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Pie Plant – What’s that and what’s it have to do with Irving B. Weber?

by Maeve Clark on April 23rd, 2015

Rhubarb- Did you know that rhubarb is also known as pie plant?  I hadn’t heard, (or at least I didn’t remember hearing),  rhubarb called pie plant, (or pieplant), until I lived in Dubuque. However, a little online digging shows that term pie plant has been in written use since 1838.  If you are a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, you might recall that it from a passage in The First Four Years -Laura was cooking for the threshers, the first dinner in her very own little house, and was running through the menu: “There was pie plant in the garden; she must make a couple of pies.”

A discussion of the term came up last month when I attended a meeting Historic Foodies, a local group with an interest in using recipes from the cookbooks of  yesteryear.  We were using The Iowa City Cook Book, and on page 181 one of our members found the recipe below. Pie PlantThe cookbook dates from 1898 and is chock-full of recipes that will invite much discussion.  You might just recognize the names of prominent Iowa City residents of the past.  In fact, while we at the meeting we consulted Margaret Keyes book Nineteenth century home architecture of Iowa City to see if we could locate the recipe writer’s house. When we did we pulled up the Iowa City assessors website to find out if the house was extant.  It was tremendous fun and we found a good number of the names in Dr. Keyes’ book and many of the houses are still here!

So what does all of this have to do with Irving B. Weber?  First, Weber wrote the introduction to Dr. Keyes book.  Second,  while Weber’s mother doesn’t have any recipes in the cookbook, some of his parent’s neighbors do.  Third, we are just about to celebrate Irving B Weber Days,  webera full month of programming and displays dedicated to local history.  Fourth, the Historic Foodies will be providing refreshments from the Iowa City Cook Book for a program during Weber Days. Make sure you mark your calendar to come to Rachel Wobeter’s talking to tour of Iowa City food history.  Rachel will share her research on what Iowa City folk ate between 1830 and 1900 on Wednesday, May 20 at 7  p.m.  The program will air live on Library Channel 2o.

And finally, what  does pie plant have to do with with Irving Weber?  Well, here’s what I think, I bet you anything Irving ate pie plant in either a pie or as a sauce or maybe even like I did as a child, by dipping the stalk in the sugar bowl and taking a great big bite of sour delight.

 

 

The Iowa City Assessor

by Tom Jordan on April 9th, 2015

The Iowa City Assessor’s website is useful if you’d like to know more about real property in Iowa City.  In Iowa City, real property (land and buildings), is reassessed every two years.  On the Assessor’s Duties page, there is information on the qualifications of the assessor, definitions of terms like “market value,” and explanations on how and why properties are valued as they are.  Prominent on this page is the General Misconceptions About the Assessor’s Work section, and its gist is that the Assessor is a disinterested party when it comes to taxes.  Grief from property owners over taxes must be ever-present.

IC aerial photoIowa City is divided into parcels, or defined lots of land that are owned by a person or persons. Parcels are searchable by number, name of business, street address, and legal description. It would be nice if non-commercial properties were searchable by name as well. The Johnson County Assessor, which assesses all Johnson County property not in Iowa City, allows a search by name. Do you know someone who owns property in Johnson County outside of Iowa City? Go ahead and search for the property by the owner’s name here.

After doing a search and selecting a parcel on the Iowa City site, you’ll find all sorts of information: values of the buildings and land, lot dimensions, details of building permits, etc. What I find most interesting is the sales information. Who bought from whom? And when and for how much?

You may also search property sales in Iowa City and limit the search by a number of criteria. The first listed is a date range. So, for example, you can see that there were 247 recorded sales in Iowa City in January 2015.

Another search offered is a search of buildings. Would you like to compare your house built in 1924 to others built that year? Do your search here.

To find out more about property in Iowa City, visit the Iowa City Assessor’s website. Or maybe even stop in at the office for a chat. Just be careful if you’d like to talk taxes.

Want a better horse this year?

by Mary Estle-Smith on March 27th, 2015

3-sets

This series of DVDs could be your ticket to a really nice horse.   Regardless of what your equine discipline/interest may be, you will find information and techniques that you can use.

7 Clinics is extensive footage from the filming of  the award-winning documentary “Buck”.  While “Buck” was designed for a wide audience, this series is geared more to the equine aficionado looking for self-education and a better relationship with their (or any) horse.   It has been thoughtfully and professionally edited to move seamlessly from clinic to clinic covering the materials presented at each in a cohesive fashion.

I have attended several Buck clinics over the years as both a participant and an observer. Either way, one is exposed to a wealth of excellent information and not a small amount of entertainment.  Other than not being physically present, almost every aspect of a clinic comes through on this set.

Watching  participants progress throughout the clinic is always interesting. Those who are focused and came to learn will invariably have the “aha” moment when things click with them and their horse and the techniques start to fall into place.  That moment is a wonderful thing!  Even more can be learned from those having problems as Buck walks them through the process of coming out better.

There is way more happening than can be assimilated  in one viewing. Buck’s philosophy/methods work for anyone who considers riding and building horsemanship skills as an endless journey of improvement and education.  I don’t think I can overstate the value especially of the emphasis on groundwork.  I only wish I had been exposed to this caliber of  horsemanship years earlier.  I certainly would have saved both myself and my horses a lot of frustration and mishaps not to mention some unscheduled dismounts!

If you ever have the opportunity to attend a Brannaman clinic I highly recommend it. In the mean time, this set of DVDs is the next best thing!

Help with Travel Resources

by Heidi Lauritzen on March 25th, 2015
Help with Travel Resources Cover Image

Although there’s only one week left to browse the Travel Resources display on the second floor, staff at the Reference Desk can always help you find materials to plan your next happy escape.

The display kiosk has a few representative titles, usually specific to a country or city, from the various guidebook series we carry such as Rough Guides, Frommer’s, Eyewitness, and Fodors.  But when you are not sure where you want to go, there are many general works that can provide some inspiration.  At the moment, the display has books on traveling with children, the best beaches, literary landmarks, adventure travel, and the fun of finding back roads to reach your destination.

An intriguing title that I had to take home is 100 Places You Will Never Visit:  The World’s Most Secret Locations by Daniel Smith.  Each place is described in just a few pages, often with drawings, maps or a photo or two.  There are businesses (Google Data Center, Coca-Cola recipe vault), military sites (Guantanamo Bay Detention Center; Korean Demilitarized Zone), and other interesting places such as Air Force One, Vatican Secret Archives, Swiss Fort Knox and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.  Even though you will probably never go to any of these locations, it is interesting to know a little bit more about them.

Once you have picked out a place to go—one that is not in a top-secret, off-limits location—staff can help you find materials about your destination.   Our collections of architecture, history, cooking, art, and landscape gardening books and DVDs are great supplements to the factual information in the guidebooks.

Erin go Braugh

by Maeve Clark on March 17th, 2015

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! In searching out where the Irish and their descendents live in the United States I came across a good number of maps. The first I found was from an article in Forbes listing the cities in the United States with highest density of Irish.  Boston was the highest with 20.4%.  More fun facts about the Irish diaspora is that Irish-Americans are at least 5% of the popirish Nationals2ulation in most counties across the U.S., and 10% or more in most of New England, New York state, New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and other smaller counties across the country. At the other extreme, Miami is just 1% Irish.  What I really wanted was a map that would allow a user to click on a county and see what percentage of the population is of Irish ancestry. I got close with a map posted today by the US Census that showed Irish in the United States using figures from 2009 to 2013.   The Census map is pretty but it didn’t allow me to drill down as far as I wanted.

I found an interactive map, Measuring the U.S. Melting Pot, that offered me a means of comparing the ethnicity of various populations in the United States.  You can compare the number of Swedes to Norwegians in Minnesota, the number of Irish to Italians in New York City, the Irish to the Germans in Iowa.  Another map of interest is, Mapping the Emerald Isle: a geo-genealogy of cartogram irishIrish surnames, where you can search a a surname and find where folk of that name lived in  which Irish counties, both the Republic and the North,  according to the 1890 census.  I also found a cartogram, posted by Jerry Soloman from the University of Georgia,  of the percent ofIrish ancestry by county.  It still wasn’t interactive, but it was a fascinating map.  Cartograms distort the area of geographic features to reflect the values of an underlying variable, in the map to the  right, it shows the percentage of those claiming Irish descent.  The cartogram at the bottom shows shows those claiming Irish ancestry with an emphasis large urban areas. (I particularly like it because it kind of resembles a whale.)  And whether you can claim any Irish blood, most all of us live in a county were someone can. Sláinte!

cartogram irish whale

 

 

 

Need Computer Help?

by Jennifer Eilers on March 16th, 2015

Many  know that the library has Drop-In Tech times and computer classes to help you with your technology needs. But what if you cannot make it to those Tech Help times or want to learn from the comfort of your own home? Learning Express is another resource the library has to offer for free. It is a database that has a wide range of computer tutorials.

Learning Express offers comprehensive lessons on many popular software programs like Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Adobe Illustrator, and  Adobe Photoshop. For computer novices, it also offers basic computer and internet courses and tutorials on both Windows and Mac operating systems. The Learning Express software records your progress as you work to achieve your learning goals and features friendly experts who help to make learning both comprehensive and fun.

To access Learning Express go to www.icpl.org.

Click on, Reference and Research in the drop-down menu on the left-hand side. Select “Online Resources.”

Reference_Research

Click on, “Learning Tools”  in the “Online Resources: Browse by Category” menu

Learning Express is the first database offered. Click on “Visit Learning Express 3.0 now” to begin!

Online_Resources

 

If you would like more information about Learning Express or the other databases the library subscribes to, please call the library at 356-5200 or speak with a librarian. If you are interested in Iowa City Public Library’s Tech Help Times or classes visit www.icpl.org/classes.

**** Please note that only residents of Iowa City or rural Johnson County and the cities of Hills, Lone Tree, and University Heights can access databases from home.

Halp! I started a business in 2014. Where can I find tax info?

by Melody Dworak on March 13th, 2015
Calculator close-up

Photo by Phillip on Flickr.

Those new to filing taxes as a sole-proprietorship business owner or as someone who is self-employed have a few forms and resources they need to become familiar with.

If you are starting from the very beginning, you can visit the Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center, an information resource provided by the IRS. The information in this blog post comes from there.

This web page links to the primary forms and publications needed. Pay attention to the following:  Read the rest of this entry »

Iowa House and Senate Bill Tracking

by Brian Visser on March 5th, 2015

billThere have been some big issues discussed recently by the Iowa House and Senate including when schools must start or the recent gas tax increase.  The Iowa Legislature page is a great tool to help follow a bill’s progress.  If you know the bill’s number, such as HF13 for the school start date bill, just enter it into the “Bills Quick Search” on the right side.  You’ll be shown the bill in its entirety.  You can click on “Current Bill History” on the left, and it will tell you when the bill was introduced or if it has passed.  There’s also a link on the left to track versions of the bill.

It’s very possible that you won’t know the bill’s number.  If that’s the case, you can use the “Bill Keyword Quick Search.”  I did a search for “school” and HF13 was the sixth result.  But searching that way can be frustrating.  To take the guess work out of it, consider searching the Des Moines Register (you’ll have to scroll down a bit to get to DMR).  They do excellent statehouse reporting and often mention the bill number in their articles.

Want to contact your state representative or senator about a bill?  We have a handy page with that information right here.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

by Beth Fisher on February 27th, 2015

Even though you wouldn’t know it by looking outside Spring really is on the way.  Which means many of us have started thinking and dreaming about our gardens.

As most people know, there are two baisc types of garen plants:  annuals and perennials.  Annuals live fast and die pretty.  They last for only one growing season, and you have to replant them again next year.  Perennials are the mainstays in the garden. They come back year after year.  Many don’t hit their prime for two or three years, making year-round care of the plant important.   One of the most important things to consider before purchasing a perennial for your garden is what its hardiness zone rating is, to know if it will survive the winter in your garden.

The US Dept. of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone Map is now the standard device used to label plants in the US. zone map

It represents the average annual minimum temperatures in 11 zones which vary in ten-degree differences.  Each main zone is further divided into two sections, A and B, based on 5-degree differences.   The map is now interactive.   You can enter your zip code or state and it will tell you which zone you are in.  You can also click on a state on the map and a popup map will appear showing the zones as well as county lines, major cities and rivers.    Click here to try it out.

A bit of history:

The earliest versions of national hardiness maps were developed in the 1920′s and 1930′s by a variety of groups, most notably the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University.  The first USDA Hardiness Zone map was published in 1960 and updated in 1965.  Because it used a different temperature scale for its divisions than the Arnold Arboretum map, it often led to confusion for gardeners rather than clarity.  The USDA map would not be updated again until 1990 when it underwent a huge overhaul, using data collected between 1974 and 1986.  Additional zones were added to include Canada and Northern Mexico as well as Alaska and Hawaii.  Th 1990 map standardized its division s into the well-known 10 and 5 degree division, and became the default hardiness zone map in the US.

There is one big drawback to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map however, it deals with only the average minimum temperatures.  It does not take into account summer weather at all.  Heat, humidity and rainfall are also just as important to the survival of a garden plant, and all that information is found on plant tags as well.   But where can you find maps that give you this  information?

One of the best sources of this type of information is the PRISM Climate Group at Oregon State University.   In fact, the USDA used much of their winter data in the most recent overhaul of the Hardiness Zone Map.     From their web site:  “The PRISM Climate Group gathers climate observations from a wide range of monitoring networks, applies sophisticated quality control measures, and develops spatial climate datasets to reveal short- and long-term climate patterns.”

“PRISMs homepage can be found here.    From this page you can find lots of neat informational maps.PRISM_ppt_30yr_normal_4kmM2_annual

  • The link to 30 Year Normals takes you to a map that compiles the data from 1981-2010, and you can adjust it to see precipitation or temperature and you adjust by month.
  • The link to Gallery of State Maps takes you to a US map that you can then click on state by state to see the average annual precipitation (1981-2010) by state.

Combining information from The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map and the PRISM maps, can give you a lot of information about where you live and the types of plants the will probably work best in your area.    Unless you are dealing with a microclimate.  But that’s another topic for another blog post.   Happy Gardening!

State Data Center of Iowa

by Anne Mangano on February 26th, 2015

Interested in finding historical population statistics for Iowa? Although the US Census Bureau’s website has a lot of great information, it isn’t the easiest to navigate and its historical data is few and far between, particularly in specifics. If you need a quick fact, you might wish to contact the State Data Center, which is part of the State Library of Iowa. The State Data Center collects information from the US Census, other federal agencies, and Iowa’s state agencies to provide population, housing, business, and government statistics. They have a number of reports on their website, including data profiles for the current year. Can’t find what you are looking for? Contacting them is significantly faster than looking through the Census’s website.

You can contact the State Data Center Monday through Friday 8-4:30:

By phone: 800-24iowa population8-4483

Email: census@lib.state.ia.us

Or chat through their website here.

 

 




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