Sunday, September 14, 2014

Down the Bloodline

We finish Bryan Burrough's Big Rich with tales of the great oilmen's posterity. As you might guess, the children of the rich can range anywhere from responsible and handsome fellows who grow the business and get invited to join the best clubs in Dallas, to cocaine-snorting ne'er-do-wells who own great football teams and attend cheerleader tryouts for all the wrong reasons.

My own brush with oil heirs was my first job out of college. Some library I had never heard of offered me a job.  They were attached to Southern Methodist University, but they weren't the main library where students crammed for finals, or where you hunted down a novel, took it home and stayed up all night with it.

No, this was a Special Collections library.  In Special Collections, the books never leave the building.  Professors, writers, researchers come to these temples of knowledge and scribble notes from the books therein, filling up on material for their own books.   Burrough himself probably sat in a few of these research libraries.

"Special" means the library concentrates on a narrow band of knowledge, say Great Lakes history, or history of labor unions.  My library at SMU had its beginnings as the personal collection of Mr.D., an oilman I had never heard of in my life, and his pet subject was Western Americana.

As a side note, all his books about the settling of the West, the water issues of the West, ad infinitum, would not be complete without including some of the big players in the region which means the Mormons. We dusted and tended a good deal of shelf space given over Joseph Smith and everything that came after him.  And deep in the temperature-controlled vault, where they kept the really valuable stuff, we stored original editions of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, which we were never to handle without first donning cotton gloves.

Anyway, the original collection was in Mr. D's home.  He willed it to the university upon his death. Perhaps it was was Mr. D's money that built the building, too. Now, my job was just a job, but walking into that building, entering a vast hall of fossilized limestone and walking up the forty or so steps to the hushed confines of library-ness, left me awestruck every day.

Mr. D was such an obscure oilman that I never expected to run across him in Burrough's book.  But there he was on page 152, playing a walk-on role. In the postwar years, Texas was the king of oil the world over. Then rumors popped up about the Mideast and what just might lie under all that desert sand.  A top Roosevelt aide chose Mr. D to cross the world and camp out with the Bedouins. His top-secret mission: investigate the rumors; see if American companies could get a piece of the action.

Evidently, he survived the mission.

But back to his library. Mr. D's son, Mr. D the Second, also added his hobby collection: railroad history.  In addition to books, we kept file drawers of his train pictures.  To my eye, each one was indistinguishable from the next. But train buffs the world over knew that if they wanted really good stuff, we were the library to track down.

Then there was Mr. D the Third.  He was still a young man when I worked there, a student at library school. His contribution was to come in every so often and sort train pictures.  One day, he hinted that when he finished library school, he would no longer be willing to work gratis. I'll never know if Mr. D the Third achieved this professional status. All I know is that he was in his fifth year of study, and library school is only two years long.

So, as far as the D bloodline was concerned, they landed somewhere between solid billionaire status and losing it all to cocaine and cheerleaders.

And we will now celebrate the end of oilman stories with a nice bit of:


1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1-1/2 pounds pork chop suey meat or pork tenderloin, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
3 medium green peppers, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
12 sandwich buns, split
Lettuce and tomatoes, optional

In a 5-qt. slow cooker, combine the first six ingredients. Stir in beef, pork, green peppers and onions. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.

Shred meat with two forks. Serve on buns with lettuce and tomatoes if desired. Yield: 12 servings. One sandwich equals 444 calories.

Image courtesy of Suat Eman at

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Finding the Next Best Thing

I wish I had kept count of the miles I have walked this summer.  We have got to be talking over five hundred.  

And oh, the things I see!  The neighborhoods I want to move into! I used to suffer from house envy, but now I've calmed down to mere neighborhood envy. 

Then again, if I picked up and moved, I would have to give up something I love, something I have never had before and will never find again--the view out my kitchen window:

It is all curved lines, and people-watching.  I can see the main boulevard through the neighborhood.  I can see the walking paths, and everybody strolling, biking or hauling their children in little red wagons.  

Up until Thursday, this wonderful view was marred by a window like this:

That middle bar sat right at eye level.  I either had to stretch or slouch to look out on all the backyard beauty.

But, all fixed now.  New window.  Thank you, Mr. Nesquik.

Of course, if I had a bathtub full of money like the folks Bryan Burrough writes about in Big Rich, I could keep the view from my kitchen window and add, oh, seven more kitchen windows, hopping from one to the other in my fleet of private planes.

In other words, I have advanced from the chapters where the tycoons discover the oil, to the part where they figure how to spend all the moola.

When we lived in Texas, my husband once sat on a plane and listened to a woman from Lubbock, "just flyin' to Dallas to get mah hair done."

With that kind of money, you don't have to choose whether to buy yourself a ranch in Montana or in Mexico.  Just buy both.   

Of course, when you move up into this league, you acquire a whole new set of problems.  One of Burrough's chapters begins with this gem somebody overheard one day in Houston: "It's been a hard day all around.  First, my wife's pet kangaroo has to go and get poisoned, and then somebody stole my midget butler's stepladder."

Back in this heyday, oilmen liked to own a few airplanes but didn't much care about buying yachts.  What cruises they took, they complained about all the wine, preferring, instead, more bourbon, more "barbecue, greens and black-eyed peas." 

Little wonder old money looked on and called these people "Texicanus vulgaris."  But who cared what old money thought?  Texans just went on throwing parties where champagne flowed out of miniature oil derricks.

In my Dallas days, I was the ward organist, just like now, and I had no car.  I had to walk to the church every Saturday, which meant meandering through Highland Park and University Park, two millionaire enclave cities surrounded by Dallas itself.  Oh, the pink marble mansions!  The broad circular driveways!  The magnolia trees and azalea bushes, everything professionally tended!  The gleaming Mercedes, Beemers and Porsches!

I could've taken dozens of different routes through this wonderland, and I aimed to try them all, no matter now hot those Texas afternoons got.  I mean, I was already hooked on walking before I arrived, but the Park Cities were like smoking walker crack. 

My walks these days are probably about finding the next best thing to Highland Park.  Pockets of loveliness abound out there.  I see beautifully terraced backyards, perfect for entertaining all one's friends.  And I covet.  I see streets where everybody can walk to the library, the grocery store and the ice cream parlor.  And I covet.  I see houses convened around darling little parks with pretty benches and paths.  And I covet.

But if I traded what I have for what I don't, there goes my perfect kitchen window, with its inimitable view.

So that's where I'll be, inside my kitchen, looking out.

Oh, and cooking things.  This week, we get:


4 cups all-purpose flour
 4-1/2 teaspoons quick-rise yeast 
2 teaspoons brown sugar 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1-1/2 cups water 
3 tablespoons olive oil 
3-1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey 
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese 
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard 
1 egg, beaten

In a large bowl, combine 3 cups flour, yeast, brown sugar and salt. In a small saucepan, heat water and oil to 120°-130°. Add to dry ingredients; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. 

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. Cover and let rest in a warm place for 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the turkey, cheese and mustard. Divide dough into eight pieces. 

On a floured surface, roll each piece into a 7-in. circle. Place filling on half of each circle. Fold dough over filling; pinch seams to seal. 

Place on greased baking sheets. Brush with egg. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Yield: 8 servings, 435 calories each. 

One reviewer said the filling was a little bland, and I agree.  She suggested using a sharper cheese.  I thought about adding more salt to the dough.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

We'll Buy More Sunday Clothes

The sound of Sunday morning around my childhood home was filing-metal sound of Mom's spoon in the saucepan, stirring the jello until the ice cubes melted.  

By dinner time, a meatloaf showed up on the table, paired with some Rice-A-Roni, some peas, and that jello, and she considered her duty fulfilled.    

But Sundays require dessert, no? 

Mama didn't trouble herself with a lot of cooking experiments when it came to family meals.   (Which doesn't meant she wasn't adventurous.  There was her cake-decorating phase, her wedding-mint phase, her sugar-Easter-eggs phase, her goose-eggs-with-birds-and-bunnies-tableau-inside phase.)  But sometimes, you don't need much to keep your sweet tooth sweet.  A little of this:

topped with a spoonful of this:

And everybody's happy.
In my case, make it Cool Whip.  Unlike my mom, I don't have cows and a steady supply of cream just begging to be eaten up.

You can put your whipped creamy stuff on: 


3/4 cup egg substitute
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 package white cake mix (regular size)
1 package (0.8 ounce) sugar-free cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix
2 tablespoons brown sugar substitute
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a bowl, beat egg substitute for 1 minute on medium speed. Add applesauce, milk, oil and vanilla; mix well. Combine remaining ingredients; gradually add to applesauce mixture. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Pour into a 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Yield: 15 servings, 225 calories each.

Or, put it on:


1 pkg. (4-serving size) jello chocolate instant pudding and pie filling mix
1 pkg. (2-layer size) chocolate cake mix
4 eggs
1 cup water
1/4 cup oil

Blend all ingredients in large mixer bowl; then beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Bake in greased and floured 10-inch tube pan at 350' for 55 to 60 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly pressed. Cool in pan 15 minutes; remove from pan. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar (1 TB).  Makes 16 servings at 225 calories each.  Not counting what you put on top of it all.

You don't suppose there's some unwitting theme here between Cool Whip and the book I'm about to hawk to you, a book about finding oil?  According to, "You don't even want to know what's in Cool Whip!"  Eat enough of its ingredients, they say, and you could end up with autism, prostate cancer (if you have a prostate), and lab rat tumors.

Their solution?  "The real stuff:   Homemade Vegan Whipped Cream."

Now, that's something I don't want to know about.

But yes, I'm reading Bryan Burrough's Big Rich and loving the tales of the four Texas men who struck oil bigtime.

There was the Sunday that the future tycoon felt sure his well would come in, so he, the wife and the little kids trooped out to the salt dome, still in their church clothes.  The drillers drilled.  They struck.  And they all danced as the black goo gushed toward the sky and rained back down on them.  What the heck?  We're rich!  We'll buy more Sunday clothes!

Then there are the boom towns, where maybe 5,000 people scratch at the earth to grow a little cotton.  Then somebody finds the oil and the population swells up to 50,000, with prospectors, gamblers, prostitutes (Burrough always mentions the prostitutes) tripping all over each other.  Naturally, there are not enough houses to put them in.  There are not enough hotel rooms. There are not enough tents.  Some people end up renting barber chairs for the night.

I haven't gotten far in Big Rich, but if the rest of the book is as good as these first chapters, floors just might not get mopped this week.  Dinners might not get cooked.  Towels may not get folded.   Bills may not get paid.

Oh, wait, I'd better not skip the bills.  Just because I'm reading about people with no money cares doesn't mean I'm one of them. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Spreading Memories on a Bagel

Finished up Julia Glass' Three Junes tonight, while sitting outside listening to the cicadas.  It was a charming-enough moment, so long as I didn't think about the bedraggled mouse carcass somebody left on the deck. 

Many times, I thought of quitting this book.  In the third June, we meet up with a woman whose list of men is long and sorry and wrong.  While weekending at a Long Island house with one of these men, and pregnant by another, nothing much happens.

Millions of us fight to get our manuscripts onto editors' desks and this one makes it through.

Apparently, it was sandwich week at our house.  After last weekend's turkey/cranberry wonder, we followed up with:


1 medium sweet yellow pepper, julienned 
1 medium sweet red pepper, julienned 
1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon pepper 
2 loaves (8 ounces each) French bread, halved lengthwise 
1/2 cup spreadable garden vegetable cream cheese 
3/4 pound thinly sliced deli smoked turkey 

In a large skillet, saute peppers and onion in oil until tender. Stir in salt and pepper. Hollow out the top and bottom of loaves, leaving a 1/4-in. shell (discard removed bread or save for another use); spread cream cheese over cut sides. Top with turkey and sauteed vegetables. Cut in half. Yield: 4 servings, 405 calories each. 

I was so sad when I took the last bite of this hoagie.  But there's a half tub of leftover garden vegetable cream cheese in the fridge.  Spread on a bagel, it goes a long way toward keeping my fond sandwich memories alive.  And I never had a thing for that cream cheese flavor before.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Almost Ravinia

Perhaps you've heard of Ravinia, the summer music venue in Chicago's North Shore suburbs.

It consists of four important elements.

1)  Music.  An orchestra plays.  What do they play?  It doesn't matter, especially if you sit in the cheap seats, i.e. the lawn.  To experience it more as background music and less like college-class appreciative listening is OK with me.

2)  The beauty of nature.  That would be the lawn, as I just mentioned, with its surrounding forest.  You could a film a movie of lords and ladies, bows, arrows and chain mail on Ravinia's grounds and probably get away with it.

3) People-watching.  Ok, no bows, arrows or chain mail showed up during my one time there.  But I'm quite sure the people parading past me and my folding chair were the lords of finance and the ladies of sorority life, people that were as accustomed to beauty and culture as I am accustomed to the aisles of Wal-Mart.  Yes, I was a tad bit out of my element.  But I paid the ticket price (the cheap lawn tickets), therefore I belonged.

4) Food.  We did the box dinner.  The sandwich was on thick artisan bread.  The brownie was solid as a brick, yet still chewable.  Stuffed with chocolate chips.  My, oh my, oh, my, what a brownie it was!  It was the kind of brownie that, when I finished, I looked over at my husband and hoped he couldn't finish his.  Too much for you?  Need any help with that?  

Sadly, my summer has not included any Ravinia.

So I did the next best thing, Indy's own Symphony on the Prairie.  This time, I packed the dinner.  I could hardly wait to get settled on the lawn and bite into Rice Krispie treats, watermelon and:


1 loaf French bread 
4 tablespoons margarine 
8 ounces sliced deli turkey meat 
8 slices provolone cheese 
8 slices precooked bacon 
4 tablespoons mayonnaise 
4 tablespoons jellied cranberry sauce 
8 slices fresh tomatoes 
4 lettuce leaves 

Preheat the oven broiler. 

Cut the bread into four pieces, and split lengthwise almost all the way through for four sandwiches. Spread margarine on the inside of each piece. Place on a baking sheet, cut side up. 

Toast bread under preheated broiler until lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove pan from the oven. 

Layer 4 pieces of bread with 2 slices each of the turkey, cheese, and bacon. Remove the remaining 4 slices of bread from the baking sheet and reserve for sandwich tops. Cool bread slightly, and spread mayonnaise onto the cut side of each of the 4 top slices. 

Place the bread with turkey and cheese under the broiler just until the cheese melts, about 1 minute. Remove from the broiler, and spread 1 tablespoon cranberry sauce over each sandwich. Layer with the tomatoes and lettuce. Place a top bread slice over each half, and serve.  YIELD: 4 sandwiches, about 830 calories each, if you use low-fat mayo and thin slices of cheese.

The only spoiler to this sandwich experience was the October-like chill out there on the prairie.  I shivered through the music.  Lots of other music-lovers had the smarts to wear long pants and closed shoes.  I seem to have a problem imagining warm days turning into cool nights.  

Another small problem with this delicious sandwich:  I opened a can of cranberry sauce, used a little bit and wonder what to do with the rest of the stuff.   So I tried:


6 chicken breasts
1 (16 ounce) can cranberry sauce (well, you're a little short, but it won't matter)
1 (8 ounce) bottle Russian-style salad dressing
1 packet dry onion soup mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Place chicken pieces in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. In a large bowl combine the cranberry sauce, salad dressing and soup mix and mix well. Pour over chicken pieces.

Cover dish and bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear. Remove cover for the last 15 minutes of baking time. YIELD: 6 servings, 395 calories each. 

Over on the Book Pile, I'm still working through Julia Glass' Three Junes.  I mentioned the Brits on vacation?  Actually, the story focuses on Paul--newspaper publisher, Scottish, widowed.  Switching  between his sight-seeing in Greece and flashbacks of his marriage, we learn that his wife seemed awfully devoted to her collie-breeding business.  Or maybe she was devoted to something or someone else?

Moving on the second June, Paul has now died.  His three sons gather for the memorial service.   We get the story from the oldest son, a gay man who chose America over family closeness.  Again, the story alternates between flashbacks of his life back in New York, where all his friends grow more emaciated with AIDS, and the "now," as the bereaved gather to remember Dad and wonder about Mom.  Then one member of the family asks somebody for a big favor.  And I mean, a BIG favor. 

I haven't gotten to the third June yet.

It's a pleasant but slow-moving story.   It's got some big cow patties, but I could see 'em coming and I flipped the page.  


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Decisions, Decisions.

Can't say I've been reading books too much this week, but I sure have been staring at them lately.  I stared at this one:

and this one: 

and this one:

I've never had to make decisions like this before.

In the last year, you probably have fifteen friends that have published a book.  Well, count me in as number sixteen because, sometime in the next few weeks, Bye-Bye Nesquik will enter the fray.

So that's what I was doing at Barnes & Noble, pulling novels off the shelves, examining how much of the body or the building or the suitcase they put into the shot, why they used those colors and most of all, why that particular image summed up everything that happens between the pages.

And oh, there's more.  Like, what the heck is web-hosting?  And how do I let a lot of people know about my book?   And, for the author photo, do I pose with the rose between my teeth or do we use the log-flume shot they sold me at Six Flags?  (Just kidding!)

But I get ahead of myself.

In the past week or so, the cover artist has been busy snapping pictures of some children we know, and of a certain brown-haired man we know, then cobbling them all together in the drawing that will become the book's cover.

Oh, and he sketched this in, too:

It's one of my vacation photos, snapped right on the college campus in the town where the book is set.  

The other night, he came over with his paints and we decided on colors for the man's tie and the lawn chair and the frosting on the cake (chocolate, of course.  What else would you expect from Bye-Bye Nesquik?)  

Oh, hey, and what about the font?  So I went and grabbed a few books currently in my possession and we discussed little picky particulars of how letters look on a page.  Hey, isn't quibbling over font usually a way to procrastinate writing that term paper or church talk?  Well, no procrastination here.  Things got done.  

Yeah, I've been staring at books a lot, just not reading them.  I managed to conquer a few pages in my current read.  So far, all I can say is that it's about some Brits touring Greece and there's a busybody in the tour group.  

If I've disappointed you with no book recommendation tonight, perhaps you can console yourself with these squishy, fragrant and strangely sweet:


1 cup water (70° to 80°)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary, crushed
3-1/4 cups bread flour
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
Additional butter, melted
Coarse salt, optional

In a bread machine pan, place the water, butter, egg, sugar, salt, seasonings, flour and yeast in order suggested by manufacturer. Select dough setting(check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed).

When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 16 portions; shape each into a ball. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

 Bake at 375° for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with butter and sprinkle with coarse salt if desired. Remove from pans to wire racks. Yield: 16 rolls, about 110 calories each.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Half Marathons for the Untrained

I must have needed the nap.

We are not morning church people this year.  We get the pleasures of sleeping in versus the pleasures of the Sunday afternoon nap.  When we arrive home, all we want to do is eat.  Bye-Bye Nesquik, if she wishes to be loved by all, had best start frying up the sausages and hunting down the measuring spoons.

But today, Bye-Bye Nesquik sat on her bed, sinking further and further down until she gave in completely.  

Little wonder.

I'm used to walking, a lot.  I can do ten miles at a stretch and still be cheerful (probably because I promise myself a Butterfinger Blizzard when I'm done).  But Friday, I decided to go for twelve miles.

Packing along extra snacks and cold water, I set out.  There was the shady park, where bikers and runners blasted past me.  There was the remote path where, on my right, I could peek through the fence at the cars speeding by on the freeway and, on the left, I saw a backlot full of old bus shelters.  There was a little restaurant row in a neighborhood that is fighting its way back from neglect.  (It's 75% there.  Keep trying.)  Then there was the nice part of town where the day spas and the art galleries lead the way into hushed neighborhoods with beautiful landscaping.

All the way along the route, I worried that I couldn't finish.  One shoe hurt. Not to mention that I was all too aware that if I turned right at the private high school campus instead of turning left, I could cheat my way back to my car sooner.

But  I didn't cheat.  And I'm glad, because it would have been sad to miss the really nice street with the tree-lined promenade down the middle.

But it was work all the way.  Twelve miles, as my daughter tells me, is just short of a half marathon.  I'm not doin' it again unless I get a picnic and a nap somewhere in the middle.  

So who's surprised that I conked out today?

However, everybody got fed.  Kinda late, but it happened.

Our Fast Sunday tradition around here is to try all new recipes:


2 (11-ounce) cans refrigerated pizza crust dough
Cooking spray
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 1/4 cups cooked Italian sausage
1 TB dried basil
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 450°. Unroll one dough portion onto a 15x10-inch baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Lay the second portion on top.  Spread and adjust to fit pan; pinch layers together to seal.

Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border, and top with sausage, basil, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and pepper.

Bake at 450° for 2 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 425° (do not remove pizza from oven), and bake an additional 12 minutes or until cheese melts. YIELD: 6 pieces, 440 calories each.


10 chocolate graham crackers (the full sheets)
1 1/2 tablespoons butter or stick margarine, melted
1 large egg white
Cooking spray
4 cups vanilla fat-free frozen yogurt
3 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon fat-free milk
1 (2.1-ounce) Butterfinger bar, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°. Crush graham crackers in a ziploc bag.  Add butter and egg white; mix with fingers until moist. Press crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes; cool on a wire rack 15 minutes. Freeze 15 minutes.

Remove yogurt from freezer, and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to soften.

Spoon half of yogurt into prepared crust. Combine the corn syrup, peanut butter, and milk in a small bowl, stirring until smooth. Drizzle half of the peanut butter mixture over the yogurt in crust. Sprinkle with half of chopped candy bar. Repeat the procedure with remaining yogurt, peanut butter mixture, and candy bar. Cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for 3 hours or until firm.YIELD: 6 pieces, 325 calories each. 

Over on the Book Pile, we're attempting Toni Morrison's A Mercy.  Ms. Morrison deserves to sit at the right hand of the masterful William Faulkner.

Trouble is, I can't abide Faulkner.

Ms. Morrison's story jerks forward and backward.  I would like to like this book, but with all its artful ambiguity, I cannot keep everybody straight.  Now, who's on the farm?  Who is the mistress of all this?  Who's pregnant?  Who lost a baby? 

Does she think readers lock themselves away in a lonely cabin, wholly absorbed, stopping only to brew a cup of tea or stand on the deck and gaze out over the valley?  I myself squeeze in a few pages after adding up last month's receipts, and a few more sitting in the food court at the mall, and a few more while waiting for my grandson to punch and kick his way through karate class.  Every reading session feels like I'm opening an entirely new book.  It doesn't help that the horse is named Regina and the people are named Sorrow and Patrician, unless I am missing some five-star symbolism here.

I read on, pretty much lost.  I shouldn't have to work this hard.

Although if Ms. Morrison can find me a lonely cabin with a scenic back deck, I will really buckle down on this thing.