Fun at Foster's blog

Giant Coreopsis

The Giant Coreopsis is a woody perennial plant native to California and Baja California. The stem is a trunk that can grow up to 8 feet tall and up to 5 inches in diameter.  Bright green leaves and flowers are on the top of the trunk, the rest of the trunk is bare. The flowers are yellow and daisy-like, which isn't too surprising since it is in the same family as sunflowers and daisies.  The flowers are usually about 3 inches in diameter and bloom from mid to late February through the beginning of May, depending on weather conditions.  In full bloom the plant looks very much like a bouquet of flowers growing on the coastal hillsides.

It has a bare trunk in summer and can be found on the north and central Southern California coast, the California Channel Islands, and further south on Guadalupe Island, Mexico. It thrives in frost-free areas because its stem is succulent.  Storing water in this way makes the plants tolerant to drought but especially susceptible to frost. The name, Coreopsis, comes from the Greek word, koris, which means “bug”, and refers to the tick-like shape of its fruit.  Individual leaves can be up to 10 inches long, are stringy and form shaggy clusters at the end of the branches.  When their blooming season is over, the plants form ugly, alien-looking stalks.  Once you've seen these unique plants in bloom, you'll never look at them the same way again.

You don't have to travel along the coast to see these amazing plants, which grow only in a limited corridor of our coastline.  The Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center in the Ventura Harbor has a botanical garden which features plants native to the Channel Islands, which includes the Giant Coreopsis.  If you would like to find out more about these fascinating specimens, and other wildflowers native to California, you can check out these books at E. P. Foster Library.

IDYLLIC SATIRE: The Role of Cervantes and Voltaire. (1607 to 1778)

 

     Though born more than a hundred years apart, these two authors shared a common ideological passion for life. The Reformation shaped the life of Miguel Cervantes, while it was the Enlightenment that gave Voltaire his perspective. Both periods shared a common theme of Church and State criticism and ridicule. The vehicle used by both to dispatch these institutions was satirical fiction. It was effective, often cruel, pointed and biting. And it got both writers into trouble on occasion.

      The Reformation was a volatile time for Europeans. It was precipitated by earlier events, like the Western Schism, the expansion of the Moors into Spain and The Black Death, all of which eroded people’s faith in the Catholic Church. That along with the printing press and the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire led Martin Luther to posting his “95 theses” condemning Catholicism . The Spanish Inquisition was also significant during this period, reaching its pinnacle before the taking of Grenada, ending the Muslim presence in Iberia in 1492.

      The Age of Enlightenment was a cultural revolution, prompted by science and logic. Its purpose was to reform society with reason, challenge ideas grounded in tradition and faith and advance knowledge through the scientific method. It promoted science, skepticism and intellectual interchange, opposing superstition, intolerance and abuses by Church and State. Gone was the age of chivalry, to be replaced later by a naive optimism, the two main themes in the works of Cervantes and Voltaire.

 

DON QUIXOTE De La Mancha  By Miguel Cervantes

     Chivalry had died out during the Reformation, although the cornerstone of it (Might makes Right) was alive and well in Spanish Christendom. It was in the guise of the powerful Inquisition . (Interesting too, that the narrator calls himself, Cide Hamette Benengeli, an Arab of Moorish Spain. Its as if Cervantes wants to introduce the 1st great European novel to be written by a Muslim.)

     Thus we find Alonso Quijano, a land owner from La Mancha . He is obsessed with his library of chivalrous books . Driven mad by the inconsistencies he perceives in his own time, he sets out to restore dignity to the lost profession of knight-errantry (as if to reform the Reformation).

    He assembles a rudimentary sword, tarnished and dented suit of armor and a bowed plough horse named Rocinante, falsely perceiving himself to be a dashing Knight on his stallion steed in glimmering silver armor ; and then heads out into Spain in his quest for glory, calling himself, Don Quixote. Accompanied by his faithful , bloated and longsuffering squire, Sancho Panza, the two chase his dream through the contemporary countryside. The discussions between them along the way are endless and bizarre, in which Quixote’s heightened insane view of life come crashing down to earth with Sancho’s sly pragmatism. They are locked into mutually exclusive views of the world, even though one cannot do without the other. The reader faces in the same moment, an ideal world and the brutal facts of the real world.

     Quixote tilts with windmills, thinking they are giants and fights with innkeepers he envisions to be ogres, causing heavy damage to their premises while also attempting to rescue a maiden in the form of a statue of the Virgin Mary from her captors only to get beaten up by priests. He acquaints himself with a scullery whore and names her Dulcinea, a noblewoman of refined qualities . We then wonder if he will ever see the world for what it is, laughing at every episodic adventure. But in the end, it is he who has the last laugh.

     Yet we continue to read page after page, year after year, century after century of his adventures and faux conquests feeling quite sorry for the moribund hero. It is only when Quixote is confronted by the Knight of the Mirrors (a disguise by his neighbor ) in which The man from La Mancha recognizes his reflection for what it is, does the adventure cease. But with that, Cervantes craftily leads us to the recognition that even though the man was mad, his world view held more sanity than the real world about which he lived.

 The Resident Scholar - Doug Taylor

Baby's in Black

 

The Beatles were the One Direction of their day, or to put it correctly, One Direction are The Beatles of today. Few bands have been so loved for so long as the boys from Liverpool. My mother spent her teenage years listening to The Beatles. It’s a love that hasn’t faded, and it’s a love she passed on to me. I remember playing her albums (in the days before CDs and downloads to your IPod), singing along to the songs.
 
So, what’s the point of my reminiscing, you ask? Well, I’ve just finished a new graphic novel called Baby’s in Black. It’s about the early days of The Beatles, when the Fab Four was the Fab Five and they were playing small clubs in Germany, and had yet to make their big debut in America. At its core is the blossoming relationship between Stuart Sutcliffe (the fifth Beatle) and Astrid Kirchherr, a German photographer. It tells of their first meeting and their instant attraction for one another. It details the early struggles the group had trying to make a living in Germany; of Sutcliffe’s renewed interest in painting; and his eventual departure from the group. It also tells of his growing headaches and fatigue, followed by his untimely death at age 21. Subtly alluded to at first, his condition is always acknowledged, but downplayed as merely working too hard.
 
The book is drawn in lovely black and white, and while the artwork may be simple by design, it is no less effective in the story it tells. Arne Bellstorf, who wrote and illustrated the book, does a fine job conveying a sweet love story between Stuart and Astrid, which is the real heart of the book. It’s actually a rather nice surprise to see it from Astrid’s point of view. John, Paul, George, Stuart and Pete (Ringo Starr was not a part of the group at this time) are just teens who really want to play music. There is only a hint of the fame that is to come.

The characters are distinct enough to know who’s who, and the drawing is charming. At 196 pages, it certainly can’t go into massive detail about the events but it does a nice job of giving you enough of the story to know what’s going on. It’s a pleasant, nostalgic look at The Beatles before they were The Beatles.

Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess

Vegan Cooking

 

How It All Vegan! : Irresistible Recipes for an Animal-Free Diet by Tanya Barnard and Sara Kramer is a fun, kind and just plain wonderful cookbook. There is a lot of interest in Veganism right now, folks have many questions and concerns whether their nutritional needs will be met with a Vegan diet, well this book does a great job of addressing these valid concerns and is a heck of a cookbook to boot! Step into this book with an open mind and one will come out preparing some of the most scrumptious, healthiest meals a non-meat eater can experience!

I know many of you are thinking the Dish has jumped into the deep end of the casserole pan, but I tell you these vegan recipes are delicious. With the recipe’s wholesome qualities glaring me in the face I knew there was only one choice in this Vegan cookbook for me: the “Garden Medley Vegetable Stew”! The recipe suggests that one throw in whatever vegetables one has in the fridge, and I did. The recipe also called for a butternut squash repeating a butternut squash, don’t get me wrong I love butternut squash, it’s just that they are very difficult to cut. After the squash cutting the concocting of the stew went well, and after about 55 minutes of simmering  I turned the heat off and let the stew rest for about 15 minutes, then chowed down on  very, very good stew This is a great cookbook even for the non-vegans, just cook something from this book and enjoy life!

*****David’s Dish

Check out the book at Foster Library, or put a hold on it - we will send it to you!

If there are any cookbooks in Foster Library’s collection that you would like me to try out, please leave the title on our Facebook page and I’ll get cooking.

The Pickwick Papers

THE PICKWICK PAPERS : Continued from 19th Century British Authors.

Charles Dickens

       This is primarily a serious novel, presented in the guise of comedy. Not that Dickens makes the reader swallow a bitter pill with sugar coating. All of the elements of comedy are presented against the backdrop of an unsettled early 19th century. Pickwick Papers exhalts the joys of travel, the pleasures of eating and drinking well, the fellowship of men, innocence, benevolence, youthfulness and romance. However, Dickens achieves these values against rather unpleasant realities. Comforable travel is contrasted with the stagnent squalor of prison life. Good food and drink are played off against the grubby victuals and cheap wine of prison. Male friendships are set off against predatory wives, widows and spinsters as well as mean and unscrupulous men.

     Behind the episodic work lies the influence of Cervantes, Voltaire and Dante with the sarcastic criticism of the legal and political corruptions of their day. And in the case of the Pickwick Papers, it is the idea of debtor’s prison that has Dickens all afire.

     In May, 1827, the Pickwick Club of London, headed by Samual Pickwick, decides to establish a traveling society in which four members travel about England and make reports on their travels. The four members are Mr. Pickwick, a kindly businessman and philosopher whose thoughts never rise above the commonplace, Tracy Tupman, a ladies man who never makes a conquest, Augustus Snodgrass ,a poet who never writes a poem and Nathaniel Winkle, a sportsman of incredible ineptitude.

     The four are met with all kinds of civil unrest , unwanted marriage proposals and hilarious treachery as they travel about. They cause a lot of damage, through no adventure of their own, and when Pickwick refuses to pay damages for things not his fault, he is thrown into Fleet Prison, an incarceration facility for debtors. Eventually, he pays his debts in order to be freed to pay off the debts of his associates (the result of several political corruption scandels). His associates are forever grateful, though the Pickwick Society is later dissolved because of the class hatred from “lesser” society. In the end, he becomes Godfather to many of his associates children garnished through the ruthlessness of their predatory wives, widows and spinstered mistresses. It is a grand portal through which English Society is seen in the squaler that greed has created through industry and politics.

The Resident Scholar - Doug Taylor

Free Parenting Sessions at Foster

We are happy to work with City Impact to provide free parenting sessions to our community! We have a variety of options, based on your needs and your schedule. All events will take place in the Topping Room at Foster library.

One-stop session: 3/13 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.The Power of Positive Parenting

8 week session in English: 3/19-5/7 every Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Positive Parenting Group meets weekly to learn parenting techniques. From giving praise to creating rules and following up with effective discipline, this group will cover it all!

8 week session in Spanish: 3/16 - 5/13 every Tuesday from 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Para apuntarse a esta clase o recibir mas informacion sobre el programa de Triple P, favor de llamar a City Impact: (805) 983-3636 ex. 103

Registration is required for these events, call (805) 983-3636 ext #103 for more info. Hope to see you there!

 

 

Mmmm, crab!

 

Approximately 300 varieties of fish and shellfish are native to California. In Ventura, rock crab, spider crab, mackerel, herring, halibut, sanddabs, bass, perch and a variety of sharks and rays can be caught off the Ventura Pier.

Ventura has been a prime spot for seafood since the Chumash first established their villages in the area,.  If you would like to pursue this ancient art, there are many books available at E. P. Foster Library to guide you.

Six Baby Read Aloud Stages

Six Baby Read Aloud Stages:
1. The Lisener (0-2 months) Read anything for the purpose of the the baby hearing your voice and books you read to them before they were born.
2. The Observer (2-4 months) read books with rhymes and songs and books with black & white pictures or bold colors.
3. The Cooer (4-8 months) Read touch & feel books to stimulate the senses and use teething books.
4. The Babbler (8-12 months) Read books with noise and buttons or books that label objects or body parts.
5. The Word Maker (12-18 months) Use books that ask questions and ones that have rhymes/song and handmovements.
6. Phrase Maker (18-24 months)Read books that contain colors, numbers and basic concepts as well as books about the child current interest, fairies, trucks, animals, etc.

Baby Read Aloud Basics by Caroline Blakemore (372.4)-Star

Celebrate your love in Ventura!

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue
I'm ready for Valentine's Day, How about You?
 
It is Thursday, are you ready?
You can get Ideas of where to go and what to do by visiting the VENTURA VISITORS & CONVENTION BUREAU website. Also, you will find great Valentine's Day books for kids on the Children's floor of the E. P. Foster Library!

Graphic Novels inspired by Anne Rice

       

What if we could be immortal, never die? Would we have a soul? Would we have purpose, a reason for being? These are questions you might consider asking after reading not one, but two, recently released graphic novels inspired by the works of Anne Rice.

The first book is Interview with the Vampire: Claudia’s Story and tells the familiar tale from the viewpoint of Claudia, the little-girl-turned-vampire and the companion to Louis and Lestat. Her immortality is given not by choice, but a ploy used by Lestat to keep Louis near him. That immortality comes at a price, not just by her need for blood, but by the very fact that she will never age. Although she will always remain the figure of a five year old child, her mind will continue to mature and change, a fact not welcomed by Lestat. She will increasingly question and challenge him at every opportunity, just as she will grow in her love and affection for Louis, a love that will never be fulfilled.  It is the truth of her existence that leads her to betray her maker and search out others of her kind in order to find the purpose and meaning in her life. It is a search that will play out to its unfortunate end.

While the story is well-known to Anne Rice fans, it is worth reading for Claudia’s perspective on things and is a good companion piece to the original novel. Beautifully drawn in sepia tones, the only contrasting color is the color of blood.

The second graphic novel to follow this trend of the soul and immortality is The Servant of the Bones. It is the story of Azriel, a Jewish man living in Babylon, who agrees to become the servant of the title in order to serve the ruling king and protect his people. But he is tricked, and his body is melted in a vat of gold, leaving nothing but his gold-encased bones behind. He becomes a genie (somewhere between an angel and a demon), his bones trapped in a box, his spirit to be released by its possessor when the need arises.

His immortality is one of darkness, and the centuries quickly pass. He comes when he is called, but he soon learns that not all his masters are righteous or good. In time, he becomes less willing to obey and even attacks those who would command him. He gains something of himself and soon no longer requires the box (or its owner) to appear. In time, he finds himself compelled to solve the murder of a young woman in modern times. This brings him into conflict with a cult determined to bring about an apocalypse, with themselves as the only survivors.

The Servant of the Bones is colorfully drawn, and Azriel is not too hard on the eyes, if I do say so myself. Despite not having read the book on which it is based, I found the graphic novel easy to follow and an interesting read.

While both novels are very different in story and scope, I did find they had some common ground. Both dealt with the choices of immortality (given or not) and the consequences that followed. Both dealt with individuals trying to find themselves in their new lives, and despite the very different outcomes, both sought to retain something of their souls.

Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess

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