Charlotte and the Chimpanzees

Thirteen teenagers may hit the “best seller” list with their cookbook

dog and cookbook

Fargo and Ruth reading the new cookbook.

May Day, 2014, I found myself in a theater in Portland, Oregon with 13 little girls, my son and another parent. The girls wanted to see a movie about chimpanzees and Jane Goodall.

My son and his family live Portland with 14-year-old Charlotte and 11-year-old Lane. I visit a couple times a year. I’ve watched some of the 13 girls grow up since their moms played with them in the nearby park with tubs of Cheerios for the kids to stir, throw at each other, and eat with gusto as young toddlers. The moms called them “Sensory Tubs,” I think.

I have cheered them on the soccer fields, in plays, and at birthday parties. I know a few of the parents and visited with several of their grandparents. By invitation, I attended one girl’s Bat Mitzvah. Last time I visited I learned about Ultimate Frisbee at Charlotte’s game.

That movie convinced the girls to raise money for the animals. They decided they would collect recipes from famous cooks and chefs and include a few of their family recipes for a cookbook. They wrote letters to renowned chefs and celebrities. Most Friday nights they met at various houses where they would prepare and taste the recipes before writing evaluations for those selected for the cookbook. The girls started Roots and Shoots of Portland, established worldwide by Jane Goodall for young people to help preserve ecology. The girls titled the book Saving Pan, updating their website with each step.

When I visited last spring, a professional food photographer had volunteered to shoot the food photos for their book. Charlotte and her mom met with the photographer for her photo while I was there. Parents with connections found a reasonable publisher and public relations professionals.

My son notified me that the cookbook launched in early December 2017 and sent an article from the Portland Business Journal about the successful unveiling. Would I like a copy of the cookbook for $25? It arrived, as attractive as any dazzling Betty Crocker cookbook. They learned about people, the ecology, the publishing process, and ate healthy, vegetarian food. Michelle Obama and Jane Goodall submitted recipes along with many others.

I called my granddaughter. “Charlotte, I am so proud of you. Your cookbook is gorgeous. What was the most difficult part of sticking with the project? It took such a long time.”

She said, “Staying focused. It was lotsa fun! I’m so excited about it.”

“What was best about it?”

“I had a lot of fun cooking, and it was really cool trying out a variety of techniques for each different recipe. It was really amazing so many people contributed, and so many cared about the cause and willing to contribute was absolutely unbelievable.”

Although she’s a very picky vegetarian, she tasted food she would never have touched or tried. Mostly, she likes macaroni and cheese. The thirteen girls attend different high schools now, but continue their neighborhood friendships.

When the parents sold 400 books in one week with minimal advertising in a few restaurants they added a “purchase” button on the girls’ website It’s a great gift for anyone. All profits go to the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center. Order now  before it hits the New York Times, best seller list.

Roving Ruth – Behind the Scenes – January 2018

Portland Roots and Shoots Organization

Jane Goodall in the Center

January writers often focus on goals. My article this month, “Charlotte and the Chimpanzees,” shares the story of thirteen friends who published a cookbook to support chimpanzees. It’s a story of passions for supporting ecology through long-term effort.

I hope your holidays filled you with HOPE, LOVE, JOY, and PEACE. When you read this issue, we will have returned from Houston where sixteen of us gathered for fun, food, family, and friendship. The children range in age from age two to age 16. Yes, we made noise, and ate unhealthy and healthy food. The kids squabbled very little, as long as they had their electronic devices.

Our Sachse-Wylie Authors Group continues to grow with a prompt in December to improve description. We had a little chaos as it was the first time for us to try this method. Ruth Wharton leads the January 10 meeting. We usually meet the first Wednesday of the month at the Sachse First United Methodist Church at 6:30 p.m. We pushed the meeting to January 10 because of the holidays. The prompt this month helps us improve dialogue in our writing samples. We critique each other. A little scary but our group is kind to each other.

May Roving Ruth inspire new, wildly impossible goals.


Resistance remains a common response, today and yesterday.


Hilside view


When I worked in Chambon-sur-Lignon in France, I heard whispers that the townspeople saved 5000 Jewish children and adults during World War II. I assumed all the surrounding towns must have hidden Jewish children and adults. Not true. Other villages saved a few, but Chambon-sur-Lignon, near the demarkation between occupied France to the North and the Resistance of Southeast France, saved many more lives than the surrounding small towns.

The farmers and townspeople hid the children in barns, the woods, and false closets.  They “hid” them in plain sight in schools and dormitories. Jewish teachers escaped certain death or death camps, if they had remained in large cities. The people of Chambon never hesitated to imperil their lives to save others. Andre Trocme, the minister in this Huguenot enclave, encouraged the entire town with his mantra of righteousness.

More than twenty years after the war, I traveled to Chambon. When I lost my suitcase and needed a job, a lady in Chambon found work for me in a rehabilitation center. The director loaned me clothes. Kindness surrounded me. I learned the importance of loving others, no matter what. The people of Chambon treated me as they treated the Jewish children during the war.

Throughout my life, the lessons I learned helped me with personal and professional strife. Ten years ago, when my husband and I decided to return to see where I worked, my research included watching Weapons of the Spirit (a film by Pierre Sauvage) and scanning a few books. I decided someday I would write about my experience.

My Resistance

Last year my memoir, Gift of the Suitcase was launched after struggling with deeper research, recollections and the writing process. My scrutiny and networking continues. When an online alert notified me that Pierre Sauvage would speak in Tulsa for two appearances in mid-November, I wanted to attend.

A serious illness attacked me, called the Yebbits. Yeh, but what if I get lost? Yeh, but what if he forgets we connected online? Yeh, but what if I can’t find the hotel, the theater, a place to eat? Yeh, but what if the hotel isn’t safe? I pushed my resistance aside. Yeh-but I’m going!

And I never got lost on my 500-mile round trip to Tulsa.

The Movie and Message

Pierre’s remastered Weapons of the Spirt film will be re-released in 2018. His talk on Sunday commemorated the Jewish holiday Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass), when thousands of Jewish businesses and synagogues in Germany were destroyed, considered the beginning of the Holocaust in the late 1930s.

The powerful message resonated with the people, as the audience had lost relatives and friends among the six million killed. Pierre spoke about the persecution of the Huguenots centuries before they migrated to Chambon. He reminded the audience about the massacre in Tulsa in 1921 when homes of African Americans were destroyed and as many as 300 lost their lives. He noted the sexual harassment in the movie industry near his home in Los Angeles.

Pierre is working on several other documentaries. He is dedicated to making the world a better place. We both want a better world.

We do not want another Holocaust. With so much hatred, vengeance, and ugliness in the news, his message of kindness adds value in a world of chaos. Let’s all reach out with kindness every day.

Let’s replace grouchy with grins. Let’s smile more, befriend more, and remember the humble citizens of Chambon. Chiseled in stone over the door of their small Chambon church, it says aimez vous, les uns, les autres. (Translation: Love one another.)


Love One Another

“Don’t look away.” Pierre Sauvage


10 Reasons to Read Gift of the Suitcase

 When I graduated from college I received a large, gray suitcase and a round trip ticket to work in France the summer before I started teaching. Within a few days I lose my suitcase, followed closely with the loss of my summer job. The trip changed my life forever. Travel to France taught me more than how to speak French.

You meet a co-worker, Christine. I introduce you to the baggage handler in Calais and the railroad clerk in Nice. You hear from the doctor who attended medical school in Switzerland in 1947 to help us understand how quickly we forget atrocities. My family makes a brief appearance. The return trip to Central France takes you through scenic beauty and inspirational situations.

Unexpected events, such as divorce, illness, and deaths change our lives. Flexibility, faith, and friends help us through hard times. As we travel through life we find new, meaningful ways to cope.

The book allows you to:

  1. Forget your chores for a few hours
  2. Travel to faraway places
  3. Recognize yourself in similar predicaments
  4. Laugh at mistakes
  5. Cheer when good news arrives
  6. Discover the joy in acceptance
  7. Spend less than a plane ticket
  8. Ponder your progress
  9. Consider letting go of your baggage
  10. Update your plans for your next trip

Let me know how the book impacts you. You can buy the paperback directly from me or from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IBooks. Click “Buy Now” for immediate attention.

You can purchase it through my website or Amazon and several other sources. The e-book is available for your Nook or Kindle and other distribution sources.

After you finish Gift of the Suitcase you may want to write a quick review on Amazon. You do not have to purchase the book from Amazon to write a review. May you enjoy the journey.