Category Archives: books

Regionality

While on our recent road trip to visit relatives in central Georgia, I was able to take a side trip to Greenville, SC, for a reunion with nine friends from college. We do this every couple of years now, and one of our rituals is a Saturday night book swap. The book I offered this time was Gardenias, by one of my favorite “regional” authors, Faith Sullivan of Minnesota. I’ve loved her books since one of her earlier publications, The Cape Ann; in fact, I included a used copy of that book for background, since it has some of the same characters.

Wiki has this to say about American literary regionalism, or local color: “In this style of writing, which includes both poetry and prose, the setting is particularly important and writers often emphasize specific features such as dialect, customs, history, and landscape, of a particular region.”

I was delighted to find that the book I drew, One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash, was also by a regional author – Carolinian Appalachia – and now that I’ve finished the book, I’ve learned some background history of the area I just visited. I also got to hear some local dialects; got to know some characters whom I would probably not have found in, say, Minnesota; and read descriptions of places I’ve seen only from a distance. And although the ending to this tale was sad, I would probably read another book by Ron Rash.

I have found (and loved) over the years several authors I whom I consider to be regional writers, but will wait to see if other Baboons name them before I do. To that end:

Do you have a favorite regional author? Is there a region of the USA that you would like to learn about through reading?

I Scream, You Scream

Over the weekend, PJ got me going when she said “I can think of worse ways to go than death by ice cream.” It reminded me of the time we had talked about death by rhubarb and Clyde actually found a book entitled exactly that. (It was awful!)

So I went looking for death by ice cream titles. Didn’t find exactly that, but found plenty that were close enough.  Here are a few:

Ice Cream Murder (A Sprinkles Cozy Mystery) by Jennifer Martin
Death with a Cherry on Top by Molly Dox
Chunky Raspberry Fudge Murder by Penelope Manzone
Death by Chocolate Sundae by Constance Barker
Triple Dipped Murder by Gretchen Allen
Death by Chocolate Malted Milkshake by Sarah Graves

I requested a couple from the library – you never know, maybe I’ll find a new author I need to follow.

But while I was searching around, I found this:

National Ice Cream Death Museum, Derbyshire
Perhaps the most unusual display anywhere in Britain, this small but lively museum is devoted to major accidents, deaths and disasters caused by ice cream, from the great M65 pile-up of 1981 (caused by a discarded vanilla tub, on which a lorry skidded) to the case of the Sussex child who swallowed a wooden ice cream spoon in 1967 and still walks around happily with it inside. Anyone who has any new ice cream disaster to report should ring their Cones Hot Line (sic).
(Independent.co.uk 1998)

I couldn’t find any indication that the museum is still open. I can’t even confirm that there was a great M65 pile-up of 1981 or that a Sussex child swallowed a wooden ice cream spoon in 1967. But it’s fun to think about.

What’s the most interesting museum you’ve ever been to?

Sherlock Bones

You all know I’m a little obsessed with all things Sherlock Holmes. I don’t usually go looking for Sherlock but occasionally Sherlock comes to me when I’m not paying attention.

Last week I was looking for something else and stumbled across Sherlock Bones and the Missing Cheese, a children’s picture book.  In that same foray I discovered that there is a video out there also named Sherlock Bones with a terrier starring as the illustrious detective.  I also discovered that there is a series of books pairing Sherlock with Elizabeth Bennet, another character who has lived on past her initial publication.  All of this took about 5 minutes!

The Missing Cheese book was at the local library, the Sherlock Holmes and Elizabeth Bennett is in paperback for a price I’m willing to pay on Amazon.  Unfortunately the video is more than I’m willing to pay.  I’m working to find it on some other library.  Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, the children’s book has great illustrations and the story line is fun, however, the poetry itself leaves a little to be desired. But in the category of new ways to portray Sherlock Holmes, it gets an “A”.

Tell me about a favorite character, or an author you follow loyally or a series you can’t get enough of.

Telling Tales

Today’s post comes to us from Cynthia.

Every April for the past 11 years I have gone to a weekend Norwegian language camp for adults at Concordia Language Camp near Bemidji MN.  Last year one of the attendees gave a presentation on the Norwegian poet Olav Hauge with several references to Robert Bly’s translations. So this past April I volunteered to do a little presentation about my friendship with Robert (and Ruth) and tell three fairy tales.

I met Ruth and Robert when they first moved to Moose Lake, MN, in 1980…a town just down the road from Mahtowa, where I live. Many of our first conversations were about fairy tales.  On Robert’s 63rd birthday, Ruth organized us to do an enactment of “Vasalissa the Beautiful” as a gift for him.  It is a Russian fairy tale that features Baba Yaga, a witch who lives in a house that revolves on a chicken leg. I played the witch. We had recently butchered chickens and I used rooster legs for my hands.  Robert fell asleep. When he woke up he asked to keep the legs.

In 1984 while traveling around Ireland on a tour with Robert, Ruth and Gioia Timpanelli, I was mesmerized by Gioia’s telling of the Irish legendof Diarmuid and Grania.

Sometime around 1986 or so, Robert began an annual Valentine’s Day free reading in Moose Lake. He read his poetry;, he read other poets’ poems. And he almost always told a fairy tale.

So started me on my love affair with fairy tales. But then Ruth and Robert moved to Minneapolis so I had to learn to tell the fairy tales myself.  I loved telling them to children when I taught day care, but this year I discovered that telling them to adults is equally fun. At Norwegian camp I told three of my favorite Asbjørnson and Moe tales: Askeladden (The Ash Lad), Lurvehette (Tatterhood), and Tre Bukkene Bruse.  I told the first two in English, the third in Norwegian.  For fun, I am sharing Tre Bukkene Bruse with you in the Norwegian, because it is such fun to tell it that way and I trust you will recognize the story from your childhood even if you don’t know norsk.

Tre Bukkene Bruse

Det var engang tre bukker som skulle gå til seters og gjøre seg fete, og alle tre så hette de Bukkene Bruse. På veien var det en bro over en foss, som de skulle over, og under den broen bodde et stort, fælt troll, med øyne som tinntallerkener, og nese så lang som et riveskaft.

Først så kom den yngste Bukkene Bruse og skulle over broen.

Tripp trapp, tripp trapp, sa det i broen.

“Hvem er det som tripper på mi bru?” skrek trollet.

“Å, det er den minste Bukkene Bruse; jeg skal til seters og gjøre meg fet,” sa bukken, den var så fin i målet.

“Nå kommer jeg og tar deg,” sa trollet.

“Å nei, ta ikke meg, for jeg er så liten jeg; bi bare litt, så kommer den mellomste Bukkene Bruse, han er mye større.”

“Ja nok,” sa trollet.

Om en liten stund så kom den mellomste Bukkene Bruse og skulle over broen.

Tripp trapp, tripp trapp, tripp trapp, sa det i broen.

“Hvem er det som tripper på mi bru?” skrek trollet.

“Å, det er den mellomste Bukkene Bruse, som skal til seters og gjøre seg fet,” sa bukken; den var ikke fin i målet, den.

“Nå kommer jeg og tar deg,” sa trollet.

“Å nei, ta ikke meg, men bi litt, så kommer den store Bukkene Bruse, han er mye, mye større.”

“Ja nok da,” sa trollet.

Rett som det var, så kom den store Bukkene Bruse.

Tripp trapp, tripp trapp, tripp trapp, sa det i broen; den var så tung at broen både knaket og braket under den!

“Hvem er det som tramper på mi bru?” skrek trollet.

“Det er den store Bukkene Bruse,” sa bukken, den var så grov i målet.

“Nå kommer jeg og tar deg,” skrek trollet.

“Ja, kom du! Jeg har to spjut, med dem skal jeg stinge dine øyne ut! Jeg har to store kampestene, med dem skal jeg knuse både marg og bene!” sa bukken. Og så røk den på trollet og stakk ut øynene på ham, slo sund både marg og ben, og stanget ham utfor fossen; og så gikk den til seters. Der ble bukkene så fete, så fete at de nesten ikke orket å gå hjem igjen, og er ikke fettet gått av dem, så er de det ennå.

Og snipp snapp snute, her er det eventyret ute.

What was your favorite childhood fairy tale?  Do you have a favorite now?

 

 

 

Really Cookin’!

A couple of days ago LJB mentioned finding a recipe and sticking to it. I’ve been thinking about her comments a lot, since I am the exact opposite.

I had a lot of vacation days to use up, so have been off since the 22nd and I have been on a cooking jag.  There are two main reasons for this.  One of the reasons we’ve already discussed recently – TOMATOES!  The other reason is that I’m a morning person. As much as I love to cook, I am just not up for cooking after I get home from work.  Warmed up leftovers (or take out) in my jammies are pretty common fare for me at night.

So the combination of many mornings at home and my glut of tomatoes had me cooking up a storm. I started my vacation by dragging out about a dozen of my cookbooks; for some reason that I don’t even remember now, I pulled out a lot of vegan cookbooks.  Then I flipped through them and used little slips of paper to mark some of the recipes that looked good to me.  I marked about 16 recipes – only one of which I had ever made before.  Then YA looked through and vetoed a few.  I shopped for six recipes and then got going.  I did the last one today – vegan lasagna rolls (which ended up being not vegan).

Here’s what got made on my vacation: Fried Bread Panzanella, Roasted Carrots w/ Parmesan & Garlic, Pico de Gallo, Pasta w/ Tomatoes & Olives, Roasted Tomato & Garlic Sauce, Smash Potatoes w/ Pesto & Parmesan, Apple Honey & Arugula Pizza and today’s Lasagna Rolls. Now we have enough leftovers to last another week or so.

When is repetition good for you? Or not?

Read!

My daughter has been quite concerned about me because I have not been reading very much for the past several years.  She thinks  I have been depressed since my parents died. She is probably correct.

Daughter insisted that I buy at least one book on our trip to Washington. We stopped at a lovely independent bookstore in Kirkland, WA, where I purchased a murder mystery set in southwest France. Daughter chose David Sedaris’ most recent book of essays, along with four other books that I am sure she has finished by now. She insisted I take the Sedaris book home with me to read. It was very funny and poignant. He is one of her favorite authors.  (Her Grade 5 teacher was rather concerned why we allowed her to read such material after she took one of his books to school to have for free reading time.)  I like the murder mystery.  Husband is reading VS Pritchett.

It is a long weekend and I feel like reading this weekend. I wonder what the Baboons are reading now.  What will be next on your “To Read” list?

Attack of the Acorns

It was a hot day, sunny with a bit of a breeze. The big pavilion next to Sea Salt was blocked for a family gathering and all the nearby tables, even the ones with no shade, were filled up.  We had a tablecloth that we could have spread out on the ground but we thought it would end up being a re-telling of The Princess & the Pea.  A little ways off we could see what looked like some empty picnic tables, in the shade no less, so we trooped over.

Minnehaha Park is heavily forested with oak trees. None of them are famous (although there are plenty of famous oak trees if you believe the internet) but they provided a nice, cool bit of shade.  We settled in and then fairly quickly realized why no one else had claimed the spot.

Acorns are oak nuts; they usually contain just one seed and can take between 6 to 24 months to mature before they can sprout into an oak tree. All I can say is that the acorns in the oak trees above us were ready to go.  The terminal velocity of a falling acorn from a tall 40-foot tree is 22 miles per hour.  Most of the acorns didn’t hit us directly, but they made a whooping loud noise when they hit books, plates, phones and the tables themselves.  Even though we stayed for a couple of hours, when we got up to leave we felt like we were fleeing from a dangerous situation.

When did you first fall in love?