader meets the elect souls of the past.

He stands where the great and the good of all lands gather to instruct him. He stands where the limitations of time and space are transcended. He stands where thoughts that have wandered through eternity have been fixed by books for humanity as a part of its permanent treasures. Thus the library will lead the van of the forces of the social environment from period to period to the century's end.

And now hoping that when the residents shall gather a t that centennial gathering and shall take the assets of the social influences that have come down to them, they shall be led back to this hour and shall find that ti has been as a landmark from which important social influences have flowed on like a trail of light through the years, and will flow on beyond the centennial line with increasing light from increasing volumes, summoning the coming generations to keep step with firmer tread in the march of civilization, I give you this deed to that building and this key to open its treasures."
(York County Coast Star, August 2, 1907)

The Reverend Parsons certainly got it when it came to the importance and meaning of libraries. His one-hundred-plus-year-old advice and insight is just as meaningful today as it was back then. Let's hope that others continue to get it through the years. Support your local library. It makes common "cents."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Meaning and Importance of Libraries - Part I (August 1907)

When my local library building, a gift from Kennebunk resident George Parsons, was dedicated back in August of 1907, the local newspaper had the foresight to publish the speeches of the very wise men who spoke at the dedication. In a series of posts, I'd like to share with you what was said about the importance of libraries back then. Much of it is still very true today.

The first to speak was Mr. Walter L. Dane, the president of the Free Library Association of Kennebunk. In his introduction, he said: "A little less than a year ago a few of us assembled at the lot yonder to place the corner stone of the new Library Building with very simple ceremony. We are met here today in accordance with the promise then made to formally accept this beautiful gift, and to dedicate it to the uses for which it has been erected; and to express so far as words are adequate our sense of obligation to the giver.

Every public benefaction, like every public work, depends for its success, for its full fruition, upon the interest and co-operation of the community where it is placed.

I fully believe that your presence in such goodly numbers shows not alone your appreciation of this beautiful gift, but quite as much your intention and desire to co-operate earnestly in all the efforts which will be made to render it a means of great usefulness and benefit to this community.

And so I am privileged to heartily welcome you here both on behalf of the giver and the Association in whose keeping it is at present placed. ..

...The location seems to be a favored one from every standpoint, being ... in the very center of the village...And now friends, I have no hesitation in again welcoming you cordially on behalf of those who have so faithfully worked to this end for I am sure you are and will be ready and glad to respond to your share of this work which must make for the broader culture and larger life of this town and which has received so great an impetus today..." (York County Coast Star, August 2, 1907)

What's nice to be able to say is that this library is very healthy today and a wonderful literary and community center for the town.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Okay, Lent is here and once again I'm giving up video games. The hardest of all is Bejeweled Blitz on FaceBook. It's sooooooo addictive and a fun connection to a lot of friends. A great filler when there's a bit of time on your hands. The problem is that it can easily fill a lot of time. So, we're now into day 2. It's hard. I'm being good, but........ LOL. One good thing is that my reading has picked up and my scarf is now a foot longer........

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Deeper and deeper or...

higher and higher. I'm getting into deeper and deeper trouble as my book piles get higher and higher. I've just joined another book group. This one has a twist, though. It's on Facebook. My cousin Dot has started it. Our first book is "Crossing to Safety" by Wallace Stegner, someone that I've always wanted to read. It was my cousin Kathy's suggestion. Did I mention that this is a mainly a family group? Go Mynahans! I'll never get to my personal stash as I work my way through two book groups from work and this one. Help!!! Oh, you know the drill - so many books, so little time.

Did I also mention that my pile of needlework projects is also growing by leaps and bounds? I'm becoming more of a "chick with sticks" than a stitcher. Sorry EGA friends. I took a class last Sunday in Scandinavian knitting. Not only am I learning how to knit Continental style with two colors, but I'll be dealing with steeks. Basically, that means I'll be cutting the knitting to put in the seams. Yikes. Of course, that means that I first have to finish the project - a teddy bear-sized sweater. Piece of cake right? Wrong. You have to be somewhat coordinated to do this and I'm struggling. So, what am I doing spending time writing this??? Onward and upwards.....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Best Reads of 2009

I finally had a chance to put away the text books (but, I do miss going to school), so I ramped up my reading a bit. I've started far more than I finished and the pile keeps getting higher. I did read some really great books last year (along with one or two dogs). My favorites in no particular order:

  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Selznick

  • Revolutionary Road - Yates (audio)

  • The Group - McCarthy

  • White Tiger - Adiga (audio)

  • Lying Awake - Salzman

  • Optimist's Daughter - Welty (audio)

  • The Confederacy of Dunces - Toole (audio)

What is surprising is that four of the books I listened to. For someone who is not a big audio fan that really is quite a feat. Now if I could only find my MP3 so I could listen to more....... Here's to more great reading in 2010! Hurry up - time's a-wasting!


This looks like someone emptied out my knitting bag! Actually, my project bags are the few things that I do keep meticulously neat these days. Just like many projects, so little time. There is always something new to distract and just begging to be started. However, I am beginning to work on my stash. I have so many needlework and knitting projects that need to be finishes. While not exactly a New Year's Resolution, I am going to make more of an effort to work through these.....until my next trip to the yarn shoppe!!!!