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NEIGHBORS : Beyond Garnish : A 10-year-old who got his start carving cucumbers and carrots wins a contest with his vegetable 'flowers.'


Remember that edible holiday decoration contest sponsored by the local chapter of the California Vegetarian Assn.?

Well, congratulations are in order for 10-year-old Brant Myers of Thousand Oaks whose flower basket earned him first place. He carved the flowers out of radishes and turnips, used celery for the stems and pasta spirals to fill up the basket.

But what Brant really loves to sculpt are automobiles.

"A couple of years ago it was my mom's birthday and I made a car out of cucumbers, as a centerpiece. Then in class we had this project and I made an automobile out of carrots," he said. "I just like cars and thought it would be neat . . . and we have lots of vegetables."

Brant utilizes a variety of veggies in his artwork, but points out that some are easier to manipulate than others. His favorite? Radishes. His least favorite? Cabbage.

Said Brant's mother, Kathy: "He's probably the only 10-year-old boy who got a cutting board for Christmas."

FYI: If you'd like to see Brant and his knife in action, he'll be helping out with a vegetable carving demonstration Jan. 31 at the Thousand Oaks Library.

The Ventura Park and Recreation Department just put out a catalogue of classes and events for winter 1991, and it's full of timely offerings. Just look at this description of a dance class for adults:

"Put some Latin romance in your life as you become the first person in your neighborhood to learn the Lambada as it sweeps across the country. . . . "

The Lambada? Didn't that dance craze die about 10 months ago?

While we're on the subject, the Ventura Park and Recreation Department is experiencing its biggest volunteer response in recent memory. Dori Alvarez, who is in charge of screening prospective teachers for classes, said she has been overwhelmed by calls.

The most unique offer she's received? "We have a lady and gentleman that do a duo about American history," she said.

If you've ever been in the intensive care or coronary care units of Ventura's Community Memorial Hospital you may have noticed that the rooms have no windows. Well, come February, they still won't have any windows--but they will have views.

A Calabasas couple have invented a product called Windowstill. It is a computerized window with scenes that replicate night and day, and it's already being used in about 1,000 windowless hospital rooms around the country. Studies have shown that patients heal better if they perceive the passage of time.

"The window uses several different colored light bulbs that represent the quality of light in any given hour," said photographer Joey Fischer, who invented the product with his wife, Janet, a nurse. "It goes through about 650 light changes from sunrise to sunset."

Each day starts out reddish-gold at dawn and gets increasingly golden until noon. The light wanes throughout the afternoon until the device goes dark at night. The Windowstills being installed at the hospital will come equipped with stars in the night sky.

One question: Is this simulated 24-hour cycle operating under daylight-saving time? The Windowstill's computer chip is synchronized to the winter and summer solstices, Joey Fischer said. "The exact length of each day is programmed into that chip," he added.

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