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, November 30, 2015

Nazi Officer's Wife by Edith Hahn Beer

“Man is a greater thing than you have thought him,” 
― Edith Hahn BeerThe Nazi Officer's Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived The Holocaust

Thursday, November 19th, the Ladies of Walden Pond met at Suzanne's home ~Paula, Patti, Carolyn, Carol, Brittany, Sandy, Suzanne, Ann and Lillian.  

We discussed a Nazi Officer's Wife, an auto-biography by Edith Beer Hahn.  Born in Vienna, Austria in 1914, she grows up in a happy Jewish family with her parents and two sisters.  An intelligent young woman, Edith studies law at the University and is denied her degree at the beginning of the war. Edith's two sisters are sent to Palestine, Edith is sent to a work camp. Her mother dies in a concentration camp.  When Edith returns from the work camp, she takes the star off her clothing and gets off the train in a different city.  With help, she changes her identity to Grete Denner and lives through the war as an Aryan.  She marries Werner Vetter, who keeps her true identity secret.  She lived in fear throughout the war, but had remarkable courage and grit.  

Everyone really enjoyed the book.  We admired Edith's courage and stamina and those who were brave enough to assist others through this terrible time in our history. Edith became a judge after the war.  There is also a Documentary available that is very interesting on this book.

Suzanne created a delightful taste of both cultures.  She made Matzo Ball Soup served with Challah Bread as well as  two German desserts - Pfeffernusse - German Peppernut Cookies and Ruglach ~ recipes are below

Matzo Meatball Soup ~ Suzanne
The Matzo Ball Soup I made with Swanson's chicken broth and a box of Matzo ball mix that I purchased at Fresh Market.  I did add a little minced onion and parsley to the Matzo ball mix. 

Pfeffernusse (German Pepper Nut Cookies )
YIELD 24 cookies

  • 2cups confectioners' sugar, for dusting (icing)DIRECTIONS
    1.   In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, pepper, aniseeds, cinnamon, baking soda, allspice, nutmeg and cloves.
    2.   In a large bowl, using an electic mixer set on medium speed, beat together the butter, brown sugar and molasses until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
    3.   Beat in the egg.
    4.   Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour mixture.
    5.   Cover and refrigerate for several hours.
    6.   Position a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
    7.   Butter 2 baking sheets, scoop up pieces of dough and roll between your palms into balls 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
    8.   Place the balls on the cookie sheets spacing them about 2 inches apart.
    9.   Bake until the cookies are golden brown on the bottom and firm to the touch, about 14 minutes.
    10.      Transfer the baking sheets to racks and let the cookies cool slightly on the sheets.
    11.      Place the confectioners' sugar in a sturdy paper bag, drop a few cookies into the bag, close the top securely, and shake gently to coat the warm cookies with the sugar.
    12.      Transfer to racks and let cool completely.
    13.      Repeat with the remaining cookies.
    14.      Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
  • Rugelach
    ·         2 cups all-purpose flour
    ·         1/4 teaspoon salt
    ·         1 cup unsalted butter
    ·         1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
    ·         1/3 cup sour cream

    ·         1/2 cup white sugar
    ·         1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
    ·         1 cup finely chopped walnuts
    ·         1/2 cup raisins
    1. Cut cold butter or margarine and cream cheese into bits. In food processor pulse flour, salt, butter or margarine, cream cheese and sour cream until crumbly.
    2. Shape crumbly mixture into four equal disks. Wrap each disk and chill 2 hours or up to 2 days.
    3. Combine sugar, cinnamon, chopped walnuts, and finely chopped raisins (may substitute miniature chocolate chips for raisins).
    4. Roll each disk into a 9 inch round keeping other disks chilled until ready to roll them. Sprinkle round with sugar/nut mixture. Press lightly into dough. With chefs knife or pizza cutter, cut each round into 12 wedges. Roll wedges from wide to narrow, you will end up with point on outside of cookie. Place on ungreased baking sheets and chill rugelach 20 minutes before baking.
    5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
    6. After rugelach are chilled, bake them in the center rack of your oven 22 minutes until lightly golden. Cool on wire racks. Store in airtight containers...they freeze very well.
    7. Variations: Before putting the filling on the dough, use a pastry brush to layer apricot jam as well as brown sugar. Then add the recommended filling. You may also make a mixture of cinnamon and sugar and roll the rugelach in this prior to putting them on the cookie sheets.
“That’s all it takes, you see—a moment of kindness. Someone who is sweet and understanding, who seems to be sent there like an angel on the road to get you through the nightmare. Veronica.” 
― Edith Hahn BeerThe Nazi Officer's Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived The Holocaust

Sunday, August 23, 2015

"Bonds of Loyalty - Jennifer Clark & Stephonie Williams

"It shall be the son, the firstborn in the new monarchy, who shall quiet the fears and unite the nation  again." ~ Bonds of Loyalty

"In June, we read Bonds of Loyalty by Jennifer Clark and Stephonie Williams. This book is the sequel to Mark of Royalty.  We continue Sarah's story as she struggles to feel of her worth as a princess and to understand her place in a kingdom she was born into but never knew.  She is engaged to Prince Alexander throughout the book, but finds her feelings swayed by her personal guard, Luther.  She leaves the land and home she loves to travel to Kyrnidan, where she is the first-born in the royal family, to meet the parents she has never known.  The story starts out with Sarah worrying about the things happening in her life, but it quickly escalates into a love triangle, a prophecy involving Sarah, secrets that need to be solved and political unrest within the kingdom with a threat of war.  It is exciting and keeps you reading as you want to solve the mysteries in the book.  I enjoyed seeing Sarah overcome her self doubts and start contributing as the princess she was born to be.  As she rises to the task, the prophecy becomes fulfilled, she feels of worth and understands her rightful place in the kingdom.

Some members of book club didn't like the book and thought it should have ended with the first sotry.  However, I really enjoyed the book because after reading Mark of Royalty, I was left with questions about what her real family would be like and would they embrace her or would her presence upset the balance of things.  The authors wove a wonderful story with memorable characters that I enjoyed sharing the journey with." ~ Suzanne

Thursday, June 25, 2015

“Perhaps the seeds of redemption lay not just in perseverance, hard work, and rugged individualism. Perhaps they lay in something more fundamental—the simple notion of everyone pitching in and pulling together.” The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

“It’s not a question of whether you will hurt, or of how much you will hurt; it’s a question of what you will do, and how well you will do it, while pain has her wanton way with you.” 
― Daniel James BrownThe Boys in the Boat

May 28th, we gathered at Carolyn's home to discuss The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.  Another book that was well-liked by everyone that read it.   We enjoyed the interesting historical background and research that the other conveyed throughout the book, the determination and true-grit that these young men had at a time when our nation was struggling through the depression.

This book is about the University of Washington's eight-oar crew and their quest for an Olympic gold medal in the 1936 Olympics in Germany and winning despite the odds against them.  The crew was made up of mostly poor young men, who were sons of shipyard workers, farmers, loggers.  The story mostly revolves around Joe Rantz, who had a very difficult family life and was left alone while very young to fend for himself.  And while he becomes an excellent rower, he struggles to be accepted and feel an important part of the team as he learns to trust in himself as well as his coaches and team-mates.

“It is hard to make that boat go as fast as you want to. The enemy, of course, is resistance of the water, as you have to displace the amount of water equal to the weight of men and equipment, but that very water is what supports you and that very enemy is your friend. So is life: the very problems you must overcome also support you and make you stronger in overcoming them." —George Pocock

Their are beautiful quotes at the beginning of each chapter from a wise shipbuilder, George Pocock, who becomes an integral part of the rowing program in Washington.  George builds the beautiful, light fast boats that become so important to the rowing program, but more than that he knew how to build the boys and the team.  The coaches were also very instrumental in choosing the right young men to make up this team.

This is a beautiful quote from the author as he interviewed the elderly Joe Rantz and his family: 
“It was when he tried to talk about 'the boat' that his words began to falter and tears welled up in his eyes...Finally, watching Joe struggle for composure over and over, I realized that 'the boat' was something more than just the shell or its crew. To Joe, it encompassed but transcended both - it was something mysterious and almost beyond definition. It was a shared experience - a singular thing that had unfolded in a golden sliver of time long gone, when nine good-hearted young men strove together, pulled together as one, gave everything they had for one another, bound together forever by pride and respect and love. Joe was crying, at least in part, for the loss of that vanished moment but much more, I think, for the sheer beauty of it.” 
― Daniel James BrownThe Boys in the Boat

This book, while not a page-turner, was highly recommended by all and one that we learned so much from reading.

“If love is the greatest gift of all-and I believe it is- then the greatest privilege of all is to be able to love someone.” An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff

“We all want relationships that are healthy and resolved, and sometimes that simply doesn't happen. But the beauty of life is that inside these disappointments are hidden the most miraculous of blessings. What we lose and what we might have been pales against what we have.” 
Laura Schroff, An Invisible Thread

An Old Ancient Chinese Proverb
In April, we met at Ann's home to discuss An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-Year-Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny byLaura Schroff.  A true story, Laura was a Marketing executive in New York and one day a small boy came up to her on the street and asked her for a handout.  She told him no and walked away, stopped in the middle of the street and went back to find the young boy.  She took him to MacDonalds and had lunch with him.  This was the beginning of a life-long friendship and learning on both sides.

The book was really enjoyed by all the ladies in book club.  We all felt that we learned so much from the book.  It was inspiring, heartfelt and touching.  We discussed the cycle of poverty and drugs, and the deep chasm that alcoholism  creates in families and relationships.

“What does it mean when society says your unfit to be a mother? Are there circumstances to be factored in before that judgement is made? What if a mother is doing the best she can in the face of crushing adversity but still doesn't measure up to society's standards? When does a mother lose her right to be a mother?”  " Laura Schroff, An Invisible Thread

What we also enjoyed about the book was the fact that she didn't hide her mistakes that she made, but helped us to understand and learn from those mistakes as well.  We talked about dreams and hopes that we all have as we grow up and how life brings us challenges and mountains to climb, yet through them all we have the ability to become better people, more compassionate, more understanding and sympathetic, more kind and loving toward all.

“If you make me lunch," he said, "will you put it in a brown paper bag?...Because when I see kids come to school with their lunch in a paper bag, that means that someone cares about them. Miss Laura, can I please have my lunch in a paper bag?”Laura Schroff, An Invisible Thread

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Orphan Train

“I like the assumption that everyone is trying his best, and we should all just be kind to each other.” 
― Christina Baker KlineOrphan Train

We met at Ann's home Thursday, March 26th to discuss  Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline

We all enjoyed reading Oprhan Train.  The book is about a young girl, Vivian, whose family leaves Ireland and immigrates to New York.  Vivian loses her family in a fire and is sent to the Midwest with hundreds of other orphans to be adopted or to live with a family to help them either on the farm, in a factory or store. The story intertwines with another young woman's life, Molly, who is also an orphan and has spent time in different foster homes.  Molly goes to help Vivian clean her attack, to fulfill her community service requirement,  and the two become friends as they learn that they really have more in common than they ever could have guessed.  It is a beautiful story of the resilience, courage and strength of the human spirit under daunting circumstances and the power that love has to change our lives.

So is it just human nature to believe that things happen for a reason - to find some shred of meaning even in the worst experiences?” 
― Christina Baker KlineOrphan Train

We discussed how resilient people have to be with life circumstances and how we don't know another person's story, their trials, challenges, and mountains they have climbed until we take the time to get to know them and become their friend.  Understanding always increases as we get to know and understand a little better the distant miles another person has traveled to get where they are at that point of time.
This is a photo of one of the Orphan Trains from Christina Baker Kline's web site

“It is good to test your limits now and then, learn what the body is capable of, what you can endure.” 
― Christina Baker KlineOrphan Train

“And so it is that you learn how to pass, if you're lucky, to look like everyone else, even though you're broken inside.” 
― Christina Baker KlineOrphan Train

This book is historical fiction.  The author, Christina Baker Kline was visiting in North Dakota one winter and they were snowed in for a few days.  She read an article about Orphan Trains and learned that over 200,000 orphaned or vagrant children were sent from New York to the mid west from 1854 through 1929.  Over the next ten years she researched, talked to the few remaining orphans who came west on the train who were at that time in their 90s and learned their stories.  She then created a fictional story about Vivian and Molly. More about the book and Christina Kline can be found at:
http://christinabakerkline.com/ Other fiction books the author has written are:

  1. Bird in Hand, 
  2. The Way LIfe Should Be
  3. Desire Lines
  4. Sweet Water
  1. About Face
  2. Child of Mine
  3. Room to Grow
  4. The Conversation Begins

“My entire life has felt like chance. Random moments of loss and connection. This is the first one that feels, instead, like fate.” 
― Christina Baker KlineOrphan Train

"You can’t find peace until you find all the pieces. She wants to help Vivian find some kind of peace, elusive and fleeting as it may be.” 
― Christina Baker KlineOrphan Train

“I’ve come to think that’s what heaven is—a place in the memory of others where our best selves live on.” 
― Christina Baker KlineOrphan Train

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Anne Perry at the Provo Library Symposium April 18th

Anne Perry, an English author of historical detective fiction, best known for her Thomas Pitt series and William Monk series, will be the guest speaker at Provo City Library's Family Literacy Symposium on Saturday, April 18th.  Carolyn picked up 10 tickets to this, if you would like to go hear Anne Perry speak, contact Carolyn.  There is no charge for the symposium tickets.  There will also be other breakout sessions after Ms Perry speaks.  

There will also be a brunch at 10:00 a.m. that day.  Tickets for the brunch are $25.00 each and there are still some available.  If you would like to go to the brunch contact Carolyn ASAP.
For more information, Family Literacy Symposium

Monday, February 16, 2015

Hundred Foot Journey by Richard Morais

“There are many points in life when we cannot see what awaits us around the corner, and it is precisely at such times, when our path forward is unclear, that we must bravely keep our nerve, resolutely putting one foot before the other as we march blindly into the dark.” 
― Richard C. MoraisThe Hundred-Foot Journey

Our book club met on Thursday, January 22 at Paulette's home to discuss The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard Morais. Everyone liked the book, but those who had seen the movie first were disappointed in the movie once they had read the book and felt they had left some important and key elements out of the movie that added so much to the story.  The book is about a young man, Hassan Haji and his family, who step up out of poverty as they become street vendors in Mumbai, then eventually build a restaurant. They try to bridge the gap between the poor and the rich, but really don't fit in to either society.  After Hassan's mother dies in a fire, Abbas sells his property to developers and takes his family to Europe to mourn and escape.  They finally settle in the small town of Lumiere, establishing their Indian restaurant just one hundred feet away from Madame Mallory's  famous Le Saule Pleurer Restaurant.  Hassan has a gift with food and eventually moves across the street to learn from the talented chef.  The book is lovely and is really about the bridging of different cultures and classes in society.

Some favorite quotes from the book:

“Never be afraid of trying something new, Hassan. Very important. It is the spice of life.” 
― Richard C. MoraisThe Hundred-Foot Journey

“I do think you have to change with the times in a way that renews your core essence, not abandons it. To change for the sake of change—without an anchor—that is mere faddishness. It will only lead you further astray.” 
― Richard C. MoraisThe Hundred-Foot Journey

“But of course, no family is an island unto itself. It is always part of a larger culture: a community.” 

“...the balance sheet of her life, an endless list of credits and debits, of accomplishments and failures, small acts of kindness and real acts of cruelty. And the tears finally come as she looks away, unable to see this thing to the very end, for she knows without looking of the terrible imbalance, how long ago the credits stopped while the debits of vanity and selfishness run on and on.” 
― Richard C. MoraisThe Hundred-Foot Journey

“A lot of emotion went into that hundred-foot journey, cardboard suitcase in hand, from one side of Lumière’s boulevard to the other.”