Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Telling Room - Book Review

Let me apologize for the break I took in posting. I am currently 37 weeks pregnant, so I got busy and this fell behind. I hope to fix that. I have lots of books to be reviewing on here!

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese

How can you not fall in love with this title? It draws you to the book and you just have to pick it up and see what it is all about. At least it did for me! Then I learned that it was set in Spain and I was sold. This is a non fiction book. I suppose it would be considered a biography because it follows Ambrosio de Molinos for the most part. It is is also obviously about food and culture as well. The story draws you in and the characters are fabulous and real! The writing itself is a bit dense, so it is not a quick and easy read. However, it is a good read. Just be prepared to read it slowly.

My Goodreads Review:

The descriptions of Spain, the food, and the land are rather magical. The people in the story are powerful and memorable. The story is as much about the man who perfected the cheese as it is about the author. 

There were several words that were new to me and I had to look them up. I haven't had to do that very often and it was kinda cool to be experiencing new words. But that's beside the point.

We all have stories that are so close to us that we hesitate to share them with people. This is a story like that for the author, but he shares it anyway and I'm glad he did.

Book Details:

In the picturesque village of Guzmán, Spain, in a cave dug into a hillside on the edge of town, an ancient door leads to a cramped limestone chamber known as “the telling room.” Containing nothing but a wooden table and two benches, this is where villagers have gathered for centuries to share their stories and secrets — usually accompanied by copious amounts of wine. It was here, in the summer of 2000, that Michael Paterniti found himself listening to a larger-than-life Spanish cheesemaker named Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras as he spun an odd and compelling tale about a piece of cheese. An unusual piece of cheese. Made from an old family recipe, Ambrosio’s cheese was reputed to be among the finest in the world, and was said to hold mystical qualities. Eating it, some claimed, conjured long-lost memories. But then, Ambrosio said, things had gone horribly wrong. . . . By the time the two men exited the telling room that evening, Paterniti was hooked. Soon he was fully embroiled in village life, relocating his young family to Guzmán in order to chase the truth about this cheese and explore the fairy tale–like place where the villagers conversed with farm animals, lived by an ancient Castilian code of honor, and made their wine and food by hand, from the grapes growing on a nearby hill and the flocks of sheep floating over the Meseta. What Paterniti ultimately discovers there in the highlands of Castile is nothing like the idyllic slow-food fable he first imagined. Instead, he’s sucked into the heart of an unfolding mystery, a blood feud that includes accusations of betrayal and theft, death threats, and a murder plot. As the village begins to spill its long-held secrets, Paterniti finds himself implicated in the very story he is writing. Equal parts mystery and memoir, travelogue and history, The Telling Room is an astonishing work of literary nonfiction by one of our most accomplished storytellers. A moving exploration of happiness, friendship, and betrayal, The Telling Room introduces us to Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras, an unforgettable real-life literary hero, while also holding a mirror up to the world, fully alive to the power of stories that define and sustain us.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 573 pages
  • Publisher: Large Print Press; Lrg edition (June 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
Price: $14.21

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. And I added the links to Amazon because that is where they have the information about the book. I was not asked by Amazon, NetGalley, or any affiliate to add the links to Amazon.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Good Stuff Saturday 2-15

Photos for the week: Frozen rocks, Aurora Borealis, Fishing nets, and The Brothers Grimm stories has come to life.

A pretty awesome list of fictional couples. Several of these made me smile.

Equality isn't always easy to figure out. I thought this was a great article about that.

Sometimes we make this God stuff more complicated than it needs to be. What we are supposed to do is simple, but hard. And maybe we are already there. And sometimes it's about our attitudes.

An amazing wordsmith and the stories that surround us. I'm not sure that is a great description, but go read it anyway.

My husband and kids are important, but who I am is more than that. Glad I'm not the only one that thinks so.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Why Valentine's Day Isn't a Big Deal

'What Beautiful Is (February 6/8)' photo (c) 2010, emma.kate - license:

When I was a teenager, Valentine's Day was all about a boyfriend. Or in my case not having one. Valentine's Day came with dreams of secret admirers or dreams of me getting enough courage to talk to 'that boy', whichever one it was that week.

Even then I remember hearing all kinds of messages that said, "Valentine's Day isn't just about romantic love. There's more to it than that." As a teen, I thought that was a load of crap. I want to say that as an adult I have learned how true those words are. But the truth is those words still ring hollow to me. I think of friends and acquaintances who thought they had that romantic love only to see it walk out on them. If I were to sit here and repeat those words, it would seem hypocritical. After all I have a wonderful husband asleep in our bedroom. I have an awesome kid and one more on the way. We found an unused restaurant gift card in the pocket of a coat, so we will be having a nice dinner out tomorrow. So who am I to sit here and say it isn't all about romantic love?

So rather than try to write some pep talk about how Valentine's Day means this, that, and the other. I'm going to share a few thoughts about Valentine's Day around our house. Valentine's Day isn't a big deal. We rarely exchange gifts and a large part of me doesn't want to exchange gifts. I really resent the spin that the marketing world places on today. People can love you and my husband can love me without flowers and chocolates and jewelry and lingerie and stuffed animals and balloons and cards and whatever else they say. But my own little protest against those companies is not why it isn't a big deal.

My son's birthday is a week from today. So inevitably the month of February is full of birthday party preparations because his birthday is more important than Valentine's Day. He still gets a little something, but we don't make a big deal out of it. And even though I tell my husband that all I want is for Ben to have a good party, society puts this pressure to do otherwise. And I think it is ridiculous!

He shows me in a thousand little ways everyday that he loves me. When he gets up on Saturday mornings to work and make a little more money for us. When he pats the sofa and wants me to come sit beside him. When he puts his arm around me in the middle of the night. When he cooks dinner for me every night. When he plays rough with our son, so I don't have to. And that's just a few things off the top of my head. I don't need a special day to remind me to love him or remind him to love me.

But today I did make him a card. We got Ben a little something and I made him a card. Drew will probably go out today and get us each a little something because the snow has kept us home for the last couple days. Tomorrow we will go out on a date and celebrate. Even though Valentine's Day isn't a big deal around our house, we do still love each other and don't mind showing it today.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Guest post: #DangerDays

Today I have a post over at Carl's blog. It is a part of his series #DangerDays.

This is Carl's idea behind #DangerDays

It is my prayer that 2014 is going to be a year of bold faith and creative risk taking in the name of Jesus. I'm calling it#DangerDays

You can go here and see all the posts on #DangerDays.

When Carl first mentioned the idea, I immediately thought, I have nothing to contribute. I was a total goody two shoes in high school. I was a brainy Magna Cum Laude college student. I got my first job teaching and then got married after a couple years. We moved a few times due to job related stuff, but didn't have huge marital issues. I have lived a relatively boring life and not done anything dangerous or radical. So why am I writing this?

Go here and see why I wrote this post.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Good Stuff Saturday 2-8

Photos of the week: Beautiful window, a horse in the woods, mountains and a lake at the top of the world, and a reindeer herd

A fabulous article about what we need to do to win the war on poverty. And one more.

I am going to print this one and read it to myself and my daughter regularly!!

"You have all the answers that I can give you tonight. I love you. The rest of the answers will come tomorrow." LOVE this!

I have been and sometimes still am in this place with some 'church' people.

And then I read this and it keeps me honest, instead of cynical.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Marriage is serious y'all

'Certificate of Marriage' photo (c) 2008, Teresa - license:

On a recent trip to a local fast food restaurant, the clerk asked me how far along I was. I answered and she told me she had 8! She also said that after having 8 children with this guy, he left. In this conversation, I learned something.

Divorce hurts.

I don't think that is something that society at large is willing to admit. However, I have seen the pain and anger that people have gone through in the wake of a separation/ divorce. I have seen the lives that are turned upside down. I can't pin the blame on men or women. I have seen men and women walk out for various reasons.

Men and women walking out on marriage for another person.
Men and women walking out of marriage for their job.
Men and women walking out of marriage because they just get tired of being married.

I know that does not cover all the reasons that a marriage falls apart. I know that sometimes the person walking out is doing it for the right reasons. I know that many of the ones who have been walked out on have found a life and a happy one after their divorce. So this is not a blog post about the evils of divorce or the reasons not to get divorced. As I have not been through a divorce, I can't claim to know a bunch about it.

This is a blog post about marriage. I have been married for 10 years this July, so I have learned a thing or two about it. From that perspective I am talking and advising.

If you are not married, please consider the vows seriously before you get married. Even if you don't plan on using these vows think about them.

For richer or poorer: If you won the lottery or had a high paying job and didn't need your spouse, would you still want to be married? If you lost your house and your jobs, would you still want to be married?

In sickness and in health: If you got a long term illness, would you want to be married to this person? If  your spouse got sick like that, would you want to be married to that's person? If your child got sick like that, would you want to be married to this person? If you are fit and healthy and got people giving you second glances, would you still want to be married to this person?

For better or worse: When your wildest dreams come true, do you want to be married to this person? When your dreams go bust, do you want to be married to this person?

If you can't answer yes to all of these, then maybe you have some things to talk about with a spiritual leader, mentor, or some such person. You might need to talk to the person you are considering marrying because marriage is serious. If the person you are marrying, can't answer all these affirmatively, then that person might need to talk to someone. If you are married and wonder about your reaction to these things, you have some thinking and talking to do.

I realize this is not an exhaustive list and we can't really know how we will react in tough situations. Sometimes even with the best intentions life gets in the way and we can't find our way back to each other. I know even if we think and talk and prepare for these things, something might come up and marriages might fail. Sometimes even with thinking, talking, and preparing, our spouse may become a different person and things might fall apart.

Marriage is hard and is never fool proof. But maybe if we all realized that it is serious, it would work a little better and there would be a little less pain to go around.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Good Stuff Satruday 2-1

Photo for this week: Egrets on the Danube  and Flamingos on the Lake

Funny thoughts about Gandalf and others reflecting on Twilight.

Lots of God thoughts this week:

God works even when we don't feel like we are. And sometimes we just sit back and watch him work.

The world is a broken place.  When we see people that way, it makes the world look different. And hopefully inspires us to do something (Warning: This might be hard to read.) to help fix it.

We can do something like praying even though it is hard.

We can support children in need by investing in them.

Finding happiness in the right places and asking for more of the right things should give us the courage to move forward.