Grillo Center Labyrinth

Grillo Center Labyrinth
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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Saturday Morning Walkers - November 19, 2006

Hi everyone!

Jan, Andrea, Laila and I had a great walk yesterday morning - we started out heading west on the Creek Path but veered off at 6th Street and took to the streets of Mapleton Hill and over to Pearl Street. We worked our way back east and a bit south to end up at the new Vic's on Broadway.

Book Reports:

Susan: This past week I read The Glass Castle, a memoir by Jeannette Walls who is a freelance writer and an entertainment correspondent for MSNBC. If you think you've had a hard life and an unfair childhood, check this one out. This is like Little Orphan Annie magnified and Jeannette wasn't even an orphan. I really did like the book even though it made me a bit crazy at times.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Freelance writer Walls doesn't pull her punches. She opens her memoir by describing looking out the window of her taxi, wondering if she's "overdressed for the evening" and spotting her mother on the sidewalk, "rooting through a Dumpster." Walls's parents—just two of the unforgettable characters in this excellent, unusual book—were a matched pair of eccentrics, and raising four children didn't conventionalize either of them. Her father was a self-taught man, a would-be inventor who could stay longer at a poker table than at most jobs and had "a little bit of a drinking situation," as her mother put it. With a fantastic storytelling knack, Walls describes her artist mom's great gift for rationalizing. Apartment walls so thin they heard all their neighbors? What a bonus—they'd "pick up a little Spanish without even studying." Why feed their pets? They'd be helping them "by not allowing them to become dependent." While Walls's father's version of Christmas presents—walking each child into the Arizona desert at night and letting each one claim a star—was delightful, he wasn't so dear when he stole the kids' hard-earned savings to go on a bender. The Walls children learned to support themselves, eating out of trashcans at school or painting their skin so the holes in their pants didn't show. Buck-toothed Jeannette even tried making her own braces when she heard what orthodontia cost. One by one, each child escaped to New York City. Still, it wasn't long before their parents appeared on their doorsteps. "Why not?" Mom said. "Being homeless is an adventure."

Laila: Laila mentioned another memoir that our book group read a couple of years ago that we all loved - A Year By the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman by Joan Anderson.

From Publishers Weekly
"I'm beginning to think that real growing only begins after we've done the adult things we're supposed to do," confides Anderson, a journalist and author of children's books (Twins on Toes, etc.). She came to this conclusion after a year living alone in a cottage on Cape Cod. Feeling that her marriage had stagnated by the time her two sons were grown, Anderson surprised and distressed her husband by refusing to move out-of-state with him when he accepted a new job. In this accessible memoir, she shares the joy and self-knowledge she found during her time of semi-isolation. In order to supplement the income from her royalty checks, she found a job in the local fish market and began making new friends who sustained her. After her hot water heater broke down and her husband refused to help, she earned the additional money for the repair by digging and selling clams. Through vivid and meticulous observations about the natural world, Anderson makes clear her strong affinity for the ocean, with its changing tides, subtle colors and burgeoning life. A Memorial Day reunion brought Anderson and her husband closer; shortly thereafter she embraced his plan to retire and live with her in the cottage. Anderson has recently begun a "Weekend by the Sea" program for women who need time to reflect.

Andrea: Andrea has two suggestions:

The Expected One by Kathleen McGowan, a novel about Mary Magdalene

From Publishers Weekly
The standard religious-thriller architecture is evident in McGowan's much-heralded debut, which coincidentally shares similarities with The Da Vinci Code (e.g., murders, Vatican interference, nefarious secret societies), but mostly the characters sit and talk about biblical history and the search for Magdalene-connected treasure. Biblical dreams and visions plague American Maureen Paschal, author of the bestselling HERstory—a Defense of History's Most HatedHeroines. When she travels to France's mysterious Languedoc region at the urging of Magdalene scholar Lord Berenger Sinclair, Maureen finds what has eluded centuries of treasure hunters—the original Magdalene scrolls that detail her love affair with Jesus, their marriage and the crucifixion. Though the author makes no effort to render these gospel excerpts in period prose, they're the most compelling part of a novel otherwise freighted with romance-fiction stylings and unadorned facts numbingly narrated. Originally self-published, this first of a trilogy has already sold foreign rights in 22 countries

Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron

Book DescriptionIn the late summer of 1831, in a remote section of southeastern Virginia, there took place the only effective, sustained revolt in the annals of American Negro slavery...

The revolt was led by a remarkable Negro preacher named Nat Turner, an educated slave who felt himself divinely ordained to annihilate all the white people in the region.

The Confessions of Nat Turner is narrated by Nat himself as he lingers in jail through the cold autumnal days before his execution. The compelling story ranges over the whole of Nat's Life, reaching its inevitable and shattering climax that bloody day in August.

The Confessions of Nat Turner is not only a masterpiece of storytelling; is also reveals in unforgettable human terms the agonizing essence of Negro slavery. Through the mind of a slave, Willie Styron has re-created a catastrophic event, and dramatized the intermingled miseries, frustrations--and hopes--which caused this extraordinary black man to rise up out of the early mists of our history and strike down those who held his people in bondage.

Cook's Report:

I mentioned last week that I was making Jamie Oliver's Fried Ricotta - it is not a keeper! I was very disappointed in it.

I'm sorry to say that I did not cook one meal this week but I thought I'd share the recipe for a wonderful dessert we had at book group. This is Cynthia Boatman's Aunt Myrna's Black Russian Cake - it is a bundt cake and she served it with vanilla ice cream - quite nice!

1 yellow cake mix
1 small package instant chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/3 cup vodka
3 Tablespoons Kahlua
2/3 cup water

For glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup Kahlua

1. Grease bundt pan.
2. Combine cake mix, pudding mix, sugar, oil and eggs. Blend well, add rest of liquid ingredients and beat 4 minutes.
3. Pour into Bundt pan.
4. Bake for 55 - 60 minutes at 350 degrees.
5. Cool for about 20 - 30 minutes.
6. Glaze: Mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/3 cup Kahlua together. Brush glaze over cake with pastry brush. It will make a crust when it cools.

I'll have plenty of cooking to share next week when I get back from Thanksgiving at Jexy's - we'll be cooking up a storm! Here's my suggestion for an hors d'oeuvres course before the meal. We often have a cup of soup a couple of hours before the meal - I think Jexy's planning a pumpkin soup. We'll also put out a variety of fun stuff like, assorted olives, caper berries (large, very tasty capers), cherry peppers, a hunk of parmesan cheese (or as Jacob calls it, Farmer John cheese), some proscuitto, walnuts, melon and honey. A little something for everyone.

An upcoming event of interest:

Boulder Historic Homes for the Holiday Tour
- - December 2 and 3 - University Place and 9th Street - always a fun event!

Wishing all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving! I am particularly thankful for my wonderful friends and family.

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