“Breakfast at Sally’s”
by Richard LeMieux
Can a small handful of pennies make a difference?
You wonder, as you dump them into the kettle for the bell ringer standing outside the doorway of the store where you just finished Christmas shopping. She seemed happy as she jingled and thanked everyone for their change.
It’s a mean old world these days and you can easily spare a pocketful of donation, but how can your few cents help anybody?
Pick up the new book, “Breakfast at Sally’s,” by Richard LeMieux. You’ll see what change your change can make, and you’ll wish you had more to offer.
Once upon a time, LeMieux had it all: a huge, well-stocked home, complete with the finest wines, rich foods and electronics; a successful business that employed several people; a significant other who enjoyed world travel with LeMieux; and a family that loved him.
Then, LeMieux’s business took a hit. Trying to stay afloat, he borrowed money that he couldn’t pay back. He spiraled into depression and his significant other left him. His family wanted nothing to do with him or his money borrowing. Creditors took his house and almost all of his belongings, leaving him with a van, a dog, some clothing and blankets.
Homeless and sick at heart, LeMieux contemplated suicide, but couldn’t bear to leave his beloved dog, Willow, behind. Instead, he lived in his van, sleeping in church parking lots, begging for gas money and eating at “Sally’s” (the Salvation Army soup kitchen) in a city near Seattle.
Led by a street philosopher-guide known just as C, LeMieux started to regain his dignity and explore his options. He consulted a sympathetic doctor who diagnosed depression and started treatment. He found friendship among people who would have been invisible to him in his former life. Incredibly, LeMieux began to see that there were people worse off than he, and he discovered a sense of gratitude. And, through the kindness of other homeless people and a church filled with folks willing to take a risk, he put his life back together.
When I picked up “Breakfast at Sally’s,” I was just killing time. It was just another book on my desk. I had no intention of even finishing it, but within 10 minutes, I knew I wouldn’t do anything else until I got to the end.
The author’s story is graceful and dignified, humble and frank, gentle and cautious. He doesn’t whine (although there is plenty cause for it). He’s apologetic at times and takes responsibility for his predicament.
What makes his story so good, though, is the one thing that LeMieux hammers home: what happened to him could happen to any of us. That sobering fact, and today’s daily news, makes this an absolutely-can’t-miss book everyone should read.
“Breakfast at Sally’s” is, surprisingly, a great book to read during times of need. It will make you remember that the change you drop in the bucket is no drop in the bucket when it comes to changing someone’s life.
by Steven Rinella
Have you ever played the lottery?
If you have, you know the drill: plunk down cash, pick your numbers and walk out with ticket in hand, in the hope that you’ll hit paydirt. They say somebody has to win but realistically — statistically — it probably won’t be you.
It sure is fun dreaming, though.
Author Steven Rinella won a lottery of a different sort: in 2005, his application was chosen out of many, giving him a chance to hunt bison in a remote Alaskan wilderness. In the new book “American Buffalo,” he writes about his adventure and the creature who led him there.
While on a hike nearly 10 years ago, Rinella stumbled over something unusual poking out of the soil. It was a buffalo skull, dirty and crumbly, but it piqued Rinella’s interest. A few years later, when his brother, who lived in Alaska, told him that the state had openings for limited buffalo hunting in the wilderness to cull a too-large herd, Rinella filled out the lottery application and was astounded to get a letter saying that he was approved.
When most people think of buffalo, they think of great herds across the Great Plains, and of Indian hunts and cowboy slaughter. The truth is that buffalo once roamed nearly the entire U.S. and Canada, from Alaska to Florida. It’s been suggested that they came over from Russia and were here thousands of years before the birth of Christ.
But that, of course, didn’t last. Though they’ve made a comeback and are no longer in danger of extinction, buffalo were widely slaughtered in the 1800s. Some eyewitnesses report seas of sun-bleached bones following buffalo massacres. A worried Teddy Roosevelt signed legislation to create the National Bison Range to protect the remnants of what was once a herd that measured in the tens of millions.
These were the things Rinella kept in mind as he rafted down icy rivers, past private land and into a brushy area where buffalo roam. He battled hypothermia and his own paranoia; he saw bears (who love to steal buffalo meat), and he tracked — and bagged — an animal that had fascinated him for so long.
Part archaeology, part story-of-the-hunt and part history, “American Buffalo” is one of those satisfying books that you’ll want to savor, especially if you love adventures, Western novels or true cowpoke tales. This, despite (fair warning!) quite a graphic section that details a butchering, which won’t bother hunters, but may make others squirm.
The author eagerly takes readers on a winding, fascinating trip through buffalo biology and North America’s past, as well as popular culture, mythology and a few personal anecdotes. This is all skillfully woven in a thrilling story of wilderness adventure and a once-in-a-lifetime buffalo hunt.
“American Buffalo,” which could just as easily have the word “North” in its title, is perfect for hunters, archaeologists, historians and anybody who loves a good oater. If you’re on the hunt for a great read, this one is just the ticket.
The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.