Monday, June 20, 2011

July 2011: The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Meeting Details:
We are meeting on Thursday July 7th at Michelle's house.  Meeting to start at 7:30pm.  Michelle has arranged for Cathy to "skype" in to our conversation at 8:30 for about 45 min.  She will give an introduction to the book, talk about it a bit and answer any questions that we may have.  Should be lots of fun - so you won't want to miss out!

Menu: "Picnic by the Falls"
Homemade bread and Jam at the Loretto Academy - Sherrie
Wedding Day apple tart - Chandra
Isabel's very berry meringue - Tessa
Tom's lemon bars- Kate
drinks - Michelle

Discussion Questions:
1. Did you enjoy the book?  Why or why not?
2. Has our perception of Niagara Falls changed over time? Will you look at it differently after having read The Day the Falls Stood Still? Does having read it make you want to visit Niagara Falls?
3.  Bess loses her faith in God midway through the book, and Tom comes home from the war a broken man. What parallels are there, if any?
4. Kit once says to Bess, “You’re getting more and more like Isabel” (p. 274). What does Kit mean? Is she right?
5.  Why is it that Tom is able to predict the whims of the Niagara River? Intuition? Second sight? Keener perception than most? Fergus whispering in his ear? What would Bess say? Would her explanation change over the course of the book? What would Tom say?
6. Just before abandoning the rope tethered to Jesse and plunging into the whirlpool, Tom says, “Believe in me, Bess” (p. 289). What does he mean? Does he know how the events of the day will unfold?
7.  Bess wonders if she would have blamed Tom had he not gone in after Jesse. She asks herself, “Had Tom imagined what afterward would have been like and seen what I did? Had it edged him closer to the whirlpool?” (p. 295) How valid is Bess’s guilt?
8. Do you think Isabel goes to the falls with intent? Or is she seized by a sudden impulse at the brink of the falls?
9.  What sort of life do you imagine for Jesse? Will he feel Tom’s guiding hand? Be racked with guilt? Will he be Niagara’s next great riverman?
10.  What do you think about Fergus’s story being revealed to the reader through newspaper articles? How else could his story have been told? Would it have been as effective?
11.  Given what we now know about the carbon dioxide emissions and pollution caused by coal-mining and -burning, would Tom feel differently about the diversion of water for hydroelectricity today?  Hydroelectricity has a reputation as clean energy. How warranted is the reputation?
12.  In The Day the Falls Stood Still, true to history, Sir Adam Beck’s Hydro-Electric Power Commission uses the Hydro Circus, the Hydro Lamp magazine, Hydro stores, advertisements, and floats in parades to up the demand for electricity. How responsible are the power companies for creating today’s consumer society? How has their role changed?  
13.  In a letter home to Bess, Tom describes the Niagara River on occasions when unusual weather had restricted the river’s flow. He goes on to say, “The Niagara wasn’t all that different from any other river in the world, definitely not something that would cause a man walking by to stop, and maybe fill with wonder for a bit and be lifted up from the drudgery of his day” (p. 169). How valid is the awe that Tom describes as a reason to preserve nature
(questions selected from 


Bread and Jam Treats...
Choose a nutty wholegrain bread.  Spread with softened cream cheese and a thick layer of sweet jam.  If you want to be especially pampered society girls, cut off the crusts.

  • Nutty Tuna Sandwiches
  • Combine:
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tuna, drained and flaked
  • 1 hard-cooked egg, chopped
  • 1 green onion, sliced 
  • 1/4 c celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped salted peanuts or almonds
  • 1/4 cup prepared ranch dressing
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

  • Butter multigrain bread; load on the filling and top with lettuce leaves.

Very Berry Meringue

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 quart fresh berries
  1. Place egg whites in a large mixing bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1-1/4 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle cornstarch over egg white mixture; fold in. Fold in lemon juice and extract.
  2. Coat a 14-in. pizza pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon meringue onto pan, forming a 12-in. circle build up edges slightly. Bake at 250 degrees F for 45-55 minutes or until crisp. Cool on pan on a wire rack.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Spoon over meringue; arrange berries over top. Serve immediately.

Charm Cake:
Using your own recipe or your favorite box cake mix, bake a 2 layer round cake in 8" or 9" cake pans.  When the cake is cool, place the charms on ribbons between the layers and frost the whole cake.  Before eating, allow each guest to pull a ribbon to find a charm.
Charms can include - ring (soon to be married) heart true love) thimble (spinster) car/plane travel) light bulb (bright idea) coin (fortune) camera (fame) baby carriage/rattle (baby on the way) telephone (good news) star (wish come true) dolphin (playful fun) butterfly (something of great beauty coming your way)

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