DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Dec 12 2016

Cooking Up Some Comfort

by Dea Anne M

Regardless of your views and feelings about current events, tumultuous weather and the presidential election, I think that it’s safe to say that most of us could use a little comfort and joy at this point in the year. Now I don’t know about you, but the point of the season, for me at least, isn’t the gifts. Of course, I’m always grateful to receive – and it really is the thought that counts – but I really don’t need another object for which I have to find a place. No, at the risk of sounding a little trite, the winter holiday season for me is all about giving rather than getting. And there isn’t any sort of giving that gratifies me as much as providing the people I love (and sometimes even people I don’t know that well!) with luscious things to eat and drink. You might agree – no matter what holiday(s) you celebrate – and DCPL has resources to help you get in that spirit.

First, let’s give a thought to comfort food. Now that can be a loaded term. I happen to think that almost nothing beatsone-dish a traditional tuna noodle casserole for sheer comfort eating, but my partner considers it a dish that is completely beyond the pale. Call it a throwback to my childhood, but casseroles in general tend to soothe any tantrum prone urges that I might be feeling, and I know that I can’t be the only one. There’s just something about having a whole meal tucked into my bowl that makes me feel as though I’ve just had a warm bath and jumped into a pair of flannel pajamas. Feeling in need? Check out 101 One Dish Dinners – hearty recipes for the dutch oven, skillet and casserole pan by Andrea Chesman for easy (and delicious!) meals in a dish. From Jambalaya to Irish Stew to Risotto Primavera, you’ll find here a truly international array of dishes guaranteed to keep you from stamping your foot and refusing to play nicely with the other children.

chickenOf course, many people would agree that, for sheer comfort, nothing beats the aroma of a roasting chicken as well as the eating of it when it’s done. Explore the mystique of this, and other, tantalizing dishes in  Simon Hopkinson’s charming books Roast Chicken and Other Stories and Second Helpings of Roast Chicken. And if you’re aiming for the broadest range of choices when it comes to chicken dishes, don’t miss Linda Amster’s New York Times Chicken Cookbook. Chicken-wise, whatever you’re looking for is bound to be here. Along with such toothsome-sounding exotica as Armenian Style Chicken and Bulgar and Chicken Tagine with Olives and Lemons, I counted twenty-eight recipes for roast chicken alone.

For many, comfort eating can be summed up in one word…chocolate. If you count yourself among that number, epiphanyconsider first the many virtues of Chocolate Epiphany: exceptional cookies, cakes and confections for everyone by Francois Payard. The author is a renowned pastry chef and owner of (among other concerns) Francois Payard Bakery – one of New York City’s best known and beloved store fronts. From custards to tarts, you’ll find wonderful treats here and none seem outrageously “cheffy,” although I figure that the Milk Chocolate and Candied Kumquat Napoleons will probably take you the better part of an afternoon to construct. For something a little more “down home,” you’ll never go wrong with the classics and that’s exactly what you’ll find in Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts by Maida Heatter. You might feel dubious about such recipe titles as Positively-the Absolute-Best-Chocolate Chip Cookies but keep in mind that the proof is in the baking, so to speak, and there seem to be a lot of happy bakers out there who say that these cookies moniker is no exaggeration.

cocktailFor some folks, the holidays just wouldn’t be the holidays without the opportunity to lift a glass of cheer with friends. If this is you, and you need some fresh ideas for what exactly to put in those glasses, check out The New Cocktail Hour: the essential guide to hand-crafted drinks by Andre Darlington and Tenaya Darlington. Here you’ll find recipes for classics like the Sidecar and the Martini, and yes, good old Eggnog, but there are plenty of bewitching sounding gems here like the Silver Fizz and the Boulevardier. The author-siblings devote space to wine as well as appropriate food pairings, and if you aren’t much of a drinker (or not one at all) never fear! You’ll also discover in these pages plenty of low and no-proof cocktails like the Lime Cordial Soda and the Black Julep.

On a final note, you might be a part of that rare and select group that swears by two words in regard to comfort buttercooking. Those two words are “butter” and “bacon.” If you think that this could describe you, although, really,you know if it does, then don’t miss The Great Big Butter Cookbook edited by Diana von Glahn which has over 450 pages of recipes and Theresa Gilliam’s Bacon 24/seven: recipes for curing, smoking and eating.

What food or drink spells “comfort” for you during the holidays?

 

 

 

 

{ 0 comments }

Dec 7 2016

Meet Anita Hughes!

by Jencey G

I have had the opportunity to get to know Anita Hughes through her bookshughes-1135 and my personal blog Writer’s Corner.  She is debuting with us at DeKalb County Public Library with her book Christmas in Paris.  Anita is stopping by so that our readers here could have an opportunity to get to know this great author.

So Anita what are five interesting facts that readers should know about you?

I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia.

I live on the beach in Dana Point, California, and love to walk along the ocean.

I have five children! And still find time to write.

I am a huge frozen yogurt fan and have it every night for dessert.

I love 19th century British literature: Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, George Eliot, Wilkie Collins.”

 

christmas-in-paris_final-cover-1Since this book is set at Christmas time what is your favorite aspect of Christmas?

My favorite thing about Christmas is that the whole family is together. The children are now old enough to buy each other presents, so it is a very festive time and everyone really enjoys it. We usually spend three full days together and walk on the beach and cook and have ping pong tournaments.”

One aspect of your writing I love is how you have your heroine set in a high position in both her career and family background. This aspect reminds me of authors such as Judith Krantz and Barbara Taylor Bradford.  How have these ladies influenced your writing?

Yes! I have read everything by Judith Krantz and many books by Barbara Taylor Bradford. I am the biggest fan of Krantz’s books and Princess Daisy and Mistral’s Daughter really influenced my writing. I have always been a huge reader and devoured all the big, glossy, blockbusters.

Do you plan to continue to use exotic locations for your settings of your future stories?

Yes, my next book, White Sand, Blue Sea, is set in St. Bart’s and comes out in April. Emerald Coast, set in Sardinia, comes out next August and there will be a Christmas book set in a gorgeous location next year too.”

Has your childhood played a part in where your stories are set?

My parents were European and as a child we traveled a lot. I also grew up with a large world view, living in Australia and being exposed to different cultures. I use a lot of the places I fell in love with as a child – Lake Como, Cannes, Rome, Paris, in my books.

How much experience do you have using libraries in the various places you live?

I adore libraries. When my children were small, we were in the library almost every afternoon. I would park them in the children’s section and read everything in the fiction section. I love our local library in Dana Point, which is a block from my house.”

What is your favorite activity to do in the library?

I like to read the first couple of pages of a dozen different fiction books. There are so many authors I am interested in, but don’t get the time to read.

Why is self-discovery so important in your novels?

As a wife and mother, I know women don’t get a lot of time for introspection. But it is important to take care of oneself at every stage in life. So I think self-discovery is very important for growth and self esteem.

Do all your novels start with the character in their lowest position to rise by the end of the novel?

I hadn’t really thought about it that way. I think they all start with the character having a dilemma. And usually in solving the dilemma, she discovers her best self along the way.

Thank you, Anita Hughes, for joining us today.  I am a fan of Anita’s work and cannot wait to see more of her books at DeKalb County Public Library.  Please check out Christmas in Paris.   If you like Anita then you might also be interested in: Elin Hilderbrand, Fannie Flagg, and JoJo Moyes.

Thank you so much for the support, Jencey! And I hope your readers enjoy my books.

{ 2 comments }

Nov 18 2016

UnPlug for the Holidays

by Camille B

happy-holidays-2The holidays are quickly approaching, and so too is the time spent connecting with family and friends; some we probably haven’t seen all year. It is also the time of year when we come together to share meals, fun, laughter and just being thankful to have each other.

But how attainable is the goal of quality family time in this busy, always connected world that we live in where unplugging and powering-down is almost impossible for just about everyone you know?

Now before you sigh and begin turning your attention elsewhere, believing this to be just another blog about the ills of modern technology, I assure you that it is not. This is more about the issue of time- how little of it we have- and how important it is to savor the very best moments of it, spent with the people in our lives who matter the most.

Unplugging ourselves from the things in our lives that keep us so focused and preoccupied would definitely take some effort for many. It might be a huge effort depending on how attached you are to technology in the first place.

Are you merely a casual user, routinely checking and keeping up with calls and messages as you go about your daily life? Or do you freak out when you think you’ve missed a text, always set like a cobra to jump at every alerting bleep or ring? This obsession leads to distraction which leads to the disconnect with the people around us, since our focus is only for what’s on the screen at that moment and nothing else.

Remember the ad on TV where the kids are so preoccupied with their iPhones that they have no idea what’s going on around them? Not even when there parents are replaced? It’s worth watching.

I have to say it was a little bit funny, somewhat troubling, and so very true of how caught up we are with our gadgets and devices. I honestly believe that there is no better time than the holidays for us to make that effort to unplug and power-down so we can really have quality time with family and friends.

I know, I know, just thinking about turning off your phone for more than half an hour makes your throat go dry and gives you the restless feeling of a chain smoker out of cigarettes, but wouldn’t it be worth it? Wouldn’t it be worth it to really listen to what Grandma has to say this year? Instead of taking a selfie with the cat while she’s talking and then calling her a few months later to ask for the banana bread recipe again. No more missing the moment because you were capturing the moment.

There are some of us who, because of work or other circumstances beyond our control have to keep our phones close to us and powered up at all times, but even then we can still turn off all the extras. There are apps that would allow you to block out social media sites like Facebook and Twitter for a period of time, so you won’t even be tempted to go on there to look. The urge to check will be strong, and you’d probably lose the battle every time.

And for those of us who can’t ignore those beeps and chirps that alert us to messages received, maybe we can put our phones on silent for an hour or two, so the lure of those sounds won’t cause us to cave.

Even try it with the kids who never, ever seem to power off of anything. They’re forever texting on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or doing something else that requires their full attention to a screen.

Believe me they’re not going to be too happy about it, especially if their precious device is the one thing that keeps them from having to make awkward conversation with family members they don’t know that well.

But hopefully, when they realize it’s not forever and the reason behind you doing it is not simply because you’re pure evil, but for them to form healthy family bonds and learn how to better interact with others face to face, they’ll come around.

So I challenge you, and I challenge myself as well, to let the holidays this year not simply be about great food and a few extra days off work, but also about taking a much needed break from all of our daily devices and distractions so that we can truly relax, breathe and be with those we care about. Believe me we need it, and so do our families.

Here is a perfect resource in our catalog with ideas for “unplugged” play and activities for your family:

ply

 

Unplugged Play: No batteries, no plugs, pure fun by Bobbi Connor.

 

 

 

Below are some interesting links on the topic that were very helpful:

http://techland.time.com/2013/12/20/shut-it-down-a-digital-detox-plan-for-the-holidays/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-digital-family/201012/12-ways-unplug-the-holidays?destination=node/52163

 

 

 

{ 2 comments }

Oct 24 2016

Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

by Jencey G

How many of you remember Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn?  You probably either read the book or saw the movie.  Sister Dear has a similar feel to it.  This story is about two sisters, Allie and Emma.  sister-dearAllie is in prison for a crime she did not commit.  At the beginning of the story we meet Allie as she is departing from prison.  She has one goal and that is to prove her innocence.  The only consistent visitor she had during her time in prison was her sister Emma.  Allie’s young daughter Caroline only came and visited once or twice.  Emma told her sister that visiting made Caroline upset. Or did it really?  Is there a future for Allie in Brunswick Georgia?

The story is told from alternating points of view.  We hear from Allie, Emma, the sheriff, Caroline, and another character, Natalie the vet.  Emma and the sheriff are hiding a secret about what really happened.

The author slowly introduces the antagonist of the story which may catch readers by surprise.  Readers will want to skip to the end to find out if Allie is able to prove her innocence? Who really committed the murder?

The theme of the story is forgiveness and being able to move on from the past.  Can we let that go or be forever prisoned by these events?

This story really resonated with me.  I have a younger sister, so I was totally able to identify with the relationship between these sisters.  This book is one of the best that I have read this year! What is even more exciting is the author, Laura McNeill, will be at the Clarkston Library to discuss the book on Saturday, November 19th at 2:00 pm.I hope that you can join us for the discussion. Click here for information.

Please visit the catalog for a copy or drop by the Clarkston branch.

{ 0 comments }

Oct 21 2016

Three Across, Four Down

by Camille B

crossword-picture-1I’ve slowly become a crossword enthusiast over the years. I don’t know if I’ll ever get good enough to attempt the ones in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, but there is just something about filling in those little blank squares of a crossword puzzle that brings me a certain sense of peace and satisfaction.

I have many friends and family members who simply cannot relate to this. They cannot fathom why I would want to sit and stare at little black and white squares for hours picking away at strange clues–digits that really mean toes, picnic guests that are ants, and words that are simply not what they seem.

But word lovers everywhere know what I mean. They know the feeling that comes with solving the clues, the exhilaration of filling in that final blank space that completes the puzzle; and if you did it without help from your crossword dictionary or a clue from Google, this is certainly cause for celebration.

Rabbi Geoffrey Mitelman of the Huffington Post says, “Every day, I do the New York Times crossword puzzle. It truly is a ritual for me, almost as sacred as Shabbat: Every night before going to bed, I load up the crossword on my phone or my computer, and try to plow through that mental challenge. I’ve discovered that there’s a deep satisfaction that goes far beyond filling in that last box to complete the puzzle.”

Research shows that people’s love for puzzles, in general, stems from many different reasons:

  • Rising to a challenge
  • Exploring language
  • Proving something about yourself to yourself
  • Demonstrating abilities to other solvers
  • Expanding vocabulary
  • Testing abilities
  • Broadening general knowledge
  • Playing with other solvers
  • Competing in crossword tournaments
  • Escaping boredom or depression
  • Passing the time
  • Learning something new
  • Using wordplay to stay mentally alert
  • Thinking outside the box by thinking inside the box
  • Improving memory
  • Having fun

And forget the myth that you have to be a wizard to decipher a crossword. “Gee, you must be really smart” people say to you in fascination, with the grave misconception that you have to be some kind of genius to figure out the clues. And God forbid you’re filling the answers in with pen– you’re mentally elevated to Jeopardy status!

Rubbish all of it. I’m no pro as I said, but I believe that there is a method to the seeming madness. Maybe everyone creates their own method as they go along, but a lot of it you get after doing it for a while. There are words that pop up almost every time that are called repeaters, and I go for these first because after getting them filled in it gives me more to work with in solving the remaining clues. And yes, some might make you scratch your head for a bit, but this makes getting the right answer all the more rewarding.

How helpful are these puzzles and word games to brain fitness? I had always believed the answer to this  to be “very” and was surprised to discover that it varied depending on who you asked. While some believed that a link could definitely be found between the two, there are others who now challenge the belief that crossword puzzles help with brain fitness and keeping Alzheimer and dementia at bay. Here are two articles that support each theory:

Brain Myth: Doing crossword puzzles can keep your brain young.

Do Crossword Puzzles Boost Your Brain Health?

So maybe you’re not a fan of crossword puzzles per say.  Maybe sudoku is more your thing or cryptograms (another of my favorite). If you just have a love for words and word solving, here are some great word games that are guaranteed to keep you occupied for hours:

Bookworm       Words with Friends        Missclass        Boggle          4 Pics- 1Word          Letter Press

Here are just a few of many great books to be found on puzzles at your local DCPL:

How to conquer the New York Times crossword puzzle– Amy Renaldo

Four-letter words: and other secrets of a crossword insider– Michelle Arnot

The crossword century– Alan Connor

Cracking codes & cryptograms for dummies– Denise Sutherland and Mark Koltko-Rivera

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

missclass

{ 1 comment }

Oct 14 2016

Knitting up the Ravelled Sleeve

by Dea Anne M

 

(Time of day – about 8:00 p.m.)

“No. You can’t stay up another 10 minutes. Bedtime is bedtime. Get your pajamas on and get your teeth brushed.”

“Yes. You can have a glass of water and then I want to see that light go out.”

“No, there isn’t a werewolf living in your closet. Now, go to sleep…”

“…and be sure you close your eyes. It’s already 5 minutes past your bedtime and tomorrow is a school day.”

This was a fairly standard scenario at my house when my brother and I were very young. Our family pod wasn’t particularly rigid or strict, as I recall, but both of my parents (especially my father) were very invested in making sure that we children got our required amount of sleep. They were young parents and maybe they were nervous about doing  everything right. Now, if we go forward in time several years, my younger sisters are about the same age as my brother and I in the scene above and the following would be part of a typical evening spent getting them to bed.

(One weary parent or another is shutting the door to the bedroom. The time? 8:30 p.m., 9:00, 10:00, 11:00? Who knows?)

“Yes, you can have the light on.” ”

“No, you don’t have to go to sleep right away.”

“Yes, you can play with the Legos but keep it quiet and don’t come out.”

Oldest children (and some of those in the middle) will sometimes complain that the youngest “Had it so easy.” I think that parents don’t shrug their shoulders and just give up – I think that they just decide that certain things (“Try not to break any bones if you can help it and leave the cat alone.”) are more important than some others (“You know we have broccoli at least once a week. Okay, just one little bite, okay?”) when it comes to raising children.

But this isn’t a post about child rearing or sibling order. This isn’t a post about the importance of family meal times either. This is a post about…sleep. When I was a kid, it wasn’t so much that I minded sleeping as it was all the exciting things that happened after 9:00 p.m. (or so I imagined). In later years, studying or just having fun often seemed more important than getting to bed at a reasonable hour. Night owl habits can be hard to break, but I think that I’m finally becoming someone who appreciates the early hours which, cliche or not, really are the best part of the day. I don’t seem to know that many people anymore who brag about how little sleep they’re getting and, in fact, more seem to complain about restless nights or noisy neighbors. Clearly, sleep is important for everyone, regardless of age, and getting enough of it can benefit everything from memory to weight loss.

But how do we get the sleep that we need in this stressed-out, always connected culture that we inhabit? If you aren’t naturally what my grandmother would have called a “good sleeper” or you’re just interested in the always intriguing subject of sleep,  then DCPL might have resources to help. Consider these:

The always lively, often controversial, Arianna Huffington’s latest book is Sleep Revolution: transforming your life , one night at a time. If that subtitle gives you pause, you may be interested to know that Huffington experienced a revolutionsleep revelation of sorts when she collapsed several years ago due to exhaustion. Since then, she has made it a mission to get good sleep – and to make sure that you get it too. In spite of that, this isn’t so much a how-to book as it is a look at the latest science on sleep. Huffington covers everything from the deceptions practiced by the sleeping pill industry to how artificial light (including that from our devices) effects our sleep. There’s also a discussion of how parents can have productive conversations with children about sleep and “model” the type of sleep behavior that they would like to see. Hmmm….so maybe I would have happily gone to bed at my assigned time if everyone else hadn’t seemed to be having so much fun?

Do you feel that you aren’t getting the quality sleep that you need at night and does that have an impact on your soundlywaking hours? If so, you might check out Robert S. Rosenberg’s Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day: a doctor’s guide to solving your sleep problems.  There’s lots of useful information here as well as a few tidbits that might surprise you. Did you know that a blue room is the most conducive to slumber? On the other hand, the “blue light” created by televisions, smart phones and computers can disrupt your melatonin production thus leading to a restless night. Which might mean that your bedside table should hold print books and an old school alarm clock instead of devices. I mean, once you finish painting the walls.

All living things seem to require a certain amount of sleep (or its equivalent) but sleep itself, and what really happenslife during it, remains in many ways a mystery. If you’ve always been curious about what sleep means in a cultural context be sure to check out The Secret Life of Sleep by Kat Duff. Duff explores the meaning of sleep, both in its physiological aspects as well as its social significance. Along the way, you’ll discover some interesting facts. Did you know, for example, that before the widespread use of electric lighting, people really did go to bed and arise with the sun but most people woke up for a lengthy period of time in between during which they would do some chores, pray or read. Fascinating stuff!

I’ve come a long way from the would be night owl, feet dragging to bed habits of before. These days I go to bed happily, dare I say eagerly, and, for the most part, I sleep well. How about you? Are you an early riser or do you come alive in the late hours? Most importantly, do you get enough sleep?

 

{ 1 comment }

Oct 10 2016

Out With The Old

by Camille B

picture-of-signboardWould you believe that you can still find a working payphone at the Decatur Library? I don’t mean a relic, barred off by velvet ropes where people can come by and stare in wonder (although they probably do). I’m talking about an actual, receiver- still- attached, working payphone.

You certainly don’t see these around anymore and many kids today have no idea what they are or how they work, just take a look here at the young man in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xm0CoT5n7A.

This youngster’s not alone, and it’s not just younger kids, teenagers too seem in awe of this blast from our past. I have a sixteen year old niece who has never seen an actual payphone, or a rotary phone for that matter, except for the ones on TV. Funny or sad, the most vivid recollection of the phone booth this modern generation might have in the  coming years, would be of Clark Kent using it to change into Superman.

Of course I couldn’t stop my mind from travelling down memory lane, wondering what else had faded away or died a quiet death while we weren’t looking? Those things which we believed to be so indispensable that are now simply memories that make our kids chortle and roll their eyes at us as though we lived during the Middle Ages.

Well honestly, quite a number of them that popped up are already pretty much obsolete and the others, though they’re putting up a brave fight to stay with us, will soon also be a thing of the past.

The following items came up repeatedly on various lists:

Rotary Phones- picture-of-rotary-phoneI think that the rotary phone would certainly be a great conversation piece among the younger and future generations. There were no buttons to press, not even for redial. Before thumbs rocked, the index finger ruled, for both scrolling down the pages of the telephone directory and dialing -the long way around. And if the phone rang, you picked it up, without knowing who was calling. If you missed a call, you dialed *69.

Mailing a letter- When was the last time you saw a teenager in line at the Post Office?  Just about everything is done online, even getting copies of grades and turning in assignments. All correspondence is done through text, emails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

Disposable Cameras- Gone are the days of dropping off your disposable camera at Walgreens and anxiously waiting  the one hour for your honeymoon photos to be developed, hoping that the weird, grinning man you met doesn’t appear in any of the backgrounds.picture-of-disposable-camera

Today we can easily snap and store hundreds of photos to our heart’s content, using our tablets and smart phones and getting results in an instant. We now even have the option of developing them ourselves. And thanks to Photoshop, you can also say bye-bye to the weird grinning man in the background.

Cursive Writing- Alas, the lost art of cursive writing which was such an integral part of the schools’ curriculum and encouraged proper penmanship among students, today is almost non-existent. The logic behind it seems to be that we rarely put pen to paper anymore anyway. Maybe in years to  come there will be no need for pen and paper at all, so the thought is, I guess, why waste time with such a practice?

Still, I believe that there’s just something about a person having good penmanship, don’t you think? And it’s one of those things I’d most hate to see go. Some states and schools are still fighting the good fight to keep it as part of their school’s curriculum, Georgia included, but sadly it’s dying a slow death.

Renting a Movie- Years ago, we probably couldn’t imagine life without popular video rental stores like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. For many it was part of the weekend experience. You stopped off at the video store down the street Friday or Saturday night to rent four or five movies which you kept for a few days.

Good times for us, but hey, no love lost for the modern generation, not when they have Redbox, Netflix, Hulu and other ways to rent movies or stream them online in your own home.picture-of-blockbuster-sign

Remembering Phone Numbers- Before everyone had a cellphone with the capability of storing every possible phone number you could think of, there was just that one house phone, remember? With probably an extra line or two for everyone in the house to use. You could recite grandma’s number by heart and aunt Helen’s, the Vet, and Wong’s Chinese takeout on the corner. Any others were probably penciled in your telephone and address book that you carried with you in your handbag.

Mixed Tapes- Look at how far we’ve come from the mixed tape. Remember all that time spent compiling our favorite songs on a single cassette with 60 or 90 minutes worth of playing time? Arranging the songs in just the right order, then listening first to one side and then flipping it over to listen to the other? And who could forget using a pencil to reel the tape back in when it somehow got unraveled.

Today there are ipods, MP3 players, tablets and cellphones that enable us to create, download and store endless playlists all at the touch of a button.

And there is my absolute favorite…

Handwritten Letters- I can’think of a person who doesn’t love to get a handwritten letter. I most certainly do. How often do I get them? Not very often, I’m afraid. It is now very rare to receive a warm, handwritten letter from a friend or loved one. In the busyness of today’s world, all our new technology has completely replaced putting pen to paper.

But the memories are still there of the handwritten love letters we kept over the years, now yellowed with age.

Letters have brought comfort to men at war, cheer to sick loved ones, and solace to broken hearts. Letters and love notes have evoked the theme for many a love story.
There were so many other things on the ‘out with the old’ list that stirred up feelings of nostalgia as I did research for this post.  You can find a few more here on this link 50 things we don’t do anymore due to technology.

And though we say out with the old, we still pause to reminisce about those things that contributed to our lives in some small way over the years, even as we embrace all that technology and the future has to offer us today.

“We all have our time machines.  Some take us back, they’re called memories.  Some take us forward, they’re called dreams.”

– Jeremy Irons

Visit your local Dekalb Public Library or visit the website to find copies of these titles:

The great acceleration: how the world is getting faster, faster/ Robert Colville

The way we will be 50 years from today/edited by Mike Wallace

Toilets, toasters & telephones/ Susan Goldman Rubin

From radio to wireless web/ Joanne Mattern

The history of the telephone/ Elizabeth Raum

How to write anything: a complete guide/ Laura Brown

 

 

 

{ 1 comment }

Sep 30 2016

Farming in the City? Why Not?

by Dea Anne M

The traditional image of a farm is one of huge tracts of vegetables and fruits, usually laid out in geometric patterns, and tended by people, men most often, operating large machine – or possibly, and old-fashioned, animal pulled plow. Always though, a farm is something that we tend to think of as a strictly rural phenomenon and only possible in the country because, after all, where on earth would you put a farm in the city?

Well, you might try looking up…to the roof, that is.  Rooftop gardening is taking off in cities such as New York and Chicago which don’t necessarily boast a lot of unused land. These are actual soil based gardens too – engineered via rooftopcontainer systems or other methods for holding the growing medium in place in areas often subject to wind and snow. Often, these gardens have the size and variety to bear the tag of farm. One such is the multiple site farm operated by Brooklyn Grange which includes organic vegetables as wells as apiaries for honey. Windy City Harvest, which is part of the Chicago Botanic Garden, runs many farm programs and working farms throughout the Chicago area including the very impressive farm atop the McCormick Place convention center. If you’d like to learn more about rooftop gardening or farming – and keep in mind that many rooftops won’t be suitable for such a project – check out The Rooftop Growing Guide: how to transform your roof into a vegetable garden or farm by Annie Novak. Novak is the director of Growing Chefs and is a co-founder (and farmer) of Eagle Street Rooftop Farms in  the Greenpoint area of Brooklyn, New York.

farmAnd if you can’t go up…well, why not find some space and reclaim it for food? That’s just what Novella Carpenter did when she found an abandoned lot next to her Oakland, California house set in a neighborhood that had definitely seen better days. Today, Ghost Town Farm is still alive and thriving. You can read all about it in Carpenter’s very entertaining memoir, Farm City: the education of an urban farmer

Of course, no voice in the urban farming movement is quite as powerful as that of Will Allen. Arevolution former professional basketball player (and the first African-American to play basketball for the University of Miami), Allen ultimately left a career in marketing in 1993 and purchased an old plant nursery in Milwaukee as well as a 100-acre farm in nearby Oak Creek. Since then, Allen’s Growing Power farming project has led the way in urban farming throughout the world. In particular, Allen has pioneered non-invasive methods of composting and aquaponics that aid in producing large yields in small areas of land. You can sample Allen’s unique voice and experience his passion for universal food security in his book The Good Food Revolution: growing healthy food, people and communitiesThe son of South Carolina sharecroppers, Allen shares much of his own story here and it is fascinating.

If you have your own dreams of farming, remember that you can start anywhere – even with a pot of parsley outside your back door. And as you plan for the growing season ahead, don’t forget about DCPL and our DIGG Seed Library, the first of its kind in Metropolitan Atlanta.  You can check out seeds from the library with your library card – all for free! As you plan for your spring planting, please be aware that the  Seed Library will close, temporarily, on September 30th, so that we can replenish and restock in preparation for the new planting season starting January 16th. In the meantime, happy gardening dreams!

 

 

 

 

 

 

{ 0 comments }

Sep 28 2016

Carla Hayden Breaks New Ground

by Joseph M

locThe Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, as well as the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. This venerable institution recently made history with the confirmation and swearing-in of Dr. Carla Hayden, the first woman and first African American to serve in the role.

Dr. Hayden is the 14th Librarian of Congress, and is the first professionally trained librarian to hold the position in nearly five decades; her predecessors were largely historians. Hayden has plenty of experience as a library administrator, having served as a president of the American Library Association, chief executive of the Enoch Pratt Free Library system in Baltimore, and chief librarian of the Chicago Public library System.

A transcript of her acceptance speech is available here.

Interested in learning more about the Library of Congress? DCPL has a number of books on the topic. Take a look at this catalog listing for more information.

{ 0 comments }

Sep 6 2016

Taking Good Care

by Dea Anne M

I find myself thinking this week of the many hotels in which I’ve stayed and it might come as no surprise that a few have been notable for reasons that would give pause to any but the grittiest and most optimistic of publicity teams. I’m remembering especially a place I stayed in Chicago years ago. We’ll call it the Bismarck Hotel since, basically, that was its name. My friend and I were there for the weekend, for a swanky formal wedding which was taking place in the hotel on Saturday night. The Art Deco splendor of the lobby and the banquet hall was rivaled only by the utter weirdness of the guest rooms. You might remember Twin Peaks from when  it premiered on television in 1990, or you may be one of the people who discovered the series after the DVD’s appeared on the market in 2007. For those of you who don’t know the show, Twin Peaks was auteur director David Lynch’s serial drama which, along with its quirky dialogue and incredibly convoluted plot, remains notable chiefly for its unrelenting, almost sledge-hammer-like,  hallucinatory quality. Our room at the Bismarck was like that. Like that show. Each corner of the room seemed to exist inside its own dimension of time and space. Looking at each of the four walls gave you the unsettling sensation that you could walk toward it and never reach it. It didn’t help that each wall was covered with a different wallpaper and that the wall closest to the bathroom boasted a painted portrait of a Holstein cow in profile. When people who have stayed in my guest room declare, as they have on occasion, that the experience is “Just like staying in a hotel!” all I can think is “Not like the Bismarck, I hope.”

The actual reason that I’ve been thinking about hotels and hospitality is that I will have houseguests this week. I actually quite enjoy having people come to stay with me, although perhaps not on the same scale as that known to hosts during the Regency, Victorian and Edwardian eras when guests often stayed for a fortnight (i.e. 14 days) or longer and needed to be provided with meals and entertainment and private rooms until their departure. While I don’t possess a billiards room and I can’t promise guests a fox hunt, I certainly do what I can. Some of the entertaining advice one encounters on lifestyle websites and in magazines are a bit over the top in my opinion (“Have the maid put fresh flowers in each guest’s room along with a tiny silver bell to summon the butler!” “Tie up guest towels with twill ribbons to make a pretty package but first make sure that you’ve had each towel custom monogrammed with your guest’s initials!”) while some guidelines for guests are… basic (“Don’t stay too long.” “Don’t steal.”) For me, the rules for hosting remain fairly simple – make sure the guest’s room is clean and comfortable, find out ahead of time about any food allergies or strong food preferences, participate willingly in conversation and other group activities. Most of all, I want my guests to feel comfortable and cared for – just as they would in a good hotel except maybe even more so.

If you feel like you could use some help with your own entertaining, or if you simply find the topic as fascinating as I do, let me recommend the following resources from DCPL.

Letitia Baldrige’s New Manners for Modern Times by Letitia Baldrigebasic

The New Basic Black: home training for modern times by Karen Grigsby Bates and Karen Elyse Hudson

Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior by Judith Martin

Emily Post’s Etiquette (17th edition) by Peggy Post

What about you? What do you like to do with and for your guests? As a guest, how do you like to be treated?

 

 

{ 0 comments }