Saturday, June 23, 2007
Saturday Morning Walkers - June 9, 2007
Cass, Mary, Jackie, Christie, Terrie, Laila and I had a wonderful walk along the Bobolink Trail (Baseline just west of Cherryvale). It is a lovely tree-lined walk along the creek - pretty crowded with runners though.
We had coffee at the Brewing Market at Basemar Shopping Center.
I'm excited to remind you that we start work on the PERMANENT Grillo Center Labyrinth tomorrow!! As many of you know, this has been a dream of mine for almost 10 years. I'm quite preoccupied with this right now and I do apologize for any lack of attentiveness and focus for just about anything else. I will keep you updated on our progress and hopefully share some pictures as we go along.
Cass is reading the classic One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. .
"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
It is typical of Gabriel García Márquez that it will be many pages before his narrative circles back to the ice, and many chapters before the hero of One Hundred Years of Solitude, Buendía, stands before the firing squad. In between, he recounts such wonders as an entire town struck with insomnia, a woman who ascends to heaven while hanging laundry, and a suicide that defies the laws of physics:
A trickle of blood came out under the door, crossed the living room, went out into the street, continued on in a straight line across the uneven terraces, went down steps and climbed over curbs, passed along the Street of the Turks, turned a corner to the right and another to the left, made a right angle at the Buendía house, went in under the closed door, crossed through the parlor, hugging the walls so as not to stain the rugs, went on to the other living room, made a wide curve to avoid the dining-room table, went along the porch with the begonias, and passed without being seen under Amaranta's chair as she gave an arithmetic lesson to Aureliano José, and went through the pantry and came out in the kitchen, where Úrsula was getting ready to crack thirty-six eggs to make bread.
"Holy Mother of God!" Úrsula shouted.
The story follows 100 years in the life of Macondo, a village founded by José Arcadio Buendía and occupied by descendants all sporting variations on their progenitor's name: his sons, José Arcadio and Aureliano, and grandsons, Aureliano José, Aureliano Segundo, and José Arcadio Segundo. Then there are the women--the two Úrsulas, a handful of Remedios, Fernanda, and Pilar--who struggle to remain grounded even as their menfolk build castles in the air. If it is possible for a novel to be highly comic and deeply tragic at the same time, then One Hundred Years of Solitude does the trick. Civil war rages throughout, hearts break, dreams shatter, and lives are lost, yet the effect is literary pentimento, with sorrow's outlines bleeding through the vibrant colors of García Márquez's magical realism. Consider, for example, the ghost of Prudencio Aguilar, whom José Arcadio Buendía has killed in a fight. So lonely is the man's shade that it haunts Buendía's house, searching anxiously for water with which to clean its wound. Buendía's wife, Úrsula, is so moved that "the next time she saw the dead man uncovering the pots on the stove she understood what he was looking for, and from then on she placed water jugs all about the house."
Another recommendation from Cass is One Big Damn Puzzler by John Harding.
From Publishers WeeklySet on a fictional South Pacific island inhabited by black bantam pigs and a clan of nearly-naked eccentrics, this excessively zany British import has a raging conscience and a muted heart. Managua, a one-legged tribesman (most of his fellow inhabitants are missing limbs), is obsessed with transcribing Hamlet into island pidgin and finds his unconventional paradise disturbed when William Hardt, a white American lawyer, arrives to arrange reparations for natives whose limbs have been blown off by the landmines left behind years ago by the American military. Hardt soon witnesses a staggering array of peculiarities: the "the shitting beach" where villagers empty their bowels every morning; transvestite men forced into dressing in drag by parents who wanted girls; vision quests brought on by consuming "kassa," a red hallucinogenic paste. A few years after his departure from the island, Hardt's successful mission has drastic consequences for the island. Journalist Harding (While the Sun Shines) is an equal opportunity and brutally sharp lampooner, though he sometimes misses (notably in his invocation of 9/11 as a parallel to corporate America's exploitation of the island). Folly, silliness and cultural sucker punches come at full speed in this ribald, imaginative farce. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Jackie read and recommended:
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Amazon.comOne of Chinua Achebe's many achievements in his acclaimed first novel, Things Fall Apart, is his relentlessly unsentimental rendering of Nigerian tribal life before and after the coming of colonialism. First published in 1958, just two years before Nigeria declared independence from Great Britain, the book eschews the obvious temptation of depicting pre-colonial life as a kind of Eden. Instead, Achebe sketches a world in which violence, war, and suffering exist, but are balanced by a strong sense of tradition, ritual, and social coherence. His Ibo protagonist, Okonkwo, is a self-made man. The son of a charming ne'er-do-well, he has worked all his life to overcome his father's weakness and has arrived, finally, at great prosperity and even greater reputation among his fellows in the village of Umuofia. Okonkwo is a champion wrestler, a prosperous farmer, husband to three wives and father to several children. He is also a man who exhibits flaws well-known in Greek tragedy:
Okonkwo ruled his household with a heavy hand. His wives, especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper, and so did his little children. Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness. It was deeper and more intimate than the fear of evil and capricious gods and of magic, the fear of the forest, and of the forces of nature, malevolent, red in tooth and claw. Okonkwo's fear was greater than these. It was not external but lay deep within himself. It was the fear of himself, lest he should be found to resemble his father.
And yet Achebe manages to make this cruel man deeply sympathetic. He is fond of his eldest daughter, and also of Ikemefuna, a young boy sent from another village as compensation for the wrongful death of a young woman from Umuofia. He even begins to feel pride in his eldest son, in whom he has too often seen his own father. Unfortunately, a series of tragic events tests the mettle of this strong man, and it is his fear of weakness that ultimately undoes him.
Walking on Eggshells: Navigating the Delicate Relationship Between Adult Children and Parents by Jane Isay
Guest Reviewer: Po Bronson
Po Bronson is the author of the brilliant bestseller What Should I Do with My Life?, the powerful and poignant Why Do I Love These People?, a hilarious novel called The Bombadiers, and The Nudist on the Late Shift, a collection of "true stories" about Silicon Valley.
When we tell family stories, we so often focus on the beginning and the end. The beginning is the two decades of our childhood and adolescence, and it's been the favorite narrative arc ever since Freud. What happens in your childhood does not stay in your childhood--it haunts the rest of your life. In the last decade, we've suddenly heard more stories of the end--narratives constructed around a parent's death, and often the year spent caring for that parent on their deathbed.
Because these are the conventional narratives, they often distract our attention from the many decades in between. We barely even have a terminology for these years--and the terms we employ sound like oxymorons: "Adult Children," "Parents of Adults." There's an old saying: you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family. In the beginning this is true--we're in the care of our parents, like it or not. And in the ending this is also true--they're in our care, like it or not. But in the long middle, this isn't so true. The middle is a period where both child and parent can keep their distance, if they prefer. And often do, harboring resentment. We too often accept that this is just the way it is. "She's never going to change" is a common, fatalist refrain.
In Walking on Eggshells, Jane Isay shines a much-needed light on these years. With a graceful respect for the families she investigates, she tells their stories--how they lost their love, and how they regained it. Isay covers the many ways families develop resentment, and the many techniques they employed to make peace. She shows that small changes in routine can go a long way to restoring goodwill. But it's not a self-help book; it's more of a literary contemplation, and we learn more by inspiration than by emulation.
Though this book addresses the parents directly, I suspect it will be passed back and forth, between generations, in many a family. --Po Bronson
Website of the Week: I heard about this site on Satellite Sisters - http://www.arzurugs.org/ - ARZU, meaning hope in Dari, is a not-for-profit organization that aims to provide sustainable income to Afghan women by sourcing and selling the carpets they weave. It really is an inspiring project and worth reading about.
Podcast of the Week: Barnes and Noble's Meet the Writers - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/writers/writers_cds2.asp?PID=12289&z=y&cds2Pid=1302&linkid=726996 - great interviews with writers
Vocabulary Word of the Week - avuncular:
avuncular \uh-VUHNG-kyuh-luhr\, adjective:
1. Of or pertaining to an uncle.
2. Resembling an uncle, especially in kindness or indulgence.
Both uncle Frank and uncle Stephen Austen had made it a point of principle to be rigorously unsentimental in the discharge of their avuncular obligations.
-- David Nokes, Jane Austen: A Life
Thornton's reputation was that of a soft-hearted and avuncular veterinarian known for getting teary-eyed while listening to even slightly sentimental stories
-- Vicki Croke, "New leader of the MSPCA moves to tame budget woes", Boston Globe, September 20, 2003
A man with such a nice, avuncular personality would not blow up the world.
-- William Schneider, "The New Shape of American Politics", The Atlantic, January 1987
Avuncular comes from Latin avunculus, "maternal uncle."
Cooking and Food Report:
Only one meal worth reporting on this week and that was our Soprano night Italian dinner that we had tonight. The last show was disappointing but the dinner was great!
We started with Proscuitto and Melon - what a great combination! Next was one of our favorites - Caesar Salad - I do cheat on this - I use the whole romaine leaves and place them on a long rectangular plate, I shaved Parmigianno Reggiano on top along with croutons, then I drizzled on bottled Caesar dressing. Usually I use Paul Newmans but tonight I tried Whole Foods' brand - pretty good.
Dinner was Linguine with Red Clam Sauce from Food and Wine Magazine - http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/linguine-with-red-clam-sauce
Jack took care of dessert and he outdid himself - Blackout Cake from The Cheesecake Factory - this is an old favorite that I used to have as a little girl in New York. It is a rich dark chocolate layer cake with a pudding like filling. Blackout Cake originated at the Ebinger Bakery in Brooklyn and then was taken over by the more well-known Entenmans. I don't think they make it anymore. Here's a bit of the history and a recipe if you're ambitious and want to try it home - http://www.recipelink.com/cookbooks/1999/0609604201_2.html!
That's it for now - have a great week - come help us out at the Labyrinth!