Happy Birthday, Madeleine!

This American author was born 100 years ago today. She is, of course, most famous for this,

wrinkle book


Though modern audiences may be more familiar with this version of the story.

wrinkle movie

Whether you prefer the classic text or the updated movie, we have both in the library! Madeleine L’Engle famously struggled to get this challenging book before readers. It blends astrophysics, family story, and theology with a thrilling coming-of-age tale. And its young heroine was one of the first female protagonists in a science fiction novel.

A Wrinkle in Time was initially published for young adults 12 and up, and L’Engle is most famous for her works for children and teens. But she also wrote for adults. Here are a couple of books from her nonfiction “Crosswicks” series.

two-part invention

In Two-Part Invention: the Story of a Marriage, L’Engle details her life with actor Hugh Franklin, including their running a general store in a rural village in Connecticut and his struggle with cancer.

great grandmother

The Summer of the Great-Grandmother movingly depicts L’Engle’s mother’s battle with dementia. Here is the first paragraph:

This is the summer of the great-grandmother, more her summer than any other summer. This is the summer after her ninetieth birthday, the summer of the swift descent. (page 3, paperback edition)

L’Engle also wrote poetry, novels for adults, and essays. If you enjoy her work, you’ll find plenty to explore in the library system. Enjoy!


A to Z World Food, Thanks for Helping Me Ditch the Bird

Tired of Turkey?  Simply because the pilgrims (who were close to starvation and would have eaten anything at that point) ate it, doesn’t mean that we have to suffer through another year of it. We are still relative new-comers to the world stage. We have only been a country a little more than 200 years. We are not steeped in tradition. As New Yorkers especially, we should be proud of our melting pot, proud to try new things, proud to embrace cultures that are not our own.

In celebration of America, in a show of my patriotism, I am not suffering through another dry bird. This year, I, a person of Northern European decent, am honoring my country by honoring my fellow Americans who have made my life more interesting and more fun than any over-sized chicken ever could. I am making a Mediterranean main course this year: Lamb. And, to compliment it, I will be attempting Baklava. Further more, I making New England Clam chowder, because the fun is in the mix of flavors, and it goes well with lamb. Nothing’s going to stop me. You go ahead and bring the potatoes.

Oh, and by the way, they have some really great potato recipes at A to Z World Food, a database that lets you explore other cultures without going through security.  That’s where I’m heading for my alternative Thanksgiving feast.

To find it, go to northcastlelibrary.org, pull down on the right hand side of the page, General information, and click on A to Z World Food.

Buying a Used Car

My teenager totaled our Nissan Pathfinder. We needed a third car. It was terribly inconvenient but our schedules could be moved to wait until we found the best deal. We decided that the money we could save was worth searching out a private party, as opposed to giving a dealer a cut.

Here are some things to consider when buying from a private party:

  • Sometimes owners are oblivious about how disgusting they have kept their vehicle.
  • You might have to do some driving in different directions in order to see the cars.
  • You might have to be flexible makes and models, which means more research is needed.
  • You are meeting someone you don’t know; and you are possibly handing over a large sum of cash. You are taking a risk.
  • You need to have a mechanic check it out, which might be a real hassle if you are driving a distance away from your mechanic.

My friend, Bob, (yes, that’s his real name, and this really happened in the same time frame), on the other hand, was on his way to look for a car at a dealer when his twenty year old Toyota broke down.  Bob knew he wanted the same car, newer model and he was willing to spend a more to reduce the risks and hassle of private party purchasing.

Here are some considerations if you decide to buy a used car from a dealer:

  • The dealer, and negotiating expert, takes a cut of the sale.
  • Usually the dealer details the vehicle before bringing it to market, so it’s not gross.
  • If you fancy a certain make an model, it’s easy to find who sells it, and even if you have to look at different years; you can compare apples to apples, more or less.
  • You may have to drive to different dealers to get the best deal.
  • You want your mechanic to check it out before you buy.

Step 1, Narrow Down to the Car You want, using Consumer Reports

Whether you’re buying from a private party, like me, or buying from a dealer, like Bob, you want to start with Consumer Reports. They are the only non-advertising-driven publication that provides all of the following:  ratings and safety, driving experience, reliability, and owner satisfaction reviews of a particular car, (and unreliable lists of local inventory, so get that somewhere else).  Consumer Reports will also tell you the trouble spots of vehicles, which you can ask about and use as a negotiation point.

Step 2, Find Your Car

Bob got a list of cars available at local dealers, not from Consumer Reports, because they are older listings, but from the following:

Carguru.com is an intuitive site that with wonderful graphics. They let you filter by make, cost, miles, options, engine type, fuel type, color, etc… etc.  It’s pretty fantastic.  They have nice green arrows to tell you if they consider what you’re buying to be a good deal. The only problem is that it’s advertising driven, so it’s not exactly unbiased. That didn’t stop Bob from taking what he found and gong to the different dealerships, to negotiate the best deal. Go Bob!

Carfax.com is the place to go if you want to get picky, which both Bob and I wanted to do, and run the VIN (vehicle identification number) to make sure the cars we looked at weren’t in any accidents, and that the title was clean. Carfax has more listings, with information on such things as price drops, and number of owners, etc.. .  Carfax also has a payment calculator- maybe Bob needed that, too.

Here’s where I went to find a car being sold by a private party:

Craigslist.org. This site hasn’t changed in years. The graphics are terrible, it gives tons of false hits, dealerships put their cars on there any way, so it’s not all private parties, and it takes a lot of time to sort through it all. People often misspell words, so you don’t always get all the ones you want. It is arguably not worth it. Then again, that might be where you find your deal.

Ebay.com is equally as bad as craigslist, but sometimes people will advertise on one and not the other.

Step 3, Vehicle Records.

Go to carfax.com to find out repair records, accidents, title history, etc… It’s worth the $15. Free or cheaper  VIN reports give you what you pay for.

By being aware of all that was available, Bob definitely got a great deal on his used Toyota, which the dealer had detailed for him. Despite its used condition, it looks new. What extra he may have spent by purchasing from a dealer, he made up for in keeping his job, not taking off to look for a car, and sparing himself a lot of hassle. Bob is a happy person.

After a few false starts, I ended up getting my daughter a super old, ugly, all-wheel drive, highly rated in safety, and easy to drive Subaru. I bought it from a mechanic, who did some work on it when the florist who previously owned it supposedly retired. It had dirt and dog prints all over it. It took more time and aggravation., but in the end, all I wanted to do was to give her a safe, reliable car to drive, and spend as little as possible, so I’m happy too.

November is Native American History Month

Hendrik Hudson Entering New York Harbor, September 11, 1609; painted by Edward Moran, 1892.

This month we pay tribute to the Native American people and their significant contributions to our history and culture. Although the month is dedicated to all native people, the National Museum of the American Indian stresses that native people are not all the same. In their book, Do All Indians Live In Tipis?, they state that “Native people are best understood as thousands of distinct communities and cultures” each of which have “distinct languages, religious beliefs, ceremonies, and social and political systems.”

Here in North Castle,  most of the people who were living in our area prior to the arrival of Europeans were the Siwanoys, who belonged to the larger Wappinger Confederacy. Their legacy is evident throughout town, starting with the name Armonk, which is derived from the Siwanoy word Warramaug, meaning “a good fishing place.”



Other place names  remain with us today. In 1696, Siwanoy Chief (Sachem) Wampus sold 93 acres of land here. His name was later given to Wampus Pond and Wampus Elementary School. Mianus,  North Castle’s Northeastern river, was named for Sachem Mayano, who presided over the sale of land in the Greenwich Connecticut area. The name for Kensico Dam and Reservoir came from Sachem Cockinseko. Coman Hill School is , depending on the source, named either for a Sachem Cohamong, or is another variation of the word for “the fishing place between the hills.”

From 1900-1902, Armonk was the site of several important discoveries of native artifacts. Dr. Raymond Harrington of the American Museum of Natural History led an archaeological exploration of rock shelters in the New York City area, and found that they were particularly numerous in Armonk. Rock shelters were used as inns or camping places as native people traveled from one place to another. The shelter they considered the most interesting was Finch’s Rock House, located on what is now known as Windmill Farm.  A discussion of the many important discoveries that were made at the rock shelters can be found in the North Castle Historical Society pamphlets, which are linked on the library’s website.

Finch’s Rock House, Armonk

The library is a great source for learning about the local history of North Castle, and the Native American people in general. Doris Finch Watson, who was North Castle Town Historian and whose family had a rich history in the area, had written many of the pamphlets.  In her own words, “As we glance toward the hills and streams of our present township, perhaps we should pause a moment to remember those who lived here first, the Indians of North Castle –Our Native Americans.” 


November Celebrations!

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And the answer is–

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