Dinner And A Movie Monday – Brooklyn

Brooklyn

Eilis Lacey is a young woman from a small town in southeast Ireland, where she lives with her mother and sister, Rose. Eilis is unhappy with her life. She sees no future there. Her sister writes to an Irish priest in Brooklyn who arranges for her to travel to New York City.

where she takes bookkeeping classes and meets Italian-American Tony Fiorello and falls in love.When her sister suddenly dies of an undisclosed illness she had kept secret, Eilis tells Tony she must return home. He shows her a plot of land on Long Island that he intends to build a house for them on and proposes. Eilis seems hesitant but agrees. They marry at the courthouse without telling anyone.

Once back in Ireland, Eilis temporarily takes her late sister’s old bookkeeping job and gets attention from a wealthy bachelor. A completely different life than the one she left behind in Brooklyn. When gossip goes round about Eilis, she’s reminded of what life was really like living in this small town. She leaves for Brooklyn the next day because she wants to be with her husband. On the crossing, she offers guidance to a young woman making her own first trip to Brooklyn.

Eilis makes her journey from Ireland to New York in the 1950s, along with approximately 50,000 other immigrants (around a quarter of which moved to New York) as a part of the second minor wave of migration. Many of these citizens were in search of steadier jobs and a happier lifestyle. There were also smaller surges of immigrants from many other countries at this time, leading to modern day America becoming a vast land of many different cultures. You’ll enjoy this movie. Saoirse Ronan takes us through her journey to New York. We see her courage and determination while she struggles to pursue her version of the American dream.

Brooklyn is adapted from Colm Toibin’s novel of the same name. It has been named one of “The 10 best historical novels” in 2012. The novel and the film have equally been praised for their refreshing perspective on the plight of the Irish immigrant. They both depict a realistic story.

Irish Stew

The ingrediants for Irish Stew depend on who you ask. Traditionally, it’s made with neck mutton chops or kid, potatoes, onions, and water. Others would add such items as carrots, turnips and pearl barley; but the purists maintain that they spoil the true flavour of the dish. The ingredients are boiled and simmered slowly for up to two hours.

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Please use beef chuck stew meat that is well marbled with fat. Lean stew meat will end up too dry.

Save prep time by prepping the onions, carrots, and potatoes while the stock with beef is simmering in step 2.

  • 1 1/4 pounds well-marbled chuck beef stew meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 3 teaspoons of salt (more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups beef stock or broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup of Guinness extra stout
  • 1 cup of hearty red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
  • 1 large onion, chopped (1 1/2 to 2 cups)
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots and/or parsnips (3 to 4 carrots or parsnips)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

The Wall

AT THE VIETNAM WALL

because i never knew you
nor did you me
          i come

because you left behind mother,
father and betrothed
and i wife and children
          i come

because love is stronger than enmity
and can bridge oceans
          i come

because you never return
and i do
i come

          DUONG TUONG Washington, D. C., November 21, 1995

The older I get the more I think about our country and the sacrifices some have made on its behalf. Especially on days like today. I came across this poem, wtitten by Duong Tuong, a Vietnamese writer after visiting the wall in l995. I love its touching simplicity. A child of the 60s, I witnessed daily casualty count on the evening news and saw college students protesting while others burned our flag.

The thing I remember the most was the day my high school principal came over the loudspeaker and requested a moment of silence for a former student who’d graduated only months earlier and had enlisted. He was killed shortly after he arrived in Vietnam.

I remember seeing him in the halls at school. A nice guy. Always smiling. Barely 18. Just a kid. Gone in a minute. Someone I knew. Someone my age. That’s when I realized the war was real.

Hidden Treasure

The Brattle Book Shop, founded in the Cornhill section of Boston in 1825, has been in the hands of the Gloss Family since 1949. Over the years George and his son Kenneth built this shop into one of the largest antiquarian book shops in the country. Photo courtesy of Melissa Fulgham
The country’s oldest antiquarian bookstore, the Brattle Book Store has over 200,000 used and out-of-print books, magazines and more. Photo courtesy of Melissa Fulgham

My granddaughter visited this store (the lucky girl) and was browsing through the shelves. She picked up a book at random and it fell open to this passage. Beautiful, don’t you think?

Happy 4th of July

However you chose to celebrate this day, whether it be out at the lake, at a cookout with family, or enjoying fireworks with friends, I hope it’s a safe and happy holiday. Sometime during today, please stop and take a moment to remember what this day should mean to all of us.

Red Skelton was always a favorite of mine. Never failed to make me laugh, and sometimes brought me to tears. This was one of those times.

This says it all…

Writing Your Novel’s Blurb

Story Empire

Ciao, amici. We’re wrapping up the Story Bible series of posts today. If you missed one or more of the posts, you can find them, in order of post date, by clicking the following links:

Today, we’re discussing how to write the back-of-book blurb.

writing the blurb

You’re probably wondering why a blurb, which isn’t needed until you’re ready to publish, is something I include in a story bible, which I create before I start writing even the first book in the series.

Three reasons.

One, your blurb covers only the most important and most marketable parts of your story. Keeping that in mind as you write will enable you to stay focused on what the most crucial parts of your story are.

Two, when you have a series, you want all your blurbs to follow the same format. That’s easiest…

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Dinner And a Movie Monday – The Accountant

The Accountant

The American crime thriller stars Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons, Jeffrey Tambour and John Lithgow. Chris Wolff (Affleck) is a small-town Illinois CPA with high-functioning autism that makes a comfortable living. Beneath the surface, however, he’s a brilliant forensic accountant who uncovers insider financial deceptions, often for criminal and terrorist enterprises.

Through flashbacks we see how his father, an army officer in Psychological Operations subjects Chris and his younger brother, Braxton to a brutal regimen of stoicism and martial arts training. Later, while serving time, he is mentored by an accountant for a mob family who turns FBI informant.

Eventually he’s hired to audit Living Robotics Corporation by the company’s founder and his sister. When he discovers that over $61 million has been embezzled from the company. Lamar dismisses Chris and pays off his contract, leaving him distraught because he wasn’t able to finish the audit.

He spends the rest of the movie methodically eliminating the killers sent after him while he figures out who did the embezzling and why. There’s a twist to the movie, and I guessed it early on, but it wasn’t obvious, and I like the way it unfolded.

The movie wasn’t on for long, and I didn’t hear much about it, but I think it was a good movie. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Affleck had autistic tendencies in real life. His portrayal was convincing and I loved the plot twist.

No recipe this time. Nothing to cooking bacon, eggs and toast. Use an iron skillet and pay close attention to the bacon or it will burn. Chris Wolff’s meal illustrates some of his tendencies. Which is really funny, because I remember my father being very particular about the way his food was served.

Caleb’s Story (continued)

Man-size vampire bat

Chapter 2 Episode 3

     Owen, Floren, Misa, and Calebth stood at the mouth of the cave, staring down at the baby dragon. What were they going to do? None of them knew the first thing about how to take care of him. What did he eat? What did he drink?

     Floren scratched behind his ear. “Can’t he fend for himself? He is a dragon, after all.”

     “Mowg’s only a baby. He’d starve.” Tears welled up in Calebth’s eyes, and he swallowed hard, hoping no one noticed. “Either that or those wretched goblins will come back for him.”

     “The boy is right,” said Misa. “I overheard one of those idiots say something about Morogon wanting them to bring Mowg back to him. They may have run off, but they haven’t given up. They’re not about to go back to the mage empty-handed.”

     Calebth’s heart lifted. He knew his opinion didn’t carry any weight, but maybe Misa could have some influence on the other two.

     Floren growled. “I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to play nursemaid to a baby dragon, orphan or not.”

     She gave him an indignant sniff. “First you want to eat the poor thing, and then you suggest leaving him to Morogon’s mercy. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

     “I don’t see you volunteering to take care of him.”

     Calebth swiveled his head back and forth between the two, listening to them swap insults. He was about to step between them and offer to take care of Mowg himself when Owen spoke up. “We’ll take him to Dragon Island.”   

    “Only one problem with that,” Misa said. “We need to hire a boat to take us there. How are we going to do that? We have no money.”

     Floren grinned. “I have an idea.” He pointed north. “See that mountain ridge over yonder?”

     “What about it?”

     “It’s the Mountain of Mines. I used to work there. It’s been abandoned for a long time, but I’m sure there’s more than enough gold left to get us passage on a small boat on its way to the island.”

     “B-but isn’t that place haunted?” Calebth can hardly get the words to come out of his mouth. “That’s what the old dwarves who used to work there always say, anyway.”

      Floren glared at him. “Have you got any better ideas?”

     Nobody did, so the travelers headed toward the mines. They rode the rest of the day and part of the night before they reached their destination. Everyone wanted to stop and make camp. Continue in the morning, but Owen insisted they keep going. “We’re being followed.”

     Calebth rode behind jim, his arms around Mowg, who was sound asleep. He’d been fighting it himself for the last hour, but when he heard those words, his heart lurched, and his eyes snapped open.

     Floren sniffed the air. “I smell goblin.”

     Misa eyed him. “The idiots from the cave, no doubt. I told you we hadn’t seen the last of them.

     “How much farther?” Owen asked.

     “We’re almost to the Tunnel of Darkness,” Floren said. “Don’t dismount. Ride inside, and I’ll stay behind to close the gate so they can’t follow.”

     They urged their tired mounts to move a little faster until they reached the entrance a short time later. It was pitch black inside. Mira struck a match and lit some torches she found left in a niche on the wall. Calebth felt a little better once he could see. Until he glimpsed the sign.

     Misa held her light up high and read aloud. “Beware.” Beneath that, there was a crude drawing of a skull and crossbones. “Man-sized vampire bats ahead. Proceed at your own risk.”

    She groaned.  “This wasn’t such a good idea, after all.”

    All out of breath, Floren trotted up to them. “Don’t be such a chicken.”

    “I’m not.” Misa rolled her eyes. “I just don’t want to die in this wretched cave.”

     Calebth swallowed hard. He didn’t either. And he fancied he heard the sound of wings flapping in the distance.

     Floren puffed out his chest. “If I have to die, at least I’ll be laid to rest in my home place with all my kin. My father, my grandfather, and his father before him.”

     As the noise grew closer, Owen drew his sword. “Enough talk.”

Summertime

My grandma had a huge hydrangea bush on either side of the steps leading from her kitchen door. The one on the right had pink blooms and the one on the left had blue.

She talked about putting rusty nails in the soil to change the color. I don’t know if it worked so I googled it to see if it was an old wives’ tale. This is what I found. Hydrangeas change color (except for the white ones) based on the pH level of their soil. The more alkaline the soil, the pinker the flowers. Acidic soil (lower pH) will yield blue flowers and alkaline (higher pH) will give you pink flowers.

My sisters and I loved them. We didn’t care which color. One bloom was big enough to use as a bouquet and play “Here comes the bride” on a warm June afternoon. Fond memories.

I’m happy to say mine are looking good this year.

Dinner and A Movie Monday – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

My sister and I had a movie night recently. We couldn’t find anything new we wanted to watch, so we rewatched a favorite we discovered a year ago. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a 2018 film based on the novel of the same name. Set in 1946, the plot follows a London-based writer who has the perfect life. She’s successful and has a rich and handsome American fiance.  She begins exchanging letters with Dawsey Addams, a resident of Guernsey Island.

She finds herself fascinated by Dawsey’s stories about how the people on the island survived German occupation during the war and decides to travel there, where she falls in love with the island, its inhabitants, and its story.

I loved it. It’s an old-fashioned tearjerker, nostalgic and romantic. The scenery will take your breath away and the music is lovely. If that’s what you’re in the mood for, it should fit the bill.

PS – If anything, I enjoyed the movie even more than the first time we watched it almost a year ago. Michael Huisman plays Dawsey, and I loved his performance. His face is an open book. And those beautiful brown eyes! I loved watching his character fall in love with Juliette. He couldn’t hide his feelings for her.

ROAST PORK

ROAST PORK (This was a favorite with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix together black pepper, garlic powder and salt. …
  3. Put the roast on a rack in a roasting pan. …
  4. Roast until internal temperature is between 145-160°F, 20-25 minutes per pound. …
  5. Cover roasting pan with foil and let rest for 30 minutes.

New Tenants

The last week or so I’ve noticed a bird hanging out on my back porch. Didn’t think anything about it, since I try to put out birdseed on a regular basis. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a nest in my asparagus fern! Pretty sure they’re mockingbirds.