Lake & Island Notes                                             March 2013

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Featured Selection


Eleanor & Park

by Rainbow Rowell

The teenage years are often remembered as some of the hardest of our lives. This beautiful and haunting love story reminds us of exactly that. This is the story of Eleanor, a "big girl" with red hair, and Park, a half-Korean kid whose passions are comic books and good music. These two meet, fall in love, and quickly discover that their biggest obstacle isn't their relationship, but the pressures of the world around them. By society's standards, Eleanor shouldn't have a boyfriend because she's fat, poor, and dresses funny. Park shouldn't have a girlfriend because he likes wearing eyeliner, and everyone knows that’s gay. Is it possible for their love to conquer and overcome these obstacles? We won't spoil that one for you!

Featured Selection


Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

by Michael Moss

Have you seen those images of the "pink slime" that is what many fast food chains use to create their "meat" on their menus? Michael Moss was one of the first who brought these practices to our attention. In Salt Sugar Fat, Moss illustrates how our country has become obsessed and at times addicted to consuming processed foods. This is not a scathing expose, but more a truly helpful book offering resources for those who want to simply learn to eat better and more responsibly. The simple practice of limiting your grocery shopping to to outer aisles of your grocery store is a great place to start!

Featured Selection


Going Blue

by Cathryn Berger Kaye and Philippe Cousteau

Going Blue: A Teen Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands is a manual stuffed with helpful information to help teens and tweens to organize to help save our oceans, lakes, rivers and wetlands. Geared for readers age 11 and up, Going Blue is an exciting challenge to kids to analyze the issues about water purity, investigate our dependency on clean water supplies, prepare with further understanding of the immensity of the issues and problems, suggested ways to take effective action, a chance to step back and reflect, and finally a chapter on publicity, or demonstration by sharing your stories of going blue. Going Blue is a mini treasure trove of information and well documented research and action stories about communities which have made positive choices to help clean up water resources.
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Bayfield, Wisconsin
Island Notes Blog

We live on a south-facing slope in the hills west of Bayfield.  Above the tree tops we look out over Chequamegon Bay to the Lake Superior Lowlands and then up to the loveliness of a monadnock ridge known as the Penokee Range. It is the source of the Bad River and Kakagon Slough wetlands that are by far the largest in the Lake Superior basin. Its Mt. Whittlesey rises to 1890 feet – the third highest point in Wisconsin. 2.2 billion years have worn it from Himalayan scale to Alpine scale and now to a quiet Northwoods beauty that stretches from Hurley to the northern end of Lake Namekagon.
Beneath the majestic stretch of forest between Upson and Mineral Lake lie an estimated 3.7 billion tons of low-grade iron ore. Enabled by recent, highly controversial legislation that loosens environmental standards; limits liability; and, creates a favorable tax environment, Gogebic Taconite, Inc. (GTAC) is planning a 1000-foot- deep, 22-mile long open pit mine. While some celebrate a presumed economic boost from such a mine (see photo above of the Tilden open pit mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula), others fear catastrophic damage to the local economy, to say nothing of the hills, watershed, and wetlands that drain into Lake Superior. Local communities (especially the Bad River Ojibwe Band) are thought to be at significant risk.
Following-up on our sponsorship of the recent Writers Read at StageNorth, we also supported last Wednesday’s Penokees Read there. Our own Jack Beagan served as MC. For two hours a packed house and a statewide WPR live radio audience listened to writer/reader after writer/reader – in story and poem – profess their love of and proclaim the importance of the Penokees in preserving the pristine quality of Lake Superior and its environs.  

We count ourselves among those who favor jobs and economic prosperity. We also count ourselves among those who favor the unique beauty and important ecological function of the Penokee Range and the Bad River Watershed. As usual, in matters of public policy, it is necessary to sift and winnow and to assess the trade-offs between one action and another.
As a bookstore we believe that we have a responsibility to promote the literary life of our community. As a business we believe that we have a responsibility to defend and protect our proven economic infrastructure based on tourism, outdoor recreation, and small-scale agriculture. As residents we believe we have a responsibility to work to preserve the beautiful and healthful surroundings that make this among best places to live in the world.

As all three of the above we have deep and abiding concerns about the wisdom of placing the proposed open pit mine in the Penokees. The risks are enormous and irreversible. We believe that the burden of avoiding those risks should be upon the mining company. GTAC should be compelled prove beyond a reasonable doubt that such a mine would not damage the environment, the economy, or the quality of life of this special place. Yes, that’s a high bar, but we are talking about an extremely deep hole.

Happy Reading!
All of us at AIB

What we're reading...

After Visiting Friends
by Michael Hainey

The obituaries said that Michael Hainey’s father had died suddenly on Chicago’s North Side “after visiting friends.”  Michael was six-years-old (his father had been just thirty-five) and all through his youth and into adulthood he obsessed about the circumstances of his father’s death. When he himself reached his mid-30’s he began the task of unraveling that mystery. It took almost ten years, but the resulting story is not only a first-rate whodunit, but an intimate portrayal of his family and its secrets. Hainey, a journalist himself, provides a gritty view of the Chicago newspaper business of the mid-20th century. This is how a memoir should read!

by Julian Barnes

2011 Man Booker award winner for The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes, says that he writes about “memory and time.  What time does to memory and what memory does to time, how they interact.”  In this collection of short stories, written at around the same time as the novel, he explores that theme. The book is anchored by four pieces all titled At Phil & Joanna’s composed almost entirely of dialogue around the dining room table. The couples share wit and sexual innuendo long into the night as they shave tidbits from the “cliff-face of cheese.”  Interwoven with these conversations are poignant tales, often about other couples, that are similarly anxious and glib. Some of our favorites include The Limner, The Marriage Lines, and Carcasonne. Updike like!

Out of Order
by Sandra Day O'Connor

We recently featured Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s new memoir My Beloved World in these pages.  It seems only right to follow that up with this new volume by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She served on the court from 1981 to 2006 and was the crucial swing-vote at what then was a delicate center of the now deeply divided court. We feature it not because it is a terrific book – in fact it is somewhat pedestrian – but because it illustrates what many consider her legacy on the court – a very sharp and thoughtful legal analyst, but one so aversive to controversy that she often seemed to side with Justice Rehnquist and others just to avoid conflict. That characteristic shows in this book also. Her vote on Bush vs. Gore is the most compelling case-in-point! If she’s one of you heroines, it’s worth the read.

Closing Thoughts...

The first day of Spring?

If you were to take a look at our newsletter from last March you would notice that we had been celebrating St. Patrick's Day and the Vernal Equinox with temperatures in the 70's. This year we are seeing something quite different. Many of us have been pent up inside our homes as a late season blizzard of lake effect snow dumped another 10+ inches on an already substantial snowy blanket.

Last year at this time, people were jumping into the waters of Lake Superior for very quick dips! This year (until just a couple of days ago) we have still had access to Madeline Island via the ice road! While many people are still enjoying the extended season of winter sports and outdoor activities, others are planning for maple syrup tapping and planning their gardens with hope that Spring will come very soon! It is a bit more challenging to plan a garden when there is still multiple feet of snow on the ground, but even the heartiest of gardeners and farmers know that the seasons will change and the green will return.

We are, however, grateful for what seems to be a more normal winter season that will hopefully make for an excellent growing season with fewer bugs! In the meantime, we'll continue to curl up by our fireplaces and enjoy the time we have to read books, write our stories and enjoy the peace of this long quiet season.

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Offer expires March 31, 2013
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