Friday, April 29, 2011

Andy Goldsworthy

And he is! There was quite the hoo-rah over Mr. Goldsworthy in Iowa in 2002.  Goldsworthy had an exhibit at the Des Moines Art Center and the Center showed a documentary film displaying his creative process. Which occasionally involves holding a piece of ice until it melts into the shape he wants. Brr. It took Goldsworthy and a crew of Scottish wall builders weeks to create the cairn in Greenwood Park. Then there are the bonus 'open cairns' that surround it. I love those things, my goal is to be photographed in them once for each season.  Some of Goldsworthy's work is meant to fall apart, which breaks my heart. They're so gorgeous.  He had an amazing stick tapestry at the Art Center and I believe it is no more.  Goldsworthy's leaf work can be shockingly beautiful, but he assembles it (on a river - it's just going to float away!) then takes a photo and leaves.  ba dump bump.  At least we have the photos. The library has several books on his work but 'Project' is new new new.  So if you've seen the others, now you can immerse yourself in more! 
Andy Goldsworthy

The Andy Goldsworthy Project
Source:  Des Moines Register. Des Moines, Iowa: Dec 22, 2002. pg. O.4
Goldsworthy, cairn project  as accessed through the Des Moines Register Database (Des Moines Public Library Card number and PIN required for access)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Upcycling Your Old Stuff

Upcycling.  Isn't that a cool word?  Nothing to do with hills and muscle power.  It's a new term for taking materials you might have recycled and making something new out of them.  Say a bowl out of glossy magazine pages.  Or remember the necklaces you used to make out of gum wrappers?  Sure you do.  You can use the same technique to make a purse! Make a clock from a CD!  Ha!  Rubber stampers have been doing this for years!  They can put their superior hats on now.  Most of this stuff is pretty good- looking too, but you need a high tolerance for BRIGHT.  Oh oh, another fun new word - plarn.  Short for 'plastic yarn' because you can knit with plastic bags!  Ecofriendly and fun.

Books on Upcycling, Recycled Crafts, Trash to Treasure.  Ah, the evolution of nomenclature.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pay Attention When You Eat That Cruller

It's Emotional Overeating Awareness Month! Wheee!  Why do we eat when we're scared, sad, anxious, etc.?  When we had to say, get a shot as children, we were often comforted with food.  It was very effective!  But when we were kids someone else controlled our food intake. Now we are on our own. That, of course, is only one theory. We have to figure out other ways to comfort/treat ourselves and I gotta tell ya the "go for a walk, call a friend, take a bubblebath" suggestions - none of those do it for me.  Partly because they are way more work than opening a candy bar.  So I'm still looking for something to replace the word "food" in "comfort food".  Maybe something in these books would be useful!  I should read them!  I'd still eat comfort food sometimes though. No point obsessing.

Books for People Who Worry About Emotional Eating

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It's Just Odd

A.  Say you're driving through Brunswick, Missouri.  The July 2009 population was 836 so this endeavor won't take long.  What's the first thing you notice?  The World's Largest Pecan!  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this sucker weighs 12,000 pounds.  It's big.  It's also made of concrete, so no nibbling.
B.  Got a hankerin' to see a motorcycle built out of pop can tabs?  This lifelong dream can come true in Kansas.  Herman Divers has assembled such an objet d'art  and you can view it in the Grassroots Art Center, Lucas KS. Population 400.
C.  Remember Steve Canyon?  Quite the two-dimensional hunk as pictured in the comic strip of the same name.  You say two dimensions are not enough?  Would you believe ... Idaho Springs, Colorado went bonkers for Steve Canyon in the late 1940's.  The townspeople managed to inveigle the U. S. treasury into building a 40-foot limestone statute of, Steve Canyon.  Oh, I forgot the population: 1889.  They're huge!

Check out these books, they are bundles of fun.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Plantar Fasciitis is a Pain in the Foot

I know 3 people who have had this condition.  And I don't know that many people, so I consider this an epidemic.  By the way, can you believe the double i's?  Was that really necessary?   Plantar fasciitis effects more than 2 million people every year and that's just in the U.S.  Could it  have anything to do with the shoes, hmmmm?  The pain, as you can see in the lovely illustration, is not actually at the point of the plantar fascia.  But if the old plantar fascia gets strained or overstretched it will get inflamed and it's gonna hurt.  The condition can be caused by running, jumping, or just standing too long.  So napping looks better and better.

Source:  Easing the pain of plantar fasciitis.
Harvard Women's Health Watch; Aug2007, Vol. 14 Is. 12, p4-5, 2p, 5
as accessed through EBSCOHost

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day let us consider books that have Earth in the title.
Earth by David Brin  It's about literally saving the earth.  The entire planet!  Science Fiction!
Earth, air, fire and custard / Tom Holt  Actually an alternative earth.  Goblins!
Earth always endures : native American poems   Includes: The Death Song of White Antelope (Cheyenne).

Happy Appreciate Your Planet Day!

There are many many more titles you can access here:
Don't stop at this page, keep going!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mills Sisters

Hayley Mills turned 65 Monday!  How gray am I?  Coolest name ever - who called their kid 'Hayley' in the 50's?  Oh, the British.  I'm not a big Pollyanna fan, but loved her in films in which she was less sweet. Remember the deliciously snide little tune "Pink of Perfection"?  That was Hayley getting catty in Summer Magic. Then in That Darn Cat she got... a little feline pet. Har! Our Hayley also sang in The Parent Trap.  Who could forget "let's get together, yeah yeah yea, we'll have a real good ti-ime"?  Not my poor parents after we sang it 27,049 times during various car trips.  Then there is my favorite nun movie of all time The Trouble with Angels.  Hayley and her bang-straightening chum got up to all sorts of capers. I was very disappointed in the ending. So not scathingly brilliant. Hey,wondering who the other sister was?  Juliet Mills of Nanny and the Professor!  That show taught us there's nothing a woman in a cape and a Sherlock Holmes hat can't fix.  Learning!

Hayley Mills at the DMPL

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Beetle News

I see New Beetle Design Has Been Revealed!  That's how they talk in the car biz.  It's less round.  So it looks more like a sports car and less like a bug.  I loved the original New Beetles that came out in 1998, such cheerful and happy little bubbles tootling around town. Beetles built from March 1953 to July 1957 had a small oval window in back. I had no idea!  Apparently they are quite collectible. And small enough to stack in your garage.  The cars didn't do too well at first in America.  In 1949 a total of... two Beetles were sold!  Whoohoo!  By 1960 the beentsy cars had caught on and 191,372 were sold.  Ah, you had me at "Fau Vee".

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Shirley Jackson - Crazy Good

Shirley Jackson is of course best known for The Lottery and The Haunting of Hill House.  This lesser-known novel is way more twisted.  Two sisters, one in her twenties one in her teens, live with their disabled Uncle Julian in a huge house that’s going to seed.  Their extended family is dead - arsenic in the tea.  Who would do such a thing?  The town folk assume the older sister, Constance, is at fault.  Now Constance won’t leave the house.  So Mary Catherine, ‘Merricat’ has to go to town for supplies and face the hostile citizenry.  The local children have even composed a little Lizzie-Bordenesque ditty to express their opinion of the family.  Ahem.”Merricat, said Connie, would you like a cup of tea? Oh no, said Merricat you’ll poison me.”  Merrricat, our narrator, is nuts. She protects herself from these taunts with a heaping spoonful of magical thinking.  The old ‘if I don’t see a dog in the next 3 blocks I’ll get home safe’ kind of thing.  Both the sisters and the uncle are quite content with their bizarre little lives. Until a good-looking male cousin upsets the teacart. Here’s a hint:  things don’t get better. Just more interesting.   One of my favorite books ever, highly recommended!  Our copies don't have this cool cover but don't let that stop you!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Nuptials Royale

Are you getting ready for the royal wedding?  As if you didn't know, Prince William and Kate Middleton will be wed Friday 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey.  I am giddy with excitement!  Well, as giddy as I was for Prince Charles wedding to Lady Di, which did not include getting up at 6 AM to watch the telly.  Loooved Lady Di's dress.  If you weren't there for the 80's you just wouldn't understand.  That decade was all about the big.  I recently saw home movies from that era and you could have hidden a comminity band in my hair, complete with the bandstand. And ginormous shoulders?  They make your hips looks smaller. Of course Kate Middleton is so slim and lovely she could wear a flour sack and look good.  And for those of you who haven't seen a flour sack, neither have I.  But I'm pretty sure they're not haute couture.

Books on the 1980's

Friday, April 15, 2011

Would You Like to Swing on a Star?

Or would you rather be a mule?  I alway thought this was a children's song but it was actually written for a movie from by-gone days.  This song, Swinging on a Star, is even from a movie I've seen with my own two eyeballs albeit probably 35 years ago.  Going My Way starring Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald is a stirring tale of the world's smoothest young priest, Father Chuck O'Malley, (Chuck!) and how he saved St Dominic's through the power of music.  A distaff Sister Act with fewer guns and biker bars?  Or more like Sister Act 2 what with the youth choirs.  Swinging on a Star won the Oscar for Best Song in 1944.  With lyrics like:
A mule is an animal with long funny ears
He kicks up at anything he hears
His back is brawny - and his brain is weak
He's just plain stupid with a - stubborn streak
And by the way, if you hate to go to school
You may grow up to be a mule

you can see why it was honored.  And why it's so fun for kids to sing!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chicks in the City

What can you say about an enormous chick?  Whatever it wants!  Ha!  Ha! Seriously folks, it appears that raising chickens in an urban environment is still pretty popular.  Some people keep them for pets!  Grown chickens!  According to an article in Countryside; Small Stock Journal Nov/Dec2007, one Frank Hieiema of North Carolina likens his chicken coop to "a widescreen tv." "We don't have cablevision because we get enjoyment watching the chickens...." Plus they eat a lot of bugs. The chickens do. The eggs?  Rumor is they're fabulous.  More information?  Coming right up:

Chickens in the back yard.  On purpose!
Building chicken coops for dummies

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Combine Farm Machinery

Growing up in Iowa you acquire some words without knowing just what they mean.  Take combine.  Not combine as in put things together.  Combine, like farm equipment.  My family would go past all kinds of machinery traveling on county roads. I'd point at various things with huge metal circles, enormous rakes, all kinds of Godzilla-scale doodads and ask," Is that a combine?"  I never did get it straight.  Just for you, meet the combine.  It's short for 'combined harvester-thresher'.  Guess what?  It cuts (harvests) and threshes at the same time! Cutting we got.  So, threshing. The threshing takes place in a drum where a revolving cylinder just beats that grain right off the stalks. This machine is not fooling around.  I figured combines were a fairly recent invention but they've been around since the 1830's.  Back when they had to use horses to haul them around.

Farm Machine History Books
Source:  The World Book Encyclopedia

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sky High Heels

Stilettos.  Crazy scary shoes.   When browsing footwear I'm oft reminded of this quote from Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Giles:  "Look at those shoes.  If a fashion magazine told her to she'd wear cats strapped to her feet".  I find stilettos to be little works of art; beautiful but, come on, surely not meant to be worn. On the other hand they're so ubiquitous that I had forgotten the original meaning of the word, to wit:  "a slender dagger with a blade thick in proportion to its breadth".  So according to Webster's, a stiletto is a deadly weapon.  Why all the interest, you ask? I just finished the new so not-cozy mystery Dead Like You by Peter James, and couture shoes that require a balancing act figure heavily.  In the weapon-y sense, but I'll say no more!  I don't want to ruin it for you. I would like to express my awe for the brave, the strong, the fashionable who dare to wear these shoes. I'm not walking a mile in them.

Dead like you / Peter James

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hellebores? No, They're Actually Quite Interesting.

Aaaah!  Hellebores!  Run! Never heard of this genus of plants?  Me neither!  Yet a friend of mine attended a class devoted to nothing but Hellebores. And she liked it!  What's the attraction?  The American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants describes the leaves as being 'toothed, (and) leathery'. Okay, uh huh, still don't like them.  Also 'all parts may cause severe discomfort if ingested and the sap may irritate skin on contact'. So informative, the AHS. And encouraging!  The actual good news is some Hellebores are very pretty, like December Dawn and Peggy Ballard. Aaaaah. Don't they sound nice?  But a whole class. Maybe to make sure you Dont-touch-those!!

The American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants

Friday, April 8, 2011

East Side Book Sale - All New! Starts Tomorrow!

The East Side Library, 2559 Hubbell Avenue, is holding a book sale with so much fun stuff you will be agog.  If you still use your VCR it's your lucky day - hundreds of tapes!  Chockfull of kids' books and some recent encyclopedia sets!  Then apparently someone who was a member of a science fiction book club donated a mess of SF books.  You just never know what you'll find at a library book sale.  How about a plastic carrying case with 45's in it?  My sister's friend Jeanne had one of these.  It was pink and she had the record 'Judy in Disguise (with glasses)'. How I envied her.  On the last day of the sale the price is $2 per bag. So you definitely want to go twice!

East Side Library's Annual Book Sale at 2559 Hubbell Avenue.
Saturday April 9th - tomorrow!- through Saturday April 16.
Saturday 10 AM -5 PM
Monday through Thursday 10 AM- 8PM
Friday 1 PM - 6 PM
Saturday 10 AM -5 PM  Bag Day!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I can point to any car on the road and my husband knows what it is.  This is like magic to me.  He is a car fiend and his favorite magazine is Automotive News.  Oh my gosh, he can find out 'North American car and truck production from January to March 27 2011'. Heeaaaven!.  There were 18,836 Chevy Acadias manufactured in those 3 months. Don't you feel fulfilled now?  No?  That's because you need to go through the whole magazine, silly.  Hey, you can also read about dealer incentives! In one convenient package!  Find out what it feels like to touch glossy paper again.  Aaaaah.

Automotive News

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Couldn't be Cheaper Fudge

The one kind of fudge I can make bears no resemblance to the creamy squares found at candy stores.  It's simple to make but can be messed up if you try really hard.  Sometimes as a kid I forgot to beat the stuff and the result totally looked like the Blob.  You know, the Blob from the original black and white movie, when it oozed through the vents at the theater.  It was gross but I ate it anyway.  Um, fudge!  Now you try -
3 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa  powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/3 stick butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a saucepan mix sugar, cocoa and salt.  Add milk and stir. 
Turn the burner on medium and cook until the mixture boils, stir it sometimes. I watch it boil really high and foamy then stir until it boils down.  Now here's the tricky part.  "Cook to the soft ball stage".  Raise your hand if you've ever tried this. Now both of you can put your hands down.  Get a glass of cold water, drip some fudge mixture in then put your hand in the glass, grab the stuff and try to roll it in a ball. Oh, and don't put too much water in the glass or it will spill out when you put your hand in.  Forgot that part.  If it rolls into a nice squishy ball you're gold. Now take the pan off the burner.  Add the butter and vanilla then beat the fudge until it starts to get really thick.  Unless you want the Blob effect.  Pour out onto a buttered plate. By the time you've licked the spoon and scraped every molecule of fudge out of the pan the fudge should be ready!
Now if you'd like to make actual good fudge, here are some handy resources:
Fudge Cookbooks

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Shoofly Doesn't Bother Me At All

I was looking over a sheet of vintage toy graphics and the page title was "Rocking Horses and Shooflies".  What? Shoofly is either a way of saying 'go away bugs' or it's a type of pie.  Nothing to do with toys.  Well, silly me.  Turns out shooflies are rockers with a seat placed between two pieces of wood that have been cut and painted to look like animals. Animals with rockers on the bottom, natch.  So then I wondered if shoofly pie was related.  Webster's says it's a "rich pie of Pennsylvania Dutch origin made of molasses or brown sugar sprinkled with a crumbly mixture of flour, sugar, and butter".  Yum.  No animals, painted or otherwise, involved.  We just have the oddest language.  Ain't it fun?

Monday, April 4, 2011


First I'm mixed up about how to spell Buddhism.  I know, pathetic.  The 'h' seems to float, does it go after the B, after the u, no, it's after the dd.  Yeah, I'll retain that about 5 minutes.  Then I discover that Buddhism is not a uniform belief system, there are different kinds of Buddhism!  (I'd take credit for spelling it right 3 times in a row but I'm copying and pasting.) They are: The Therevada that emphasizes personal salvation through your own efforts and is the oldest of the disciplines; The Mahayana, whose adherents' goal is to become Buddhas themselves - their tradition includes the bodisatva, one who delays nirvana in order to help others.  I have on occasion been able to impress people because I can pronounce this, but I'm just a Steely Dan fan. Then there's The Vajrayana who are mostly Mahayana-esque but they include magic and deities in their religion. All this is of course hugely simplified.  Buddhism is complicated.  And has 350 million followers.  Who can probably spell it.

Source:  World Book Encyclopedia.  That's right.  Still one of the best resources in the biz.
Buddhism Books

Friday, April 1, 2011

North Side Booksale - Shop Early Shop Often!

North Side Library, at 3516 Fifth Avenue, will have a fabulous booksale pre-sale for the low low admission price of $5! Yes, for a mere sawbuck you can be among the hoi-polloi and get first shot at all the goodies! When does this happen, you ask? Saturday April 2 from 12-3. The actual library isn't open, but you can shop! For those of you more like me, the regular week-long sale starts Monday April 9th and runs through Saturday April 16th. The hours for that week are:

Mon: 12 PM - 8 PM
Tue-Wed: 10 AM - 6 PM
Fri : 10 AM - 6 PM
Sat: 10 AM - 5 PM

North Side Library has p-lenty to sell: Books, Media, Magazines & Paperbacks for all Ages! Shop all week!