Book Review: Christmas in Dairyland
Christmas in Dairyland
by LeAnn R. Ralph
Published by LeAnn R. Ralph
E6689 970th Ave. Colfax, WI 54730
Printed by Booklocker.com" target="_new">Booklocker.com
$13.95, 2003, 153 pages
Description of the Book
Christmas in Dairyland is a collection of short, true stories about a little girl growing up on a small dairy farm in Wisconsin in the early 1960s. The book tells of life for a young girl and her family-her father, who did the farming; her mother who, despite being disabled by polio, took care of the house and cooking; and a much older brother and sister, both of whom worked and contributed their incomes to the family.
The stories recall preparations for Christmas at home, school, and church, how LeAnn learned about her Norwegian heritage and, most important, the love that pervaded this close-knit mid-20th century American family. As a bonus, Christmas in Dairyland includes tried and true recipes for many of the Norwegian heritage foods featured in the stories, including lefse (wafer-thin potato bread), Julekake (a rich Christmas bread), fattigman (a deep-fried sweet cookie), and a variety of traditional Christmas cookies. For the more adventurous, there is a recipe for lutefisk (cod that has been preserved in lye). Finally, the book includes instructions for making colorful candles using old crayons, paraffin, ice cubes, and milk cartons.
About the Book
This is a heartwarming book about a vanishing way of life. Small dairy farms, with around 30 milking cows, were plentiful when the author was growing up and they provided a warm and loving home for hundreds of thousands of families back then. There are few left today, as small farms have been abandoned, sold for development, or gobbled up by industrial-scale farming operations. Small dairy farms can no longer provide for a family's financial needs. Even then it was a real struggle. But, though such families were often well below the poverty level in strictly financial terms, they were usually wealthy in love and family relationships, as these stories show.
One or more members of the family-the wife, a son, or daughter-usually had an outside job that contributed to the family income. And the farm usually provided sustenance-milk, beef, pork, chicken, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, and other produce, while mothers and daughters sewed and knitted to supplement clothing needs.. Most important, farm life developed close-knit, loving families that were strong on self-reliance, responsibility, and respect for hard work. My own wife grew up on such a farm and I have often heard her stories about the joys and difficulties-mostly joys-of growing up that way.
LeAnn R. Ralph's stories tell of the excitement of making ornaments and decorating the Christmas tree in her school room each year (another bygone era) and at home. The annual expedition with her father to select the "just right" tree from the stand of red pine on their farm was one of many experiences that built a strong bond between father and daughter. Then there was the year that she and her older sister climbed a large pine to cut off the very top for their tree because all the other pines had grown so much.
LeAnn learned to make lefse from her mother and tells of the mouth-watering aroma of the freshly made, thin Norwegian bread as she came home from school. "By itself, lefse didn't really taste like much, but once it was spread with butter, sprinkled with sugar and rolled into a log, I would have happily eaten nothing but lefse for breakfast, dinner and supper." It made my mouth water just to read about it and I was happy to find LeAnn's recipe for lefse (and other goodies) at the end of the book.
This is a good book for all ages, from pre-teens through octogenarian. The writing is clear, simple, and direct, easily read by young children, but not so simple as to put off adult readers. Children will connect with
LeAnn's description of a young girl's life on the farm, helping Dad with the chores, helping Mom wrap Christmas presents, yearning for a toboggan, and being surprised by her brother's purchase of a saddle for her pony, Dusty. They'll understand her attempts to get out of wearing boots, heavy coats, and mittens on warm winter days, "just because it might get cold." And some will relate to LeAnn's stark fear of having to stand up in front of all the people at church to sing a solo-memorized in Norwegian-of an old-country Christmas carol. Older folks will feast on the nostalgia, and may get tears in their eyes as they learn how that Norwegian carol affected one old woman in the congregation. People from all generations will enjoy the depiction of a close, loving family as it prepares for and enjoys Christmas in Dairyland.
About the reviewer: Boyd Sutton is president of Northwest Regional Writers and a member of the Yarnspinners critique group. He served for 11 years in the U.S. Army Infantry and Intelligence and wrote professionally as an analyst and manager with CIA for 27 years. He enjoys writing essays, fiction, and humor and has been published in local papers and magazines. Boyd won the Wisconsin Regional Writers' Assoc. Florence Lindemann Humor Contest in 2003. He is working on a spy novel and a nonfiction book addressing how Christian denominational doctrine ("Churchianity") sometimes interferes with Christianity.
About The Author
LeAnn R. Ralph is the author of the books: "Christmas in Dairyland (True Stories from a Wisconsin Farm) and "Give Me a Home Where the Dairy Cows Roam." For more information, visit: ruralroute2.com" target="_new">http://ruralroute2.com; email@example.com
In a decision handed down by the U.S. Trade Representative Tuesday morning, Bibles and other religious books were not included on the first list of products imported from China that would be subjected to 10% tariffs starting September 1. Bible publishers were especially worried about the possibility of tariffs on Bibles made in China, since few printers outside of China have the capability of manufacturing Bibles.
Little, Brown, in conjunction with the estate of J.D. Salinger, announced plans to release e-book editions of Salinger's four works of fiction, marking the first time his books have been available in a digital format.
The release of the four books—The Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey, and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour—An Introduction—in e-book editions (with new cover designs) marks a continuing year-long centennial celebration of Salinger's acclaimed works of fiction.
A JRR Tolkien expert working on Amazon's forthcoming multi-series adaptation of Tolkien's work has claimed that Amazon has been refused permission by the estate to use the bulk of the plot from The Lord of the Rings in their $1bn adaptation (predicted to start production in 2020).
Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey, who is supervising the show's development, told German fansite Deutsche Tolkien that the estate has refused to allow the series to be set during any period other than the Second Age of Middle-earth. This means Amazon's adaptation will not cross over at all with events from the Third Age, which were dramatised in Peter Jackson's Oscar-winning trilogy in which the hobbit Frodo Baggins journeys to destroy the One Ring.
Spanning 3,441 years, the Second Age begins after the banishment of the dark lord Morgoth and ends with the first demise of Sauron, Morgoth's servant and the primary villain in The Lord of the Rings, at the hands of an alliance of elves and men.
In The Washington Post, eight black women share their thoughts on the life and work of Toni Morrison, including Michelle Obama:
"..For me and for so many others, Toni Morrison was that first crack in the levee — the one who freed the truth about black lives, sending it rushing out into the world. She showed us the beauty in being our full selves, the necessity of embracing our complications and contradictions. And she didn't just give us permission to share our own stories; she underlined our responsibility to do so. She showed how incomplete the world's narrative was without ours in it..."
Elliott Advisors has completed its purchase of Barnes & Noble. The acquisition was officially completed when more than 81% of B&N's shares were tendered by the August 6 deadline.
As a result of the deal, B&N becomes a private company controlled by the private equity firm Elliott Advisors, which also owns the U.K. bookstore chain Waterstones. As a result of the acquisition, for which Elliott paid $6.50 per share in a deal valued at $683 million, James Daunt, head of Waterstones, will run both the U.K. chain and B&N. B&N founder Len Riggio will have no formal role in company.
Toni Morrison, the 1993 Nobel laureate in literature, whose acclaimed, best-selling work explored black identity in America and in particular the experience of black women, died on Monday in the Bronx. She was 88.
Her death, at Montefiore Medical Center, was announced by her publisher, Alfred A. Knopf. A spokeswoman said the cause was complications of pneumonia. Ms. Morrison lived in Grand View-on-Hudson, N.Y.
President Trump announced yesterday afternoon that he is prepared to impose 10% tariffs on $300 billion worth of goods imported from China in retaliation for what he views as China's failure to follow through on promises to buy more agricultural products from the U.S. and to stop the flow of Fentanyl into the country. The tariffs would be imposed on September 1, and would cover a wide range of consumer products, including virtually all books.
The new tariff threat comes a little more than a month after Trump suspended plans to place 25% tariffs on the same group of products (referred to by the U.S. Trade Representative as List 4) after trade talks with China resumed...
The author of a bestselling Christian guide to relationships for young people has announced that his marriage is over and he has lost his faith.
Joshua Harris, whose biblical guide to relationships I Kissed Dating Goodbye sold nearly 1m copies around the world after it was published in 1997, has also apologized to LGBT+ people for contributing to a "culture of exclusion and bigotry".
Colin A. Palmer, a historian who broadened the understanding of the African diaspora, showing that the American slave trade was only one part of a phenomenon that spanned centuries and influenced cultures worldwide, died on June 20 in Kingston, Jamaica. He was 75.
More than a year after imposing a controversial four month "test" embargo on new release e-books in libraries from its Tor imprint, Macmillan announced today that it will now impose a two month embargo on library e-books across all of the company's imprints.
Under the publisher's new digital terms of sale for libraries, "library systems" will be now be allowed to purchase a single—that is, one—perpetual access e-book during the first eight weeks of publication for each new Macmillan release, at half price ($30). Additional copies will then be available at full price (generally $60 for new releases) after the eight-week window has passed. All other terms remain the same...
Macmillan is now the fourth Big Five publisher to change its terms for digital content in libraries in recent months—but its changes, and the views expressed by Macmillan CEO John Sargent, are by far the most unique and contentious of the group. In a July 25 memo (addressed to authors, illustrators, and agents), Sargent not only delivered the news of Macmillan's library e-book changes, he basically called out libraries for depressing author payments...