DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
May 18 2015

What’s In a Story?

by Jencey G

Mary Alice MonroeMary Alice Monroe stopped by DCPLive to discuss her new book coming soon to DeKalb County Public Library. I first met her at a Georgia Center for the Book event while she was giving a talk on The Butterfly’s Daughter. I have had the honor to read and share some of her other books. Her most recent series is the Lowcountry Summer Trilogy, which includes The Summer Girls and The Summer Wind. It will end this year with the publication of The Summer’s End.

Thank you for coming! I am excited to discuss The Summer’s End. Could you tell our readers why it was important to tell this story in three different books: The Summer Girls, Summer Wind, and Summer’s End?

Summer GirlsMary Alice Monroe:  This story required more words! Dolphins are an exceptional and beloved species. Dolphins excel in communication, have strong family and community bonds, and live in the present. Three issues face dolphins that needed attention: feeding of wild dolphins, water quality, and injuries. I needed a strong trilogy with memorable characters to carry through all the themes: communication in The Summer Girls as the estranged sisters reconnect; healing in The Summer Wind as Dora and Delphine heal from wounds, and release in The Summer’s End as each woman discovers her own voice and path.

How did you decide to focus your books around the lives of animals? Why is it important to tell their story?

MAM: The inspiration for my books is always some aspect of nature. I wait for some signal–either from a person or event–to alert me it’s time to write about that species now. For the trilogy, it was learning that 49% of Charleston’s resident dolphins were deemed “not healthy.” That number is 52% in Florida. I didn’t want to write Flipper but a book that was relevant today.

What do you hope it accomplishes?

MAM: I believe in the power of story to effect change. I’m a storyteller. I do not preach or tell my readers what to do. Instead, I create compelling stories peopled with rich, well-rounded characters that will bring my readers into the story world. When my readers connect emotionally with the animals, then they care.

The focus in this novel is the bottlenose dolphin. What other animals have you written about?

MAM: The list is growing. In The Beach House novels I’ve written about sea turtles. I’m still on the turtle team, so maybe another is in the pipeline. The monarch butterfly is in The Butterfly’s Daughter; raptors–hawks, owls, eagles–in Skyward; the shrimping industry in Last Light Over Carolina, The Summer Windand the disappearing grass and craft of sweetgrass baskets in Sweetgrass.

Can you tell us about your next project?

MAM:  In the Lowcountry Summer novels I told the story of three women during one remarkable summer on Sullivan’s Island. There is an engagement, or two…so, you’re all invited to a wedding next summer! I’m writing A Lowcountry Wedding and having the best time. My daughter had a lowcountry wedding so I’ve a lot to share. It will be fun to bring back the summer girls, and especially the dueling grannies Mamaw and Granny James!

Do you think you would write another series?

MAM:  Yes, when the story idea merits the time and effort. Each book of a series must stand alone and yet continue the themes of the series. It’s a complex, challenging process and not every story idea can or should extend beyond one book.

How can readers support your cause that you are so passionate about?

Summer's EndMAM:  When I was young and overwhelmed with all I wanted to do to help the planet, my Daddy told me to just “light one candle.” It was very wise and has guided me throughout my life. My hope is that if a reader is inspired by my book, she will find her own path to help that species through volunteering or donations, or her vote–and, perhaps discover what candle she can light in her own life. One small change in one life can change the world!

Could they visit or support the Georgia Aquarium?

MAM:  The Georgia Aquarium has several ongoing research and conservation programs that all make a difference for species and for the community.

Thank you again.

To learn more about bottlenose dolphins, check out these fine books: Hope for Winter: The True Story of a Remarkable Dolphin Friendship told by David Yates, Craig Hatkoff, Juliana Hatkoff, and Isabella Hatkoff (and the related story Winter’s Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again), The Dolphins of Shark Bay by Pamela S. Turner, Eight Dolphins of Katrina: A True Tale of Survival by Janet Wyman Coleman, and Dolphins by Anna Claybourne.

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May 15 2015

(Not So Still) Life with Soil

by Dea Anne M

So yesterday morning I walked out my back door to head off to work only to find a squirrel rooting through my strawberry bed. I yelled at it, and it hopped away–but before he disappeared, he turned around, sat up on his hind legs and showed me the fat strawberry he was holding in his mouth. “Time to buy some netting,” I thought. The berries are coming in buckets right now and are proving irresistible to the birds as well. While I think of myself as a friend to wildlife, I am a selfish creature when it comes to strawberries and I’m not growing them to share with the non-human citizens of the backyard. Regular readers of this blog know that I have gardened for years. Despite limited success with such experiments as square foot gardening and ongoing battles with–yes–squirrels, growing fruits and vegetables remains a passion…in spite of smug furry animals thumbing their small noses at me.

Are you interested in testing the gardening waters for yourself? Have you experimented with gardening and now hope to broaden your skills? Maybe you would like to explore the experiences of others. If so, DCPL has the resources that you want.

Just getting started? Check out Grow Cook Eat: A Food Lover’s Guide to Kitchen Gardening, including 50 Recipes, plus Harvesting and Storage Tips by Willi Galloway. Not only will you find here a wealth of information grow cookto help you begin your gardening adventure, you’ll also find tips on storing your harvest and recipes with which to cook it. And if you want to start small, Jane Courtier’s Fast, Fresh Garden Edibles: Quick Crops for Small Spaces will tell you everything you need to know about growing an effective garden in containers and window boxes. My very first garden was a pepper and two tomato plants in large pots on my back deck. There was no going back after that.

If you’ve been gardening for a while and you’re interested in expanding the scope of what you grow, then Brett L. Markham’s The Mini Farming Guide to Vegetable Growing: Self-Sufficiency from Asparagus to Zucchini might be just what you’re looking for, wildlifeespecially if you have ambitions at self-sufficiency. If you’re anything like the kind of gardener I am, then just the title of Tammi Hartung’s The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Food in Harmony with Nature is enough to make you break into snorting laughter. My first act on discovering that rabbits were decimating my lettuce plants would certainly not be to plant parsley, just for them, to graze on instead. It makes sense though. Overall, Hartung makes an excellent case for living in harmony with the fauna in our gardens, and I would expect that she speaks from deep experience since she runs a successful (and large) organic herb and vegetable farm in Colorado.

Gardening is, all in all, a rewarding pastime and pleasure for me and for so many others who have embraced it.

…and then, there’s farming. Many people farm, of course, because farming has been a part of their family for generations. There’s another type of farmer, though, who becomes such by making a radical change in a lifestyle (often urban) that has lost its charm. Sometimes, these people write books about the experience. Her are three good ones available at DCPL.

One of my favorite accounts is The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristan Kimball. Kimball was a dirty lifejournalist living in New York City who encountered a young farmer named Mark for a story that she was working on. Soon enough, she found herself married to him and part-owner of Essex Farm in upstate New York. Kimball doesn’t sugarcoat the hardships of farm life. She and her husband use horses instead of tractors and for years they hand milked their dairy herd instead of using machines. Yet, the ongoing satisfaction and pleasures of building a successful farm and the joy of falling deeply in love–both with her husband and the beautiful land–comes shining through on every page. Highly recommended. You can read a story about Kimball that ran on NPR in 2010, as well as an excerpt from the book here.

dirtKimberly Schaye and Christopher Losee’s Stronger Than Dirt: How One Urban Couple Grew a Business, a Family, and a New Way of Life from the Ground Up is an account of the couple’s journey from busy, yet increasingly unsatisfying, urban lives to owning a 30-acre farm in upstate NY. Schaye and Losee alternate chapters. Each is an engaging writer, and the result is a vivid tale of their difficult–and ultimately successful–struggle to start Silverpetals Farm, which now sells flowers and vegetables at greenmarkets throughout the Northeast. True optimists, these two never give in or give up. Schaye breaks her leg at a certain point but the couple soldiers on. Inspiring.

Seattle restauranteur Kurt Timmermeister was only looking for an affordable growinghome when he found himself purchasing four acres of land on Vashon Island. Since then, Kurtwood Farms has grown into a profitable 13-acre farm that produces not only fruits and vegetables, but also meat, cheese and honey. In his book Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land, Timmermeister comes across as humble yet determined, and he certainly doesn’t gloss over how difficult–sometimes almost impossible seeming–farming can be. Here’s an article on Timmermeister that the New York Times ran in December of 2013.

In The Dirty Life, author Kimball tells of a man she met who spoke of his dream to have a farm someday and really get away from things and relax. Kimball thought to herself, “You don’t want a farm. What you want is a garden.” Well, I for one, recognize my limitations as well as my desires. I have an ongoing dream to live in the country (though not too far out in the country) and have not only a larger garden, but chickens and goats as well. I certainly harbor no ambitions for farming myself, although I admire those who do it. Anyway, for now, my modest raised beds give me all that my gardening heart desires.

Do you dream of gardening someday? Do you already garden? Do you use raised beds, containers, or do you garden in the ground?

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May 13 2015

National Barbecue Month

by Glenda

BBQDid you know that May is National Barbecue Month? Barbecuing is a very popular pastime in our country. No matter if you prefer charcoal or gas, barbecuing is American as apple pie. Most people use barbecues to get together with family and friends. Barbecuing is also a great excuse to get outside and enjoy the weather. It can also be very healthy. Usually when people barbecue they use fresh food, which is better for our bodies. Barbecuing can be economical because making food at home is usually cheaper than eating out.

When I think of barbecue, I think of ribs smothered in sauce, shish kebabs and grilled corn. I think of being with my family and having a good time. I think of fireworks and being at various Atlanta area parks. Barbecues are about so much more than the food. If you have barbecued food on the brain, stop by your local library and pick up some of the wonderful books on barbecuing.

The Gardener and the Grill: The Bounty of the Garden Meets the Sizzle of the Grill by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig

Good Housekeeping Grilling: More Than 275 Perfect Year Round Recipes, Rosemary Ellis, Editor-in-Chief

Michael Chiarello’s Live Fire: 125 Recipes for Cooking Outdoors by Michael Chiarello

100 Grilling Recipes You Can’t Live Without by Cheryl and Bill Jamison

So enjoy all of May–and if you can, barbecue every day for the rest of the month.


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May 8 2015

We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

by Camille B

A few nights ago, a patron came to the library to pick up her holds. She was quite pleased when she came to the desk to check out, simply because everything had come in quickly and all at the same time. She thanked us for our service and walked away smiling. After she’d gone, I pondered to myself, hmm, how did people place items on hold in the old days? I mean you have a small town, where everybody knows everybody else, and there is no internet access for you to use and request items–how did it work?

And so I imagine Gladys. She goes to the library to search for a copy of Wuthering Heights and it’s not there. “Sorry, Gladys,” says the librarian, “Dorothy just borrowed that book yesterday, and it won’t be back for another three weeks. I’ll write your name down on our list, and make sure you are next in line to get the book.”

I smile to myself as I try to envision what that scenario would look like today if we had to write “Gladys” on a piece of paper and give her a call when her book finally comes in. Or better yet, send someone over to knock on her door. Maybe it’s just me, but it will never cease to amaze me the things we can accomplish with technology today–the many steps we can skip with just the push of a button or tap of an app–progress that many of our parents and grandparents only dreamed of.

No longer do we have to swallow our disappointment when the book we want is not on the shelf, or become so bored when we run out of reading material that we begin reading the words off of the cereal box. The avenues for having books at our fingertips are now endless as opposed to how it was for Gladys. Not only is it easy to put books on hold at the library, technology has now afforded us the luxury of sitting in the comfort of our homes, downloading audiobooks, eBooks and eMagazines onto electronic devices for our reading and listening  pleasure. Smartphones, computers, eReaders and tablets have now expedited the reading process.

For those of you reading this and thinking to yourselves, “Well, I’m just not that tech savvy.” Or you figure that surely, you must be brilliant to get the hang of any of this–that’s simply not true. It’s really not as daunting as you think, and there are so many great library resources that can guide you along the way to becoming better equipped at navigating your way in the eWorld.

Maybe you’re a grandparent and received your very first tablet from your grandkids last year. You didn’t have the heart to tell them you’re clueless and quite frankly intimidated by the device. So instead, you smiled, thanked them for it, and it’s now sitting in the back of your cabinet with the other knick-knacks, hidden behind the china cow.

Your sense of dread isn’t necessary. At DCPL we can help you find what you need along the way while you learn at your own pace, and you can even Book a Librarian if you figure you’d get a better start in a one-on-one setting.

All and in all there are some days, too many in fact, when I take a lot of our modern services and technology for granted because they’ve now become so much a part of our everyday lives. But the truth is, I still think they’re pretty awesome–and I’d like to think that this is how our patron felt the night she came in to pick up her holds, simply grateful.

And you know what? If Gladys were here today, I bet that she too would be beside herself with joy.

android phones and tablets

See what’s available to download now:

Overdrive at DCPL provides eBooks and downloadable audiobooks.

DCPL’s Zinio collection has full color digital copies of magazines.

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TeegeHow would you feel if you opened a book one day and found out your grandfather was a high-ranking Nazi commandant? That’s exactly what happened to Jennifer Teege.

The Georgia Center for the Book presented Teege in April at the Decatur Library. She spoke about her book My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past.

Ralph Fiennes played her grandfather in his haunting portrayal of Amon Goeth, the maniacal Nazi death camp commander in Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List. Teege, who was adopted, learned the surprising fact that her biological mother was the daughter of Goeth, the “Butcher of Plaszow,” one day as she was looking for a book on depression.  She happened to see a book with the familiar face of her mother on the cover.

According to People Magazine‘s online article by Michelle Tauber:

The first shock was the sheer discovery of a book about my mother and my family, which had information about me and my identity that had been kept hidden from me, Teege, 44, had told Israeli newspaper Haaretz in a story featured on NPR.

“I knew almost nothing about the life of my biological mother, nor did my adoptive family, she said. I hoped to find answers to questions that had disturbed me and to the depression I had suffered from. The second shock was the information about my grandfather’s deeds.”

Teege’s book, co-written by Nikola Sellmair, is available at DCPL. You might also be interested in The Road to Rescue: The Untold Story of Schindler’s List by Mietek Pemper, in collaboration with Viktoria Hertling, or The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible–On Schindler’s List, A Memoir by Leon Leyson, with Marilyn J. Harran and Elisabeth B. Leyson.


Fans of George R. R. Martin’s phenomenal fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire experienced some disappointing news recently when Martin confirmed that his long-awaited next installment in the series, The Winds of Winter (hereafter referred to as TWOW for brevity’s sake), won’t be released in 2015. Initial hints that he was aiming for a 2016 release emerged in an EW interview published a few weeks ago in which he stated:

Having The Winds of Winter published before season 6 of Thrones airs next spring “has been important to me all along,” says the best-selling New Mexico author. “I wish it was out now. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic about how quickly I can finish. But I canceled two convention appearances, I’m turning down a lot more interviews—anything I can do to clear my decks and get this done.”

Further confirmation that it wouldn’t be out this year came soon after, in a comment reply on his blog. In response to a question about whether TWOW would be nominated for a HUGO award in 2016, he answered that it wouldn’t be eligible for nomination. Only titles published during the previous year are eligible for HUGO nominations, thus the implication was that TWOW wouldn’t be published in 2015.

While it is unfortunate that we won’t get our hands on TWOW this year, Martin has been sporadically releasing excerpts from the book for the past several years, and recently confirmed that more will be forthcoming. So far, sample chapters that have been officially released online include Theon Greyjoy, Arianne Martell, Arya Stark, and Sansa Stark. In addition to the excerpts made available online, all official excerpts as well as another unreleased elsewhere (from POV character Tyrion Lannister) are available for free along with the World of Ice and Fire app. Still want more? Several fan summaries (and in one case, a video) of chapter readings that Martin has done at conventions and appearances over the years are available for the following characters: Arianne Martell (part 2), Victarion Greyjoy (video), and Barristan Selmy.

Hat tip to the folks at the ASOIAF subreddit for compiling all of the sample chapters and excerpts on their wiki.

A World of Ice and Fire coverAnother good way to get your fix of all things Westeros is to watch the TV adaptation of the ASOIAF series, Game of Thrones. Season five is currently airing, and you can catch up on all four previous seasons through DCPL! Or check out Mr. Martin’s most recently published work, The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones. This gorgeous and comprehensive guide will tell series readers all they might want to know about the history and culture of Westeros and the lands beyond the Narrow Sea, including never before published material.


What I knew about Thomas Jefferson could fit on an index card: Jefferson was the main author of the Declaration of Independence, became President of the United States, and had a convoluted relationship with his slaves. So on a recent road trip, when my husband and I stopped at Monticello, Jefferson’s home, I was expecting to enjoy a leisurely morning tour and to move on to more interesting things in the afternoon.

We stayed much longer than we intended and still didn’t have enough time to explore.  Grand houses like Monticello were considered normal on plantations, but Jefferson was criticized for building his house high on a hill where water would have to be dragged up—until he built a giant cistern under the house, capable of storing and supplying all the water needed for the house and the nearby grounds.  Also under the house were storerooms, lavatories, a kitchen, and a carefully stocked and inventoried wine cellar, complete with customized dumbwaiters designed to carry bottles of wine directly to the dining room above.  The house is full of his inventions, including a copying machine designed to duplicate letters as he hand-wrote them so that he could keep copies of all his correspondence.  His extensive gardens, which today supply the museum restaurant with fresh produce, include many plants Jefferson cultivated after Lewis and Clark brought cuttings or seeds back from the western territories.

Even more interesting is what I learned about Jefferson himself.  The third President of the United States was so shy about public speaking that, during his time as a Virginia delegate, he would sit in the back of the room and only add to the conversation by writing down his comments.  The author of the Declaration of Independence was against the idea of the United States having a constitution at all, and would not sign the Constitution until he knew that it could be amended.  Jefferson was in many ways against slavery, yet he owned slaves.  The strangest thing to me is what he chose to put on his gravestone:

“Author of the Declaration of American Independence
of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom
& Father of the University of Virginia”

President of the United States?  Apparently not important enough to mention.

I highly recommend a trip to Monticello if you can manage it.  In the meantime, there’s plenty to read:

jeffersonJefferson and Monticello: The Biography of a Builder by Jack McLaughlin

National Book Award winning- American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph J. Ellis

Six volumes of Dumas Malone’s Jefferson and His Time

R. B. Bernstein’s Thomas Jefferson

For everyone, I recommend paging through the information at monticello.org, the official website of The Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.   From pictures of Monticello itself to images of Jefferson’s daily weather observations, there’s enough to get a glimpse of what an interesting person Jefferson was.


Though it must have been at least seventeen years ago, I still remember the first time a teacher stood in front of my class and proclaimed what has since become standard at the outset of every research paper and class project in schools across the country: “You must include at least one (or two, or ten) internet source(s).”

I’d heard that line at least twice a year over the course of my school career, and it never failed to put a wrinkle on my forehead every time. I am and always have been a bibliophile through and through, and it took me a long time to get over the notion that using anything other than a good old-fashioned book for academic research was sacrilege. Of course, I realize now that my views were probably in the minority; the mid-to-late-nineties was a time of rapid digital transformation, when the ideas and gadgets we now take for granted–all the games, all the programs and devices, and all of the wonders of the Word Wide Web–were still fermenting in the technological brewery. Today, I’m as much a part of this wired world as anyone else, and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.

That said, I do have my misgivings over how much academic research revolves around the internet–not because there’s anything intrinsically wrong with it, but because the attitudes of far too many students literally scream “Everything is Online!” The “sad” truth, however, is that precious little of what’s readily available out there really meets scholarly muster, and as teachers wise up to the yearly round of copypasta they receive from students courtesy of Wikipedia and Google, they are putting a greater stress on quality and reputable resources. Unfortunately, many of these valuable online gems are hard to find; they’re often tucked safely away behind an intimidating pay wall, or lost in a tangle of dead links and dead ends.

The good news is that there are a number of good sources out there dedicated to teaching budding scholars how to separate the wheat from the internet chafe with confidence.  A good place to start would be the About.com Guide to Online Research: Navigate the Web–from RSS and the Invisible Web to Multimedia and the Blogosphere by Wendy Boswell. Yes, I know it’s a book (published in 2007), but it’s a helpful guide for anyone looking to learn the basics of web research. Boswell writes with the casual web surfer in mind and fills her book with helpful hints along with a glossary for readers who want to know an IP from an ISP.  While not specifically geared towards student research, it gives valuable advice on how to evaluate websites, master classic search engines, and many more useful tips for anyone hoping to navigate the internet’s murky terrain.

GALILEOA major topic in Boswell’s book is the so-called Deep Web, the huge sea of websites lurking just beyond the nets cast by the major search engines.  Major components of these hidden websites are the aforementioned pay walls and online databases that form a barricade around most of the information crucial for well-crafted school papers. GALILEO is one such resource, a huge online library portal offering vast, authoritative information from hundreds of periodicals, scholarly journals, and academic monographs. An initiative of the University System of Georgia, GALILEO provides equal access to information for all citizens in Georgia and accomplishes its mission through a network of universities, K-12 schools, and public libraries.  GALILEO can be used as a sort of scholarly Google by typing in queries and collecting results. There’s also a specially-designed GALILEO Kids interface, plus you can access any of its individual resources directly with GALILEO A-Z. These various ways of access are conveniently perched at the top of the Reference Databases page on our library website.

Here are two additional resources specifically tailored for our youngest scholars:

  • Kids Search – Designed with elementary and middle school students in mind, this bright and colorful site cuts a lot of the pain out of researching topics. Its unique check-box topic search helps students narrow down searches without fumbling around to find the right words, and it comes equipped with a dictionary and an encyclopedia.
  • NoveList K-8 Plus – Need to find books in a particular category?  This new junior addition to the popular Novelist database allows young students to browse through subject and genre categories for whatever topic they need.  It’s also a good place for parents to build a summer reading list to get a good head start on what their child may expect in the upcoming school year.

I’d be the first to admit that, if I’m looking for quick, painless information, I’d probably turn to Google or Wikipedia before I crack open a dictionary or an encyclopedia.  The internet is the source for virtually unlimited information, and having all of that at your fingertips can be quite intoxicating. But information access and information literacy are not the same, and if you or your child are trying to get the most accurate and scholarly information you can, you might want to give the Wikiverse a rest and try a resource with a little more meat.

There’s a nice list of student resources available on the library website under Reference Databases.  If anyone has their own hidden gem, please feel free to share.



Apr 24 2015

Loving Mother Earth: Life in the Balance

by Rebekah B

sustainability graphic

Hello readers,

As an inquiring mind, I am interested in many vital subjects, including health, finding balance, sociology, and the environment. Throughout history, various cultures around the world have created, developed, and maintained very different philosophies, laws, and ways of being. These traditions directly affect the way humans interact with the planet, which provides for our needs and sustains our ability as humans to continue to live and reproduce. Some traditional hunter-gatherer cultures, such as our Native American forebears, most of which have been supplanted by more aggressively conquering cultures, constantly adapted individual human behavior to the requirements of their environment. Taking only as much as needed, these types of cultures lived in harmony with their habitat. As in the story of Cain and Abel, the hunter-gatherers were decimated by the builders of cities and civilizations. This story is very intriguingly explained in the philosophical tale Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn. In the tale, Ishmael is a wise mountain gorilla who can transmit his thoughts telepathically. He tries to locate a receptive person to share his knowledge about sustainability and the regrettable choices and collective fate of the human race.


Generally speaking, mythologies equate the planet Earth itself as a feminine figure or mother. Abundance, nurturing, and an infinite variety of creative strategies to live and adapt are just a few characteristics of our Earth.  Even in human terms, many of us think of mother figures as individuals whose lives are dedicated to giving and to serving others. A more mature perspective is perhaps one in which we not only show gratitude for those gifts, but also dedicate ourselves in service to those who have given so freely and selflessly of their time, energy, and love to us.

We live in a time in which human populations are larger than our Earth can sustain, especially given the post-industrial lifestyle that a large majority of the world would like to emulate. We know about sustainability, global warming and climate change, green energy and building practices. We know the advantages of organic farming and a mostly plant-based diet compared to the feedlot farms and widespread use of pesticides and hormones in farming. We know that clean water supplies, our most precious resource, are limited. We know that what was believed to be a panacea–better living through chemistry–is not what our hopes invested in these technologies would have produced in actuality.

sustainability-impactAnd so we need to step back, to consciously reduce greed and unlimited taking from Earth. We need to give back to our planet and live in harmony with her. In ancient China, the wise philosophy of the balancing of all energies may one day inspire us to respect the feminine, which is the more passive and receptive of the two forces–the giver of life. It is my personal hope that we may collectively learn that we cannot expand without end and use all available resources for our own benefit. The masculine energies of activity, expansion, and domination can happily be balanced by the feminine. Slowing down, enjoying family life, spending time in and with nature, creatively reusing man-made and natural products, using our ingenuity to create sustainable ways of living and producing energy, and admiring and respecting the wonders of our world are just a few ways of returning to balance. Our Earth needs our cooperation as much as we need her support. For this year’s celebration of Earth Day, please remember that we are all part of nature, and nature is part of us.  Loving and caring for our common heritage is just as important as taking care of our own bodies, our families, our homes.

DCPL owns and shares many wonderful works related to environmental awareness and self-responsibility.  Here are a few fairly recent books about sustainable living that you may find enlightening:

On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz, 2013

Do-It-Yourself Sustainable Water Projects: Collect, Store, Purify, and Drill for Water by Paul Dempsey, 2013

Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly, by James E. McWilliams, 2009

The Organic Family Cookbook: Growing, Greening, and Cooking Together by Anni Daulter, 2011

What’s Wrong With My Fruit Garden? 100% Organic Solutions for Berries, Trees, Nuts, Vines, and Tropicals by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth, 2013

Compact Houses: 50 Creative Floor Plans for Efficient, Well-Designed Small Homes by Gerald Rowan, 2013

The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want: A Book About Noise by Garret Keizer, 2010

The Island President (DVD recording), 2011

For children:

Earth Day Everyday by Lisa Bullard, 2012

Earth Day Birthday by Maureen Wright, 2012


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Apr 20 2015

Nose Notes 2015

by Hope L


Well, allergy sufferers … it could be worse.

If you’re like me and you think Atlanta has to be the absolute worst place for allergies–what with the yellow blanket of pollen and our scratchy eyes, congested head, runny nose, dry cough, and tissue after tissue–you may be surprised to learn that Atlanta is not THE worst place for allergy sufferers.  At least not according to the  Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s 2015 ranking of 100 U.S. cities, which puts Atlanta at a rather unimpressive #61.  Jackson, MS, took the #1 spot.

Obviously, I was not polled for this vote!  I demand a recount!  Every year I resolutely commit to do something about my allergies.  Problem is, I see many people  coughing, blowing their noses, and making horrible noises with their nasal congestion, some even wearing surgical masks, and it is nearly impossible to get anywhere near a doctor.  My bathroom cabinet is crammed with nose sprays, decongestant pills, cough drops, cough syrup, and yes–last year’s sure-fire solution to my problem–nasal filters, which after one or two humiliating times, were put back with the rest of the other failures into the cabinet.

For a while when I lived in Columbia, SC, I went the way of allergy shots.  I am not even sure if they worked, but I’m seriously considering trying them again.  At least I felt like I was doing something.

“The fundamental issue with cities is the type of plant or grasses, trees or weeds that grow in the area,” says Daniel Waggoner, MD, an allergist in Mystic, CT, who is not affiliated with the list creation but is familiar with it.  He says that cities with an exceptionally high concentration of trees, grass, or weeds may have more pollen in the air.

From the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI):

“Local environmental factors such as wind, humidity, typical temperatures–and air pollution–also play a role in allergies,” notes Miguel Wolbert, MD, an allergist in Evansville, IN. and a certified pollen counter.

(A certified pollen counter?  I kid you not.  There are also certified mold counters. Below is the information from AAAAI on the certification process.)

National Allergy Bureau (NAB) counters are certified separately as a pollen counter or as a mold counter in order to use a Burkard Spore Trap or the equivalent. Certification is offered to counting stations that agree to provide data on a timely basis to the NAB. Following the required training course(s), the candidate for certification will be required to take a web-based qualifying exam. The exam covers the basics of pollen and fungal spore aerobiology, fundamentals of microscopy, sampler operation and conversion of counts into concentration as outlined on the “Knowledge Base for Counters” developed by the NAB. Reference materials for the exam are also provided. (The exact material for the exam will be determined by the NAB Certification Committee). Following successful completion of the qualifying exam, the candidate will be permitted to take the practical exams using slides.

Pollen Counter
To be certified for pollen, a counter must successfully count and identify grass, weed and tree pollen grains on one pollen slide, which would represent spring, summer and fall pollen types in most of the continental U.S. Once the slide is graded passing, the counter will be considered a certified NAB pollen counter and eligible to count and present data for the NAB aeroallergen network.

Mold Counter
To be certified for molds, a counter must successfully count and identify molds on a single slide. Once this slide is graded successful, the counter will be considered a certified NAB mold counter and eligible to count and present data for the NAB aeroallergen network.

You can get all kinds of additional information about pollen allergy at MedlinePlus from the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. As allergy sufferers know, however, nature’s good news is on the horizon–the rainy season is upon us, conveniently arriving in time to wash much of the springtime pollen away.