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Author Archive for Candice Smith



Finding a Family, part 2: From Missouri to Iowa

by Candice Smith on September 17th, 2016

In my last post, I’d found my grandfather Carl in the 1925 census. I also found out that his father and his grandfather were born in Missouri, which came as a surprise to me. For as long as I’d known them, my father’s family of aunts, uncles, and cousins were all in Oelwein, Iowa, and I’d never thought to ask if they’d moved there from somewhere else. Oelwein can kind of seem like a place where, the people who live there, they’ve always just been there and nowhere else. I don’t mean that in a disparaging way, just that it’s a small town and community, everyone knows everyone and all their family members, all of their stories, and the stories of their parents and grandparents. They know where everyone works, who built what, who lives where, who everyone’s children got married to, etc. Oelwein is familiar and self-contained.

So, just who were these Missourians that came to Oelwein? Read the rest of this entry »

Calling all artists: Get your Art Purchase Prize entries in!

by Candice Smith on August 26th, 2016

Recovering_AnnaThere is still time to get your art entered into this year’s Art Purchase Prize contest! Maybe you need a little help coming up with something to submit? Let us help!

We’ve picked a theme for this year — New Covers for Old Classics. Pick a book that is in the public domain, and use your creativity and imagination to design a cover for it. The idea for this comes from Recovering the Classics, a national campaign to give classic, important works of literature new and inspiring covers. When a title becomes part of the public domain, anyone can publish it; often times, very little time or thought is spent on what the book’s cover looks like. Recovering the Classics wants to change that. If this sounds like something you can get behind, please think about creating a new cover and submitting for the contest.

Who can enter the contest? Artists over 18 who live, work, or exhibit in the area. For this special, themed contest, we’re also letting previous winners submit entries. Get all of the details here.

If you don’t meet the criteria for the Purchase Prize, but are still interested in creating a cover, you can submit your work for ICPL’s Recovering the Classics exhibit, open to everyone.

All covers will be on display during the Iowa City Book Festival, October 4-9, and for several weeks afterwards.

If you have questions about the Purchase Prize or the exhibit, please contact Candice Smith at candice-smith@icpl.org

Finding a family

by Candice Smith on August 12th, 2016
Finding a family Cover Image

I, like many people I work with and see here at the Library, am interested in genealogy. I’ve done a little bit of research here and there, mainly on my mother’s side of the family. Her maiden name is Klein, her father’s first name was Henderikus, and this ended up being a good name to start with. Aside from the fact that it was often misspelled, it is a somewhat unique name which made it a little easier to trace, and I was able to find him in the census records, as well as documentation of his family’s immigration from the Netherlands. Working backwards, I eventually hit a genealogy jackpot, when I found someone from the Netherlands who had done the research for the same relatives I was looking at, all the way back to the 1600s.

My father’s last name is Smith. I have resisted doing any research on that side of the family out of fear that I would be lost in a morass of Smiths in the midwest, unable to go much further than a couple generations. However, I recently decided to give it a try. Read the rest of this entry »

B.Y.O.Book Upcoming Events

by Candice Smith on July 8th, 2016
B.Y.O.Book Upcoming Events Cover Image

If you’re in the mood for a little reading, eating, and talking, think about joining us at one of our B.Y.O.Book meetups. For the Summer/Fall series, we will be celebrating the exhibition of Shakespeare’s First Folio at the University of Iowa Main Library Gallery (August 29-September 25) by featuring a nonfiction book about Shakespeare’s work and two fiction books that have Shakespearean themes. This will be a very unique opportunity to read a book (or three) by or about one of the world’s most famous and influential writers, while at the same time having the chance to view the first printing of his collected plays.

Tuesday, August 2, 6-7 p.m. at The Mill (120 E. Burlington St.) we will be discussing Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

Tuesday, September 20, 6-7 p.m. at Share Wine Lounge & Small Plate Bistro (in the Sheraton Hotel) we will be discussing Andrea Mays’ The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger’s Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio.

Tuesday, October 18, 6-7 p.m. at Northside Bistro (203 N. Linn St.) we will be discussing Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven: a Novel.

There will be a limited number of copies of the books available at the second floor Info Desk in the Library. If you have questions or want more information, please call 356-5200, or email candice-smith@icpl.org or jason-paulios@icpl.org

We hope you can join us!

Seeking Maura Murray

by Candice Smith on June 26th, 2016
Seeking Maura Murray Cover Image

I first heard about this missing persons case from the podcast Missing Maura Murray, created and hosted by Lance Reenstierna and  Tim Pilleri. On the evening of February 9, 2004, Maura had a minor car accident on a winding road in New Hampshire; a person who lived nearby came out to offer assistance, but Maura said that she’d called AAA and didn’t need help. When the police showed up a few minutes after being called, they found Maura’s car and many of her belongings, but she was not there. She hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

In True Crime Addict, author James Renner recounts how he became involved, seven years later, in trying to find out what happened to Maura.  Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Reading Program check-in!

by Candice Smith on June 10th, 2016
Summer Reading Program check-in! Cover Image

I’m just a week into the 2016 Summer Reading Program, but I am happy (actually, quite pleased with myself!) to say that I’ve got four activities in the works. Doing so many at once might not be the norm, but I’m confident I’ll finish all of them soon. Here’s what I’m reading:

  1. Revival by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton. The story spans several days in Wausau, Wisconsin, where some of the town’s deceased residents come back to life. It has a dark, somewhat gothic feel to it, and it’s beautifully illustrated. This book meets activity ‘V,’ read a graphic novel or comic book
  2. The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America’s First Serial Killer by Skip Hollandsworth. Recounts a series of ghastly murders in Austin, Texas, during the 1880s. Lots of great detail, about the history of Austin, the people there, and of course, the murders. Similar to Devil in the White City. This book meets activity ‘X,’ read a book from the New Nonfiction shelves.
  3. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. Bone Gap is a dull, small, midwestern town with some very mysterious places, if you know where and how to look. Finn and Sean are two brothers living on their own there, Finn a 17-year-old somewhat awkward kid with a couple good friends, Sean is his older brother who tries to hold down the home. When their friend Roza disappears one day, all of their worlds are turned upside-down in a multitude of ways. There’s an element of magical realism that gives a bit of a fantasy feel, but it’s a pretty serious YA book, with some violence and mature themes. This meets activity ‘T,’ read a young adult book.
  4. True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray by James Renner. I first heard of Maura Murray from the Missing Maura Murray podcast: a student at UMass who has a car accident on a dark road, tells someone she doesn’t need help because AAA is on the way, and within minutes is gone, never to be seen again. James Renner comes upon the story while looking for something to focus on after losing his job at a newspaper, and gets sucked into the mysteries that surround the case. This book meets activity ‘Z,’ read a book only during your lunch hour.

Where are you in your summer reading?? If you haven’t signed up yet, there’s still time…stop by the Library and get ready to read!

Cooking [with] the books

by Candice Smith on May 23rd, 2016
Cooking [with] the books Cover Image

I’ve recently gotten into somewhat of a rut with cooking–but it’s a delicious, self-created rut. I am trying out different recipes for an Italian dish called cacio e pepe, which translates into ‘cheese and pepper.’ Simple, right? Yes, and no. Though recipes vary, the ingredients are generally the same: water, pasta, Pecorino Romano cheese, and pepper. You boil the pasta, grate the cheese, grind some pepper, then combine it all into a pan with a little bit of the pasta water. You end up with a well-coated plate of noodles. The not-so-simple part? First, deciding which recipe to use. I found at least five different ones in various cookbooks at the Library, all from well-known and respected chefs, several of them Italian, each one apparently saying that their recipe is the one to use. Some use the basic ingredients listed above, some add oil and/or butter. Some say that you should only use pecorino, while others also use Parmigiano-Reggiano or Cacio de Roma–all seem to use slightly different amounts. Some toss the pasta and cheese with a little oil or butter. Some sauté the pepper in some oil. Others toast the peppercorns in a pan before grinding. There is a lot of slight variation.

No problem, really, right? They’re probably all good, so just pick one and go with it. Then you get to the other tricky part, which is really the only thing you ‘do’ besides prep and boiling–the mixing. When it goes well, you get a nice sauce. When it doesn’t go well–and out of the four times I’ve made this, it hasn’t gone well twice–you get the dreaded clumpy cheese. The recipes also vary quite a bit here, with different ones saying what to mix the ingredients in (warm dish, warm pan, cold dish), when to add cooking water and how much, and how to add the cheese and how to toss the pasta with it. Seems trivial, until you try one way and your cheese turns into small bits of pepper-flaked goop. Luckily, it still tastes very good.

I made cacio e pepe a couple nights ago, and I think it was my best one yet. I used a recipe from Lidia Bastianich. It’s one of the simplest ones I’ve come across, so I wonder if I just got lucky. If you’d like to try your hand at mastering this deceptively simple dish, the Library has a wealth of Italian cookbooks for you to peruse to find a recipe. Let me know if you find a good one. Please.

Buon appetito!
cacio

Art Advisory Committee looking for new members.

by Candice Smith on March 8th, 2016

BAartadvDo you like your Library? Do you like spending money? Do you like art??

If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, you might also like being part of the Library’s Art Advisory Committee! We’re looking for candidates who are involved and interested in the arts community in some way — artists, framers, instructors, students, gallery employees, collectors and serious enthusiasts — to join the Committee. The Committee is made up of six members, and terms run for three years. One of the primary responsibilities is the judging of artworks submitted to the annual Art Purchase Prize contest, with the winning works being purchased by the Library and added to our Art To Go collection of framed posters and original works that patrons can check out. Other tasks for which the Committee would be called upon include the reviewing and deciding upon any gifted works for Art To Go, as well as any proposals for art to be added to the Library’s permanent collection.

If this sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, fill out an application and return it, in person or via email, to Candice Smith (candice-smith@icpl.org). If you’ve got questions about the Committee, feel free to contact me by email or phone (319-887-6031). In the meantime, stop by the Library and take a look at the Art To Go collection, and take home a couple pieces!

B.Y.O.Book: Spring dates set, books picked–we just need you!

by Candice Smith on February 26th, 2016
B.Y.O.Book: Spring dates set, books picked–we just need you! Cover Image

B.Y.O.Book, the Library’s books-in-bars group, is ready to welcome the spring–it’s time for a few good books, some good food and drink, and a lot of great conversation! In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize awards, we’ve picked three past winners. We hope you can join us to read and discuss one, or all, of them.

March 22, 6-7 p.m., is our first meet-up; join us at Share Wine Lounge & Small Plate Bistro, in the Sheraton to discuss The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz. Winner of the Pulitzer for Fiction in 2008, the book follows Oscar — a Dominican American, an overweight, geeky teenage nerd–as he tries to navigate his everyday life, fulfill his dream of becoming a writer and, more important, finding love — all in the face of a family curse that has haunted the Wao’s for generations.. I think Michiko Kakutani said it best, in a review for The New York Times: “…a wondrous, not-so-brief first novel that is so original it can only be described as Mario Vargas Llosa meets “Star Trek” meets David Foster Wallace meets Kanye West.” Readers, how can you resist?

You can register for the event, and check our catalog for a copy of the book–we’ve got print copies as well as CD, ebook and eaudio. We will also have a bookclub kit at the Info Desk soon, so give us a call to see if there are any available copies.

Future dates and titles are April 26 (Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner, at Northside Bistro) and May 24 (The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss, at the Mill). We hope to see you there!

 

 

An epiphany, of sorts.

by Candice Smith on January 8th, 2016

holidaysI did not put up a Christmas tree this year, although I usually put one up around Thanksgiving and keep it around until at least New Year’s (actually, it’s always ‘around’ in the sense that it’s fake, it just spends a lot of time in the basement). I really enjoy having the tree; I love decorating it with ornaments that I’ve collected through the years, all of which are special to me for one reason or another, and as I unwrap and place each one I’m reminded of things like when I got it and why I chose it, who gave it to me, or who it used to belong to. I put multiple strands of lights on the tree, a tree skirt for the presents to sit on, and a star on top–the whole deal.

This year, however, I have two 1-year-old boy cats that like to run, jump, climb, and eat whatever they can get their little, adorable paws on. The tree was an obvious no.

Regardless of the sad state of my home and its holiday decor, I recently learned something that I can take into consideration the next time I am able to put the tree up–and that is when to take it back down. I never knew that there were traditions about this, so I may be late to this game. It seems that one should have their tree and all decorations put away by the Twelfth Night holiday. Simple, right? Sort of. January 5 is the twelfth day after Christmas Eve, while January 6 is the twelfth day after Christmas. January 6 is also the holiday of Epiphany, which marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas, and the revealing of the newborn Jesus to the three wise men. So, which night is the real Twelfth Night? It seems that you can choose whether you go with the eve before January 6, or the eve of–according to the book Holiday Symbols and Customs, most celebrate it on the night of Epiphany, the 6th. Which is the twelfth. Choose wisely, though–tradition holds that anyone with decorations still up will suffer bad luck in the coming year.

But wait…there’s more! There is also a tradition that one put away their Christmas tree and decorations on February 2, which is Candlemas–a holiday that marks the presentation of Jesus at the temple, and involves the lighting of many candles to represent the belief that he was a light for the world. The book Folklore of World Holidays states that this marks the end of the Christmas holiday. One representation of that end is that people put away their crèche–which is a Christmas decoration. Again, leaving up the decorations past this date can bring bad luck, even death. Of course, February 2 is also groundhog day, which at first seems unrelated to all of this, until you recall that the little groundhog (or bear or hedgehog, depending on your location) comes out to check his shadow, which is related to the amount of light.

So…short story made a bit long, there is definitely a date by which, according to various traditions, one should take down their Christmas tree and decorations. Three, in fact. Stop by the Information Desk to do a little research and help you pick which date you’ll use.




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