DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

October 2012

Oct 31 2012

Talking Turkey!

by Amanda L

If you have been reading DCPLive for a while, you might have picked up that I love the outdoors and I love to cook. November is a great time to be out enjoying the change of seasons. With Thanksgiving approaching, my thoughts turn to turkeys, both in the great outdoors and for eating.

I’m sure most people know that the turkey might have been our national bird if the bald eagle had not been so majestic. Over the years, I have had a lot of personal experience with turkeys. One year, I was sitting on the ground being real still and quiet when a hen walked up to me within three feet. We startled each other and then she went running off. A couple of weeks ago, I was in the woods close to dark and it sounded like an invasion in the sky. To my delight it was a flock of turkeys going to roost.

The Library has a few books on turkeys. Wild Turkeys by Dorthy Hinshaw Patent is a children’s book that talks about the life cycle, habitat and behavior of these birds. The Turkey: an American Story by Andrew F. Smith is an adult book that looks at the symbolism of the bird, the characteristics and habitat as well as how to cook the turkey. If you ever wanted to call in a turkey while in the woods, you might want to check out Turkey calls and calling: guide to improving your turkey talking skills by Steve Hickoff.

As I said, I love to watch these birds in their natural surroundings but I also like to eat turkeys. I have eaten a wild turkey once and I have to say that it was much dryer and smaller than those that are raised domestically. The Library has a few cooking books dedicated to this bird. How to Cook a Turkey and all of those trimmings from the editors of Fine Cooking magazine covers dishes for that big Thanksgiving day dinner. Looking for a few recipes to try for your slow cookery? Try the Italian Slow Cooker by Michelle Scicolone. Finally, the Butterball Turkey Cookbook by the Butterball Turkey Company has everything you wanted to know about cooking a turkey all in one book.

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Oct 26 2012

Bless Her Heart

by Veronica W

In the movie Steel Magnolias, two middle aged southern women, Clairee and Truvy, are at a wedding reception, watching one of their peers dance. Her “form fitting” dress shows all her curves and extras, in rolling, gyrating splendor.

Truvy: Clairee, you know I’d rather walk on my lips than criticize  anybody…but…Janice Van Meer…

Clairee: I know…

Truvy: I bet you money she’s paid $500 for that dress and doesn’t even bother to wear a girdle.

Clairee: It’s like two pigs fighting under a blanket.

Truvy: Well, I haven’t left the house without Lycra on these thighs since I was 14.

Clairee: You were brought up right.

This movie remains one of my favorites. It gave me an insight into a type of womanhood which I, growing up in my Yankee environment, would never have experienced otherwise. Although my mother was from Richmond, Virginia, there was little, if any, venom in her and she would have considered the above conversation in questionable taste. Then again, she had spent much of her adult life in the icy north.

There are so many books with southern women as main characters that I will only give you books or authors with whom I am personally familiar.  One of my favorite authors is Anne Rivers Siddons, whose Homeplace and Low Country delve into the lives of women returning to their southern roots.  The Secret Life of Bees, Cold Sassy Tree and Saving Grace are also good choices if you want to explore the hearts and minds of Dixie women. For pure fun, read the Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross.

One of the most intriguing books I ever read was Kindred by Octavia Butler. In the story, a modern day, young African American woman goes back in time to live on a post civil war plantation. Without much warning, the young woman disappears from her current surroundings and reappears on the plantation. Only extreme, life threatening danger brings her back to her current time. On one such trip her husband, who is white, manages to hold onto her and he goes back with her, which causes all kinds of other problems. The premise is a fascinating one and a lot of insight is given into the relationship between black and white southern women.

For non-fiction fans, Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Bragg’s All Over But the Shoutin’ is an incredible paean to his Alabama mother, who “went eighteen years without a new dress so that her sons could have school clothes and picked other people’s cotton so that her children wouldn’t have to live on welfare.” It is the story of the “steel” that is not always evident beneath the slow, southern cadence or the often slower, rather deliberate movements of southern women. While I confess that much of my reading involves escapist fiction, I was enthralled by this book.

Two middle aged women sit in the crowded waiting room, their soft, honeyed drawls in big contrast to the litany of faults they obviously found in a mutual acquaintance. I unashamedly eavesdrop, my unread book in my hands.

“Poor thing,” one says with a sigh. “She just can’t seem to get her life straight.” Shaking her head, the other lady tacks onto this final assessment, the benediction “Bless her heart.” I smile to myself. Magnolias in full bloom.

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Oct 24 2012

Haunted Libraries

by Jesse M

With Halloween right around the corner, I thought it appropriate to share Ellyssa Kroski’s excellent write-ups about haunted libraries, both in the United States and around the world. Each list features ten spooky libraries with a brief description of each, as well as a link you can follow to find out more information. Some of the libraries even offer “proof” of their paranormal inhabitants:
The Old Benton Library (formerly the Saline County Library) in Arkansas was investigated by a team of ghost hunters, and you can view their findings, including a video of them purportedly communicating with a ghost using the flashlight method; while the The Willard Library in Indiana allows prospective ghost hunters a chance to hunt for spirits themselves by viewing webcams located in the Children’s room, Research room, and Basement Hall.

Want a list of haunted libraries a little closer to home? Check out this page on library ghosts in the Southern US. Astute readers may notice that there aren’t any Georgia libraries on the list, however, according to the Shadowlands Haunted Places Index, Chestatee Regional Library in Gainesville has experienced its share of spectral happenings:

After hours the apparition of a young brown haired girl is seen. Books also tumble off the shelves. The library was built on the site of a hotel where a murder may have occurred.

Scary stuff!  Although generally speaking I’m skeptical of reports of paranormal phenomena, this blogger is happy to work in a library that isn’t haunted.

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Oct 22 2012

Quiet Time

by Jnai W

I take my quiet time, my moments of relative solitude, any way I can get them.  Often my me-time takes place as I’m commuting to work. Usually that means MARTA, with a commute time that clocks in at just under 3 hours. ( I know that seems crazy and unreasonable—well, it is but nothing gets the blood flowing like chasing a bus or weaving around idlers-on-the-subway escalators at the crack of dawn.)

The truth of the matter is that I rather like mass transit. It’s not perfect but it affords me some time to do things that nurture my creative streak while preparing for the day ahead. While I’ve taken my people-watching down to the barest minimum—just enough to keep an eye out for the shiftier of my transit mates—I can still take the time to journal, read or listen to music.

I’ve been reading the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I’m reading a book about being a quiet type in a loud type society. Lately, and I’m not sure why, I’ve been reading this book while listening to decidedly extroverted, noise pop like M.I.A, Sleigh Bells or someone else. Oddly enough I listen to it as loud as I can within reason—loud enough to overcome the roar of the bus’ engine but soft enough to not be called out by the bus driver/noise ordinance cop who’s in no mood to hear for my “teenager music”. (“Whaddya mean you don’t wanna hear my Dizzee Rascal, sir?)

I find myself relating to alot of my fellow introverts featured in this book. I land on passages about Don, a Harvard Business School student who worries that his mild, reserved demeanor is losing him ground in the aggressively extroverted culture of his school. While reading, I’m hearing the catchy synthy dance pop of singer Santigold singing a lyric to her song “L.E.S Artistes”—”Fit in so good the hope is that you cannot see me later/ You don’t know me I am an introvert, an excavator”. It’s an apropos lyric that swirls around me, inculcating me for a moment in time in a cubicle of communal solitude, if that makes any sense.

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Oct 17 2012

Soup of the evening

by Dea Anne M

Beautiful soup so rich so green,

Waiting in a hot tureen

Who for such dainties would not stoop?

Soup of the evening, Beautiful Soup!

Soup of the evening, Beautiful Soup!

– from Lewis Carroll

The Mock Turtle recites the poem quoted above in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. John Tenniel’s classic illustration reveal a very odd creature who has the shell and front flippers of a sea turtle and the feet, head, and tail of a calf. The Mock Turtle baffled me as a very young child but its absurd appearance becomes obvious once you understand that Carroll was spinning a visual joke on the typical British Victorian’s extreme fondness for soup made from the meat of the sea turtle. Almost as popular as that concoction was a much cheaper, and more readily available, version made from the “lesser used” parts of a calf. The Mock Turtle is described as a melancholy creature and the speculation among the other characters is that this is so because he used to be a “real” turtle. My opinion is that he may feel gloomy about his ultimate fate. When the Red Queen asks Alice if she has seen the Mock Turtle yet, Alice says that she doesn’t know what a Mock Turtle is. The Queen replies: “It’s the thing Mock Turtle Soup is made from.”

I’ve never tasted turtle soup or its mock counterpart and, as Alice might say, shouldn’t hope to. I do like soup though, both cooking it and eating it, especially this time of year. Once the weather turns cool, there’s just something about a hot bowl of soup that makes me feel secure and comforted, especially if it’s wet outside as well. Recently, a co-worker who was in need of some comfort asked me to give her a few soup recipes. “Easy ones,” she said. I suspect that by “easy” she means “quick” and, for me at least, soup-making is a puttering sort of activity—enjoyable but hardly speedy. I hope that I can encourage her to take her time and sink into the process. In any case, I’m going to pass on two of my favorite recipes—Leek Potato Soup and Lentil Soup with Garlic Sausage. Both take time but reward the effort many times over.

Would you like to explore the pleasures of soup-making? Check out these resources from DCPL.

The Daily Soup Cookbook by Leslie Kaul showcases recipes from the Manhattan restaurant (now closed) by the same name. Offerings include Peking Duck Soup and Jamaican Pumpkin. There are even ideas for leftovers.

The Soup Peddler’s Slow & Difficult Soups: recipes and reveries by David Ansel presents such delights as Alaskan Salmon Chowder and Smoked Tomato Bisque. In 2002 Ansel, a former computer programmer, started vending soup to his grateful customers out of a cooler strapped to his bicycle. Full of stories about the often eccentric residents of Austin TX, this promises to be as fun a read as it is a useful cookbook.

My mind often turns to thoughts of soup on a leisurely Sunday afternoon and Sunday Soup: a year’s worth of mouth-watering, easy-to-make recipes by Betty Rosbottom looks capable of delivering plenty of inspiration. Recipes like Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Cider Cream and Gulf Coast Shrimp Gumbo look perfect for this time of year and the beautiful photographs make me want to want to get to the farmer’s market as soon as possible (on the way to my kitchen, of course).

Finally, I have to mention a charming book about sharing and friendship. Not a cookbook, it is, nonetheless, well worth seeking out and has my favorite title of all the books that I mention here. It is The Cat Who Liked Potato Soup by Terry Farrish.

What’s your favorite soup? Do you like quick recipes or would you rather take your time?

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Oct 15 2012

October…Think Pink

by Amanda L

This month is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Every year there seems to be more activities available to participate in raising awareness and money to fight breast cancer in the Atlanta area. Most people are aware of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. This year it is being held October 19-21, 2012. There are a variety of other events listed on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure-Greater Atlanta website.

On October 20, 2012 from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., the Stonecrest Library will be the host site for the Pink Heart Awareness Conference. The guest speaker for the conference is breast cancer survivor, Shondia McFadden-Sabari. All ages are invited to attend this conference.

Sometimes when we or a loved one goes through a situation it is comforting to read stories where characters experience similar situations.  I was touched deeply by breast cancer over a decade ago when a friend died at the age of thirty.  Below are a list of books where the characters are breast cancer survivors.

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Her narrowed eyes and balled up fists were only two manifestations of the rage which poured off her in heat waves. At 15, my sister Antoinette was almost obsessively neat and organized, while I, three years younger, was none of the above. The blouses and skirts she had so carefully laundered and ironed on Saturday, in preparation for the coming week, were mine also by divine right—or so I thought. After all, I was the youngest.  “Spoiled rotten!” was what my six older sisters thought of me and “jealous cats” was what I frequently called them.  Most of the time my parents only intervened if it became physical.

Siblings are an interesting group of intimates; most of the time they fight ferociously among themselves but stand back-to-back against all outsiders.  This same sister comforted me when I ran to her classroom because first grade was such a horrible place to be and held my hand when I was taunted by some bullies. However sibling rivalry is a very real issue in homes where there are two or more children, no matter how much they love each other (deep, deep, deep, deep down). Blended families come with other challenges;  just ask Cinderella and her stepsisters.

Rivalry, by its very definition, indicates there is a struggle to gain an advantage and in families it’s often a competition for parental favor; grades, sports, looks and helpfulness are all grist for the mill. Numerous books have been written which help parents foster the idea that “Love is like a flame. No matter how many candles you light with it, the flame is never diminished.” This, of course, means that parents have no favorites. Uh huh. Loving Each One Best speaks to parents who find their world “an exhausting haze of competing demands and perpetual squabbling.”  A couple of other helpful books are Preventing Sibling Rivalry and Truce: Ending Sibling War.  My personal favorite, however, is “Mom, Jason’s Breathing on Me!” Anyone who has ridden with or driven siblings (including teens), knows that nothing short of a squirt gun will make them simmer down.

The all knowing “they” tell me that only children are lonely children. Perhaps that’s true. However I’ll wager their parents  enjoy a peaceful dinnertime.

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Oct 10 2012

Share Your Shelf

by Jesse M

What does your bookshelf say about you? According to Peter Knox, creator of the tumblr Share Your Shelf and author of a recent Guardian article on the subject,

Your bookshelf is an intimate physical representation of your accomplishments (titles as trophies earned), aspirations (that ever growing to-read pile), associations (that book your boss gave to each employee), personal development (those self-help titles that urged you to talk to strangers), guilty pleasures (50 shades of beach reads), escapes (sci-fi to some, travelogues to others), memories (meeting that author, visiting that indie shop on vacation), [and] interests (the bigger the Star Wars fan, the more Star Wars books)…And that’s just the ingredients – how you organise, arrange, and display these titles should impart even more insight as to a reader’s personality.

As Knox says, “sharing your shelf is sharing yourself”, and he created Share Your Shelf to provide a forum for people to do just that. Launched just last month, the blog has already received hundreds of submissions, proving that there is definitely an appetite for this literary variety of show and tell. Go here to submit your own (and feel free to leave a link in our comments so other DCPL readers can see what you have on your shelf!)

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Oct 5 2012

Building Common Ground

by Patricia D

I’m really not accustomed to having culturally important landmarks in my backyard.  We did have the home of Louis Bromfield near where I grew up,  as well as the Ohio State Reformatory, site of the films Tango & Cash (ah yes, such a great film) and the Shawshank Redemption.  OSR is no longer a maximum security prison but it is a terrifying Haunted House.  Folks come from all over the Midwest and Middle Atlantic and pay to get into the place Kurt Russell and Tim Robbins worked so hard to escape.  Even though organizers could get by with just handing over a flashlight and sending you into the abandoned cell block (no joke, that place is seriously creepy, and not in a Scooby Doo  way) they go all out with decorating, actors  and animatronics.  That,  on top of actually being in an old prison (lots of bad energy in those walls), makes for a really good show, if you’re into that sort of thing.  So that’s my hometown’s  claim to cultural significance .  I had to move to Georgia just to up the ante.  Now I can claim all sorts of things,  including the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, part of which is in southeastern DeKalb County.  It is one of only 49 National Heritage Areas in the United States.

There are two huge things that make Arabia Mountain so special, neither of which is that it was one of the locations for the movie Pet Sematary II.   One is the ecosystem on Arabia Mountain itself.  Animals such as lichen grasshoppers, marbled and spotted salamanders, coachwhip and hognose snakes, great- horned owls, deer and bobcats make their home on the monadnock.  It is home to the world’s largest population of  Isoetes melanospora (black spotted quillwort), a Federally protected plant.  It’s also home to the rare Small’s Stonecrop, a plant that makes a living out of almost nothing.  There are also the the less rare, but lovely,  Sunnybells, Sparkleberry, Yellow Daisy, Fringetree and Georgia Oak.

The second reason Arabia Mountain is so special is the people.  The area has been inhabited for thousands of years—Native Americans, Scots immigrants, Trappist Monks—but it is the Flat Rock community, established by freed slaves, that will be the focus of Building Common Ground: Discussions of Community, Civility and Compassion, a series of programs at the DeKalb County Public Library that will celebrate the history, diversity and preservation of the community.

Flat Rock began as a small area south of what would become I-20.  It was an agricultural community  bordered by three small slave-holding farms and grew after the  Civil War into a bustling community of churches, schools, and civic organizations.  It thrived for decades, done in finally by the Great Migration and the Great Depression.  It is also the site of one of the few intact slave cemeteries left in Georgia. Today it provides a glimpse into the lives of freed slaves and their descendants.

Building Common Ground is funded by a grant from the American Library Association and the Fetzer Institute.  DCPL’s partners include the Arabia Mountain Heritage Alliance, the Flat Rock Archives and Museum and Arabia Mountain High School.  The four programs will be hosted by the amazing staff at the Stonecrest Library. You may also listen to interviews with community members on the Building Common Ground page conducted by StoryCorps.

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Oct 3 2012

Switching gears

by Dea Anne M

Perhaps the biggest news in publishing lately is the release of J. K. Rowling’s first work of adult fiction The Casual Vacancy. The reviews, thus far, have been mixed, to say the least. Some reviewers hate it (New York Times), some love it (Time), and many more are ambivalent (Washington Post). It’s probably inevitable that the creator of what many believe to be the best series of books ever written for younger readers would come under more than a little critical fire in switching genres. Of course, Rowling isn’t the first author to cross genres and she most certainly won’t be the last. A recent example of an author who has successfully done so is one who has moved from adult fiction to young adult, or, more accurately, has added YA fiction to an already enormous oeuvre. I’m speaking, of course, of James Patterson whose Maximum Ride series enjoys great popularity (and which he apparently writes himself…not being snarky here…Patterson is quite open about working with co-authors). Another example of an author who has enjoyed success in switching genres is the prolific Nora Roberts who has had a long career publishing best selling romance fiction under her own name as well as her “In Death” near-future detective series as J. D. Robb. Roberts and Robb have even “collaborated” on a few novels and pose together on the covers—Roberts usually dressed in an elegant suit and Robb in a black leather jacket.

Other genre-crossing authors include:

John Banville, an acclaimed author of literary fiction who won The Man Booker Prize in 2005 for his novel The Sea, also writes mystery fiction under the name Benjamin Black.

H. G. Wells is best known today for visionary science fiction such as The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine. In his own time, Wells was also a well-known author of history, political commentary, and realistic fiction. These titles include A Short History of the World.

In 1948, Dodie Smith published the charming novel I Capture the Castle—the story of a quirky British family which retains to this day many devoted fans (I count myself as one). Smith also enjoyed success as a playwright, but in 1956 she published a novel for children that would bring her the most widespread recognition adapted as it was, by Disney,  into a beloved movie. That book is The Hundred and One Dalmatians.

Today, we remember the Victorian writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton chiefly for the phrase “It was a dark and stormy night.” It appears at the beginning of Bulwer-Lytton’s 1830 novel Paul Clifford and and is used as a tag for the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest which celebrates the purplest of prose. Bulwer-Lytton wrote in a variety of genres including romance, horror, mystery, and historical fiction (The Last Days of Pompeii is probably his best known novel today). His writing might seem overwrought to the modern reader but it was wildly popular at the time and went a long way toward financing Bulwer-Lytton’s extravagant lifestyle. Above all, Bulwer-Lytton seemed to possess a talent for producing phrases so persistently memorable that they have since become cliches. “The pen is mightier than the sword” is from his play Richelieu and “the almighty dollar” appears in the novel The Coming Race.

Do you plan to read J. K. Rowling’s latest? Do you have a favorite genre-crossing author?

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