Funding Massachusetts Center for the Book @massbook

This plea for support from the small, hardworking staff and board of the Massachusetts Center for the Book was posted Friday on Facebook, after the devastating news that the Senate’s amended FY17 budget proposal still completely left out state funding for the Center:

The Mass State Senate did not include the line which funds Mass Center for the Book in its final budget. We must now advocate for the line with the budget conference committee.

For the past three years, we have tried to proceed with business as usual while we advocated for our funding, but that is no longer possible.

Until we know if we are going to exist in the coming fiscal year, we must put our book awards announcements on hold.

If you are as frustrated as we are about this annual fight for the survival of Massachusetts Center for the Book — our commonwealth affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress — will you please write to your state Sen and State Rep to say that you want them to support 7000-9508 during the conference negotiations and that you want them to tell both the House and Senate Ways and Means committees that this line must no longer be simply skipped over, zeroed out, when they create their budget proposals?

62 State Reps supported us in the House budget debate. You can find them here:…/Amendme…/House/1015/OriginalText

7 State Sens supported us in the Senate debate: You can see them here:…/Se…/S4/Amendment/Senate/274/Text

Mass Center for the Book thanks all of those legislators for their hard work to ensure our future. Please help us convince the rest of our legislators that funding for 7000-9508 cannot annually be put in jeopardy. If we have to cease planning and collaborations for three months of every year while we fight for basic funding, our work is compromised.

Thanks as ever for your support and remember, if you want an easy way to get to the contact information for your Reps/Sens you can visit

~ Sharon, Barrie, Ellen, Gretyl, and the Board of Mass Center for the Book

Graphic showing State House with "In Session" textMy thought as I perused the state senate budget amendments: “Why are so many projects that will serve only a single town’s residents or even just a portion of those residents, funded with thousands or even millions of state dollars, while a statewide cultural and literacy organization – our state’s affiliate with the Library of Congress Center for the Book – with an educational mission to serve all ages with outreach to public libraries in every city and town, has to beg for its $250,000 each and every year, and is grateful to get $200,000 to fund its programs?”

If you didn’t get to call your legislators and you live in Massachusetts, the Center for the Book needs you again! Follow MassBook on Twitter or Facebook to stay up to date.

Thank you to the state representatives and senators who signed on to support the budget amendment for the Center for the Book, including my own state rep, Michelle DuBois, always a champion of libraries! The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners concentrated its advocacy efforts on three senate budget amendments: 285, 286, and 309. Thank you to my state senator, Michael Brady, also a library champion, for signing on to two of them! Unfortunately, only one passed, so more advocacy is needed there, as well.

However, while very important and still underfunded, these budget lines have not been completely zeroed out, as Mass. Center for the Book has.

The Budget Conference Committee will meet privately in the coming days and hammer out the differences between the House and Senate budget proposals. FY17 starts on July 1, so there’s not much time left to get the budget set.

Rhubarb! #weekendcooking @BethFishReads

Rhubarb in the Garden

Although I am fond of it and it’s a perennial, which makes it easy to grow, rhubarb is an ugly plant, takes up a lot of space, has a short harvesting time, and last spring we didn’t do much with it. So, this year, I tried to pick some and use it in early spring when rhubarb, asparagus, and the ubiquitous mint are the only plants growing in the yard. (Raspberries soon!)

Here’s a picture of our two rhubarb plants after I hacked off many of the edible stalks, making it look even uglier than it already was:

Two rhubarb plants after hacking off many of the edible stalks

I killed our third rhubarb plant last year cutting it back too drastically, and I have also just found out that we shouldn’t be cutting the stalks off the plants, but gently twisting them off, so I hope these hardy perennials are hardy enough to withstand this additional mistreatment, and we’ll harvest our rhubarb correctly from now on.

Also, not all rhubarb is red! Did you know that?

I always thought rhubarb was a New England native vegetable, but it turns out it’s an Asian plant, according to Merriam-Webster.

Full Definition of rhubarb from Merriam-Webster

  1. any of a genus (Rheum) of Asian plants of the buckwheat family having large leaves with thick succulent petioles often used as food; also :  the petioles of rhubarb

  2. the dried rhizome and roots of any of several rhubarbs (as Rheum officinale and R. palmatum) grown in China and Tibet and used as a purgative and stomachic

  3. a heated dispute or controversy

Rhubarb Recipes I Tried

Fresh Summer Fruit Salad (AllRecipes)
I didn’t really follow this recipe, but wanted to see if I could use rhubarb in a fruit salad, so found out from this recipe that you can cook up chopped rhubarb in sugar water (just as you might do with cranberries) to make a sauce, and add then add it to fruit salad. Tasty!

Rhubarb Custard Ramekins (Nancy Guppy, Registered Dietician)
I used smaller custard cups to bake these, so came out with six instead of three. Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly, except for maybe adding a little bit more nutmeg, and they were a hit. Even better warm, with a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars (Smitten Kitchen)
I substituted gluten-free flour in this recipe and had to use a larger-sized pan than called for, so they were a little thin. I also used a higher proportion of rhubarb to strawberries and added a little extra sugar to account for that.

Rhubarb Recipes I Want to Try

Almond Cake with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote (Smitten Kitchen)

Gluten-Free Rhubarb, Lemon and Almond Cake (Food52)

Rhubarb, Cranberry and Thyme Crumble with Coconut Flour Oat Topping (Nancy Guppy, Registered DIetician) – Gluten-free

Rhubarb Frangipane Pie (The Splendid Table)

Vanilla Rhubarb Custard Bars (Cakes ‘n’ Bakes) – Gluten-free

Rhubarb is one of those plants that’s usually heavily sweetened and used as a fruit, often paired with strawberries for sweetness, in pies, jams, sauces, etc., but is actually not a fruit. (See for more about rhubarb.) I plan to investigate ways to use rhubarb in main dishes sometime, though. Maybe next spring!

Happy Weekend Cooking!

Weekend Cooking badgeLinked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature on Beth Fish Reads. Click/tap image for Weekend Cooking posts from other bloggers.

New England Book Blogger Meet-Up @LoryECBR @charlotteslib

Thanks to the organizing efforts of Lory (She’d be great at herding cats!) of The Emerald City Book Review, we had tri-state representation at the New England Book Blogger Meet-Up last Sunday in Boston. Lory came down from New Hampshire and Charlotte of Charlotte’s Library drove up from Rhode Island, and I (like Lory) got to Boston by car and subway.

Reservoir Station
I hadn’t started out on the Green Line in a long time and had to be shown how to insert my Charlie ticket on the train!
Exterior of Carrie Nation
We met at Carrie Nation for brunch, right down the street from the Boston Atheneum, our next stop.
Stairs leading to opening blocked off by red velvet curtains
The Carrie Nation restaurant, modeled after a Prohibition-era speakeasy, has a Cocktail Club in the back.
Asparagus & goat cheese omelette. Delicious!
Prohibition posters and a shoeshine stand
The hallway in the restaurant was full of photos and memorabilia.
The three of us at brunch
Yes, I was the annoying restaurant patron who asked our server to take a picture! L to R, me, Charlotte, and Lory. Not sure why I look like a giant compared to them in this shot!
photo of Lory and Charlotte at the table with books
Of course, we all brought books to exchange. I ended up going home with one more than I brought! #Konmarifail

After brunch, we walked up the block to the Boston Atheneum. The Art & Architecture tour we had hoped to take at 1:00 was filled up weeks in advance, so we just paid $5 each to take a look around the public spots (photography allowed) and the current art exhibit (no photos allowed in there.) I think I’ll do a separate post with my photos from the Atheneum, because I took so many, but here are a few, for now:

After the Atheneum visit, walked through the Granary Burying Ground nearby, where Paul Revere and several other famous Revolutionary figures are buried.

Next, we walked over to Caffè Nero, in case Katie of Bookish Illuminations had been able to meet us there, but no such luck! There were books there, too, though, and would be a nice place to have coffee sometime.

Bookshelves and comfy chairs
Inside Caffe Nero in Boston

Of course, no book blogger meet-up is complete without a visit to a bookstore! Commonwealth Books was the only store in the area open on Sunday. It was a great place to browse in, but not if you’ve got mobility issues, that’s for sure, due to the massive number of bookcases, packed in higgledy-piggledy!

After the visit to Commonwealth Books where (shh, don’t tell my husband) I bought two used books – Mistress Masham’s Repose by T.H. White and The Making of Zombie Wars by Aleksander Hemon.

My main contribution to the day was to lug an umbrella with me, thus guaranteeing that the sun would come out and stay out! I had hoped to get more Boston-area book bloggers to join us, including Audra of Unabridged Chick and Amanda of Opinions of a Wolf, but it didn’t work out to meet them in person this time. :(

Others who had hoped to come, but couldn’t make it, were:
Melissa of The Bookbinder’s Daughter,
Chris of Wildmoo Books, and
Brian of Babbling Books

We are hoping to have another New England Book Blogger Meet-Up at the Boston Book Festival on Saturday, October 15, and will share details when we have them, in case anyone wants to join us for that!

Thank you, Lory, for a fun day!

Green Line subway train pulling in
After saying our goodbyes, it was back on the Green Line for me, lugging my bags of books!

Read Lory’s New England Book Bloggers Meet-Up recap here!

Suggestions from a Massachusetts Librarian


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