Thursday, October 16, 2014

Turmeric: Good for You

The Oct. 15, 2014 LIFE program had a large crowd excited to learn about the spice, turmeric. Usha Dontharaju, Reference Assistant at LSC-CyFair, in full Indian sari regalia, did not disappoint. We learned that this root spice is in the same family as ginger and it is used as a food ingredient and as a tonic for many ailments such as indigestion, liver detox, skin healing, brain function, antiinflammatory, lower cholesterol, anti cancer, and much more. Indian cooks use turmeric in small quantities while cooking, but they put the ground spice in practically everything. It is a beautiful yellow color and a neutral taste (it is not spicy like hot red pepper). 

Usha prepared a Lemon Rice dish. She had steamed rice prepared. In a frying pan, she put 5 teaspoons of vegetable oil. When hot she added about a 1/2 cup of raw peanuts and 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds. When fragrant, she added a teaspoon of chick pea flour, the juice of two limes (yes, they still call it lemon rice), two pinches of turmeric, a handful of curry leaves from her garden,and salt to taste. She combined the mixture with the rice. We all got to taste this delightful dish. Usha also prepared a turmeric facial mask (1 teaspoon turmeric and three tablespoons of homemade plain yogurt). This will color your skin yellow so don't put it on before a big party.

Usha had everyone laughing at her witty remarks,  admiring her cooking skills and learning about this miraculous little root. Some suggested she do a cooking program on You Tube. Bollywood here she comes.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Latino First Responders Panel

Our first responders panel had our LIFE group begging for more gritty and gruesome stories from real life law enforcement. Sarah Cortez read some of her winsome poetry with such power in its simplicity. Christopher Hernandez read a passage about a mob and a homicide from his early experiences in south Texas. His tone and description is graphic and real. Hipolito Acosta of the INS described with passion some of his immigration experiences which were so dangerous and varied that Sarah exclaimed how can he possibly be alive? And the most fun was the Q&A afterwards where we could get more inside scoops.

The library purchased the following books:

Proof of Our Resolve by Chris Hernandez
Our Lost Border; Essays on Life Amid the Narco-Violence edited by Sarah Cortez and Sergio Troncoso
The Shadow Catcher: A U.S. Agent Infiltrates Mexico's Deadly Crime Cartels by Hipolito Acosta with Lisa Pulitzer

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sculpture and Remembrance

We kicked off Gulf Coast Reads today with forensic sculptor, Amanda Danning. The book by Stephen Harrigan, Remember Ben Clayton, is about a father who commissions a sculpture of his son who was killed in World War I. Amanda brought her personal thoughts about being a sculptor and gave a slide show of some of her favorite pieces showing remembrance throughout history. She even told us about the tempestuous love story between Rodin and Camille Claudel, both famous sculptors. Amanda covered all the bases: love, sex, power, bravery,  feelings, murder, kidnapping, and syphilis.
What is exciting is the technology available to forensic artists today. In the TV show Bones, we have a forensic doctor who works with an artist. Amanda said that the TV show’s depiction of the technology is quite over the top, but we are getting close. Amanda showed us pictures of bone fragments and how her talent assisted by modern technology allowed her to sculpt a bust of the Marquis Sablonierre, a French settler from the Fort St. Louis settlement from 1686 in Texas. He was killed by Indians and this gruesome tale mirrored the kidnapping in our book. What a way to start our Gulf Coast Reads month.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

MELT Your Pain Away

On September 24th, Joy Brown presented the MELT method of hydrating and exercising fascia or connective tissue to make us flexible, firm, and fit. The MELT Method is a book written by Sue Hitzmann. Medical science is just discovering the value and benefit of our connective tissue and Sue has developed a self treatment so anyone can MELT and feel better. Joy had us working on our hands, which can improve the whole body. We had happy face squeeze balls to squeeze and give our joints pressure points. Joy says to drink a glass of water an hour in sips (gulps are too hard on the kidneys). Do MELT three times a week. Do focus on what is right with you, not on the parts that hurt or don't work. Do eat more plants to keep your ph a bit alkaline. Joy had everyone laughing and MELTing. Invest one hour to learn the MELT method for your health and well-being.

Contact Joy:
Phone: 832.567.2646

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Jason's Into Leather

Jason Moulenbelt, philosophy professor and leatherworker extraordinaire, showed the LIFErs how to make a beautiful leather card holder. What started out as knife making became leatherworking since Jason needed a sheath to put his knife in.  After he began making these for himself other wanted them, and thus began a new business.

In order to make these sheaths, Jason ordered tanned pieces of leather. Later he began making card holders, billfolds, belts, and other items from leather. He cut the leather to the size needed with a ruler, awl, and cutting tool. There are numerous steps to complete this project, including abrating the outside surface of the leather before gluing. He used a tool to make a groove around the sides of the leather in order to stitch, then using two threaded needles to make saddle stitches, with backstitching to begin and finish. The edges are then sanded to complete the finishing, a process called burnishing. Sealing with beeswax, pine pitch, and mink oil, then polishing is the final step. You now have a beautiful and durable product to be proud of.

Jason showed each step of the process with lots of funny stories that had the audience laughing. Everyone enjoyed the presentation, especially the winner of a card holder, Michael, whose name was drawn. Thank you, Jason, for an informative and enjoyable presentation!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Birding in Our Area

Birder and wildlife enthusiast Jeff Mohamed gave a pictorial presentation of the birds at Lone Star College - CyFair. We have egrets, herons, and even bald eagles. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Jeff discussed the changing habitat of the area and how we have lost some species, but we have gained some as well. Jeff's photography is beautiful and he has his own techniques about how to get close to a bird. Some birds you have to sneak up on and others you have to talk gently to them like the egrets. Did you know that Jeff actually came here from San Francisco because of the birds? What a story.

There are 880 species of birds in the US, with 650 of these in Texas and 420 in Southeast Texas. Some birds are here all the time and some are just passing through. There are so many birds here due to the different habitats and three migration routes through Texas. Lots of people visit Texas to see the wide variety of birds which is good for our economy.

Hummingbirds fly 600 miles across the gulf, sometimes hitching a ride on ships and other things to rest during their journey. They stop in our area to feed until they can make this trip, so put out your feeders and plant bright, colorful flowers for them during April-May and August-September.

There are many areas to check out different bird species such as Kleb Woods Nature Preserve, Katy Prairie, Bear Creek Park, and Brazos Bend State Park. Habitat changes contribute to our area attracting new birds, some which stay year round. The invasive birds that have come here are the European Starling, the House Sparrow and Pigeons. Some birds to look for are the Cedar Waxwings, Blue Jays, Rock Pigeons, Purple Martins, Western Kingbird, Bald Eagles, White Pelicans, and Osprey, among many others. Get out and enjoy these colorful birds with their variety of songs!

Want to know more about texbirding? Go to Jeff's blog: 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It's Written in the Stars

Our astrology program by expert astrologer, Lilly Roddy, was so interesting and enlightening. Here is a brief summary of her presentation. Thanks, Judye for the following summary!

Astrology is an ancient symbolic language and what people do is learn how to interpret the symbols.

The 12 month calendar is 365 1/4 days per year. Seasons are Spring - March 20; Summer - June 21; Fall - September 22; and Winter - December 21. The Zodiac calendar is 360 degrees which is divided into 12 equal segments of 30 degrees each with the sun moving around it. The moon moves around the zodiac in about 28-29 days. Our days of the week are from the planets: Monday - Moon; Tuesday - Mars; Wednesday - Woden (Mercury); Thursday - Thor; Friday - Frea; Saturday - Saturn; Sunday - Sun. The moon is our emotional ego and the sun our male ego. Venus is desire (relationships, etc.)

Groups of Signs:
Aries - Cancer - Libra - Capricorn: Cardinal Signs (action oriented)
Taurus - Leo - Scorpio - Aquarius: Fixed Signs (persistent and determined)
Gemini - Virgo - Sagittarius - Pisces: Mutables (changeable, flexible, and adaptable)

Saturn's real timing:
7 years old - Beginning our journey
14/15 - Teenage (confront authority)
21 - We are legal (have a sense of authority)
28/29 - Young adult
35/36 - Authority figure
42/43 - Mid-life crisis
49 - Confront authority which is ourselves
58 - Next thoughts for life

The zodiac is a much more complex calendar system. By understanding how the planets are affecting your natal chart/birth chart, astrologers can help you understand the developing cycles and how to make the best use of them. Our lives are affected by so many things, and if we can understand them, it will help to adjust to life's changes. As they say, it's in the stars!