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Knitting for Demons

Avatar_IngridGabriel I was crawling around on the floor of Serendipity books the other day. You know how it is...any book worth having is worth lying on the floor to squint at the title, and the one tucked under a stack gave me an electric surge ...Knitting for Antichrists. Could it be that I had stumbled upon some sort of secret grimoire for knitting satanists? Was it a beginners sort of guide with patterns for pentangle pot holders and baby hats with cute little horns?

I already own a book entitled Naughty Knits. While I have not cast on the pattern for the knitted handcuffs or worked out the gage for the wooly French maid's outfit, I thoroughly appreciate the juxtaposition of wholesomeness and degeneracy that inspires this sort of knitting. I could only assume that I was staring at a companion volume – sort of a Knitting for Demons.

First off, the book was for antichristS – the plural form. I had no idea that there is (or could be) more than one antichrist. Nor had I considered that they would go in for any kind of needlecraft. Not that they (it) shouldn't. I imagine that being the source of all evil is stressful. Nothing odd, really, about kicking back and knitting up a little washcloth or a ski sock at the end of a day of End-of-Days event-planning.

In fact, it made me wonder why we don't see more creative work from antichrists and other assorted demonic beings. Certainly, they have had thousands of years and plenty of resources to indulge in a hobby. Ceramics comes to mind, what with the firing and burning furnace thing and all. But, no. Neither do they (it) seem to put much effort in pursuing the more rigorous visual (photography and Robert Mapplethorpe aside) or literary arts.

For example, friends of mine were attending a christening. When the minister asked if the congregation agreed to reject the works of Satan, my friend leaned over to his wife and whispered, "Well, I'm not sure. I haven't really read his more recent works."

Point well made. The Prince of Darkness keeps such a low profile and is so Salinger- esque with interviews that it's hard to remember exactly which works can be attributed to him (them/it). I mean, I'm sure he's a derivative poser and that I would reject his works for a dozen reasons, but I can't say for sure since I've only read reviews and not original material.

It's a curious question and later in the day, I Googled (the devil's tool if there ever was one) for something attributed to him, and only found publications that were said to be inspired by Satan, but not written by him. I presume that in the forward, the author thanks Satan for his love, support and excellent editorial advice, without which the author could never have completed his The Inception of Soul-Stealing Economics in Port- Industrial Europe or Hellfire & Brimstone: A Love Story.

Many sites claimed that literary smut and depravity originate with Satan because he  infects authors with perversion in the same way that a virus infects its host. I don't accept that – it doesn't explain the obvious distinction between brilliant smut and bad smutty-smut. Compare and contrast Vladimir Nabokov and Anne Rice, if you will. If Satan is ghostwriting smut, it's just not feasible that he could be both the source of Nabokov's Lolita and Rice's Belinda. He just has way too much talent (and we already know that he has plenty of pride) to pen under an inferior pseudonym. It's Nabokov or nothing.

Nor did I get much agreement on the physical manifestations of Satan that could be considered "works". The antichrist is held responsible for just about everything that we don't like, from global politics to pandemics. One person wrote that he felt the devil's presence as a weight on his chest and fetid hot breath in his face while he was sleeping. I experience this often, but it always turns out to be my spaniel, who is annoying but has never appeared especially luciferian.

The other downers, like drought and flooding and famine don't really hold up well to scrutiny either as the output of the devil's workshop. We all remember when Rick Scarborough of Vision America implicated gays and supporters of gay marriage for Katrina, inferring that God (the nice one) was punishing New Orleans for dancing with the devil. I said, ok...maybe. But hurricane season is an annual event in the Gulf. I thought if God was really making a statement, a blizzard or localized ice age might have made a finer point.

But, then I looked closer, and realized that the book wasn't about knitting patterns for antichrists as I had thought, but knitting for anarchists. Not quite as compelling, but still interesting. Perhaps a pattern for a Che Guevara beret or a Karl Marx book cover.

No again. The book was really directed at knitters who want to throw off the shackles of oppressive knitting and release themselves from the bondage of patterns, needle sizes, directions and the like. I was deeply, deeply disturbed to see this sort of book out in the public where impressionable teens and young children shop for books.

As a conservative Continental knitter brought up according to a strict doctrine that promises a righteous knitter that her reward will be a perfectly turned heel and a hole-free cable, I bear witness that anarchistic knitting is an abomination. It is the top of a slippery slope that can only degenerate into godless CROCHETING!!!

Oh, the apostasy! Here, in our village by the sea, the devil truly is at large.

I bought the book and will be holding a book burning some time soon. Just the one book, mind you, but it's a start.


Celebrate Banned Books Week

Avatar_SJILibrary Since 1990, the American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has recorded more than 10,000 book challenges, including 513 in 2008. A challenge is a formal, written complaint requesting a book be removed from library shelves or school curriculum. About three out of four of all challenges are to material in schools or school libraries, and one in four are to material in public libraries. OIF estimates that less than one-quarter of challenges are reported and recorded.

It is thanks to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, and students that most challenges are unsuccessful and reading materials like I Know Why the Caged Bird SingsSlaughterhouse Five, the Harry Potter series, and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Alice series, remain available.

In support of the right to choose books freely for ourselves, the ALA and the San Juan Island Library are sponsoring Banned Books Week (September 24 – October 1, 2011) an annual celebration of our right to access books without censorship. This year's observance commemorates the most basic freedom in a democratic society—the freedom to read freely—and encourages us not to take this freedom for granted.

Since its inception in 1982, Banned Books Week has reminded us that while not every book is intended for every reader, each of us has the right to decide for ourselves what to read, listen to or view. In celebration of Banned Books Week 2011, the San Juan Island Library will showcase frequently challenged books on display shelves in the Library. Click here to access ALA’s list of frequently challenged books including information on why the books were challenged.

The American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression; the ALA; the American Society of Journalists and Authors; the Association of American Publishers; and the National Association of College Stores sponsor Banned Books Week. The Library of Congress Center for the Book endorses the observance.

American libraries are the cornerstones of our democracy. Libraries are for everyone, everywhere. Because libraries provide free access to a world of information, they bring opportunity to all people. Now, more than ever, celebrate the freedom to read @ your library! Read an old favorite or a new banned book this week.

Marjorie Harrison
Library Director

San Juan Island Library



Where Did the Hope Go?

Avatar_DavidBentley There’s much that’s not right in our world, and many who are eager to point out everything that’s wrong. Ominous predictions come from politicians and pundits, journalists and clergy, and even friends and neighbors. It is wearying and tiresome. Eventually it becomes overwhelming. Then waking in the morning and starting another day begins feeling like a useless endeavor. If everything is so bad and getting worse, what’s the point?

Not too long ago we heard much talk about hope. However, we rarely hear that word anymore without “dashed” or “misbegotten” preceding it. So what happened to our hope? Where did it go? Why can’t we seem to find it again?

Perhaps part of the problem comes from semantics. A friend recently reminded me that the word “hope” is often confused for the word “wish.” A wish is a desire for something we don’t have, but usually involves magical thinking. If we want it badly enough, it will somehow manifest itself or be provided by some supernatural being, force, or process. So we focus on our desired outcome and wait.

Hope also involves a desire for something we don’t have, but it offers possibility rather than magical thinking. Hopeful people seek insights and opportunities as they attempt to create solutions or discover alternatives. They don’t focus on a single outcome, wait for it to manifest, and then give up when it doesn’t. Instead, they do whatever is ahead of them with a firm belief that new possibilities will appear and then follow those possibilities in whatever direction they lead toward the desired outcome.

Those who foster hope in others instill a sense of trust and confidence. If all we’re told is how awful the world is and how much worse it is becoming, it’s difficult to have any hope. Yet if we’re told that someone believes in us and trusts us to find solutions and alternatives, a whole array of possibilities becomes available.

Will all of those possibilities turn out well? Of course not! But the successful ones won’t be discovered by merely bemoaning our hopeless situation and waiting for wishes to come true.


Don't Fix it, Read Something Else

Avatar_SJILibrary If you don't like the book you are currently reading, then there are loads more available at the San Juan Island Library. It's one of the many great things about the public library. There is always something there to read.

The collections at the Library are pretty diverse, too. Simply take a look at our fiction section – mysteries, literary fiction, family sagas, science fiction, romance, horror, historical fiction. I could go on, and on. These books are available in a variety of formats, too. The Library carries paperbacks, regular hardbacks, large print materials, audio books, and even e-books.

People are different and like different things, thus the reason for a diverse collection of materials in a variety of different formats. Case in point, I may absolutely love a particular book and the next person may have great difficulty getting past the first page. Nevertheless, I return to my initial comment about public libraries - there is always something available to read. So, grab another book that's more appealing.

In some cases, the writing style may be so offensive to you that you actually feel the need to "fix" it. But, please don't. Please do not write in our books or attempt to "correct" possible errors. Not only is this a destruction of Library property, but it ruins the book for the next person.

Of course, there are some errors that we would like you to report to staff. Once in a blue moon, the Library will receive a book that looks terribly wrong. Not too long ago we received a book with a hole in the middle. It was like there was a special compartment right in the middle of the book. I've seen duplicate chapters, upside down pages and incorrect page numbers. Once a book arrived with the wrong cover.

These types of errors are usually caught by staff before the item is ever placed on the shelf. However, if we miss a major publishing faux pas, then please let us know.

So, please leave the editing of Library books to the original editor. Let's celebrate our diversity and unique reading interests, and be comforted to know that your public library has all types, styles and formats of reading material available at your finger tips.

Marjorie Harrison
Library Director

San Juan Island Library


Late Summer, Indian Summer, Who Cares

Avatar_DavidBentley What a glorious Friday! The temperature was nearly 80 degrees with clear skies and a light wind. About 400 folks enjoyed a free lunch under canopies outside the office of a local dentist Thanks, Doc!). Couples were walking through town holding hands. Children were happy to have started school and gotten to the weekend. The community calendar was filled with everything from memorial services to painting and writing workshops. Who could complain? Well, you'd be surprised.


Physical Symptoms Can Be Caused by Stress

Avatar_MarkWEarnhart Stress can produce symptoms in the body psychologically. Stress is identified in three phases: 1) alarm, 2) resistance and 3)exhaustion. As health practitioners it is our job to help you determine which stage you are and what is the proper support needed.

Psychological Stress Symptoms: anxiety, sleeping problems, depression, anger outbursts, ADD, hyperactivity and agitation.

Adrenaline Over Activity Symptoms: headaches, colitis/IBS, high blood pressure, muscle
spasms, panic attacks, eczema and ulcers.

Physical Stress Symptoms: fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, infections, allergies, autoimmune
conditions, inability to hold spinal correction and chronic pain.

Most of today's population is in at least one of these three stages and exhibiting symptomatic expression at one level or another. We are being "stressed out" at all six levels of interference: 1) structural, 2) emotional, 3) nutritional, 4) electromagnetic pollution, 5) allergies/sensitivities and 6) toxic accumulation.

The body is a complex of web-like interacting systems and not isolated in any way. Therefore,digestion is important and is linked to the immune system and nervous system, etc. For one simple example, Probiotics and Enzymes can help to aid the digestive system when we are working to balance stress in the body. Heavy metals such as lead or mercury may also be
compromising all of the systems of the body and must be addressed before long term healing can take place.

These are a very few examples of the wonderful and complex interactions of the body. It is
important that we look at the whole body and all of its systems to get the results needed..

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 378-5660 or go to our website at sanjuanholistichealthcare.com.

Yours in health,

Mark W. Earnhart, D.C.


All Hat

"He's just a smooth-talkin', long-tall slow-walkin'

Drugstore-made-up dude

So honey don't you fall for that fake Texas drawl

He ain't right for you

What you need's a man that ain't just a hat stand

When you get him home

All hat and no cattle ain't gonna get it done."

All Hat and No Cattle, Trace Adkins, singer

Avatar_IngridGabriel I can't say I didn't see it coming. I had a hammer, and I hammered out a warning about three years ago while I was still living within two-stepping distance of the capitol dome in Austin. But, alas, to no avail. Quoting me: 

"While it is not my objective to raise alarm, I fervently believe that some of you just didn't get the memo back in 2000. Many voters seemed to be laboring under the misguided impression that the governorship of Texas must produce leaders with savvy and keen executive skills. We are incubating another one for a presidential run with all the usual players and groomers even now, and while you are free to vote for whomever tickles your electoral fancy in 2012 or 2016, be advised that the spoils of any gubernatorial race in Texas do not necessarily go to the sharpest cheese on the cracker.

Somewhere along the way (and it's probably detailed in the Texas Constitution, but I don't have enough interest to look it up) the powers of the governor were severely restricted, resulting in a rather weak office compared to other states. At Governors' Summer Camp, all the other governors make fun of Texas.

The real power behind the throne lies with the Lieutenant Governor. This person is, more often than not, wicked smart, hugely influential, a very effective political animal and is voted in year after year, even though people have a hard time remembering who he is unless he's been in office long enough to get a museum in his name. He (or she, although there hasn't been a "she" so far) is not the running mate of the governor and can keep his job no matter what yahoo is living in the mansion. If you ever read the late Molly Ivins, you already know what I'm saying.

Thus, current and former governors of Texas have seldom been required to possess more than a little affable, folksy charm to get the job. Although, every now and again, a prototypical candidate is so repellent that even Texans are offended and they elect a smart and effective leader by default. Governor Ann Richards, for example, narrowly slipped into the governorship after her opponent shared his happy youthful memories of his trips to "Boys' Town" across the Mexican border, and actually described himself as being "serviced."

Sadly, the rogue brainiac lasts only as long (about half a term) as it takes Texas to get annoyed all over again with a governor who knows big words and the office reverts to the aforementioned standard. Texas' current governor is carrying on that grand tradition.

Among his more admirable qualities is that he is follically blessed. So dense and attractive is the Governor's coif that he is known throughout the land as Governor Good Hair (thanks to Molly), or just plain Good Hair, if you don't stand on formality. Good Hair is equally gifted with the same sort of rhetorical command that you may have observed in another well-known governor from Texas."

Fast forward three years and, by now, you already may know that Rick Perry, wearing a slightly bigger tooled belt and having moved up from a saucer-size to a salad-plate-size belt buckle, with nary a follicle out of place and his folksiness turned up to 13, has managed an impressive showing in the Iowa Straw Poll. While Representative Michelle Bachmann still managed to lead the pack, I suspect that the voters hadn't yet heard that a new sheriff was in town. A plain-speakin', straight-shootin', America lovin', deficit spendin' hatin' man so close to his family that he is proud to tell you his own father-in-law performed his vasectomy.

Lordy. Most families express their enjoyment of each other's company by having a game night, or going camping together. There's close and then there's...what's that other adjective?...oh...that's right...disturbing. Even in Texas, your family doesn't normally participate in dad's vasectomy beyond picking him up at the urology clinic when it's over and giving him a Shiner Bock and a bag of frozen okra once they settle him down in his recliner

While a statement like that is kind of thrilling for the wicked-minded and I wish that Molly and Ann were still around to hoot and make lewd jokes about Rick and body parts that rhyme with "Rick", it does increase my earlier suspicion that we have a "hat" and no one is looking for any cattle. I wrote the previous article because of a confession that Perry made regarding his understanding of genetics, or lack thereof, which for a man who claims to be a rancher, made me wonder if he had ever even bred cattle. Or, where he thought Texas longhorns come from (answer: feral Mexican cattle crossbred with eastern cattle brought by the early settlers). To wit, the Governor stated that while he believes in genetics, he does not believe in evolutionary theory. And I added, "I always love it when politicians make these sorts of affirmative pronouncements – as if their belief or their disbelief in natural phenomenon gives it its legitimacy."

However you may stand on creation v. evolution, genetics is solidly on the side of evolutionary theory because it is the foundation of genetic drift. You can't stuff genetics into the creation side of the debate because genetics is all about change over time and across species, while creation is a single, one-time, whole and absolute event. I threw in a life-science refresher in the earlier column, because it fit into a completely different topic, but it's edited below:

"In normal reality, human-kind requires a male and a female (or, at least, their gametes) to produce offspring. Each parent has 23 paired chromosomes, which are a package of genes composed of DNA (the chemical that carries the genetic instructions for making the organism) in the nucleus of their cells; 22 pairs are essentially identical, but the 23rd pair is different. In females, the 23rd pair (those that encode the ovum and sperm, also known as the "germ" cells) has two like chromosomes called "XX", but in males, the pair has dissimilar chromosomes, "XY".

Mitosis (the replication and division of cells) and meiosis (the replication and division of reproductive cells) are observable events. You can watch this process under a microscope. A common procedure like in vitro fertilization proves over and over that meiosis is how we get more of us.

Because each fertilization is a brand new combo, species change over time due to random fluctuations of the appearance of different genes in a population. These fluctuations may become fixed, whether or not they have any real adaptive purpose. For example, the Governor's extraordinary bounty of hair (an anomaly among male legislators of a certain age with domes often as smooth as the granite capitol under which they labor), may become more frequent among future Texas politicians if he continues to reproduce successfully.* To phrase it more precisely – genetic drift from no hair among a population of legislators to follicular surplus.

You are different from your parents; your children are different from you, and so on, backward and forward throughout the timeline of any species. Genetic drift is one of the pillars of evolutionary theory, and while many factors impact the direction of the drift, it starts with the obvious fact that two individuals (absent cloning) produce kids who are not replicas of them, and might even express characteristics not seen in either parent. This reshuffling of the genetic deck allows for a few surprises in the next generation." And, often, enormous changes over many generations.

Recent inquiries into his religious beliefs indicate that Perry continues to find genetics and genetic drift unsupportable. No word yet on if he is for/against gravity or if he's pro/con on the sun being recognized as the center of our solar system.

So, here we are and I predict that Perry is likely to remain a strong candidate because he's super-cute and so gosh-darn down-home friendly (and he's not ashamed to come clean about his vasectomy). And my advice is still the same – you must vote your conscience. However, just a couple of observations and then I'll give it a rest.

I know a thing or two about Texas men and have been on more dates to the Alamo than I can remember. I admire their courtesy and outrageous enthusiasm for life, their great humor and mastery of a dance floor. You never have to ask yourself how you will deal with the rattler that's moved into the shed – your Texas man will take care of it for you, little lady. Then, he'll skin it out and offer to have a belt made out of for you if it's big enough, or a wallet if it's small. Hell, a real Texas boy will even grill it up on his electric wok just so as not to waste it (and I'm not making that up). I love the way Texas men look and dress and stride and flirt with every woman as if she were a rodeo queen.

But as much as I admire them, you should know that there are two kinds of Texans: 1) All hat and no cattle and 2) Big Hat and Many Cattle.

The Governor has a fine hat. But before you fall in love, walk around the barn and make certain his pasture has anything grazing in it.

*Written before the public announcement re: Perry's vasectomy.


Creeeeeeek...Boo! - What was that?

Avatar_SJILibraryI know this might not be a question you get asked much, but do you know of any local ghost stories? On Friday, October 28th at 6:30 pm, the San Juan Island Library will host a "Live & Learn" program called "Trick or Treat? Ghost Stories of San Juan Island" for an evening of spooky stories, just in time for Halloween. Perhaps you have one you would like to share with us that evening?

Even if you don't
believe in ghosts, or haven't had any "encounters", has someone told you a story about a local ghost, or haunted house? I understand that ghost stories aren't for everyone, but it is my sincere hope that this program will be a way for members of the community to come together in the spirit of fun for an evening of stories by the fireplace, and perhaps shed some light on our local history and the lives of San Juan Islanders from many years ago.

In preparation for this program, the Library is partnering with The Town of Friday Harbor Historic Preservation Program and The San Juan Island Visitor's Bureau to gather up as much background information as we can on local lore & ghost stories.

As Sandy Strehlou, Friday's Harbor's Town Historian, recently explained, it is our hope that the "event will be an entertaining way to combine local history, historic buildings and sites, and Halloween in a fun and intriguing way." Being the expert Historian that she is, Sandy is hoping to have enough time to find some old photographs of people or places that correlate to the ghosts, buildings, or "haunted" places in question.

I have had so much fun working with Sandy and Robin Jacobson on this project, and it has been a great way to learn more about our island's fascinating history. Believe it or not, there are some good ghost stories out there. And, I know there are more - so please share them with us!

You can contact me at the Library, or e-mail abourne@sjlib.org . I will pass on your stories to Robin and Sandy, who will do their best to help us learn more about the history, people and places related to your story, which should make our program on October 28th all the more haunting!


The Last Hurrah of Summer

Avatar_DavidBentleyI could see the confusion on the four-year-old child’s face as he asked again, “But what IS Labor Day?” He’d been to see his new classroom and meet his new teachers. He had his new school clothes and backpack. He’d been bored for several weeks, and now his parents were trying to explain why he had to wait until after Labor Day to go to school. It just didn’t make sense.


Buttons, Books and Best SRP


Before we say our final farewell to summer, I'd like to congratulate and thank all of the library's 2011 Summer Reading Program (SRP) participants, teen assistants, and volunteers. Because of them, the library was able to host seven professional performances in addition to a regional author visit by Clare Hodgson Meeker and our kick-off musical guest, Dana Lyons.

Friday Harbor Elementary School once again generously allowed us to host weekly performances on their premises and the Friends of the Library provided the financial support to make the Summer Reading Program possible. Our two teen assistants did an outstanding job, working with the children and staff to implement and plan programs, including our final teen event and party.

Other volunteers, too many to list in this column, gave their support and creative ideas. Some gave it through pure muscle power (moving tables and equipment) or by gently guiding children through the process (registration, prizes, and finding materials.) And Kathy Babbitt, I’m now certain you are indeed San Juan Island’s Fairy Godmother. As always, you are magical. You waved your wand and spread goodness and cheer to all the island’s children. Thank you!

In total, 375 children and teens participated this year, making it the library’s biggest SRP to date. We especially saw an increase in the number of pre-school and kindergarten participants. Last year 113 children registered in this category as compared to 168 this year. That is wonderful news in my book. It’s great to see this age group participating in a program that highlights books, library services, and sharing stories, all three of which can be used to help youngsters build critical early learning skills and support family literacy.

Over a period of seven weeks, children read on their own or with assistance a recorded 96,280 minutes. We also counted the number of chapter books children read on their own by selecting a button for every book. Indigo Buck started the project off with the first button. By the end of the summer there were 637 buttons in our glass jar. Wow, that’s a lot of chapter books. Congratulations readers! The buttons will be sewn on our Native American button blanket and displayed in the library.

Here are a few photos that hopefully capture the spirited fun we had during the summer. I know I personally had a great time seeing and interacting with all of you. Best of everything for the new school year!

The library will now resume its regular schedule of children and teen programs. First up is our book club for grades 5th-8th on Saturday, Oct. 1 and Kathy Babbitt’s popular After School Read Aloud will begin Monday, Oct. 3. Registration for both programs is required, as space is limited. Please call 378-2798 or stop by the library to register your child. Sign-up begins Friday, Sept. 2 at 10 AM.

Happy Reading!