Adaptation, Inspiration, and Butterflies!

Let me start by saying if you have been scared, anxious, or worried the last three months you are not alone. All of our situations are unique and important to us as individuals. Some of us may have underlying health issues, some of us own a business we put our heart and soul into, some of us are missing our normal routines, some of us are furloughed and don’t know when we will be earning a paycheck again, some of us suffer from anxiety or depression, some of us do not have family nearby and some of us have relatives with underlying health issues, some of us may lose our place to live or are currently homeless. The list goes on but whatever you are worried about at this time it is completely justified and I hope that you are able to find something to enjoy and that makes your heart happy during this unusual time in our history.

I know the Friends, as well as the library, have been busy behind the scenes finding the best way to adjust to new requirements and circumstances to ensure the safety of everyone. Stacy, our Program and Development Coordinator, has been busy working on new and innovative ways to support the library. First, she created a Safer at Home Reading Challenge and all donations from this will go directly to the library to fund their 2020 programs. She has also been working closely with our online appraisal volunteers to list items for sale on the sites we sell on in lieu of physical book sales. She has taken on the task of delivering materials to be appraised to them at their homes, picking them up and also shipping out any sales.

I have been busy behind the scenes with normal day-to-day activities, well as normal as they can be anyway! I have been working with Andria Rice from Youth Services to finalize prizes for the upcoming summer youth program. We have had to make quite a few changes but are confident in our choices and excited about this year’s program. Work, such as ordering books for our Give a Kid a Book and Books for Babies programs, continues. People have definitely shown an interest in volunteering again as soon as possible so I am very excited about that and look forward to seeing familiar faces and welcome new ones as soon as it is safe to do so.

Now on to something that makes my heart happy. Proceed with caution, this writer has tendency to ramble on and on!

It’s been five years ago since my husband and I moved to the area. I was excited to start a new chapter in my life and at the same time nervous to start over in an unfamiliar place, away from all that was comfortable to me. It was not easy being away from my friends and extended family. To be honest I even missed such mundane things as my grocery store!

The house we moved into was very nice but it just didn’t feel like home to me. I was inspired to make it my own, put my own personal touch to it. Sure there were little changes I could make but there wasn’t room in the budget for any major remodel inside or out.

I kept wondering what I could do to add some beauty to our yard and make it unique. The answer finally came to me. One day I was outside and noticed my first Monarch butterfly. In fact, once I started paying attention, I noticed many Monarchs in the area as well as a few Yellow Swallowtails. Also in frequent attendance were dragonflies and many, many birds. I decided to learn all I could about these beauties of nature. That was simple because the library had many resources to offer on the subject of butterflies and butterfly gardening. I decided to put most of my focus towards butterflies as I never really saw any at our home in Illinois despite having planted a butterfly bush. I even visited the awesome Butterfly House at Beaver Creek Reserve. If you have never been, I highly recommend it. It may even inspire you to plant a garden for our lovely winged friends.

Here are a few resources that contained valuable knowledge on the subject and are available at the library once they reopen:

I also recommend Birds and Blooms magazine, be sure to check it out when the library reopens as well.

Being the over-exuberant person that I am I checked out way more materials than I could find time to read but I was determined to have a butterfly-friendly yard. It was slow going at first, just a few plants during the first few years. I didn’t worry about milkweed at the time, which is a must for any butterfly garden, because we had three empty lots next to us that were filled with milkweed plants and all kinds of wildflowers. Not only do the adult butterflies love the flowers milkweed plants produce, but they also lay their eggs on the plant and the caterpillars depend on the leaves for food. Maybe that was my error in Illinois, no milkweed. Thank goodness for the library and the Internet to help guide me to success in this endeavor.

Two years ago the developer suddenly started building new homes in the subdivision so I had to ramp up the garden plans. I immediately started growing milkweed from seeds and we also tried transplanting some from the lots as well. I wanted to make sure that I could provide a place for all the “displaced” butterflies when everything else was torn down for the new homes. It was just my luck that I have rabbits that like milkweed too, which is normally mildly toxic to animals. Who knew, people still don’t believe me when I tell them I have milkweed eating rabbits! Never fear, all of the local nurseries seem to be selling at least common milkweed and in some cases a few other varieties such as whorled milkweed. Some even have a section for native plants and sections dedicated to butterfly and hummingbird favorites. One employee also recommended parsley for swallowtail caterpillars which turned to be a great success. So, with a few quick purchases, some good old chicken wire to keep those rascally rabbits out and a husband that supports my plant buying addiction craziness and also helps to plant said flowers/vegetation, I was back in the butterfly garden business.

While I have seen many caterpillars enjoying the bounty I have provided, I have yet to see a chrysalis or a butterfly emerge from one in my garden but I remain ever hopeful. If not, there is always the Butterfly House at Beaver Creek.

While we still have two empty lots next to us we have heard through the neighborhood gossip line that construction on those two will probably start this year. I am happy to report that I have several areas now that have thriving milkweed and a host of butterfly-friendly plants. I am so thankful for the wonderful garden centers in this area. The variety is endless and visiting them has become somewhat of an addiction, even if I can only browse. Work continues every year to ensure the milkweed comes back and also replacing/adding any perennials that didn’t make it through the winter. It’s a constant work in progress and I love it, it is a great stress reliever for me. It is so much fun to watch the caterpillars and then the butterflies. The neighbors probably aren’t happy because I also decided it was best not to put down lawn treatments to kill the dandelions as they are beneficial to bees. I was and still am determined to make my yard a safe habitat for all creatures that visit, great and small. I’ve also moved on to feeding the birds that come to the yard, especially those adorable hummingbirds, but that’s a story for another time.

My hope is that you will be inspired by my post to get involved with something that interests you and will also benefit our environment or put a smile on someone’s face because that’s what it’s all about really. I also hope that if you are experiencing a lot of stress that my story made you feel less alone and put a smile on YOUR face. I’d also like to add while it is not always easy to accept, change is something that is a constant in life and we continually need to adapt to move forward and grow as an individual and community. We could learn a lot from the butterfly, they go through an incredible metamorphosis in their life and come out stronger and more beautiful than ever. There is always something new we can learn or experience. If there is a silver lining to this pandemic it hopefully will be this – we learn to find the joy in little things, appreciate others more, be less judgmental and more tolerant of each other and our differences, be open to new ideas and experiences and always show empathy, compassion, and kindness for others and our environment, as well as ourselves. Wishing you all health and happiness during this time!

Virtual Vacation

Summer is getting closer and COVID-19 projections and precautions have erased many of our typical summer plans. This is usually the time of year when spring fever eases, but this year it’s reaching new and unprecedented heights as the world buckles in for months and even years of recovery.

As someone who finds large crowds exhausting, I’m not usually a big event-goer. I won’t really miss things like music festivals and amusement parks (though I do enjoy some local events like concerts in the park). Instead, what I’m struggling with most is the inability to travel.

Most of my family lives in Minnesota about a 5-hour drive from Eau Claire, and it’s tough not knowing when I’ll be able to visit. I also just really enjoy going on vacations in the summer, whether it’s a relaxed day trip to a nearby destination, an epic road trip, or a long-distance journey requiring air travel.

At this time, the CDC, the U.S. Department of State, and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services all advise against any nonessential travel outside of your local community.  This makes sense to me. I understand how travelers can inadvertently bring the disease with them to their destination or carry it back when they return home. I think avoiding travel is sensible advice. That doesn’t make staying home any easier.

To curb our collective wanderlust, many destinations around the world have made virtual tours accessible online (and quite a few were already available). From home, you can explore famous museums, zoos, landmarks, and national parks.

Here’s a list of a few of my personal favorites:

Have you discovered any amazing virtual tours? Share them with us in the comments. Until we can travel safely: stay home, fellow wanderers, and stay safe.

Hostas: How to Divide and Conquer

Hostas are the perfect plant to grow in any garden. Why are they so great? There are so many reasons:

  • Hostas are perennials (they come back every year)
  • Hostas are low maintenance
  • Hostas grow well in shade (in fact, they prefer it that way!)
  • Hostas are very sturdy
  • Hostas can be divided and planted in even more places (meaning you get more plants for free!)

My husband, Scott, is the landscaper in our family. He is in charge of splitting and replanting our hostas. He has been growing these plants for about 12 years. The thing he loves most about them is that you continue to get more and more each year, just by splitting them. Scott divides the hostas in early spring, just as they start poking out of the ground. You can get away with splitting them at any time but he suggests doing it before the leaves start to fold out. This way it is easier on the plant and it will look better when it does grow out. He decides to split a plant when it has outgrown its area.

Disclaimer: Please consult a greenhouse or garden store for expert advice. The advice found in this blog comes from a hobbyist. These are the steps that Scott follows when splitting a hosta plant:

 

Want to learn more about hostas? Check out these websites for more information:

https://www.bhg.com/gardening/flowers/perennials/how-to-divide-hostas/

https://www.americanhostasociety.org/Education/AboutHosta.htm

https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-plant-hostas-3963861

There are also books you can check out from the library. Discover the titles by visiting https://more.bibliocommons.com/v2/search?query=Hostas&searchType=smart

Freshly baked banana bread

Cooking in Quarantine

If you’re like me, this quarantine has made things a little boring. The thing is though, it doesn’t have to be. With so many restaurants closed or having reduced hours, now is the best time to try your hand at new recipes! Another reason why you should cook some new stuff? The library has tons of great digital options to use.Fresh fruit and vegetables

If you’re looking for something to check out right away, you can’t go wrong with Freading, which has an amazing selection of cookbooks ready to download with no wait time. Just log in with your library card (or if you don’t have one, you can get an eCard) and download it to any compatible device (PC, phone, tablet). For some of the more popular titles, the Wisconsin’s Digital Library has you covered, although with some titles, you may have to wait a bit. Last but not least, there’s also Flipster, that has a plethora of cooking magazines like The Food Network magazine to make sure you never run out of ideas! Flipster not only has the most current issue, but also a ton of past issues to look at as well.

Just remember to be safe out there when you go to grab your ingredients. Make a list so you know what to get and don’t spend too much time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to find things you’re not use to buying, just make sure to keep a safe distance. Many of the grocery stores offer pick up services online or delivery through a third-party company.

Let us know in the comments any cool recipes you’ve done while at home or favorite cookbooks for others to check out! Happy eating!

Sheltering in Studio

Recording studios, like many things in the modern age (payphones for example), don’t hold the same significance as they did let’s say, 20 years ago. With the advent of digital recording equipment, home recording has become a lot more prevalent. One of the biggest selling independent recordings of the past 15 years, Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever, Ago was recorded right here in the Chippewa Valley by Justin Vernon in his family’s hunting cabin using a laptop and other portable equipment.

My TASCAM DP-008 eight track recorder. Photo credit: Colette Couillard

In this blog post I am going to go over a brief history of some famous studios and the musicians and owners and that helped make them so well known. My wife and I were going to embark on a roadtrip where we visited some of these rooms but like a lot of people, we had to change our plans due to the current Coronavirus pandemic. We were going to drive down to Tennessee and stay in Memphis, Nashville and just outside of Pigeon Forge, the home of Dollywood. Since the Muscle Shoals area of Alabama was just a little South of our drive between Memphis and Nashville, we were going to make a quick stop at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Sheffield and take a quick tour. That studio is run by a small group of musicians known as The Swampers. The Swampers got their start at another area studio, Fame Studios, before branching out on their own. The amount of famous musicians that stopped through their neck of the woods to record in these rooms is astounding. Check out the DVD documentary and book listed below for more on this fascinating area of the south.

Another group of studio musicians informally known as The Wrecking Crew were associated with producer Phil Spector and often worked at Gold Star Studios in LA. Their little known but important contributions to hundreds of hit records from The Byrds to The Beach Boys are the subject of another DVD available at our library.

Two other famous studios that we planned to visit were Ardent Studios and Sun Records, both in Memphis. Sun was originally owned by Sam Phillips, the subject of the great biography, The Man Who Invented Rock and Roll. A fun scene featuring Sun Studios is in the film Mystery Train which also features Rufus Thomas, a Sun Records recording alum, in a small role. Sun is an example of a studio that is directly associated with a record label. Another such studio is RCA Studio B in Nashville, which was the home base for many artists on that famous label. A visit here was also on our list of planned activities.

Finishing up, I wanted to touch on three studios in this area, one owned by the aforementioned Justin Vernon, and two that I was lucky enough to be able to record in. April Base is a recording studio in Fall Creek, just a few miles outside of Eau Claire that is owned by Justin Vernon. I believe he built it for himself to record in, using money that he made off the enormous success of his first record. (Before moving to Eau Claire, I worked at B-Side, an independent record store in Madison and I can attest, we sold a lot of copies of that record). He now records other bands both international, Blind Boys of Alabama, and local, The Drunk Drivers. The final studios I am going to talk about are ones that I’ve worked in, Smart Studios in Madison, and Pachyderm, in Cannon Falls, MN. Smart, (no longer in busisiness) owned by Butch Vig had a rich history starting with working with local bands like my high school punk band Mecht Mensch and culminating in recording demos for Nevermind, Nirvana’s multi-platinum selling record. My college band Poopshovel recorded both our records there. More information on Smart can be found in the documentary, The Smart Studios Story, directed by Wendy Schneider, the owner of her own Madison studio, Coney Island. Now on to Pachyderm. They are famous for being the studio where Nirvana recorded their second record, In Utero. My band NoahJohn was lucky enough to record there using the same engineer and equipment.

The final studio, I am going to mention is Sound City, located in LA. Dave Grohl, the drummer for Nirvana, fell in love with this studio after recording the final version of Nevermind there using Butch Vig as engineer (lots of connections here). Grohl made a documentary that we also have on our shelves. He also eventually bought the sound board used by many famous bands because he didn’t want to fade into obscurity. Another piece of equipment saved by an obsessive musician is the 1947 Voice-o-Graph  record booth in Jack White’s (White Stripes, Raconteurs) Third Man Record’s store in Nashville. My wife, Colette, being a major Jack White geek, wanted to stop there on our aborted journey as well. I was going to try to make a short recording in the booth because my hero, Neil Young, recorded his A Letter Home CD there.

Recording drums. Photo credit: Colette Couillard

I’m glad I was able to talk about and highlight the materials related to some of these hallowed places and hope you will check out some of our library’s selections to learn more about them. Obviously, it would have been a treat as well as an educational experience to see some of these studios in person, but due to our current unique situation, it was not to be.

Library materials (please do not place a hold on these until the library re-opens)

Studios That We Planned to Visit On Our Trip

Studios Related To This Blog Post

Eisner Week 2020

Will Eisner. A name many may see and think, “I know I’ve heard that name before. What did he do?” Maybe the name Eisner, as in the Eisner Award, is what triggers the elusive sense of recognition. Perhaps it’s a vague familiarity with his well-known works, The Spirit or A Contract With God. Whatever it may be, Eisner was an amazing writer and artist who had a profound impact on literature as we know it because Eisner is the “Father of the Graphic Novel,” and this week, March 1–7, is Will Eisner Week. A week where we celebrate Will Eisner and the graphic novel.

For Will Eisner Week we will have our blog shelf near Information & Reference on the second floor of the library filled with a variety of graphic novels to sate the appetite of both graphic novel veterans and novices alike. If you’ve never picked a graphic novel up, give it a try. Expand your literary skills beyond the mere written word for sequential art, an Eisner-coined term, has a set of literary skills of its own.

Battling Racism with Books

February is well known as Black History Month, but by no means should we only expose ourselves to diversity during this month. One way that we can continuously expose ourselves to diversity without spending money or traveling is by visiting your local library. Your library houses books and media that contains stories written by and about people from different walks of life than your own. The library can support you in learning about history, and how it shapes our present and future. This can be an incredibly uncomfortable experience, but I challenge you to reflect on why you are experiencing discomfort. If you want to put a book down that is making you uncomfortable, I ask you to consider that you are only experiencing these stories for a moment, while others are experiencing these stories as the reality of their everyday lives. Everyone has a unique story to tell, and if you are willing to lean into the discomfort, give a new movie or book a try that will help you learn new things about other walks of life.

Other ways that we can expose ourselves to diversity:

  • Visit new places
  • Try new foods
  • Visit historical sites
  • Attend public cultural celebrations (i.e. Hmong New Year, Pow wows)
  • Talk to people and share what you’ve learned
  • Listen to other’s experiences
  • Reflect on how your background has shaped your experiences
  • Practice love and understanding

There are billions of people on this Earth. There is so much to learn from each other, and so many ways to embrace and celebrate our diversity.

February Goals

Okay, everyone. Don’t panic. February is here again. Last year, the month of February did its best to break our spirits through record-setting snowfall and feeling like the longest month ever, despite only having 28 days. This year it has 29 days, but it’s going to be okay.

February can be a trying month. The holidays are long behind us and somehow, it’s still winter. No matter what the groundhog says, spring is not visible on the horizon. We face a long, dull, plodding trek to warm sun and green grass. Odds are, you’re not as busy this time of year as you will be in a few months; that makes February the perfect time to cultivate some healthy habits.

A month ago, you may have set some New Year’s resolutions. Or, if you’re like me, you may have looked at your track record with resolutions and decided not to set yourself up for failure. Either way, February is to great time to either evaluate your progress or set some new healthy goals without the stress and gravitas of a New Year’s resolution.

Here are a few keys to good goal setting:

1. Set an attainable goal. Don’t expect to enact a complete lifestyle change overnight. Leave yourself some wiggle room, because you might have a bad day or a bad week, but that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You goal should be something you both want to do and are capable of doing.

2. Set a measurable goal. This is how you know whether you’re succeeding. Instead of saying you’ll work out more, specify that you’ll go to the gym three times a week or take a 30 minute walk at least four times a week.

3. Set a time to finish or re-evaluate your goal. Having a finish line to work towards provides motivation. If you’re trying to make long-term changes, it also provides an opportunity to reflect on whether you want to continue as is, make adjustments, or scrap your goal altogether for a new one.

If you’d like some inspiration to help you be healthier this month, the library has many resources to support your physical, mental, and emotional health goals. Try recipes from a healthy cookbook. Pick up a DVD to guide you through a work out at home. Listen to a meditation CD to help you de-stress. Create something in the Dabble Box. Join the adult winter reading program and set a reading goal.

You may think that February goal setting is nonsense, and maybe it is, but I’ve yet to share the best part: if you focus on achieving a goal this February, by the time you’re done, it will already be March.

About REAL ID

​If you plan to fly within the U.S., visit​ a military base or other federal buildings, the Department of Homeland Security will require identification that is REAL ID compliant (or show another acceptable form of identification, such as a passport) beginning October 1, 2020. Wisconsin DMV issues REAL ID compliant products (marked with a ✪) in accordance with the federal REAL ID Act of 2005. If you aren’t sure if you have a Real ID, you should contact the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

​​What it means for you​

  • If it’s time to renew your driver license or ID, you can upgrade to a REAL ID-compliant card for no additional fee (if the upgrade takes place at the same time as your renewal).
  • If your current driver license or ID will not expire before 2020, and you wish to obtain a REAL ID-compliant card, the cost of a duplicate card will apply.
  • Wisconsin offers both REAL ID-compliant and non-compliant driver licenses and ID cards. The cards look similar; REAL ID-compliant are marked with a ✪, while non-compliant cards are marked “NOT FOR FEDERAL PURPOSES.” Should you choose to continue to hold a non-compliant card, you will need another form of identification to board a plane or access federal sites.
  • If you have a valid U.S. passport or another acceptable form of federal identification, you can use that for identification, in place of a REAL ID-compliant driver license or ID card.  To view the list of Transportation Safety Administration approved documents, go to www.tsa.gov/Travel.

Use DMV’s interactive driver licensing guide to receive a personalized checklist of the required documents you will need to bring. It also allows you to pre-fill any required application(s), print and bring with you or submit electronically (if eligible). You may also be able to schedule an appointment for the DMV for faster service.

Driver Information Section
P.O. Box 7983
Madison, WI 53707-7983
Email Wisconsin DMV email service​​​
Phone (608) 264-7447
Fax (608) 267-3812

To get a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card, people must visit a Wisconsin DMV office and bring these original documents or a certified copy — not a photocopy, fax or scan:

  • Proof of name and date of birth, such as a valid passport or birth certificate.
  • Proof of legal presence in the United States, such as passport or birth certificate.
  • Proof of identity, such as driver’s license, military ID or passport.
  • Proof of Social Security number, such as Social Security Card or W-2 form listing your name, address and entire Social Security number.
  • Proof of address, such as driver’s license, college ID or utility or mobile phone bill.
  • Proof of name change, if applicable.

So, to summarize, if you are flying within the United States, you will need this federal stamp on your license. If not, you are required to also bring your passport, certified copy of your birth certificate, or the other allowed documents above, just to fly. There is no extra charge; the easiest way is when renewing your license, also bring to the DMV either your passport or birth certificate, along with a current W2 or pay stub.

As of October, 2019, only 36% of Wisconsin residents have applied for this REAL ID card, which means almost 3.8 million people have not yet applied. With this starting in less than 10 months, do yourself a favor; do it soon, as there is sure to be a mad dash next year.

Local Produce

With New Year comes new resolutions, and a popular one for many is to eat better. A great way to do so is to join community-supported agriculture (CSA). Joining a CSA requires a payment and, in return, you’ll receive farm-fresh produce and possibly other items such as eggs or honey regularly during the spring, summer, and in some cases fall months. Even better, some insurance companies offer rebates for joining a CSA making it even easier.

Not ready to commit to a CSA? Local farm markets and food co-ops are a great low-commitment way to sample local, seasonal produce.  Some markets are also open during the winter; check their web pages to be sure.

The historical way to eat local produce is to, well, produce it yourself. The annual tree and shrub sale of local counties makes it easy to produce your own fruit and nuts in addition to beautifying your land. These sales generally require placing an order for a number of plants before picking them up closer to the growing season; if you don’t have much space, you may need to split some trees with friends. Note that you can generally purchase plants even if you don’t live in the county.

Serviceberry is a native shrub with appealing berries for wildlife and people.
County Deadline Notes
Buffalo January 31st Trees
Chippewa March 30th Trees, shrubs
Eau Claire January 31st Trees, shrubs, plants
Pepin April 5th Trees, shrubs
Trempealeau March 1st Trees, shrubs

The library is also hosting a seed library where you can pick up seeds for vegetables, herbs, and flowers all for free! The seed library is opening at the end of February and is located on the first floor above the Dabble Box display cases.

Looking for additional inspiration? The online catalog has more about local food and gardening. Or stop by Information & Reference on the second floor to locate or order new or hard-to-find books and DVDs.