Come Play Games at International Table Top Day!


This Saturday, March 30th, from Noon-10pm The Vault of Midnight will be hosting International Table Top Day based on the popular Geek & Sundry YouTube channel's show, TableTop. The goal is to encourage everyone to play more games.

From the International TableTop Day website, "International TableTop Day is a reminder to spend more time and strengthen the bonds with the people who matter most, our friends and family, by playing games together. Tabletop gaming promotes many positive social and cognitive benefits like increased communication, team work, planning, and is an excellent stress relieving activity for all ages."

Yurt Living

It always happens, when life gets hectic and deadlines are knocking on my door I start thinking how wonderful it would be to escape and live in a Yurt somewhere in the the woods.

I became fascinated with yurts after watching the PBS Nature program Wild Horses of Mongolia with Julia Roberts. In this show Julia Roberts lives with a Mongolian family, experiencing life as a nomad while developing a special relationship with her hosts who live amongst wild horses. (One of their main staples is fermented mare’s milk that Julia describes as, “A fizzy warm…yogurt”.) While not a huge Julia fan, I find her to be captivating in this series. She's strikingly beautiful without any make-up or hair dresser to glam her up. Her happiness fills the screen!

A traditional yurt is a circular shelter used by nomads in Central Asia. They have been around for centuries and are designed to be dismantled and the parts carried compactly on camels or yaks and rebuilt on another site. Complete construction takes around 2 hours! Incidentally, the structures shown in this documentary are not yurts proper. Mongolians live in what is known as a Ger. It is a one-room transportable abode that often does not have a bathroom, running water or heat.

However, I’m not interested in nomadic yurt or ger living. I want a relaxing designer-style yurt complete with hardwood floors, running water and top of the line appliances. Yurts have become very popular in the United States as low cost, eco-friendly abodes. This form of micro-architecture has optimized the original yurt concept to create a shelter that is unwavering, easy to install, light-weight and leaves no residual damage to the ground because no permanent foundation is used. That’s the kind of yurt I’m talking about! Throw in a wall of books, Wi-fi connection and a nearby grocery store and I’d be all set!

If you’re ambitious and want to attempt the construction on your own, check out this book Tipis & yurts : authentic designs for circular shelters.

Festifoolery!

It looks like Spring is just waiting for Festifools this year! The library gang of Robots always invades the foolery on Main Street and, thanks to our friends at 826michigan, the Scrap Box, and our library patron penchant for joy, we should be well equipped! Come to the Downtown Library at 2:00ish on Sunday, April 7 and get all gussied up in gear for the Robot Invasion on Main Street!

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Baffling Bill Magic Show

Spring Break! Time away from school and daily routines. Time to do fun things! Come to the Pittsfield Branch Library at 2:00 p.m on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 for a magic show by Baffling Bill. This Michigan-based artist will be returning to Ann Arbor for an amazing performance. What a great way to spend an afternoon!

Then try a few magic tricks of your own by checking out some of these books.

Thrice as nice!

When I was teaching I always had to giggle (to myself) when a student mistakenly thought a book was based on a movie, instead of the other way around. Many of my students got a whole lot more screen time than they did book time, so it was an understandable mistake.
If it was available, I often showed the movie version of a book after we completed reading it. It served as a treat for a job well done and also as a way to stretch out a lesson. After watching the movie I had my students write a paper on the differences they observed. Often children are so much more observant than adults and I was amazed at some of the differences my students, and my own children, came up with. (In my home I don’t make my children write a paper, but we do have great conversations on their findings!)
At the Ann Arbor District Library we have a many titles that allow for this type of interaction. One of my all time favorites is Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. The story is about a wily fox that uses his impressive cunning to outsmart three feeble-minded farmers, who resort to extreme measures to protect their chickens. (The book is 81 pages long and can be read in the time it would take to watch the movie.) The movie, directed by Wes Anderson, stars the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray and William Defoe, to name a few. It is great family flick that can be enjoyed by all, young and old. The soundtrack (also available at the AADL) features some fun Burl Ives classics, 60s pop and rock tunes and a few other quirky ditties that are fit for family listening.

Cabin Fever

If you are anything like me, March rolls around and you begin to crave the juicy flavor of a sun-warmed tomato or the crunch of a raw sugar snap pea. OK, maybe I started to crave those back in November..but, March is when I can actually allow myself to think about what delicious food I am going to grow. It is also when I can take little steps to growing this food, such as ordering/planting seeds and beginning to plan the layout of my garden. Around this time my imagination runs rampant and I end up with way more seeds and varieties of tomatoes than I could ever plant, let alone eat. With the help of some resources from AADL, you can wrap up in a blanket with a warm cup of tea, and look forward to the day when the sun is once again shining and you are not under 5 layers of clothes.

With books such as The Backyard Homestead, Great Garden Companions, and Easy Vegetable Garden Plans…you can begin to plan your summer growing experience.

Don’t have enough land to plant a garden? Have no fear! You can plant in containers if you only have a porch or a deck. There are many books that offer solutions to the problem of not having available land to plant a traditional garden. To see a list of books that address this and other issues that may arise when you are trying to garden in a small space, click here.

I would also recommend making a trip to the AADL location and browsing the gardening section. You can also browse our collection online here.

Also, if you do not have the space to garden but still want to get your hands dirty, there are many opportunities for you! Community gardens like Better Together Community Garden or organizations such as Growing Hope in Ypsilanti exist so you can get outside and work with the earth no matter what your living situation may be.

Get ready, summer is just around the corner!

Lego Bomb

Bomboclats are trying something new! Invention, composition, and imagination are at your fingertips with Legos. The sky is the limit when you create with these self locking building blocks. Where will the new drop zone be? Your bedroom, basement, classroom, back yard, or community center? You decide, the power is in your hands! Check out all things Lego starting here!

Wild Swan Theater: “Shipwrecked!”

Wild Swan Theater presents "Shipwrecked!" March 14-16 in Towsley Auditorium in the WCC Morris Lawrence Building. This original play, appropriate for kids in about grades 3-8, was written by accomplished local playwright Jeff Duncan. The story is a coming-of-age drama set during a fierce storm on Lake Huron in 1893. Twelve year-old Aaron Buchanan is sailing with his parents on their small schooner loaded with Christmas trees. Aaron's mettle is tested when a fierce gale hits "Shipwreck Alley," and he helps rescue his family. The play is based on historical accounts of the time and should give young people a good chance to learn some of the history, geography, music and maritime heritage of Michigan and the Great Lakes. For those families who may want to learn more about shipwrecks before going to the play, AADL has some great resources.

Chimpanzee

Chimpanzee is a very touching look into the complexities of a community of chimpanzees living in the jungles of West Africa. Surely we have been fascinated with chimps partly because of their similarities to humans and this documentary highlights those similarities more than most. The choice of Tim Allen for narration was a pleasant surprise and he did a wonderful job of bringing his own personality to the production, while not detracting from the overarching story. There are even a couple hints to his previous acting work as Tim “the Toolman Taylor” in the popular 90’s TV sitcom Home Improvement.

The cinematography was one of my favorite aspects of the film. There is one scene in particular of it raining that struck me as extraordinarily beautiful. This film however, does come with a warning, there are moments where you may tear up because you have so completely entered their world that the losses and difficulties their community faces feel like your own. Overall, this is a very touching story and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys beautiful scenery and learning more about the society of chimpanzees.

To see what else the library has to offer regarding the magestic chimpanzee, click here.

Fanfare for the Common Cold

Join other piano music lovers on Sunday, March 17, 4-5 pm at the Downtown Library to hear original selections from the recent recording project, Sweet Geriatrics by pianist/composer Waleed Howrani. From “Bifocal Boogie Woogie” to “Balding Balalaika,” the pieces cover a wide range of topics and musical styles with aplomb. “Old to Joy” reflects on the happy free time of retirement via Beethoven backwards in a minor key, while the joyful “Great-Grandsonata” winds six elements of a sonata into 27 playful seconds. “The journey through life into middle age and beyond is a lot like a symphony,” said Howrani. “It takes place in movements and phases and has many different tones and moments along with recurring themes." You will be amazed and thoroughly entertained by how Howrani tickles the ivories and plays with mother time right before our very eyes!

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