Grillo Center Labyrinth

Grillo Center Labyrinth
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Saturday Morning Walkers - October 19, 2008

Greetings from Brooklyn, New York - I am thrilled to announce the arrival of Sylvie Lila Potter, Libby and David's beautiful daughter and our granddaugher. She was born on Friday, October 17, 2008 at 12:39 PM weighing 6 pounds 7 ounces and measuring 19 inches. Libby and Sylvie are doing so well together - Sylvie seems to know exactly what to do and Libby is pretty relaxed. I arrived at NYU Medical Center late Friday afternoon and have been enjoying being with my new sweet granddaughter. They came home from the hospital on Saturday afternoon and were so happy to be home in Brooklyn.

It was good to settle in today and I made my Lamb Stew with Cippoline Onions for dinner. Please see earlier posts for that recipe - it is such comfort food. Tomorrow will probably be Roast Chicken - always a favorite of Libby's.

Needless to say, I haven't been reading much since I got here. I am reading Jack Kornfield's A Path With Heart for our now weekly study group. I will miss that this week and perhaps next week but want to keep up with the chapters we're reading. We discussed the first chapter last Thursday. It really does build on the material covered in A New Earth but with a very different tone and perspective.

I'm not prepared to include our ususal features but I will include a Quote of the Week:'
Henry David Thoreau
"Every child begins the world again"

Thank you to Sylvie and Jacob for beginning our world again.

Have a wonderful week!


Saturday Morning Walkers - October 12, 2008

Hi everyone,

It sure was good to reunite with my Saturday Morning Walkers yesterday - it was an unusual rainy day here in Boulder, so we just enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at Breadworks and caught up a bit with Chris, Barb, Mary, Andrea, Laila and Christie.

I'm pleased to let you know that our A New Earth Study Group completed the final chapter of Eckhard Tolle's book this past week. We will continue to meet and will start working on Jack Kornfield's A Path With Heart. Even if you're not meeting with us on Thursday mornings, I would really encourage you to pick up a copy of this book and read along with us. I'm considering setting up a separate blog for our study group discussions and invite anyone to participate. I'll keep you posted on that.

Book Report:

I finished Peony by Pearl S. Buck - just an ok read for me - it was an interesting storyline based on true events involving a Jewish community in 19th century China.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Peony is set in the 1850s in the city of Kaifeng, in the province of Henan, which was historically a center for Jews. The novel follows Peony, a Chinese bondmaid of the prominent Jewish family of Ezra ben Israel, and shows through her eyes how the Jewish community was regarded in Kaifeng at a time when most of the Jews had come to think of themselves as Chinese. The novel contains a hidden love and shows the importance of duty along with the challenges of life. This novel is one that follows the guidelines of Buck's work. The setting is China, religion is involved, and there is an interracial couple (David and Kulien).

Chris is loving listening to Isabel Allende's second memoir, Sum of All Days.

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this deeply revealing second memoir, after Paula, novelist Allende (The House of Spirits) utilizes her family and the complex network of their relationships as the linchpin of the narrative. While weaving in her candid opinions on love and marriage, friendship, drug addiction, the writing life and religious fanaticism, Allende continues to work through the grief over her daughter's death. In these years without you I have learned to manage sadness, making it my ally. Little by little your absence and other losses in my life are turning into a sweet nostalgia. And though Allende's insight is keen, her prose polished and her language hypnotic, it's the stories of her close-knit family that move the memoir forward. We lived as a tribe, Chilean style; we were almost always together. While much of the story is infused with melancholy, her world is by no means without humor, mirth and wisdom. She celebrates friends' triumphs and exploits their foibles, including the odyssey of the boobs, without taking herself too seriously. This is a book to savor.

Mary read the classic The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett Review
The Thin Man, Dashiell Hammett's classic tale of murder in Manhattan, became the popular movie series with William Powell and Myrna Loy, and both the movies and the novel continue to captivate new generations of fans.
Nick and Nora Charles, accompanied by their schnauzer, Asta, are lounging in their suite at the Normandie in New York City for the Christmas holiday, enjoying the prerogatives of wealth: meals delivered at any hour, theater openings, taxi rides at dawn, rubbing elbows with the gangster element in speakeasies. They should be annoyingly affected, but they charm. Mad about each other, sardonic, observant, kind to those in need, and cool in a fight, Nick and Nora are graceful together, and their home life provides a sanctuary from the rough world of gangsters, hoodlums, and police investigations into which Nick is immediately plunged.

A lawyer-friend asks Nick to help find a killer and reintroduces him to the family of Richard Wynant, a more-than-eccentric inventor who disappeared from society 10 years before. His former wife, the lush and manipulative Mimi, has remarried a European fortune hunter who turns out to be a vindictive former associate of her first husband and is bent on the ruin of Wynant's family fortune. Wynant's children, Dorothy and Gilbert, seem to have inherited the family aversion to straight talk. Dorothy, who has matured into a beautiful young woman, has a crush on Nick, and so, in a hero-worshipping way, does mama's boy Gilbert. Nick and Nora respond kindly to their neediness as Nick tries to make sense of misinformation, false identities, far-fetched alibis, and, at the center of the confusion, the mystery of The Thin Man, Richard Wynant. Is he mad? Is he a killer? Or is he really an eccentric inventor protecting his discovery from intellectual theft?

The dialogue is spare, the locales lively, and Nick, the narrator, shows us the players as they are, while giving away little of his own thoughts. No one is telling the whole truth, but Nick remains mostly patient as he doggedly tries to backtrack the lies. Hammett's New York is a cross between Damon Runyon and Scott Fitzgerald--more glamorous than real, but compelling when visited in the company of these two charmers. The lives of the rich and famous don't get any better than this! --Barbara Schlieper

Laila is lukewarm about Byron Katie's Loving What Is - she compared her approach to Eckhard Tolle's A New Earth but found it much more confusing. I know that Oprah has interviewed Katie but I haven't listened to those interviews yet. Review
Remember the phrase "question authority"? Loving What Is is a workbook on questioning authority--but in this case, what is in question is the authority of our own fundamental beliefs about our relationships.

Known simply as "The Work," Byron Katie's methods are clean and straightforward. The basis is a series of four questions addressed to your own lists of written assumptions. Whether you're angry with your boss, frustrated with your teen's behavior, or appalled at the state of the world's environment, Katie suggests you write down your most honest thoughts on the matter, and then begin the examination. Starting with, "Is it true?" and continuing with explorations of "Who would you be without that thought?" this method allows you to get through unhelpful preconceptions and find peace. An integral part of the process is "turning the thought around," and at first this can seem like you're simply blaming yourself for everything. Push a little harder, and you'll find a very responsible acceptance of reality, beyond questions of fault and blame.

The book is filled with examples of folks applying The Work to a variety of life situations, and reading other's examples gets the idea across pretty clearly; chances are you'll find your own frustrations echoed on the pages a few times. Many chapters are divided into specific topics, such as couples, money, addictions, and self-judgments, with one chapter devoted to exploring the method with children.

Website of the Week - NPR's Planet Money - - several NPR correspondents have put together an excellent website dealing with our current financial situation.

Podcast of the Week - This American Life's podcast featuring the NPR correspondents from Planet Money - actually in two parts - a very clear discussion of our current financial situation - do check them both out

Vocabulary Word of the Week - actually two words this week coming out of our discussion at our A New Earth study group - we had a very lively discussion about whether or not when you accept a situation, does that imply that you condone. For example, can you accept that mistreatment of children goes on in the world without condoning it?

- Wikipedia gives the "spiritual" interpretation that I think Eckhard Tolle and other spiritual thinkers intend with its use:
Acceptance, in spirituality, mindfulness, and human psychology, usually refers to the experience of a situation without an intention to change that situation. Indeed, acceptance is often suggested when a situation is both disliked and unchangeable, or when change may be possible only at great cost or risk. Acceptance may imply only a lack of outward, behavioral attempts at possible change, but the word is also used more specifically for a felt or hypothesized cognitive or emotional state. Thus someone may decide to take no action against a situation and yet be said to have not accepted it.
Because the dictionary definition includes the concept of approval, it is important to note that in the psychospiritual use of the term infers non-judgmental Acceptance.

Acceptance is contrasted with resistance, but that term has strong political and psychoanalytic connotations not applicable in many contexts. By groups and by individuals, acceptance can be of various events and conditions in the world; individuals may also accept elements of their own thoughts, feelings, and personal histories. For example, psychotherapeutic treatment of a person with depression or anxiety could involve fostering acceptance either for whatever personal circumstances may give rise to those feelings or for the feelings themselves. (Psychotherapy could also involve lessening an individual's acceptance of various situations.)

Notions of acceptance are prominent in many faiths and meditation practices. For example, Buddhism's first noble truth, "All life is suffering", invites people to accept that suffering is a natural part of life. The term "Kabbalah" means literally acceptance.

Condoning -
con·done (kn-dn)
tr.v. con·doned, con·don·ing, con·dones
To overlook, forgive, or disregard (an offense) without protest or censure

Cooking and Dining Report:

From cooking blog Wednesday's Chef, Barbara Fairchild's (Bon Appetit) Spicy Roast Chicken - really quick and easy for a busy weeknight - quite delicious!

Spicy Roast Chicken
Serves 4

24 ounces whole cherry tomatoes (about 4 cups), stemmed
1/4 cup olive oil
5 garlic cloves, pressed
1 1/4 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram, divided (or 1 tablespoon dried rosemary, and none for garnish)
4 bone-in chicken breasts (10 to 12 ounces each)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper and 1 tablespoon marjoram in a large bowl to combine.

2. Place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the tomato mixture over the chicken, arranging the tomatoes in a single layer on the sheet around the chicken. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and the tomatoes are blistered, about 35 minutes.

3. Transfer the chicken to plates. Spoon the tomatoes and juices over the chicken. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon marjoram and serve.

From Mark Bittman of the New York Times a Free-form Apple Tart - a perfect dessert for a chilly autumn night!

Quote of the Week - from Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart
"This very moment is the perfect teacher..... the most precious opportunity presents itself when you think you can't handle whatever is happening."

Saturday Morning Walkers - October 5, 2008

Hi everyone!

Just got back from Los Angeles. I arrived on Thursday and my first stop was lunch at The Little Flower Candy Shop and Cafe. I was warmly greeted by owner and Jexy's friend Christine Moore. Check out this review from Jonathan Gold from LA Weekly - I had a wonderful turkey sandwich and took home a few chocolate chip cookies. On Friday, after dropping Jacob and Tyler off at school, I headed back over for a fabulous almond croissant. Feeling quite satisfied after that, I was "forced" to sample a taste of a new creation that Christine had just taken out of the oven - it was a mini - Christmas Brioche with cranberries and pistachios - I left there quite full and with a sugar high but it was worth it. I then headed into Old Town Pasadena to pick up a few things at the new Whole Foods for our dinners on Friday and Saturday night - more about that later. Saturday, Joe, Jacob and I met Grandma Barbara and Grandpa Morry at the Skirball Cultural Center to hang out at the Noah's Ark exhibit. This was my second visit and it is still just as amazing to visit there.

I haven't finished a book this week but am enjoying Pearl S. Buck's book, Peony. I'll report on that next week.

Barbara Rowland has two recommendations - a book and a movie:

The book is a fictionalized memoir, What is the What by Dave Eggers

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Valentino Achak Deng, real-life hero of this engrossing epic, was a refugee from the Sudanese civil war-the bloodbath before the current Darfur bloodbath-of the 1980s and 90s. In this fictionalized memoir, Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) makes him an icon of globalization. Separated from his family when Arab militia destroy his village, Valentino joins thousands of other "Lost Boys," beset by starvation, thirst and man-eating lions on their march to squalid refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, where Valentino pieces together a new life. He eventually reaches America, but finds his quest for safety, community and fulfillment in many ways even more difficult there than in the camps: he recalls, for instance, being robbed, beaten and held captive in his Atlanta apartment. Eggers's limpid prose gives Valentino an unaffected, compelling voice and makes his narrative by turns harrowing, funny, bleak and lyrical. The result is a horrific account of the Sudanese tragedy, but also an emblematic saga of modernity-of the search for home and self in a world of unending upheaval.

The movie is Live and Become directed and written by Ra-du Mihaileanu
LIVE AND BECOME **** Starring Yael Abecassis, Roschdy Zem, Moshe Agazai, Mosche Abebe and Sirak M. Sabahat. Directed and written by Ra-du Mihaileanu. Produced by Denis Carol, Marie Masmonteil and Radii Mihaileanu. A Menemsha release. Drama. Aramaic-, Hebrew- and French-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 144 min. "Live and Become" received a rare standing ovation at the Telluride Film Festival, evidence of the emotional power of a remarkable journey of discovery. The film centers on the plight of Ethiopian Jews, called Falashas, forced to flee to Sudanese refugee camps for relief from persecution and famine. In 1984, "Oper­ation Moses" begins the airlift of Falashas to Israel. A Christian woman in a refugee camp wants a better life for her nine-year-old son (Moshe Agazai). She orders him to pretend to be Jewish so he can be air­lifted out. After a poignant silent glance with the boy's mother, a Falasha woman whose son has recently died takes the boy's hand as she boards the plane to Israel. She names him Schlomo and pass­es him off as her own son. But in Israel, the adopted mother dies. Agazai gives Schlomo a face full of sadness as he yearns for his mother back in Africa. Schlomo is mystified by life in Israel, which is radically different from anything he had ever known. He is adopt­ed by a liberal Israeli couple, Yael (Yael Abecassis) and Yoram (Roschdy Zem), with two children. Yael becomes a fiery defender of Schlomo against the preju­dices he faces as he begins a new life. Schlomo must create a new identity while facing hostility as a black immigrant and always fearing discovery as a non-Jew. His struggles are extremely affecting. In the distinctive cast, non-professionals seam­lessly mix with accomplished actors while "Live and Become" builds to an unforget­table final image. --Ed Scheid, Box Office Magazine

Amanda Aaron posted a book that she liked on Facebook - Identical Strangers: A Memoir of wins Separated and Reunited by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernsein- I think I saw them interviewed last year when the hardback was released - it is a remarkable story.

From Publishers Weekly
In this transfixing memoir, Bernstein, a freelance writer, and Schein, a filmmaker, take turns recounting the story of how each woman, at age 35, discovered she had an identical twin sister, and the reunion that followed. Despite disparate upbringings, education and work experiences, the twins share matching wild hand gestures, allergies, speech patterns and a penchant for the same art movies. Louise Wise Services, the adoption agency, will reveal only that their biological mother was schizophrenic and unaware of who their father was. Records of the study the agency conducted about them are sealed, so the authors spearhead their own research project by poring over birth records, tracking down their birth mother's brother and interviewing researchers, who claim that twins raised apart are more similar than those raised together. Much of the book is devoted to fascinating stories of other twins and triplets who, when reunited as adults, are shocked by how much they have in common with one another. Bernstein and Schein's relationship becomes extremely close and also fraught with expectation. Once you find someone, Bernstein writes, you can't unfind her.

Website of the Week - Rae forwarded an email about this site - - this is a site focused on Dr. Susan Love's work to eliminate breast cancer entirely. Please do check it out and get involved!

Podcast of the Week - The Loh Life by Sandra Loh I found this one on Joe's list of podcasts that he listens to regularly - I haven't heard it yet myself - let's check it out this week

Vocaulary Word of the Week - suggested by Joe Rowland - taciturn

From French taciturne or Latin taciturnus, from tacitus (“secret, tacit”).
(RP) IPA: /ˈtæsɪtɜːn/
(US) IPA: /ˈtæsətɝːn/
taciturn (comparative more taciturn, superlative most taciturn)
Silent; temperamentally untalkative; disinclined to speak.
The two sisters could hardly have been more different, one so boisterous and expressive, the other so taciturn and calm.
(silent): reticent, untalkative
(silent): garrulous, loquacious
Derived terms
[show ▼]untalkative, silent

Cooking and Dining Report:

Last night's dinner was Ina Garten's Parmesan Chicken Sticks (I left out the actual sticks) -\

Saturday night's dinner was Giada de Laurentiis' Lamb Stew with Cippoline Onions - 9936 31642.00html?rsrc=search

Joe and I both love lamb; Jexy and Jack do not, so this was a perfect opportunity to make this dish.

Quote of the Week - It is not so much our friends' help that helps us, as the confidence of their help.

To all my friends, have a wonderful week....


Monday, October 20, 2008

Saturday Morning Walkers - September 28, 2008

Hi everyone!

Wow - just got back from a wonderful weekend at the Literary Sojourn in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Janet, Chris, Rita, Judy, Cynthia and I spent the weekend at our fabulous condo - needless to say, we ate very well - check out some of the recipes and restaurant review below. Just three of us actually attended the Sojourn on Saturday - Janet, Judy and me. We completed a table of ten with 7 members of Barbara Lamm's book group. Thanks so much to Kathy F., Angela, Jeannie, Susan, Tony, Kathy H. and Barb for including us with your group. Once again, the event did not disappoint - overall the writers' presentations were excellent!

Here's just a bit on each of them:

Andrew Sean Greer (The Good Marriage) - focused on how he transformed what had been a short story into a novel.

Elizabeth Strout (Olive Kitteridge) - In talking about her journey to becoming a published author at 40 years old, "for a writer, nothing, no experience is ever wasted".

Nathaniel Philbrick (Mayflower) - was the only non-fiction writer - he is a former journalist with a passion for sailing and history. He described his style as "narrative non-fiction"

Manil Suri (The Age of Shiva) - a mathematics professor at the University of Maryland also came late to fiction writing and began it as a hobby. This book is the second in a trilogy. The first is The Death of Vishnu)

Karen Joy Fowler (The Jane Austen Book Club) - she won the prize for the most entertaining presenter - she also talked about her journey to becoming a published writer.

Website/Blog of the Week - - I've included this site before but it is worth reminding you about this really excellent book swapping site - I have posted books on this site and received many used books in excellent condition.

Podcast of the Week - NPR's Book Tour -

Vocabulary Word of the Week - contributed by Barb Lamm - eremitic

er·e·mite (âr-mt)
A recluse or hermit, especially a religious recluse.


[Middle English, from Late Latin ermta; see hermit.]


ere·mitic (-mtk), ere·miti·cal adj.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

ThesaurusLegend: Synonyms Related Words Antonyms
Adj. 1. eremitic - of or relating to or befitting eremites or their practices of hermitic living; "eremitic austerities"
cenobitic, cenobitical, coenobitic, coenobitical - of or relating to or befitting cenobites or their practices of communal living
2. eremitic - characterized by ascetic solitude; "the eremitic element in the life of a religious colony"; "his hermitic existence"
anchoritic, hermitic, hermitical, eremitical
unworldly - not concerned with the temporal world or swayed by mundane considerations; "was unworldly and did not greatly miss worldly rewards"- Sheldon Cheney

Cooking and Dining Report:

The Creekside Cafe and Grille in Steamboat Springs, Colorado - we had lunch here on Friday afternoon and breakfast on Sunday morning - both were wonderful meals that we enjoyed sitting outside next to the creek in downtown Steamboat - - don't miss it on your next visit to Steamboat.

Friday night, before settling down for the DEBATE, we shared some wonderful appetizers and Judy's "best ever" chocolate whopper cookies. Here are a few of the recipes:

Janet's Chicken Satay from Tyler Florence on The Food Network -

Chris' Mussels in Marinara Sauce - just put the mussels in a saucepan with jarred Marinara Sauce, heat until mussels open - be sure to discard any that do not open - easy, wonderful treat!

Cynthia's original recipe - we named it Boatman Holiday Shrimp

1 1/2 pounds raw shrimp
10 slices proscuitto, cut into think strips
10 slices provolone
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 shallots, chopped
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup white wine

Sauté shallots and garlic in butter until soft, add wine.
Wrap shrimp in proscuitto slices and place in a row in a casserole dish. Top with provolone slices, add another row of wrapped shrimp and top with provolone.
Add sautéed garlic, shallot and wine mixture over the shrimp.
Bake at 350 F. for 1/2 hour or until shrimp is done and cheese is melted

Susan's Egg Pappardelle with Bagna Cauda, Wilted Radicchio and an Olive Oil Fried Egg from Los Angeles Chef, Nancy Silverton
Serves 4

For the pappardelle and bagna cauda:
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
15 anchovy fillets
8 large garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
12 radicchio leaves, torn into small pieces
Grated zest and juice of half a lemon
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces egg pappardelle

For finishing the dish:
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 large eggs
Parmesan cheese
1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. To make the bagna cauda, place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, anchovies and garlic and cook, breaking up the anchovies with a fork and stirring constantly, until the anchovies dissolve and the garlic is soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the parsley, radicchio and lemon zest and juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Prepare the pasta by bringing a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add enough kosher salt until the water tastes salty and return to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente.

3. To finish the dish, heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat until the oil is almost smoking, about 2 minutes. Break 1 egg into a small bowl and pour into the skillet. When it just begins to set around the edges, break the second egg into the bowl and pour into the skillet. (By waiting a moment before adding the next egg, the eggs won’t stick together.) Repeat with the remaining 2 eggs. Cook until the edges are golden, the whites are set and the yolks are still runny.

4. Use tongs to lift the pasta out of the water and transfer it quickly, while it’s dripping with water, to the skillet with the bagna cauda. Place the skillet over high heat. Toss the pasta to combine the ingredients and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more.

5. Using tongs, divide the pasta among 4 plates, twisting it into mounds. Grate a generous layer of cheese over each. Place an egg over the cheese. Sprinkle the parsley over the pasta and serve with more grated cheese and pepper.

Judy's Chocolate Whopper Cookies from Foster's Market in North Carolina -

Saturday night after Margaritas and snacks at the Rio, we headed home and enjoyed Rita's Artichoke Dip(need that recipe), Judy's quiche (thanks to Whole Foods) and leftovers from Friday.

Quote of the Week - When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes. - Desiderius Erasmus

I'm just home for a few days and heading out to LA on Thursday to help take care of Jacob while Jexy goes off to a work-related conference in Montreal. Have a great week!



Saturday Morning Walkers - September 21, 2008

Hi everyone!

Laila took Chris, Irma and me on a beautiful walk out at Teller Farm. We went to a new cafe out at 95th and Arapahoe - The Curiousity Cup - very nice with a great outdoor patio. Right next door is the Indulgence Bakery with some mighty fine looking treats.

Book Report:

I finished Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos - kind of Lifetime TV movie caliber - not great literature but somehow I was drawn in to the story. Not sure I'd recommend this one.

From Publishers Weekly
Cornelia Brown, heroine of de los Santos's bestselling Love Walked In, returns in a gracefully written if formulaic sophomore effort. Cornelia and her husband, Teo, move to suburban Philadelphia, where she finds it difficult to fit into the sorority-like atmosphere. Despite a bevy of domestic dramas (planning a family among them), Cornelia's first-person chapters are the quietest of the three points of view. Seemingly shallow and vicious, neighbor Piper shows her kinder side as she struggles through her best friend's fight against cancer. Though the extreme of Piper's two-facedness isn't convincing, her moments of sincerity invite genuine empathy. Cornelia also yields narrative time to Dev, a precocious teenager whose father is missing and whose mother develops a friendship with Cornelia. Dev's connection to the story is initially unclear, though he does grow close to Clare, a troubled teenager with an unconventional connection to Cornelia, and a late-breaking development grounds his role more firmly. Though each story line is a good read on its own, they don't always braid nicely, and while the predictable plot wanders into sappiness, the prose is polished and the suburban travails are familiar enough that fans of the women's fiction and higher-brow mommy lit will relate.

Jexy and her book group are reading the first in the Stephanie Meyer series - Twilight - apparently written for young adults, they are enjoying it. Review
"Softly he brushed my cheek, then held my face between his marble hands. 'Be very still,' he whispered, as if I wasn't already frozen. Slowly, never moving his eyes from mine, he leaned toward me. Then abruptly, but very gently, he rested his cold cheek against the hollow at the base of my throat."
As Shakespeare knew, love burns high when thwarted by obstacles. In Twilight, an exquisite fantasy by Stephenie Meyer, readers discover a pair of lovers who are supremely star-crossed. Bella adores beautiful Edward, and he returns her love. But Edward is having a hard time controlling the blood lust she arouses in him, because--he's a vampire. At any moment, the intensity of their passion could drive him to kill her, and he agonizes over the danger. But, Bella would rather be dead than part from Edward, so she risks her life to stay near him, and the novel burns with the erotic tension of their dangerous and necessarily chaste relationship.

Meyer has achieved quite a feat by making this scenario completely human and believable. She begins with a familiar YA premise (the new kid in school), and lulls us into thinking this will be just another realistic young adult novel. Bella has come to the small town of Forks on the gloomy Olympic Peninsula to be with her father. At school, she wonders about a group of five remarkably beautiful teens, who sit together in the cafeteria but never eat. As she grows to know, and then love, Edward, she learns their secret. They are all rescued vampires, part of a family headed by saintly Carlisle, who has inspired them to renounce human prey. For Edward's sake they welcome Bella, but when a roving group of tracker vampires fixates on her, the family is drawn into a desperate pursuit to protect the fragile human in their midst. The precision and delicacy of Meyer's writing lifts this wonderful novel beyond the limitations of the horror genre to a place among the best of YA fiction. (Ages 12 and up) --Patty Campbell

Website of the Week - - for the best of everything related to food

Podcast of the Week - from NPR, Political Rewind -

Vocabulary Word of the Week - grace

We had quite a lively discussion of this word at our New Earth Study Group this week - Eckhard Tolle used it in the following way - "The initiation of the awakening process is an act of grace. You cannot make it happen nor can you prepare yourself for it or accumulate credits toward it...............Only the first awakening, the first glimpse of consciousness without thought, happens by grace, without any doing on your part"

Just a few definitions from

Definition: The exercise of love, kindness, mercy, favor; disposition to benefit or serve another; favor bestowed or privilege conferred.
Definition: The divine favor toward man; the mercy of God, as distinguished from His justice; also, any benefits His mercy imparts; divine love or pardon; a state of acceptance with God; enjoyment of the divine favor.
Definition: Inherent excellence; any endowment or characteristic fitted to win favor or confer pleasure or benefit.
Definition: Beauty, physical, intellectual, or moral; loveliness; commonly, easy elegance of manners; perfection of form.

Cooking and Dining Report:

- I grew up with these treats and got this recipe for a homemade versionthat was demo'd on The Today Show this week -

I made a really simple roast butterflied (backbone removed) chicken this week flavoring it with prepared olive tapenade under the skin, a little olive oil, salt and pepper on the outside and in a 425 degree oven for about an hour.

Jack requested Spaghetti and Meatballs so, in spite of our warm weather, I just prepared a batch of Ina Garten's Real Meatballs and Spaghetti for dinner tonight. She uses veal, pork and beef and I think that is the secret to a really wonderful meatball. My kitchen smells divine!

Quote of the Week -
“The winds of grace are always blowing; all we need to do is raise our sails.” Anonymous

Six members of our book group (Barbara Lamm and her book group will be there also) are heading out to Steamboat Springs this coming Friday for the Literary Sojourn. This is an annual event for us and I am looking forward to the weekend. I'll have a full report next week but check out the website for a preview of the authors we'll be meeting and hearing.

Have a great week!


Saturday Morning Walkers - September 14, 2008

Hi everyone!

Hope you all had a good week. The Saturday Morning Walkers were just an intimate group of three yesterday - Andrea, Laila and I walked out at Walden Pond in Gunbarrel (yes, we have a Walden Pond here in Colorado!). It is a such a beautiful spot and the weather was spectacular. Coffee with bagels and lox at the Page 2. Nice way to spend the morning. Yesterday afternoon, I joined in the celebration for my sweet baby Helen's first birthday - Helen is one of the little girls that I take care of. She looked beautiful in her new pink dress and fancy silver party shoes.

Book Report:

Here's a recommendation from Libby - The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. This book came up as a possible choice at our book group last week. I may choose it for my turn in December. Libby liked it very much.

Praise for The 19th Wife
“This exquisite tour de force explores the dark roots of polygamy and its modern-day fruit in a renegade cult...Ebershoff (The Danish Girl) brilliantly blends a haunting fictional narrative by Ann Eliza Young, the real-life 19th “rebel” wife of Mormon leader Brigham Young, with the equally compelling contemporary narrative of fictional Jordan Scott, a 20-year-old gay man…With the topic of plural marriage and its shattering impact on women and powerless children in today's headlines, this novel is essential reading for anyone seeking understanding of the subject.”
–Publishers Weekly, Starred and “Pick of the Week”

I just started a book by Marisa de los Santos - Belong to Me - it is too soon to recommend it but I am optimistic and will let you know more next week.

Website of the Week: this site was recommended by Andrea and looks pretty cool, especially for those of us who want to keep our brains sharp as we "mature" - - check out this review of this "brain training" site from PC Magazine -,1205,l=213934&s=25234&a=213919&po=10,00.asp

Podcast of the Week: this is a particular Diane Rehm show focusing on Sarah Palin and the media - Diane is able to give voice to this issue without all the anger and hysteria that often accompanies political coverage - - listen to it right from your computer.

Vocabulary Word of the Week: luminous

Main Entry:
Middle English, from Latin luminosus, from lumin-, lumen
15th century
1 a: emitting or reflecting usually steady, suffused, or glowing light b: of or relating to light or to luminous flux2: bathed in or exposed to steady light 3: clear , enlightening4: shining , illustrious

Cooking and Dining Report:

We had a very fine book group dinner at Janet's last week and I can share one of the recipes with you - she grilled a marinated flank steak which was so delicious - need that recipe! The one I do have is for Ina Garten's Potato-Fennel Gratin- a decadent side dish which was perfect with the steak -

A wonderful Vegetarian Chili from Jan -
Vegetable and Black Bean Chili

2 tsp olive oil

1 medium eggplant, pealed and cubed

1 cup onion, chopped

1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped

1 medium zucchini, coarsely chopped

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

3 cups crushed canned tomatoes

1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained

¾ cup canned corn, drained

Add the oil to a large non-stick pan and heat over medium heat. Add the eggplant and the onion. Cook and stir about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender. Stir in the pepper, zucchini, chili powder, and cumin. Cook and stir for 4 to 5 minutes more or until the vegetables are tender.

Stir in the tomatoes (with juices), beans and corn. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat. Partially cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until thick. The longer the chili simmers the thicker it will get.

Here are a few recipes from my kitchen this week:

From Giada de Laurentiis, Conghile (small shell pasta) with Clams and Mussels
- I like that this includes broccoli as part of the dish - it truly is a one-dish meal and very yummy!

From, I made Marsala Poached Apricots - this was a part of the appetizer that I contributed to Janet's dinner - I simply combined 3 cups of water, 1 cup of imported sweet Marsala wine, 1/4 cup sugar, a few pieces of lemon peel, brought that to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add 2 cups of dried apricots (use the nice bright orange California or Mediterranean). Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until fruit is just soft but not mushy, stirring frequently, about 25 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer fruit to a bowl. Boil the liquid until syrupy, about 5 minutes and pour syrup over the fruit. (Can be made a couple of days ahead. Cover; chill and bring to room temperature before serving) I drained the apricots and placed on a platter with carmelized walnuts, brie cheese, cambozola cheese, figs, quartered,
and slices of melon, and baguette slices.

From Sal Scognamillo of Patsy's Restaurant in NY, I took his recipe for Chicken Parmigiana and substituted veal - he did this on The Today Show -

From Bon Appetit, Tortellini with Porcini Mushroom Sauce - for those of you who love Fettucine Alfredo or Carbonara, this is a lovely alternative - very simple to make yet elegant enough for company (Rae, you'll love this one!!) -

From The Splendid Table, Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho - try this while you can still get lovely tomatoes!

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho
From Latin Evolution by Jose Garces (Lake Isle Press, September 25, 2008). Copyright 2008 by Jose Garces. Used with permission of the publisher.

Yields 4 cup

4 large red heirloom tomatoes
2/3 English cucumber, seeded
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons diced day-old baguette, crust removed
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1. To make gazpacho: Core tomatoes. Dip tomatoes into boiling water for about 15 seconds then shock in ice water. Peel tomatoes.

2. In a blender, combine tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, vinegar, and bread. Puree until smooth. While processing, slowly add olive oil until emulsified. Season with sugar, salt, and pepper. Gazpacho can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Quote of the Week from - There are things you do because they feel right & they may make no sense & they may make no money & it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other & to eat each other's cooking & say it was good.

Have a wonderful week!

Saturday Morning Walkers - September 8, 2008

Hi all!

Hope you had a good week. A good turnout of the Saturday Morning Walkers, including Mary, Christie, Jan, Andrea, Laila, Irma and I, had a nice brisk (meaning temperature) walk yesterday up to and around Viele Lake, finishing at our first of the month planning session at Caffe Sole.

Book Report:
Laila is reading How To Meditate by Lawrence Le Shan. Here is a review from

"Lawrence LeShan, a clinical psychologist, has spent over thirty years working with cancer patients to promote healing and well-being. He is also a pioneer in exploring the therapeutic uses of meditation.Dr. LeShan has developed a profoundly new approach to psychotherapy which focuses on assisting an individual (often a cancer patient) to find a source of joy and meaning in his life, rather than focusing on neuroses. The question to ask, says Dr. LeShan, is not "what is wrong with me?" but "what is right within me? What brings me joy and a sense of purpose in my life?"
How to Meditate is one of the simplest, most straightforward books on mediation. Dr. LeShan takes the approach that mediation is not mysterious; nor is one form of meditation ideal for everyone. In his book, Dr. LeShan outlines a variety of meditation techniques, and encourages the reader to bring meditation into his or her life."

I have started and am really enjoying Pete Hamill's memoir, A Drinking Life. Jack finished this a few weeks ago and I included the review then. Just do a search on the blog for Pete Hamill. If you've read and enjoyed Snow in August, Forever, Downtown and North River, you will appreciate learning about Hamill's background growing up and living in New York.

Website of the Week: - the BBC presents a language site - pretty cool!

Podcast of the Week: - from The New Yorker Magazine, a podcast covering the campaign trail

Vocabulary Word of the Week: securitization - this word came up when Jack and I were listening to the news this morning and the person being interviewed used the word "securitize" - we had a "discussion" about whether or not this was a real word or if he meant to say "secure" - I won't say who was right!
Securitization is a structured finance process, which involves pooling and repackaging of cash-flow producing financial assets into securities that are then sold to investors. The name "securitization" is derived from the fact that the form of financial instruments used to obtain funds from the investors are securities.

All assets can be securitized so long as they are associated with cash flow. Hence, the securities, which are the outcome of securitization processes, are termed asset-backed securities (ABS). From this perspective, securitization could also be defined as a financial processes leading to an emission of ABS.

Securitization often utilizes a special purpose vehicle (SPV), alternatively known as a special purpose entity (SPE) or special purpose company (SPC), in order to reduce the risk of bankruptcy and thereby obtain lower interest rates from potential lenders. A credit derivative is also generally used to change the credit quality of the underlying portfolio so that it will be acceptable to the final investors.

Securitization has evolved from tentative beginnings in the late 1970s to a vital funding source with an estimated total aggregate outstanding of $8.06 trillion (as of the end of 2005, by the Bond Market Association) and new issuance of $3.07 trillion in 2005 in the U.S. markets alone.[citation needed]

Cooking and Dining Report:
Boulder Restaurant Review - Jack and I had dinner last night at Mateo (owned by the same people as Radda). We had been there once before right after it first opened several years ago. We like it then but somehow never got back there. They specialized in Provencal cuisine and the decor is a bit more elegant and upscale than Radda. We had a terrific dinner and the service was outstanding. Their menu seems to change monthly so everything is very seasonal and local.
We shared two appetizers - one was an Artisan Cheese Platter featuring Cambembert, English Stilton, a Chevre and a Delice de Bourgogne Triple Cream (my favorite!) and the other was Grilled Endive with Shaved Parmiggiano Reggiano. I liked that very much.
Jack had a sliced duck breast entree which was very tasty but a bit too rare for Jack - I thought it was just perfect!
I had a Colorado leg of lamb, slow-roasted and thinly sliced, served with tomatoes and potatoes in a Provencale style - a perfect dish for a cool night.
Dessert was over the top! We both had house-made tarts - Jack had a raspberry tart with vanilla bean ice cream and I had a bittersweet chocolate tart with chocolate hazelnut ice cream. The pastry on both was thin, light and flaky. Mine was one of the best desserts I've ever had!
We also tried a wine that was recommended and we enjoyed that very much - it was similar to a Cabernet Sauvigon but less sweet. It was called Chateau Beaumont from the Medoc region.

A couple of recipes from Susan's kitchen this past week:

From Mark Bitten from the New York Times, Grilled Halibut (I used Cod) with Remoulade - - the cod is a more economical alternative and was very delicious - the sauce was a bit too hot for me - I would cut back on the cayenne just a bit. This is great because you can make the sauce well ahead and then just quickly grill or pan-fry the fish.

From Fine Cooking, Oven Fries - - a little bit more work than opening the bag of frozen fries (that I usually do!) but well worth it. Next time I'll try it with sweet potatoes.

Quote of the Week: from writer, Anais Nin

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

Have a terrific week ahead!