Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Harvesting!

It’s hard to believe that it is already the end of July. I had great intentions and lots of energy planning out a garden this year. It really didn’t happen the way that I planned it.

I was able to plant a nice three tiered strawberry garden in my side lawn. I can’t take much more credit for them than the actual planting. My husband and I planted about sixty strawberry plants. The plants are thriving and I’m sure that this is due to the long, hot and humid days and my husband’s evening watering. To date, we have picked two large bowls of strawberries and enjoy them just as quickly as we pick them. New shoots are sprouting out every day.

Although I had plans for a large garden, it never happened. We did plant four tomato plants in upside down containers that are hanging from my side deck. The tomatoes are growing but nothing is red yet! We also planted a jalapeno plant in a container. It is on the back deck and my son tells me that the peppers taste delicious. He is putting them on just about everything that he is eating! We also planted bell peppers. They are coming along nicely. We purchased a bag planter and planted potatoes this year for the first time. I am really looking forward to some home grown potatoes. Finally, I bought some seed strips to try. I planted radishes and hope that they are able to harvest within the next few weeks.

So, in spite of the fact that my plan was downsized, we should still have some tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and radishes this year. After our vacation, I’m hoping to make tomato sauces and salsas so that we can enjoy them through the winter!

If you have a garden or are buying local produce to put up for the winter, we hope you will stop by the library for some great books on preserving your harvest! I would suggest that you take a look at "Canning & Preserving Your Own Harvest" by Carla Emery and "The Farmer’s Wife Guide to Growing a Great Garden and Eating From it too: Storing, Freezing and Cooking Your Own Vegetables" by Barbara Doyen. We also have some magazines that will help with some great tips and advice like Mother Earth News, Mary Jane’s Farm and Hobby Farms.

Happy Harvesting!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Libra-teens Earn Madison County's Promise Mini Grant

The Canastota Libra-teen Group has recently been awarded a 2010 Madison County's  Promise, The Alliance for Youth Mini Grant in the amount of $200. The teens, who meet at the library once weekly during the regular academic year, will be working on a project geared towards bringing awareness to the goal of reducing substance abuse and building a safe and healthy community.

The teen’s project is entitled “The Power of Knowledge.” Each of the teens in the program plans to create a poster showing why knowledge is such an important issue in understanding the dangers of drugs and other substances. The teens hope to show that there are resources available at the Canastota Public Library to educate both teens and their parents about drug and substance abuse issues. The posters will be on display at the library’s Lawson Community Room during the month of December 2010 for public viewing. The teens also plan to write a script for a sixty second video as well as sixty and thirty second public service announcements for local radio stations to air. The video will be posted on YouTube, the library’s website and Facebook site as well as on PAC99. The radio commercials will be given to the local radio station, WMCR for use. The scripts and commercials will be created in the fall.

“We hope that the community will look at the library as a resource to find information about drug, alcohol and other substance abuse,” said Abby, one of teens working on the project. She also noted that the group hopes that other teens will find the library to be a safe and fun place where they can hang out with friends.

There are about fifteen members of the group who will participate in this project. The library will provide a safe meeting place, resources, various supplies needed and a team leader for the project. Madison County’s Promise mini-grant will allow the teens to purchase supplies needed for poster creation and video creation.

The teens will be working on this project during September, October and November. For additional information regarding the Canastota Libra-teens, please contact Beth Totten at the library. You can also visit the library’s website at For information regarding Madison County’s Promise, The Alliance for Youth, contact Sarah Johnson, Coordinator for the program or visit

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bored With Book by Beth Totten

I have always enjoyed James Patterson’s books. So, I was very excited to see another book, co-written with Maxine Paetro, called Private come into the library recently. I saw the book marketed just about everywhere—from the internet to the television and radio. There has been and continues to be a lot of hype for this book! And, the ‘buzz” about the book made it sound mysterious, high profile and kind of sexy. On Patterson’s website, I read the following intro for Private: “Former CIA agent Jack Morgan runs Private, a renowned investigation company with branches around the globe. It is where you go when you need maximum force and maximum discretion. The secrets of the most influential men and women on the planet come to Jack daily—and his staff of investigators use the world's most advanced forensic tools to make and break their cases.”

Since Private is a new book, I was able to check it out for two weeks. It has never taken me more than a few days to scream through a Patterson novel though so I wasn’t worried. I was looking forward to secrets, a sexy private investigator and a thoroughly good read. This book, as with all of Patterson’s books, was a fast read. The chapters were tight and short. As I read before bed one night, I kept thinking that the chapters were so short that I could just “read one more” before sleeping. Unfortunately, when I finished the book, I didn’t feel like Patterson and Paetro delivered what they were advertising!

The book, while filled with a few “secrets” was too easy to figure out—no hidden mysteries or complications for our hero, Jack Morgan. The main character seems to have difficult relationships with family and unbinding relationships with women. The reader learns that Jack really loves his friends and would do anything for them, but I would have liked more depth to his character. As a reader, I never warmed up to him.

The cases that the private agency took on left me a lukewarm, as well. There were basically three investigations that the agency took on during the course of this book. The first that we’re introduced to is the murder of a former girlfriend of Jack’s. The girlfriend recently married Jack’s best friend and the best friend is accused of the wife’s murder. The second investigation involves multi-million dollar NFL gambling ring which also involves Jack’s twin brother and an uncle. The third investigation is with the local police and involves finding the maniac who is killing young school girls—eighteen in all. All of these investigations are done by the agency pro-bono. The investigations were predictable, short on details and lackluster. I never got enough information to get excited.

The marketing for the book touts the fact that the agency is world-wide. This reader was expecting travels to these various locations with secrets, murder and mayhem happening all over the place. After all, the cover lists New York, Los Angeles, London and Paris as places where the agency has a presence. The book takes place in and near Los Angeles but Jack only takes phone calls from the other branches around the world. The reader really doesn’t learn too much about these other offices, or how or why Jack opened offices in these other cities.

Running through all the investigations are Jack’s issues with committal…he previously dated the recently murdered wife of his friend. Things didn’t work out. There is also another forensic psychologist on the staff of Private who Jack had a relationship with for many years. He couldn’t commit and she moved on to the district attorney on the case of the murdered school girls. Now, he’s dating his secretary but poor old Jack can’t warm up to her either. Frankly, Jack’s love life bored me as much as the investigations.

I’m not exactly sure what happened with this book and that has been bothering me since I finished it last week. Was it me? Was I expecting too much? Was it the writing? Was there not enough information? Did the authors try to “shove” too much into one book? Was there not enough depth? I’m still not sure.

All I am sure about is that I didn’t enjoy this book. It didn’t make me feel involved in the investigations or the characters as other Patterson books have made me feel. Instead, I felt like I really didn’t care. I felt like I was reading a script for a ‘made for television movie’ that I was watching just because there wasn’t anything else on the other channels. The only thing I can say for sure is that the chapters were short and I read the book in two evenings. It was not memorable. I may try another James Patterson book in the future—he has four more books being published between now and March of 2011—but I’m not sure that I will be waiting in great anticipation!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Dark Side of Tanning by Dale Boyd

“GTL” is the unofficial catch phrase for the hit reality show “Jersey Shore”. It stands for “Gym, Tan, and Laundry” which from what I have gathered from watching the show are three of the most important things in life for Ronnie D and “The Situation” (yes that is what they really call themselves). What they apparently didn’t consider when they formed this motto is that excess tanning is dangerous and unhealthy; nearly doubling the risk for melanoma. A few months ago, a “Tan-tervention” was held on the show to show them all the risks of tanning and to convert them to safer spray tans. However, millions of Americans still go to the tanning beds to get the perfect look despite the risks.

Teens and young adults are the group that is most likely to use tanning beds. Melanoma is the second most common type of cancer for 15-25 year olds. Girls frequent them more often than guys, probably because girls usually put more emphasis on their appearances than males. This is not to say that men won’t overexpose themselves to either sunlight or tanning beds. In fact, tanning can become habit forming and for many people, even compulsive in ways that are akin to anorexia and body dysmorphic disorder.

July 1 is the date when Obama’s Tanning bed tax went into effect. Starting now, there will be a 10 percent tax on indoor tanning. One of the justifications for this tax was to offset the healthcare costs brought about by the dermatological illnesses caused by tanning. Of course, there are not currently any proposed taxes on sunlight, but it is clear that the problem of over-tanning is significant enough that it would garner the attention of the highest level of the Federal government.

So why would so many people be willing to risk their health and spend money on darkening their skin anyway? What do they believe that their skin color says about them? There was once a time in the United States when milky-white skin was fashionable and coveted. One of the reasons for this was that white skin was a symbol of wealth and class. Even as far back as Victorian England, women would wear makeup that made them look as white as possible. This makeup often contained toxic substances like lead, thus posing a major health risk.

Skin tone is a genetic trait. Unlike shoes or clothes, which can be changed with the times, there is only so much that one can do to change ones skin color. There was certainly an Anglo-centric bias embedded within the antiquated standard of pale skin color, in that not everyone could attain that standard without outrageously unhealthy means. This was a time when any skin color other than white was considered ugly.

This same phenomenon is still going on, yet now the desired skin color has darkened a bit. Now people are lying half naked underneath powerful UV lights and damaging their skin until they achieve the skin color that they desire. Not only is this unhealthy, but there are many people who no matter how many times they sunburn, they will not get a dark tan. Many people of northern European and Scandinavian descent simply do not have the ability to significantly darken their skin by tanning. They are also more susceptible to skin damage from prolonged UV exposure. Unless they feel like pouring brownish-orange goop on their skin, their skin will never compare to those who are fortunate enough to be genetically “beyond the pale”.
While tanning to the extreme is surely dangerous, there are some health benefits to a moderate amount of sun exposure. Sunlight helps the body produce Vitamin D, and a lack of sunlight can contribute to mental conditions such as depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder. Moderation is the key.