Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wordless Wednesday : Uber-Nosh Edition

Rugelach. Rugelach. Rugelach.

My maiden voyage into Zabar's territory?  Crazy successful.  Dave took one bite and declared, "I could eat that whole plate."  This from a guy who's meticulous about both his diction and his consumption of anything sweet.

Why is rugelach so great?  It's not too sweet (no sugar in the dough), yet crunchy and chewy and complex in its flavors, if you do the work to make it that way.  One single rugelach will satisfy, yet you'll crave the whole batch...

You can bet this is my new best recipe, and I will be spreading the ruge-love this winter...


Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Country Incident : Poem In Your Post

Absorbed in planting bulbs, that work of hope,
I was startled by a loud human voice,
“Do go on working while I talk. Don’t stop!”
And I was caught upon the difficult choice—
To yield the last half hour of precious light,
Or to stay on my knees, absurd and rude;
I willed her to be gone with all my might,
This kindly neighbor who destroyed a mood;
I could not think of next spring any more,
I had to re-assess the way I live.
Long after I went in and closed the door,
I pondered on the crude imperative.

What it is to be caught up in each day
Like a child fighting imaginary wars,
Converting work into this passionate play,
A rounded whole made up of different chores
Which one might name haphazard meditation.
And yet an unexpected call destroys
Or puts to rout my primitive elation:
Why be so serious about mere joys?
Is this where some outmoded madness lies,
Poet as recluse? No, what comes to me
Is how my father looked out of his eyes,
And how he fought for his own passionate play.

He could tear up unread and throw away
Communications from officialdom,
And, courteous in every other way,
Would not brook anything that kept him from
Those lively dialogues with man’s whole past
That were his intimate and fruitful pleasure.
Impetuous, impatient to the last,
“Be adamant, keep clear, strike for your treasure!”
I hear the youthful ardor in his voice
(And so I must forgive a self in labor).
I feel his unrepentant smiling choice,
(And so I ask forgiveness of my neighbor).
                                       - May Sarton
This one's for all of us who cherish our quotidian acts of sowing and reaping, of tending imperfectly to our weedy gardens.
And for Poetry Out Loud, coming soon to a classroom near you, as long as our politicians in DC keep funding the National Endowment for the Arts.  So vote for those who'll do so, y'all. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sleeping Lady : Poem In Your Post

To a Sleeping Lady

O thou whose fringed lids I gaze upon,
Through whose dim brain the winged dreams are born,
Unroof the shrines of clearest vision,
In honour of the silverflecked morn:
Long hath the white wave of the virgin light
Driven back the billow of the dreamful dark.
Thou all unwittingly prolongest night,
Though long ago listening the poised lark,
With eyes dropt downward through the blue serene,
Over heaven's parapets the angels lean.

                                     - Alfred, Lord  Tennyson

I'm basking in a glorious autumn woodland retreat on this brisk, sunny day near Icicle Creek.  Brim-full of delicious organic nourishment, peeping chickadees, flitting nuthatches, and skittering coveys of quail, I'm all in for any praise of a Sleeping Lady.

MFB, amid silence and birdsong,

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Virgins by Caryl Rivers : Review

Available as an e-book at Amazon
or Barnes and Noble.

In a word: enjoyable.

Our narrator/protagonist Peg voices the episodic tale in an often-comic, candid tone, and our author, Caryl Rivers, negotiates each chapter's arc with sure-handed pacing and natural dialogue, crafting pleasing situational comedy and teen drama.  The "big questions" of teen life today are here for the exploring, as are concerns particular to young people growing up in strong religious traditions during eras of political upheaval and social change.

I suspect that this coming-of-age novel, set primarily in a Catholic girls' high school in the '50's, would entertain just about anyone who knows anyone who grew up Catholic, and many who don't as well.  Fans of "period fiction" and lightly humorous page-turners will find this book appealing too. (I'm thinking that Janet Evanovich fans might take to this one based on narrative voice, for example, although it's not in the mystery genre.)

I'd recommend this reprint of an '80's "classic" to anyone who appreciates a novel that's frank and immediate and easy-to-read.  Personally, I think that some of the explicit (though not egregious) sexual content would be more appropriate for adults and late teens than the younger "YA" set, but other than that, this novel should still hold a wide appeal as a "slice of life" from an era gone by.

I'm grateful to Ms. Rivers and TLC Book Tours for offering me the opportunity to enjoy and then review this novel, and I look forward to reading other reviewers' reactions on this Virgins Virtual Book Tour.


Action:  I'm going to ask my mom how some of the experiences depicted in the novel - particularly the rebellious pranks and the characters' internal conflicts around politics and religion - compare with her own experiences in a much smaller Catholic girls' school in roughly the same time period.  I've not yet probed her much about her high school years, so I'm glad that this novel heightened my curiosity about that period in her life.

p.s.  In deciding whether or not to sample Virgins, I perused Rivers's bio, and found myself impressed.  Perhaps you will be too, and then decide to give the novel a go:

About Caryl Rivers (from the TLC website)
Caryl Rivers has been called “one of the brightest voices in contemporary fiction.” Her novel Virgins was an international critical success, published in the US, UK, Sweden, Germany and Japan. It was on many best seller lists and in paperback (Pocket Books) sold more than a million copies. Her novels deal with American women trying to find a foothold in a rapidly changing world. She was included in the book Feminists Who Changed America from the University of Illinois Press.
She is a nationally known author, journalist, media critic and professor of Journalism at Boston University. In 2007 she was awarded the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for distinguished journalism. She is the author of four novels and nine works of non-fiction, all critically acclaimed. Her books have been selections of the Book of the Month Club, Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club and Troll Book club. The Chicago Tribune says of her,  “Few other writers are as funny as she, and none funnier. Yet she is capable of wrenching your heart and soul.”  There are film offers in place for the new edition of Virgins.
Her articles have appeared in the New York Times magazine, Daily Beast, Huffington post, Salon, The Nation, Saturday Review, Ms., Mother Jones, Dissent, McCalls, Glamour, Redbook, Rolling Stone, Ladies Home Journal and many others. She writes frequent commentary for the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and Womensenews. Of her book Selling Anxiety: How the News Media Scare Women, Gloria Steinem says it “will save the sanity of media watchers enraged or bewildered by the distance between image and reality.”
She has co-authored four books with Dr. Rosalind Barnett, senior scientist at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis—the latest (2011) being The Truth About Girls and Boys: Confronting Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children. Articles based on the book won a Casey medal for distinguished journalism about children and families and a special citation from the National Education Writers association.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

First Kiss : Poem In Your Post

At Lucy Vincent Beach,
Easter Sunday, 1986
                       Martha's Vineyard

In that long moment when you are trying to decide
whether to kiss someone for the first time
and they are trying to decide whether to kiss you,
the waves break against the rocks
and light shimmies like a skater over the beach,
and you reflect (as her body edges
toward the side of you and she grows -
as men and women will in the dappled light -
increasingly beautiful) on the seeming innocence
of the first kiss, on how, in hundreds
of previous incarnations, you had intended
no evil, but had merely grown,
like a distended flower in early spring,
into the good natural upwardness of all longing,
yes, you reflect on this now, as the gulls waft
like serenity over the waves,
as some larger fidelity patrols the beach
and you realize how meaning follows gesture
into the night, how there is no hurry in this life
aside from death, how today's light will be
resurrected again in tomorrow's dawn, and all
that the tide brings in from the ambiguous sea
will be there for you again, without haste, on some
lovelier tomorrow, and whatever the trembling lips
need to speak, they will ultimately speak, against
whatever the tide brings, whatever it takes away.

                                 - Michael Blumenthal


Saturday, October 6, 2012

With That Moon Language : Poem In Your Post

Why not become the one
Who lives with a full moon in each eye
That is always saying,
With that sweet moon
What every other eye in this world
Is dying to

                  - Hafez

Offering gratitude today to the beloved 14th century Persian poet Hafez.  I'm drawn to the synesthetic oral-visual imagery here, beautifully employed in a way that alludes to the sensory joy that might await us if we 'become the one'.

Hafez is the most popular poet in Iran today, and you'll notice his influence on American Transcendentalists Thoreau and Emerson, among others. 

With poems as lovely as this, one can certainly imagine why.

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