Virginia Johnson

The Magic Circle by Donna Jo Napoli

The Magic Circle

"Don't you love it, Mother? We can shut our eyes and pretend we live in a candy house. All candy. Everywhere."

The Ugly One in The Magic Circle by Donna Jo Napoli remembered how her child loved sweets. Asa was beautiful, and her mother tried to give her all the beauty she could though they were poor.

She worked as a midwife in the village where she was accepted for her healing gifts. She took simple things in exchange for her services: some food, a bit of wool, or perhaps a lovely ribbon for Asa's hair.

The hunchbacked woman was simply good, happy knowing that her talents were used to help others. Yet her neighbor Bala knew they would be rich if she could persuade the Ugly One to drive the demons from the burgermeister's son. The Ugly One protested. She was a midwife, an herbal healer sometimes, nothing more than God wished her to be. But when she saw the boy, yellowed and dying from a tormenting demon, she believed that God had given her another path.

Free Children’s Health Lecture Series at Belmont

Doctor examining a child

On Thursday, February 28, 2013, Gari Melchers Home and Studio will host the first of four free lectures on children’s health topics provided by staff from the Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU.  Dr. Jose Muñoz from the Division of Infectious Diseases will discuss steps to prevent Lyme disease and the signs, symptoms and treatment options for this tick-borne illness.

Other topics include:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Childhood Obesity: Where Do We Currently Stand?

The problem of childhood obesity in the United States has grown considerably in recent years. Children who are overweight have an increased risk of diet-related diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. Join Dr. Edmond “Trey” Wickham III, from the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, as he highlights the many causes, health impact, treatment, and prevention options for pediatric and adolescent obesity.

Try Natural Standard

Natural Standard logo

A lot of “natural” or complementary medicines and practices sound more appealing to patients than drugs with fancy chemical names.  But the question is—do they do any good? Do they, perhaps, rather do harm? Even seemingly harmless ingredients (grapefruit juice, green coffee extract) can have dangerous effects when combined with other necessary medications or complicating conditions. And then there’s the placebo effect, the often-studied quandary that any medicine or technique, if the patient is told it will be effective, will be for a certain percentage of the time.

The database Natural Standard (available to CRRL cardholders at www.librarypoint.org/research) takes on this dilemma and provides additional helpful information besides. According to its site’s statement, Natural Standard is impartial—not supported by any interest group, professional organization or product manufacturer. 

Black History Month Events

Calendar of Local Black History Events  

Ongoing

 

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Exhibit: “All Blood is Red;” examines integration in the context of war and the changing face of America.   More than 70 newly-acquired artifacts and photographs are on display in the special way that our museum juxtaposes the old with the new.  Free and open to the public.   See Web site for hours. John J. Wright Museum; http://jjwmuseum.org/

2/16/2013

Gospelfest, an afternoon of gospel music with choirs, singing groups and praise dance teams in honor of Black History Month; 3 to 4 p.m..; free; co-sponsored by UMW Voices of Praise; George Washington Hall, Dodd Auditorium; University of Mary Washington; (540) 654-1044.

Down on the Farm with Babe and Dick King-Smith

"I want to be a sheep-pig," he said.
"Ha ha!" bleated a big lamb standing next to Ma. "Ha ha ha-a-a-a-a!"
"Be quiet!" said Ma sharply, swinging her head to give the lamb a thumping butt in the side. "That ain't nothing to laugh at."

Pigs may herd sheep and perhaps even fly, but Dick King-Smith won't get on an airplane. He'd much rather travel by sea. The author of Babe, The Gallant Pig does have a dog named Fly after his favorite character in Babe. He says his Fly, a German Shepherd, is "beautiful, affectionate, intelligent, and as mad as a March hare."

The Ancient Olympic Games

If you were visiting the ancient Olympics, you wouldn't see:

Women: The women were forbidden to participate in or even observe the games. Any woman discovered there could be thrown off a cliff! The women (young, unmarried ones) competed in a separate series of foot races called the Heraea, named in honor of Hera, the queen of the gods.

Water Sports: Despite miles and miles of beautiful coastline, water sports such as swimming were never a part of the ancient Olympic Games.

Spider Power

"Will you walk into my parlor?" said the spider
to the fly;
"'Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did
spy.
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many curious things to show when you
are there."

--Mary Howitt's classic poem, The Spider and the Fly

From this spider's dread invitation to the silly fly to J.R.R. Tolkien's mammoth spider-being Shelob, these eight-legged wonders have developed a nasty reputation. But spiders are a part of nature and have many fine qualities.

Paul O. Zelinsky: Always Drawing

When he was two, Paul Zelinsky’s family moved from an apartment near Chicago to a house in Kyoto, Japan.  Most of the Japanese houses had walls made of paper. Though his was an exception, he does wonder if all that paper might have influenced him to become an artist. While in Kyoto, he drew the stylish and elegant geisha ladies.  When they came back to Chicago, their family home overlooked a construction site, so he took to drawing tractors and steam shovels being driven by geishas!*

He kept on drawing and kept on getting better and found a market for his work after college.  Through the years, he has illustrated many, many books and written some himself.  Today, his life, as chronicled on Facebook, is a happy blend of family, visiting schools, and, of course, drawing!

Cherries Jubilee!

Tart or sweet, cherries are the berries! Well, they're not really berries. Cherries actually belong to the rose family. Cherry's rosy relatives include other stone fruits such as almonds, apricots, plums, peaches, and nectarines.

February is a terrific month to dig into cherries. For years, people have made cherry pies to celebrate George Washington's birthday. Why do we think of cherries when we think of our first president?

The Founding Foodies: How Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin Revolutionized American Cuisine by Dave DeWitt

The Founding Foodies: How Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin Revolutionized Ame

The Founding Foodies, by Dave DeWitt, is an easy-going chat on matters historic and gastronomic in the Old Dominion and beyond. DeWitt dismisses some food writers’ contentions that colonial food was poor stuff.  Having attended Mr. Jefferson’s university and being thus familiar with the third president’s many accomplishments, he knew that this common opinion was surely an overgeneralization.  Jefferson, as well as Washington and Franklin, were trend-setters—learned men who easily absorbed and promulgated cultured styles of fashion, philosophy, architecture, and, yes, food, derived European trends, especially their French allies.

Besides these Founding Fathers’ culinary preferences, DeWitt also looks at curious historical periods of Virginia history where food, or lack of same, played a noteworthy role.  At Jamestown, the horrors of spoiled ships’ rations and the colonists’ inexperience with hunting and fishing made them very dependent on the native tribes’ shared knowledge. They did learn to hunt and fish which was well since the supply ship was delayed, nearly resulting in John Smith being hanged.  Desperate to turn a profit in the days before tobacco, the settlers took up fishing on a grand scale—thousands of pounds of salted cod to England and dried fish to Spain.