Invisible Heroes

November 28, 2012

From In Sunlight and In Shadow, Mark Helprin, 2012.

As difficult as it might be, she would hold steady…That was her task now, to hold through, with no guarantee, like all those in gray who filled the streets on the way to their jobs, anonymous from birth to death and thereafter, the little people, so called, who so often were as brave as soldiers and as great as kings.       p 323

When he first got off the truck, infantrymen in the line that had formed at the first station offered him a place in front because he was an officer, but he refused it.  It was expected that they would offer, and it was hoped that he would decline.  They appreciated this, and when officers were as filthy and ragged as they were, and despite their rank had not put themselves ahead, they would follow them wherever necessary.  It was the way it was supposed to be.   p 495

It was at least the tenth time he had brought the jacket in, always cut in the same place….She was grateful and at the same time somewhat resentful, for over almost a year the work she did for him served to keep her accounts in the black month after month, even if not by much….For him, whatever he was doing was not a duty.  Nor was it pleasure or displeasure, but only somehow written in.  Time after time he wold bring her the jacket he cut and she would gently reweave it.  Perhaps he took pity on her.  Perhaps, he had lost a son and seen her star, or had been commanded in a way he did not know, or was simply generous, as some people are.  Perhaps, after the war, he was a bit crazy, and thought that an exquisite woman sitting alone in a little shop was reweaving and repairing with gifted persistence not just the torn jackets, pants with cigarette burns, and coats with fraying edges upon which she worked every day, but the whole wounded and suffering world.      pp. 635-636

A Horse? Of course!

November 24, 2012

This has absolutely nothing to do with a B&B – unless you consider how lovely it would be to be able to take a few days off for a personal retreat and read a book that is filled with so many good things that you just have to write them down.

From In Sunlight and In Shadow, Mark Helprin, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2012, pp. 310-311.

The horses sensed the excitement, and though silent and enslaved, they were the most expressive of all. Meyer Copeland had once said to his son, ‘I have often prayed that you will grow up to be as dignified as a horse. You could do a lot worse.’

‘A horse!’

‘Yes, Harry, your kingdom for a horse. Their temperaments are governed by God. They skip a lot of nonsense. They’re strong, gentle and just. You’d be lucky. I think you will be lucky.’

‘But they’re stupid.’

‘Maybe they’re merely quiet.’

Chewy Pumpkin-Choc Chip-Raisin-Roasted Pecan Cookies

November 13, 2012

Sound like too many flavors? I agree. It does. But these turned out GREAT! Chewy and creamy with textures and flavors busting out all over and grabbing you in your gobbler-gullet! And just in time for a Thanksgiving twist on a tested, tried and true favorite: the simple cookie. Bake a batch and squirrel ’em away (in the freezer) till Turkey Thanksgiving Day!


Chewy Pumpkin – Chocolate Chip – Raisin – Roasted Pecan Cookies

1 stick melted butter
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 1/4 cups mixture of dark choc chips, raisins, roasted pecans

Mix wet ingredients. Add dry. Refrigerate for 30 min’s. Drop onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for about 10 min’s, depending on size of cookies. Don’t let them get too “done-looking,” or they won’t be chewy. YUM!

Enjoy them for Thanksgiving or whenever the weather says, “Pumpkin Time!”

* from http://www.howsweeteats.com/2011/10/chewier-pumpkin-chocolate-chip-cookies-2-ways/

“Almost Home”

November 2, 2012

Author of a Newberry honor book, Joan Bauer’s newest book, Almost Home, hit the shelves this year. Reading it the other night in one sitting – I couldn’t put it down because it was like a giant dish of our homemade chocolate ice cream that we made when I was a little girl – I wanted to write down whole chunks of it so I’d never forget them. But here is just one:

The 151 bus pulls up, and Lexie and I get on. Big Bob’s Budget Bus had a slight sour smell; this bus smells better. It heads down the street and I look out the window at the stores and the people walking by.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the driver shouts, “feast your eyes on this fine city. We’re glad you’re here.”

That makes me grin, and I look at the big streets and the tall buildings and wonder if I should feel happy when Reba is locked up in a mental hospital. The thought of that makes me tired.

Lexie doesn’t seem like she ever gets tired. She’s pointing out buildings and a big park. “That’s Lincoln Park,” she tells me. “There a zoo in there, boats on a pond.” She points down a street. “Best ice cream in Chicago is that way. What’s your favorite flavor?”

It’s been so long since I got to choose, I just eat whatever people hand me. “Chocolate chip,” I tell her.

“We need to get you some of that.”

Reba’s favorite is maple pecan–that’s not easy to find, but back when we had our house, she’d buy vanilla ice cream, let it soften, put it in a bowl, and stir in some maple syrup and toasted pecans, then she’d freeze it again. We’d eat it in big yellow bowls on the porch. Those bowls got broken when the sheriff came and carried all our stuff to the street.

We used to cook up a storm in our kitchen–we’d make lovely pizzas, hamburger soup, and sweetie pies, the best dessert ever. They’re like little pecan pies with buttery dough.

Today Lexie and I are heading to her favorite store to get me some clothes, not used ones, either. I look out the window at Chicago. I never want to leave this big, wonderful place.

I look up on the wall of the bus. There’s a poster of a homeless man sleeping on the street and the words GET HIM THE HELP HE NEEDS.

I study the picture of the homeless man. It doesn’t tell the story. In his heart, that man’s got dreams he’s packed away.

Lexie says, “Come on, it’s our stop.”

“You ladies have a good day now,” the driver says.

Lots of people say that, but this guy says it like he means it.

I smile back at him, and the craziest feeling comes over me.

I almost feel normal.

Of course, my mother’s in a mental hospital and just the other day I didn’t have a place to sleep, but sometimes feelings are like a butterfly landing on your arm for a few moments. King Cole told me that.

“You just enjoy them while they’re perched there,” he said.

That man was an official genius.

The whole world should know, but they never will.

It’s a great book. Sugar, the main character is 12. Know anyone on your Christmas list who might need a sweet book like this one?

Location, Location, Location.

You might notice the WAC Administration Building cupola out of the corner of your eye as you walk onto Simply Bed & Bread's brick path, since our house is just a stone's throw away from the college. Or it might be the ...
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