Tuesday, June 30, 2009

what you've all been waiting for

oh yes, it is howler monkey video time.

(in the beginning of this video you can hear our knowledgeable guide, robert, "rile up" the alpha male by making monkey sounds)

Monday, June 29, 2009

great crafts ... less funding

this is the last week before summer reading truly begins. we'll be having about 3-4 programs a day and it will be complete and utter chaos. in this calm before the storm we're getting everything ready, and i decided to make a Gock prototype. Gocks are goth sock puppets, and we will be making them with the teens. i've heard about gocks for years now and i've always wanted to make them. i'm pretty pleased with the way mine turned out, and it was quite cheap to do.

i was able to buy a couple of 6 packs of socks at the dollar store for about $4 each (which is a good deal since that's 12 sock puppets per pack. i bought socks in black and turquoise). then, i used several buttons to make the eyes (we have a whole load of buttons just lying around). i purposefully used different sizes to give it a "freaked out" kind of look. i used a shell for the nose (which we also just have lying around), then i glued on a couple of feathers for eye brows (feathers purchased from oriental trading). i made a mohawk out of funky yarn that was also purchased at the dollar store (for only $1 per skein!) then i made a choker necklace out of some trim i got for free from materials for the arts. i wanted to goth it up a bit more so i used safety pins to make an eyebrow piercing and a tongue piercing (tongue is made out of felt). all these items were attached using a glue gun, but they could be sewn on or glued with craft glue.

admit it, this is a pretty awesome gock. you know you're jealous.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

belize adventures day 3: monkeying around OR don't pee on a leaf and tell me it's raining

we take our final boat ride to the mainland, which makes me very happy since the whole suffering- from-various-forms-of-motion-sickness thing is getting quite old.

it had been our intention to do to something called Taste of Belize, which was supposed to be a festival/competition celebrating the various foods of belize. however, due to the nausea issues we had been having, we thought maybe tasting a whole bunch of exotic food wasn't the best idea for the time being. so instead we picked up our rental car and headed off to the community baboon sanctuary. (we pass a library shown below. figured i'd mention it since i'm a librarian and all.)

the baboon sanctuary is actually a sanctuary for howler monkeys, which people in belize refer to as baboons. go figure. so we're walking in the woods and our guide is explaining different cures that can be found from various plants and trees in belize. apparently, belizean wildlife is extremely useful. this plant cures collick and this tree's bark cures rashes from the poisonwood tree and this ant's body can be used to sew clothes (no joke, we saw it in action and everything). then he shows us this little plant and he tells us that moms make their teenage daughters pee on the leaves of this plant and if the leaf changes color then the girl is pregnant. well i now i've heard everything. that is so much more effective than killing a rabbit.

the bolshevik and i exchange knowing glances at this point, as we had both kind of been wondering if maybe my nausea was not motion-sickness-related (spoiler alert: it was in fact motion sickness combined with dehydration and being too god damned hot). so i rip off a leaf and save it for later.

finally we see a monkey family and our guide explains that instead of fighting for territory male howler monkeys will actually just have a sort of "howl-off" and whichever monkey can howl the loudest wins, and the loser will be banished from monkey society. how progressive and non-violent! i'm waiting for the video from the bolshevik where you can hear our guide pretending to be a howler monkey and getting the actual monkey quite worked up. man he was loud. so alpha male.

we drive to our next stop, san ignacio, making a quick stop over at the belize zoo for ice cream. the bolshevik is almost scratched by a puma, but luckily very shoddy fencing protects him.

we get to our hotel and it is high on a hill overlooking the town of san ignacio. we have our own little hut with a thatched roof and a screened in porch (with hammock. oh how i heart hammocks so!).

we begin to get ready for dinner, and then i promptly take out my leaf and pee on it. i look at the leaf and wonder, how long must i hold this pee-soaked leaf? will results happen instantly? i should have asked our guide for more information. after about 30 seconds i decide the leaf looks exactly the same, except wet. so i flush it, confident that i am not knocked up.

then we have dinner and cocktails at our hotel restuarant which is beside a lovely pool. after dinner we swim in the pool and act silly. thus concludes the third day of our vacation.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

summer's here and the time is right for awesome YA programs

i'm going to take a short break from boring you all with the details of my vacation, to bore you all with the details of my summer programs ...

in addition to being the children's librarian, i am also in charge of young adult (YA) programs over the summer. this is fine by me since i heart working with the teens. so much angst. love it. i'm hoping that my awesome awesome YA programs will be so wildly successful that we will continue YA programming throughout the rest of the year. so here are some of the fab things i have planned:

first i've got some awesome craftiness up my sleeve. notice left my "second generation" prototype duct tape wallet. this wallet was made solely out of duct tape, using classic silver, black and purple. pretty cool no? it has a pockets for bills as well as smaller pockets for credit cards.

my next fabulous feat of craftastic-ness is this journal made out of a discarded book. i went through the YA collection and withdrew all the books that haven't circulated in a while and set aside ones with cool covers (or in this case super cheesy covers). i sliced off the covers then cut looseleaf paper to the same size as said covers. then i went through all the layers with an awl, lining up holes at the top (this is actually more of a notepad then a journal), then tying it all together with twine. then i made some strands of beads to bling it up a bit. i'm calling this craft: destroy a book, make a journal. what teen wouldn't want to do that?

(i just want to do a shout-out to my stepsister who got me started on christopher pike's trashy horror novels ... challah!)

yesterday me and my lovely co-worker librarian went to this place called materials for the arts. pretty much, they're a non profit that collects various items from crafts to fabrics to computer parts to furniture, and they put it all in a big warehouse and allow non-profits who "do art" to come in and take whatever they want. the only catch is you have to write several thank you notes to whoever donated the supplies you take. not a bad deal if you ask me. my momma raised me right and taught me about the importance of thank you notes. anyhoo, i've been there several times and sometimes it is slim pickings, but yesterday it was filled with fabulous useful things. we got hula hoops and beach balls for indoor playground. we got all sorts of fabrics and bubble wrap for my "teen project runway: library edition" program. we got trims and notions and fake fur (part of a "bear repair kit," who knew?) for my "goth sock puppet" program. fun fun fun.

we're also having a twilight party which i am super excited about (even though i LOATHE the twilight movie) ... anyway we're going to have a trivia competition and make bella charm bracelets and ... this is my favorite ... i bought a poster of bella and edward and i'm going to cut bella's head out so the girls can put their face in there and take a picture with edward.

oh my clever cleverness knows no bounds.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

belize adventures day two: the "laidback island"

i wake up at 6 am and decide to walk along the beach and take pictures while the bolshevik is still sleeping. at 6 am belize is just "normal hot" instead of "ridiculous hot."

i get back to the hotel room and the bolshevik and i head out for our first belize breakfast. and that is when we discover the glory of fry jacks. mmmmm .... fry jacks. they take tortillas and deep fry them and then i think they add some powdered sugar. sooooo good. they're especially good with apricot jam.

after breakfast we decide to go parasailing, which is cool but not the best activity post-breakfast. it is at this time that i realize that i am just going from one form of motion sickness to another.

we take a little breather and sit out on the beach in the shade, then we go snorkeling again. we pet sharks and sting rays and we swim with a cute little sea turtle. then we swim around this coral reef and there are all these waves crashing and we're seriously bobbing up and down. now i never knew you could actually get sea sick from being in the sea without a vessel, but apparently ... you can. that's right, i got sea sick from swimming.

i'm secretly a bit happy when snorkeling is over, due to my sea sickness and all. but on the boat ride back our boat suddenly dies (transportational breakdown #2). luckily we are close enough to shore to drift over to a dock, where i promptly jump out of the boat and contemplate throwing up.

now, at this point it's like 4 pm and we're supposed to be taking the last ferry at 4:30 to this other island called caye caulker. our tour guides keep telling us that caye caulker is "really laidback." which makes me wonder what could possibly be more laidback than this little island that is 5 blocks long and has no cars.

so our tour guides call another boat, which picks up our luggage and seriously speeds us to the dock where the ferry is leaving from. as we approach we see that the ferry has already left the dock, and is on it's way into open water. so our boat just speeds up even more and then our boat blocks the ferry and our guides tell them they have to let us on. then they take our luggage and throw it onto the ferry through this little window. then they point to the little window and say "get in." so we actually had to climb out of our boat and then through this little window of the ferry. and of course we tumble inside the ferry to a boatload of people wondering who these crazy tourists are climbing through the window. it's all very exciting.

when we get to caye caulker there are a bunch of "taxis" waiting at the dock. and by taxis i mean golf carts. they ask us if we need a ride, which is rather absurd since the island is less than a mile long and the ferry lands smack in the middle of it. we can only be 1/2 a mile at most away from anywhere else. we tell them the name of our hotel and they inform us that it's "to the left" and we should walk along the beach until we see it. so we walk along this little sandy beach path along the water, and i'm towing my little wheely suitcase behind me. then i realize that this is actually a "street" on the map, and i begin to understand what they mean by "laidback."

we get to our hotel (shown left) and it is super cute and i immediately lie down because yet again i am on the verge of puking. after a little rest we decide to explore caulker and have some dinner.

i feel much better on the walk over and soon we are on the "main street" of caulker. the main street (there are only 2 real "streets") is a big dirt road with lots of cute little shops and restaurants and wild dogs running around and people selling little tropical animals carved out of wood.

we find a cute place to eat that has a view of the water and i quickly find out that sitting somehow causes my motion sickness to flare up. poor bolshevik. he's such a trooper for putting up with me. i rush through dinner and then go outside to walk around and get fresh air, even though the restaurant is in the open air. the bolshevik meets me and again as soon as i'm up and about, i feel much better. so i immediately buy us some ice cream. it is at the point that the bolshevik and i make a vow to eat ice cream every day of our trip.

on the walk back to the hotel we discuss potential activities. we can either go to a reggae bar or we can drink bailey's on hammocks on the dock in front of our hotel. now, the bolshevik is a big fan of reggae and i really wanted to go and experience local flavor with him, but i was NOT well. so i ask the bolshevik, "do you mind if we just drink on hammocks?" to which he replies, "i don't need to go to a reggae club. there's reggae clubs back home. but there are no hammocks back home."

and that is why i heart the bolshevik.

even though i am slightly fearful of hammock-induced motion sickness, we grab the bottle of bailey's that the bolshevik so cleverly puchased in the airport while i was puking post-airplane, and we walk down the dock and lay in hammocks and look at stars. and all is finally peaceful and calm on the laidback island.

and thus concludes day two in belize.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

belize adventures - day one: i fell in love with san pedro

did you even know i went to belize for my birthday? well, i did.

we arrive at the airport for our 6 am flight and at the check-in kiosk we are alerted that we can upgrade to first class for only $100 a person. now i love a deal, especially if it is offered to me by a computer. so i promptly upgrade us to first class, despite the bolshevik's grumblings that i am a "class traitor," as he puts it. really. am i not in a class of my own?

once through security we sit at our gate and watch the news on tv. the big story is that there was an earthquake in honduras, which is near belize. near it. sort of. and i tell you, no sooner than we watch it on the news at 5 am, i get an email from my grandmother warning me of the dangers of going to belize post-earthquake. she advises me to speak to an airport official about potential safety hazards, as if airline personnel are now seismology experts.

in first class the boshevik is completely unimpressed with large seats and omlettes. communists. go figure. i take a nice xanax induced nap.

sadly, by the time we get to belize i am feeling a bit queasy. i blame this on the second leg of our flight when we flew economy. once we are through customs i ever so daintily throw up in the ladies room. classy!

then we take a cab to the water taxi that will take us to san pedro. this is where we experience our first of many transportational breakdowns. we're on this little ferry with about 20 other people crammed in, it's 95 degrees out or something, and every five minutes the boat dies in the middle of the ocean, rocking back and forth and back and forth. needless to say i am not happy.

then we notice this odd couple: a strapping australian man in his late 30s and a more dowdy american woman in her mid to late 50s. the australian man is a self-proclaimed boating expert, and has all sorts of advice for how to get the motors to run. the bolshevik and i debate about what kind of gold digger he might be. but i digress. this stopping and starting, rocking and swaying goes on for about an hour until we finally make it to san pedro.

we walk about a block or two down the main cobblestone street and find our hotel. the bolshevik stands on the balcony looking out at the beach as i curl up in the bathroom tossing my cookies for the second time in one morning (no i am not pregnant).

after a bottle of water and a short nap i am ready to face san pedro. turns out, it's beautiful there. it's all colorful buildings and cute bars and restaurants and bikes and golf carts in the street. the whole thing is about 4 blocks long, so within a few minutes we have quickly explored the whole thing.

strolling around eating ice cream (chocolate banana, with actual banana chunks!), we discuss potential activities. oh, and did i mention that it is seriously %&@#ing hot in belize? ridiculously hot. like, constantly drenched in sweat hot.

so we pass this pavillion of sorts and there are these guys selling tours, and i stop and chat with them and i'm all "we're from new york, oh yes belize is lovely ..." and the bolshevik just keeps walking. "what's wrong with your boyfriend?" the tour guy asks me. "we won't bite."
"oh," i explain, "he's from brooklyn. he doesn't trust friendly people." and then i book us a night-time snorkeling tour.

so we take this boat with a few other people to a marine reserve. now, when i hear that we're taking a boat somewhere, i assume we are actually going to a place. but instead the boat just stops in the middle of the ocean. at night. and i turn to the bolshevik and say "don't leave me!" did anyone see the movie Open Water? terrifying. anyway, we're given little waterproof flashlights and we swim around in the middle of the ocean and we see eels and sting rays and little tropical fish. it's pretty cool. and soon it's really dark and i'm swimming around and i notice that where i'm swimming it's really really dark without my flashlight, and then all of a sudden i see a motor and i realize i'm swimming into the bottom of the boat. oops.

we make it back to shore and have dinner at a cute little restaurant on the beach. and thus ends our first day in belize.