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Friday, December 14, 2007

Saturday Morning Walkers - December 9, 2007

Hi everyone!

Well, we've had a pretty snowy weekend here in Boulder - it didn't stop us from venturing out on Saturday morning for breakfast at Panera's but we didn't walk any further than the new Anthropologie store a few doors down the sidewalk at the 29th Street Mall. What a terrific turnout we had! We were so delighted to see Jackie and Annette along with "regulars", Barb, Jan, Andrea, Christie, Mary, Laila and me. I do have lots to share with you this week. First of all, as you all know, I really promoted online and catalog shopping last week. As a nod to my daughter, Libby and her livelihood, I should also encourage you all to hit the outlet malls for great deals this season, especially from J. Crew's Factory Stores. As some of you may know Libby is an executive vice-president in charge of J. Crew's Factory Stores.

On Saturday night, Jack, Jan and I went to see and hear Naomi Klein, a journalist with Nation Magazine, speak about her latest book, The Shock Doctrine. Jack is currently reading it and strongly recommends this book. He considers some of her ideas pretty revolutionary and important to consider. She was an outstanding speaker - smart, strong and clear. I particularly appreciated the fact that she's not just another "angry" liberal who just screams criticism that really can't be heard. She's clearly done her homework and presents some fascinating ideas to think about. Please check out her website

Book Report:

I'm wondering if any of you ever read Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz. It is coming out shortly as a movie and I'm eager to see it. It was a gread read.
"Explain this to me: One minute there is a boy, a life thrumming with possibilities, and the next there are marked cars and strangers in uniform and the fractured whirling lights. And that, suddenly, is all the world has to offer." This is the voice of Ethan Learner, a college professor who has just watched his 10-year-old son, Josh, die in a hit-and-run accident on a silent Connecticut road.
John Burnham Schwartz's Bicycle Days (1989) received favorable reviews but seemed very much an autobiographical first novel. His second fiction, Reservation Road, however, is a book that resists genres: a tragedy where all the characters are flawed and none are entirely guilty; a thriller where the killer, Dwight, wants to be caught but is too laden with self-loathing to turn himself in; and an experimental novel where the narrative jumps gracefully among three perspectives.

In the opening pages Schwartz establishes strong connections between fathers and sons. Moments before the accident Ethan watches his son standing precariously close to the curb; he sees possibilities in Josh, a shy boy whose musical gifts indicate a sensitivity that is no less present, though more mature, in his father. At the same time, Dwight and his son, Sam (also 10), are rushing home from an extra-innings Red Sox game where Dwight tries to rebuild the fragments of attachment left after a bitter divorce. Schwartz reveals depth in simple gestures--a hand, for example, placed in a hand, only to be self-consciously pulled away. Dwight drives on after hitting Josh, though he slows in a moment of hesitation in which Ethan hears him calling "Sam" or "Sham"--he's not sure which. Out of grief, and with only scattered clues, Ethan begins his quiet pursuit of the killer, a pursuit that fuels the novel to its poetic conclusion. In Reservation Road, John Burnham Schwartz has crafted a lasting work of literature, a page-turner that's also a rich character study. --Patrick O'Kelley

Laila recently read Don't Let's Go the the Dogs Tonight, a wonderful memoir by Alexandra Fuller. This is her story of growing up a white girl in Africa. Our book group read this and just loved it.

From Publishers Weekly
A classic is born in this tender, intensely moving and even delightful journey through a white African girl's childhood. Born in England and now living in Wyoming, Fuller was conceived and bred on African soil during the Rhodesian civil war (1971-1979), a world where children over five "learn[ed] how to load an FN rifle magazine, strip and clean all the guns in the house, and ultimately, shoot-to-kill." With a unique and subtle sensitivity to racial issues, Fuller describes her parents' racism and the wartime relationships between blacks and whites through a child's watchful eyes. Curfews and war, mosquitoes, land mines, ambushes and "an abundance of leopards" are the stuff of this childhood. "Dad has to go out into the bush... and find terrorists and fight them"; Mum saves the family from an Egyptian spitting cobra; they both fight "to keep one country in Africa white-run." The "A" schools ("with the best teachers and facilities") are for white children; "B" schools serve "children who are neither black nor white"; and "C" schools are for black children. Fuller's world is marked by sudden, drastic changes: the farm is taken away for "land redistribution"; one term at school, five white students are "left in the boarding house... among two hundred African students"; three of her four siblings die in infancy; the family constantly sets up house in hostile, desolate environments as they move from Rhodesia to Zambia to Malawi and back to Zambia. But Fuller's remarkable affection for her parents (who are racists) and her homeland (brutal under white and black rule) shines through. This affection, in spite of its subjects' prominent flaws, reveals their humanity and allows the reader direct entry into her world. Fuller's book has the promise of being widely read and remaining of interest for years to come. Photos not seen by PW. (On-sale Dec. 18)Forecast: Like Anne Frank's diary, this work captures the tone of a very young person caught up in her own small world as she witnesses a far larger historical event. It will appeal to those looking for a good story as well as anyone seeking firsthand reportage of white southern Africa. The quirky title and jacket will propel curious shoppers to pick it up.

Jackie has two recommendations, both non-fiction:

Martha Beck's, Finding Your Own North Star - Martha Beck is a life-coach and author who is often featured in O Magazine. Rae and I read her first book, a memoir called Expecting Adam, about the birth of her Down's Syndrome child. I think that Rae did a workshop with her and was very impressed.

From Publishers Weekly
A fixed point in the sky that helps mariners stay on course, the North Star emerges as a symbol for realizing one's true potential in this cheerful and perceptive but too-long book. Though her navigational metaphors lose force with repetition, Beck's voice is light, down-to-earth and refreshing. Having found her way on her own journey from academia (she was a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School) to becoming an author (of Expecting Adam, a warmly received memoir about the birth of her Down's syndrome baby), Beck currently consults with clients on redirecting their lives. She teaches that each individual has a core personality that encompasses one's desires, emotions and preferences, which is sometimes blocked by a social self that responds to external influences and cultivates survival skills. By far the most fascinating material is on how to read warnings from the essential self: low energy, lapses into illness, forgetfulness, addictions, Freudian slips and mood swings. She advises steering toward the correct path by eliminating negative influences and practicing elaborate self-esteem exercises. A section on navigating change weighs the book down while suggestions for dealing with serious emotions like grief and anger are somewhat breezy. In the end, however, the numerous self-quizzes, exercises and chances to laugh will allow many readers to overlook these weaknesses. (Mar.)Forecast: Given the success of Expecting Adam and Beck's freelance contributions to Mademoiselle, Real Simple and Redbook, the author is likely to shine in a constellation of media venues and has a solid shot at capturing the imaginations of self-help seekers.

Mehmet Oz', Healing from the Heart - an early book from Dr. Oz, Oprah's favorite doctor which presents his approach to medicine from both Eastern and Western traditions

From Library Journal
Oz, a noted cardiovascular surgeon and director of the Complementary Care Center at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, relates his experiences in combining complementary medicine with more traditional treatments. Today, his scientific approach is setting the standard for measuring outcomes and benefits of various complementary healing modalities in pre-operative, intra-operative, and post-operative cardiac surgery patients. His multidisciplinary team of nurses, energy healers, and various health practitioners continues to integrate and investigate the roles of music therapy, hypnotherapy, nutrition, massage therapy, yoga, and therapeutic touch in allopathic medicine. Not since Norman Cousins's Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient (LJ 9/1/79) has the patient's mind-body healing potential been so eloquently described.

Website of the Week - - Charity Navigator site enables you to check on all of those requests for donations you receive.

Podcast of the Week - - Interview with Naomi Klein of the Shock Doctrine.

Vocabulary Word of the Week - Shock according to Naomi Klein
"A state of shock is, by definition, a moment when there is a gap between fast-moving events and the information that exists to explain them. Yet as soon as we have a new narrative that offers a perspective on the shocking events, we become reoriented and the world begins to make sense again."

Cooking and Dining Report:

Libby had a dinner party this weekend and served a wonderful artichoke recipe from Giada de Laurentiis of the Food Network - Artichoke Gratinata -,1977,FOOD_9936_36675,00.html

I made a recipe for Grilled Flank Steak with Shallot and Red Wine Sauce and Cracked Potatoes from Amy Finley, the most recent winner of the Next Food Network Star contest. I loved it!,1977,FOOD_9936_75395,00.html - Grilled Flank Steak,1977,FOOD_9936_75394,00.html - Cracked Potatoes

Judy sent me a recipe that she liked from Fine Cooking Magazine - Israeli Couscous with Saffron, Toasted Pine Nuts and Currants - you can easily make this dish an hour or two in advance, let it sit at room temperature and gently reheat it before serving (hold off adding the pine nuts until the last minute)
4T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice (1 1/4 cups)
4 scallions, thinkly sliced (white and green parts kept separate)
30 saffron threads (about 1/8 t), lightly toasted and crumbled
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
Generous pinch ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups Israeli couscous
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup currants, soaked in warm water until tender and then drained
3 T chopped fresh fla-leaf parsley

Heat 2 T of the oil in a 10 inch straight-sided saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, scallion whites, saffron, red pepper flakes, and a generous pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender and golden brown, 7 - 8 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 T oil, the garlic anc cinnamon and continue to cook for 1 minute more. Add the couscous and 1 1/2 t salt and stir constantly until the couscous is lightly toasted (the color will turna light brown), 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Add the water to the pan with the couscous, sitr to combine, cover, and cook at a simmer over medium-low to low heat until the couscous is tender and has absorbed all of the liquid, about 10 minutes.

Add the pine nuts, currants, and parsley and toss to combine. Season to taste with more salt if necessary. Transfer to a platter or distribute among individual plates, sprinkle the scallion greens on top, and serve.

Hope you'll try one of these recipes - enjoy!

Have a good week - take a moment over these next days leading up to the holidays to sit quietly, take a breath, and count your blessings.



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