Show & Tell Friday – Food, Books & Retreats Edition

I am officially 37 weeks pregnant. This week, my 3 1/2 year-old said, “Mama, you sure do look funny with that great big belly.”

This just proves what I suspected when I had the said 3 1/2 year-old: Nature never intended barely 5’2″ tall women to procreate with 6’2″ tall men.

In other news …

Good stuff to share on this Spring Friday!

TJ

Thomas Jefferson

1.) Did you know that in addition to being a Renaissance man, an incredibly gifted writer and one of the more mysterious, flawed and brilliant of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson is also likely responsible for introducing macaroni and cheese to the fine people of the United States of America?

Yep. Mac-n-cheese, coming straight to us from old T.J. himself. Since this is one of mac n cheesemy desert island items–you know, one of the few things you’d choose to have with you should be stranded on a desert island (my others are water, Chapstick, and my dog)–I find this a fun fact to share. Check out more of the story over at the Garden & Gun Blog.

 

2.) Yesterday was the birthday of Isak (Karen) Dinesen, author of many stories, but most famously of Out of Africa, the novel that inspired the movie of the same name, starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. Karen was a wealthy Dane who in 1913 moved from Denmark to Kenya with her husband, where they started a coffee plantation. Her time there inspired the novel, which originated as collected stories.

Isak Dinesen

Isak Dinesen

I’d not read Out of Africa until last year, upon entering my MFA in Writing program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. I’d always wanted to read it, and when I mentioned adding it to my reading list my advisor at the time heartily agreed. There are some novels that affect you, that move you, the moment you set eyes on the first page, and this was one for me. Her sense of place, her gorgeous, unindulgent prose, hooked me from beginning to end.

This is a classic to revisit, or read for the first time! Read the book, then rent the movie.

I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills …. It was Africa distilled up through six thousand feet, like the strong and refined essence of a continent …. In the highlands you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be. ~ from Out of Africa

 

3.) Alaskan mystery/thriller/suspense writer Dana Stabenow, most well-known for her Kate Shugak series, is launching a campaign to build a new writers’ retreat for women. The Storyknife Writers’ Retreat will be the first (and so far only) retreat just for female writers in Alaska.

storyknife

Stabenow was inspired to launch Storyknife by her own writerly beginnings, when she was awarded a residency at Hedgebrook, another retreat for women writers in Washington state. The time there was a gift, she says, and she wants to pass that on to other female writers.

Alaska. The Last Frontier. The Great Land. I’ve been three times (I know, life is rough): twice in the summer andbad blood once in the winter, and I spent the summer after my freshman year in college living with my youngest aunt in Anchorage. I can say with absolute certainty that there’s no place like it. For a writer, it’s inspiration central. And I first read Stabenow’s novels–mostly in the bathtub–because my aunt was a fan. So women writers, check it out and stay informed. This is an opportunity not to be missed.

Hope everyone has a great weekend. Don’t forget to grab a good book and some yummy grub. Mac and cheese, anyone?

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