Tag Archives: Gentle Giants

Happy Families

November 2017 Nobody Hosts Meeting @ Liz’s
– A recovery set back…we switched from Chinese restaurant to delivery at her home
– Karen C., Marie, and Viviane were missed (to manage their family priorities).


  • Katie brought electric tea kettle and Chinese green tea to keep with the original (location) plan. Mary brewed it up ever-so-nicely.
  • Oh, dang it! most of us forgot our homework – a title for the January Read draw. Mad searching on Liz’s (weird, slightly uncooperative) laptop and other phones
  • This set up various sidebar conversations & levels of focus that lasted until we sat down, so not all interactions will be noted.
  • Also, Yours Truly took over ordering for everyone. There was some general head-nodding and calls of ‘chicken’ or ‘not too spicy’ with one definitive ‘my kids like Happy Families’ (not a philosophical statement, but a favorite menu item…& now, an appropriate blog post title), but the process again took away from general chatter recording. #excuses #legit
  • Who watched Gilmore Girls & was it because your girls did? (Pretty much, yes). What other shows were family favorites? (a mixed bag)
  • Liz’s Injury Recap:  hip painkillers masked chronic back warning twinges >>> back pulled while making bed (proposal: that bed is dangerous; burn it). And, yes, she’s overdoing it as a general state of being.
  • Sue’s Retirement Mansion in Florida – a few more details…the more we learn, the better it sounds. C’mon, Steve…get ready to retire soon.
  • Mary’s Catherine moving to Chicago by January. Moving ‘everything’ in the car & driving her out. Oh, the fun.
  • Karen S’s Christopher back from a NZ adventure. Harvey being fabulously Harvey.
  • Some crazy boys (KS’s Daniel, Liz’s David, & anyone else from Bootleg DNA???) going Wild Boar Hunting somewhere in Appalachia #ofcourse (which state?) with a ‘responsible, adult’ guide. #ihearbanjoes
  • Kitty’s house goes on the market in ~February. They’ve seen great options in the Annapolis area. Local goal for the work week:  Bethesda digs within 2 blocks of Kitty’s office. All the better for Kitty to continue to NOT go out with the ‘hundreds of millenials’ she works with (and who continue to invite her).
  • Katelyn finishing NYC Marathon (with Katie & Catherine & others) cheering her on. [Katie didn’t make the entrance lottery; she did her 26.2 race in DC the week prior.]
  • Shelley making various funny comments all while madly trying to find ‘a Canada book’ for the January pick in honor of Kirstie staying in the Great White North (well, Toronto).


The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss hearts of horses molly gloss

Katie picked it because:

  1. Volunteering at Gentle Giants triggered a Renaissance of All Things Horses for Katie.
  2. Didn’t want to read Horse Whisperer, Black Beauty, War Horse, or anything that dwells on the ugly. Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes (Me Before You) seemed just a bit too chicklit for Katie & Bootleg.
  3. Just read The Summer Before the War by Simonson and …Horses is of a very similar era and focuses on similar yet very different kind of young women in a very opposite setting from The Summer... upper class Edwardian England. So the compare/contrast was a rich opportunity.
  4. Katie had just watched ‘Buck’ about the real horse whisperer, Buck Brannaman, and wanted more horse life & training insights like this (but couldn’t find any of his nonfiction books in the library).


  • Everyone read at least most of it. Karen S. couldn’t get a copy in time but plans to read the copy she finally got. We did a pretty complete plot summary.
  • Overall, thumbs up from everyone. Even Viviane made a point to share positive comments (after the meeting). It’s such distinct slice of American life and time. The ‘realness of real people’ struck all of us (in a manner akin to The Bartender’s Tale).
  • Family dynamics & fortitude also reminded us of The Glass Castle and even more directly of Half-Broke Horses, both by Jeannette Walls.
  • PHEW! (says Katie) – It was a huge risk doing a ‘horse book,’ esp. with Kitty sounding an email alarm about fearing a sobfest. But while this one did not shy away from harsh realities and how some so-called horsemen broke horses, it did a great job of staying with Martha’s methods and demeanor – esp. when sharing details and horse development
  • We enjoyed how ~90% of the book had an easy, looping style of present, past, future – no rush to share details, but all attended to and accounted for (like Martha Lessen)
  • The last bit just before she agreed to marry certainly was faster than the rest. Was this a page count thing? Or did it reflect Martha’s pattering heart or some other aspect of her transition to community & happy family life?
  • Martha’s appearance, ‘style,’ goals, and book-loving ways = so appealing
  • Horse how-to info very satisfying and inspiring; yet also not all prettied up or modernized. Ugly reality laced in (but not overwhelming)
  • Great contrast to The Summer Before the War (several of us had read this independently of Bootleg); & similarities like women’s rights, patriotism, hardscrabble life of the un-rich, freedom from negative family, local politics, charming romance
  • Tom/cancer- painfully accurate (Katie had to skip a lot); horrible and beautiful
  • Riding the circle to train horses was a cool concept and also a great writer gimmick to bring in all the families
  • Changing POV was good
  • Eastern Oregon – ‘wild west’ is less wild than Martha wants, but still wild. Does this reflect Martha, too? She vows to never marry & seems rather rough, but she actually segues into community life and romance quite readily. She keeps her standards, but is somewhat surprisingly quick/quiet to acquiesce on some issues (esp. marriage & continuing to ‘ride out alone’).
  • George & Louise Bliss, El Bayad, Will Wright, the old sisters Emma Adelaide & Aileen, Henry Frazer (beau), German family (Belgians over the cliff with wagon), Rumer (?) family (ptomaine poisoning & broken arm; drunk) – All these characters were well-liked (or thoroughly and appropriately disdained) by us. Their arcs were real. Dialogue was, too. Each brought out another facet of Martha and of life in that setting, time, place.
  • Insights on medicine (cancer, doctor’s hours, awaiting help, birth/delivery) were distinct yet integral to plot and/or character development. (Yes, there was a birth, Liz). Such an interesting period of some knowledge, but mostly hardscrabble grit as a key part of the ‘healing’ process.
  • Title okay, but did not really delve into the horses’ hearts – saw some good evidence, though of this (e.g. the German couples’ horses that had fallen off the road…no panic, strength, patience).
  • Martha’s romance – really was sweet (even the rather obvious foreshadowing didn’t ruin it). The dance, the skating party & hike to Native Am art – all good scenes. But, did she enter too easily? Give up too many dreams? We think not and the ‘epilogue’ seems to confirm that it works out.


  • Yours Truly must say so herself:  Dessert was awesome. Fresh, triple chocolate brownies with 3 toppings choices:  whipped cream, caramel sauce, and/or homemade maple icing (thx, Katelyn E). We all had it all. #yum #dangerous
  • Picking the January Title
    • Several cries of, “You all are going to be so mad if you pick mine!”
    • Same exact pieces of paper (thx, Mary). But, wait! How do we fold them to be identical. One fold? Two? Origami (you’re so funny, Karen S.)?
    • Pick #1:  Mary selects. She passes it for another to read, but… ACK!!! Two papers are slotted together. Mary is vindicated; the multiple fold is in order.
    • Pick #2:  It’s Shelley’s pick! She’s happy! She’s worried! It’s so new, she knows nothing about it. Tension builds as Sue checks…it’s NOT in the library. Alas.
    • Pick #3:  All goes well. It’s Katie’s pick & she’s not even sure if it’s a full Gaiman story or an anthology of myths that have been Gaiman-ized. We all shall see… NORSE MYTHOLOGY by Neil Gaiman
  • December:  Liz had wanted to do a Bootleg Bookless Tea again. Her status may preclude this. So, we are awaiting a Last Minute Call (if she feels up to it). Also… for those of you who actually read these minutes… Katie could host a Tea. Comment or email, if this appeals.
  • January:  Date tbd. It seems Katie and Karen S. (host) need to decide on it. Anyone know when a winter storm is predicted to come?