Friday, January 29, 2010


Most organizations promote an event through multiple iterations of one poster. But not us! This year we are advertising the Bee through multiple Bees all around Dover. Artist Jane Bleakley has created Word Bees and posters for some of her favorite spelling words, and has placed them strategically around town.  Each one is an original.   Jane has thoughtfully provided definitions for you, so you will come to the Bee already knowing quite a few words...if you are paying attention.

Can you find them all? Start keeping track, because we are working on a scavenger hunt for you.

Here are some examples for you:

Welcome to a better day!

The fabulous Nicholas Christies Day Spa in Medfield has given the Bee Tree a gift card for a manicure/pedicure (value $60).

When you enter their website, you are greeted with the words "We welcome you to a better day!" Isn't that a great idea? Couldn't we all use a better day?

The day spa offers a wide variety of services, from the basic to the more unique: teen skin care, healing and massage, and men's spa services. They also offer "express" services--maximizing your benefits while minimizing their effect on your schedule. Plus--and this is a brilliant idea--they have a manicure loyalty card: after 5 manicures, the 6th one is on the house. What a great incentive to keep up with the important but too-often overlooked nail and hand care. You almost can't afford not to do it.

When you go (and I am already dreaming of having these busily typing fingers pampered), please remember that Nicholas Christies has supported your library. Thank them, and please remember to seek out and patronize the businesses that have given so generously to benefit your community.

New to the Bee Tree: a night out on the town next door

We are delighted to report that our neighboring town of Westwood's Ciara Bistro has donated a $75 gift card to the Bee Tree.

My husband and I went to Chiara not long ago, to celebrate our anniversary. We chose it initially because of its generosity to the Library House Tour, but I have to confess that before I made the reservation I did check out their menu and wine list: (what can I say--I am lucky enough to be married to a wine connoisseur, and these things matter).

We had a wonderful evening. I spend way too much time of my daily life sitting in traffic on Route 109, but once you walk through Chiara's door, you leave that all behind. The atmosphere is warm and friendly, the waitstaff was attentive and hospitable, and we had a delicious dinner. One of us had red meat and one had fish, so we (ahem) had to order a bottle of champagne to go with dinner (my resident expert assures me that champagne goes with everything, and I am not about to argue). The meal and the wine were excellent--we could have been in Boston, except for the ease in parking.

A lovely finish: at the end of the meal we split a decadent chocolate dessert, which arrived with "Happy Anniverary" written in chocolate on the edge of the plate.

The restaurant is named after the chef's grandmother, and it is also the Italian word for "clear". Whoever is lucky enough to walk away with Chiara's gift card is a clear winner, that's for sure. When you go--as the gift card winner or for another occasion--please remember to thank the folks at Chiara Bistro for their generosity to your library.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Shining Star

While the new Legacy Place shopping center has many chain stores, it also has some great local gems mixed in ... such is the case with Stellabella Toys. A friend mentioned "discovering" it and told me I had to check it out, and so going on her recommendation, I took a look and was just as pleased. Stellabella is a "Best of Boston" store for good reason (the location in Dedham is this local chain's 4th store; guess it shows we Metro West-ers don't get to Cambridge too often!). It has a great selection of toys - Alex art supplies, Melissa and Doug, Corolle dolls and accessories, Playmobil and Thomas the Tank Engine, to name a few. The store is well organized and things are easy to find (love those hanging signs that point you in the right direction!), and if you need help, the friendly and knowledgeable staff is right there to assist you. My kids had a ball in there and I know that from now on, our visits to Legacy Place will include a stop in Stellabella. Need after hours info? They also have a good web site with key info and online shopping - And keeping with their awesome community vibe, these nice folks have given the Friends a $25 gift card for the Bee Tree. So thanks and a warm welcome to the neighborhood, Stellabella!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Team: A Bee C

We have a challenger to the Spellunkers! The Dover School Committee has submitted a registration for a team called the A Bee Cs. We will see Jennifer DaSilva, Carolyn Ringel and James Stuart competing for our coveted Enormous Bragging Rights.

James Stuart has spelled before, for Precious Beginnings Preschool, and if I remember correctly, he's got a good memory for spelling words. We will have an interesting contest on March 25th!

It is so heartening to see town boards, particularly the school board, supporting the Library. People who are involved in the town understand the importance of having an excellent library, and are willing to commit to continuing that excellence. And the Dover Town Library and Chickering School share many goals with respect to education and learning.

Hats off to the A Bee Cs, both for supporting their Library AND for being prompt with their paperwork!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Spelling through the ages

In my never-ending (or so it seems at this moment) quest to fill the Bee with entertaining and enlightening words, I stumbled across this list of words that have won the Scripps Bee over time.

It's interesting, for a couple of reasons. First, it's fun to look at which words were not particularly in vogue at different points in history. Can you imagine a time when people would not have known how to spell initials, or therapy? Those were the winning words in 1941 and 1940. I'd love to know what words people COULD spell then, that might be more of a challenge to us today.

The second thing that struck me about this list was the number of words that our Dover spellers rattle off seemingly without thinking twice: we've seen, in our own Bees, words like antediluvian, appoggiatura, troche, and odontalglia (which was one of our winning words). Dover's facility with words and word lists is probably related to the number of books we read as a community (the Dover Town Library has one of the highest circulation rates in the Commonwealth). It also reminds me that I have got to get back to work...!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Planting Seeds in the Community

While many of us try to shop locally, it is not always an attainable goal and often I find myself turning to the web for convenience (and delivery!). If only there was a local store with a web presence ... enter Magic Beans. Locally owned, this toy and baby gear store also has a great web site - (how I first found them when living on the North Shore and with a newborn did not see that a drive to the original Brookline store was in the cards). Then imagine my delight to move to Dover and learn there is a Magic Beans just one town over - at the Linden Street shops in Wellesley. While I still use for purchases that need to remain hidden until the big day, I love going to Magic Beans in Wellesley for birthday gifts and toys for the kids. In addition to a knowledgeable staff and great selection, there is a play area so little ones are entertained while you browse. Need to test drive a stroller or baby carrier? This is your place. And they are a generous lot. A supporter of the Dover Library for some time now, Magic Beans Wellesley answers the call each time we reach out for help - this year donating a $25 gift card and book to our Bee Tree. So feel good about getting that little one a treat just because - this is a great store that gives back to its community! The only hard part is deciding what to buy ...

Toast (Topper) of the Town!

Dover is a small town, and while that can limit whom to tap for fundraising efforts, it is a close-knit community and those who are here are extremely supportive and generous. Take for instance Fisher Brook Farm. Right here in Dover, Angela Wilson-Taylor makes delicious, all natural jam and marmalade. She uses local fruit when possible and often it comes from her own farm. And when we called about donating to the Bee, she gave a resounding "Yes!" In addition to providing a basket of jams and marmalades for the Bee Tree, she is also giving the Friends of the Library three jars, to be used as a superlative prize. Will have to think of what best fits with it - "latest team" because they were stuck in a traffic jam? No - do not want to encourage that! We have some time to work on it ... in the interim, visit her web site - - for more info or check out the selection right in town at Dover Market. Yummy!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bon appétit, from one of our favorite bistrots

I was in Legacy Place the other day, buying shoes (again) for the son who is growing faster than a beanstalk. It was bitter cold, and we ducked into Aquitaine for a minute--I wanted to get my mother-in-law a gift card (it's probably her favorite lunch spot).

Aquitaine is as close to a real French bistrot as I've found since my au pair days in the 16th arrondisement. The service was as warm as the air inside, and before I realized what I was doing, I found myself chatting with the Manager about the upcoming Spelling Bee, while my teenager practiced oculogyrism and grew another 3 inches.

And--good, great, fabulous news--Steve, the manager of the Dedham Aquitaine--sent me an e-mail today announcing that Aquitaine Legacy Place is donating a $100 gift card to the Bee Tree.

Here is a link to their website, where you can see the menu and wine list, and even get a sense of the "feel" of the place: You should buy this card right off the Bee Tree on March 25th, and then take yourself and some friends out to dinner to reward yourself for being so generous to the Library. And, when you go, would you please tell Steve "merci" from the Bee?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

5th Annual Spelling Bee Set for March 25

While Spring is neither in the air nor registering on the thermometer, it is just around the corner, which means it is time for the 5th Annual Dover Library Spelling Bee.

The Spring fundraiser for the Friends of the Dover Library, the Bee will be held on Thursday, March 25, at 7 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Dover Town House. As in years past, the Bee will be broadcast live on Dover Cable Television. A fun community event, the Bee makes for a great way to come together as a town in support of our library.

Dover’s finest spellers are invited to join the gentle competition for the title and the grand prize of Enormous Bragging Rights (there is also a plaque in the library). Superlative prizes are also given to teams for best costume and loudest cheering section, to name a few.

Participants compete in teams of three, and the Bee is open to anyone in grade 9 and above. The words are given in advance and will be available by February 12 to teams with completed paperwork and paid entry fee.

Entry forms are available at the library; the entry fee is $300 per team, and each team may also purchase a $100 Mulligan to help them if they get in a bind.

In addition to the Bee itself, the Friends will also be putting on the popular “Bee Tree”, where anyone can purchase a mystery item (goods and gift cards) based on the word clue written on a bee, and the “Bee Café” will be serving snacks downstairs with a live feed from DCTV so no one will miss any action.

So save the date, dust off those thinking caps and get together a team – the more spellers there are, the more fun it is!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sometimes taking a break is a very good idea

All this messing around with words can tire a person out, so I took a break today and met a friend for lunch at The Linden Store in Wellesley. Boy, did that turn out to be a good idea! The service was friendly and efficient, and our soup and sandwiches were terrific. And--good news for you--The Linden Store's Mark LeBrun donated FOUR $10 gift certificates for the Bee Tree!

You will find the gift cards on our Bee Tree--I'm thinking up the names right now for their cards. Scoop them on March 25th and take a break of your own--you will be glad you did!

I'm already looking forward to my next Bee break....

(Bonus: you can e-mail your order in, and have it ready by the time you arrive. The address is

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

new word: petabyte

I spent a few hours today working on the word list for the 2010 Bee. Got to around 1800 potential entries, but still felt the need for some completely new material. James to the rescue! He reads the parts of the newspaper that I normally ignore, and just brought to my attention a new (to me, anyway) word: petabyte, which he found in today's Boston Globe. A petabyte is a unit of digital storage equivalent to one quadrillion bytes, or 1000 terabytes. Remember when megabytes were a big deal? A terabyte is 1024 gigabytes, or 1,048,576 megabytes.

Checking references on line shows that the word has been in use since at least 2001--back when, I think, we still had megabytes on our home computer and thought we were cutting-edge. (An Apple discussion board had the earliest notation that I found:, confirms that a petabyte is 1,125,899,906,842,624 bytes.

Claims about the size of a petabyte are hard for me to process, no pun intended. The Apple discussion board claims that two petabytes would hold the entire contents of the nation's academic libraries. Wikipedia states that Google processes 20 petabytes of information a day. I don't know which measurement is more difficult to comprehend, but the two of them together make a staggering contrast.

If you're not already intimidated by the concept of petabytes and their relative commonness in your digital life, consider these even larger numbers, provided by an Apple Forum member named FatDisc. I'm lifting FatDisc's chart, which keys units of measurements to the largest unit in discussion, the yottabyte. (Do you suppose someone looked at it and exclaimed "that's a yottabytes!"?)

yottabyte = 1 yottabyte
= 1024 zettabytes
= 1048576 exabytes
= 1073741824 petabytes
= 1099511627776 terabytes
= 1125899906842624 gigabytes
= 1152921504606846976 megabytes
= 9223372036854775808 Megabits
= 1180591620717411303424 kilobytes
= 9444732965739290427392 Kilobits
= 1208925819614629174706176 bytes
= 2417851639229258349412352 nibbles
= 9671406556917033397649408 bits

The really tough thing to accept here is that the yottabyte is probably just a drop in the binary bucket, compared to what lies ahead. I think I'll put petabyte on the Bee list. Although the composition of the word list is heavily skewed towards more traditional language, petabyte seems almost quaint at this point!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

An Amusing Series of Words

2010 Bee contestant Will recently suggested we add terpsichorean to the Bee word list. The word means “pertaining to dance” and it comes from one of the nine muses, the one named Terpsichore. Will’s suggestion got me to thinking about Muses and who they were and why we have them.

The Muses were a mythical set of nine sisters, born of a union between Zeus and Mnemosyne (goddess of memory). According to Hesiod, who credits them with breathing into him his [inspired?] work Theogony, “their nature is forgetfulness of evil and rest from cares”. Zeus, says Hesiod, makes kings, but the Muses make artists--and it isn't too much of a stretch to imagine that Hesiod thinks the Muses have the better job. The Muses are more or less culture, personified. The Ancient Greeks assigned a variety of talents to these sisters, as follows:

Calliope: heroic poetry and epics
Clio: history
Erato: erotic poetry
Euterpe: flute accompaniments
Melpomene: tragedy
Polyhymnia: sacred songs
Terpsichore: Dance and choral singing
Thalia: festivity, music in general
Urania: the heavens, astronomy

According to my trusty and somewhat heretical The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets (Barbara G. Walker, Harper & Row, 1983—it’s a wonderful read, I absolutely recommend it), the Muses were initially a triune female goddess, the Ideas (that’s deas as in deities). I guess they had too many talents for only three goddesses.

It’s engaging to read the list and think that these are the categories into which ancient Greeks sorted their cultural activities. I can understand a muse for sacred songs, dance, and even erotic poetry, but really--a goddess of flute accompaniments? If Euterpe lived in my household, she’d probably be the muse of competetive burping.

You can read through the list and see some obvious relationships between the goddesses’ names and English words which describe their areas of expertise. There’s a hymn in Polyhymnia, and Mnemosyne must have given us mnemonics. Erato sounds like erotic. Euterpe has the “eu” that marks euphemism and Eugene (it means “good” or “well”). And although we cannot see her without a telescope and some knowledge of her art, Urania lives on in the sky with the planet Uranus.

But things get murkier from there on out. Why is the steam-powered musical instrument named the Calliope? Well, the calli in Calliope means “beautiful” (Bee players of the past will remember the bonus word callipygian which means “having beautiful buttocks”). Calliope has a beautiful voice, which the Greeks dedicated to heroic poetry and recitation. The Clio awards keep that muse in annual parlance, although--unless you are very cynical--the notion of awards for excellence in advertising is not exactly representative of the original Clio’s intentions.

The ones that stumped me are Euterpe, Thalia and Terpsichore. explains that Terpsichore means “delight of dancing” and Euterpe means “giver of delight”, and goes on to tell us that the ancient Greek word terpein meant “delight”.

Thalia has the best name, I think: tells us that it comes from a word used to describe banquets, and means “luxurious, rich, plentiful and abundant.” Someone should name a shampoo after her!

The Muses give us the word amusing, and, seeing the body of knowledge that they represent, it’s no surprise. How many mothers and fathers have amused their children, and have sung, danced, recited stories and nursery rhymes, and in the process provided their offspring with a cultural framework in which to grow up?

It would be lovely to think that the Muses live in museums, a word which is fairly new to English, according to Charles Hodgson, coming via Latin from the Greek museion or temple of the muses. However, scanning the list, I have my own idea: I think these days the Muses are living (or are imprisoned, maybe) on Cable TV. Think about it: we have the History Channel, A&E, and Showtime (choral singing + dance = musicals). Melpomene has the soap operas sewn up, and—well, we’ve already talked about Clio and her namesakes. Think about that the next time you pick up the remote and mutter “200 channels and nothing to watch”!

Thanks, Will, for the amusing excursion.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Words to you!

One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year is one that I found all by myself: the 365 New Words a Year calendar (compiled by Merriam Webster, Workman Publishing, ISBN 978-0-7611-5258-3). It'a a typical "word-a-day" calendar, but on the back of each page is a little "did you know?" about the word--a discussion regarding the pronunciation, how it came into English, its usage compared to other similar words, and the like. I'm happy to have a new source of Bee words, because we are aiming to have the list available by mid-February, and suddenly that seems just around the corner! Experienced Bee players will recognize a number of the words, but that shouldn't stop you from checking it out. Save yourself some consternation; a little bit of study each day should keep you from feeling compunctious on the last Thursday in March! After all, the Bee words are not going to land in your brain via afflatus, are they? Get to work; I am!

And if you find any interesting and challenging words along the way, send them to me here and I'll talk about them. (Next installment: terpsichorean, thanks to Will.)