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Posts Tagged ‘Favor Johnson: A Christmas Story’

DSCN7010Sun. Glorious sun. It visited me here on the Cutoff. It warmed my bones as it cast its rays over a precarious pile of TBR books, and illustrated the need to chase the dust motes away.

I have been spending time reading Willem Lange, who wrote a favorite story of mine, Favor Johnson, can also be found in Lange’s Tales From the Edge of the Woods. A compilation of  stories from radio broadcasts, “Where Does the Wild Goose Go”, sits on the top of this pile. It has kept company on these bitter, cold days.

Just under Lange’s autobiographical book of essays is a reader’s copy of a book I loved. You will, too.  “Not Without My Father” by Andra Watkins is a companion book to her breakthrough adventure/mystery/ghostly book,  “To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis”.  I wrote about here.

“Not Without My Father” is about Andra, and her father Roy, an engaging, larger-than-life, storyteller extraordinaire. Roy was Andra’s “wingman” as she hiked the Natchez Trace in 2014. It was a remarkable personal achievement, and an arduous trek, to promote “To Live Forever. . . “.

“Not Without My Father” is their story;  a father and a daughter and their lifelong journey, as well as their very personal adventure along the Natchez Trace.  More information can be found here,

“Half Broke Horses”, midway down the stack, is by Jeannette Walls. It is my book discussion group’s January selection.  Does anyone else cram for their book discussions? Here I am, in the winter of my life, still pulling “all nighters”. I know it will be a lively discussion later this week, but, I do need to get cracking on it. Our little book group has been meeting for 27 years!  We are pre-Oprah – and still going strong. We read Walls’ autobiographical work, “The Glass Castle”, a few years ago. It kept us chatting well into the night. I’m sure we will have a similar discussion with “Half Broke Horses”.

“All The Light We Cannot See”, by Anthony Doer, is on loan from my dear friend, Marilyn, who keeps me challenged with insightful reads.  Highly acclaimed, this is certain to keep me turning the pages; soon. I hope. Have you read it?

There are a few Pulitzer’s on my pile, as well as a biography I brought home from the library; “Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Her Life”, by Susan Hertog. I will need to renew it soon. So it goes with my best intentions – they are forever being renewed. How marvelously convenient it is that library books can be renewed in the middle of the night in the comforts of home.

“The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on forty dollars a week)”, is doing its best to hold up two-thirds of the pile. It came home with me last fall when I discovered it in the Morton Arboretum’s gift shop. I was rather intrigued by such a long title, and, of course, it IS about food. I have read a bit of it and can’t wait to take a bigger bite.

Enough, already, about dust motes and the best intentions of this sluggish reader. I think I will pour myself  a cup of some freshly brewed coffee, whose aroma is as intriguing as “The Feast Nearby …”,  and maybe savor an Ethel cookie from the diminishing Christmas stash.

What are you reading? What awaits you on your literary pile? Do you always read what is in your pile of books?

Ethel Cookie on Cup:Saucer

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DSCN6229In between leisurely walks in the Autumn woods, raking leaves, or conjuring up soups, late afternoons will often find me these days curled in a leafy corner somewhere, pages of words in my hands.  It might  be a cookbook, a vintage copy of Victoria magazine,  or Laline Paull’s “The Bees”, which will be our garden club’s January book discussion.

This afternoon found me in the arbor, sycamore leaves the size of dinner plates rearranging themselves here, there, and everywhere. The sun wove through the latticework. A light jacket kept me warm from the chill in the air and William Lange’s “Tales from the Edge of the Woods”  kept me company.

I’ve come to appreciate Willem Lange’s writings since Favor Johnson took up residence on a bookshelf one Christmas. You can read about my copy of “Favor Johnson” here.

“Tales from the Edge of the Woods” is a lovely collection of memories and words in short tales with titles like Sliding on a Shovel, Not Love at First Sight, or The Old Canoe, not to mention Favor Johnson. These are well varnished stories of folks you may know, or wish you did, and simple reflections on life.  I hope Mr. Lange won’t mind too terribly if I quote a few words from the story that found me in the arbor today, The Carpenter and the Honeybee. You will need to find “Tales from the Edge of the Woods”, which is available in all the ordinary bookish places, or from his website to read the whole story.

From The Carpenter and the Honeybee by Willem Lange

“She was a honeybee. Just as I was about to put my hand down upon her accidentally, my unconscious mind hollered, “Look out!” and the reflex jerked my arm back. I staggered, out of balance. If she noticed the close call we had both had, she gave no sign, and continued to try to wedge herself into that crack. Intrigued, I put down my plank and bent down to watch her. I wondered for a moment, as I pulled my specs down my nose, the better to see her up close, how it would feel to have a bee sting right on the end of my nose.”

Favor Johnson is a story from “Tales from the Edge of the Woods” as well as a children’s book.

Do you have some favorite books of short stories, memories, or essays?

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favor-johnson-jkt-lgIf you are new to my ramblings here on the Cutoff, you may not yet realize that I love children’s literature as much as I love any other genre. Those of you who have been visiting my neck of the woods for a while would not be surprised to know that I have a collection of children’s literature that I bring out come December and savor until January or that my family and friends know that I will always purr with delight if gifted with a child centered book.

I’m purring right now, dear reader, for Antler Man, aka Tom, gift wrapped ( in children’s wrapping paper) a book I’ve been wanting. He placed it beneath our Christmas tree where it awaited my childlike glee as I unwrapped it on Christmas morn.

“Favor Johnson: A Christmas Story” is written by Willem Lange, a short story writer and radio commentator from Vermont The book is illustrated by Bert Dodson with nostalgic scenes of Favor  Johnson, his farm, his beloved dog, Hercules, and the nearby town.

This is a simple story of how a quiet farmer who keeps to himself, Favor Johnson, comes to make fruitcake in tin cans and delivers them to his neighbors on Christmas Eve after a neighbor, Dr. Jenkins, saves his dog’s life. Is is about neighborliness and how one act of kindness can lead to others, in the most remarkable ways.

Like all good children’s books, “Favor Johnson: A Christmas Story” is really a story for all ages and would make a lovely gift to an adult, including yourself, my friend. It is a stunningly simple reminder of giving to others in the simplest of ways as we read of Favor “A man in overalls and an old red-and-black checked jacket” trudging up stairs and knocking on doors,  driving from house to house on Christmas Eve and leaving his packages wrapped in aluminum foil.

It is a timely book, not just for Christmas, but as a call to action as we embrace the New Year. A call to give a bit of oneself to others in whatever way we can, like Favor Johnson and his tin cans of fruitcake.

I will be offline for several days, but wanted to tell you about Favor Johnson – and to wish you the best in the new year ahead!

The bookcover above is  from Willem Lange’s website. It can be found here.

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