“Hudson Valley” Magazine

About the only time I get to read this magazine is in the doctor’s office.  I am glad we are now subscribing to it. 

Although its pages contain numerous ads for local restaurants, shops, etc., there were quite a few interesting articles.  I really enjoyed reading “The Picnic That Won the War.”  In June of 1939, King George and Queen Elizabeth were visiting Canada in an effort to mend fences after the abdication of Edward VII.  FDR extended an invitation to the royal couple to spend a few relaxing days with him at Hyde Park.  He didn’t want any fancy receptions or formal ceremonies.  The State Department, however, felt the royal couple had to make this, at least partially, a formal visit.  So they visited Mount Vernon, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and a CCC camp in Virginia.

However, FDR did bring the couple to Hyde Park for a few relaxing days.  One of the highlights of the visits was a picnic attended by the royal couple, FDR and family and also staff workers, gardeners, etc.  One of things on the menu were hot dogs.  Queen Elizabeth used a knife and fork to eat hers; the king dug in and used his fingers.

FDR knew war was on the horizon.  He wanted to convince the people of the US that we needed to side with the British in the coming conflict.  He hoped that the visit would endear the couple to Americans.  FDR knew what he was doing when he served hot dogs at that picnic.

In a sidebar story, the new movie “Hyde Park on the Hudson” is described.  This is a semi-fictionalized account of the relationship between FDR and Daisy Suckley.  This movie has gotten good press.  It officially opens on December 7.

Another Elinor Lipman

The Ladies’ Man is the story of three sisters and Harvey Nash who failed to show up at his engagement party to Adele, the oldest sister.  He skedadled to California and reinvented himself as Nash Harvey, a jingle composer and confirmed bachelor.

After 30 years he returns to Boston and his appearance changes the sisters lives once again. Adele wants nothing to do with him and finds herself flirting with her boss on live television (she’s a fund raiser). Lois, the middle sister, revives her long cherished notion that Harvey abandoned Adele rather than show the family his preference for her. (Lois is the only sister who has married and divorced, after finding out her husband was a cross dresser.) Kathleen, the youngest, feels free to flirt with her doorman, where she runs an upscale Victoria’s Secret.

Through all of this, Nash cannot control his platinum tongue and roving eye, bedding, or trying to, various ladies he encounters.

This book would make a great screwball comedy.

P.S. I wrote Ms. Lipman a fan post card after I read she lived in “The Osborne” which was in an article in the NYTimes as being one of the buildings evacuated because of the dangling crane. The article mentioned several famous people who lived there and she was one.

“Sweet Tooth”

I have been trying to read Ian McEwan’s newest novel, “Sweet Tooth” for over two weeks.  I finally reached page 100 and couldn’t remember important details of what I had read.  I guess that was a sign that I should stop for now.

Set in England in the 1970s, it is the story of a young girl who loves literature but has a great gift for mathematics.  At university, she majors in math but spends most of her time reading.  After a love affair with one of her professors that ends badly, she moves to London and gets a job with MI-5.  She is basically a clerk because women weren’t considered fit for “spy work.”

That’s about as far as I got.  Has anyone else read “Sweet Tooth?”  If so, should I picked it up again?

The Secret book of Frida Kahlo

This book is a novelization of Frida Kahlo’s life. It was inspired by recently found notebooks containing recipes and writings of the artist.  She nearly died as a young girl in a streetcar accident, and suffered pain the rest of her life. It is a fascinating read. She and Diego Rivera led high profile lives, knowing  people like Trotsky, Rockefeller (and the famous destroyed mural), Hemingway, Dali, Henry Miller, Dos Passos. Their relationship was totally rocky, both having many adulterous affairs, separating and reconciling many times. Much of her painting was inspired by her pain. She is quoted as saying “I suffered two grave accidents in my life. . . one in which a streetcar knocked me down and the other was Diego.” Cooking and mysticism play large parts in the book. I thought I would try a recipe or two but many of the ingredients are chilies I’ve never heard of. The author is F. G. Haghenbeck (doesn’t sound Mexican but is).