Different Drummer

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions,perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." ~Henry David Thoreau

Monday, December 29, 2014

It's not the beginning or the destination that counts. It's the ride in between . . .

“It's not getting from A to B. It's not the beginning or the destination that counts. It's the ride in between...This train is alive with things that should be seen and heard. It's a living, breathing something -- you just have to want to learn its rhythm.”  ~ David Baldacci

In December we gathered at Paula's lovely Victorian home to celebrate the Christmas season, have our book exchange and a lovely potluck Christmas luncheon. Stephanie, Suzanne, Paulette, Carolyn, Paula, Darlene, Ann, Lillian,Patti, Brittany and Sandy attended.  We had a wonderful lunch of roast chicken, rice pilaf, green salad, Italian Wedding soup, home-made rolls, vegetables, Sparkling Grape Juice, as well as pie and ice cream.

Our book exchange is always lively, as you are allowed to "steal" a book twice, but the third owner gets to keep it, unless the first person to get a gift (who also ends up being the last person to choose) decides to steal it away.  
 Paula always has a festive table set for the Christmas luncheon

 These banners change throughout the year.
Brittany, Lilian and Suzanne

Sandy, Paulette, Carolyn and Patti

Some fun quotes from The Christmas Train:
“It's often said that God works in mysterious ways. You have to really think about what He's trying to do. You can't be lazy and believe in God; He doesn't make it that easy. It takes spirit and faith and passion to really believe. Like most things worthwhile in life, you get back what you put into it. Only with faith, you get back a lot more.” 
― David BaldacciThe Christmas Train

“It’s been my experience that most folk who ride trains could care less where they’re going. For them it’s the journey itself and the people they meet along the way. You see, at every stop this train makes, a little bit of America, a little bit of your country, gets on and says hello. That’s why trains are so popular at Christmas. People get on to meet their country over the holidays. They’re looking for some friendship, a warm body to talk to. People don’t rush on a train, because that’s not what trains are for. How do you put a dollar value on that? What accounting line does that go on?” 
― David BaldacciThe Christmas Train

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Crocodile on the Sandbanks by Elizabeth Peters - October

When one is striding bravely into the future one cannot watch one's footing. ” 

“I disapprove of matrimony as a matter of principle.... Why should any independent, intelligent female choose to subject herself to the whims and tyrannies of a husband? I assure you, I have yet to meet a man as sensible as myself! (Amelia Peabody)” 
― Elizabeth PetersCrocodile on the Sandbank

Our October book club was held at Patti's home.  We discussed Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters.  The book was enjoyed by everyone and many discussed a desire to read more of Elizabeth Peters' books.

Amelia Peabody's father leaves her everything in his will because she is intelligent and is the only child who is interested in history and archaeology as he was.  This enables her to travel abroad in order to follow her enthusiasm for antiquities.  Crocodile on the Sandbank is the first in the Amelia Peabody mystery series. It is in this book that  Amelia and her consort, Evelyn Forbes travel to Egypt, where they find Radcliffe and Walter Emerson excavating.  People and antiquities disappear, and a ghost seems to be haunting their camp at night.  Amelia and Radcliffe Emerson  detest each other at first, it seems, but after he becomes very ill, Amelia keeps his excavation going.  They grudgingly begin to respect one another. They solve the mystery together and Amelia and Radcliffe Emerson begin their life together as husband and wife.

“Your trousers are on fire. I would have told you, but you so dislike advice...” 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Let It Go by Chris Williams

"You can't always appreciate why you should keep moving forward until you've gone far enough to see the progress you've made." ~ Chris Williams, Time Out for Women

In November, we met at Sandy's home to discuss, Let It Go a True Story of Tragedy and Forgiveness, by Chris Williams.
We all learned a great deal from this book. Chris lost his wife and unborn child and two of  four children in a tragic auto accident in Salt Lake City.  It is his journey of forgiving the young man who hit them and working through the terrible loss he and his children faced.  He shows great faith and trust in the Lord and relies on the Savior to make it through each day.  

This is a remarkable true story, one of faith, fortitude, trust in the Lord, and being able to see and understand the burden that another person or family carries.  Chris reached out to the young man and his family and this is something rare in today's world.  We all felt that experiences and trials that Chris faced as he grew up helped him get through this difficult experience and has helped him teach others as well to trust in the Lord.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

 "The stew tasted of sage and carrots and hope."  ~ Kirby Larson

A Newberry Honor book, Hattie Big Sky is based on Kirby Larson's great-grandmother's attempt to make a go of the homestead her Uncle left her in his will, so the author researched newspapers, diaries from that era to create this historical fiction.  All of the book club ladies enjoyed reading his book.  A couple mentioned that they felt that it was simplistic, but when they remembered it was written for young adults, then the writing style seemed appropriate.  

Hattie Inez Brooks, an orphan who calls herself, Hattie Here and There,  leaves her home in Iowa where she lives with distant relatives to go to Vida Montana  to prove up a homesteading claim that her Uncle Chester left her when he dies.  She shows true character as she faces the trying  disasters of farming, gains important friendships with the neighbors, Perilee and Karl Mueller’s family, Leafie, and Rooster Jim.   She learns from them all and they become like family to her.  She writes home to her Uncle, who sends her letters to a local newspaper where they are published as well as a school chum, Charlie, who is serving in the armed forced during World War I.

Hattie not only learns to battle natural elements, but is also tested as she watches anti-German sentiment create difficulties for her and her friends, with German names or ancestry.

Hattie battles wolves, wild horses, drought, hail, lightening, fire, Spanish influenza, as well as prejudice for several different reasons: because she is young, a woman and because she befriends neighbors/others who were of German ancestry.  And through all this she eventually loses her homestead claim, not being able to “prove up” when the time came in November. (The constant barrage of disasters reminded me of Sarah’s Quilt by Nancy Turner).   

There were a few things in the book that seemed to need more research - choke cherries are not ripe until late August, early September and in war time when food was scarce it seems odd that a precious commodity such as sugar would be used to make a choke cherry pie - they are so sour you would need a lot of sugar to make them pallatable.  You could make a pie from the juice fo chokecherries with tons of sugar, but not for the fourth of July!  Another thing that seemed odd, was the fact thateven though  Hattie had already laid hundreds of fence posts, but she got blisters five seconds into plowing.  If she had really been digging holes and setting fence posts for a few months, her hands would already be very calloused.  I wonder if the author has ever dug a few holes for fence posts?  Just a few minor details that didn't seem to be researched enough to be accurate.

There is a second novel in this series, called Hattie Ever After and several of the ladies have either read it or are going to read it.  

 Lovely quotes from Hattie Big Sky:

“I will have to rely on that painful teacher, experience.”  
“It seems unfair not to give credit where credit is due simply because one lacks a certain number of candles on one's birthday cake.”
"I sat quiet and alone. No tears. No shaking my fist at God. Nothing but a heavy stone in my chest that used to be a heart filled with dreams and possibilities. There should be fireworks, at least, when a dream dies. But no, this one had blown apart as easily as a dandelion gone to seed."

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Lost, The Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn.

"Often it is the small things, rather than the big picture, that the mind can comfortably grasp; that, for instance, it is naturally more appealing to readers to absorb the meaning of a vast historical event through the story of a single family." The Lost, The Search for Six of Six Million  by Daniel Mendelsohn. ~ p 18

On April  24th we met at Patti's home to discuss The Lost, The Search for Six of Six Million  by Daniel Mendelsohn.  This is an amazing story of how one young Jewish boy's interest was piqued toward his family's history because of the stories that his grandfather told and also because he was told that he looked so much like a great Uncle that was lost in the Holocaust with his family. As an adult he starts a world wide quest to speak with people who knew this family in their hometown in Ukraine.  It is a remarkable, touching, horrifying tale of loss, and the bonds of family that stretch beyond generations. 

Patti, Sandy, Brittany
Most everyone really enjoyed this book. It is not a page turner that you cannot put down, but the piecing together of this family's story is  remarkable and inspiring., however it is difficult to read of the terrible and inhumane things that happened.   The ties that link us to our ancestors are strong and a book like this hopefully inspires others to seek out their family history and learn to know their family better.

Carolyn, Suzanne, Paula and Ann
"At night, I think about these things.  I'm pleased with what I know, but now I think much more about everything I could have known, which was so much more than anything I can learn now and which now is gone forever.  What I do know now is this: there's so much you don't really see, preoccupied as you are with the business of living; so much you never notice, until suddenly , for whatever reason - you happen to look like someone long dead; you decide, suddenly, that it's important to let your children know where they came from - you need the information that people  you once knew always had to give you, if only  you'd asked.  But by the time you think to ask, it's too late." The Lost, The Search for Six of Six Million  by Daniel Mendelsohn. ,  p 73
“The Holocaust is so big, the scale of it is so gigantic, so enormous, that it becomes easy to think of it as something mechanical. Anonymous. But everything that happened, happened because someone made a decision. To pull a trigger, to flip a switch, to close a cattle car door, to hide, to betray.” 
The Lost, The Search for Six of Six Million  by Daniel Mendelsohn. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

"You make a life out of what you have, not what you are missing."
 ~ Ruby in The Forgotten Garden, 463

The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton was a favorite with our book club.  Many commented it was hard to put the book down.  We enjoyed the intertwining of the three different generations of women together -a helpful note in reading this book is to pay attention to the date at the beginning of each chapter, as it helps you to know who and which generation you will be reading about.
A few tidbits from our discussion:

  1. Nell was admired for her sacrifice in putting her search for her past aside  in order to create a stable home for her grand daughter Cassandra, because Nell knew what it felt like to be abandoned. 
  2.  It was hard to understand how people like Adeline can be so motivated and driven by what other people might think, we discussed the deception that she was trying to live and how that made her more hard hearted and unrelenting.  
  3. Linus was viewed as strange in his obsessive clinging to Georgiana's memory, and refusal to connect with his own daughter -  but it was discussed that his sister was the only one who had showed him love and acceptance, as he was growing up in a family who was obsessed with perfection and appearances and he was rejected because of his disability. 
  4. We also enjoyed how Kate Morton wove in Eliza's fairy tales into the story as well.
Some of our favorite quotes:

“We're all unique, just never in the ways we imagine.” 

“Always remember, with a strong enough will, even the weak can wield great power.” 

“It was such a pleasure to sink one's hands into the warm earth, to feel at one's fingertips the possibilities of the new season.” 

“... time had a way of moulding people into shapes they themselves no longer recognised ...” 

And a favorite for all of us book lovers ~
“Cassandra always hid when she read, though she never quite knew why. It was as if she couldn't shake the guilty suspicion that she was being lazy, that surrendering herself so completely to something so enjoyable must surely be wrong. But surrender she did. Let herself drop through the rabbit hole and into a tale of magic and mystery ...” 

from Kate Morton's website: http://www.katemorton.com/the-forgotten-garden/

The Forgotten Garden

A lost child...

On the eve of the first world war, a little girl
is found abandoned on a ship to Australia.
A mysterious woman called the Authoress
had promised to look after her -
but the Authoress has disappeared without
a trace.

A terrible secret...

On the night of her twenty-first birthday, Nell O'Connor learns a secret that will change her life forever. Decades later, she embarks upon a search for the truth that leads her to the windswept Cornish coast and the strange and beautiful Blackhurst Manor, once owned by the aristocratic Mountrachet family.

A mysterious inheritance...

On Nell's death, her grand-daughter, Cassandra, comes into an unexpected inheritance. Cliff Cottage and its forgotten garden are notorious amongst the Cornish locals for the secrets they hold - secrets about the doomed Mountrachet family and their ward Eliza Makepeace, a writer of dark Victorian fairytales. It is here that Cassandra will finally uncover the truth about the family, and solve the century-old mystery of a little girl lost.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

“I've told you to look for opportunity, dear Tess. Keep your head up, not down. Don't settle for safety. Push forward-you are not foolish to try.” 
― Kate AlcottThe Dressmaker

Ladies of Walden Pond met at Carolyn's home Thursday, February 27th to discuss Kate Alcott's book, The Dressmaker.   Most everyone enjoyed reading the book.  A lot of the discussion centered around the fact that this book presented just enough information to make you want to learn more about a particular person, event or subject.  Several members searched online to find out which characters in the book were real and which were fictional.  Others searched out more information on the Titanic and the investigations after the sinking of the ship.

This is an interesting article from the New York Times about The Dressmaker:
"Patricia O’Brien had five novels to her name when her agent, Esther Newberg, set out last year to shop her sixth one, a work of historical fiction called “The Dressmaker.”
A cascade of painful rejections began. Ms. O’Brien’s longtime editor at Simon & Schuster passed on it, saying that her previous novel, “Harriet and Isabella,” hadn’t sold well enough.
One by one, 12 more publishing houses saw the novel. They all said no.
Just when Ms. O’Brien began to fear that “The Dressmaker” would be relegated to a bottom desk drawer like so many rejected novels, Ms. Newberg came up with a different proposal: Try to sell it under a pen name.
Written by Kate Alcott, the pseudonym Ms. O’Brien dreamed up, it sold in three days.
Ms. O’Brien and Ms. Newberg had cannily circumvented what many authors see as a modern publishing scourge — Nielsen BookScan, the subscription service that tracks book sales and is at the fingertips of every agent, editor and publisher — with a centuries-old trick, the nom de plume. It has been employed by writers from Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) to Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) to Stephen King (Richard Bachman).
“It meant that the story I had wanted to tell had sold,” said Ms. O’Brien, a chatty 70-something who wears her hair in a smooth brown bob, talking over a tray of herbal tea and lemon cookies this week in her spacious apartment in the Wyoming building in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood here. “My book wasn’t getting a fair chance. And choosing a pen name gave it a fair chance.”

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Twelve Days a Slave by Solomon Northrup

“...So we passed, handcuffed and in silence, through the streets of Washington, through the Capital of a nation, whose theory of government, we are told, rests on the foundation of man's inalienable right to life, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of happiness! Hail! Columbia, happy land, indeed!” 

We met Thursday, January 23 at Sandy's home to discuss Twelve Years a Slave, by Solomon Northrup. Darlene, Carolyn, Suzanne, Brittany, Paula, and Sandy attended.  

Our discussion echoed Ann's thoughts so closely, that I will use her comments here:

"I really enjoyed the book.  I wasn't looking forward to reading it because I thought it would be depressing.  I found it just the opposite.  I was really impressed with how optimistic Solomon was despite his situation. 
I will never understand how people justified treating other people in ways described in the book.  I asked Matt if it was because we didn't grow up in that environment that we don't understand?  I thought the story about Eliza and her two kids was so sad.  It was heartbreaking to read. 
I was also sad to read that Solomon's story wasn't an isolated case.  It's hard to imagine that men would be so evil as to pull other men and boys away from their families for what?  A few dollars?  Is that what someone's life is worth?  I wondered how this could happen.  How could Northern citizens be kidnapped and nothing be done about it?  I guess even in the North blacks (is this the politically correct term?) were free but not much better off.  Solomon was extremely fortunate to have family and connections. 
Overall, I thought the book was great.  I've recommended it to several people."

For refreshments we had cornbread, bacon and water which was the mainstay of the slaves' diet. 

Our next book club will be Thursday, February 26th at 8:00 p.m. at Carolyn's home

Glad Tidings of Great Joy

"What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace."  — Agnes M. Pahro 
Carolyn, Ann, Stephanie, Suzanne, Patti, Brittany and Paula
We met at Paula's home for our Annual Christmas Luncheon and Gift Exchange.  Paula always sets a beautiful table and the meal is always a delightful blend of culinary arts.

Brittany, Stephanie and Ann

Paula, Carolyn and Patti

Sandy and Suzanne