Some of our favorite non-fiction books of 2012:
Some of our favorite non-fiction books of 2012:
By Edith Center
June 1, 2004 She had come to the attic looking for a hiding place. It was their wedding eve. After the rehearsal dinner, the wedding party had returned to the manor house, for the wedding would take place in the manor’s formal gardens the next morning. They had been sitting in the conservatory, conversation meandering from topic to topic, when someone remarked, “This house must have some marvelous hiding places.” Geoff replied he, his brothers, and their friends had played many games of hide and seek here when children. Before long, it was decided a game of hide and seek would be the perfect way to end the evening. Thus she came to be in the attic. She had grown up on ghost stories and was well aware of the tale of the ghost bride who, while playing this very game on her wedding night, hid in a trunk in the attic – which became her tomb. Different time, different place. But there was no way she would hide in a trunk. Then she saw the cedar chest, standing by itself in the cluttered attic. It captured her attention and she quickly forgot the game. It was beautifully hand carved. Why had it been banished to the attic? Why did it stand alone when everything else was jumbled together, fighting for space? It seemed even the dust and cobwebs avoided the chest. Mesmerized, she slowly made her way across the room. She stood in front of the chest, trying to gather courage to touch it – perhaps open it. – - – Geoff noticed the door to the attic was open and the light was on. Everyone had been found. Except Lynn. He called to her from the bottom of the stairs. “Lynn.” No response. And, for a moment, he too remembered the tale of the ghost bride. He took the steps two at a time and was relieved when he saw her on the other side of the room. Feeling a little foolish for allowing his imagination to get the best of him, he called again. “Lynn?” Still no response. He walked over to her, touched her shoulder. “Carolynn, are you all right?” She turned to him. “Oh, Geoffrey. Did you say something?” Concerned now, he replied, “Yes. I asked if you were all right. You certainly seem deep in thought.” “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Geoff nodded. “It belonged to my great-grandmother. According to family tales, she died shortly after grandfather was born. The family was appalled when great-grandfather married grandfather’s nanny immediately after the one-year mourning period. They had several children, all of whom died before reaching 21. Superstitious family members said it was a curse because of their unseemly haste in marrying. You see, great-grandmother was just days away from her 21st birthday. Some even said it would be the end of great-grandfather’s line. Obviously, that didn’t happen. All of grandfather’s children lived and prospered. And my brothers and I are hale and hearty. So you needn’t worry. The ‘curse’ has been put to rest.” Lynn had been staring at the cedar chest while Geoff spoke and now, more than ever, she wanted to know what was inside. She touched the lid, then looked at Geoff. He smiled and nodded. The chest wasn’t full. But Lynn didn’t notice. For on the top, wrapped in layers of tissue, was Geoff’s great-grandmother’s wedding dress. Lynn held it up, admiring the exquisite beadwork and delicate lace. Inside a small, drawstring bag were earrings, a necklace, and gloves. In a separate bag, was the Bible she had carried, and in another were her shoes. Geoff finally touched her arm and said softly, “We should be getting back to the others.” She nodded and reluctantly returned the items to the trunk. – - – Everyone eventually went to their rooms. The house became dark and quiet. But Lynn couldn’t sleep. The wedding dress seemed to have a hold on her. She finally gave in and crept up to the attic. She opened the chest and took the dress and accessories to her room. She was not surprised to find them a perfect fit – and determined to wear them. – - – She noted the surprise on Geoff’s face as she started down the aisle. But it turned instantly to delight, and he was smiling broadly when she joined him. After the ceremony, they greeted their guests as they slowly made their way back down the aisle. Geoff’s great-grandfather had arrived from the nursing home after the ceremony had begun. So as not to disturb anyone, his nurse placed his wheelchair by the last row. With both his eyesight and hearing virtually gone, his attendance at the wedding was a mere formality. As Geoff and Lynn came close enough for him to see them clearly, the smile on his face fled, replaced by a look of shock and horror. “No! No! It can’t be! Oh, Caroline. My Caroline. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. I never wanted to hurt you. She said it was the only way – the only way we could be together. She said the poison would be painless. That you’d just fall asleep. She promised to care for the baby as if he were her own. Caroline, Caroline, please forgive me.” He leaned forward, reaching out his hands in pleading, then collapsed back into his chair. – - – When Geoff and Lynn returned from their honeymoon, Geoff’s mother said, “I have something you should see. We found it in the cedar chest when we replaced the wedding things.” She led them into the library, where an old photograph was lying on the desk. Geoff and Lynn picked up the wedding picture of Geoff’s great-grandparents. The bride was enchanting in her beautiful dress and the groom stood beside her, proud and handsome in his somber suit. But the faces staring back at them were their own. And on the back, written in precise script, was the notation: Jeffrey and Caroline June 2, 1930
A list of some of our favorite reads of 2012.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette - Maria Semple. When her notorious, hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled and agoraphobic mother goes missing, teenage Bee begins a trip that takes her to the ends of the earth to find her in this new novel from the author of This One is Mine.
Ben Filla wrote the winning entry for our short story contest. This is his story, “Bobby Darin, Take Me Home”. Congratulations, Ben!
Frank Meeks was old. At ninety, he’d outlived all of his friends, and sadly, even his wife. All he had left was a son, who was aged and retired himself. He felt as though he might never die. His doctors kept cleaning his blood and would tell him absurd things like, “Mr. Meeks, you’ve got the body of a man half your age – you may live forever!” Condescending pleasantries he thought, but he understood they were trying to keep things light. The irony was he’d had rheumatic fever as a child which left him with a weakened heart, and he probably should have died years ago. It was always the same on Saturday mornings. His son would come by the nursing home early, around seven o’clock. Most days Frank was awake and moving before day break. When he was a working man, he’d get up and enjoy his black coffee and cigarette as the birds began their morning chorus. Of course he gave up the cigarettes long ago when his Rosie got sick. Everyone said she’d outlive everyone – she had been a model of health. Never smoked, rarely drank. But it seems cancer can find you even if you eat your greens and walk every morning. It leveled her, squeezing her breath away. It shattered him. He was dressed in the same clothes he always wore. The same style he’d been wearing in the twenty-three years she’d been gone – simple white cotton V-neck t-shirt that comes in a pack of three and a pair of blue jeans. It probably wasn’t really a style. No, the jeans were flat and square in a sky blue polyester. Probably just blue pants. Rosie had lovingly joked that he was in a class of his own. “Just need to make a quick stop dad,” his son said once they finished up at the doctor’s. “Oh?” Frank wondered. “My order came in this week and I’ve been meaning to pick it up,” his son explained as he parked in the expansive lot. They were at one of those big box stores. Gone were the days of getting to know the neighborhood clerks and pride in buying local. Frank understood the value of a dollar but was proudly American. “I’ll just stay here,” Frank muttered in a delayed response. Funny how your brain can do that. He heard the question, but it kind of hung there and didn’t process until his mind had come back around to the moment. “I’ll just stay here,” he mumbled again. The dialysis made him tired. He was nodding in and out, eyes jarring open at every little sound. A car horn bellowed in the distance and his eyes shot open. He let out a breath and a puzzled expression formed across his brow. Old and tired. Frank pressed the satellite radio button that played his favorites. It always took him back to happier times, and he’d be lying to say there wasn’t a part of him that missed the way things used to be. That part of him grew bigger every day. A jazzy brass tune filled the van, and now with his seat comfortably reclined, his eyes closed a bit easier. Another distant honk, and he startled again. Cars full of families, trucks making deliveries. His eyes followed the busyness along. Through the hustle and bustle, Frank could barely make out the lake on the horizon below. The town really had changed. The music switched tempo, and he was taken aback. The velvety voice of Bobby Darin came through the surround speakers. “Beyond the Sea” had been their song, and suddenly she was right there. It was like Rosie was sitting there with him. He hadn’t heard their song in years. “I think this is the spot,” he spoke quietly through his fingers, thoughtfully pinching his bottom lip. There was the expansive court house to the east and the Presbyterian steeple, now peeking over a fast food restaurant, to the north. This was, or had been, the orchard Rosie and he came to when they first started dating. “I’ll be…,” he trailed off in his memory. This was the apple orchard where he worked a summer, the summer he met her. “Don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me,” she had said. She’d jest when that Andrews Sisters’ song came on in the old farm truck, but it was the sound of Bobby Darin that always moved her a bit closer to him. A full smile crept up his cheek. What a beautiful person she was. So happy, so vibrant. Vivacious. She brought him to life. He lived off the energy of the people around him, and her energy was infectious. Yes, he was positive this was their orchard. They were so young then. Her skin was soft and flawless with freckles, smiley eyes – eyes that had always reminded him of the brilliant hot springs of Yellowstone, an amazing azure center with myriad hues fringing the edges. And her hair, soft and red with little curls and flips here or there. She was always trying to straighten it out a bit, but he loved how it never could quite follow her directions. She was perfect. Ah, this song. His heart sang along. “Dream Boat”, she’d call him as they sat on the hill and watched the ships come up from the seaway toward the port. “Where do you want to go? I’ll take you anywhere,” he’d whisper to her. “Cyprus? Sicily? Santorini?” She’d giggle. “Yes. Yes. Yes. Take me to all those places. Take me beyond the sea Frankie.” The din of the traffic was now gone and Bobby Darin was all he heard. “…She’s there watching for me…” “…My heart will lead me there soon…” “…Happy we’ll be beyond the sea.” His son opened the van door. “Ready to go home dad?”, but Frank was already there. His heart had taken him home.
Yann Martel’s Life of Pi spent 57 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list after its publication in 2001. More than a decade later, a film version of the novel opens in theaters on Nov. 21, capturing on the big screen the surprising story of a boy stuck in a lifeboat with wild animals. Blending Pi’s adventures of the mind and spirit with his incredible physical journey, the book is a holistic coming-of-age story that connects with a wide range of readers and audiences. If you haven’t yet read the mysterious and alluring Life of Pi, make sure to catch up before the movie premiers this month.
The holidays are just around the corner. This time of year makes it hard to stick to a healthy diet. Cookies, cakes, cheese balls galore!! On the Taste of Home website I found an article on how to make your cookies lighter. I hope these suggestions help with your holiday eating.
Here are some tips:
For the compete article click on the link: Lighter Cookies Are Delicious
Our teens participated in a contest to write a group story. They started with the classic line “It was a dark and stormy night…” and this is the result.
It was a dark and stormy night…
Nora was told to stay far away from the house on west Fifth Avenue since she was a little girl.
But there was always something alluring about that house to her, so one day at daybreak when she was around 19 years, she was walking towards the house on west Fifth Avenue because something in her needed to know why her parents had always tried to get her away that street and house. Finally she turned the corner on to the dreaded west fifth avenue with a new skip in her step and a new attitude to boot.
As she reached the house, she felt as though something was watching her from one of the big almost fully boarded up black windows that bore down on to her. The house that had haunted her nightmares ever since she was little stood right in front of her, looking gloomy as always. By the look of the house, after so many years of being vandalized and being torn apart by everything that touched it without being fixed, it made the house look terrifying dangerous and gloomy with pain and sorrow. Continue reading
This hearty chili has just the right level of spice to keep you warm on a cold winter day.
Chili Con Carne
1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon unsweetened baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon red pepper sauce
2 cups diced tomatoes (from 28-oz can), undrained
1 can (19 oz) red kidney beans, undrained
Serves – 4
|Here is a cute decorating idea to haunt your Halloween this year! Make a batch of your favorite cupcakes or cookies. Then, follow this fun technique for creating cobwebs with two different colors of frosting.
Many books have been turned into Oscar-nominated films; I’ve just read a few of them. I found one exception; the children’s book, “Cinderella Penguin, or The Little Glass Flipper” by Janet Perlman was adapted from her 1981 Best Animated Short Film nominee, “The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin”.
For wonderful children’s books made into Oscar-winning animated shorts, check out: “The Ugly Duckling“, Hans Christian Anderson’s classic fairy tale; “The Story of Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf, about a bull who didn’t want to fight matadors; and “Gerald McBoing-Boing” by Dr. Seuss, about a boy who only speaks in sound effects.
One of my top 5 favorite films, “To Kill a Mockingbird“ (based on Harper Lee’s only published work), won the Oscar in 1963 for Best Adapted Screenplay. I decided to listen to the audiobook. This classic tells about small-town life, prejudice, and a controversial rape trial in 1935 Alabama. The portions of the book that didn’t make it into the screenplay lent fascinating depth to life in Maycomb County and the people who lived there, but none of it was necessary to the film’s narrative. I think the movie is a near-perfect distillation of the novel, and I couldn’t imagine any other voices than those of the actors in the film.
For two other excellent film adaptations of complex novels, I recommend “Gone with the Wind“, winner of the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, based on Margaret Mitchell’s epic, and “Mystic River“, adapted from Dennis Lehane’s novel , and nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.