Jun 30, 2010

Rest in Peace Katie Quintero

We learned that Armando's mother passed away on Sunday.  With sadness and sympathy, we extend our condolences to Armando and his family.  Below is Katie's obituary. 

Catherine Rangel Quintero, loving matriarch of a long-time Martinez family, passed away peacefully with her family by her side on June 27th, 2010. Born February 23, 1931 in Ontario, California, she moved to Martinez in the 1940‘s. She met and married her brothers best friend, the late Frank Quintero, in 1955, and raised eight children.

She loved to sing, and was a member of the St. Catherine’s of Siena choir throughout her 55 years as a dedicated parishioner. She was a “Singing Messenger”, entertaining the elderly community with song, dance and humor. She danced her way through life, both literally and figuratively, gracefully embracing life challenges, as well as taking to the floor with her husband and her closest companion, Gloria Quintero, nearly every weekend. As a member of the Guadalupana Society, she volunteered her time and services by creating a local Ballet Folklorico dance troupe when her children were young, teaching dancing and organizing performances for local events. When she and her husband Frank bought a Union 76 gas station in downtown Martinez, she became the iconic “service with a smile” for all local residents. She was a member of Chi Lambda, Young Ladies Institute, Maria Auxiliadora and in her final years, kept active in the Forget-Me-Nots program at the Martinez Senior Center.

Known as “Katie” to most, as “Cat” to long-time friends and family, and as “Uela” or “Ueli” to her grandchildren, she will always be remembered for her unconditional love and acceptance of everyone whose path she crossed, providing gentle reminders to live each moment with the grace of God, and to live by the golden rule-- to treat others exactly the way you wish to be treated. She leaves her legacy as inspired joy within each person who knew her well, and will continue to live on as a constant presence, angel and spiritual guide.

Catherine was the youngest of eleven children. She was predeceased by her husband Frank Quintero, her brothers Catalino Mora, Lupe Rangel, Benjamin Rangel, Salvador Rangel and Alfonso Rangel, and her sisters Dolores Mora Perez, and Sister Maria Teresa, O.S.F. She is survived by her sisters Ester Perez of Concord, CA. and Grace Arellano of Ontario, CA., and her brother Louis Rangel of Martinez. She leaves eight children and their families, Armando Quintero and Brigid Breen and their daughters Lily and Isabella; Eduardo and Phyllis Quintero, their children Joshua and Maria, and their daughter-in-law Heather; Patricia and Dave Brouillette and their sons Wiley and Jesse; Juanita Lynn Quintero and her children Mickey, Mikaela, Frank, Karleena and Corigan; Marialicia and George Pangilla and their children Preston and Sadie; Leticia and Bill Ralls and their children Katie and Jack; Raquel and Jim Lakeman and their sons Frank and Louie, and Shanti Kim Quintero and Brian Johnson and their daughters Sidy and Miya. The family extends their love and deep appreciation to her longtime friend and caregiver, Maria Luisa.

Visitation will be on Wednesday, June 30th, beginning at 5:00 p.m. to be immediately followed with the Rosary at 7:00 p.m. The funeral mass will be held at 10:00 a.m. on July 1st. All services will take place at Saint Catherine of Siena Church.

In lieu of flowers or other contributions, donations may be made to Hospice of the East Bay, 3470 Buskirk Avenue, Pleasant Hill 94523 and Alzheimer’s Association at Northern California and Northern Nevada, 1060 La Avenida Street, Mountain View, CA 94043.

Jun 24, 2010

Paul's Perfect Paella

On Monday evening, we were invited to dine in the hills of Larkspur—or, as one of our more parochial members put it, the rump of Marin. The address was not 32 Avenida del Tibidabo, the venue was not the Aldaya Mansion, and none of Fermin Romero de Torres’ signature sandwiches was on our menu. Instead, Paul’s home and his hospitality met and raised Zafon on every count. His beautifully rebuilt house, nestled atop a ridge with views of both Mt. Tamalpais and San Francisco Bay, exceeded anything described in Daniel Sempere’s post-war Barcelona.

Once inside, the literary atmospherics escalated. Paul printed out menu cards, featuring selected quotes from The Shadow of the Wind, for each place setting.  Other excerpts from the book were typed up and strewn around the kitchen.  Nice touches, yes. But while his prominently displayed Library of Forgotten Books may have struck some as a clever riff on Zafon’s Cemetery of Forgotten Books, others were not amused by this cruel jab at the collected works of the Man Book Club.

As always, though, our evening was sustained by food. In this case, excellent food. From the Spanish cava to the Catalonian bruschetta, our appetites were duly prepared for a well-rehearsed and perfectly executed paella, preceded by gazpacho and followed by a Catalonian custard. Buen provecho, Paul!

The Book
The Shadow of the Wind traces the parallel lives (and forbidden loves) of Daniel Sempere, the young narrator, and Julian Carax, a local author whose disappearance becomes Daniel’s obsession and very nearly his undoing.  Despite the sound and the fury that followed our selection of The Shadow of the Wind, the surprise was that most of us actually enjoyed reading Zafon’s international bestseller. (And that includes Doug, even if he did liken the book to Harry Potter.)

We argued whether it was high lit, low lit, or even good lit (with takers for all three), whether the characters measured up to the florid prose (yes for me and Tom J.), whether the book was memorable (Paul) or forgettable (Glenn), and—most polarizing of all—whether this novel was written for a young adult audience (Tom A. argued the contrary, while conceding that teen fiction is where Zafon made his name).

Apart from all this disputation, the consensus was that Zafon had created an enjoyable narrative with an evocative and authentic style. This consensus, and our herd instinct (or pussy voting, according to the namecallers), produced a narrow voting range, with a middle-of-the-road result of 6.9. Interestingly, our rating would have been in the 7’s were it not for Stan (6) and Garth (5), the only men who didn’t finish the book.

Next Up
Armando proposed an eclectic set of titles for our consideration for next month's meeting. His absence, however, resulted in an extended debate over our selection process. Without the slightest irony, one of us (who notoriously relies on his father for book ideas) insisted that the upcoming host should first read the titles he puts forward.  In the end, we reverted to tradition and overwhelmingly opted for Tinkers, Paul Harding’s winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Next month we’ll see if this neatly mannered family history meets our exacting summer reading standards.

Jun 20, 2010

Armando's Books for July

Lost City of Z by David Grann

Grann's awards include: Samuel Johnson Prize, shortlist 2009, Michael Kelly award, finalist 2005 ,Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, 1989.

This is about the adventures of explorer Lt Colonel Percy Harrison, famous fellow who disappeared in the Amazon. David Grann takes you on his travels as he ravels and unravels this mystery. #1 on the NYTimes Bestseller list.

Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon

Chabon received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2007. Folks love and hate this book. This is his take on being a Dad, today. He takes us on daily life, with stories and tangents, and explores societal expectations about Dads.

The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin

An English novelist and travel writer, Chatwin won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel On the Black Hill (1982).

Bruce Chatwin's book is ostensibly an examination of the Australian Aboriginal notion of the Songline: a song that relates a series of geographical locations ranging from one coast to another, tied to the (mythical) creation of an animal, that in a variety of languages unified by tune sings out the geography of the route. He explores this abstract concept through the agency of Arkady and a cast of other Whites who live and work amongst the Aborigines in the harsh heart of Australia, defending their rights and interpreting their rites.

Tinkers by Paul Harding

Tinkers (2009) won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.  The board called the novel "a powerful celebration of life in which a New England father and son, through suffering and joy, transcend their imprisoning lives and offer new ways of perceiving the world and mortality." Tinkers was also shortlisted for the Mercantile Library First Novel Award, named one of the hundred Best Novels of 2009 by Publishers Weekly and Amazon.com, and one of the Best Books of 2009 by NPR and by Library Journal.