Monday, December 31, 2018

Mukimame by Donna Feldman   Muki – what?  I thought the same thing when I saw it in the freezer section of the grocery. Basically mukimame is shelled edamame.  Edamame is soy beans in the pod, picked green.  Sort of like green beans, but soy beans.  You don’t eat the pods, so eating edamame is an adventure, stripping out the cooked bean seeds with your teeth.  Mukimame is more convenient, and easier to use in different ways.  They look a bit like lima beans, but have a nutty flavor and firmer chewier texture.  Mukimame calories are similar to other cooked legumes:  about 120 per one half cup.  They’re high fiber and really high protein.  That 1/2 cup has a whopping 12 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber.  Because it’s so high protein, serving it as a side dish to meat is a waste.  Mukimame is a great basis for a main dish, either a casserole or salad.  Steam them in the bag or according to directions, and don’t overcook.  Chop a variety of vegetables you prefer, such as radishes, scallions, garlic, tomatoes, green peppers, hot peppers or avocado.  Mix everything together and dress with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Herbs that would go well are basil, oregano, cilantro or dill.  For a little extra protein boost, add crumbled feta or goat cheese.
Easy Party Appetizer:  Roasted Edamame with Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper byEMMA CHRISTENSEN

Mukimame Vegetable Soup Recipe  by Singasongof6pans

The Philips Autographed Collection of books is one of the treasures of West Chester (PA) University.  It includes autographied copies of books collected by Dr. George Morris Philips during his tenure as principal of West Chester State Normal School (1880-1920).  The collection's value is not the books themselves but the inscribed autographs, comments, and drawings that were solicited by Dr. Philips.  Thus, only the autographed pages have been digitized.  Philips collected many books published during that time, including both popular and scholarly books autographed by many of the most prominent authors of the day, such as Helen Keller, Mark Twain, John Philip Sousa, and many others.  The collection passed to his son, William Pyle Philips, who donated the Philips Autographed Library to West Chester University in 1952.  Though the core collection was gathered from 1880-1920, through the years additional titles have been acquired by the University. 

Cheapskate is one of the numerous scornful terms for someone who has' short arms and long pockets', that is, someone who is reluctant to spend money or pay their fair share.  They are otherwise known as misers, pikers, scrooges, skinflints, tight-wads or penny-pinchers.  No one knows the precise source of the word 'cheapskate' but we do know that it originated in the USA in the late 19th century.  Why 'skate' was chosen as a term of scornful abuse directed at mean individuals isn't clear.  It may have been a variant of the Scottish word 'skite' or 'skeet', which refers to a person who is regarded with contempt.  This usage is now rare in the UK but is still used in Australia and New Zealand.  The US word 'blatherskite' refers to a person who talks interminable nonsense.  'Cheapskate' and 'blatherskite' (and, of course, it could just as easily have been 'cheapskite' and 'blatherskate') appear to have been formed in the same way and it seems likely that the Scots word was the source of 'cheapskate'.

The "Blue Hen chicken" was designated the official state bird of Delaware April 14, 1939.  "Blue Hens" are not an officially recognized breed; they are bred and named for the steel-blue coloring of their feathers.  All State Birds  The history of Delaware's state bird starts during the Revolutionary War, when a company of soldiers from Delaware known for their courage acquired the nickname of "The Blue Hen's Chickens" or "Sons of the Blue Hen."  This nickname is said to come from the fighting offspring of a particular hen owned by their Captain, John Caldwell, that were famously good at winning fights between roosters.  These fights, known as "cockfights" (which of course are now illegal), were popular during the Revolutionary War era.  Over the years the "Blue Hen" became a popular symbol, used during the Civil War, in publications, and in political campaigns.  Today, the University of Delaware atheletic teams are nicknamed "the fightin' Blue Hens" and the university maintains a flock of "Blue Hen Chickens."  These are not descended from the original hen; they were bred from birds donated by S. Hallock du Pont in the 1960s and more recently by the Delaware state veterinarian Wesley Towers.

The Wilmington Blue Rocks began play in the Carolina League in 1993 when the Peninsula Pilots moved to Wilmington, Delaware.  After the 2006 season, they became an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.  The Blue Rocks play their home games at Daniel S. Frawley Stadium.  A previous incarnation of the Blue Rocks was a perrenial playoff team in the Class B Interstate League from 1940 to 1952.

scapegoat  noun  This term, for one who is punished for the misdeeds of others, is the result of a mistranslation.  The term was coined in 1530 by William Tyndale, who misread the Hebrew word ‘azazel, the proper name of Canaanite demon, as ‘ez ozel, literally the goat that departs.  To be fair to Tyndale, he was not the only one to make this error.  The Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament, uses tragos apopompaios, or the goat that is sent out.  The Vulgate Bible refers to the second goat as a caper emissarius, or the emissary goat.  Coverdale’s 1535 Bible refers to it as a free goat.  But it was Tyndale who coined the term scapegoat, or scapegoote as he spelled it, literally the goat that escapes.  The King James Version retains Tyndale’s scapegoat, but most modern translations have corrected the error and refer to Azazel.  It was not until the 19th century that scapegoat acquired its current, wider sense.

Every year, Lake Superior State University comes up with a tongue in cheek list of overused and tired expressions and words.  This is the 44th year for the list.  The nominations come from word-watchers from across the U.S. who target pet peeves from everyday speech, as well as from the news, fields of education, technology, advertising, politics and more.  Topping this year's list is collusion.  “Platform”, “yeet”, “eschew”, “crusty”, “importantly”, and “accoutrements” made the list.  It’s like “ghosting” part of the English language.  And yes, ghosting, which means cutting off other people without notice, is also on the banned list.  Steve Carmody  Find LSSU's Banned Word list at  December 31, 2018  Issue 2013  365th day of the year  A Thought for Today  The only way human beings can win a war is to prevent it. - George Marshall, US. Army Chief, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Nobel laureate (31 Dec 1880-1959)  Word of the Day  auld lang syne  noun  Days gone byformer times  Wiktionary

Friday, December 28, 2018

The American coot, also known as the mud hen, is a duck-like waterbird.  It is a common bird in the U.S. and is closely related to rails and crakes, belonging to the same order as cranes.  Ohio's minor league baseball team is also known as the Toledo Mud Hens because of the high population of American coots that lived near the team's stadium in Bay View Park.  The mud hen grows to around 14 inches in length, has a wingspan of almost 28 inches and weighs over 31 oz.  It is black to dark gray in color with a white patch below the tail.  The bird's beak is white with black markings near the tip, and is triangular in shape like that of a chicken.  The feet are not webbed like a duck's, but have large, broad, separate toes that help the bird to swim.  Its wings are short and rounded at the tips so it is hard for the birds to take off, but once airborne they are good flyers.  The bird is found year-round in the western and south-central regions of the U.S.  During the winter months, the birds migrate to the southeastern U.S. and into Central America.  In summer, migration takes them further east and north into much of Canada.  It is a fresh water bird that can be found near ponds, lakes and marshes.  The bird is also sometimes seen in tidal marshes where water is more salty.

Original Mud Hens  Find recipe by Christy Jordan for sugary bar cookies with chocolate chips and mini-marshmallows at

Labneh--a yogurt cheese of middle eastern origin--is remarkably versatile and very easy to make at home.  Also known as lebni, labni or laban, labneh is found all across the middle east where it’s popularly rolled into small balls, served with unrefined extra virgin olive oil and used as a condiment.   Preparing this labneh recipe at home requires little more than fresh yogurt and a swath of cheesecloth.  In our home we often substitute labneh for regular cream cheese or for Neufchâtel or even sour cream when none is available.  Mixing labneh with olive oil and fresh herbs such as parsley, dill or marjoram makes a dip for vegetables and breads that is charming and elegant in its simplicity.  Simple food is often the best food.  Jenny McGruther

Glossary of sheep terms  includes bummer, flerd, gummer, lanolin, mob and wool pool 

There are a number of different theories regarding the origins of domestic sheep.  However, most sources agree that they originated from mouflon.  There are two wild populations of mouflons still in existence:  the Asiatic mouflon which is still found in the mountains of Asia Minor and southern Iran and the European mouflon of which the only existing members are on the islands of Sardinia and Corsica.  Sheep were among the first animals domesticated.  An archeological site in Iran produced a statuette of a wooled sheep which suggests that selection for woolly sheep had begun to occur over 6000 years ago.  The common features of today's sheep were already appearing in Mesopotamian and Babylonian art and books by 3000 B.C.  Another indication of the early domestication is the fact that they are the only species of livestock unable to return to a feral or wild state.  Selection for wool type, flocking instinct and other economically important traits over the centuries has resulted in more than 200 distinct breeds of sheep occurring worldwide.  Modern breeding schemes have also resulted in an increasing number of composite or synthetic breeds which are the result of a crossing of two or more established breeds.  Find a list of breeds  including American Blackbelly, Clun Forest, Dorper, Kooka, and mouflon at

a·plomb  noun  Self-confident assurance; poise  [French, from Old French a plomb, perpendicularly : a, according to (from Latin ad-; see AD-) + plomb, lead weight (from Latin plumbum, lead).]  The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.  All rights reserved. 
In classical ballet, aplomb refers to an unwavering stability maintained during a vertical pose or movement.  The word is of French origin, coming from à plomb, "according to the plummet".   French ballet master Jean-Étienne Despréaux used the term in 1806 to refer to the dynamic balancing that is fundamental to all well-executed ballet positions and movements.  In 1887, German dance theorist Friedrich Albert Zorn analogized aplomb in dancers as "the sureness of touch of the pianist".

"Whose woods these are, I think I”—whoa!  We can’t quote any more of Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” because it is still under copyright as this magazine goes to press.  But come January 1, 2019, we, you, and everyone in America will be able to quote it at length on any platform.  At midnight on New Year’s Eve, all works first published in the United States in 1923 will enter the public domain.  It has been 21 years since the last mass expiration of copyright in the U.S.  That deluge of works includes not just “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” which appeared first in the New Republic in 1923, but hundreds of thousands of books, musical compositions, paintings, poems, photographs and films.  After January 1, any record label can issue a dubstep version of the 1923 hit “Yes! We Have No Bananas,” any middle school can produce Theodore Pratt’s stage adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray, and any historian can publish Winston Churchill’s The World Crisis with her own extensive annotations.  Any artist can create and sell a feminist response to Marcel Duchamp’s seminal Dadaist piece, The Large Glass (The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even) and any filmmaker can remake Cecil B. DeMille’s original The Ten Commandments and post it on YouTube.  “The public domain has been frozen in time for 20 years, and we’re reaching the 20-year thaw,” says Jennifer Jenkins, director of Duke Law School’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain.  The release is unprecedented, and its impact on culture and creativity could be huge.  We have never seen such a mass entry into the public domain in the digital age.  The last one—in 1998, when 1922 slipped its copyright bond—predated Google.  “We have shortchanged a generation,” said Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive.  “The 20th century is largely missing from the internet.”  We can blame Mickey Mouse for the long wait.  In 1998, Disney was one of the loudest in a choir of corporate voices advocating for longer copyright protections.  At the time, all works published before January 1, 1978, were entitled to copyright protection for 75 years; all author’s works published on or after that date were under copyright for the lifetime of the creator, plus 50 years.  Steamboat Willie, featuring Mickey Mouse’s first appearance on screen, in 1928, was set to enter the public domain in 2004.  At the urging of Disney and others, Congress passed the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, named for the late singer, songwriter and California representative, adding 20 years to the copyright term.  Mickey would be protected until 2024—and no copyrighted work would enter the public domain again until 2019, creating a bizarre 20-year hiatus between the release of works from 1922 and those from 1923.  Glenn Fleishman

What was your favorite library story of 2018?  LIS News (Scandalous Since 1999) takes a look back at some of the notable library stories from the past year.  See the list at

Forget Book Trailers:  Book Playlists are the New Hotness posted by Tim Carmody  Read article at

100 Notable Books of 2018  The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.

Jane Langton, a prolific New England author who evoked a palpable sense of place in her mysteries and children's books, and who illustrated many of her works herself, died December 22, 2018 near her home in Lincoln, Mass. at the age of 95.  The titles of Langton's books reflect her devotion to the Concord/Lincoln region: "The Transcendental Murder" (1964), "Dark Nantucket Noon" (1975), "Emily Dickinson Is Dead" (1984), "God in Concord" (1992).  Langton received the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award last year for a series of 18 books, published between 1964 and 2005, whose central character, Homer Kelly, is a tweedy Harvard professor and erstwhile police lieutenant.  The fifth in the series, "Emily Dickinson Is Dead," received an award from the Nero Wolfe Society.  After graduating as the valedictorian of her high school class, she started studying astronomy at Wellesley College and later transferred to the University of Michigan, where she met her future husband, William Gale Langton.  She had hoped to continue with astronomy at Michigan.  But since this was during World War II, "all the scientists had left" to join the war effort, and there were none left to teach.  She switched to art history, graduating with a bachelor's degree (and straight A's) in 1944.  She earned a master's in art history at Michigan in 1945.  When her husband went to Harvard to study physics, she earned a second master's in art history, at Radcliffe, in 1948.  They moved to Lincoln in 1950, and she studied at the Boston Museum School from 1958 to 1959.  She illustrated a number of her books with her own pen-and-ink drawings.  Her writing career began with children's books.  Her first was "The Majesty of Grace," later published as "Her Majesty, Grace Jones" (1961).  She went on to write the Hall Family Chronicles, a series of eight books for young adults set in Concord, starting with "The Diamond in the Window" in 1962.  The fourth in the series, "The Fledgling" (1980) was a Newbery Honor book.  Katharine Q. Seelye, New York Times

Jolabokaflod--the Christmas book flood.  In Iceland, people exchange books on Christmas Eve and spend the night reading.  Every year since 1944, the Icelandic book trade has published a catalogue that is sent to every household in the country in mid-November.  Read about the tradition at  December 28, 2018  Issue 2012  362nd day of the year

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Pine Nut Toffee Tart with Orange and Rosemary The combination of slightly resinous pine nuts, sweet citrus and savoury rosemary suspended in a thick toffee filling is intense and addictive.  It’s darkly rich, gooey and sweet, but somehow you can’t stop at just one slice.  Find recipe serving 10 at   Recipe excerpted with permission from SUQAR by Greg and Lucy Malouf, published by Hardie Grant Books November 2018

The tax rate in the original 1935 Social Security law was 1% each on the employer and the employee, on the first $3,000 of earnings.  This rate was increased on a regular schedule in four steps so that by 1949 the rate would be 3% each on the first $3,000.  The taxation of Social Security began in 1984 following passage of a set of Amendments in 1983, which were signed into law by President Reagan in April 1983.  These amendments passed the Congress in 1983 on an overwhelmingly bi-partisan vote.

 “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” – Charles Dickens  'It's Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.'  This is attributed to both Keith Baines and W.T. Ellis.  It is reprinted on posters, card, towels and also has been adopted by companies in advertisements.

Lupini beans or lupin beans (Turmus in Arabic) are legume seeds.  They are popular in the Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Italy, and they’re also very well known in the Middle East in countries like Jordan and Egypt.  They’re usually served as snacks on their own or as antipasti, and a popular street food in the Middle East.  In Italy, lupini beans are mixed with olives to be served as snacks at Christmas time.  They are also added to hot and cold salads.  There are two kinds of dried turmus:  (1) bitter variety that needs to be soaked for several days in water, and water needs to be changed every few hours. Then the beans need to be cooked, and if still bitter then soaked again in water and (2) sweet--these beans are not literally sweet but they’re not bitter either.  In the Middle East, you will see many street vendors selling these lovely beans that are perfectly cooked, then seasoned with cumin, salt and lots of lemon juice.  Diana and Natalia, two sisters  Read more and see pictures and recipes at
Lupini beans are considered to be native to Italy, and their cultivation spread gradually over the Mediterranean region several thousands years ago.  The evidence of this is that several beans were found in the tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh, who lived in the 22nd century BC.  Several varieties of lupine beans also originated from South America.  Nowadays, these beans are cultivated in the south of Europe, South America and in Near East.

Lupini beans look like large flat fava beans or slightly-uneven coins.  They are members of the pea family.  Lupini beans are yellowish-brown in colour, with a small hole at one end.  Lupini beans are used as a snack in Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Lebanon, Spain and Portugal.  In Portugal, as a snack they are called “tremocos.”

May 29, 2018  Away from the ice, Zach Hyman, the Toronto Maple Leafs winger, writes children’s books.  And his message is simple:  "Believe and you can achieve."  His latest title, "The Magician’s Secret," is Hyman’s third.  Lovingly illustrated by Joe Bluhm, it’s a paean to the power of imagination—the story of a young boy who is enchanted by his grandfather’s stories which transport him though history.  "When you’re a kid, sometimes you get told ‘Oh no, you can’t do this or you can’t do that.’  But really the whole world is ahead of you and you can do whatever you want," Hyman said in an interview.  "And that’s a really important message that I think sometimes gets lost in translation for kids.  But that’s definitely something that I believe in and try to inspire kids (with) when I go talk to them or read the book."  "Hockey Hero," his first book, came out of a Grade 7 short story.  He started "The Bambino and Me" in high school.  Both were polished in the years to follow.  Writing a children’s book is exacting, with the author having to get the story across in a limited number of words. "Hockey Hero" depicts a shy young boy bullied for stuttering who—with the help of his grandfather—takes a leap of faith.  "The Bambino and Me" is the story of a boy who gets to hear Babe Ruth’s wisdom firsthand after a visit to the ballpark with his dad.  Hyman, a history major at the University of Michigan, uses the baseball star’s own words—"It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up"—to get his message across.  "My interpretation of it is take chances, because if you don’t take chances, you never know what can happen," Hyman said.  "And if you fall you can always pick yourself back up and swing big again.  And eventually you’re going to hit that home run."  It’s a theme that runs through his books—and likely his blossoming hockey career.

Boxing Day is the 26th December and is a national holiday in the UK and Ireland.  Boxing Day is a time to spend with family or friends, usually those not seen on Christmas Day itself.  In recent times, the day has become synonymous with many sports.  Horse racing is particularly popular with meets all over the country. Many top football teams also play on Boxing Day.  Boxing Day is also a time when the British show their eccentricity by taking part in all kinds of silly activities.  These include bizarre traditions including swimming the icy cold English Channel, fun runs, and charity events.  Until 2004, Boxing Day hunts were a traditional part of the day, but the ban on fox hunting has put an end to this in its usual sense.  Hunters will still gather dressed resplendently in red hunting coats to the sound of the hunting horn.  But, since it is now forbidden to chase the fox with dogs, they now follow artificially laid trails.  December 27, 2018  Issue 2011  361st day of the year

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

"Always be nice to people.  My mom taught me that."  Ed Sheeran  "The most powerful nourishment is also the simplest:  shhhh!  Practicing stillness is a venerable art in many spiritual traditions, usually in the form of meditation."  Martha Beck  "When so much of our politics is trying to manage this clash of cultures brought about by globalization and technology and migration, the role of stories to unify--as opposed to divide, to engage rather than to marginalize--is more important than ever."  Barack Obama  "For an unexpected twist on hummus, try swapping chickpeas for fava beans . . . "  Richard Blais  O, the Oprah Magazine  July 2017         

Food is more than survival.  With it we make friends, court lovers, and count our blessings.  The sharing of food has always been part of the human story.  From Qesem Cave near Tel Aviv comes evidence of ancient meals prepared at a 300,000-year-old hearth, the oldest ever found, where diners gathered to eat together.  Retrieved from the ashes of Vesuvius:  a circular loaf of bread with scoring marks, baked to be divided.  “To break bread together,” a phrase as old as the Bible, captures the power of a meal to forge relationships, bury anger, provoke laughter.  Children make mud pies, have tea parties, trade snacks to make friends, and mimic the rituals of adults.  They celebrate with sweets from the time of their first birthday, and the association of food with love will continue throughout life—and in some belief systems, into the afterlife.  Consider the cultures that leave delicacies graveside to let the departed know they are not forgotten.  And even when times are tough, the urge to celebrate endures.  In the Antarctic in 1902, during Robert Falcon Scott’s Discovery expedition, the men prepared a fancy meal for Midwinter Day, the shortest day and longest night of the year.  Hefty provisions had been brought on board.  Forty-five live sheep were slaughtered and hung from the rigging, frozen by the elements until it was time to feast.  The cold, the darkness, and the isolation were forgotten for a while.  “With such a dinner,” Scott wrote, “we agreed that life in the Antarctic Regions was worth living.” — Victoria Pope  Read more and see pictures at  See also Babette’s Feast by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) at

Mushrooms & Garlic Cream by Matt McConnell with Jo Gamvros  We first had this in Sydney in a funny little tapas bar we used to go to called Capitan Torres.  When we were in Spain we discovered that it was a staple of most traditional tapas bars.  We liked the fact that you could use a plain cultivated mushroom and turn it into something with so much flavor.  Find recipe serving 4 at  Recipe excerpted with permission from Eat at the Bar by Matt McConnell with Jo Gamvros, published by Hardie Grant Books October 2018

FLATTENED, CUT THROUGH, GONE  Some of  Seattle's numerous hills, ridges, and bluffs left behind by the retreat of the Vashon Glacier some 14,000 years ago have been flattened or regraded.    What was left of Pearl Hill in Kansas City in 1922 was an irregular rock formation around 150 feet long and fifty feet high jutting from the ground.  In 1928, the last piece of Pearl Hill was graded and carried away.  See incredible pictures at

Favorite books read by the Muser in 2018:  The Good at Heart by Ursula Werner (Based on the author’s discoveries about her great-grandfather, this debut novel takes place over three days in 1944 when World War II comes to the doorstep of a German family living in an idyllic, rural village near the Swiss border.  A portrait of a family torn between doing their duty for their country and doing what’s right for their country, and especially for those they love.)  The Third Son by Julie Wu  (As one autocracy replaces another in Taiwan, the least-favored son struggles to free himself from family and culture.)  The Sister, also titled The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams (In a decaying mansion, a reclusive woman waits for her younger sister, who has not set foot in the house for nearly fifty years.)  Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde (story takes place in Chromatacia, an alternate version of the United Kingdom where social class is determined by one's ability to perceive color.  Eddie Russet belongs to the House of Red, and sees only that color--anything else is seen as shades of grey and must be artificially colored.)   The Undoing Project:  A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis  (Decision- making and the combination of economics and psychology affect our lives, policies and law.)    See  Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen  (A struggling circus during the Great Depression goes from one town to another.)  The Stonecutter (Swedish:  Stenhuggaren) by Camilla Läckberg.  (A psychological thriller set in a resort with plot shifting between narratives that is unexplained until the very end.)  Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford (life in Seattle's Chinatown during the Depression)  Crazy Rich Asians (witty gossipy story of three clans and their extravagance)
"Thank God Singapore has only two seasons--hot and hotter  . . . "  "The number eight is considered by the Chinese to be an extremely lucky number, since in both Mandarin and Cantonese it sounds similar to the word for prosperity or fortune.  Triple-eight means triple the luck."  Kueh Lapis, also known as “thousand-layer cake,” is a decadently buttery cake with dozens of thin golden stripes is created by baking each layer of batter separately.  Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan  See recipe for Ah Ma’s Kueh Lapis and link to Literary Food & Drink Lists at

Quite frankly I talk about the fact that I'm a feminist as often as I can, and every time I do it gets huge reaction and media reacts and the Twitterverse explodes and things like that, because here I am saying I'm a feminist.  I will keep saying that until there is no more reaction to that when I say it, because that's where we want to get to. - Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada (b. 25 Dec 1971)

A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, commonly known as A Christmas Carol, is a novella by Charles Dickens, first published in London by Chapman & Hall in 1843 and illustrated by John LeechA Christmas Carol recounts the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the spirits of Christmas PastPresent and Yet to Come.  He was influenced by the experiences of his own youth and by the Christmas stories of other authors including Washington Irving and Douglas Jerrold.  Dickens had written three Christmas stories prior to the novella, and was inspired following a visit to the Field Lane Ragged School, one of several establishments for London's street children.  Published on 19 December, the first edition sold out by Christmas Eve; by the end of 1844 thirteen editions had been released.  The story was illicitly copied in January 1844; Dickens took legal action against the publishers, who went bankrupt, further reducing Dickens's small profits from the publication.  He went on to write four other Christmas stories in subsequent years.  In 1849 he began public readings of the story which proved so successful he undertook 127 further performances until 1870, the year of his death.  December 26, 2018  Issue 2010  360th day of the year

Monday, December 24, 2018

It was not the French who first thought of what we call French toast.  The Romans did as early as the 4th century.  The term “French horn” was coined around the early 18th century when French horn-makers were quite prominent; however, what is known as the French horn is actually German in origin.  Technically, the horn has French roots as it was the French who were credited for creating the circular horn shape.  But later on, the French-made designs were already replaced by that of the German horns.  To avoid confusion, the International Horn Society has recommended since the 1970s that the term French be dropped, and the instrument to simply be called the “horn”.  The phrase “French braid” first appeared in a short fiction story published in an 1871 issue of a magazine.  It was described as a new hairstyle, when in fact, this type of braided hairstyle has been around for ages.  Early art by the ancient Greek, Sung Dynasty as well as Celtic tribes has depicted this hairstyle, as did some rock art in Algeria that dates back to 6000 years ago.  While people have been saying that French fries are actually Belgian, new research on the history of French fries have shown that they are, in fact, French. 

Toledo-Lucas County Public Library Noon Years Eve Parties
Monday, December 31  11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.  Oregon Public Library  3340 Dustin Road  Oregon, Ohio  Meeting Room A  Join us as we ring in the New Year!  We will have games and plenty of fun, complete with a count down to noon.
Monday, December 31  11:15a.m. - 12:15 p.m.  Point Place Public Library  2727 117th St. Toledo, Ohio  1 Large Meeting Room 
Celebrate the new year a little early with crafts and a toast at the stroke of noon.

Celebrate the winter holidays with these five French Christmas cookies including sables, madeleines, palmiers, and the quintessentially French macaron.  The recipes include all the traditional aromas and flavors of the holiday season, so you can mix and match for a delectable cookie platter.  All of these (apart from the macarons) are relatively easy to make.  Macarons are not so hard, they just take a little time.  Rebecca Franklin  Find recipes and pictures at

The Black Eyed Peas is an American musical group, consisting of rappers and Taboo.  Originally an alternative hip hop group, they subsequently changed their musical sound to pop and dance-pop music.  Although the group was founded in Los Angeles in 1995, it was not until the release of their third album, Elephunk, in 2003, that they achieved high record sales.  Since that time, the group has sold an estimated 76 million records (35 million albums and 41 million singles), making them one of the world's best-selling groups of all time. 

Thblack-eyed peablack-eyed bean or goat pea, a legume, is a subspecies of the cowpea, grown around the world for its medium-sized, edible bean.  In the Southern United States, eating black-eyed peas or Hoppin' John ( made of black-eyed peas, rice, and pork, on New Year's Day is thought to bring prosperity in the new year.  The peas are typically cooked with a pork product for flavoring (such as baconfatback, ham bones, or hog jowls) and diced onion, and served with a hot chili sauce or a pepper-flavored vinegar.  The traditional meal also includes collardturnip, or mustard greens, and ham.  The peas, since they swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity; the greens symbolize money; the pork, because pigs root forward when foraging, represents positive motion.

Food Suggestions for a Lucky New Year  In most Spanish speaking countries it is common to eat twelve grapes at midnight New Year’s Eve.  There is one grape for each of the twelve months.  You may make one wish for each grape you eat.  Your goal is to finish all twelve grapes during the first minute of the New Year.  As far back as in Ancient Rome it was customary to give and eat sweets for a happy and sweet year to come.  In ancient Rome the sweets consisted of dates and figs soaked in honey.   Be sure to eat at least one teaspoon full of lentils on New Year’s Eve.  According to superstition this will help ensure an increase of wealth the coming year.  In many parts of Asia and especially in Japan it is thought that eating long noodles is lucky.  Long noodles represent a long life.  Rice has a long history being associated with wealth.  Rice dishes are wonderful for the New Year. 
Read more at  See also  Ring-shaped foods represent the year coming full circle.     

Three lucky foods in one dish:  beans, beets sliced in circles, bacon

Ales and tales:  Books on Tap at Toledo brewery  Fifteen or so people walk into a bar.  One asks the other, did you believe the murderous protagonist's guilt?  There's no joke here.  Inside Earnest Brew Works, the Toledo Lucas County Public Library hosts its monthly Books on Tap discussion.  Book club members share insights over ales and tales. This idea, modeled off national trends, places the library further into the community.  It also offers a new take for interested but often busy adults, said program coordinator Franco Vitella, a librarian at Maumee branch.  Attendees spend about a half hour discussing the plot and their reactions before diverging into topics beyond the book.  Ryan Dunn

Frans Hals Portraits: A Family Reunion at The Toledo Museum of Art through January 6, 2019  This exhibition is the first devoted to the family portraiture of Frans Hals (1582/83–1666), one of the foremost painters of the Dutch Golden Age.  Organized by TMA and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels, the exhibition was prompted by the Museum’s acquisition in 2011 of Frans Hals’s Van Campen Family Portrait in a Landscape, as well as the recent conservation of Brussels’ Three Children of the Van Campen Family.  These two works originally formed one composition, separated for unknown reasons likely in the late 18th century or early 19th century.  The exhibition reunites the sections of the Toledo/Brussels painting along with a third fragment from a private collection, which will be shown with the three other family portraits painted by the artist.  Admission is free for members and $10 for nonmembers.  Thank you, Muse reader!  December 24, 2018  Issue 2009   358th day of the year

Friday, December 21, 2018

Julian Hawthorne (1846-1934) was an American writer and journalist, the son of novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne and Sophia Peabody.  He wrote numerous poems, novels, short stories, mystery/detective fiction, essays, travel books, biographies, and histories.  As a journalist, he reported on the Indian Famine for Cosmopolitan magazine and the Spanish–American War for the New York Journal.  His parents had difficulty choosing a name for eight months.  Possible names included George, Arthur, Edward, Horace, Robert, and Lemuel.  His father referred to him for some time as "Bundlebreech" or "Black Prince", due to his dark curls and red cheeks.  He studied civil engineering in the United States and Germany, was engineer in the New York City Dock Department under General McClellan (1870–72), spent 10 years abroad, and on his return edited his father's unfinished Dr. Grimshawe's Secret (1883).  His sister Rose, upon hearing of the book's announcement, had not known about the fragment and originally thought her brother was guilty of forgery or a hoax.  She published the accusation in the New York Tribune on August 16, 1882, and claimed, "No such unprinted work has been in existence . . .  It cannot be truthfully published as anything but an experimental fragment".  He defended himself from the charge, however, and eventually dedicated the book to his sister and her husband George Parsons Lathrop.  While in Europe he wrote the novels:  Bressant (1873); Idolatry (1874); Garth (1874); Archibald Malmaison (1879); and Sebastian Strome (1880).  Hawthorne wrote two books about his parents, called Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Wife (1884–85) and Hawthorne and His Circle (1903).  In the latter, he responded to a remark from his father's friend Herman Melville that the famous author had a "secret".  Julian dismissed this, claiming Melville was inclined to think so only because "there were many secrets untold in his own career", causing much speculation.  The younger Hawthorne also wrote a critique of his father's novel The Scarlet Letter that was published in The Atlantic Monthly in April 1886.
madcap  adjective  amusingly eccentric, done without considering the consequences; foolish or reckless.  noun  an eccentric or reckless person.  "Madcap" today is usually used as an adjective, it was originally, when it first appeared in the 16th century, a noun meaning "a madman, a maniac."  The "mad" element is straightforward, simply meaning "insane," a usage more common in the UK than the US, where we are more likely to use "mad" to mean "angry."  The "cap" part might be thought a reference to the unusual headgear often worn by the deranged (foil-lined pith helmets, Mets caps, etc.), but it is actually a very old (and now obsolete in any other use) sense meaning "head."  So a "madcap" was originally a "mad-head."

Quartet for the End of Time is a 2014 novel by Giller Prize–winning author Johanna Skibsrud.  The novel takes its name and structure from Quatuor pour la fin du temps a piece of chamber music by the French composer Olivier Messiaen.  Like the musical piece it takes its name from, the novel is divided into seven sections and an interlude with each section told from the point of view of either Sutton, Douglas or Alden.

Peace on earth  In FY2017, the Peace Corps funded 828 volunteer-led projects in 56 countries, benefitting more than 1 million people.  One hundred percent of the donations received by the Peace Corps go to communities all over the globe.  They may facilitate malaria prevention workshops, install clean cook stoves, lead mentoring programs for youth, or create a safe school environment for girls.  You may direct your contribution to a type of program in a particular area.  For additional information about agency programs, contact

Play the PIG game using a die when exchanging inexpensive wrapped gifts.  There are many variations on rules.  Here's just one set:  Roll die, and take actions.  One means steal a gift, two means pass gifts to the left, three means pass gifts to the right, four means open your gift, five means keep your gift, six means steal a gift.  Appoint a referee before you begin the game.  Piggies here, piggies there, piggies are not everywhere.  Piggies new, piggies true, piggies plentiful, not few.  Be a pig when time is right like Christmas day or Christmas night.

Sir Edmund William Gosse CB (1849–1928) was an English poet, author and critic.  His account of his childhood in the book Father and Son has been described as the first psychological biography.  His translations of Ibsen helped to promote that playwright in England, and he encouraged the careers of W.B. Yeats and James Joyce.  Gosse started his career as assistant librarian at the British Museum from 1867 alongside the songwriter Theo Marzials.  Trips to Denmark and Norway in 1872–74, where he visited Hans Christian Andersen and Frederik Paludan-Müller, led to publishing success with reviews of Henrik Ibsen and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson in the Cornhill Magazine.  He was soon reviewing Scandinavian literature in a variety of publications.  He became acquainted with Alfred, Lord Tennyson and friends with Robert BrowningAlgernon Charles SwinburneThomas Hardy and Henry James.  In the meantime, he published his first solo volume of poetry, On Viol and Flute (1873) and a work of criticism, Studies in the Literature of Northern Europe (1879).  Gosse and Robert Louis Stevenson first met while teenagers, and after 1879, when Stevenson came to London on occasion, he would stay with Gosse and his family.  From 1884 to 1890, Gosse lectured in English literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, despite his own lack of academic qualifications.  He made a successful American lecture tour in 1884 and was much in demand as a speaker and on committees as well as publishing a string of critical works as well as poetry and histories.  He became, in the 1880s, one of the most important art critics dealing with sculpture (writing mainly for the Saturday Review) with an interest spurred on by his intimate friendship with the sculptor Hamo Thornycroft.  Gosse would eventually write the first history of the renaissance of late-Victorian sculpture in 1894 in a four-part series for The Art Journal, dubbing the movement the New Sculpture.  In 1904, he became the librarian of the House of Lords Library, where he exercised considerable influence till he retired in 1914.  He wrote for the Sunday Times, and was an expert on Thomas GrayWilliam CongreveJohn DonneJeremy Taylor, and Coventry Patmore.  Gosse was instrumental in getting official financial support for two struggling Irish writers, WB Yeats in 1910 and James Joyce in 1915.  This enabled both writers to continue their chosen careers.  See also Edmund Gosse letters, 1890-1928, at

The Danish inventor and engineer Valdemar Poulsen is largely unknown amongst the general public, yet his invention of the telegraphone--telegrafoon in Danish---has laid the foundation of today’s recording industry.  This makes him the founding father of the audio cassette, the CD and DVD, the computer disk and diskette, the credit card, the iPod and every other piece of equipment today that records sound or data.  Poulsen was born on November 23, 1869, in Copenhagen, Denmark, as the son of a judge in the Danish High Court.  At school he was more interested in physics and drawing than mathematics.  In 1900 Poulsen demonstrated his telegraphone at the World Exposition in Paris where he managed to record the voice of Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria.  This recording still exists and is the oldest magnetic sound recording surviving today.  His invention created considerable interest and he was awarded a Grand Prix for his machine.  Despite this success he battled to find sufficient financial backing for the manufacture and sale of his machines.  One of his other inventions was the Arc Transmitter, developed in 1903, which enabled speech to be transmitted up to a radius of 150 miles.  By 1920 the Poulsen Arc transmitter had a range of up to 2,500 miles--a great improvement in wireless radio and telegraphy.  This technology was widely adopted by the US Navy.  Poulsen died in July 1942 in Copenhagen, Denmark.  In 1927, the American inventor J.A. O'Neill replaced Poulsen’s steel wire with a magnetically coated ribbon resulting in the magnetic tape recorders we know today.  They’ve been used for audio recording and (in computers) for the recording of information.

Christmas Porchetta by Yvette van Boven  serves 8-10  This pork roast needs to be cooked in the oven for more than 3 hours, so plan accordingly.  The result will be quite something, though.  Yes, it’s very fatty meat, but that’s what makes this so delicious.  The dish is impossible to ruin; if you leave it in the oven for 30 minutes too long it won’t matter.  This recipe is after Darina Allen’s recipe from Forgotten Skills of Cooking.  December 21, 2018  Issue 2008  355th day of the year