Gardeners, Start Your Engines

image-of-daffodil-courtesy-of-jason-rust.jpgIt’s Spring, and a young (or not so young) gardener’s fancy naturally turns to PLANT SALES! Of course we’ll all run off to our favorite members of the Washington State Nursery & Landscape Association and the Specialty Nursery Association of Western Washington.

But don’t stop there. There are dozens of local plant sales every year sponsored by community groups, schools, churches, garden clubs, and plant societies. And the primo place to find a yearly list of all of them gathered together online is in the Regional Plant Sales Calendar of the Elisabeth C. Miller Library of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens.

The season begins with the Northwest Horticultural Society spring sale on March 14, and there’s something for everyone.

Kitchen-sink sales offering a wide variety of plants are sponsored by Continue reading “Gardeners, Start Your Engines”

Synchronicity in the Backyard

Even with the gardening season right around the corner, the thoughtful gardener will still always find time to read, dream of and ponder the natural world around us.

After reading about global warming via the lengthy series of New Yorker articles exfield_notes_from_a_catastrophe.jpgcerpted from Elizabeth Kolbert’s acclaimed recent book Field Notes from a Catastrophe, documenting the progress of Global Warming, this gardener sought out a course of personal action via Sara Stein’s Noah’s Garden: noahs_garden.jpgRestoring the Ecology of our Own Back Yards, a book about turning away from the formalities of trying to force your garden into a “template” of the perfect English garden and learning to look at your yard as a small portion of a larger wildlife habitat and natural ecosystem.

 Start looking at your fences as hedgerows and your lawn as meadowlands. Your tree planted near your neighbor’s tree, becomes a miniature woodland, all places with their own long evolved natural balances. Of course I lack the square footage on my little piece of the city to really do it up in style, but my small lot does have its advantages. Less real estate means less mowing, less raking up, and less earth to turn and plant. More time to enjoy.

Another advantage of the small will soon coming our way via a change in the way the city assesses wastewater usage fees. Seattle Councilmember Richard Conlin’s enewsletter explains how drainage rates are headed up, with the city Continue reading “Synchronicity in the Backyard”

Sleuthing for a good mystery?

I don’t know why, but somehow reading a good mystery has a soothing effect on me. Go figure. The Library has lots of mysteries, but how to know which ones you will like? Librarians are always happy to talk to you and try to match up your tastes with the “right” book. There are also some great lists of recommended mystery reading, and here are some to get you started:

The Independent Mystery Booksellers Association has come up with a wide-ranging list of excellent mysteries, The 100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century.

To see what other Seattlites are reading, check out Continue reading “Sleuthing for a good mystery?”

Northwest author Jo Dereske creates a ‘loving sendup’ to librarians in Miss Zukas mysteries

photo of author jo dereskeTurns out my favorite librarian in the universe will be making an appearance at our very own Green Lake Library this week. Okay, make that my favorite fictional librarian, created by Northwest author Jo Dereske, who will be reading from her popular Miss Zukas mystery series and discussing writing mysteries (she has a new series in the works) on Thursday, March 13, from 6 to 7:45 p.m.

Wilhelmina (Helma) Zukas’ independent spirit, intelligence and resourcefulness make it impossible for this librarian/sleuth to resist solving murders and setting things straightcatalogue of death book cover in her beloved Bellehaven (think Bellingham/Fairhaven). I love the local setting, witty style and crisp writing that comes through in each of the ten Miss Zukas mysteries (which the New York Times called “a loving sendup” to the librarian stereotype). I was delighted when Miss Zukas returned, after a three-year break, in Bookmarked to Die and Catalogue of Death. The 11th title in the series comes out in April.

Author Jo Dereske (who is also a librarian) gives us a bit of insight into Helma Zukas — as well as some excellent reading suggestions — in part one of a two-part interview:

How does this amateur detective benefit from her librarian background?

Well, as everyone knows, library folk are sharply observant, and relentless researchers. Miss Zukas understands patterns and anomalies and she does not give up. She has a book and she knows how to use it.

Those who don’t yet know Miss Zukas may have some preconceived notions based on her profession. What do you wish people knew about Helma Zukas?

When I began writing the series I wanted to respond to two things. I’d been told: “Nobody would ever publish a book about a librarian.” The other was the way librarians were viewed as dull stereotypes by the Continue reading “Northwest author Jo Dereske creates a ‘loving sendup’ to librarians in Miss Zukas mysteries”

Tapping your feet at the Ballet

Pacific Northwest Ballet Dancers perform in A Sense of DoubtBallet is a feast for the eyes. But don’t forget your ears. DIRECTOR’S CHOICE, the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s March 2008 program, includes some material from new choreographers and some unusual composers. Musical selections by Mikel Rouse, Arvo Paart, Phlip Glass and Thom Willems will be previewed in the Microsoft Auditorium of the Seattle Public Library’s Central Library on Tuesday, March 11, at noon. See The Library Calendar for more information. And once you’ve been to the preview or to the performance, explore more unique musical offerings by some of these composers.

  • Arvo Paart is a unique electronic book that combines a biography of this Estonia composer as well as selections from his music including material in the distinctive “tintinnabuli” style developed by Pärt. You can download the book by clicking on the link above.
  • Orient & Occident – a 2002 recording of Paart’s work by the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. According to some critics this performance reveals Paart’s music genius at its most mystical.
  • Heroes Symphony – a 1997 recording by the American Composers Orchestra of this classic Philip Glass piece, which includes music by David Bowie and Brian Eno.
  • The Illusionist– a 2006 recording of Philip Glass’s score from the award-winning film from the Czech Film Orchestra. Glass’s dreamy and dramatic work won several awards for Best Score.