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Snow Fun

My last post marked the first day of winter, just over a month ago.  So far, the winter weather in Pittsburgh has been VERY COLD and a bit snowy too!  According to the National Weather Service Forecast Office for Pittsburgh, the average high temperature in January 2013 was 39 degrees with an average low of 24 degrees.  This month, the average high is 33 degrees with an average low of 15 degrees.  The lowest temperatures so far this month were -5, -7 and -9 degrees.  In 2013, the lowest temperature was 4 degrees.

The good news is that winter provides lots of opportunities for fun things to do indoors and out!

Snow Fun Outdoors

snow204

Snow Fun Indoors

Snowmen Treats--Easy Food

Snowmen Treats–Easy Food

Have fun,

Stay warm,

~Marian

Winter reads

If you’re reading this on the 25th, I hope you have time today to relax and read a good book! Here are some suggestions if you want to get in the wintry spirit. These would all be great selections, and they’d all count for the Winter Reading Raffle!:

wintersmith

Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

At 9, Tiffany Aching defeated the cruel Queen of Fairyland. At 11, she battled an ancient body-stealing evil. At 13, Tiffany faces a new challenge: a boy. And boys can be a bit of a problem when you’re thirteen … But the Wintersmith isn’t exactly a boy. He is Winter itself–snow, gales, icicles–all of it. When he has a crush on Tiffany, he may make her roses out of ice, but his nature is blizzards and avalanches. And he wants Tiffany to stay in his gleaming, frozen world. Forever. Tiffany will need all her cunning to make it to Spring. She’ll also need her friends, from junior witches to the legendary Granny Weatherwax. They–Crivens! Tiffany will need the Wee Free Men too! She’ll have the help of the bravest, toughest, smelliest pictsies ever to be banished from Fairyland–whether she wants it or not. It’s going to be a cold, cold season, because if Tiffany doesn’t survive until Spring–Spring won’t come.

dashandlily

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

“I’ve left some clues for you. If you want them, turn the page. If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.” So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

zombiewinter

Zombie Winter by Jason Strange

Which is worse, a long, cold winter, or a town of zombies?

twistrosekey

The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell

Something is wrong in the house that Lin’s family has rented; Lin is sure of it. The clocks tick too slowly. Frost covers the flowerbed, even in a rain storm. And when a secret key marked “Twistrose” arrives for her, Lin finds a crack in the cellar, a gate to the world of Sylver. This frozen realm is the home of every dead animal who ever loved a child. Lin is overjoyed to be reunited with Rufus, the pet she buried under the rosebush. But together they must find the missing Winter Prince in order to save Sylver from destruction. They are not the only ones hunting for the boy this night. In the dark hides a shadow-lipped man, waiting for the last Winter Prince to be delivered into his hands.

afterthesnow

After the Snow by S.D. Crockett

The oceans stopped working before Willo was born, so the world of ice and snow is all he’s ever known. He lives with his family deep in the wilderness, far from the government’s controlling grasp. Willo’s survival skills are put to the test when he arrives home one day to find his family gone. It could be the government; it could be scavengers — all Willo knows is he has to find refuge and his family. It is a journey that will take him into the city he’s always avoided, with a girl who needs his help more than he knows

wickit

The Wickit Chronicles: Ice Road by Joan Lennon

It’s the harshest winter anyone can remember, and the vast waterways of the Fens are frozen solid, transformed into an Ice Road. The conditions are ideal for a surprise invasion by young King Arnald’s banished uncle. Wickit Monastery is under threat too a bitter illness has struck down almost all the brothers, and a ghost walks across the snow. Can the orphan Pip and Perfect, the stone gargoyle, save the Brothers, their friend the King, and their country?

starcrossed

Star Crossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce

On the lam after a failed theft, 16-year-old runaway Celyn bluffs her way out of the city with four young nobles. She finds refuge as maid to one of them, Lady Merista, in a snowbound mountain castle. When Lord Daul discovers Celyn’s thieving tendencies, he forces her to spy for him. Delving even deeper into the castle’s secrets than she reveals to Daul, Celyn’s eyes are opened to the myriad secrets and schemes of its many guests and occupants. In choosing her path, she confronts her own past, uncovers a rebellion that could lead to civil war, befriends a prince, contemplates religious persecution, and faces betrayal.

darkisrising

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

On the Midwinter Day that is his eleventh birthday, Will Stanton discovers a special gift — that he is the last of the Old Ones, immortals dedicated to keeping the world from domination by the forces of evil, the Dark. At once, he is plunged into a quest for the six magical Signs that will one day aid the Old Ones in the final battle between the Dark and the Light. And for the twelve days of Christmas, while the Dark is rising, life for Will is full of wonder, terror, and delight.

trapped

Trapped by Michael Northrop

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That it would be “one for the record books,” as the forecasters safe and dry in their TV studios would later say. That it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but keeping alive & Scotty and his friends Pete and Tommy are among the last kids waiting to get picked up at their high school that day, and it doesn’t take them long to realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn’t seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when Krista and Julie, two hot-to-the-point-of-being-distracting freshmen, are sleeping in the next classroom over. But then the power goes out. Then the heat. Then the emergency generator. As the snow piles higher and higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, tempers rise and friendships fray….

helpimaprisoner

Help! I’m a Prisoner in the Library by Eth Clifford

Mary Rose and Jo-Beth are sisters who hardly ever agree on anything, but they both feel as if this night will never end. First their car runs out of gas in an unfamiliar city and their father goes in search of a gas station. Then Jo-Beth makes Mary Rose go with her to find a bathroom and they stumble across a curious old library. And then, worst of all, they get locked in! But their troubles are just beginning. Is Jo-Beth right about the library being haunted by banshees? Or is there a logical explanation, as Mary Rose claims?

– Tessa, CLP – East Liberty (not a prisoner in the library)

Winter as Metaphor

Even though we have had several inches (about 18 inches) of snow this season, winter is just beginning!  According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, winter  begins at 12:11 PM on December 21st.  Winter, like all of the seasons, has its lovers and haters.  Personally, fall is my favorite season, but winter has to be my second most favorite.  I like cold weather and I love walking in fresh snow, especially at night. 189884_1845951477408_4735855_n Is winter harsh and bleak?  Or beautiful and full of joy?  The answers to those questions can be found in poetry.  Yes, poetry.  The mystery and wonder of winter can be found by reading poetry.  Poets often use one  of the elements of the winter season as a metaphor in their poems.  The bare trees and fields.  The cold winds.  The short days and long nights.  The snow. 563232_10200782434472075_1505638863_n Two of my favorite winter poems come from the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Anthology series.  The first one is from 2008. Crystal Blankets by Valesha Edwards

My eyes glued to a winter wonderland

Crisp, chilling breeze blusters and flows

Light, white flakes whispering off to new regions

I gaze transfixed on an earth blanketed with white crystals

Delicate flakes with unique shapes weave gracefully from a somber sky

Amazing how simple white crystals disclose joy in me

How beautiful, yet simple white crystals enlighten a person,

is one of life’s vast mysteries 65286_10200641321184331_1790025591_n

The second one comes from 2011. Sparsile by Annie Utterback

November the barber

sweeps with the wind,

collecting his trimmings

on the forest floor.

I left my tree house

in its snug red jacket,

but the compass is a circle

and she’s led me here before.

I don’t want to meet you,

Miss Argyle Winter.

My friends have all vanished.

I’ve nowhere to go.

With your blanketed blizzards

and white woolen mittens,

I can’t seem to distinguish

man from snow.

The forest Manhattan,

its trees all the same,

our faces are blank,

our branches are bare.

The city is night,

We’re all constellations.

You need no map to find me.

I cut my own hair.

For more information about the Ralph Munn Creative Writing program click here. Happy Winter Solstice!  Winter is here whether you love it or hate it. ~Marian

Sew What? – Sweater/T-shirt Hats @ CLP Brookline

So in case you haven’t noticed (?!), it’s been pretty freaking cold outside lately – like for the past three or four months – and what better way to create a little friction than with creativity!  Solve all your shivering winter woes with a new sweater hat this Tuesday, February 26th at CLP Brookline’s Teen Lounge!

Hats Galore!

Come make something new and awesome out of something old and blah!  Everything you’ll need (sweaters, material, pins, etc.) to get your DIY on will be provided – and I heard a rumor that Brookline’s sewing machine comes equipped with a Game Boy!  That’s right, a GAME BOY sewing machine!  Keeping it vintage and classy – how awesome is that???

hat2

AND!  If you happen to be allergic to late 80s 8-bit entertainment, or think you might end up sewing your hands together, don’t fret!  You can try your unstitched hand at Xbox and Kaijudo, or sharpen your Magic the Gathering skills for the Brookline Teen Gaming Advisory Council’s upcoming Magic the Gathering tournament showdown!

All this madness blasts off at 3:30 PM this Tuesday and runs until 5:00 PM at CLP Brookline!

do it! Do It! DO IT! :

     DIY          

Jon : Carrick

True Tales of Snowy Terror

By mid-January, you can usually count on your Facebook newsfeed to be full of complaints about snow, sleet, and freezing cold temperatures. But in the last few weeks, Pittsburgh has been having some suspiciously spring-like days. As we settle in for winter’s late arrival, you could conjure up the cold yourself by digging into some chilling true stories of snowy terror & survival.

You’ve probably heard about the Donner Party—the group of wagon-training westbound pioneers who ended up snowbound in the mountains of California in 1846. Many of them died of cold and starvation, and the rest survived by eating the flesh of the dead. Get all the gritty details by picking up one of the many books on the subject available through CLP.

In The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride, Daniel James Brown tells the true story of Sarah Graves, a twenty-one year-old girl who set out on the ill-fated voyage with her brand new husband. Brown recounts Sarah’s terrible downward spiral of a journey, from newly wedded bliss to cannibalism. Talk about a disappointing honeymoon.


If you’re into tales of struggle and survival, you could also check out the infamous story of the Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes, leaving the survivors stranded in the snowy mountains to confront isolation, avalanches, and starvation.

Pick up a copy of the classic Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read to read all about it.


Not bone-chilling enough? Head over to Wikipedia and read about the utterly creepy Dyatlov Pass Incident of 1959. Here’s the quick lowdown: nine hikers disappear in the snowy Russian mountains and it takes weeks before rescuers finally discover their bodies. BUT to this day, no one can figure out exactly what went down. It appears they had all settled in to sleep, only to wake in the night, rip open their tent from the inside, and take off running (barefoot!) into the subzero temperatures of the mountain wilderness. What mysterious force could have caused them to leave their sleeping bags for certain icy death? Bears…maybe? Abominable snowman?

Sadly no books on this one so far…looks like a job for some brave scholar of the future.

Stay warm!

Maggie, CLP Carrick

Poetry On Wednesday: Winter Stars

My father once broke a man’s hand
Over the exhaust pipe of a John Deere tractor.

That’s how Larry Levis opens up the poem “Winter Stars”.  One of the more gripping opening lines of a poem, it’s also maybe not what you’d expect from a poem so entitled.  Perhaps “Winter Stars” called to your mind a meditation on the quiet stillness of nature, as in Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”.  While Levis doesn’t talk, as Frost does, of “the sweep / Of easy wind and downy flake”, he does explore some of his own conceptions of having “miles to go” before he sleeps.  “Winter Stars”, after all, about Levis’s father, and specifically his father’s dying.

Welcome to Poetry on Wednesday!

The memory that happens in “Winter Stars” takes place in California, another blow to the wintry preconceptions to which the title might lead you, and it explores a memory Levis has of his father.  Levis often writes about California and his conflicted relationship with his dad (another powerhouse of a poem on the same subject in the same collection is “Though His Name is Infinite, My Father is Asleep”). These were subjects that Levis often wrote about – for a good overview of his themes, the Poetry Foundation has something here.

But there is winter in this poem, and not just literal winter.

There’s the winter of death, as when Levis notes that: ” Something  / Inside him is slowly taking back / Every word it ever gave him” and then describes for us the shutting-down city of the mind in night-quiet, lonely detail.

And there’s the forever winter of starlight, some it reaching us after the stars have already, themselves died, “Like laughter that has found a final, silent shape / On a black sky. It means everything / It cannot say. Look, it’s empty out there, & cold. ”

To me, it’s a poem about how useless words can feel in life when dealing with a someone whose actions you don’t understand, and how differently useless words can feel in the face of death.  Beautiful and depressing, right?  On the other hand, poetry–words–are what can help us console ourselves when we have to get through grief, and poems are a wonderful way to write about the people who have been important to us (living or dead).  Is this too depressing a poem for the dark days of the year?  I will tell you that the last line turns it around a little bit. But I won’t spoil it for you — go read it for yourself.  And check out more of Larry Levis from the library. You can even hear him read some of his own work thanks to the Academy of American Poets Audio Archive.

-Tessa, CLP – East Liberty

POW: Poems for Occasions

Bartlett's Poems for Occasions, edited by Geoffrey O'Brien

We are officially in the thick of Holiday Season.  Who knows, you may need just the right words for a card you’re writing to a relative, or a toast you have to give at a party or at the dinner table.  Why not look in Bartlett’s Poems for Occasions? It has selections ranging through the centuries that address the cycles of nature, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, celebrating family, the 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Birth, Childhood, Youth, Adulthood, Marriage, Midlife, Retirement, Aging, Death, Mourning, Friendship, Contentment, Working, Love, Disappointments, Farewells, Solitude, Sorrow, Comfort, Endurance, Spirituality, Fates of Nations, War, America, God, and the Unknown.

So… almost anything you’d want, unless you celebrate Hannukah, Kwanzaa, etc.  But we’ve got you covered there, too.

And it’s not all Hallmark-style verse.  If I would suggest one for you to read alone on a Sunday, it would be Robert Hayden‘s Those Winter Sundays, which starts out with this stanza, filled with short, Anglo-Saxon words and manages to be evocative and rough at the same time:

Sunday too my father got up early

and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,

then with cracked hands that ached

from labor in the weekday weather made

banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

 

Check out a copy to read more of that poem, and explore other occasional poetry!

-Tessa, CLP – East Liberty

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