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I’ve been away from my blog for a while now and am eager to get back into reading and writing as we head into the cooler months of fall and winter. I needed a creative break and while I’m not sure I have all my creative juices flowing, I do have some new ideas, some of which may change my blog, what I write about, and the blog location. Still in the works and TBD.

For now, my thoughts have been revolving around building your own personal library and what that exactly means these days with e-books and e-readers advancing further and libraries evolving to make digital content accessible, with less focus on the paper book and magazine format. Same with bookstores – while bookstores are still selling the printed physical format of books and magazines, Amazon and others are selling e-books and digital downloads right along side, increasing in popularity, and lower in cost.

My first question is: do e-books and digital content save paper and use less resources? My slant is, are e-books and e-readers (and other devices) really “green?” Is this really something that can help the environment?

Second question: Will e-books start advertising? As I do not own or watch a TV and haven’t for 8 years now, I avoid media advertising as much as possible. That’s a tricky thing these days though. You really can’t get away from advertising or marketing as it’s all over the internet and soon to be infiltrating e-books. I would abhor ads in my books. I would protest having to pay extra to take the ads out. We live in a society that is entirely consumer-based: there is always someone trying to sell someone else something. I’m guilty of this too: I work in market research, I make beads and scarves to sell, and I’m watching for ways to grow other businesses. It’s a catch-22 when our society relies on consumerism, and like it or not, it’s hard to break free from this form of economy.

So, do you build a physical book-based library stored on shelves, or do you build your own digital e-book collection, stored on your ipod, Kindle, or other reader device? For now, like most fellow readers, I am doing both. I am reading and collecting books I consider special for my own library shelves at home, and I am building my digital audio book and music collection stored in iTunes. I also still use and very much value my local public library.

With music, I used to have a growing CD collection (a music prof told my class we weren’t good musicians unless we were building our own massive CD collections), but in recent years, I have stopped buying as many CDs. Instead, I value music I can check out from the Library, or download from Amazon, iTunes, or NPR, and listen to on the many streaming radio sources, or watch performances on YouTube. In fact, I have a large collection of CDs that I’m waiting for a rainy/snowy day to burn and put into my iTunes library. CDs take up space, they scratch easily, and are slightly cumbersome now. Having music on my laptop that I can listen to while I work, or put on the iPod while I drive are like little luxuries. Also, it’s so easy to organize and categorize your music on iTunes or other digital music software.

With all the technological advancements, does it all make you wonder where we will be at in 25-50-75-100 years? I do think about this. I think about the past too, take 100-150+  years ago and books and information were not as plentiful in quantity. The few books people had were usually special books, of religious, educational, scientific, or philosophical works. Probably a few farmer’s almanacs and good housewives books or periodicals too.

Do you ever think about if you could only keep a few books, what would they be and why? I think about this if I were to go on a multi-month trek and could only bring 1-2 books and what would they be? I’m not sure I could carry just 1-2 books, so here’s the catch–22 again, maybe I need an e-reader so I could load my 100-200 favorite books!

Whether you are building a physical library, a digital library, or both, I encourage collecting works based on quality, value, meaning, and personal importance. Whatever you do, enjoy reading and recognize the long term benefits of literacy for the human race.

It has been quite a while since I last posted here, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading. You know how sometimes life just catches up to you and then starts going at a pace faster than a snowball down a steep snow slope? Well, that’s the perfect analogy for me for these past few months. But, whoa, hold on, it’s summertime and the snow is now melting. I think the snowball has stopped rolling for now.  Enough of that, and on to books!

So, I have always been a huge fan of historical fiction, but it has to be done right to have the dual approach of entertainment and educational insight. That’s why I really enjoy reading the fiction of Sandra Dallas. She has done her research and I trust her writing to portray events and emotions that closely resemble that past. Dallas also had a career in journalism and reporting with awards and accolades to boot.

The Quilt That Walked To Golden

by Sandra Dallas

Dallas’ nonfiction is also inspiring.

  • The Quilt That Walked to Golden: This is a fantastic portrayal of the westward migration and the effects that travel had on women and their work. While learning about the historic quilts and patterns, as well as purposes, and the art of creating quilts, the reader also learns how women survived the many miles across the prairies and plains and endured some of the hardest travel to date.
  • Colorado Ghost Towns and Mining Camps: For anyone interested in CO history and the rich tales of gold and silver mining, this book is a record of most (probably all?) of the historical mining camps and ghost towns in CO. The book is also filled with photography by Dallas’ daughter who is a professional photographer. Of all the ghost towns I knew of by name, I was able to find a record in this book, including about Manhattan, in Larimer County, CO. This one has only a faint trace of physical presence remaining and not a lot has been recorded.

Of  Dallas’ historical fiction, I chain-read the following:

  • Tallgrass: This was my first Sandra Dallas read, actually. I’m glad I started with this one, as she hooked me into reading her other titles. I loved her style in this book. If you enjoyed this book, you would enjoy The Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka and also Teresa Funke’s books, Dancing in Combat Boots and Remember Wake.
  • New Mercies: This was the 3rd book I read by Dallas and it was an interesting turn from the first two. Set further forward in time in the 1920’s, Dallas blended the story of a young woman with a painful secret escaping her life in Denver, Colorado to discover new angles of her own life and family in Natchez, Mississippi.
  • The Chili Queen: This was the 2nd book I read and I really enjoyed this. Set in a NM brothel with some great twists and turns, I was reminded of the HBO series Deadwood, when reading this. I could see The Chili Queen becoming a trilogy or turned into a movie.
  • Alice’s Tulips: This was the 5th book I read, and I cried at the end! (I really do enjoy books that make me cry – it shows that the author touched a deeper emotional level). I love how Dallas can take the historical setting and bring it to life with real emotions and a connection to our own lives. Written in the form of letters to her sister, Alice is the star of the book, along with her quilts, hard-working style, her mother-in-law and her darling Charlie, as well as some lovely yellow tulips.
  • The Diary of Mattie Spencer: This was the 4th book I read and I loved how it was written in the form of a journal or diary. I really felt as if I was reading someone’s personal diary, while combing through the stacks at the Denver Historical Society Library. Again, filled with accurate historical representation of moving from the midwest to the plains of CO, complete with tornadoes, snakes and drought, Mattie Spencer prevailed in the end.

I still plan to read the following titles this summer, all by Sandra Dallas:

  • Buster’s Midnight Café
  • The Persian Pickle Club
  • Whiter Than Snow
  • Prayers for Sale

Sandra Dallas has a superb way of presenting twists and turns and spinning mysteries into her historical fiction, while also keeping with the theme of quilting and women’s work during the pioneer years. Keep alert when reading and you’ll pick up on interesting character nuances and find the common threads in your own lives.

Happy Reading!

Sand County Almanac

Sand County Almanac

I was recently quite ill and unable to sleep for much of the night, several nights in a row. Thankfully, my family was with me and helped me through those sleepless hours. How do you pass sleepless and boring hours? TV? No way, not me.  The only activity that could soothe me was being read aloud to. I had a stash of good books I had been saving for a “rainy day” or other reading emergencies, of which included Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac. This is a book I have read through parts of and have had conversations about with friends and family. I had long been wanting to read it from beginning to end and planned to do so on an upcoming camping trip.

My time to read it, or rather listen to it, came sooner than I thought. At about the time I was supposed to be falling asleep, I asked my husband to read aloud from Sand County Almanac. Sand County Almanac. Little did I know how much I would cherish those words and how I was transported out of my illness into the peaceful and natural world of Leopold’s Sand County in the bucolic state of Wisconsin over 60 years ago. Hearing both my husband’s soothing voice as well as the beauty of the story, put me into a mesmerized and relaxed state. I was almost like a child again, feeling as absorbed by the story as my old Frog and Toad days.

In this natural history depiction of Aldo Leopold’s farm, the reader experiences nature through the seasons from winter, spring, summer, fall and the return of winter. In these essays, the sense of connection is so visceral, so palpable. You don’t have to squint to imagine the natural connections, it’s all so visible in Leopold’s writing. From the blackberries, to the wetlands, to the flora and fauna that graces the Leopold farm, there is the very real biological vein of life ever present.

Leopold’s story is one that resonates across time and history as well as for all ages. This is easily something to read aloud or silently, but definitely one to share with loved ones.

Gluten is Latin for Glue


  1. Definition: The major protein in cereal grains, especially wheat; responsible for the elasticity in dough and the structure in baked bread.

Last week, I learned that I should no longer eat gluten or wheat containing foods, or so we think. I haven’t actually had a definitive test for celiac disease, but all the signs and symptoms point to gluten intolerance.

So, armed with this knowledge, I realize that going gluten-free is a fairly major lifestyle change. Planning ahead is key to living gluten-free. Whenever I have to make a big change, I always turn to books. I was recently at the Boulder Book Store and picked up a copy of The Gluten Free Girl by Shauna James Ahern. I’m really enjoying and appreciating Shauna’s book and love her writing. She is making this whole gluten-free living not into a challenge, but rather into an opportunity filled with delights and new tastes. She encourages those of use with gluten-intolerance to go boldly and courageously beyond gluten. In our world of super-processed foods, living gluten-free is an appealing option to eating close to the land and with simple but gourmet ingredients. She also encourages sourcing ingredients as locally as possible and getting to know the food sources and growers in your area. The Gluten Free Girl is my first book to read on gluten-free living and I’m so glad that I now have a copy of this book as I feel empowered and liberated to break free from the glue of gluten (literally and figuratively).

I also checked out several gluten-free cookbooks from the Library so I could see what recipes I could glean for this change. So far, I made gluten-free muffins, my husband made cornbread and tapioca pudding (vanilla and chocolate), and I’m planning to make coconut macaroons and Shauna’s recipe for Lemon Olive Oil Cookies. I also just saw her recipe for Lemon-Pecan Biscotti, which I will definitely make ASAP. We already are eating whole foods and grains, so we just need to change our baked goods and a few other things such as essential ingredients. At first, when I was told I was most likely gluten-intolerant, I got very teary-eyed and anxious. But, after I started looking into the matter and finding cookbooks and recipes on gluten-free living, I’m really quite excited for the change. I’ve been long thinking about getting completely off of white sugar and white flour and this is the time!

What are some of the biggest challenges for me? Missing good old oatmeal chocolate chip raisin cookies, and feeling a bit bewildered at restaurants or being invited to dinner with friends.  We don’t eat out much anyway, and now I will just plan ahead and have a list of ‘safe’ restaurants and a list of ‘can do’s’ and ‘don’t dare’s’.  I also have made a list of safe foods and ones to avoid. I’ve already used that list a couple of times this week.  That will accompany us to the grocery store until we get a hang of this. I’m also eager for the Farmer’s Markets and CSA farm share to start up again. By purchasing and eating whole foods produced locally, and continuing to make a commitment to that, I know I’ll be ahead of the game. 5 years ago, we gave up a lot of processed foods. We stopped buying frozen dinners and things in packages. We started looking at everything we bought from the store and nearly stopped buying any pre-packaged food item. However, until I can learn to make gluten-free snacks and bars, I am relying on a few packaged gluten-free bars.  My plan ultimately is to make double or triple batches of homemade gluten-free snacks and baked goods to have on hand. I can carry them with me and always be prepared if I’m on the road or on the go.

With my birthday just around the corner, my husband always makes a very decadent dessert to celebrate with. He asked what I wanted this year and I said… flour-less chocolate cake! I’m really excited to celebrate this birthday without gluten.

So, here’s a list of cookbooks I’m reading and checking into. If you have other suggestions, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to post on this blog or send me an email at sarah[at]terracadence[dot]com.

Have you read or used any of these cookbooks? If so, what’s your favorite? If not on this list, please let me know your top gluten-free cookbooks or guidebooks. Thanks so much and here’s to living healthfully!

Please Note: I was a guest blogger for Edible Front Range on 2/25/10. Feel free to read that blog posting here.

Happy Birthday from Hello Kitty

Happy Birthday from Hello Kitty

Happy Birthday to …. ME and all the other March babies!

Well, I am a Pisces with a birthday coming up just around the corner. And, while I have birthday wishes and dreams like everyone else, what I really want is to have a list of great books from friends and readers with a 1 sentence synopsis. A friend of a friend does this for her birthday every year and I decided I would try it this year.

My goal: To obtain a list of  20+ titles from readers, friends and family by March 20, 2010. I will post the list (let me know if you’d liked to be named or anonymous) to my blog. The reason this is important to me is because books, reading and literacy are important to me. I love reading lists and getting ideas from lists and books.

I’d appreciate titles of any genre, age range, with publication dates between 2008-present, in which you consider a top-must-best read. Please email titles to sarah [at] terracadence [dot] com. Thanks for helping my birthday wish come true! Happy Reading and Happy Birthday!

Geologic Time is Now

Geologic Time is Now, photo by Sarah Myers

“Life’s not about waiting for the storms to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” ~ Vivian Greene

While the above quote was not in Aron Ralston’s memoir, Between A Rock and A Hard Place, it easily could have been in the book as it portrays Aron’s extraordinary ability to take a hardship and turn it into an empowerment.

Aron Ralston’s memoir, Between A Rock and A Hard Place is one of the best memoirs I have read. Reading the book was a journey, and Aron takes his readers to scale the heights, ski the mountains, feel the chase of the bear, and taste the risks he took. While some have called the memoir too ego-filled, I found it to be the story of Aron’s fast-paced outdoor-escapades filled life. While I haven’t taken all the risks he has or found as much joy in adrenaline pumping climbing or heights-daring, I can relate with many of his experiences. The book recounts his outdoor experiences and what ultimately brought him to Blue John Canyon, UT and beyond.

I had been meaning to read this book since 2003, when the shocking nature of his accident in Blue John Canyon first came out. I had skimmed through it several times and always meant to read it thoroughly, but at the time, didn’t have a huge interest in memoirs. That has changed for me in the last 5 years and I am now finding myself choosing memoirs and biographies with human-interest and survival themes. Why? I want to understand how and why people survive life’s challenges. This true story is also to be made into a movie and I have a rule about books-to-movies: I always read the book first before seeing the movie.

In April 2003, Aron Ralston, a mega-experienced climber and outdoorsperson, began his single-day planned trip through Blue John Canyon along the western side of Canyonlands National Park. A good synopsis of the story outlines his trip to the Canyon mouth via bicycle, then his hiking ascent into the Canyon, with the ultimate shifting of an 800 pound rock that trapped his hand between the boulder and the canyon wall. Aron survived for several days and nights with his arm pinned and the impending knowledge that chances for rescue were quite slim. He made preparations for his own death, while continuing to fight for his life and chip away at the rock. He chipped the quote “Geologic Time is Now” into the rock, a quote from Jerry Roach.  A riveting interview with Aron Ralston is available on the NPR site. Better yet, read his book and you’ll relive his experiences. At the point when Aron realized he had to break and amputate his own hand, I literally could not put the book down. Most people have heard the story on the news, through blogs, or other sources, as I had. But it was truly something else to read about it as Aron walks his readers through the mental process and logic of his actions to save himself. The book also does more: it inspires, it teaches, and it motivates. When Aron describes his dreamlike vision seeing a one-armed man with a small child, the reader will be chilled and awed. This vision is partly what inspired Aron to think creatively, despite having very little food or liquid and his brain and body were greatly weakened.

When I first started reading the book, I thought it was to be entirely about the accident and ultimate survival in Blue John Canyon. I was mistaken and gladly so. For a person like me who loves quotes, the book is filled with meaningful quotes and sayings that were all highly applicable to the content. The book alternates chapters between the Canyon accident and Aron’s mountaineering experiences. I was on my toes reading about his hikes and climbs and all the near misses. His endurance is stunning and enviable. His fearlessness in achieving summits and high points was thrilling. His risk-taking was perturbing. I was physically shaken and emotional in reading of his ultimate survival and rescue, much of it self-rescue; and then what he has done since the accident with sharing his story and survival with others as a motivational speaker, continuing to climb and push the limits, and to be a role model for others with physical challenges. Aron Ralston overcame the hardship, worked through the challenges, and continues to be involved in his passion with the outdoors and to give meaning to ‘the gift of life’ and the ‘meaning of life’, as unique as it is for each and every one of us.  Highly recommended.

Happy Reading!

Happy New YearHappy New Year! I’m just about 22 days behind schedule, but that’s only because I’ve been reading so much! Honestly!

This might just be a fairly random posting as there’s so much going on.

First, my heart is just going out to all the people of Haiti. I sit and read the news every day, at least 3 times a day, and just am astounded by the tremendous hardships in Haiti and Port-au-Prince. I am also amazed by organizations like Doctors Without Borders and Partners in Health and the United Nations World Food Programme. It is both humbling and inspiring to see so many people come together to help so many in need. I am also grateful for the news coverage by NPR, which has been my primary news source for the past couple of months. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in and connected with Haiti.

On the local front, I am saddened by the news story in Southern Colorado of the individual who neglected over 40 macaws, over 100 pigeons, and dogs and cats. The macaws have been rescued by The Gabriel Foundation and you can read about the rescue and related articles on their website. If you’ve followed my blog for the past 2 years, you know how much I care about birds, animals, wildlife, and nature. We are hearing way too often about animal hoarders and the neglect inflicted upon so many animals. For other animal protection and shelters, I look to Best Friends Animal Society based in Utah where they have beautiful facilities to care for animals. A few years ago, I visited the shelters for cats and dogs and was truly impressed by the caring work they are doing.

image of books

On a personal note, I just returned from the American Library Association MidWinter conference held in Boston and had the pleasure to hear Elizabeth Gilbert speak at the Sunrise Series event. It was a real treat to hear her talk about her writing experience, Eat, Pray, Love and her newest book Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage. A summary of her talk is available through the online edition of Cognotes (see page 1 and 8). I am really looking forward to reading Committed now. What I especially enjoyed hearing her say is that she’s a normal person, like everyone else. She was put on a pedestal after the great success of Eat, Pray, Love and she looks at her success in a very organic and zen-like way. She also talked about keeping with her principles and when the first draft of Committed really did not sit well with her, she was honest with her editor and publisher, took some time off, gardened, and then was literally struck by the new first sentence of  the book. The sentence came to her, she wrote it down, and wrote a little more each day, and now we have the version of Committed on the shelves now. And, she is proud of her work. The beauty of Elizabeth Gilbert is that she can be proud but also humble. It’s a wonderful characteristic and perhaps that’s why she has so many readers. The moral of the story: be true to yourself, listen to your internal messages, be honest, and allow time for introspection. I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to hear her speak live. There are some great videos of her talks available through Elephant Journal, based in Boulder, CO.

I am continuing to Read a Book a week and plan to do this for all of 2010. Here’s a summary of the titles I’ve read over the past couple of weeks:

  • The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel (book 1) by Jasper Fforde
  • Lost in a Good Book: A Thursday Next Novel (book 2) by, you guessed it, Jasper Fforde
    By the way, Jasper Fforde is a brilliant writer and his website is about one of the most whimsical I’ve seen in a while. He makes reading truly entertaining and educational. Thursday Next is one of my favorite lead female characters and reminds me of a female 007.
  • Coming up next in the series:  The Well of Lost Plots (book 3). In fact, I have to go pick this book up at the Library! (Thanks to librarian friend and consultant Melissa for suggesting the series. I’m hooked!)
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I also saw the movie over the holidays. I read the book first and made sure I was mentally prepared. I knew this would be psychologically challenging. Reading this brought on a swath of emotions including grief, mourning, shock, despair, and finally hope. While the movie was not an exact representation of the book, I still thought it was excellent. One difference was that I fully needed to have a release of emotions through crying after reading the book and for some reason did not have that release. The movie was a different story and I’m glad I had a wad of tissues because I needed them!Highly recommend for personal introspection, but be sure you have a good support group around you.
  • All My Rivers Are Gone: A Journey of Discovery Through Glen Canyon by the fantastic Katie Lee, author, musicologist, folk singer, storyteller, actress, songwriter, filmmaker, photographer, activist, poet, and river runner. This is a wonderful book for anyone who wants to reconnect with the Glen Canyon before Lake Powell and the dam(n).
  • Sightings: Extraordinary Encounters with Ordinary Birds by Sam Keen. I’m about 1/2 through reading this wonderful birding book and is meant to be read slowly, savoring the poetry, the artwork, and the sheer magnificence of birds in nature.
  • Mysterious Life of the Heart:  Writing from The Sun about Passion, Longing, and Love by the Sun Magazine – I love reading the essays in the Sun every month. This book, with some of the best of their essays, helps me understand life and people, and allows a good deal of introspection and thoughtfulness.
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. I’ve had this on my list to read for a long time and I’m finally getting around to it after receiving the book as a gift. As always, I enjoy Kinsolver’s writing, and with this title, I’m steeping myself in locavorism (locavores rock!) and the art of eating locally, growing your own food, and seeking out all local food stuffs. I now have a fierce desire to garden and hope to act on that in 2010 (living at 8400 feet where winter sticks around for 9 months is the hitch).
  • I’m also reading 3 books about Iceland: Lonely Planet Iceland, Frommer’s Iceland and  Iceland: Land of the Sagas by Jon Krakauer and David Roberts.

What’s on my immediate to-read list? Well, my reading wish list is virtually endless. I’ll be reading books the rest of my life. But for the next couple of weeks and months, here’s what I hope to read:

I’m also very keen on viewing and reading some of these wonderful old bird books, but for now, I have to be satisfied viewing them on the web, as highlighted on AbeBooks Rare Book Room. Maybe I’ll start collecting antiquarian books. It’s been reported that investing in rare books is as good or better than investing in the stock market (isn’t that the truth!). I do plan to read field books and guides about birds throughout 2010 to strengthen my identification skills and have a good stack of bird books to learn from.

What are you reading? I’d love to hear from you – Post a comment here or send me an email at greycatblog[at]gmail.com.  Happy Bookishness!

ps. I’m an indexer (among other things like researcher,  librarian, and library consultant) and I just noticed the Index on Jasper Fforde’s website, a perfect example of his witty style, and also a really good web index!)

I’m still on the ReBooWee plan, reading a book a week. I was juggling a couple of books last week, maybe it’s a compulsion of sorts, but I get energized by keeping a string of books going. I am halfway through Sam Keen’s Sightings, a spiritual reflection on the nature of birding. Then, I got started on Jasper Fforde’s incredibly wild-ride Thursday Next series which reads like the James Bond 007 series, except with a literary twist, and with some time travel, and other supernatural elements thrown in for good measure. I’m hooked on this series now and just picked up the next two in the series. I can’t wait to start reading them! Before I start the next two in the series though, I needed to balance my fiction reading with non-fiction, so I went back to nature to read Katie Lee’s story about the Colorado River in her memoir All My Rivers Are Gone. She writes about the Glen Canyon before it was dammed and she retains stories from the old timers of the area. Beautifully told with her folksy tone and a reflection of her life as a folk singer, she brings the river and the canyon walls alive, filled with colorful stories, legends and memories. Reading her story is a good precursor for an upcoming backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon, down to the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers, via the Tanner and Beamer Trails. We’ve had our eye on the Tanner Trail for over 5 years now (how does time slip away so quickly?!).  More on that probably later unless my reading outpaces my blogging. Or maybe my hiking will outpace my blogging – I’ll always be reading, even on the eves of a backpack trip, resting in camp.

~

Iceland landscape

Iceland landscape

Recently, I finished the audiobook version of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth read by British actor Simon Prebble. This Victorian classic is formed on the basis of geology, mineralogy, adventure travel, Icelandic volcanoes, and a fantastically imaginative story. How I enjoyed listening to this! I felt like I was in the theatre for 9 hours (I have not seen the movie versions of Journey to the Center of the Earth). I have an interest and fascination with Iceland (who wouldn’t?) and this book was a perfect segue into trip planning for a future trip to Iceland to honor my Nordic ancestry and also to trek across that beautiful country.

Here’s a list of titles on Iceland that I’m hoping to read in the next 5 months. If you have suggestions for other titles on the history of Iceland, or its sagas, or any suggestions on guidebooks, please let me know. I’d also like to find a book on Iceland plants and animals, especially wildflowers and birds.


Happy Reading, Hiking, and Adventure Traveling!

Lonely Planet Tramping in New Zealand (Paperback)

by Jim Dufresne (Author)

Magical Realism

“My most important problem was destroying
the lines of demarcation that separates what
seems real from what seems fantastic”
– Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Note: This post was originally a separate page, but I have not pursued further research in magical realism. Maybe I’ll pick it back up one day, when the timing is right…

I am very interested and intrigued by magical realism in literature, film, and art. If I could find a way to incorporate magical realism into music, I would explore that world too. (Enter John Cage and Charles Ives, perhaps).

Defined….

[Magical Realism is] A narrative technique that blurs the distinction between fantasy and reality. It is characterized by an equal acceptance of the ordinary and the extraordinary. Magic realism fuses (1) lyrical and, at times, fantastic writing with (2) an examination of the character of human existence and (3) an implicit criticism of society, particularly the elite. (Direct quote from N. Lindstrom, 1994, text posted online)

What is magical realism?

In magical realism, we find the transformation of the common and the everyday into the awesome and the unreal. It is predominantly an art of surprises.  ~Alberto Rios

A Sampling of Magical Realism Authors

  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Ben Okri
  • Isabel Allende
  • Syl Cheney-Coker
  • Kojo Laing
  • Allejo Carpentier
  • Toni Morrison
  • Kwsme Anthony Appiah
  • Mario Vargas Llosa

See More:

Lisa Simpson, the vegetarianI was recently asked about being a vegetarian and how to become one. The person who asked me had just seen the documentary “Eating” and was subsequently appalled at the meat industry. I have not seen this documentary yet,  but I’m sure I can imagine the content and depictions enough that I’m still glad I’m a vegetarian. I grapple with calling myself a vegetarian though, and maybe more appropriately called a “flexitarian” as I eat turkey about once a year, local buffalo about 4 times a year, and fish about 4 times a year. It’s a funny thing though to be able to count how many times one has eaten meat. I have chosen not to eat (much) meat now for the last 18 years and my reasons are both personal and physiological. I remember when I made the decision not to eat meat though: I was 15 or 16, had just eaten a MacDonald’s hamburger. I then saw cows in a pasture and subsequently peered into  a cow’s eyes and therefore saw the soul of the animal itself. No, it wasn’t an out of body experience, it just happened. And then it happened with sheep (I used to like lamb when I was a child) – the cool black liquid eyes of the ewe were gently connecting and understanding. And, it’s all progressed from there. Oh, also, I never enjoyed eating meat and would pick it out or refuse to eat it, even as a young child. I think I’m physiologically programmed to be an herbivore.

So, what do I eat? I’m not a vegan, but one of my favorite restaurants in Fort Collins, CO offers vegan and vegetarian cuisine: Tasty Harmony. Eating at vegetarian restaurants is a great way to be introduced to the fine points of vegetarian delights. I eat tons of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, eggs, cheese, legumes and beans, and raw milk, yogurt and kefir. Being vegetarian has been especially easy and wonderful for the past 2 years as joined a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) through Grant Family Farms in Wellington, CO. They deliver all across the state. We also get our milk through a raw milk dairy share in Northern CO. They have free range chickens and eggs too. It’s really great because you drive up to pick up the milk and see chickens running around and you just know they’re happy with the freedom, just as a chicken’s life on a farm should be.  Books that inspired me to eat back on the land are The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food both by author Michael Pollan. I’ve blogged about this before, but The Omnivore’s Dilemma completely opened my eyes wide to the modern food industry and I completely changed how I eat as a result.

So, how does one become a vegetarian? It’s both a choice and some a little applied work. A vegetarian has to be sure they are getting enough protein and amino acids, not eating too much sugar and simple carbs, and always having a good variety and quantity of plant-based foods on hand to make selection and cooking easier. It’s also very useful to have a good collection of vegetarian cookbooks on hand and online recipe resources available. I also think a new vegetarian would benefit from talking with a nutritionist, dietitian, or nutrition therapist, to make sure a healthy balance is being met. It would also be good to find a class or workshop on vegetarian cooking. Meeting with other vegetarian friends is also a great resource and creates a support network.

With that, some of my favorite resources on vegetarianism include:

  • Vegetarian Times (magazine) and on the web
  • Vegetarian Times has a neat Vegetarian Starter Kit too
  • The New Laurel’s Kitchen by Laurel Robertson
  • The New Becoming Vegetarian: The Essential Guide To A Healthy Vegetarian Diet by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis
  • Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
  • The Everything Vegetarian Cookbook: 300 Healthy Recipes Everyone Will Enjoy (Everything Series) by Jay Weinstein
  • Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe
  • Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappé

Oh, but there are so many vegetarian cookbooks available – check at your local library or bookstore, or online at Amazon or Powells or any other book resource. If you have a favorite vegetarian cookbook, or online recipe resource, I’d love to hear about it. Post a comment here or send me an email at greycatblog[at]gmail.com.

I’ve also been thinking about reading this book: The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism: From 1600 to Modern Times by Tristram Stuart. Since I’m on the ReBooWee plan, I’ll just add this to my list. I wonder if reading a cookbook a week will count for the ReBooWee plan?  🙂