|Poinsettias have become a popular symbol of the holiday season, but did you know that Ventura was once known as the “Poinsettia City”? At one time, poinsettias were such an important local crop that the city once known as “Palm City” changed its nickname to “Poinsettia City by the Sea.”|
|The poinsettia is a plant native to Mexico. The Aztecs used the plant to produce red dye and as a medicine to reduce fevers. In the Aztec language—Nahuatl—the plant is called Cuetlaxochitl (from cuetlatl, residue, and xochitl, flower), meaning “flower that grows in residue or soil.” Its current popular English name derives from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico who introduced the plant into the United States in 1825.|
While there are few poinsettia growers left in the area, there are still place names in the city that are a reminder of this once blooming industry. Poinsettia Pavilion sits on Foothill Road overlooking the city that gave it its name, there is Poinsettia Elementary School, and the Chamber of Commerce gives out its Poinsettia Awards annually to recognize the deeds and good actions of businesses, organizations, and individuals in Ventura.
If you've been curious about the Library LAB's 3D printer and laser engraver, you're in luck! Starting in January, library staff will be available to help you learn about these pieces of equipment.
Whether you want to find out more about the software and hardware involved or use the printer or engraver for a project of your own, we can walk you through the process and get you ready to start making!
It's difficult to think of a more perfect film for the holidays than MGM's 1944 Technicolor musical, Meet Me in St. Louis. Indeed the film, which chronicles a year in the life of an upper middle class family in turn of the century St. Louis, includes vivid evocations of two major American holidays.
The film was a breakthrough for the young Judy Garland, and though she balked at playing another ingénue role her portrayal of middle daughter Esther Smith turned out to be the performance that launched her into a variety of romantic adult roles. The film was also a landmark for the amazingly precocious performance of little Margaret O'Brien as the rowdy youngest daughter, Tootie.
The film is relatively plotless and is based on a series of episodic New Yorker short stories by Sally Benson. What makes it work is director Vincente Minnelli's obvious affection for the characters and his striking visual sense which evokes the period in all its Technicolor splendor.
|Judy Garland dances with the boy next door (Tom Drake).|
MGM constructed its famous St. Louis street for this film. The elaborate back lot set would appear in many later films but was demolished at the end of the studio era and is now a housing development down in Culver City.
Newcomer Lucille Bremer plays the humorously affected older sister, Rose, and Tom Drake is Esther's love interest, "The Boy Next Store," the object of one of the film's most durable new songs.
The score also includes several other classics, including one of the most elegiac holiday ballads ever written (but bear in mind the film was being made during the dark middle years of World War II).
|Margaret O'Brien and Judy Garland.|
The two-disc special edition DVD set includes a number of great extras, including a detailed "Making Of" documentary, a collection of Minnelli trailers, and an episode of the TV series adapted from the film.
My rekindled interest in meditation led me to seek out a vegetarian cookbook (thank you, John Landa, for your inspiration, the "Beginning Meditation” class at E.P. Foster Library!). I walked around the cookbook section of the library with my third eye wide open and spied a wonderful book entitled Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings by Edward Espe Brown.
Tomato Blessing and Radish Teachings is a combination of Zen philosophy, cooking, and a little bit of a life story tossed in for good measure, which makes it rate highly on my list of favorite cookbooks. The cookbook also contains a wide variety of simple vegetarian recipes, ranging from Drunken Cabbage to Mystery Bites!
Now to the cooking. With a still mind and a yearning for some simple, healthy food I proceeded to make Garbanzo Bean Stew with Spinach and Saffron. It's a simple stew to put together, and while my version ended up saffron free it was still very delicious. Be here now!
Check out the book at Foster Library, or put it on hold—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!
Are you looking for your grandfather or Uncle Joe?
Together these resources provide access to census images, family, local and church histories, birth marriage and death records, newspapers, city directories and much more.
These events are part of our recent Makeshop outreach program and will include activities related to chemistry, robotics, and even art! Participants will be able to create bouncing balls, drawing machines, and vibrating robots like the one pictured here.
All of these events are free and open to the public, so drop by the library and check out some of the ways science and technology can be fun and exciting!
The relationship between a parent and child is unique in the influence it can have on the development of a young person, and often the parent is equally changed by this ever-evolving connection. The severing of this bond leads to significant emotional disruption regardless of which party does the leaving and why. For this reason, novels which deal with the loss of a parent or child speak to us in a powerful way, tapping into a deep empathy and a gut-wrenching fear. Some works also remind us that we can lose someone even if they don’t exactly go away, that there are circumstances which can separate us absolutely even from people we continue to see every day.
|Leaving Time (2014) is the latest novel by Jodi Picoult, and it centers on the main character’s loss of (and potential abandonment by) her mother. Jenna Metcalf lost her mother—a researcher at an elephant sanctuary in New Hampshire—when she was three years old under complicated circumstances, and her father has been in a mental institution for many of the intervening years. Now thirteen years old, Jenna is ready to find answers and seeks out some unlikely allies to help her along. One is Serenity Jones, a formerly famous psychic investigator who has suffered a crisis of credibility; the other is Virgil Stanhope, who was the detective assigned to investigate her mother’s disappearance but who has now fallen into a destructive alcoholic pattern. It’s clear that Picoult did her homework with this novel; readers either love or hate (but mostly love) the amount of detail in the journal entries written by Jenna’s mother, Alice, whose work involved the grieving practices of elephants. Picoult uses the parallels between human and animal grief patterns to tease out revelations about love, loss, and death as Jenna and her partners approach the truth of what happened and realize what finally uncovering it will cost each of them.|
|Looking at the other side of the mother-daughter relationship we have Reconstructing Amelia (2013) by Kimberly McCreight. In her debut novel McCreight gives us Kate Baron, an attorney and single mother whose world is shattered by the apparent suicide of her daughter, Amelia. Despite the intense demands of her professional life Kate did her best not to completely neglect the needs of her daughter, but Amelia’s death nonetheless sends her into a spiral of grief and guilt—one that is interrupted when Kate receives a text message stating simply that Amelia did not in fact jump to her death. Determined to discover what really happened, Kate works closely with the officer in charge of the case to try and piece together the circumstances surrounding that fateful day. The narrative jumps between Kate and Amelia’s points of view, drawing also on a sampling of the teenager’s emails, text messages, and social media posts. Through this investigation Kate begins to learn who Amelia truly was and what she was dealing with—revelations which completely undermine her earlier belief in a picture-perfect daughter. Though many readers believe the novel’s plot pushes the boundaries of common sense at times, it has been generally well-received and is regarded as a compelling and moving read.|
|Our last title this month is 72 Hour Hold (2005) by Bebe Moore Campbell. Campbell introduces us to Keri, the owner of a small clothing store in Los Angeles, and her daughter Trina, who has graduated from high school and is poised to attend Brown University. In this case it’s not death but mental illness—specifically bipolar disorder—which separates mother and daughter. After receiving her diagnosis, Trina begins taking medication but soon slides into bad habits, including using illicit substances rather than her prescribed drugs to deal with her symptoms. Keri finds herself placing Trina on multiple 72-hour holds, which are the only recourse she has in a system that does not provide a comprehensive solution for long-term care. After seeing the establishment fail her daughter time and again, Keri starts looking into more radical alternatives and ultimately reaches out to a group whose methods fall outside of traditionally accepted practice. Campbell manages to portray Keri’s desperation and helplessness with heartbreaking accuracy as she struggles to balance her daughter’s needs with her own, and the novel has been highly praised for its exploration of issues relating to family, race, and the stigma of mental illness.|
Leaving Time, Reconstructing Amelia, and 72 Hour Hold are all available to borrow at E.P. Foster Library, and while Picoult’s novel has a bit of a waiting list, you can pick up one of the other two immediately. If the title you’re looking for isn’t on the shelf, you can request a copy from another branch using our online catalog or by calling the library. If you want more titles in this genre—or something completely different—visit NoveList Plus in the Reading Suggestions section of our eLibrary.