Monthly Archives: May 2010

May 23 and before

Since coming home from the ICA Literature Fellowship panel April 10th, I’ve been reading up a storm – though I haven’t been writing about it. During that time, I’ve had a few computer issues, some ongoing health concerns, and a trip to Philadelphia to capture my attention. OK, time to catch up!

The Worst Hard Time, by Tim Egan of The New York Times, was an extremely worthy piece of non-fiction.  Subtitled The untold story of those who survived the Great American Dust Bowl, this deservedly won the National Book Award. It brought to life — vividly — what my parents endured as teenagers growing up in Eastern Kansas. They never talked about it, so I was glad to finally understand how that terrible time shaped them….

Mostly, though, I’ve been devouring novels:

* The Glass Room by Simon Mawer; my friend Janna Rankin told me to add it to my “must-read” list — you should, too;

* the New York trilogy by Beverly Swerling (City of Dreams, City of Glory, and City of God), which covers several families’ history during much of the two centuries between the time when Manhattan was still Nieuw Amsterdam and the Civil War; now I want to read Shadowbrook, the fourth book in the history which covers the Revolutionary War, but isn’t set in New York City;

* Sheer Abandon by Penny Vicenzi, another pot-boiler saga set in London I picked up for a quarter at the thrift store; and

* Duchess of Aquitaine by Margaret Ball, which explores the life of Eleanor starting at age 15, covering her life as the unhappy wife of Louis VII of France, prior to marrying Henry Plantaganet — perhaps the start of another burst of books about the lives of the Kings and Queens of England?

After all that, it seemed like I should get back to some good non-fiction, so right now I’m reading Ghosts of the Pioneers by Twain Braden, June’s book-club book, which is the story of a family following the Oregon Trail experience of a particular group of pioneers who crossed the country in 1844. I’ve also been doing a chapter or so a night of Passings: Death, Dying and Unexplained Phenomena, by my friend Carole Travis Henikoff of Alta, which is striking many chords for me in this still-wintry spring.

If you’re not sure about this last comment — well, this is our garden hose on the back porch — I just took the photo about five minutes ago!


Leave a comment

Filed under My Weekly Reader

Red Wine & Pear Sorbet

My first try at something like this — and it was yummy (and simple).  We enjoyed thin mints from the Girl Scouts on the side. Will definitely be something I will make again and serve to guests!

1 cup red wine (can be “leftovers”)
3/4 cup sugar
1 lb. pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
2 Tblspns lemon juice

Put 1-1/4 cups water in a small saucepan; add wine and sugar, and bring it all to a boil over medium heat, stirring often (sugar should dissolve completely).  Add pears, reduce heat and simmer until fruit is tender (5 to 10 minutes).

Stir in lemon juice and just a pinch of salt; remove from heat and cool completely. Then transfer to a shallow baking dish and freeze until solid. (Will take at least 6 hours — overnight worked well).

With a fork, break the frozen mixture into large pieces. Then, in two or more batches, puree’ in a food processor until completely smooth. Transfer to an airtight container and refreeze until ready to serve. Sorbet will be soft.

Makes about 1 quart; prep time is about half an hour; takes at least 8 hours from start to finish (to allow cooling and freezing of mixture).


Filed under Food (glorious food)

Back to Boise

Meeting Brian Doyle, Molly Gloss and Michelle Glazer in Boise on April 9-10 was an emotional, educational experience. We met for the panel (called by the Idaho Commission on the Arts) to choose the winners of Literature Fellowships and the Idaho Writer in Residence for the next three years.

These three writers couldn’t be more different in writing styles and personal backgrounds; I learned so much from all of them. It was a thrill to hear their input about the applications.

Michelle’s a poet — quietly but intently insightful. Fiction-writer Molly’s demeanor is marked with humor and perception.   Brian’s an essayist and his non-fiction expertise and ready wit had us all, occasionally, in stitches.

Literature director Cort Conley was, as always, a wealth of literary information; artist services director Barbara Robinson took notes, and ICA executive director Michael Faison kept us all on track. It was a great experience!

I was pleased to have my copies of their books signed with two done for gifts and two done as donations for Jeff Newsom’s benefit — the rest added to the Anderson library.

I can’t believe a month’s gone by since I started this post; computer’s been fixed, health issues are just a little more clarified, and I spent five much-needed R&R days in Philadelphia with Peter. This weekend I return to Boise for the ICA meeting where we will award all grants and choose a slate of recommended recipients for the Governor’s Arts Awards. My board book and GAA nominations make a three-inch stack of reading. That’s next on my to-do list!

And oh, I have some more books to post (half a shelf-full!), since my weekly reader department hasn’t been too weekly recently.  Here in Teton Valley, we’re optimistic spring will come — today’s another mostly gray windy one, though — oh yeah, that’s what most springs are like…. Stay warm and keep your face to the sunshine, when it IS here!

Leave a comment

Filed under Matters of the heart, My Weekly Reader