Monday, March 29, 2010

Under a Spell of Sorts

How do you spell dumbbell?

That was the first challenge for the teams among which the Buns of Steel competed this year. In that Mulligan round the Buns alone provided the correct number of Bs, but Mulligan rounds being what they are, we went on to bomb out in the Regular round on moiety. (Moral of the story: never forsake an honest diphthong.)

The Buns this year were made up of Captain Lisa Milchman, Friends Treasurer Kenneth Cracknell, and buck-private Stephanie Smith. Kenneth's ducky-chapeau created the fashion statement of the evening, and he delighted in  pressing a button near his temple that resulted in a resounding series of quacks. He was publicizing the upcoming Friends' Rubber Duckie Race May 1.  (Be there or be square!)

"K.C.," observed Buck Private Smith, "You seem to have found your voice." He did not disagree. 

As usual, victory eluded us, and above you can see Nancy Dean, Priscilla Vincent, and Sandra Dell savoring their win. The Spell Chicks of the Norwich Women's Club were delighted, as were we. That organization does so much for the community.

Here we are, performing the 2010 version of our signature "Shh!" cheer, which was accompanied by a sort of seated choreography.

The Spelling Bee has become one of my favorite events. It has just the right balance of silliness and stimulation to capture my heart. 

Maybe we'll study next year. Who knows?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

TTBOOK Explores the Fascinating Nooks and Crannies of Living and Thinking

This post isn't about the library.

I'm breaking form to sing the praises of a most stimulating new show on Vermont Public Radio, To the Best of Our Knowledge. It's the creation of a team of very bright people in Wisconsin, one of which is the daughter of our patrons Edmond and Susan Strainchamps, interesting people in and of themselves, as so many NPL patrons are. That's the lovely, lively, and very bright Anne Strainchamps in the photo.

You can catch To the Best of Our Knowledge, (shortened to TTBOOK for acronymic convenience)at 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoons. If you find yourself away from the radio on Saturday afternoon, you can catch the podcast at your convenience through ITunes.

TTBOOK, which features Jim Fleming as the anchor and Anne Strainchamps and husband Steve Paulson as principal interviewers, organizes episodes around themes. Yesterday I did my quilting to a show organized around physics, and another on the hive mind. This morning I listened to a podcast on writers and writing.

The physics show focused on physics in all directions--the necessity of physics knowledge for the President of the US, a profile of the family of High Everett, who hatched the theory of parallel universes, a discussion of eccentric physicists, and physics-based literature, including a novel on Newton and physics poetry.

The Hive Mind featured everything from an expert on honeybees to swarm intelligence to a critique of the hive mind in a culture impacted by communications technology. An episode on the writing life featured an interview with John Cheever's biographer, an interview with novelists Elizabeth Strout and Marilynne Robinson, and one with writing workshop diva Natalie Goldberg. Great stuff!

I've subscribed to TTBOOK's podcasts. They're wonderfully enriching and energizing. Anne, Steve, and Jim are able interviewers, and I both admire their skill and envy them the opportunities they create for themselves in pursuing such fascinating topics.

Susan and Edmond, you must be terribly proud. As for me--I'm addicted.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Embracing Hannah-Mania

Don't ever mistake us bookish types as being indifferent to Olympic glory, especially when it's rooted in our community.

Like Hannah Kearney fans everywhere in the Upper Valley, we were excited about her triumphant parade through the towns that claim her. Lisa very graciously agreed to tend the fort while Lucinda, Wendy, and I went in shifts to celebrate with the rest of the town.

I took the early shift, and in came Hannah, in a blaze of VW Bug glory, waving while the children (I count myself among these) yelled and waved. Hannah did us one better--taking pictures of the crowd on her own camera. She hopped out of the car and walked down the street, high-fiving the children who reached out to her, accepted a hat in the shape of a Seuss-like birthday cake, and headed for the bandstand while she graciously listened to everybody older than she say nice things about her. I hopped around with the library's digital camera, firing away, reveling in the beauty of the community and the talent, spunk, and tenacity of the young woman we were celebrating.

At that point my shift was up, and sighing, I returned to my library duties. I handed off the camera to the arriving Lucinda and came back, delighted by the very warm and delightful Olympic champion who knew just how to connect with kids, who quickly donned the signed tee shirt that Dan Frasier gave her, and who seemed the very ideal of the hometown girl who knows where she came from. I went home and raved about what a wonderful person she seemed to be, how like the good-hearted community she came from.

A few days rolled by, and as I was working the desk, a young woman came in with a poster rolled up under her arm. She waited patiently while I checked out a book. I thought she was one of the many people who come in seeking bulletin board space for posters. "May I help you?" I asked.

"I just wanted to leave this poster for the library," she said, handing it to me, along with an envelope that said, "For NPL from Hannah Kearney."

That magic name! I asked, "Oh, Hannah Kearney! How is she? Where is she?" hoping for a little news.

"Uh, right here. I'm Hannah," she said.

Great visual memory, Lulu. I'd only watched her perfect moguls run a dozen times on the Internet. Maybe if she'd come in in helmet and goggles... Hannah grinned at my gaffe and shook my hand and asked my name. Very personable, as lovely up close as she was from the bandstand the week before.

The poster I'd assumed was for the bulletin board turned out to be a signed and suitable for framing picture of Hannah; the envelope contained the proceeds of the Hannah bumper sticker sale at Dan & Whit's.


We will be framing the poster. We are most grateful for the donation. Most of all, we are warmed by the down-to-earth spirit of our town's young champion.

If you needed to create a perfect Olympic champion, full of heart and mind, of agile and disciplined body, you couldn't do better than the young woman we already have.

Thanks, Hannah. All your stars are out, and it couldn't happen to a nicer person.