Saturday, October 22, 2011

‘The Steampunk Bible’ by Jeff VanderMeer

Some of my favorite science fiction stories (Doctor Who and Star Trek: The Next Generation among them) bring characters from the future into the Victorian age.

The Steampunk Bible by Jeff VanderMeer with S. J. Chambers (Abrams Image, 2011) offers an illustrated guide to an aesthetic that has its roots in the works of Jules Verne and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Originally posted to the Facebook page of the Lake County Library

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Make a difference in the lives of animals

As Lake County residents prepare to take part in “Make a Difference Day” this coming Saturday, I hope they will consider ways that they can make a difference daily in the lives of companion animals.

Sunday marked National Feral Cat Day, an annual observance that draws attention to the plight of feral cats. This observance resonates with me because nearly all of the cats who shared my life were on their own before living with me. The joy and love that I derive from these animals’ companionship is worth the responsibility of caring for them for their entire lives.

While I was shelving books on Saturday at the
Middletown Library, director Gehlen Palmer gave me a printout from the Marin Independent Journal. Written by Janet Williams with Marin Friends of Ferals, it highlighted the difference that caring people can make by trapping feral cats and then having them spayed and neutered.

“Sometimes it may seem we’re barely making headway, but every altered cat means dozens less living on the streets,” Williams said.

In Lake County, there are low-cost programs to help low-income families with the cost of spaying or neutering an animal. For more information, contact the SPCA of Clear Lake, located at 8025 Highway 29 near Kit’s Corner between Kelseyville and Lower Lake, 279-1400; and the Animal Coalition of Lake County, accessible by asking for Rita at From Me 2 You on Lakeshore Drive in Clearlake, 995-0552.

Lake County Animal Care and Control promotes a barn cat program for feral animals who could not otherwise be adopted. These cats can work controlling rats and mice as a natural alternative to the use of poisonous chemicals — surely a healthier alternative for felines and humans alike.

According to the website for Animal Care and Control, there is a $60 fee to adopt a barn cat. The fee covers the spay or neuter surgery as well as the annual and rabies vaccine.

Animal Care and Control also has adoptable companion animals in need of a permanent home. The Adopt-a-Pet feature that is published on Saturdays in the Lake County Record-Bee highlights some of these animals. Many more can be viewed online or — better yet — met in person during shelter hours, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Lake County Animal Care and Control is located at 4949 Helbush north of Lakeport. For more information about adopting an animal, call 263-0278 or send an email to

Even those residents who do not feel prepared to give a home to an animal can help finance low-cost spay and neuter surgeries.

The Animal Coalition will host its annual Halloween costume dinner and dance, 5 to 10:30 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Moose Lodge, located at 15900 East Highway 20 in Clearlake Oaks. The cost of tickets is $20 in advance and $25 at the door if available.

The event will include a costume contest, raffle, silent auction, dinner and live music by Twice as Good.

Tickets can be purchased at From Me 2 U, 995-0552; and Marie’s Lakeshore Feed & Grain, 994-5398. Both stores are located on Lakeshore Drive in Clearlake.

Tickets to the event are also available at the Moose Lodge in Clearlake Oaks.

For more information about animal care issues and to view animals available for adoption, visit

Published Oct. 18, 2011 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Thursday, October 13, 2011

‘Defend the freedom to read -- It’s everybody’s job’

The American Library Association is promoting the importance of reporting challenges with artwork available for download in a variety of formats: “Defend the freedom to read -- It’s everybody’s job.”
“Since 1990, the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom has maintained a confidential database on challenged materials. ALA collects information from two sources: newspapers and reports submitted by individuals. All challenges are compiled into a database. Reports of challenges culled from newspapers across the country are compiled in the bimonthly Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom; those reports are then compiled in the Banned Books Week Resource Guide. Challenges reported to the ALA by individuals are kept confidential. In these cases, ALA will release only the title of the book being challenged, the state and the type of institution (school, public library). The name of the institution and its town will not be disclosed. A list of most frequently challenge books is compiled from these challenges for each annual Banned Books Week.”
To report a challenge, the ALA provides an online Challenge Database Form. People can also print the Challenge Database Form, complete it, and fax it to  the Office for Intellectual Freedom, at  312-280-4227.

For assistance with actual and possible challenges to library materials, services, and programs, the ALA invites libraries to contact Angela Maycock, OIF assistant director, by telephone at 800-545-2433, ext. 4221; fax at 312-280-4227, by email at, or at the Office for Intellectual Freedom, 800-545-2433, ext. 4223.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

October is sweater weather

“Pity about the scarf — Madame Nostradamus made it for me — a witty little knitter. Never get another one like it.”
— The fourth Doctor, “Ark in Space”
What better way to spend an overcast autumn Saturday than to put on a comfortable sweater, drape a thick wool blanket over my legs and sit outside reading in the fresh air with the cat stretched out at my feet.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

‘Annotated Legends’ by Weis and Hickman

The Annotated Legends by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (Wizards of the Coast, 2003), a trilogy of fantasy stories in one volume, offers an intriguing take on the hero’s journey. The main character is an alcoholic because, once home from his earlier adventures (referred to in the authors’ marginalia), no one needed him to perform heroic deeds anymore. As the story opens, his wife has kicked him out, saying he needs to find himself. He now embarks on a quest that will pit him against his twin brother. This book combines three novels: Time of the Twins, War of the Twins and Test of the Twins, which were originally published separately.

Originally posted to the Facebook page of the Lake County Library