Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day due to the practice of decorating veterans’ graves with flowers and flags and has roots in our nation’s extreme grief following the Civil War. Beginning in 1866, May 30 of each year was designated as Memorial Day, but this was later amended so that the holiday always falls on the last Monday in May. Local communities are marking this holiday by honoring soldiers in various ways, from performances and parades to services in local cemeteries.
The 2013 Salute to Veterans weekend is one of the largest local celebrations, providing an airshow May 25 and 26 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Columbia Regional Airport. The annual Salute To Veterans Parade begins at 9:55 a.m. on May 27 on Broadway in downtown Columbia.
All library buildings are closed this Memorial Day (and Sunday, May 26), but there are plenty of resources you can access online 24 hours a day.
- Learn about the history of Memorial Day in American History Online.
- Research your family history, including relatives who served in the military, using resources listed in our Genealogy subject guide.
- Find out about other area celebrations in our Events & Festivals subject guide.
- Browse books about the Civil War in Missouri, and place holds on those titles you would like to pick up when the library reopens.
Microsoft has announced (again) that its support for the Windows XP operating system will end in April of 2014. Windows 8, Microsoft’s latest and greatest, lends a very new look to your PC or laptop. It functions differently than previous versions of Windows, with a “start screen” appearing on start-up instead of your desktop. This screen displays tiles representing different applications and providing dynamic information instead of static icons, and that familiar start button is nowhere to be found. Also, a lot of Windows 8′s functionality is made for touch screens, with the ability to swipe across the display to see other applications or functions, to reveal hidden icons, etc.
If you are thinking about upgrading to Windows 8, or you already have Windows 8 and want to learn more about how it works, the library has some great options for learning the ins and outs of this new operating system.
If you learn best through an actual course, Universal Class has recently added a course on Windows 8. This learning tool is accessible through the library’s website, is free with your library card, and offers more than 500 online continuing education courses taught by real instructors with remote, 24/7 access. The Windows 8 course, which you’ll find under the computer training category, features an in-depth tour of the operating system and how-to instructions so you can learn to navigate the seemingly complicated interface, locate the files and folders you need and more.
Of course, we also have books!
- The popular Teach Yourself Visually series of computer books has a simple-to-follow Windows 8 guide.
- If you are a fan of the For Dummies books, we have several of those as well.
- “But I have a tablet!” you protest. Not to worry. “Windows 8 for Tablets” has you covered.
Love (or hate) Windows 8? Let our readers know what helped you become more comfortable with the new interface in the comments.
The 2013 One Read book is “The Ruins of Us” by local author Keija Parssinen! Each year as part of this community-wide reading program, the public helps choose a single book that we then invite everyone to read. Pick up your copy today, and join us in September to explore the novel’s themes through discussions, art, film, presentations and more. Sign up to let the library know you are reading “The Ruins of Us,” and you will be entered into a drawing for a free autographed copy of the book.
To learn more about this gripping and well-crafted novel, visit www.oneread.org.
Hey, y’all! Spring has FINALLY arrived, and this is the perfect time of year for a Mid-Missouri day trip. Get out your light jacket and some good walking shoes and head to one of these outdoor destinations not far from our own backyard!
Foremost Dairy Center
Located just 6.5 miles west of Columbia off old Highway 40 is the University of Missouri’s research and teaching dairy farm. You can arrange for a tour of the facility, which includes plenty of hands-on fun. You might see a baby calf, and you just might get to help milk its mama! You’ll also get to learn how the milk goes from the cows to the bottle factory to your dinner table. Visiting a working dairy farm is a great adventure for young and old alike. To arrange a tour, visit their website.
Dairy Farm Lake No. 1
Located next to the Foremost Dairy Center is Dairy Farm Lake No. 1, owned and maintained by the University of Missouri. Take the family (or escape by yourself!) for a day of fishing, canoeing or bird watching. The lake is 15 acres and has boat access. Don’t forget to purchase a fishing license if you are going to fish. You can buy a permit online through the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website. The MDC also has a handy online tool for finding other public fishing areas in Missouri.
Warm Springs Ranch
How about heading just farther west and visiting those beautiful ponies before they become the full-grown Clydesdales you see at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis? Yes, these horses – over 100 of them – are born and trained right here in our own backyard. You can schedule a tour through the Warm Springs Ranch website or call them at 1-888-WS-CLYDE. (Note: there is a fee for touring the ranch.)
Get outdoors while the weather is nice. Then, if you are feeling inspired to learn and explore some more, check out our Travel subject guide, or come to the library and get some good books on dairy farms, fishing or horses. We also have Missouri travel guidebooks aplenty, so get day-trippin’!
My daughter and I learned how to bike in the summer of 1984. She was 7 and I was 32, so I learned first, and then I spent another month pushing her bike and catching her (and her bike) when she lost her balance. My quick biking progress made me sure of my athletic abilities, and despite the fact that I didn’t do any biking between that summer and the time I moved to Columbia in the summer of 1991, I began my new American life by buying a used bike and riding along the MKT trail.
I did a lot of walking, too: for one thing, I never drove a car in my hometown Moscow, Russia, so passing a driver’s exam with very little driving practice – and my broken English – was extremely difficult. Well, it would have been difficult had I actually attempted to listen to my examiner. Instead, I somehow persuaded him that it was not my English that mattered, but my driving ability, so if he just showed me which way to turn, I would be fine. Amazingly, he did just that, and I passed my driver exam on the first try (little did he know that even today I have problems distinguishing right from left ).
In any case, between biking and walking I got myself in pretty good shape, and I even began passing some people on the trail. I did so well that when I began dating my American husband-to-be, the very first time we biked together, I quickly left him behind in the dust. Not for long, mind you, just for five minutes or so. Still, those five minutes impressed him so much that he quickly decided to marry me, and we soon found ourselves biking together along Katy Trail.
I was already working at the library then, so I had a library copy of Brett Dufur’s “The Complete Katy Trail Guidebook,” and, for a while, we spent every weekend biking a different stretch of the trail – from Rocheport to Weldon Spring. This boosted my self-esteem even more, so when one summer we drove to Colorado, I talked my husband into taking our bikes with us and doing some mountain biking there. “How hard can that be?” I said to my husband when he raised objections. Well, I was right. It wasn’t hard. It was absolutely terrifying! Because during those three minutes I spent bouncing on rough mountain terrain before plunging to what could’ve been my imminent death, I felt like I was riding a wild mustang! (Not that I ever rode one, mind you, but it must be very similar, I’m sure of it!)
Anyway, after my mountain fiasco, we decided to stick to the Katy trail, especially to the part described in another of Brett Dufur’s books – “Exploring Missouri Wine Country.”
From Marthasville to Defiance, the Katy Trail runs very close to several Missouri wineries (not to mention Rocheport and Hermann!), so one can bike along the trail and stop for wine tasting, too .
Of course, wine tasting is not the main reason for bicycling. Many people choose to do it to get around town and even go to work – including some of my colleagues. In fact, during the time I’ve lived in Columbia, bicycling has been gaining popularity, and from what I hear, this has been happening in other U.S. towns, too, not to mention abroad. Have you ever been to Amsterdam? There more bikes there than cars, and when you cross the road, you must watch for bikes more attentively than for cars!
Going back to Columbia, the city’s 12th annual Bike, Walk and Wheel Week is upon us. So, let us join its challenge in becoming more active, less sedentary and more philosophical. After all,
“Life is like riding a bicycle – in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
~ Albert Einstein
Welcome to the first installment of THE GENTLEMAN RECOMMENDS. This series is intended to get people (especially gentlemen) excited about the books/authors/eating-contests I’m excited about. I’m an ideal person to represent and recommend things to gentlemen and I’ll prove it: in the last hour alone I’ve: 1) removed my trousers and draped them over a puddle so that a particularly well-coiffed golden retriever could avoid soiling her paws, 2) not sneezed into anyone’s face and 3) responded with the gentlemanly phrase “No, thank you” when asked to please put some pants on. Credentials established.
I can think of no better inaugural recommendation than pizza, but, after that, I think George Saunders is pretty spiffy. Not only is he a Great Writer, but reading everything about the fellow I could find convinced me he’s one of this world’s premier gentlemen. Mr. Saunders’ short stories have been sending readers raving since 1996 with the publication of “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline,” but this year the adoration has skyrocketed, beginning in January with a lengthy profile published in some magazine claiming that Saunders has written the best book you’ll read this year and culminating in May with a much briefer, if more prestigious, post from what may very well be the greatest blog in the world.
Readers love George Saunders because he slakes our thirst for stories in which sword-wielding tortilla chips decapitate the elderly or the corpse of a previously chaste aunt reanimates and advises her nephew that he should be showing more skin at his stripper-waiter job because that’s how you make the big bucks. But he isn’t loved just because he’s a master of stories that make curmudgeons’ eyes roll when they hear a terribly reductive description of them. He does what great writers do: write with huge-hearted empathy and humor about toe-less barbers or theme park exhibits or dystopian-reality-show contestants or tortilla chips, and he does so in voices that describe their perspectives perfectly.
If you’re more in the mood for nonfiction, Saunders writes essays that will make you chuckle and maybe improve your person. His collection, The Braindead Megaphone, is hard to put down and full of beautifully rendered wisdom like the lines that close the profile linked above and which I will reprint here because they should be reprinted everywhere:
“Don’t be afraid to be confused. Try to remain permanently confused. Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen.”
So, after you read some George Saunders and try some pizza, I hope you’ll join the pants-loving cashier at my local gas store in attesting: I’m the perfect gentleman to recommend stuff, and, also, I smell nice.
“The Time Machine“ by H. G. Wells is a classic example of speculative fiction and has led some sci-fi fans to call Wells the father of steampunk. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this fast-growing science fiction sub-genre, it is, in short, Victorian alternative history. (Books in this genre also typically contain a lot of clockwork, goggles, airships and advanced technologies based on outdated power sources.) I’d say a scientist who builds a coal-powered bronze machine to fling himself from the 19th century to the year 802,701 A.D. is pretty alternative! This steampunk precursor is a great first step if you are thinking about exploring the genre; it’s short, but it reveals the potential of books written in this vein.
“The Time Machine“ centers around a genius on a quest for answers about the future of mankind. He is a man possessed by his desire to be a legend in his own time, to boldly go where no man has dared to go before, but he winds up experiencing much more than he bargained for.
H. G. Wells is a great plot writer. Every chapter holds something new to develop the characters further and to thrust the reader deeper into the tale of earth’s possible future. From the eerily calm story of the Eloi people to the lurking dangers of the unseen and hungry under-worlders, the Morlocks, Wells’ tale will keep you fascinated with the sickening possibilities of where humanity may be headed.
I highly recommend the album “This Delicate Thing We’ve Made” by Darren Hayes as background music for your journey. You may know Hayes from his pop career in the ’90s as front man for Savage Garden. In this album, Hayes explores the time machine as a concept to tell the story of his jaded past, using divine lyrics and super-sonic tones.
Mother’s Day is nearly here! Flowers and breakfast in bed are nice, but for the ladies in your life who would rather escape with a good read, I have some recommendations. The mother-child relationship provides seemingly endless opportunities for exploring topics like gratitude, trust, love, the ways we communicate (or don’t) and what it means to be a family. Some of these books are funny and irreverent. Others are thoughtful and heartfelt. Some are both. Whatever her taste, I think you’ll find something on this list a mom would be grateful to receive.
“The End of Your Life Book Club” by Will Schwalbe
Yes, the fact that this book centers around a mom who is dying of pancreatic cancer makes it a tricky gift book. However, the main themes that shine through are ultimately uplifting. Books allowed Schwalbe and his mother, Mary Ann, to talk about difficult issues, big questions and draw closer to one another. The loving portrait Schwalbe paints of his extraordinary mother shows the importance of a well-read life and the ability of books to make us more empathetic people, willing to do good work in the world.
“Everyone is Beautiful” by Katherine Center
Center’s books have a reputation for being populated by characters that feel real, women and circumstances you recognize from your own life. Lanie, a mother of three small boys, moves with her family across the country so her husband can attend graduate school. She begins to feel a bit lost in her own life and launches a campaign to find who she is besides someone’s wife and someone’s mother. Center’s sometimes funny, sometimes heart-wrenching, but always spot-on descriptions of managing the chaos that comes with parenting small children will have moms nodding in recognition.
“Instant Mom” by Nia Vardalos
Vardalos, of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” fame, suffered through years of fertility treatments before she and her husband adopted a preschooler from the foster care system. Funny and surprisingly informative, the book includes an appendix of questions and answers about adoption.
“Then Again” by Diane Keaton
Confession: I love the movie “Annie Hall,” particularly because of Diane Keaton’s portrayal of the title character. I found her seeking, goofy, naive and insecure self so likable. In Keaton’s memoir “Then Again,” the story of her rise from an everyday girl to a famous actress is coupled with an exploration of her defining relationship with her mother and how their shared and separate dreams influenced their experiences. What emerges is a thoughtful meditation on how the family we come from shapes our relationships with our own children.
“Where’d You Go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple
This offbeat work of fiction centers around teenage Bee, daughter of Microsoft genius Elgin Branch and architect Bernadette Fox. Bernadette is notorious, volatile, troubled, agoraphobic and suddenly missing. The precocious Bee begins an investigation that takes her to the ends of the earth to find her mother. A witty and completely unique mother-daughter romp.
What books do you think are best bets for mom? Let us know in the comments!
The first was a crash in the middle of a Saturday night as my husband and I were sleeping. He got up to investigate and discovered he couldn’t open the closet door. Had the ceiling collapsed? No, the 11-foot wire shelf/hanging rod on my side of the walk-in closet had disconnected from the wall, dropping boxes and clothes onto the floor. My husband “suggested” that once he reattached the shelf, I should not place more than one level of boxes on it. I had managed to get three levels on it – there was all that wonderful space, so why not use it? Okay, now I know why not.
Sunday I spent the day moving clothes and boxes into my sewing room. Time to decide what to keep and what to toss. And if I kept things, what other space could be reallocated for their storage?
The next event occurred at work. Someone returned the book “The Clutter Cure“ by Judi Culbertson while I was working the circulation desk. It seemed appropriate, so I checked it out. It was the right book at the right time. Culbertson doesn’t just tell you to review your possessions and get rid of anything you haven’t used in x amount of time. She wants you to think about your goals, dreams and expectations for a room. Now remove anything that does not contribute to these goals. “But I received it as a gift,” you say. Take a photo of it. A photo takes up less space than the object. “But I might need this.” Will you be able to acquire something similar at a later date when you really do need it? Is it worth taking up space now that could be used some other way? Culbertson helped me rethink why I was keeping certain things. Friends’ daughters were happy to take some dolls off my hands, and I donated other items to my favorite charities.
The biggest event that motivated some cleaning: my son and his wife have decided to visit once a month, bringing my wonderful grandson along. I want space to play. So my sewing/storage/doll room is being turned into a sewing/doll display/playroom. I’m not completely finished sorting and cleaning, but things are looking so much better. It is fun to have actual floor space instead of piles of boxes.
Hopefully it won’t take wondering if your ceiling has collapsed to motivate you to clean. Pick up “The Clutter Cure“ and see how you can make your home a place where you want to spend time, not just a place to store your stuff. Other books I found helpful include “Happier at Home“ by Gretchen Rubin and “Soulspace“ by Xorin Balbes.
By the way, my husband got the shelf back up after work the following Monday. It took me a lot longer to sort boxes.
Fiction portraying characters with a mental illness can increase a reader’s understanding of what it might be like to live with depression, anxiety or other disabilities. That understanding can create compassion. For a person living with mental illness or caring for someone with mental illness, reading about people like themselves can also bring comfort and hope.
- “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky follows 10th-grader Charlie as he deals with both anxiety and depression in this coming-of-age novel.
- “Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See” by Juliann Garey portrays Greyson Todd, a high-flying movie executive struggling with bi-polar disorder.
- “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” by Mark Haddon is an inventive novel told in the voice of 15-year-old Christopher Boone, an autistic math genius.
- “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey is narrated by Chief Bromden, a patient at a psychiatric hospital in Oregon, and explores the mistreatment of patients with mental illness.
- “I Know This Much Is True” by Wally Lamb explores the conflicted relationship between twin brothers, one of whom suffers from schizophrenia.
- Ron McLarty’s ”The Memory of Running,” a novel of loss and redemption, portrays characters suffering from alcoholism and schizophrenia.
- “72 Hour Hold” by Bebe Moore Campbell tells the powerful story of a mother trying to cope with her daughter’s bipolar disorder.
- Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” follows Esther Greenwood as she descends into depression and contemplates suicide while interning at a New York City magazine.
- “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” by Ned Vizzini is a humorous account of a New York City teenager’s battle with depression and his time spent in a psychiatric hospital.
Have there been books that have helped you gain greater understanding of mental illness? Please share them in the comments.
Wellness – it’s essential to living a full and productive life. We may have different ideas about what wellness means, but everyone can agree it involves skills and strategies that prevent the onset or shorten the duration of illness and promote recovery and well-being. It’s about keeping healthy as well as getting healthy.
Pathways to Wellness, this year’s Mental Health Month theme, calls attention to strategies and approaches that help all Americans achieve wellness and good mental and overall health. The organization Mental Health America provides the following suggestions for creating and maintaining wellness.
- Connecting with others can help you to enjoy the times when you are alone.
- Staying positive can improve your mood and your health.
- Exercising in “spurts” can be just as effective as continuous exercise.
- Helping others may help you experience less depression.
- Creating joy and satisfaction can be easy with little things such as making a gourmet meal while listening to your favorite music, treating yourself to a massage or even taking a few moments to admire nature.
- Spirituality can give you a sense of purpose and meaning.
- Writing down your problems can help shift your thinking about the issue and ultimately improve your mood.
- Stress management techniques are important because chronic (long-lasting) stress can change your brain and the way you function.
Your library has many resources for learning more about mental health.
- Check out our mental health subject guide, with links to area organizations and resources for those with mental health issues and their families.
- Research authoritative sources on topics from depression to post-traumatic stress disorder in Consumer Health Complete, a database you can access through the library’s website for free with your library card.
- Browse the Mental Health Month display on the second floor of the Columbia Public Library.
- Check out a Mental Health To-Go Kit to learn more about bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, autism and substance abuse recovery.
I don’t know about you, but I can smell summer vacation from here. I’ve already started a “vacation books” list in the library’s catalog where I’m stashing links to all of those titles I’ve deluded myself into thinking I’ll have time to read during my family’s upcoming road trip. Chances are I will actually be spending my hours in the car distributing snacks and breaking up my kids’ backseat squabbles. Hmm. Maybe I should focus on audiobooks…
Most of us read a little differently in the summer. Usually you can find me with my nose in a work of literary fiction, but during the summer I want faster reads. Fun reads. Thrillers often fit this bill.
- Our Staff Picks book lists in the library catalog are great sources for recommended reads. Check out our Suspense & Thriller picks.
- One of the most popular thrillers last year was Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl.” If you read it and are looking for something similar, try one of our read-alike recommendations.
- Browse one of our databases like Books & Authors or Novelist, both of which have tools for finding books by genre and for generating recommendations based on books or authors you already know and love.
What’s on your reading list for the summer? Let us know in the comments!
Who says Armageddon has to be upsetting? If you have the right set of writers, it can be hilarious! Famous fantasy authors Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett teamed up to write ”Good Omens,” an intricate and entertaining novel about an angel and a demon that try to prevent the end of the world.
The book plays mainly on a collection of common human errors. The best laid plans can go awry, even if those plans are put in place by Heaven and Hell alike. Prophets get can misdirected, and all the witch hunting training in the world can’t prepare you for love at first sight. Miscommunication can cause mishaps like being pummeled by nuns with paintball guns, and assumptions can cause one to misplace the Antichrist.
But most of all, no matter how powerful you are, you can’t fight the determination of a child’s desire to stay a child. The character Adam represents the idea of nostalgia being unbound by time. Adam is the Antichrist, whether he knows it or not, but instead of doing something boring like bringing about Armageddon, he’d rather just play pretend with his three best friends. The book leaves you with the sense that even though everything may look bleak to you, it looks wonderful to a child. Isn’t that the way we should look at things? With curiosity and the confidence that we can, no matter what, overcome hardship? And with the excitement that anything could happen next? The only thing you should really ever prepare for is to have an adventure.
I picked “The Rock Hole” off the New Mysteries shelf entirely because of the author’s name. I just knew “Reavis Z. Wortham” had to be an old country boy who could tell a good tale.
And by golly, I was right. Wortham’s debut novel is simultaneously a charming portrait of small-town life in rural 1960s Texas and a dark and gruesome murder mystery.
On page one we’re introduced to Top, the 8-year-old narrator, as he steps off a Greyhound bus into the welcoming arms of his grandpa Ned and grandma Becky. Minutes after this heartwarming scene, Top and his grandpa (who also happens to be the constable of Lamar County, Texas), are in a cornfield staring at the body of a sadistically mutilated hunting dog.
And that’s how the book goes. Sometimes the story is pure Mayberry, with Top roaming the East Texas countryside with his hound dog Hootie, eating Miss Becky’s fried peach pies and hanging around his adored Uncle Cody, a Vietnam vet and rodeo rider. Then suddenly, Hell’s portals open wide: a madman known as the Skinner has struck again.
As the Skinner progresses from animal to human prey (and we’re talking children here), I found myself taking refuge in the story’s many lighthearted moments. Wortham is very good at down-home dialect and country characters (he grew up in a small Texas town), and there’s quite a bit of both to lighten the mood—which you will surely appreciate.
So, if you can take the psychological roller-coaster ride and some disturbing violence, “The Rock Hole” makes a solidly entertaining read. Perhaps not at bedtime, though.
Katniss Everdeen took volunteerism to a new level when she stepped up to take her little sister’s place in a fight to the death. Fortunately, volunteering in the real world is not nearly as painful as it was in the fictional world of “The Hunger Games.”
In fact, the folks at Points of Light would like for us to know volunteering can be fulfilling and meaningful, fun even. Since 1974, they’ve sponsored National Volunteer Week, a time dedicated to “inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities.” The dates this year are April 21-27.
Check out some of the following resources to help kindle your volunteering spirit.
- “If It Takes a Village, Build One” - In this book, Malaak Compton-Rock shares her own experiences with volunteerism and provides practical tips for adults and kids who wish to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.
- “Everyone Helps, Everyone Wins” - Author David T. Levinson shows how everyone can help, whether they have loads of free time, or only a few hours per year.
- “The Volunteer’s Guide to Fundraising” provides ideas for raising money for your favorite nonprofit.
- DBRL has put together a subject guide for those wishing to investigate volunteer opportunities, with local, national and international options.
- Check out the National Volunteer Week list in the DBRL catalog.
- Columbia Public Library Display – For the week beginning Monday, April 22 you can find books about volunteering on the table display near the second floor Reference Desk at the Columbia Public Library.
This is a good week to remember to thank those who are already volunteering. At the library, you can identify them by the helpfully labeled name tags that say “Volunteer.” Happy helping!
‘Tis the season of Earth Day celebrations, community-based educational events to increase public awareness of environmental issues. The library’s trusty World Book Online Reference Center (free with your library card!) tells me that the first Earth Day celebration was held on April 22, 1970 and was based on U.S. Senator Gaylord A. Nelson’s suggestion that a day of environmental education be held on college campuses. More than 40 years later, Earth Day celebrations have expanded beyond educational institutions to communities around the world.
If you would like to learn more about Senator Nelson’s contribution to environmental awareness and education, check out his biography, “The Man from Clear Lake” by Bill Christofferson. Or if you want to know about present-day environmentalists’ efforts to save the planet, check out Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edward Humes’ book “The Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers, and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet.” Finally, check out the library’s Sustaining the Environment subject guide to learn more about green living, local events and environmental organizations.
Earth Day information source: Hayes, D. (2013). Earth Day. In Public Libraries. Retrieved from
That’s the type of thing that you’re likely to hear if you’re ever near me when I’m reading a new recipe. I’m also prone to make statements like, “Who the frell has that just lying around their kitchen?” Or, “Where am I supposed to find that?” This is because I am what those in the culinary arts field might call a “hack.” (It’s a technical term that’s rarely used outside of five-star kitchens. Don’t fret if you’re unfamiliar with it.) If I can’t grill it, I don’t know how to make it.
Luckily, I discovered that through one of the greatest treasures that the library has to offer (and I make that statement fully cognizant of the fact that the public library has many treasures to offer), I can fill the appalling gaps in both my knowledge and my pantry through a singular source.
Ladies, gentlemen, fellow hacks and culinary specialists alike, I present to you ”The Food Substitutions Bible.”
This tasty piece of literary craftsmanship is the single greatest tool in my kitchen. My kitchen toolset is admittedly quite limited, but that simply makes this book all the more useful. When I need to know what bulgur is, “The Food Substitutions Bible” not only explains it, but also – as you may have guessed – tells me what I can use instead of it. When my one and only tablespoon (yes, seriously) is lost in a pile of dirty dishes, I can flip to the back where there are conversion charts and find another measuring implement to use. Canned corn instead of fresh? Yup, the conversion is there. Should you add your favorite beverage to your dish, there is even a chart to find out how much alcohol cooks out of the food at given times and temperatures.*
There is, however, one drawback to this book. It’s so useful that you’re going to want to own a copy. But don’t take my word for it. Test drive ours.
*Hint: you want to leave in as much as possible.
This is one of my favorite quotes from Dave Ramsey’s book, “Total Money Makeover.” I’m not ashamed to admit that I have a huge crush on the nationally-recognized financial and leadership guru. I learned about his “Seven Baby Steps” from my husband who tunes into his radio show on 1400 AM KFRU. We both have a respect for Dave’s direct, yet compassionate, way of dispensing financial advice. At first I was skeptical of Dave’s approach, but since beginning our journey to financial freedom nearly two years ago, we have been able to pay off our car and thousands of dollars in student loan debt. I am now a proud believer.
Later this month the American Library Association will be celebrating Money Smart Week. It’s a great time to evaluate your personal finances and explore the money-saving resources available for free through the Daniel Boone Regional Library. Let me say that again. FREE.
For example, if you are looking to make a major purchase this year, you will be glad to know that the library provides cardholders with free access to Consumer Reports‘ popular subscription website. Learn about the different types of digital cameras, research the safety features on new car models or compare top-rated appliances like washing machines, dryers and more. Well-informed consumers are less likely to waste their money on unnecessary upgrades, warranties and frills.
The library also provides free online access to the Value Line Investment Survey and Morningstar. Both tools provide analyst reports and ratings for thousands of stocks, mutual funds and ETFs. Not sure what an ETF is? Then you should plan to attend our introductory seminar on investing in stocks on Thursday, May 9 at the Columbia Public Library. Beginning at 7 p.m., Hanna Klachko and Fred Tonnies, representatives of the Kansas City Chapter of Better Investing, will explain commonly used terms, how to interpret stock reports and which tools they use to evaluate and pick stocks.
Later this month through our film series Center Aisle Cinema, we’ll be screening a documentary that demonstrates what can go wrong when you get too extravagant. We are showing “The Queen of Versailles” on Wednesday, April 24 at the Columbia Public Library at 6:30 p.m. This character-driven documentary follows a rags-to-riches billionaire family as they face the 2008 economic crisis. The film begins with the family triumphantly constructing the biggest house in America, a 90,000-square-foot palace. Over the next two years, their sprawling empire, fueled by the real estate bubble and cheap money, falters due to the economic crisis.
As my boyfriend Dave Ramsey would say, “You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.” When you’re ready, I’ll be at the Reference Desk waiting to show you the resources to help you toward financial freedom.
My first taste of a fried morel mushroom was a revelation. I was in my chemistry class at Fulton High School (go, Hornets!), and Mr. Simpson, our teacher, cooked up a batch over a Bunsen burner in the lab. The earthy, delicate flavor of the morel makes it a favorite among mushroom hunters, and on April 20, Fulton’s Brick District Association is giving this group of fungi some much-deserved time in the spotlight. From 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on that Saturday, visit downtown Fulton for the Morels & Microbrews Festival. Enjoy live music, face painting and games, as well as a morel mushroom auction. Admission is free (though there is a fee for the beer sampling).
Want some advice on hunting wild mushrooms and safely identifying the magical morel? Need to know how to cook these little beauties? Here are just a few books from your library to help you enjoy these mushrooms, whether you harvest them yourself or purchase them at Morels and Microbrews.
- “How to Find Morels” by Milan Pelouch
- “Edible Wild Mushrooms of Illinois & Surrounding States: A Field-to-kitchen Guide” by Joe McFarland and Gregory M. Mueller
- “Missouri’s Wild Mushrooms” by Maxine Stone
- “Morels” by Michael Kuo
Funeral services were held this week for Roger Ebert, journalist, film critic and extraordinary human being. In spite of physical challenges, including a battle with thyroid and salivary gland cancer that eventually left him unable to talk or eat, Ebert continued to review and tirelessly promote films, believing that, as his friend Michael Barker put it, “movies can explain the complexity of the world to us AND can also show us who we are as individual human beings.”
Even though he couldn’t physically speak, Ebert’s written voice was strong until the end. His writing was smart, insightful and intellectual without being stuffy. And you can’t help but admire a man who proclaims, “‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do…We must try to contribute joy to the world.”
This sentiment comes from Ebert’s 2011 memoir, “Life Itself,” a moving portrait of his childhood, career and those personal relationships that affected him most deeply. Check out this book as well as other collections of this Pulitzer Prize-winner’s writings.