Wednesday, November 30, 2011

San Juan del Sur Biblioteca: I choo-choo-choose Chinandega part deux

I choo-choo-choose Chinandega part deux
Originally posted on the Simmons GSLIS Dispatches from the Field

Day 3, aka January 6, 2009

Our day started off bright and early in Chinandega with a walk around town before we headed out to the visit a site on our way back to Managua. We had heard that there were two crocodiles in a park, but our waiter told us that they had been deemed too dangerous for children (uh…yeah?) and were no longer there. It turned out to be a great morning for a wander about town, despite the lack of reptile watching opportunities. We somehow wound up timing our early bird stroll perfectly to run into a group of tourists of a certain early bird age, who may or may not have been on a bus tour from a cruise ship. I think our lady-bunch got the best end of the deal, as we were treated to a show of traditional dances, and had the freedom to wander around the town of our own accord.
Ameya dancers
Oh snap, free show!

Yellow dancer
Folk dancers in Ameya
After observing many a Nicaraguan woman wearing some super-stylin’ aprons, I decided that I, too, needed one, and managed to find a beaut of an apron in a little store on the same street as the folk dance.
Don’t hate the player…
I’m super pleased with my purchase, even if I have a sneaking suspicion that the store owner may have sold me his wife’s favorite apron while she was out (or something). It comes with ruffles, three pockets, ribbons, and looks even more stylin’ in person. It was only $10, but will bring me ten years of joy. It’s okay that you’re all jealous; this piece is priceless.
We headed out to the local library in Chinandega, which is a Wisconsin/Nicaragua partner library run by Dona Malva, a former school teacher (I think that was her story). The Chinandega library was interesting, and our hosts were very gracious and proud of their library. I don’t want to judge it unfairly, since we were there on a day the it is usually closed on and to boot, during a vacation. I noticed that the collection was different from what I saw in other places; some books looked like they’d never been touched, others appeared out of date, and others were clearly a little too well loved, and most seemed to be nonfiction books. I read Cordoroy for the second time to an audience of middle school aged boys, which was a little different. It did seem like they had never really been to the library before; Dona Malva didn’t know their names. I found it kind of telling that when we left, the boys all surrounded the van not to say goodbye, but to ask for money, a striking difference from the other sites.
However, I was super impressed that the boys were attentive and polite; my guess is that the average pack of 12 year old American boys would have written me off on around page one of a picture book. It was clear that Dona Malva and co had put a lot of work into getting things set up “just so,” for the visit though, and I’m trying to keep this in mind when I think about the library. When does a youth library EVER have the books lined up perfectly? Ummm…NEVER. Spooky. The library building also doubles as a place where women can go to learn how to sew using machines, which was kind of cool, except we were interrupted before finding out more about the lessons (cost, materials, etc.), so I don’t know if it is a community service or what. In general, it was a solid visit, with good people who may just be a bit too focused on collection development over community need. And, retrospectively, I’m sure the Chinandega staff were nervous about impressing us and the SJDS staffers, which probably didn’t give us an entirely accurate view of how things actually are there. However, in awesome news, Jeremy now has a pack of Nicaraguan teenage fangirls with headquarters in Chinandega. How do you say “Tiger Beat Magazine” in Spanish?
Pictures from Chinandega:
Chinandega Library
Inside Chinandega
Inside the Chinandega library
Chinandega story time
Chinandega storytime
Dona Malva
Dona Malva

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

San Juan del Sur Biblioteca: I choo-choo-choose Chinandega

I Choo-choo-choose Chinandega
Originally posted on Simmons GSLIS Dispatches from the Field

Day 2, or January 5, 2009
Hotel Camino Real, aka our Managua home base, has a delish all you can eat buffet in the mornings, and may be the reason why I went to a third world country and gained 45 pounds. HCR also has a special feature I discovered early in the morning on day 2 whilest following a very interesting sign on an exploratory jaunt around the premises:
What could this be?
Senor Pavo
Yeah, that’s right. Deer, or venados, si se habla espanol. Wee, knee high deer to be precise. And not just deer…
Senor Pavo
Hello, dinner
One big, loud, pavo, or turkey si se habla ingles. No deets on his presence were available. HCR is also attached to a casino with a giant neon pharoh head on it, appropriately titled Pharoh’s Casino. I contemplated gambling for the first time here, but the waves of cigarette smoke and video slot machines kind of turned me off. I’m mostly disappointed I didn’t get a picture of it. I suppose my pic of Senor Pavo more than makes up for it though!

After partaking in some buffet breakfast gluttony, the GSLIS crew met up with Heydi, SJDS librarian and total sweetheart, Noelia, another SJDS librarian sweetheart (and only 19 years old!), Luis Carlos, Edwin’s nephew and a SJDS guybrarian (16 year old, but so mature we didn’t realize this until his mom told us later in the week), and Richard, our awesome driver. We piled into our 12 passenger silver chariot, bound north for Chinandega, with a CD filled with soft rock 80’s songs serenading us. The road took us past Lake Managua (or Lake Xolotlcn to the locals; the names are apparently interchangeable), and past several volcanoes we spotted in the distance, which incited a camera flash riot in the back of the van.
Volcanoes on the road to north
We arrived right around lunchtime in Chinandega, and went to Subway. Something to take note of in Nicaragua: restaurants, even fast food ones, are…not fast. Not even medium speed. Even at a fast food sandwich shop, it took close to an hour for our 15 person group to all get served. This meant we were running kind of late, and had to jet almost immediately off to our first site visit at Ameya.
Ameya is a small village on the outskirts of Chinandega. From what I can gather, the villagers are primarily farmers, making a living off the land. Jane planned a snack of chocolate milk and Nutragrain bars. She told us that for many of the kids, this could have been their only meal that day; giving the kids a nutritious yet delicious snack was more of a priority that stunning them with sugar.
Our arrival was a bit overwhelming for our GSLIS gringo pack. We pulled in to a crowd of close to 200 children dressed in their best, partaking in some sort of dance contest, and quite possibly the most frightening clown I’ve ever seen.
Nica It
Enjoy those inevitable nightmares!
We were introduced with a warm welcome and promptly thrown into some field day games. Erikka may have lost the potato sack race to children half her size, but a little boy lost his pants, so I suppose his pride might have been slightly more damaged than hers.
Erikka’s race
Erikka’s race
Rounds and rounds of field games later (egg races, wheelbarrow races, musical chairs, etc.) we got to my personal favorite part: story time! For the majority of you who don’t know me, I’m an aspiring youth services librarian, currently holding down two jobs in libraries for teens and children. I did a little bit of majoring in Spanish in college back in the day. Ergo, one of my biggest interests in the pursuit of my degree/career/happiness is the development and furthering of Spanish language youth programming. Ergo, I was excited for this part of the afternoon.
The SJDS Biblioteca picks a book of the year each year, which is read at the main library and is also brought to all the sites visited by the book mobile. This year’s selection is Cordoroy, and past selections have included Ferdinand and Clifford. I was definitely nervous when Jane asked me to do the reading. While I’ve done story hours, my experience would best be described as limited…limited to groups of 15-20 at the most, not close to 200, and also limited to the English language, not a language I was three years rusty in speaking or even understanding! Despite my jitters, the kids were wonderful and respectful, and the reading went really well despite my few stumbles over words; some kids got so into the story they crowded around behind me to look at the pictures up close.
Cordoroy in Spanish for 200
We transitioned into a raffle to distract the children while we prepared a snack for 200, which involved making chocolate milk in a water cooler and then rationing it out into 200 servings. Who says math isn’t useful to librarians? Yeesh! Luckily, it was easier than it sounded, the only nervewracking part being when we finally served the snack and were almost bum-rushed by lines of the cutest and best behaved rioters I’ve ever seen.
Ameya snack
Bags and bags and bags of milk
It was a great day and visit. Jane left several boxes of clothing for the future distribution in the community, and several boxes of books as part of her library in a box starter kit. The kids left with a good snack in them and with new stuffed animals they’d won in the raffle or games. Our GSLIS group left feeling that we’d helped do something really fun in a community that probably doesn’t get to let their hair down very often, and help generate excitement and interest in reading, which will hopefully get the Ameya library off to the right start!

Monday, November 28, 2011

San Juan del Sur Biblioteca: Hola Managua!

Three years ago, I had the honor of being selected to receive a travel fellowship from Simmons GSLIS to travel to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, and work with the amazing San Juan del Sur Biblioteca Movil.    As the recipient, I wrote a blog for the program.  At the time, updating the blog was a little wonky, so I worry a bit about them not being found or disappearing.  Thusly, I'm reposting what I wrote there here, in the hopes that more of you will be inspired to go down to the beautiful city of San Juan del Sur, and/or be inspired to help the project out in any way you can.  Plus, a little trip down memory lane is always fun, no? 

Hola Managua!
Originally posted on Simmons GSLIS Dispatches from the Field

Hello GSLIS, larger Simmons community, friends of the San Juan del Sur Biblioteca Publica y Movil, family members, and friends I have coerced into reading my sorry attempts at a library travel blog!

To those who don’t know me, my name is Steph, and I’m a 1/3 of the way through my degree at GSLIS. I received the Nicaragua travel fellowship (thanks, guys!) and am now blogging about it to you, captive audience! After spending a week and change in beautiful, sunny, friendly, lovely 90 degree Nicaragua (can you tell I’ve fallen in love much?), our rowdy band of 9 future librarians has returned to Boston just in time for the arctic cold snap. This is simultaneously bad and good; bad for the obvious “I can see my breath inside” reasons, and good because it’s motivated me to scheme up ways to get back to Nicaragua and San Juan del Sur asap. If I happen come off like a crazed fangirl for the project and/or Jane Mirandette, I’m not sorry. It is a fantabulous (this may not be a real word, but it certainly is a fantabulously descriptive one) thing, and Jane is an incredibly hard working and motivated inspiration for a starry eyed babe-rarian like myself.
To start my posts, I’ve decided to give a brief overview of the entire trip, possibly adding some thoughts in after. And by brief, obviously I mean it’ll be around 45 pages long…but I’ll try and rein it in and save some deep and meaningfuls for later in the game.

Day 1, or January 4, 2009

I left bright and early on a cold winter morning for Logan, convinced that my connection to Managua through Miami was going to be cancelled or something. A not so small part of me is convinced that MIA is actually the Hellmouth, due to numerous security screw ups, delayed flights, overbooked flights, cancelled flights, extended stays on the tarmac, constant construction, lost luggage, vampire sightings etc. Also, in this fantasy, obviously I am Buffy. But I digress; those are thoughts for a whole other kind of blog. After arriving on time at MIA, six of us met up and continued through the twisting and turning maze of terminals, and after a bit of a wait, made it onto our flight to Managua. The temperature upon arrival? 90 degrees farenheit. Hoorah! Jane (my newest girl crush), the founder of the San Juan del Sur (henceforth SJDS) Biblioteca project and Edwin, one of her fabulous staffers, met us at the doors and promptly ferried us to the Hotel Casa Real in Managua, where we swiftly shed winter wear in favor of summer frocks and the like, and decamped to receive our itineraries by the pool. Jane gave us the run down, our tentative itinerary, and some beautifully decorated goodie bags that contained maps of Nicaragua, tissues, and my new best friend, hand sanitizer. We ate dinner there, right next to the pool. I tried the churrasco tipico, which was delish, but didn’t know until I had a bite left that the sauces on the table were actually to put on the meat. Le sigh! Live and learn.
Since we had three more people arriving later in the night, we had planned on taking the hotel shuttle over to the airport to pick them up. A minor glitch occurred when we realized there was no shuttle; we were unaware that it was a holiday (still not sure which one). Jessica and I jumped into a cab and scooted down the road to the airport, where we had a momentary panic after seeing nobody in baggage claim and discovering that we were in fact late. Luckily, Lauren, Erikka and Charlie were just outside the gates at another entrance. Phew! Crisis averted, we headed back to the hotel, where I promptly passed out.

Pictures later, when I master the art of adding them.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Locked in Time, by Lois Duncan: Creepy Cajun crazies

Locked in Time. Duncan, Lois (2006).  
NY: Laurel Leaf Books.

Ooooh scary, scary Lois Duncan.  How you used to titillate me with tales of paranormal murderous twins separated at birth, or axe murderers out for revenge.  Somehow, shockingly, I remember you being much more frightening when I was twelve then I did at this go around.    Locked in Time takes place down on the Louisiana Bayou, where our fair young protagonist, Nore (short for Eleanor), has gone to summer with her recently remarried Dad.  Nore's mother died in a horrible car accident six months ago while Nore was away at boarding school, and her wealthy author father up and got remarried to a Southern belle, Lisette, with two teenaged children of her own, Gabriel and Josie.  Nore is justifiably weirded out by this situation, but tries to remain supportive, at least until she begins to realize things might not be as they seem.  Her step-family seems normal enough, but they seem to drop references about way old historical events as if they were there, and old people around town recognize them as if they were old friends. She manages to overlook her dirty crush on her hot stepbrother for long enough to realize something very fishy is going on, and it ain't the crawfish!  Old Cajun stories tell of people who can live forever, trapped at a certain age.  Is this what is going on, or is Nore just really pissed at her Dad? She's fighting for her life, and she doesn't even know it yet. 

But we do.  Oh yes, do we ever.  Lois Duncan certainly isn't one to beat around the bush or make her readers think deep thoughts.  If she introduces a character and anything shifty is said, thought, or generally occurs, said character is bound to be a shifty/murderous/vengeful antagonist.  Tension is always high and the text is fast paced.  Someone is always out to get the protagonist.  For this, she was totally top of the game back when I was first reading her books.  Now, there are some references that are kind of, no, TOTALLY dated.  Hanging out at a disco?  Really?  What is this, a high school trip to Tijuana?  Did we jump in the Delorean and head back to 1979?  Instead of waiting phoneless for a landline, wouldn't someone have a cell phone? Despite these nuances, the scary factor remains unchanged, probably because Duncan weaves a tight and quick web of a plot that itches to be raced through.  I vote G for girls, Y for younger YA's (older kids might not enjoy having the plot handed to them as readily), and H for horror genre. 

Book talk hook:  This is one where a summary that plays upon the mystery would work well.  I'd also read a scene in which the question of the age of the characters is raised to titillate my young reader friends.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tidbits: A telenovela Hosts the first daughters good taste in books!

  • Well the jigs up, Obama family family and friends.  Now you know what ole'Barry is getting you for Christmas.  Good work, press!  But in all seriousness, I like a First Family that reads.  Well played on picking up The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Malia!  (Incidentally, I can't wait to see the movie.)
  • You know how Stephenie Meyer wrote a book that wasn't about vampires?  No?  That's okay.  You're in good company.  In fact, I actually liked it considerably more than another of her books that came out at the same time.  And now, said book, The Host, is going to be a movie!  Starring Saoirse Ronan, who frankly, is a truly fantastic young actress.  Which leads me to hope for good that the Irons kid will have improved his acting skillz since the shenanigans of Red Riding Hood. 
  • But lo, what have we here?  A telenovela based on an American chick flick, originally starring Jenny from the block as a hard up maid, and Voldemort as the New York apple of her eye?  You guys, perhaps you didn't know this about me, but I have an abuela.  And does she love her some telenovelas?  Es el papa catolico?  Guys.  There is no way I'm not going to watch at least one episode of this.  Bring it, Una Maid en Manhattan!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Recipe 34: Bastardized Moosewood New Classics Cookbook Chili with Ground Turkey

The moment I realized that there was no way
those veggies were going in that skillet peacefully.
Just in time for Thanksgiving, what I know you are craving: MORE TURKEY!  You're welcome.  In truthiness, this is a recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics Cookbook that I bastardized by substituting ground turkey for the tofu.  It's really, really, really good with the tofu.  And I had originally planned it as the recipe is - tofu laden.  But around mile seven of a ten mile training run for the half-marathon I just ran (yeah, I'm totally smug; also, that's what I've been doing while not following through on New Years resolutions to use Le Creuset more...), I got really, really, really hungry.  Tofu is good and filled with protein.  But I'm sorry to say vegetarian friends, I was craving the meat of a previously breathing creature like Edward craves Bella.

Woks make for chili autentico, no?
This is totally an appropriate and related reference because I just saw Breaking Dawn and want to talk about it.  Obviously. Who do you think I am?  It was as truly terrible as I had fervently hoped and dreamed it would be.  I'm looking at you, talking wolf scene and awkward and confusing pro v. no choice agenda.   (Ps.  I encourage you to use these rules when watching.  It will end really well for you.) It is a textbook Case of the Terribles.  So, anyways, long digression short,  I went for turkey.  I'm pretty sure you could sub in any meat and it would be delicious, though.  It's really the base that makes this.   And I assure you, it is delicious.  As per usual, I had some problems with realizing I'd underestimated the size of skillets needed.  Good thing I had a wok!  It's totally a vessel used to cook an authentic chili, right?!? As with any chili, I found it ten times better the next day when all the flavors had deepened and become less bright.  Yum!  Apologies to Moosewood. 

(Bastardized) Moosewood Restaurant New Classics Cookbook Chili with Turkey
(Bastardized)  Moosewood Restaurant New Classics Cookbook Chili with Ground Turkey
Serves at least six, closer to eight

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Case of the Terribles: The Incident of the Toilet Mug

Believe it or not, this is a coffee mug.

If someone gave me this, I'd have to reconsider our friendship.   Clearly said "friends" would be trying to make me die of dysentery on the sly, so they can ford the river and get to Oregon before I do. 
Think again, punks!

But really, who should I give this to?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tidbits: The Perks of being the Hunger Games Trailer

  • I don't know about you guys, but I'm torn from what I see in the photos from The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  Charlie and Sam look the same age.  Isn't it supposed to be the early 90's?  And Charlie looks way too cool.  The Charlie in my brain is kind of scrawny, slightly pathetic, a bit squirrelly, kind of a wallflower...AHEM.  Thoughts?

  • Have you been away from the internets all day?  Because BIG NEWS, three loyal readers.  The Hunger Games trailer dropped today!  Get at us Panem!  You guys.  I don't want to jinx is all kinds of good news, in my opinion.  

Peeta?  That Josh Hutcherson totally looks like he's going to vomit when his name gets called.  Effie Trinket? Looks like Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka.  Perf!  Tiny Rue?! A perfectly concrete heavy and stark District 12?  Serious and prescient Cinna?  And the countdown at the end?  SQUEE.  TENSION.  EXCITEMENT.  ANXIETY.  And is Haymitch sober?  Because his hair isn't.  We can't win them all...For the highly scientific breakdown, visit the Forever Young Adult analysis.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Uncommon Criminals, by Ally Carter: My Uncommon Goal of Art Theivery

Uncommon Criminals
by Ally Carter
Disney Hyperion Books: New York, 2011.
ISBN: 978-142314795-4

     Kat Bishop is back again in the second book in Ally Carter's Heist Society series.  This time though, our favorite con-artist with a heart has herself been conned after being led to believe she was returning the allegedly stolen Cleopatra Emerald to its rightful owner.   Embarrassed that she's fallen victim to an old school con artist who seems to think Kat is just like her, Kat reluctantly accepts the help of her crew in retrieving the emerald and reuniting it with it's rightful owner, making things slightly awkward with her possible (if she would only admit it to herself) crush, Hale.  To get the stone back, the crew must work together in a high stakes gamble in the casino's of Monaco, all while trying to avoid the attention of Uncle Eddie, who has specifically instructed them to have nothing to do with the Cleopatra.  This newest edition in the series is an exciting, quickly paced, occasionally romantic read; it may even be stronger than the freshman effort!  It is recommended for libraries serving (probably female) patrons aged 11 to 15, and cool adults who like to pretend like they can be an art thief if their day job doesn't work out.  Ahem...

You guys, this book is really fun.  I encourage you to read it over a vacation or lazy Saturday morning.  It's quick.  It's exciting.  It's white-glove sexy (chaste kissing, not the white doctors office gloves you're thinking of you perv).  It's about art theft!  It's like a girls' version of Ocean's Eleven, before they blew it by making too many (whatever, it's the truth).  Just do it.  You're welcome.

Perhaps you don't remember the promise I made to you several months ago when the first two chapters of this book were up online.  It is likely, because I barely remembered.  You know, the one where I promised to tell you which paintings I'd steal if ever my soul became a blackened coal lump and I turned to a life of art theivery of specific paintings for my own, and only my viewing pleasure? But rejoice, because remember, I did.  And here they are.  There are probably more that I've forgotten, like some Winslow Homer watercolors (how did I miss his watercolors until the age of what I am now?),  Dutch Renaissance Masters, or the crown jewels (which I'll get anyways, when I marry Harry, obvi).

 Paintings I'd Steal
(if ever my soul became blackened coal lump and I turned to a life of art theivery of specific paintings for my own, and only my viewing pleasure)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Recipe 35: Beet, Swiss Chard, Goat Cheese, and Walnut Risotto

This pot was obviously too small to
everyone but me. 
This recipe is a classic example of the Paperblog Princess underestimating the size of a pot.  If you have two sizes of Le Creuset in which to make this dish, I encourage you, go big.  It may not fill the pot.  But it will not try to escape your too small Le Creuset.  Be safe, you guys.  I make messes so you don't have to.  I took this recipe on the road to the Asphalt Kitchen's kitchen, where we used a billion of our farmshare beets and chard to make this.  We all thought it was just okay.  I think the major problem in our case was under seasoning (we needed way way more salt), not chopping the chard finely enough (possibly using too much), and going a little rogue trying to use as many beets and as much chard as we could.  Follow the darn recipe.  And make sure to boil and peel the beets before adding them to the recipe.  Unless you like crunchy uncooked beets, you weirdo.  The cook time in the original recipe is not enough to cook them through entirely.  As with all risotto's, make sure to serve it almost immediately or it will dry out.  Because ours went awry, I've barely tweaked the original October, 2003 Cooking Light recipe.  Don't get fancy.  Follow the recipe.  Seriously. 

They call me the Dexter of the kitchen.

Beet, Swiss Chard, Goat Cheese, and Walnut Risotto
via Cooking Light (October, 2003)
Allegedly serves 4.

Beet, Swiss Chard, Goat Cheese, and Walnut Risotto

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tidbits: PrE-Views, the Hunger gets Vain, Outlander gets a Kitchen, and there goes the COPPA, ruinin' Facebook for 12-year-olds EVERYWHERE

Peeta, why are you dead?
  • Oh look, another movie has gotten on board with the zombie/vampire/ghost craze.  Just kidding.  But seriously, why does Peeta look dead?  There's more pictures and information in the Vanity Fair coverage, but really, this is all we need to talk about, other than Rue being appropriately tiny.
  • This is actually a really interesting albeit long read on the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.  It's also totally about how parents are now not only totally salting the game of their prepubescent kids most days, but egads, also enabling them on the book of faces.  Enablers!  But what I'm really more interested is the eventual future study in the levels of embarrassment in teens whose parents have made and maintained a Facebook page for them from conception.  
  • PrE-view:  John Green has made the first chapter of his newest book, The Fault In Our Stars, available online.  Lots of the usual quirky, romantical, witty kids, but definitely an interesting concept and already a good read!
  • Outlander Kitchen: OMG. OMG. OMG YOU GUYS.  Someone has made a food blog with recipes she's created based off of the Outlander books.  It is totally wordy, but committed to the DGabs cause.  Brianna's Bridies look delish.  Personally, I want a recipe for the crazy potion that DGabs takes when she writes these.
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