Page 24 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - February 2016 - 23-02
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Page 24
Senior Times - February 2016 west’s
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February can be a letdown. February can be bleak. February can be cold, gray. Need it be?
February is an opportunity to grab great literature and lose yourself in far-off places, meeting fascinating people while engaging in intrigue. Stand back! You might (definitely will) learn new things about this world so that you appreciate it more – while talking more intelligently over mid-morning breakfast, playing cards or basking in Florida sunlight.
It starts with choosing the right stuff: Good stories, good people and... excep- tional writing, the kind of writing that draws you to the pages and immerses you in the words. Heed these comments by critics:
• Striking... Expansive and intricately woven – Entertainment Weekly
• Powerful and gripping... Hoffman finds poetry and beauty, dignity and honor, even in those perilous, blood- soaked times. – Library Journal
• Spellbinding... Ancient times come to shimmering life – Parade
Ah, those words are no lie as they describe Alice Hoffman’s The Dovekeepers.
Read that book first, then move in his- tory to Paul by Walter Wangerin to appre- ciate the greatness of those people of long ago who touch us today:
• "A book that combines Wangerin’s skills of biblical knowledge, a sense of drama, unobtrusive scholarship and the ability to tell a crackling good story," said Philip Yancey.
• "As I inhabit the story and look around the world Wangerin has constructed I experience biblical times in fresh and unaccustomed ways. An astonishing work of imagination." - Robert H. Smith, professor of New Testament, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary.
The stories compel the reading of these books; the writing, the choice of words, refine the definition of what litera- ture will be called ‘classical.’ The opening lines of Dovekeepers:
We came like doves across the desert. When there was nothing but death, we were grateful for anything and most grateful of all when we awoke to anoth- er day.
Read the next sentence and you are hooked. From such poetic description develops an engaging story of triumph.
From Paul:
There came a Voice through the wet air, like a long flag lifted on the wind... That Voice – the bare sound of it ever before the words made sense to me – pricked my hearing and drew me out of the house and down to the city.
A great new telling of history comes in Rush Revere, the Limbaugh books that tell American history, earning book awards along the way.
For more excellent writing on American history, you owe it to yourself to read Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing...” books (Killing Lincoln, Killing Jesus, Killing Reagan). Superb writings of accurate his- tory read like great suspenseful mysteries.
Try Brian Kilmeade’s Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates. O’Reilly and Kilmeade are dead center on target providing great education with fabulous entertainment.
How about a movie! Ron Howard’s
In The Heart of the Sea, gives the back- ground of the writing of the classical Moby Dick. I studied that fabulous book in high school and loved it all – except for the chapters Melville devoted to the technicalities of whales, which meant little to me then, not after starting an adventure/morality story that began: “Call me Ishmael.” You cannot go wrong when you begin a book that begins with such startling honest brevity.
This movie depicts the life of Quakers on Nantucket in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Ron Howard - a sign of qual- ity in film making. In the December 2015 issue of “Smithsonian” magazine. Nathaniel Philbrick, author of the movie story, writes a history of whalers’ life on Nantucket that gives a two-fisted preview of this excellent movie.
If you are a fast reader and need more, many classic books and stories stand to be revisited, from Dickens (the greatest story teller) to Dostoevsky to Hemingway. If it is simple good story-telling you need to drag your eyes away from the TV, few writers are better than J.K. Rowling in
the Harry Potter series of books. Brilliant stories, except for her constant use of the word, “very.” She – and most other writ- ers – need to lose that word; it weakens whatever modifier that comes next.
Hot Up February! Read!
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Valentine’s Day equals chocolate in my opinion. And in many other’s too! This pie makes a delicious end- ing to that special day’s meal or any- time you’re in the mood for a little something sweet.
1 Shortbread or graham cracker
crust (I prefer Kebbler) 1 Cup sugar
11⁄2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1⁄2 Tablespoon espresso powder 3 Tablespoons flour
1 Egg yolk
5 Ounces evaporated milk
Pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
Cool whip or 1 cup heavy cream whipped with 2 tablespoons of sugar
Unwrap prepared pie crust and set aside.
Put sugar, cocoa and espresso powders, and flour in a heavy sauce pan over medium heat, stirring to mix well. Add egg yolk and then gradu- ally add milk, stirring constantly. Add salt and butter continuing to stir con- stantly. Bring to a boil and let cook 3-5 minutes until thick and remove from heat. Add vanilla and pour into pie crust and let cool at least one hour. Top with cool whip or whipped cream.
Joanna Stelloh Phelps, Special to Senior Times

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